BEWARE THE EXTREMIST
By Barney Keith, “The East Florence Contender”, November 1963
A very versatile word in the English language is “extremist.” Much like “legalist,” “radical,” and “hobbyist,” it can be called into play whenever desired. It would seem that ANY MAN could be called an extremist — it just depends on who is doing the calling and where he stands at the time. A sure way to prejudice unthinking people against a certain viewpoint or matter of doctrine is to charge, “That is an EXTREME view!” An effective tool for poisoning people against a preacher is to claim, “You know, he is an EXTREMIST!” Immediately the dull-witted close their ears to what he says. They make no effort to investigate the Word of God to determine whether it is the truth. All of us need studious minds, desire for truth, willingness to study for ourselves, and fair-mindedness in considering any matter. Above all we need respect for God’s Book!
STRANGE BUT OFTEN TRUE
Some very significant factors enter into this matter of irresponsible use of words, “He is just an extremist.”
§ Somehow it is ALWAYS the other fellow who is extreme – NEVER the speaker.
§ Frequently it is used by very “pious” men as a weapon to destroy another – as a prejudicial epithet.
§ Often the speaker may not be overly-concerned with the basic question of right and wrong. Yet it is better to be extremely right by following the truth than to be extremely wrong by rejecting it.
§ It may sometimes just be a self-protective device used by a person who is mortally afraid that HE may be identified with the extremists. Perish the thought! So, in accusing the other brother of extremism he implies – for his own safety – “I certainly am not like that. I am no extremist.”
NOT NECESSARILY SO
No one doubts that a man CAN be an extremist, but there are definitely some things that are NOT to be considered as marks of an extremist. If they are, the Bible is full of extremists (including God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the apostles, the prophets, etc.). Let us observe that:
§ One is not an extremist because he insists on divine authority from Christ for teaching and practice. The Holy Spirit requires this. (Col. 3:17; Heb 8:5.)
§ One is not an extremist because he rejects human traditionalism in religion – even though it may be “common practice of the brethren.” Jesus denounced such. (Matt.15:6-9.)
§ One is not an extremist because he refuses to encourage false teaching and teachers in any way. (2 John 9-11.) Fellowship with God is at stake here.
§ One is not an extremist because he publicly challenges men to give authority for their practices. Jesus did. (Matt. 21:24-27.)
§ One is not an extremist because he is willing to meet another in public encounter (that is, before an audience) and challenge a brother for his departure from the truth. Paul did so. (Gal. 2:11-14; Acts 15:1, 2.)
§ One is not an extremist because he calls the names of men who teach the churches error and cause digression. Paul sets the example for this. (2 Tim. 1:15; 2:15-18)
§ One is not an extremist because he presses the truth with vigorous contention for the faith. The apostles did and we are instructed to do so. (Jude 3; 1 Thess 2:1-2)
§ One is not an extremist because he refuses to back away from the thick of a fight for truth. Paul says God has not given us “the spirit of fear” (cowardice). (2 Tim. 1:7-8.) A gospel preacher should be ashamed to be a coward.
§ One is not an extremist because he teaches faithful Christians to mark and avoid brethren who teach contrary to apostolic doctrine. This is demanded. (Rom 16:17-18)
§ One is not an extremist simply because his teaching causes division. Jesus’ sword – the word of God – does some disturbing and dividing. (Matt 10:34-36.) Certainly not all division is laudable. Some of it is deplorable and sinful. It is always sinful to divide people by the preaching of error. On the other hand, division brought about by the proclamation of TRUTH – division that results when some men take their stand upon a “thus-saith-the-Lord” and others rally to their human traditions – is to be expected. It was so in New Testament days. It is true today. Men are OBLIGATED to teach the truth. And men are OBLIGATED to separate themselves from error. (Rom 16:17-18; II Cor 6:14-18)
THE REAL CONCERN
The real concern of every Christian should be to determine TRUTH. If one searches the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) and learns that a thing is taught of God, this truth is EXTREMELY right, and he must believe it, regardless of what others may say or do. To refuse to believe it simply because others may consider it to be extreme is to dishonor the Author of truth. When problems arise and when questions are raised about any matter, our interest must lie in the Word of God as an infallible, all-sufficient standard of correct faith and practice. As was stated before: IT IS BETTER TO BE EXTREMELY RIGHT BY FOLLOWING THE TRUTH THAN TO BE EXTREMELY WRONG BY REJECTING IT. &
FOR WHAT ARE WE TO BE BAPTIZED?
By Bob Myhan
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Here, we have Peter's inspired testimony that the purpose of baptism is to obtain "the remission of sins." This being the case, one's sins are not remitted, or forgiven, before he is baptized. If one's sins are not forgiven before he is baptized, he is not saved before he is baptized, because salvation and remission of sins are one and the same for the alien sinner.
Some contend that the word "for" means "because of" in Acts 2:38, as it does in Mark 1:44, where a man who had been healed of leprosy was told by Jesus, "Show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." It is asserted that, just as "for thy cleansing" in this passage obviously means, "because you were cleansed," "for the remission of sins” means "because your sins were remitted" in Acts 2:38.
While the word "for" can and often does mean "because of," it does not always convey this idea. For example, while instituting the Lord's Supper, Jesus said, concerning the fruit of the vine, "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Was the blood of Jesus shed "because of" the remission of sins or "in order to" the remission of sins? Clearly it is the latter. And if "for the remission of sins” means "in order to the remission of sins" here, why should it not mean "in order to the remission of sins" in Acts 2:38? That which Jesus shed His blood "in order to provide," is what penitent believers are to be baptized "in order to obtain."
And, while it is true that the leper in Mark 1:44 was cleansed of his leprosy before he offered "those things which Moses commanded," he did not have "a testimony" until after he offered "those things which Moses commanded." He was to offer them "in order to obtain" a testimony. &