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    May 15, 1907

    “Turning People Out of the Church” The Medical Missionary, 16, 20, pp. 154, 155.

    ATJ

    ALONZO T. JONES

    LAST week, in the study of the Scriptures, we found that in the church of Christ, in dealing with any who are in fault, the only procedure prescribed, is for the gaining and restoring of them and the keeping of them in the church if possible. We found that in the New Testament there is no provision made for turning people out of the church, and that there is no procedure to be undertaken in the spirit or with the design of turning persons out of the church, but only for gaining and restoring them and keeping them in; and that every effort is to be exhausted to accomplish this. And when the one who is in the fault refuses and stands out against all these efforts, then, of his own choice and by his own course, he is out of the church. Recall the words in the quotation given: “He who rejects this united overture has... severed himself from the fellowship of the church;” and also the words of Scripture, “He that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 154.1

    However, while there is not in the New Testament any provision made for turning people out of church, there is in the New Testament a plain account of the thing. And here it is, “I wrote unto the church; but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words; and not content therewith, neither does he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would and casteth them out of the church.” 3 John 9, 10.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 154.2

    This shows that the spirit and working that turns people out of church, is altogether different from that of the New Testament, which exhausts every effort “in the spirit of meekness” to “gain” to “restore,” and to keep in the church those who have been “overtaken in a fault.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 154.3

    First, it springs from the love of having the preeminence; and by this of itself, and at the one first step, the man who has it puts himself in the place of Christ. For in the church of Christ, and with every Christian, Christ “is the head of the body, the church, ... that in all things he might have the preeminence.” In the church of Christ and with all Christians there is no such thing as eminence; even much less is there any such thing as pre-eminence; for there, “One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren,” and each one is servant to all. Whosoever therefore would love to have only eminence among Christians, has another spirit than that of Christ; but when anyone loveth to have the pre-eminence, that is at once to put himself in the place of Christ himself, and is of the very spirit of anti-Christ. For whenever anyone puts himself in the place of Christ he is certain to act unlike Christ; and that is anti-Christ.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.1

    Second: The next step was exactly in accord with his putting himself in the place of Christ—he took it upon himself to decide just what the church should receive or not receive. A letter was written “to the church;” but Diotrephes would not allow the church to receive it. This letter was written by John, a chosen apostle of the Lord Jesus; and was written to a church of the Lord Jesus. It was therefore the word of Christ to his own Church. But Diotrephes would not himself receive the letter, and would not let the church receive it; and repudiated even Christ’s apostle who wrote the letter, and prated against him with malicious words.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.2

    Third: He would not even receive the brethren by whom the letter was sent. And when some of the brethren of the church had the mind and heart to receive those brethren, Diotrephes forbade them. And when some of the members of the church disregarded his command, and received those brethren, then he cast them out of the church.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.3

    Such is the procedure, and that is the only kind of procedure, by which people are turned out of the church. But it is not Christian procedure; it is papal procedure, and that alone. All that the papacy has ever been is revealed in this account of the procedure of Diotrephes—the love of preeminence, in which he put himself in the place of Christ, and opposed and exalted himself above Christ and above his word; usurped the authority over Christ’s servants; and assumed, and presumed to exercise, the satanic prerogative of severing from Christ’s body his own members, and casting them out.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.4

    Thus in that procedure by Diotrephes there is in the beginning of that long course of apostasy that made the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, in all that it had ever been or ever can be. For, all the indications are that this affair of Diotrephes occurred at Ephesus. And to the elders of the church at Ephesus Paul had already said, years before, “Of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;” “grievous wolves, not sparing the flock.” And Ephesus is the name chosen by the Lord Jesus himself as representative of the first of the Seven Churches—that one that had left her first love.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.5

    This apostasy exemplified in Diotrephes continued. He was followed by others who loved to have the preeminence, and the number of these multiplied; for such is the spirit of the carnal mind and of the natural heart. These who thus exalted themselves to the preeminence, assumed to themselves only the title of bishop, while the others in the same office precisely must be designated as only presbyters. And it was only a few years before these self-exalted “bishops” and their supporters actually taught the following blasphemous stuff:—MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.6

    “It is manifest that we should look upon the bishop, even as we would upon the Lord himself.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.7

    “He who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop, does in reality serve the devil.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.8

    A few years more and they had got far enough along to teach the following of the same sort:—MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.9

    “The church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the church is controlled by these same rulers.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.10

    “Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the church and the church in the bishop, and if any one is not with the bishop, that he is not in the church.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.11

    But, as we have seen, in the church where Diotrephes was, there were some Christians who disregarded his preeminence and would not recognize his commands. There were likewise in all the churches true Christians who disregarded the preeminence of these self-exalted bishops, and would not obey their wicked commands, but would honor and obey Christ instead. And, like the Christian in the church where Diotrephes was, these too were “cast out of the church” and denounced of heresy, apostasy, and of causing diversion. The following is an example of this:—MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.12

    “Neither have heresies arisen, nor have schisms originated, from any other source than from this, that God’s priest is not obeyed; nor do they consider that there is one person for the time, priest in the church, and for the time judge in the stead of Christ; whom if, according to divine teaching, the whole fraternity should obey, no one would stir up anything against the college of priests; ... no one would rend the church by a division of the unity of Christ.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.13

    Then just because these were thus denounced and cast out of the church, and were thus counted as outside “the pale of unity,”—of the bishops—the churches were warned against them as heretics and not to be listened to. They might be teaching in perfect Christian faithfulness the very truth of Christ, even just as they had taught it before they disobeyed the bishops and were denounced as heretics, yet that could not be recognized now; and so it was flatly declared that it mattered not what they might teach, and that no one need even to ask “what” any of these might be teaching; so long as he teaches out of thepale of unity.”MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.14

    And this “pale of unity” was nothing else than the arbitrary assumption and presumption of the monarchial and despotic “bishops” who loved to have the preeminence, and would cast out of the church every one who would not recognize and bow to it.MEDM May 15, 1907, page 155.15

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