Seek The Old Paths

Vol. 12   No. 3                  March,   2001

In This Issue...

Doctrine OF Christ or Doctrine ABOUT Christ?

Raymond Allen Hagood

    Ignoring distinctions that do exist in Holy Writ or attempting to create distinctions that are not found in the Scriptures are two devices that have been used with much success by false teachers through the ages. A classic example of the effort to create a distinction that does not exist is found in a false teaching in regard to 2 John 8-11; this has been promoted by such men as Carl Ketcherside, Leroy Garrett, Rubel Shelly and others. This erroneous view contends that the “doctrine of Christ” in verse 9 means the “doctrine about Christ,” rather than the “doctrine taught by Christ,” and has become a basis for extending fellowship in all manner of illicit ways.


     Garrett and Ketcherside had quite a history of making non-existent distinctions in the Bible. For years they advocated and built a theology on their false claims that there is a distinction between “gospel” and “doctrine” in the Bible. They claim that doctrine was designed by God exclusively for the Christian, while the gospel was designed exclusively for the non-Christian. They further advocated the idea that God demands unity in the gospel, but does not demand unity in matters of doctrine. Such a distinction would allow the practice of almost anything by Christians in matters of doctrine and would preclude the drawing of lines of fellowship over differences in doctrine. For example, a person would be free to use the instrument of music in worship to God, and no one could deny fellowship to that individual because the musical instrument in worship would be, according to this false view, a matter of doctrine and not a matter involved in the gospel.
     The distinction made by Garrett and Ketcherside and others in regard to 2 John 8-11 is not unlike the distinction they make between gospel and doctrine. While there would be some differences in the argumentation, the results would be exactly the same. They both assert that lack of unity in doctrine is perfectly acceptable to God and that we cannot draw lines of fellowship in any way concerning matters of doctrine.


     To understand the issue, it is essential to examine 2 John 8-11. “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”
     The controversy centers on the Greek phrase didache tou Christou (doctrine of Christ). Is this “doctrine of Christ” subjective genitive or objective genitive? If it is subjective genitive, then it would mean the “doctrine OF Christ.” If, however, it is objective genitive, it would refer to the “doctrine ABOUT Christ.”
     Garrett, Ketcherside, Shelly and others assert that the phrase didache tou Christou (doctrine of Christ) is objective genitive and that it thus refers only to the doctrine about Christ. They refer back to verse 7 and try to impose the limit that the “doctrine of Christ” (v.9) refers only to the teachings about the deity of Christ. Note please 2 John 7: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” They say that since the “doctrine of Christ” refers only to teaching about the deity of Christ and that since 2 John 7 refers only to those who would deny that deity, therefore, those excluded from fellowship are only those people who deny the deity of Christ.
     If this is a true doctrine, then it would be impossible for fellowship to be denied to people who teach most any denominational doctrine conceivable, whether that doctrine be the false doctrine of “perseverance of the saints” or “modern-day miracles” or “instrumental music in worship” or any other doctrine that one could dream up which did not directly deny the deity of Christ.


