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Sermons & Study Guides

Occasional Hearing Pt. 10 - (Considering Some Scripture Passages Adduced For the Practice)

James Dodson

Occasional Hearing

(Considering Some Scripture Passages Adduced For the Practice)

Why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? (Song 1:7)

Question.—But aren’t there a number of passages from Scripture that support the practice of occasional hearing? Answer.—There  are  a  number  of  passages  advocates  of  occasional  hearing  have brought forward. First,  there  is  that  place,  “sow  beside  all  waters,”  Isa.  32:20.    This  place cannot affect the question because: 1.) It designs nothing more than a diligent use of ordinances according to divine appointment, Phil. 2:12.  2.) Sowing pertains to preaching, Luke 8:5; and the apostle rejoiced that Christ was preached though of envy,  because,  though  the  motives  be  wrong,  the  gospel  might  be  a  blessed means to some who nonetheless hear it, Phil. 1:18.   Second,  there  is  that  account  of  Christ  reproving  his  disciples  for  being offended  at  one  who  cast  out  devils,  but  did  not  follow  him,  Mark  9:38-40.  However, unless it be argued that the man held some different articles of faith, or order  of  worship,  this  in  no  way  supports  occasional  hearing.    It  is  most  likely that this question arose regarding one of John’s disciples, who believed in Christ, but, as then, still followed a different discipline though not a different doctrine or worship, Matt. 9:14. Third,  there  is  that  command  of  Christ,  to  “observe  and  do”  what  the Pharisees  bid,  Matt.  23:2,  3.    But  this  place  is  not  of  everyone  diligently  enough marked.  For it is to be noted, out of other places, that the writings of Moses, and of  the  Prophets,  were  read  by  piecemeal  in  the  Synagogues,  Acts  15:21;  13:15.  The  record  of  this  is,  even  at  this  day,  noted  by  the  chapter  divisions  in  the Hebrew   Bible.     Now,   unto   this   pure   and   sincere   reading,   was   added   an interpretation, Neh.  8:3, 8; which by Christ’s  time was full of leaven, Mark 8:15.  Many of which points in Matthew are plentifully confuted by Christ, Matt. 5:21, 22,  27,  28,  31-34,  38,  39,  43,  44.    Therefore  Christ  commanded  those  things  to  be heard  out  of  the  Pulpit,  which  were  by  custom,  sincerely  recited  out  of  Moses and the Prophets, in the synagogues; but the leaven, wherewith they did corrupt, the purity of doctrine, to be avoided, Matt. 23:23; Deut. 17:9-12. Fourth, the Apostle admonishes that we “prove all things” and retain that part  which  is  profitable,  1  Thess.  5:21.    Yet,  it  must  be  noted  that  this  passage, while  commanding  all  to  hear  with  discrimination,  does not  contradict  those passages forbidding to hear known erroneous teachers, Prov. 19:27. Fifth, we are required “to try the spirits,” 1 John 4:1.  Yet, the best way to discover  the  rule  for  making  this  trial  is  not  hearing  erroneous  teachers  but through  the  meditation  of  those  things  which  are  true,  Phil.  4:8.    Again,  so  far
from  enjoining  occasional  hearing,  this  rule  requires that  we  are  conversant  in the  truth  of  the  word  of  God  so  that  we  avoid  false  teachers,  1  Tim.  6:3-5.    By going  to  hear  we  may  be  led  to  think  better  or  worse than  they  deserve,  by  the talents  of  him  whom  we  hear;  we  may  hear  a  point  of  truth  handled  very orthodoxly and be deceived; or, we may hear the truth attacked in such a way as to be misled, 1 Cor. 15:33. Additionally,  we  ought  to  consider  that  supposing  the  word  is  purely taught, but the worship is mixed with human inventions, and the ministry of it is in  stated  opposition  to  a  pointed  testimony  to  the  present  truth,  Gal.  2:18;  how can  we  in  that  case  attend  upon  it  without  giving  up  with  that,  since  we  are called to hold fast that which is good, Rev. 3:3? We  must  always  keep  in  mind  that  Jesus  gives  us  three  very  weighty cautions  concerning  hearing; what  we  should  hear,  Mark  4:24; how  we  should hear, Luke 8:18; and whom we shall hear, Rom. 10:14.  Since the character of whomis dictated by the doctrine, Jer. 23:21, 22; we must be careful to hear only those to whom we have reason to believe the true doctrine is entrusted, cf. Acts 20:27.