by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXII

February, 1943

 Number 7

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

The saint normally loves his fellows and is keenly conscious of his short-comings.  This makes him reluctant to judge others.  Unless he has become abnormal, he regrets the necessity of judging another.  He may become fleshy or "carnal," to the extent that he really enjoys "dropping from membership in the church," a member of whom he is not specially fond.  The same "carnality" will cause him to overlook glaring sins on the part of those who are in the "inner circle" in the church.  

Is there ever a necessity of judging others?  An organized church will become a stench in the nostrils of society, unless it excludes from its membership, those who persist in living shameful lives.  

But when a group of saints recognize themselves as members, not of some organization, but of the body of Christ, this necessity vanishes.  Under this condition a saint will "abominate" a willfully unclean life on the part of another, but there is nothing from which he can exclude the offender.  Nor does he want to exclude him something.  He is content to leave hem in the hands of the Lord. 

This evidently, is why Paul was so glad when the time came that he could say to the saints, "Come out of their midst and be severed," II Cor. 6:17.  The Corinthian church was an organization, much as churches today.  If not, how could they expel the wicked one from among themselves, as Paul instructed them in I Cor. 5:13?  Paul was forced to judge this wicked member of the church, and he told the church to do the same.  It was necessary.  The church became divided into four factions—Paulinians, Cephians, Appollonians and Christians.  This created a rivalry that caused each faction to strive to secure new members.  When any church becomes hungry for members it loses sight of the necessity of qualifications, but takes in all who can be persuaded to join.  In this way the organization becomes partly filled with unbelievers.  This was the case in Corinth.  

This condition of sectarianism was a necessity, "that those, also, who are qualified may be becoming apparent among you," I Cor. 11:19.  I said a member-hungry church loses sight of the necessity of qualifications.  This is what had taken place in Corinth.  Paul was glad of the sectarianism, because it so filled the organization with unbelievers, that he was able to write to the qualified ones in the church as follows: "Do not become diversely yoked with unbelievers.  For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?  Or what communion has light with darkness?  Now what agreement has Christ with Belial?  Or what a believer with an unbeliever?  Now what concurrence has the temple of God with idols.  For YOU are the temple of the living God, according as God said, that 'I shall be making My home and shall walk among them, and I will be their God, and THEY shall be My people.'  Wherefore, 'Come out of their midst and be severed,' the Lord is saying, 'and touch not the unclean, and I will admit you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,' is saying the Lord Almighty." II Cor. 6:14-18. 

Saints constitute the temple of God; the organization is excess baggage.  God has made us members of the body of Christ.  We are the out-called—the ecclesia.  Nowhere is it said that we are members of the church, or even of the ecclesia.  We are the ecclesia.  One saint is the ecclesia.  A hundred saints are the ecclesia.  We are members of the body of Christ. 

When Paul had called the qualified ones to "come out," he then could write, "Who are YOU who are judging Another's domestic?  To his own Master he is standing or falling," Rom. 14:4.  The idea is, having severed themselves from the organization, saints do not belong to anything except the Lord.  They are domestics of that Master, and are not subject to any "church-conference."  They may do right, or they may do wrong.  Their standing or their falling is not in the hands of the 'church."  The Master looks after that. 

This is the normal attitude of the saint—to refrain from fudging others.  And he is happy when he sees there is no necessity for it.  Having nothing for another to "join," there is nothing from which he can expel another.  The most unworthy person may attend the meetings regularly, and those who are living close to the Lord are not contaminated, and no one thinks of them as partaking of the sins of the unworthy one.  They do not condone a willfully unclean life, any more than if they were in position to "exercise disciplinary powers" over the offender.  But they recognize that the offending one is standing or falling before the Master.  

Having "come out of their midst," what are we to do in cases where offenses are committed?  We are to avoid teachers who "are making dissentions and snares," besides the teaching set forth in the Roman epistle, Rom. 16:17.  It would be foolish to encourage such teachers to confuse the saints by teachings that are contrary to the truth.  Such ones divide.  They make dissensions.  They are to be avoided, for they break the unity of the spirit.  But they should not be hated by us.  

In the matter of recognizing elders, we should refuse those who persist in sectarianism, or factionalism, or denominationalism.  But this refusal should be after we have admonished them twice, Titus 3:10.  Sectarian men have divided the saints into different "bodies."  Knowing who insists that denominationalism is the ideal thing for saints.  And we should be careful that our work does not become sectarian or denominational.  