     Is it true that the phrase didache tou Christou is in the objective genitive case? Let us see what some noted scholars have said concerning this phrase.
     Guy N. Woods makes the following statement on page 347 of his excellent commentary on I, II, and III John: “The ‘teaching of Christ’ here is not teaching about Christ or teaching which is Christian in substance or nature; it is the teaching which Christ did personally and through those whom he inspired.”
     A. T. Robertson says this on page 254 of Volume 6 of his Word Pictures in the New Testament: “Not the teaching about Christ, but that of Christ which is the standard of Christian teaching as the walk of Christ is the standard for the Christian's walk.”
     Lenski says this concerning “doctrine of Christ” in his commentary on II John, page 568: “Doctrine of Christ is the subjective genitive; the doctrine Christ taught and still teaches through his apostles.”
     Marvin R. Vincent offers this fine comment on page 396 of his second volume of Word Studies: “Not the teaching concerning Christ, but the teaching of Christ Himself and of His apostles.”
     W. Jones says in Volume 22, page 12, of the Pulpit Commentary: “The ‘doctrine of Christ’ we understand as meaning the truth which Christ himself taught.”
     All these scholars are convinced the phrase didache tou Christou (doctrine of Christ) is subjective genitive. They deny this phrase is objective genitive, as is affirmed by Ketcherside and others. Taking “doctrine of Christ” to mean doctrine “about” Christ is imposing a restriction that does not exist; therefore, the idea that fellowship is withheld only from those who deny Christ's deity is a false doctrine. In truth, Christians cannot have fellowship with anyone who teaches a doctrine contrary to that taught by Christ and the apostles.
     While the deity of Christ is an essential part of the doctrine of Christ, it is certainly not the only item composing such. Most certainly one could not have fellowship with anyone who denied the deity of Christ, but neither could one have fellowship with someone who taught “faith only” or any other doctrine contrary to the doctrine of Christ.


     There are thirty places in which the word “doctrine” as used in 2 John 9 appears in the New Testament. It is certainly not the intent of this writer in an article of this kind to examine all thirty instances, but a brief examination of some of these will show without question that the Ketcherside-Garrett view is false to the core.
     In Matthew 16:6 the Lord warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. The disciples did not, at first, understand what the Saviour meant and thought he was referring to literal bread. Obviously, if lack of bread had been the problem, then the Lord could have easily solved that. He even reminded them of the miracle involving the feeding of the five thousand. Matthew 16:12 reveals how the disciples then came to understand the thrust of the Master's warning. “Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
     Notice please that the phrases “doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” in Matthew 16:12 and the phrase “doctrine of Christ” in 2 John 9-11 are identical in Greek grammatical construction. It is important to understand that the Greek grammarians say that the only way to determine the difference between the subjective genitive and the objective genitive in these cases is by the context. What conclusions then are we to draw about the Greek grammatical construction of the phrase “doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” in Matthew 16:12 as it relates to its context?
     Is there any honest and sincere person who really believes that Jesus is warning his disciples concerning a doctrine about the Pharisees and about the Sadducees? Could anyone prove there even existed such a thing as a doctrine about the Pharisees and Sadducees? Any thinking person knows Jesus was greatly concerned about the doctrine taught by Pharisees and Sadducees. It was the teaching promoted by these people that was so deadly and dangerous. Our Lord was not concerned with some historical or biographical matter concerning these two sects. He was concerned with the poisonous doctrines they propagated.
     As a contemporary example, which would be more dangerous — a doctrine about communists or the teachings of communists?


     The same principle applies to the warnings delivered to the church at Pergamos in Revelation 2. The Lord addresses some things he has against that congregation. In Revelation 2:14 he mentions “the doctrine of Balaam” and in Revelation 2:15 he mentions “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.” Now was this the “doctrine about Balaam” and the “doctrine about the Nicolaitans” — or was it the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans? The only sensible answer is that the Lord warned those brethren of the deadly doctrines advocated by Balaam and promoted by the Nicolaitans. It was not a doctrine about them that posed a problem, but it was rather the doctrine they taught which created the great danger.


