Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 1, 1955

Preach The Truth -- Don't Expose The Error

Floyd Embree, Ontario, California

Sometime ago, an older preacher of repute, visiting in California, was speaking to a group of preachers, among whom were some younger preachers: He emphasized the idea of our stopping exposing error and to "preach the truth." Two of us asked the question, Did the Lord do wrong when he exposed the error of those of his day, and was Paul wrong when he exposed the error of his day? Of course, we got no satisfactory answer. I then asked, "What 'truth' would you use without exposing error, to show a group of people who were in the Christian Church and do not understand about the Missionary Society, that the society is wrong ? Or what passage would you use without exposing the error to convince a Mormon that the Book of Mormon was not the word of God, but rather a fraud?" Of course, I got no satisfactory answer to these questions either. This preacher has the reputation of being sound "back east" but when he got out here, he must have thought that he was among a group of soft preachers, judging from what he was putting out.

When Christ spoke to the multitudes concerning the teachings and practices of the scribes and Pharisees, he called them by name, exposing their errors before the multitude. (See Matt. 23). He did so because such was necessary.

The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, said: "But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some." (II Tim. 2:16:18). Paul named the doctrine being taught, exposed the error, and named the men who were propagating it. Is it wrong for one to follow the pattern set by Paul in his preaching and defense of the gospel?

Sometimes, an error can be corrected by merely preaching the truth on it. When such can be done, it should be done. Sometimes, the error has to be exposed, but it may not be necessary to name the propagators of the error. At other times, because of a proneness of people to follow after preachers and men, it is necessary to expose the error, expose the men who are teaching the error, and to teach the truth on the matter.

I think brother N. B. Hardeman has expressed the idea, and in better words than I am capable, hence I give you the following from him, not because I believe brother Hardeman to be authority on the matter, but because I believe he speaks the truth on this matter better than I am capable.

"Let me tell you the fact: because Jesus Christ condemned error and exposed the wrong, those very chief priests, scribes and Pharisees whom he had denounced went to old Caiaphas and said: "That man must be killed." Jesus Christ suffered on the tree of the cross, not for preaching the truth, but for exposing and condemning error. I want that to register. The opposition of the religious world is not aroused by some one's preaching the truth. But when you expose their doctrine, they seek first to ignore you. Next, they want to debate the issues, and finally they want to put you to death. Be it remembered, the peerless apostle to the Gentiles was not executed simply because he preached the truth; but because he exposed the errors of his day, they beheaded him in the city of Rome. Let me read about that just a little bit. In II Timothy 4: we have this statement. "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; the Lord reward him according to his works; of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words." Did you ever see anybody trying to withstand the preaching of the gospel, and be in direct opposition to it like old Elymas, who tried to keep men from hearing it? Paul could say, "Brethren, I had that kind." Who's one of them? "Alexander the coppersmith." Paul, what did you do with him? In I Timothy 1:20, Paul said, "Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." That's what Paul said about him. Now I ask: did Paul have the right spirit? Well, that's up to you now to decide whether he did or not." (Hardeman's Tabernacle Sermons, Vol. IV, pages 119-120.)