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Sermons & Study Guides

Occasional Hearing Pt. 7 - (Arguments For the Practice Considered 2)

James Dodson

Occasional Hearing

(Arguments For the Practice Considered 2) 

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

Question.—Is it enough to evade the arguments against occasional hearing to purpose to take the good and leave the bad? Answer.—This  purposing  supposes  in  it  an  acknowledgement  of  defect  in  the teaching  delivered  either  as  to  error  positively  held  or  partiality  in  the presentation  of  the  truth,  contrary  to  the  apostolic  spirit, cf.  Acts  20:27.    Such believe  it  is  better  to  take  something  rather  than  lack  in  entirety;  but  this supposes that means are sufficient of themselves apart from the divine blessing, Matt. 7:16.  Though all other men make this mistake, we are not at liberty to walk contrary to the command in order to obtain some supposed good, Rom. 3:8.  It is one of the marks of God’s people that they hear not the voice of strangers, John 10:5. This also supposes there exists in those so disposed a capacity to make such discernment as to take the good and leave the bad, Heb. 5:14.  Yet, those most exercised must be grated at the hearing of the truth perverted, 2 Pet. 2:8; Ps. 119:136, 139, 158.  Persons incapable of such discrimination are likely to take the bad and good together or even take the bad and leave the good, Rom. 16:17, 18.  We live in  an  age  when  most  accept  uncritically  those  things  attributed  to  a  favorite speaker, author, preacher or teacher, Prov. 14:15.  Mankind in general are likely to think lightly of error in doctrine, Ps. 58:3-5.  Question.—Is there not reason to believe there are many good both ministers and people amongst corrupt communions and, if so, what harm can come from countenancing them?  Answer.—We  do  not  presume  to  speak  to  whom  the  divine  blessing  pertains, John 3:8.  We readily grant that many pious persons remain amongst  corrupt communions just as there are corrupt members in the purest churches, Rev. 18:4; Matt. 13:24, 25.  However much pious persons are worthy of our regard, yet we are to follow no man any farther than he follows Christ, 1 Cor. 11:1. Visible saintship is not the basis or proper ground for church fellowship but agreement in doctrine and practice, Amos 3:3.  It implies a continuance and stedfastness in apostolic doctrine and practice, Acts 2:42.  The ground of church fellowship requires blamelessness on the part of both ministers and people, 1 Tim. 3:2;  2  Pet.  3:14.    Blamelessness  is  maintained  by  walking  according  to  the righteousness of the law of God, Phil. 3:6.  In this way the unity of the body is kept, Eph. 4:3.  It is in pursuit of this apostolic purity that the unity of the church manifests itself, Eph. 4:13-16. 
Belief  that  the  Lord  is  graciously  present  in  corrupt  communions  with those who are pious and the judgment of charity regarding individuals in these connections  are  not  sufficient  to  overturn  the  word of  God;  our  reading  of providence is not our guide of duty, Deut. 29:29.  Communion with Christ is the privilege of the invisible church but it is no sound guide for the visible church to organize, Rev. 11:1.    Question.—Does  some  contemplated  benevolent  purpose  excuse  the  practice  of occasional hearing?  Answer.—No.    We  are  not  excused  to  sin  by  the  consideration  of  some  other good,  Rom.  6:1,  2.    The  evils  attending  the  practice  of  occasional  hearing  far outweigh any other considerations, 1 Cor. 5:6; 15:33.  It is folly to think that we can  maintain  companionship  with  the  erroneous  and  heretical  and  avoid consequences, Prov. 13:20.  Does our right and obligation to acknowledge the religious character and ecclesiastical  connection  of  persons  depend  merely  upon  circumstance  of purpose, cf. John 7:24?  Must we not consider the fact that every minister lays claim to being sent, cf. Rom. 10:15?  Is not this sending an act of government, cf. 1 Tim. 4:14-16?  If so, then all hearing is submission to the sending authority and that authority must resolve itself in obedience to Christ, 2 Cor. 5:20.