     In Matthew 22 the Bible records the event involving the Sadducees and their question to the Lord concerning a woman who had seven husbands. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and were convinced their question would confound the Master. When Christ answered their question concerning marriage and the resurrection, the Bible says this concerning their reaction to his answer: “And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine” (Matt. 22:33). The words “his doctrine” in this verse refer to the doctrine of Christ. Ketcherside says that the doctrine of Christ is the doctrine about Christ's deity. If that is true, then where is the Lord's teaching concerning his deity in this example? He discussed the resurrection in this text, not his deity, and inspiration styled this as his doctrine (doctrine of Christ). Certainly, a discussion of the resurrection was not the only element of the doctrine of Christ, any more than the deity of Christ is the only element of the doctrine of Christ.
     Any student of the Bible knows that the doctrine of Christ included far, far more than a discussion of his deity. Christ also taught about discipleship, the judgment, marriage, divorce and remarriage, and many other subjects which formulated his doctrine. To say that the doctrine of Christ refers only to a doctrine about Christ's deity is to insult the intelligence of every honest student of the Bible.
     There is simply no evidence from the scholars, the Greek grammar, the context of the related passages or the general teachings of our Lord to support the view that the doctrine of Christ in 2 John 9 means only “the doctrine about Christ's deity.” To affirm such is to teach a lie and to reveal the true motives of those who wrest the Scriptures in support of their own false and deadly views. Ketcherside, Garrett, Shelly and many others want to create unity in diversity. They want to deny the church of any God-given right and obligation to mark and withdraw from false teachers who would subvert the Gospel. The thrust of their teaching is to turn the church into an ecumenical glob whose identity is forever lost and entangled in the mire of compromise and liberalism.
     Second John 8-11 makes it absolutely clear that those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ do not have fellowship with God and consequently do not enjoy fellowship with God's people. The church is commanded to have no fellowship with anyone who teaches a doctrine contrary to the doctrine of Christ. This is, of course, the thing that proponents of unity-in-diversity do not want to happen. They do not want to be marked and withdrawn from for teaching doctrines contrary to the doctrine of Christ. They want to be allowed free course to inoculate as many precious souls as possible with their deadly venom. The faithful must do all they can to resist such.
          560 Lovers Lane
          Steubenville, OH 43952

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Richard Guill

    On Tuesday, January 16th, 2001, a dear friend and brother, Doyle Gough, departed this life after suffering a massive heart attack while at the doctor's office. We were all shocked and saddened by this tragic event. Funeral services were held at Bowlin Funeral Home in Dresden, Tennessee at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, January 19th. Brother Bill Crossno and I were asked to conduct his funeral and were honored to do so. In my remarks I centered our thoughts upon the concept of brother Gough as a true friend. In this tribute I want to share those same thoughts with all our readers with only minor alterations.


