Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 8, 1968
NUMBER 14, PAGE 11b-12

Christ The Divider

Robert H. Farish

Excess of zeal for one doctrine of the New Testament makes the zealot especially liable to neglect of other elements of truth. No doctrine is to have exclusive attention. Paul's conviction of personal freedom from the blood of all men, was based upon the fact that he "shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). No part of God's counsel can be slighted with impunity. A full view of Christ is imperative, for Christ said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). A partial view of Christ yields a warped concept of God. Christ is presented as the Prince of Peace and also as coming to bring a sword.

The Prince Of Peace

Zachariah prophesied that "because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day spring from on high shall visit us, to shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; to guide our feet in the way of peace" (Luke 1:78, 79). Concern for this feature of his mission i.e. "guide our feet into the way of peace", is reflected in our Lord's prayer, in the closing hours of his earthly life — "neither for these only do I pray but for them also that believe on me through their words; that they all may be one...." (John 17:20, 21). Any disciple worthy of the Prince of Peace will pursue peace; he will as much as in him lieth, be at peace with all men."

The Sword Of The Prince Of Peace

Jesus is the Prince of Peace but he himself declared — "Think not that I came to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:34, 35).

Love for Christ and dedication to the cause of truth binds the disciples who are worthy of Christ in the bond of peace; this same love and dedication to Christ will set a man at variance with all who love not the truth, regardless of sentimental considerations, natural affections or any other thing. This does not, however, give license for the exercise of injustice, unkindness, bitterness, hatred or any lack of love toward those who are in error, whether they be straying brethren or avowed unbelievers. The presence of "Christ in you" has never been demonstrated through such means.

"Be Ye Separate"

"Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for ye are a temple of God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come ye out from them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (II Cor. 6: 14-18)

This has primary application to the need of the Christian to keep himself aloof from the world of idolatry and unrighteousness, in the sense of avoiding any contact which will result in his being defiled by engaging in sin or practicing error. The principle of separation, however, has wider application than just this area. Not only is the duty imposed upon the Christian to come out from the sinful practices of the world, he must "mark them that are causing the divisions and occasion of stumbling contrary to the doctrine which ye learned and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent." (Rom. 16:17, 18). One who is so naive as to take "smooth and fair speech" as a guarantee of either unfeigned love or doctrinal soundness will not long retain the sanctification or separateness required by the Lord. On the other hand, "smooth and fair speech" must not be taken as sufficient evidence within itself to prove either feigned love or doctrinal error. In "trying the spirits, whether they be from God," one needs to largely disregard the manner of presentation and look intently at the matter presented.

All need to "give diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit": and also, "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of man, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ." (Col. 3:8)

No reflection upon the efforts of godly men, who contend earnestly for the faith in opposing perversions of the divine pattern of church organization and work of the church should be tolerated; equally true no right thinking person will impugn the motives of sincere and sound brethren to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace." But in all cases care must be exercised to avoid looking toward some part of the truth so intently as to cause one to be inattentive to the requirements of any other part of truth.

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