The Law of Contrarieties
R.D.Ice June 7, 2016
Never were the faithful brethren in the Seven Churches of Revelation told to draw off to form a “true” church! Rather, they were to “hold fast what you have until I come.” “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” And the continual refrain: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Over some 66 years of working with the church, this writer has come across many things. The ‘Law of Contrarieties’ means to react to an idea, to oppose what that person thinks the idea means, sometimes without thinking through implications and consequences. Many years ago at a Lectureship a young preacher said some good things. And older brother got up and angrily denounced the things that he thought had been said. I went to him afterward and showed him that they were both saying the very same thing using different words.
“Uncle John” is a composite of people and places I have known over the years. These things really happened. Truth really is stranger than fiction.
Someone said of old Uncle John Rogers (not his real name), “He is the most spiritual man I know. He is so strict that he is against everything!” Uncle John would never allow the church to die. But, neither would he allow it to grow. If someone new came in, he would discourage them to move on.
Uncle John said, “I don’t remember who said it, but if the denominations go in and out the door, why, we will go in and out the window.” “We’ve got to be different,” he said, ”or we don’t have anything to preach.”
“What about preaching Christ?” someone asked.”
“Oh,” John said, “the denominations do that. We’ve got to tell people just how different we are, that we are the true church because we are different and peculiar.”
Paul said: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Cor. 2:2. The ancient church spoke of the Fish <”)))>< - Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior (ichthus). This was their faith.
A Brother came to hold a Gospel Meeting. The first night he preached that no one at all could be saved, except just maybe a tiny remnant. He quoted what Jesus said about "entering in at the strait gate." One of the young people asked, "what about Matt. 8:11 where Jesus said “many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the kingdom of heaven? And what about the ‘great number that no man can number’ in Revelation 7?"
The next night the brother preached on how sinful it was to have a kitchen in the church (building)." Uncle John said, "There has been enough gospel preached here tonight to save the world!"
Uncle John was against “premillenialism.” But he didn’t stop at that. If Christ would really come to usher in a 1000 year kingdom, Uncle John would have surely given Him a strong argument against it. “If premillenialism is true, why, you might as well just throw the Bible out the window!” But of course God doesn’t need our advice on what He does or does not do.
But Uncle John was so against the idea of a thousand year reign that he began following the AD 70 argument (Preterism). He bought a book on Revelation that taught that everything had been fulfilled when
was destroyed in
70 AD. For a while he taught that Christ
would never come again. This world would
just go on forever. But finally he had
to give that up when he saw where all this was leading. He knew that Jesus really is coming at the
end of the world. Jerusalem
Anything Uncle John didn’t want to have done, he would say that it was “just for the first century” and write it off. But when someone tried to tell him that “baptism was just for the first century,” he really got angry.
Someone tried to say that the Lord’s Supper was only for the first century. They quoted 1 Corinthians 11:20. “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” “See,” they said, “you cannot eat the Lord’s Supper today.” But Uncle John would have none of that.
Someone said that the bread should never be broken before passing it. “You are breaking the body of Christ. It is only right when each person breaks off a piece.” And for a while Uncle John argued that the bread should not be broken before it is passed. Then another argued that since the ‘elements’ had been blessed in the morning worship, they should not be blessed again when offered at the evening service. And for a time Uncle John offered the Lord’s Supper at the evening service without ‘blessing’ it. But a visiting brother attacked that, and Uncle John again “blessed” the Lord’s Supper at the evening service.
Someone argued that only those who are WORTHY are authorized to take the Communion. He went on to convince Uncle John that nobody could be worthy. That Sunday the Communion was passed and no one would take any. They were afraid of being condemned for claiming to be worthy. But the Bible says: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” 1 Cor 11:28 (NKJV)
One of the young people said: Doesn’t it say, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Cor 13:5 (NKJV) If Jesus Christ is in us, we are worthy because of our faith in Him.
A visiting brother said, “You can buy all the Holy Spirit that is in the world for 10 cents.” He was speaking of a paperback New Testament. But Uncle John said, “You’re wrong. Simon the Sorcerer tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit and got into trouble. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible.”
