The Effects of Error

The consequences and far reaching effects of error are often but little perceived. What to our minds might be unimportant may have great ramifications and be detrimental to, if not destructive of, either Christian conduct or the truth of Christianity, or both. We see examples of this in the Scriptures:
The Galatian saints may have thought it of small moment to turn to the law for improvement in the flesh, but the Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul deals with their error very severely. The epistle is marked by sharpness as the Apostle reprimands them for trying to be made perfect in the flesh after having begun in the Spirit. He points out that their error was destructive of the very foundations of Christianity, and so he says that he had come to stand in doubt of them. They may have thought that they were only adding to their Christianity, but he shows them that they were really forsaking it.
In 1 Cor. 15 we read of some who said that there was no resurrection. Now many may have judged that this was only one point of doctrine and that it should not be condemned severely, but that each should be allowed to exercise his own judgment. But, was it really a small matter? How did Paul speak about it? First he shows that it was ruinous to the whole truth of Christianity, for if there were no resurrection then Christ was not raised, and consequently they had no Savior and were yet in their sins—a solemn consideration! Nor did this one error stop there, but evil communications corrupted good manners, and the resultant effect was looseness in their walk. If there were no resurrection they might as well eat and drink and have a good time while it lasted. Thus we see that what seemed to be only one little error was really heterodoxy that would condemn souls to a lost eternity, and was the forerunner of moral laxity.
In recent months we have had a number of contacts with adherents to the old but currently-circulated error that the Church of God will remain here on the earth during the tribulation instead of being caught up to be with the Lord prior to that time. It seems that as the very time of the Lord's coming for His own approaches, this mistaken theory is being propagated with energy and zeal. A considerable amount of this teaching is being put into print and some of it has been sent to us.
This is another case where the error is apt to be minimized as though it were only one small point that should not be contested, but (from the printed matter that we have seen) it is quite evident that the effects are very far-reaching. We would warn any reader against dabbling in this, for once the one point is even tacitly admitted one is in for all that the system contains -which is an astonishing amount.
In this error as in any other, when one embarks on a course of pushing one wrong interpretation of Scripture he will invariably run into difficulties with other parts of Scripture; and if he does not heed the signs and turn back, he will then force his way through by making every other part of the Word bend to the one pet theory. In this way what in the beginning may have been only one error soon becomes a whole set of them, organized as a system. While we cannot go into the whole matter in these pages we shall point out some of the other truths affected by this teaching.
This wrong system must have the Church of God on earth during those awful outpourings of judgment found in the book of Revelation instead of admitting, what should be obvious to any inquirer, that it is not seen on earth from the beginning of the fourth chapter until the end of the book. It is seen in heaven from the time of those symbolic words to John, "Come up hither." Rev. 4:11After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter. (Revelation 4:1). And what is the consequence of forcing the Scripture in this particular? Just this—the Church's true character is lost for in those chapters we have God again known as "Lord God Almighty," (not as "Father") which is the partial revelation of Himself in Old Testament times and which will be true again in the tribulation period after the Church is transported to heaven.
Another serious consideration of viewing the Church as present in the tribulation is to find her where cries of vengeance on enemies are heard. This most surely does not comport with Christianity, although it will be in keeping with the time after the Church's rapture. Many of the Psalms call for vengeance on enemies, and these very Psalms will be the language of a persecuted and faithful remnant in that day, but would be a denial of true Christianity now.
When the Church's position of relationship and its character of grace are so easily lost by insisting on the mistaken idea that it must be here during the tribulation, need we wonder that we are told by these misguided people that the Church is taught to pray "Our Father, which art in heaven,... Thy kingdom come." When was the Church ever taught this prayer? It was given to the disciples before the Lord's death as suited to them at that time, but it is not a suitable expression of Christianity.
Nor should we be surprised, to find that this system puts the Christian under the law for a rule of life, for it may readily go with it, whereas the Christian is not under the law for any purpose whatsoever. To say so is to lower his standing and reflect on the perfect work of Christ, His present offices, and those of the Spirit of God. It borders on actual Galatian heresy which is so strongly condemned in that epistle. The Christian who walks in the Spirit and has Christ for his object has a higher standard and a higher walk than merely keeping the law. He walks in the true liberty of grace, without being under any part of the law, although he walks above anything that the law could condemn. We need to remember that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." Gal. 3:1010For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10).
