Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 29, 1956

Resolving Differences

Gene Frost, Las Cruces, New Mexico

When the Messiah came, the rulers of the Jews rejected Him. He did not fit into their plans. Rather than conform to the truth, they sought to overcome God's wisdom. They simply planned to kill the Christ ... and they did, crucifying Him upon a cross.

But God's plan was not thwarted; His will was done. Even though they possibly felt the thrill of immediate success, victory was not theirs: truth will out!

Today men do not readily accept God's will. The truth does not fit into their plans. Rather than conform to the truth, they seek to resolve their differences with God in numerous ways. These ways we briefly mention.

Destroy The Opposition

In the case of the Son of God, the opponents of truth had Him killed. In Lystra, the people were turned from an attitude of reverence for Paul to that of hate, who "having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead." (Acts 14:19.) When Stephen preached things contrary to their liking, the council sought to resolve their differences by stoning him to death. (Acts 7:58-60.) Herod sought to resolve matters by killing James the brother of John. (Acts 12:1-2.)

The church has been bathed in blood, under the Roman inquisition and under papal persecution. Even in recent times, brethren have suffered death because of the faith. This is one way in which man tries to resolve his differences.

Physical Pressure

Not so extreme, some resort to physical pressure. Rather than resolve their differences by all accepting the truth and uniting on divine revelation, the opponents of truth long ago imprisoned, scourged, stoned, etc., the saints. Paul suffered all of these things. (2 Cor. 11:23-25.) Peter and John were threatened (Acts 4:13-27), even as godly men today are threatened, mobbed, and beaten. But, as in killing one's opponent, when physical pressure prevails over the representative of truth, truth itself is not vanquished, neither is the difference between error and truth resolved thereby! Like unto bodily afflictions, we note that men have employed physical pressure in the form of

Economic Pressure

In speaking of the beast in Revelation 13:11, John says, "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." (Verses 16-17.) Probably economic pressure has been employed as much as any single means to get men to conform. Because of the faith saints have been fired from their jobs, their businesses destroyed — in general, economic pressure is applied. One leading denomination openly uses the boycott; members of a certain lodge take a pledge that they will do all within their power to destroy financially anyone who opposes their plans. Thusly men seek to resolve differences by economic pressure.

A question just here: how many of us are able to remain faithful to convictions under such pressure? How many of us will betray our convictions to save your jobs? to protect our businesses? Many say, "I'd die for Christ" — but how many will live for Him in the face of trying conditions?

With many, of equal sting to that of economic pressure, is that of

Social Pressure

or being ostracized. This means to lose social favor. All men like to be well received. And sad to say, many brethren will compromise the truth to retain this favor. I have heard brethren say that the ideal preacher is a good mixer, one who frequents the business establishments of town and cultivates the friendship of the world, one who does not preach a dogmatic gospel, nor offend any in the least. Yet, every Christian ought to know that to follow Christ is to reject the friendship of the world. (James 4:4; Gal. 1:10.) Jesus told His disciples, "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yes, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." (John 1:2.) Verily, the servant is not greater than his master: the world hated Christ, and it will reject Him.

Men who are not of the right spirit will often seek to resolve differences by bringing to bear social pressure. Even in the church, we find brethren ready to ostracize another brother, cause him to be virtually quarantined from his brethren. Is this the way to resolve our differences?

Hurt Reputation

I recently learned of a well known gospel (?) preacher in the church threatening a brother that he could destroy the reputation of the man and his family .. . . he boasted of the power in the church today to make or break the influence of others. He uses this "power" to resolve his differences!

Jesus has said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (Matt. 5:11.)

Finally, there are those who, I suppose, think a difference will be resolved if we

Ignore It.

These are they who refuse to settle an issue. They allow enmity to mount, when with the proper approach it could be resolved amicably.

The Right Way

Jesus said when differences arise between brethren, go to the other and tell him his fault. In that way we can gain our brother. (Mat 18:15-17.)

In Proverbs 25:9, "debate thy cause" . . . . contend forensically, to plead a cause." (Gesenius, page 767.)

Why go about resolving differences in this way? First, out of love for others. (Matt. 18:15.) Secondly. to save one's self . . . YOU may 'be wrong. (Acts 26:9.)

Differences do arise . . . . but they can be resolved, and settled right. First, consider yourself: "Am I in the wrong?" Second, go to the one with whom you differ. Third, bath together study out the matter, determined to abide by the truth. Only in truth can we be agreed. We cannot resolve differences with opinions, speculations, or prejudice, or by killing our opponent, inflicting bodily pain upon him, putting him out in the cold and starving his family, quarantining him, hurting his reputation, or ignoring the matter.