     In our journey through life we make many acquaintances. Some of these we choose to make our friends. Of the greater number chosen, only a few prove to be real and genuine friends. When the hardships and difficulties of life come, too many prove to be just “fair-weather friends.” Doyle Gough was a true friend, not a fair-weather friend.
     Let us reflect upon what it means to be a true friend. What are the characteristics of a true friend? Two passages from Proverbs give us three essential qualities of a friend: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (17:17). “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (18:24).
     The first of these three is friendliness. To have friends, we must be friendly. Doyle was a friendly person. One did not stay a stranger long around Doyle because he would walk up to them, introduce himself, and get acquainted.
     The second of these qualities is love. “A friend loveth at all times.” The love mentioned here is not just some mushy sentimentality, but is the “agape” love which is self-sacrificial, always willing to put the welfare of its object before self. Doyle wanted the best for his friends, not only in this life, but especially that eternal life that can be had only in Christ Jesus.
     The third quality is vitally connected to the second, and dominated by it. It is loyalty. The wise man wrote... “A friend loveth AT ALL born for adversity...sticketh closer than a brother.” Sometimes we talk about someone being a friend “through thick or thin.” Doyle was that kind of friend.
     While it is important to have friends, surely it is more important to be a friend. To whom was Doyle a true friend, and not just a “fair-weather” friend?
     First, Doyle was a friend of Jesus Christ. The Lord said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). Doyle sought to do what the Lord had commanded. Was he always perfect in his obedience? Absolutely not, and he would be the first to tell you so. None of us are. But he tried, and when he became aware of his failures, he sought the Lord's forgiveness according to the inspired direction of 1 John 1:7-10.
     Second, Doyle was a friend of the Gospel. Like the Psalmist, he believed all of the Bible to be true (Psalm 119:128). “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” Doyle studied the Bible regularly and gained a good working knowledge of it. In the corner of his living room was a chair surrounded by study materials, his Bible, and legal pads upon which he recorded notes and thoughts gleaned from his study. Many times in his visits with me we would engage in a study of some topic that he had been working on. Like the psalmist, such respect for and knowledge of the Word of God shaped the course of his life. He, too, hated every false way and that caused him to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). He not only defended its truths vigorously, but he taught those truths to others both publicly and privately.
     Third, Doyle was a friend of faithful preachers. He had two sons, a son-in-law (whom he counted as a son), and a grandson who were preachers. But other young men also were encouraged by Doyle to preach the Gospel and he supported them as long as they preached the truth. If they didn't, they lost his support and encouragement. Many preachers across our brotherhood, myself included, knew they had a faithful and supportive friend in Doyle Gough. Doyle and Barbara traveled many miles to many different states in order to attend Gospel meetings and lectureships because they loved good preaching and the men who would preach the truth.
     Fourth, Doyle was a friend of every faithful Christian. The psalmist wrote, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” So was Doyle. But he wasn't just a friend of preachers. In a multitude of congregations far and wide there many faithful Christians whom Doyle met while visiting there during a Gospel meeting or lectureship. He soon became their friend and counted them among his friends as well.
     Fifth, though some seemed not to grasp it, Doyle was a friend of unfaithful Christians, preachers and otherwise. Many who were once unfaithful in the service to Christ will be saved eternally because Doyle Gough was concerned enough about their soul to talk to them, rebuke them for their sins, and encourage them to repent and be restored. He believed that Galatians 6:1 gave him a solemn charge: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” He was willing to reprove those whom he knew to be in sin even though he knew it might mean the end of their friendship. There was the possibility that they would count him as an enemy instead of a friend even though he told them the truth (Gal. 4:16). Unfortunately, some choose rather to malign and attack the one reproving them rather than acknowledge sin and repent. Some did this to Doyle. Some actually forged lies against him, even as they had done to the psalmist. “The proud have forged a lie against me; but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart” (Psalm 119:69). Hopefully, they will one day realize they had a real friend in Doyle who cared enough about them to rebuke them for their faults in the hope that they would repent and be saved eternally. May they learn the great truth penned by the wise man long ago in Proverbs 27:5, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.”
     My friends, we all have lost a good friend and the Lord's church has lost a dedicated and diligent worker and we shall miss him greatly. However, if we follow his example and become a true friend to others around us, we shall join him eternally in that land where there will be no parting nor sorrow.
     To his lovely companion Barbara, and to his children and grandchildren, we share your sorrow and loss, but we take comfort, and know that you do also, in the wonderful hope that Doyle shared with us in Christ.
          7725 State Route 121 N
          Murray, KY 42071

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Roger D. Campbell

     In our last article we noted the fact that not all activities can be properly classified as part of the work of the church. We gave attention to the necessity of the church being involved only in those affairs that are authorized by the New Testament of Christ. We emphasized the need for all members of the church to zealously participate in the work of the Lord's kingdom. We now turn our attention to the three realms in which the church is to work in carrying out its mission to seek and save the lost: 1) the work of helping the needy, 2) the work of edifying the church, and 3) the work of preaching the Gospel. This article will deal with...


     The word “benevolence” is often used in connection with helping the needy. Webster's Dictionary defines it as: “disposition to do good, an act of kindness, a generous gift.” This definition shows that if the church is going to be involved in benevolence, then it is going to be doing, acting, and giving. Doing what? Doing good, and by definition, doing so with a spirit of kindness and generosity.
     What gives us the idea that the Lord's people ought to be involved in benevolence or helping those who are needy? When we read the first four books of the New Testament we see that the matter of helping others is one about which Jesus often spoke. Once a lawyer came to Jesus; and, desiring to justify himself asked the Master, “Who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:29). In response to this inquiry Jesus told the story that we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan. At the conclusion of His story Jesus asked the lawyer which of the men had acted as a neighbor to the one who had fallen among thieves. The inquirer said, “He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (10:37). This message shows that in order to be pleasing in God's sight we must manifest mercy and compassion.
     Jesus not only taught by the things He stated orally, He also taught powerful lessons by His personal example. On numerous occasions we read of the compassion of Jesus, and how that compassion caused Him to heal the sick or feed the hungry. Thus, having read “the gospel accounts,” we are not surprised when we come to Acts 10:38 and read that Peter declared to the house of Cornelius that Jesus of Nazareth “went about doing good.” Are we learning the lesson? Are we seeing that we need to imitate Jesus and follow in His steps of showing mercy and compassion (1 Peter 2:21)?
     Beyond the personal example of Christ helping the needy, we also have instructions in a number of New Testament epistles that show the need for Christians to be concerned about helping the poor. In Romans 12:13 the charge is given to distribute to “the necessity of saints.” Such assistance is not to be given to those who live in abundance or to those who are too lazy to work to provide for their own needs. Rather, it is for those who really have need (“necessity”) for such help. Galatians 2:10 records that James, Cephas, and John charged Paul and Barnabas to “remember the poor.” “To remember” the poor means more than simply remembering there are such people, and it involves more than just praying for them. Remembering the poor means to manifest a benevolent spirit toward them -- benevolence involves doing, acting and giving. When Paul heard the message “remember the poor,” what was his response? He said that he was “forward to do it.” What does Paul mean when he says that he was “forward” to remember the poor? Instead of “forward,” the ASV has “zealous” and the NKJV has “eager.” Thus, if we will follow the example of the apostle Paul, then we will not view rendering assistance to the poor as a burden. Rather, zeal and eagerness will describe our mentality as we approach the need to remember them.
     In James 1:27 we read that Christians are instructed to visit orphans and widows in their affliction. When we come up short on rendering assistance to them and others who truly deserve it, then two serious questions come to mind. First, in James 2:14-16 we read, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” With this scenario James is really asking, “What kind of faith is that” — what kind of faith is it when we don't render assistance to our needy brethren? The apostle John writes of a similar situation, saying, “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 John 3:17)? In other words, what kind of love is that? Who can doubt that we need to be people whose faith and love is manifested by showing compassion on those that stand in need of material or physical assistance?
     Is the church authorized to take funds from its first day of the week contributions to assist the poor or needy? The church is charged with the responsibility of relieving those that are widows indeed (1 Tim. 5:16). Since the church is authorized to assist such widows, and since it gets its funds from the contribution of its members on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2), then, yes, the church is authorized to use funds from its treasury in order to render assistance to those whom it is to aid.
     In Galatians 6:10 it is written, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” This message was written to “the churches of Galatia” (1:2). Thus, the churches were told to do good unto all men. Someone might say, “Yes, but I don't see anything in the charge to ‘do good’ about assistance that involves the use of money.” Think about this. After Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus, some of the disciples began to murmur, saying that such a use of expensive ointment was a waste. Their idea was that the ointment could have been sold, and then the money could have been given to the poor. How did Jesus respond? He declared, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will [“wish,” NKJV] ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:6,7). Notice the three concepts that are combined in the apostles’ statement and Jesus’ response: 1) the proper use of finances (or material blessings), 2) to do good, 3) unto poor people. Therefore, when we read in Galatians 6:10 about the churches of Galatia being charged to “do good,” this concept most definitely can include the idea of rendering financial assistance or providing material aid from the church's funds. Assistance unto whom? “...Unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
     What about specific examples? Do we have any New Testament examples of individual Christians or congregations being involved in helping the needy? In Acts 4 it is written that Barnabas and other disciples sold material possessions and brought the money to the apostles so that distribution could be made “unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:34-37). In Acts 6 we read that Grecian widows were neglected in the daily ministration. As a result, the apostles appointed seven men to take care of the problem by attending to the special needs of those widows. Acts 11 records the prophet Agabus going to Antioch of Syria and prophesying there would be a great famine in the days of Claudius Caesar. In response to such a prediction, “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did...” (Acts 11:29,30). Note that the brethren in Antioch not only determined to send assistance — they actually did it!
     There is also what is sometimes called “The Great Contribution,” which Paul collected when he went among the Gentile churches of Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia. He was collecting money to help the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-27). We further read about this monumental “bounty” in 1 Corinthians 16:1,2 and 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9.
     In consideration of all that we have seen from the Scriptures, it is plain that we, as individual Christians, ought to be a people of compassion; and, the church has the obligation to do acts of benevolence or render assistance to those who are needy.
     Let us be certain that our efforts in the realm of benevolence are authorized by the New Testament, and that they bring glory to God rather than to men or some agency which is not authorized by the Bible. Let us also be certain that our hearts are open to assisting needy people of all races and backgrounds, and not just those who have the same physical appearance as we do or who live in our own geographic area (James 2:1-9).
          4865 Bates Pike SE
          Cleveland, TN 37323

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      As I was going through the mail yesterday I opened a small package from Nelson Direct. The package contained a copy of a book by Max Lucado entitled “He Did This Just For You” (Much of the book is excerpted from his much larger volume “He Chose The Nails.”) as well as a promotional brochure/order form for this small booklet.
     Nelson plans to get “churches” to purchase 1,000,000 (that's one million) copies of this book to distribute in concert with their “Easter” celebrations this year. The brochure states: “Join the campaign to place the Gospel of Christ in the hands of over one million people.”
     The reverse side of the brochure has a photograph of Max Lucado, contains a promotional blurb for this “riveting 64-page evangelistic book” which “leads the reader through God's plan of salvation and offers an invitation to accept Christ.”
     The conclusion of the book, which details “The Response,” contains the admonition to “ADMIT that God has not been first place in your life, and ask him to forgive your sins” (page 48, capitalization is mine, JLA); “AGREE that Jesus died to pay for your sins and that he rose from the dead and is alive today” (page 49); and “accept God's free give of salvation. Don't try to earn it” (page 49).
     Page 50 concludes with the following paragraphs: “With all of my heart, I urge you to accept God's destiny for your life. I urge you to get on board with Christ. According to the Bible, ...Jesus is the only One who can save people. His name is the only power in the world that has been given to save people. We must be saved through him (Acts 4:12, NCV). Would you let him save you? This is the most important decision you will ever make. Why don't you give your heart to him right now? Admit your need. Agree with his work. Accept his gift. Go to God in prayer and tell him, I am a sinner in need of grace. I believe that Jesus died for me on the cross. I accept your offer of salvation. It's a simple prayer with eternal results.”
     Page 51 has a place for you to sign and date “your response,” which says “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. I want him to be the Lord of my life.”
     Page 52 encourages people to be baptized and cites both Mark 16:16 and Acts 22:16, which if included without the previous purely denominational teaching on pages 48-51, would lead you to believe that baptism is essential. Following the sinner's prayer and signing and dating of such a confession on the earlier pages, however, is only confusing (and contradictory) to those seeking the truth.
     Though page 63 identifies Max Lucado as a preacher at the Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio, please do not let congregations of the Lord's church purchase and distribute this material in their efforts to reach and teach the lost.
          In Christ, Jody L. Apple
          854 Springhill Rd, Clifton Heights, PA 19018