But Uncle John was sure that the Holy Spirit was just for the first century, and that only the apostles had ever received the Holy Spirit. For a while he began teaching that the New Testament did not really begin until Acts 2:22, and that all Peter quoted from Joel applied only to the Old Testament times. He began teaching that since Jesus lived under the Law, you should ignore all that Jesus said and taught. But Jesus Himself said His word would judge us at the last day, John 12:48.
When some of the young people began singing: “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit In This Place,” (page 882 in Praise For The Lord), Uncle John called the elders together and said those young people should be put out of the church to protect it. “Why, there never was a Spirit in this place, sweet or otherwise.” But Paul said: "Quench not the Spirit."
Uncle John decided that the Holy Spirit was the Written Word, and that anyone could only have the Spirit as he read the Bible. But someone asked, “What about those who cannot read, or who do not have a Bible? Is the Holy Spirit out of reach of such a person? And if you say we do not have the Holy Spirit because we now have the Bible, would you also say we no longer need Christ because we now have the church?”
When he was reminded of Cornelius being baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-17), and that Philip’s four daughters had prophesied (Acts 21:9), he began teaching like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “The holy spirit is just a power like electricity. ‘It’ is not a person at all.” One preacher said “It (the Spirit) is just a messenger like Moses.” And another preacher wrote a book in which he “proved” that all the restoration pioneers were Unitarians like the Jehovah Witnesses.
But the JWs have strange ideas about Who Jesus Is. They teach Jesus was only a man, or perhaps an angel. He read in the JW Bible Version that John was preparing the way of Jehovah (Luke 3:4 LORD = Jehovah) and compared this with Isaiah 42:8 (“I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another...”) and he had to change again. Surely Jesus was Jehovah and the teaching about the Trinity was true. Father-Son-Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). [
spoke of Jehovah
the Father, Jehovah the Son, Jehovah the Holy Spirit.] Campbell
Uncle John decided that the Holy Spirit “is just the Spirit of God.” Someone said that was like saying “Jesus is only the Son of God.”
insisted that this is the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19-20). Campbell
Uncle John met some Pentecostals who spoke about the Indwelling Holy Spirit and quoted Bible to prove this. “Impossible!” he said. “Why, the Spirit would just burn them up! The Holy Spirit could never actually indwell anyone. It’s just a figure of speech.”
Then he got to thinking. If the Spirit would just burn them up, how could Jesus be the Son of God in the flesh? So for a period of time, he began teaching that Jesus “just wore a disguise” and was not really God in human form. But the Bible really does teach Jesus as the Son of God who came in flesh and blood (2 John 7; 1 John 5:6), and he finally had to give this idea up. Note 1 John 4:1-4. One who denies that Jesus is the Christ who came in flesh & blood has committed a serious sin.
Some time later an evangelist from another State came to hold a Gospel Meeting for the church. He preached on Wednesday night that “The church must grow from the inside out.” He said that love was even more important than faith and hope, and he quoted Paul to prove it (1 Cor. 13:13). That was just too much for Uncle John. “Why the church has gone all these years without love. That’s just these change-agents trying to get their two cents in.” [The church really hadn’t gone without love.]
Someone reminded him of what Jesus said about the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second greatest about loving neighbor. “Jesus taught about God’s love for us in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He taught about loving neighbor in the Good Samaritan. And Jesus taught that love is the identifier of a true disciple (John 13:34-35).”
But Uncle John remembered a friend who said everything in the Bible is negative! This friend could read the divorce issue into every verse of the Bible. He would ask this friend what to do about the “love” issue. “Forget this love thing. They are making it too easy. Just concentrate on duty. The righteous are scarcely saved.” But of course Jesus Himself said that Christian love was the identifier by which all would know His disciples (John 13:34-35). And John spoke of the eternal hope we have in Jesus (1 John 3:1-3; 4:2-4,13,17-18).
said he tried to approach the Bible
every morning as if he had never seen it before. He meant that he tried to read the Bible
without any preconceived ideas and biases.
When we read a newspaper, we unconsciously use the laws of language and
communication to understand what we read.
Perhaps it would help to read the Bible as if it were a newspaper, or a
letter from God. Paul warned of some who
“strive about words to no profit” (2 Timothy 2:14). