An Inevitable Warfare.
We live in an age that may be called one of religious tolerance. And we may surely appreciate the fact that in this age we are able without the pressure of persecution for our faith to worship our Covenant God as He has revealed Himself to us and to instruct our children even in their day schools along the lines of the truth as we know it. However we ought not to be deceived into overlooking the fact that this very age of religious tolerance is in the service of the Antichrist and will ultimately realize his final dreadful appearance as pictured to us in Rev. 13 and other passages of Scripture.
Our very government promises us freedom of religion, and we do wrong to despise this protection. We must see in this the hand of the Lord whom we fear whereby He makes it possible for the Church to develop the truth and to spread geographically so that all nations, tongues and tribes may receive the truth and every last elect may be brought to saving faith. However, at the same time, we must realize that this very freedom of religion, which makes it possible for the true church to develop and grow in faith and number, also favors all the false doctrines of the false church and paves the way for the false Christ in his final form in the last days of this world. It affords the Arminian and the Modernist not only, but also the Communist and Atheist the opportunity to approach you and your children. It gives them equal rights with you and your church and doctrine. It gives the chief priests and elders, the Judases and Pilates of today the right to say anything about the Christ they desire. It gives them the right to condemn Him as an imposter and leader of insurrection or to extol Him as a social reformer whose body has returned to the dust as that of all men and who lives only in the lives of men and the teachings he left behind. It allows the forces of darkness to prophecy and point out a new savior of the world in the person of the Antichrist.
And what of the fear of the Lord in this age of religious tolerance? Is it idle? Does it compromise with these false presentations of the Christ? Does it seek to uphold them and say that they too should be given freedom to spread their lie? Let us answer this in a philosophical way and present our idea of these things. That has no value. But let the Word of God speak! And then let us be silent in reverence and awe before Him. Let us answer these questions in the fear of the Lord.
No sooner had false doctrine and the beginnings of the antichrist’s kingdom appeared on this earth and God declared that He in His grace will put enmity between His Church and all the seed of Antichrist’s kingdom. He not only prophecies a battle; He promises it to His Church. He tells His Church in the land of Canaan, the land of promise that she must utterly wipe out all the unbelievers. He gives His people the ability to do so, and when they have not even the weapons of warfare, He gives them the victory nevertheless. You may say that this was all typical. Let it be so, it surely does not teach even as a type that the Church recognizes the right of these false doctrines and worships to exist. And time and again in the New Testament the Church is told to fight a spiritual warfare. Jesus said once, “Think not that I am come to send peace: I come not to send peace, but a sword.”. And listen to what follows in the next verse, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own house.” To this is likewise added, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” This last verse reveals that the variance, the warfare, the conflict is there because of their attitude and relationship to Christ. It teaches us that we may not even allow our closest relatives according to the flesh the right to their own opinion of the truth. We must dare to differ and to defend the Word of God and His honor and glory. We must live in the fear of the Lord and not in the fear of the wrath of our father or mother. Our reverence and awe before God, our desire to uphold the honor and glory of Him, should be first and last. The fear of the Lord will inevitably fight false doctrines. Note that we say that the fear of the Lord will fight false doctrines. We do not fight the flesh. Paul declares in his letter to the , that we must put on the whole armor of God in order that we may withstand the wiles of the devil. This is necessary, he declares, because we wrestle not with flesh and blood. Here too we are told that the fear of the Lord fights. It does not simply defend the truth and fight a defensive battle. It also, according to this passage, tells us to take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and wage an offensive warfare. In his epistle to Timothy he speaks of having fought the good fight. In his first epistle to the Corinthians he speaks of having waged warfare with the beasts at Ephesus. The fear of the Lord fights false doctrines. That is inevitable just because it is the fear of the Lord. Because the believer, and in the measure that the believer, loves God, has respect for Him and His truth, he cannot be quiet and idle. He will defend, maintain and promote the truth. And that means fighting the lie. That means making no compromise with false doctrines at all.
Of course the battle against false doctrines which the fear of the Lord incites is and must be waged in the fear of the Lord. It must be waged in order to defend the truth and because we desire to have God receive all the glory due unto His name. And then it must be waged in such a way that we do defend the truth and not violate some other phase of it by our actions and so that we ourselves in our deeds ascribe to God the glory due to His name. It must be waged not to split denominations, not to set the father and son against each other, although this may be the result as Matthew 10 teaches. But the purpose of our defense of the truth must be to save the brother and/or the church from the lie. And it must then be waged out of that principle and not for self-advancement or because we like to argue and fight.
In this connection it may also be stated that we must wage warfare with all false doctrines in order to save our children and the future church from the lie. The lie grows as a cancer, and any doctrine which presents the truth of Scripture in a wrong light, if it is not condemned, will soon produce more foulness and presently death. It is simply an undeniable truth that if we do not fight false doctrines, we further their cause and help to establish them. It is to be regretted that churches must be split in this way, that families must be broken up and friendships be lost, but Christ reminds us that so it will be. And that this is the case is not due to our fighting the false doctrine, but it is due to the refusal of those who hold on to that false doctrine to accept the truth of God’s Word in His fear. The fear of the Lord does not make these divisions and does not destroy the church. Let us bear in mind that the false doctrine and the tenacious adherence to it sets the father against his son and causes a man’s foes to be those of his own house. If all those who adhere to false doctrines would live according to the fear of the Lord, they would renounce the lie, and the schisms and divisions would be healed. But the church that holds the truth may never renounce its stand to enjoy a little fleshly peace. Christ came to bring a sword, He declares it Himself. And for the sake of our children, for the sake of the church of the future as well as for the glory of God, we in the fear of His name must take up that sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and stand against the wiles of the devil as they come to us in the form of false doctrines.
It grieves us therefore when friends and advocates of Christian instruction fail to see the need of defending the truth and of fighting the lie in the daily training of God’s Covenant children in the day schools. It is disappointing to hear such say that schools which propose to teach the children along reformed lines and to protect the children from false doctrines which present erroneous and dangerous world and life views are not necessary. Although we have not personally ever heard the matter, it has been brought to our attention that there is a “new vacuum cleaner” and “new automobile” story circulating to defend this stand. It is pointed out that when a salesman comes to sell you a new vacuum cleaner or new automobile—that is, so we heard the story, and we hope that we could be mistakenly informed—the salesman knows better than to run down your old vacuum cleaner or automobile. He knows that he is apt to lose a sale by such tactics. By borrowing this illustration from business life the principle of not “running down” the schools which depart from the truth in their instruction is defended. Now, let it be clearly understood that we stated a moment ago that we may not fight false doctrines except for the defense of the truth, the glory of God and to protect and deliver others from the lie and its influence. Let it be clearly understood, then, that we too thoroughly condemn “running down” any school for its false doctrine. However, we do believe in condemning false doctrines and we have a few remarks to make in application of this stand of Scripture that a battle for the truth is inevitable for the fear of the Lord.
1. The truth we love and believe is denied, and though we may not “run down” the schools which deny it, we must inform our children of it and provide something better for them. Such schools are necessary. The old vacuum cleaner no longer gives satisfactory service, and we ought to look for another. 2. Repairing the old vacuum cleaner has been proven to be impossible. It is steadily becoming worse. Not only are we and will we always be so far in the minority that we can never realize a change, but it is increasingly becoming plain that we are not wanted. Witness, for example, the recent wholly unfounded and unexplainable refusal to consider our denomination worthy of having delegates at the next Reformed Ecumenical Synod while others are accepted in spite of their Arminianism. Our world and life view is not wanted in the schools either. With our men in the boards a few minor changes may be achieved, the glaringly Arminian statements may be toned down, but we will never to any degree get our world and life view taught by those who themselves do not believe it. 3. To defend these schools which teach false doctrines and therefore false world and life views and refusing to get behind and support proposed or already existing schools, which have for their purpose the purer instruction, is to run down these schools which seek to protect our children from the lie and to teach them so that in all things God’s name receives the glory due unto it. In that case it is the one called upon to buy the vacuum cleaner who runs down the better product of the salesman, though his own is in bad shape. 4. The fear of the Lord can only move us to open the doors of our schools to all who are eager to have their children taught in the truth as we know it. The fear of the Lord is never selfish, never seeks to advance the interest of a few men but seeks the welfare of the entire Church of God to the glory of His name. It is very doubtful whether many outside our denomination will send their children to be taught the doctrines we believe. They now make no attempt themselves to improve their own schools. But if there are such, we surely in the fear of the Lord would rejoice in teaching their children the truth. The fear of the Lord fights false doctrines and does so just exactly to build up and prosper the spiritual life of the brother in Christ.