Voices from the Past
Larry Ray Hafley
[The Gospel Guardian, Vol. 19, No. 38, February 1, 1968]
"And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord..." (I Kings 18:17, 18) Ahab was infamously wicked, (I Kings 16:30) and Elijah refused to let him forget it. Thus, when Ahab saw Elijah he condemned him as a troublemaker, though the genuine cause of strife and confusion then, as now, was a forsaking of God's commands. Christ rebuked the hypocritical traditions of the Jews and urged a return to his Father's will. Those undeniably shown to be of their father, the devil, accused the harmless Lamb of God of offending them. (Matt. 15:12) Their rejection of God's law for the teaching of men left them void of acceptance by the Spirit of God, and when this was manifest they labeled the world's Truth-teller a troublemaker.
Human nature has not changed. Preachers today who speak "the truth in love" with reproof, rebuke, and exhortation are often slurred for fulfilling their charge. Those who have no hope, and are without God resent being told their eternal destination with all the pernicious people of all ages (Rev. 21:8). Denominationalists consider talk about one body or church of Christ (Col. 1:18, 24) as being narrow and divisive. They scorn the doctrine of Christ and his supreme authority by adding instruments of music which cannot teach, speak, or admonish as we are commanded to do when we sing. (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) However, those outside Christ, lost in human plants, are not the only one who resent proclaimers of the truth. Some brethren are like the Jews were.
They are angry at a man "that hath told you the truth" (John 8:40). Shout baptism for the remission of sins and they applaud, but just whisper something against dancing as being lascivious and a work of the flesh for which souls will be lost, and they will thrust darts. Yes, preacher, condemn immorality and immodesty in general, but don't tell the congregation, specifically, that they cannot act, dress, and talk like their neighbors! You tell everyone, preacher, why we lay by in store only on the first day of the week, but don't let the brethren think you believe we must give as purposed and prospered, or you will soon become one who preaches "for the money!" Certainly, they say, "watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" (II Tim. 4:5), but don't "speak ... the gospel of God with much contention" (I Thess. 2:2) the way Paul did. "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) but advise the weak, avoid "touchy" subjects; don't speak "all the words of this life" (Acts 5:20), or "all the counsel of God."
Be resolute in your spurning of true trouble-makers, but "Am I become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16).
It has ever been true that the one who tells the truth is often the one accused, tried, and convicted of stirring up trouble. Yet, the Bible is clear about those who truly cause trouble. Notice the following passages.
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who TROUBLE you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-7).
"I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who TROUBLES you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who TROUBLE you would even cut themselves off!" (Gal. 5:10-12).
The one who brings in the error is the one who actually causes trouble.
However, we understand that truth "causes" trouble for the one who does not accept it (Jn. 3:19-21). Those who want to avoid truth and its consequences (like dancing [the prom], drinking [social or otherwise], filthy language and movies [Gal. 5:19-21]) will be uncomfortable with it and try to stop the mouths of those who speak it. We cannot be deterred by this, but labor more abundantly to stop their evil mouths (Titus 1:10-14). Let us speak the truth in love, and not be discouraged by the disparaging remarks of those whose deeds are evil.
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