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Clarence Johnson

     In Matt. 18:15-17, Jesus said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
     In this passage, our Lord gives us the procedure to follow in seeking to resolve differences that arise between brethren in Christ. Sometimes this passage is applied more broadly than it was originally intended, as if it were the only way to deal with any problem. But more often, unfortunately, the passage is ignored altogether.
     In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus was not telling us how to deal with false teachers, or with those whose sin is already public in nature. This passage tells us how to deal with problems that are private in nature and most likely can be solved at that private level. If I sin against a brother and he comes and makes me aware of what I have done, I have the opportunity to repent and be forgiven — and others need never know of my mistake. Two brothers alienated by a private sin have now been reunited. On the other hand, if I have gone out in public and misbehaved openly before all, there is no way that error can be corrected privately and quietly without my influence continuing to suffer with all who know of my sin but do not know of my repentance.
     If you have sinned against me personally and privately, I have no right to make that sin publicly known before I have attempted to settle it in keeping with the Lord's instructions. It could be just a misunderstanding. Perhaps you have not sinned, as I think you have. By getting together and discussing the problem, perhaps the misunderstanding can be cleared up — and each of us has gained a brother. On the other hand, maybe you have sinned, but you do not realize the nature of what you have done. Privately, we discuss the problem. You recognize your error and repent. Each of us has gained a brother. Others who were never involved and never aware that a sin had occurred need never know there was a problem. Your reputation need not suffer. The sin has been properly dealt with and can be forgotten by the only two humans who know about it.
     When a private sin cannot be solved by the two individuals immediately involved, a few others can perhaps help. They can listen and advise, and perhaps the matter can be laid to rest. Only when such efforts fail should the dispute become a matter for congregational involvement. And even then, the first hope is that the matter can finally be resolved without further estrangement. Only when one of the disputants will “not hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen....”

