Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1958

The Voice Of Strangers

H. Osby Weaver, Kilgore, Texas

In a parable recorded in John 10, Jesus likened his followers to sheep and himself as the shepherd. He said the shepherd "putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."

True followers of the Lord will always hear his voice and follow Him. Whenever He leads, they are unafraid to follow; when the voice of strangers is heard, they are unashamed to flee. "They know not the voice of strangers." The thing they "know NOT" about it is that it is NOT the voice of their shepherd. They know the voice in the sense of detecting its strange sound and without waiting for actual danger to appear, they flee from him who has no right to call them. As our "Chief Shepherd," Jesus has the right to speak — the power to command. "All authority hath been given unto him, both in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18.) His authority and commands are expressed in the book which we call the New Testament. Whatever He wants us to do, wherever He wants His sheep to go, directions have been given in the New Testament. Traveling unmarked paths and pursuing uncharted courses will cause us to become stray sheep. We need them at all times to hark back to the word of the Lord and be sure that we have book, chapter, and verse for all that we do and say, for what we are, and the way we are going.

One significant fact in the verses mentioned above is the presence of the "voice of strangers." If there were no such voice, then it would have been superfluous for the Lord to have mentioned it. The mention of it proves the existence of it.

Since we have the voice of strangers in the religious world, who are those strangers? There is a wide-spread and deeply seated idea among the masses that the Bible is just a book of generalities, containing nothing specific, and that each one is left to his own wisdom as to the interpretation he places upon the Scriptures. To one it looks tall; to the other it looks short. To one it is light; to the other it is dark, yet each is right in his understanding of it. If this were so, how would it be possible for there to be such a thing as the "voice of strangers?" If two men read a passage of Scripture, and each has the right to place his own interpretation upon it, and each places upon it an interpretation which denies the view held by the other, can both of them be right? How could they both be right when they each say the other is wrong? If they are both right, then they are both wrong according to the testimony of each toward the other! Enlarge this to a universal scale and you have the conclusion that if all religions are right, then all of them are wrong, for there is not a single one of them but that believes the others are wrong in some things. Either this, or they admit some things are right which they will not practice and do not believe. To say that two can hold contradictory views on the same passage of Scripture, is about like saying that a garment can be white all over and black all over at the same time! Again I ask, "If each one has the right in the sight of God to his own interpretation of the Bible, what would constitute the voice of strangers ?" If each has the right to his own belief about what the Bible says and hasthe right to interpret it as he honestly sees it, then he who interprets the Scriptures as being the product of human wisdom, therefore, mythical, is just as right as one who interprets it as being inspired of God. Therefore, the infidel is as right as the believer. Hence, the infidel's voice would not be the voice of the stranger, for if he were right, his would not be a strange voice. Whose voice is that of the stranger?

The voice of strangers are those religious teachers who teach things which cannot be found in the New Testament — things for which there is not a "thus saith the Lord." Things which man, and not the Lord, authorizes. A "thus saith the Lord" means but little to them. They assume to put words in the Lord's mouth and have him say what they want him to say and what he did not say and never intended to say. This they accomplish by their "private interpretation" rule. While we live in a land that grants religious liberty, for which we are grateful. God grants no man the liberty to believe as he pleases or to place any interpretation upon the Scriptures which his wisdom dictates. Such a course would make man the lawgiver instead of God. For after receiving God's law, man could decide that it should be some other way and change it by his own interpretation. If man had this right, then God would be obligated to accept the change. God would then be forced to wait upon man to render a decision before God could be sure what His law would be! Man by this plan could usurp the authority of God, but man has no such right. One the contrary, the curse of heaven rests upon him who changes the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 1:6-9 pictures God's attitude toward those who would change His word: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert (change) the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Those who preach another gospel or change the gospel of Christ stand accursed as the "voice of strangers."

In Mark 16:15,16 we read, ".... he that believeth not (the gospel) shall be damned." If one had the right to his own belief, he could believe all the gospel, part of the gospel, or none of the gospel and please God, but those who believe only a part or none of it "shall be damned." Well, what of those who believe all the gospel and then believe something in addition to the gospel? 2 John 9 says "Whosoever transgresseth (goeth onward), and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God." To "abide in" means to "remain within." He who does not remain within the teachings of Christ "hath not God." We must believe the gospel, all the gospel and nothing but the gospel. It is not only an ALL sufficient guide, it alone is sufficient. Anything more, anything less, or anything else is the voice of strangers! For our safety, let us flee from such voices and hear only the voices of the "Chief Shepherd" who has never nor will He ever mislead us.