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Sermons & Study Guides

Occasional Hearing Pt. 4 - (Arguments Against the Practice 2)

James Dodson

Occasional Hearing

(Arguments Against the Practice 2)

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

Question.—Is the practice of occasional hearing inconsistent with the being stedfast which is necessarily required in a sincere religious profession? Answer.—Yes.  The character of early Christians was to continue stedfast in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2:42.  The command to remain stedfast is express  in  Scripture,  1  Cor.  15:58.    This  forms  a  basis  for  unity  of  spirit  in apostolic order, Col. 2:5.  The failure to remain stedfast opens us to the wavering and distorting opinions of errorists and proves us to be unreliable children, Eph. 4:14.  Stedfastness is the character of the faith which perseveres to the end, Heb. 3:14; 10:23.  The contrary, temporary faith, is characterized by a failure to remain stedfast, 2 Pet. 3:17.  Christ’s sheep flee the voice of the stranger, John 10:5.   The  practice  of  occasional  hearing  also  has  a  tendency  to  encourage sectarianism by strengthening errorists and heretics in their vanity, Mark 7:6-14.  But what is worse for the hearer, each act of hearing is a step toward total and final apostasy, 2 Pet. 2:1, 2; the contrary which is commended by Christ, Rev. 2:2.  Regardless of the protests of the hearer, the practice of occasional hearing betrays a detestable indifference to the great matter of the question of true religion, Rev. 3:15, 16. One  cause  for  unstedfastness  in  profession  is  laxity of  admission  to communicant  membership  in  churches.    This  encourages an  implicit  faith without  distinct  apprehension  of  the  grounds  of  the faith,  Heb.  5:14;  6:1.  Profession of religion without knowledge of its principles is like a house founded upon  sand  and  will  succumb  to  similar  storms  and  trials,  Matt.  7:26,  27.  Unstedfastness  in  religion  demonstrates  that  the  conscience  is  not  exercised either  in  assuming  or  relinquishing  that  religious  profession,  contrary  to  the apostle, 1 Pet. 3:15, 16.     Question.—Does occasional hearing counteract the Scriptural dissent, separation and public  testimony  which  faithful  Christians  are  constrained  to  lift  up  against  those wallowing in error and refusing to be reformed?  Answer.—Yes.  It is not personal offence or matters of convenience that constitute scriptural  separation  but  only  when  the  constitution  or  administration  of  a church  resists  the  truth  or  embraces  error,  Acts  19:9.   Separation  is  part  of testimony bearing against corrupt communions, 2 Cor. 6:17.  How inconsistent with this separation, which is designed to demonstrate the pattern of truth, is its obscuring in occasional hearing, Ezek. 43:10; 2 Thess. 3:14, 15.   
Once a separation has been declared upon scriptural principles, it is the duty  of  all who  would  be  counted  faithful and  stedfast  to  remain  apart  from what is contrary to the testimony for the truth they seek to uphold, Isa. 29:13.  Though truth never changes, yet this testimony forms the “present truth,” 2 Pet. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:12.  Maintaining this testimony constitutes upholding the word of Christ’s patience, Rev. 3:10; for only they who uphold the law in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation are said to have this patience, Rev. 14:12.  Only of those who uphold the testimony for the present truth is it said they have not denied Christ’s name, Rev. 3:8. Those  who  separate  from  the  corruptions  of  the  present  age  are commanded  not  return  to  those  corrupt  communions  from  which  they  have separated, Jer. 15:19.  This testimony bearing is inherently prophetic, Rev. 19:10.  Thus,  testimony  bearing  casts  the  church  into  a  state  of  prophetic  separation from the departing people of God, Ezek. 3:10, 11.  It is most necessary that the truth remain upon the earth and amongst the people of God, Gal. 2:5.  For this reason,  the  witnessing  church  (i.e.,  that  bearing  testimony)  is  at  no  liberty  to relinquish any part of that contended for truth lest they degenerate into people pleasers rather than God pleasers, Gal. 1:10.  There is within the church of Christ no authority to deform the church but only to reform it, 2 Cor. 10:8.