Another error comes in with this, and that is that Christ fulfilled God's holy law for us in His life. This is flagrant error. Our blessed Lord did not keep the law for anyone, but He did bear the curse of a broken law for those under it. His perfect, spotless life, proved the suitableness of the offering, but in itself could only condemn us for we have not so walked, although there was One who did.
We even find this statement in one of their books, "He Himself bore our sins up to the tree; but on the completion of His sacrifice, all that had to do with sin was ended. This is the most serious error of them all. It is positively a sinful statement. It makes the blessed and holy Lord Jesus have our sins upon Him during His life and prior to the cross, and that is shocking. It involves God looking down with pleasure on Him and saying that He found His delight in Him when sins were upon Him. How anyone who loves the Lord could endorse that statement is a mystery to us. He never had any sins upon Him except during those three awful hours of darkness when He was forsaken of God. We know that some reference Bibles give this same thought as an alternate reading for 1 Pet. 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24), but it only proves that alternate readings in the margins are not trustworthy, for in this case it is gross error, although sometimes they are more correct than the text.
Again, this system will not allow the distinctions between the "kingdom of heaven," the "kingdom of God," and the "Church of God." All are mixed together in hopeless confusion, but their system must be preserved at all cost. These distinct subjects are thus bent to mean the same thing, evidently so they can all head up together at one point of time. Some persons might be impressed by their frequent references to the Greek, but the Greek text will no more support their teaching than does the English New Testament.
Their confusion is further apparent when they come to expounding the parables of the kingdom of heaven, for it is plainly evident that the "kingdom of heaven" embraces empty, lifeless profession, along with true believers. But "No," says the systematized error. So when they come to such parables as the ten virgins, where the Word of God expressly says, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins," of whom five were foolish, and were finally rejected, they insist that inasmuch as the kingdom of heaven and the Church are the same, there are no mere professors in the former. Their only way around the statement of Matt. 25:11Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1) is to say that the five foolish are not in the kingdom of heaven, but God says they are. The whole system is redolent of the working of error, and one parable after another has to be distorted to suit their theory.
Perhaps their worst statement as to the parables is that they have some parts that are only "ornamentations." 0 the audacity of such a statement! Where is the "man... that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word"? Isa. 66:22For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2). We shudder to even repeat the statement or think of the dire consequences of thus impugning the words of the Lord of Glory who said that His words were "spirit" and "life." We may confess that we do not understand some of the words He spoke, but to think that He ever uttered a word that did not have a real meaning for us, but was only given to ornament a story, borders on things we do not like to mention. Doubtless, those who say such things have never thought of their seriousness, but have sought a way out of difficulties which came from trying to make their predetermined doctrine fit with the parables. If such a way of disposing of any words of Scripture is accepted it opens the way for anyone to toss out anything not to his liking.
We might mention their confusing the Morning Star (the Christian's hope) with the Sun of righteousness (Israel's hope). No one would think of making the morning star and the sun the same thing in nature, nor insist that they appear simultaneously, but in this system it is one of the results of forcing their point. The same disorder, results from mingling the instructions for the Jews at Christ's appearing with the admonitions to the Christians to look for Christ Himself. Apply Matt. 24:11And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. (Matthew 24:1).44 to Christians and you have the Christians in Judea and limited to a Sabbath day's journey; apply it where it belongs, to the Jewish people after the Christians are gone, and all is plain.
Surely the folly to which this system leads should be a warning to each of us to be careful not to bring our own thoughts to the Word of God, nor to press some notion of our own, for it may eventually lead to a system of error.
Nor should we forget that this system does away with what is so plainly marked in the New Testament, the expectation of the momentary return of the Lord. It was the hope of the early Thessalonians (indeed of all early believers) and was meant to be so down through the Church's history. The result of putting it off and looking for anything else (the Roman Empire, the man of sin, the beast, the great tribulation, etc.) is in principle saying, "My lord delayeth his coming." And in the measure that that hope has been lost, the Church has settled down in this world. O Christian, awake! awake! our Lord may call us hence at any moment. Let us watch and be sober.