The "great house" mentioned by Paul in II Tim. 2:20 is evidently the organized "church."  When he wrote I Tim. it was the pillar and base of the truth, I Tim. 3:15.  Now it had become a great house, containing not only utensils for honor, but also some for dishonor.  We are to purge ourselves form these, so that we will be useful to the Owner, and ready for every good ace.  We cannot purge ourselves from the vessels for dishonor, without "coming out of their midst."  If we want God to use us, this is what we must do.  Now, being in a non-organized state, and recognizing the ecclesia as an organism instead of an organization, we are to pursue faith, love and peace with all who are invoking the Lord out of a clean heart, II Tim. 2:21,22.  A clean life is evidence of a clean heart.  Doctrine is not the scriptural basis of fellowship.  Paul did not even non-fellowship those who denied the resurrection, I Cor. 15.  A willfully unclean life is evidence of an unclean heart.  Being mistaken as to doctrine is no such evidence.  

I have used the word, "willfully," several times in this editorial.  Many wrong things that are not willful, are done by saints.  I mentioned, in the beginning of the editorial, that a saint is normally conscious of his own short-comings.  No one can say what he is going to do on any given occasion.  The man who is "overtaken also in some offense," Gal. 6:1, is evidently one who has been subjected to sudden and unexpected trial.  Such a one becomes out of tune with the Lord.  It is our privilege to attune such a one.  We should do it in the spirit of meekness, not in the spirit of superiority.  We should remember that it mat be his turn next, to attune us, for we may be tried and stumble, just as he has done.  Many times a saint commits a wrong that is not in his heart.  He has not intended to do it.  When the wrong thing is said or done, he feels deeply humiliated and grieved.  If I know about it, and snub him as if I were above trial.  I am acting more unworthily than he has done.. Having already committed many offenses, I cannot ever consider myself superior to any other saint.  I must love him in spite of his "stumbling."  

Peter thought he would never deny his Lord.  It was far from his heart to do so.  But, under trial, he did it.  The record tells us that he went outside and wept bitterly.  There is no doubt that all the other disciples thought Peter had done something they would not nave done.  In all probability they felt their superiority. The Lord knew it, but He felt only love and pity for the weeping offender.  When Peter was bating the ground with his tears he was far more pleasing to the Lord than were the others, in their smugness.  One of the most touching passages in the word of God is Mark 16:7, where we are told that when the messenger sent word to the disciples that Jesus had risen, he made special mention of Peter, "Go, say to His disciples and to Peter, that He is preceding you into Jerusalem."  How blessed this is!  Peter was a disciple, but, at the moment he thought himself to be on the outside.  No doubt the others thought so, too.  They were probably ready to declare non-fellowship for him.  But he is specially mentioned when the message of the resurrection is sent. 

May we learn a lesson here?  Smugness—a drawing of our garments close about us for fear we will be contaminated—would please the Pharisees, but such conduct and attitude is far from pleasing to the Lord.  Christ loves and pities the faltering, stumbling saints, who feel themselves vary unworthy because of their offenses.  It is not in their heart to do wrong.  But under sudden trial they do.  They loathe themselves  But the Lord does not loathe them  He loves them.  

We are not to assent to an accusation against an elder, unless there be more than one witness, I Tim. 5:17.  This is important.  

Two saints who disagree as to methods, could hardly work together.  But there is no reason why they should not have fellowship for each other.  When they do agree as to doctrine and methods, why not work together?  To be more explicit, we who believe universal reconciliation should be working with others of like faith, if their liver are clear of willful uncleanness.  Where there are dissensions because of personal matters, it is a grievous situation.  Fellowship is far too precious to be tampered with in such a way.  When we find saints steering clear of each other because of leaders, we deplore it.  There is a diversity of gifts in the ministry, and just because one preacher beat all the others to a field, he should not be encouraged to horn others our, like a bull.  If the saints want to hear other teachers, they should have the privileges.  

No certain field belongs to any certain man.  I have made it a point to encourage the coming into "my field," of others who teach the precious truth of God.  I do not encourage those whom i Know sow seeds of discord.  But those who come with the precious message of God for us, are far more than welcome. 

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