Vol.XIX No.I Pg.3
March 1982

Neglected Issues

Dan S. Shipley

A preacher friend once told me of his intention to get his brethren all straightened out on the "issues" —just as soon as he could find all of them sober at the same time! What we call "doctrinal" issues still need dealing with, but so do moral issues! It is disturbing to hear of sound" churches with members involved in such things as fornication, homosexuality, social drinking, shady and dishonest business dealings, lying, profanity, neglected debts, and other like sins that ought not to be named among God's people (Eph. 5:3). Besides these should be mentioned the more "dignified" and "sophisticated" sins of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice (Eph. 4:31); strife, enmities, jealousies, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, and such like (Gal. 5:20,21). Some have said they had just as soon fellowship doctrinal error as immorality. But, why condone either? Why not take a stand for all that is right and against all that is wrong? Can God's people afford to do less?

What Paul set forth in declaring the "whole counsel of God" (Acts 20: 27) still needs setting forth because, according to divine wisdom, it is exactly what men need to hear and apply. We do need to learn about the nature and work of the church — but not to the neglect of developing the Christian's character and integrity. If the cause of Truth is to be defended and advanced, it must be by such people as will apply it both objectively and subjectively to all circumstances and situations. But the first application of any truth must be to self. Otherwise, we repeat the Jew s mistake of practicing what we condemn (Rom. 2: 1-3).

For instance, can we expect to set forth God's counsel concerning the work of the church while ignoring His counsel that relates to longsuffering, kindness, and love? Can it be right to teach the plan of salvation with a hateful and bitter disposition--and without genuine love for lost souls? Is it consistent for me to teach a sinner that he needs to become a Christian while I am not willing to live like one? that he needs to have his sins forgiven while I practice sin — or fellowship others who do so? We who reprove Christians that forsake assembling with the saints, do we speak evil one of another? Which is not the counsel of God? Can we in good conscience teach love for enemies while not loving our own brethren; while not forgiving them and refusing to have wrongs made right? Something is drastically wrong when we who should be bearing one another's burdens wind up being one another's burden!

Nowhere is the kingdom character better pictured than in the sermon on the mount (Matt. 5,6,7). Someone has called this sermon the essence of Christianity and the beatitudes the essence of this great sermon. Study them! Poor in spirit; sin mourners; meek; hungering and thirsting after righteousness; merciful and pure in heart — these are fundamental to the Christian personality. We must not forget or neglect them! Rather, we must cultivate these and kindred qualities and allow them to flavor every facet of life!