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“Great News!! The Nashville Jubilee's Death — Long Time Coming. A statement released by the Board of directors of Christian Jubilee, Inc. says they have “decided to cancel Jubilee.” They said they had not been able to raise enough money to have it and had not met their expenses the last three years. This indeed is great news for the kingdom's sake. Anytime falsehood and error is stopped is a great day. If they had preached and defended the truth we would have supported them, but since they did not, we opposed them” ...Editor. “I would like to inquire about a subscription to Seek the Old Paths. I've had an opportunity to read and examine some older editions, and find them to be accurate, interesting, and able to awaken or stimulate our evangelistic responsibility. I was “introduced” to the publication by Millard Williams of the Mission Valley congregation in Tucson, AZ. I worship at the Eastview church of Christ in Tucson, and I intend to share the articles with others here. We are a relatively new congregation, and are looking forward to presenting God's Truths to those around us here” ...Harold Schwartz, Tucson, AZ. “Please remove us from your mailing list effective immediately. Thank you” ...M/M John Gibson, Tucson, AZ. “Just saw and read Seek the Old Paths. Very good. Please put us on your mailing list” ...M/M Max Bell, Glendale, AZ. “Please continue your faithful work. My husband and I really like the newsletters and find them uplifting, sound and encouraging” ...Lesha Lott, Richton, MS. “I am thankful for Seek the Old Paths and all of you working there!” ...Name withheld. “A friend showed me the Seek the Old Paths. Please send it to me” ...Larry Helms, Hixson, TN. “A copy of your September 2000 issue of Seek the Old Paths was mailed to me by a member of the church of Christ and my husband and I both enjoyed reading it. I would like to have it mailed to our home each month” ...Ted & Mary Kitchen, Mancelona, MI. “As always, I am deeply grateful to you all for your scholarship, vigilance, and dedication to his cause. Thank God you are standing in the gap” ...Martin Bedford, Tucson, AZ. “We were given a copy of the paper Seek the Old Paths from a friend at the Cherokee Church of Christ in Newport, AR. We really enjoyed the paper and would like to be put on your mailing list. We will appreciate it so much. God bless you in this work” ...Mel & Norma Snook, Bradford, AR. “I recently ordered the 1999 and 2000 lectureship tapes for my mother and myself. My mother has been listening to them constantly and just loves them and is very appreciative of them. I am so glad she has now come to see some of the error that is being taught at the congregation that we are members of through your sermons. My mom has enjoyed your tapes so much that she would like to ask that you send them to her brother. She told me that they have her fired up! If you could send these to my uncle, I am sure he would get great enjoyment out of them also. Thank you so very much for putting out these tapes and the truth to the world. I am a new Christian and have had a really hard time in the last year and a half. It is very confusing when the Lord's church doesn't always teach the truth and sad when I as a new Christian can see things that are being taught wrong. I thank God for the ladies that I study with and have been able to lead me in the right direction. I also receive your paper and enjoy it very much. I hope that you will always be able to continue the work that you all do and lord willing be able to reach more and more people. Thank you again. In Christian Love, ...Donna Hines. “I receive STOP through my congregation and just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing. The last several issues have helped me tremendously. Keep up the good work! ...TX. “Hello fellow brother. I'm a member of the East Main Church of Christ in Stockton CA. and I just wanted to let you know what a great job you are doing for the cause of CHRIST. I have been a member of the church for about 35 years... Hear is our web site The Christian Courier on the Web” ...Jackie Harrison, Stockton, CA. “I live up in Canada with my parents, but attend school at Freed-Hardeman. I'm up here on holiday, and got to read through one of your send-outs and found it very helpful to my studies. I was hoping if you would be able to send me a copy of your Seek the Old Paths publication to me while I'm away at school. I would be very grateful to you if you would be able to start sending them to me” ...Beth Langeman, Henderson, TN. “Continued thanks for E. Corinth congregation's standing for the truth and the paper is always very good. Thank you” ...Mike Williams, Bastrop LA. “Greetings, your web page is outstanding! Amazing! I concluded my located work in Joelton, Tennessee at the end of 2000 and will be spending 2001 focusing on my work at the Nashville School of Preaching and Biblical Studies as well as lecture and meeting work. Coupling all of this with my secular work will keep me busy but will allow a little more flexibility as well. The students at the school are quite outstanding. Quite sound as well and eager to do a good work. I have encouraged them to subscribe to STOP as well” ...Jeff Archey, TN. “I want to thank you so much for your stand for the is very encouraging to see faithful brethren willing to do so...many are afraid, or simply unconcerned. Would it be possible to send me 15-20 copies of STOP on a monthly basis? I want to place them in the literature rack in the small congregation where I attend. Thank you, and keep on keeping on!!” ...Charles N. Barrett, Elkins, WV. “Love your bulletin and look forward to receiving it” ...Maxie Canterbury, Sandyville, WV. “We appreciate receiving Seek the Old Paths monthly newsletter and enclosed is a check to help offset the increase in postage. Our congregation enjoys the publication. Keep up your good work” ...Scott Williams, Meadows church of Christ, Las Vegas, NV. “We appreciate so much the good job you are doing with Seek the Old Paths” ...Donald White, Maysville, OK. “We have been receiving S.T.O.P. paper for several months. Keep up the sound scriptural doctrine. So many congregations of today are getting so liberal and in a lot of ways copying denominations around them in many ways of worship. Please list this check in memory of my father, Waymon Brewer (an elder of Lantana Church of Christ for many years). Your paper reflects his teachings in every way. He has been deceased several years” ...Clifford Brewer, Crossville, TN. “My prayer is that you are doing well and that the Lord's work is going well where you are. I am very interested in your work and would greatly appreciate it if you would place me on your mailing list. Thank you in advance. May God bless you and your work” ...Charles Collins, Middlesboro, KY. “Enjoy and appreciate Seek the Old Paths very much. Keep up the good work” ...Bill Schwegler, Grand Blanc, MI. “Seek the Old Paths is an encouragement to us” ...James Loper, Howell, MI.

The date of the next STOP lectureship is July 22-26, 2001 -- Traditions Of Men.

The 2000 Bound Volume can be ordered from:
Old Paths Publishing
304 Ripley St.
Corinth, MS 38834
$5 postage paid

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