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Sermons & Study Guides

Occasional Hearing Pt. 8 - (Arguments For the Practice Considered 3)

James Dodson

Occasional Hearing

(Arguments For the Practice Considered 3)

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

Question.—Where there is agreement in fundamental doctrines, shouldn’t we lay aside those peculiar teachings which are the source of differences? Answer.—This question displays much of  the underlying confusion of the age regarding the distinction between essential and non-essential, or circumstantial, doctrine.    While  we  admit  that  some  doctrines  are  foundational,  or  “first principles,” Heb. 5:12; 6:1; yet, none ought to conclude that some teachings of the Bible are essential and others non-essential, Matt. 28:20. It  should  be  apparent  that  all  peculiarities  are  either  consonant  with Scripture  or  not.    These  tend  to  be  matters  deduced by  “good  and  necessary consequence.”  The Sadducees believed that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead was a peculiarity which did not belong to the “fundamentals” of the faith, cf. Matt. 22:29-32.  Yet, the apostle held this to be a “fundamental” which Christ deduced by good and necessary consequence, Heb. 6:2.  Some allow that Christ alone is the head of the church, whilst others allow the king or pope to share  the  honor, cf.  Col.  1:18.    Some  believe  that  Christ’s  mediatory  kingdom extends  to  all  things  in  and  out  of  the  church  whilst  others  restrict  it  to  the church, cf. John 3:35; Matt. 28:18.  Peculiarities are generally viewed as matters of small concern; yet, those which possess Scriptural support are not to be discarded, Prov. 23:23.  It is false to reason that minute disagreements do not influence broader matters of faith, Matt. 7:14.  Men often mistake the grounds and parameters of their belief, Prov. 16:25.  It should always be remembered that truth is no enemy to peace, Zech. 8:3, 16, 19; 1 Cor. 13:6; Ps. 122:6.  Question.—Occasional  hearing  is  a  common  practice,  should  we  condemn  all  who practice it?  Answer.—We are strictly forbidden to follow the multitude in the doing of that which is evil, Ex. 23:2.  The idea of using the common practice of men for our justification is also forbidden, Luke 16:15.  The flocks of the companions are often more numerous than the little flock of Christ, Rev. 13:3.  Yet, we are commanded to follow in the footsteps of that little flock, Song 1:8; Luke 12:32.  We ought to be moved neither by the low motives of custom or novelty, Jer. 10:3; 2 Tim. 4:3. Some, not moved by consideration of custom or novelty, are moved to the practice of occasional hearing to avoid the charge of bigotry, cf. Matt. 5:11.  They forget that the religion of Jesus is singular and peculiar, 1 Pet. 2:9; Isa. 30:21.  If we were following the world in its amusements and vanities, men would not
speak evil of us, but when we seek to follow hard upon our Savior, we should not be surprised that the world hate us, Isa. 66:5; 1 John 3:13.   It is true, many take encouragement for the practice from the example and permission  of  their  teachers, cf.  Matt.  18:6.   Nonetheless,  the  command  of  the Lord is clear that we are not to follow a bad example even in an approved act such as hearing, Hos. 4:15.  As in the state, so in the church, boundless toleration is productive of every evil work, Rev. 2:14, 15, 20.    Question.—If  Christian  association  is  allowed,  why  not  ministerial  association  in occasional hearing?  Answer.—Christian  communion,  or  private  Christian  association,  does  not necessarily  recognize  the  peculiarities  of  a  given  church  that  ministerial communion  does, cf.  Romans  10:15.    In  cases  of  ministerial  communion  our judgment is to be joined with that of the Lord, Jer. 23:31, 32.    That communion which is founded upon the communion of the saints, which is catholic, we are free and even obliged to follow, cf. 1 John 1:3; 3:14.  However,  that  communion  which  is  ecclesiastical  in  nature, which  consists  in organic communion and union, wherein men are considered as church members, is  based  upon  corporate  professed  principles  and  practices  which  must  be adjudged as such, Ezek. 13:7-18.  The first kind of association does not imply or entail incorporation, cf. Luke 15:6; the second kind of association does, Rom. 12:4, 5.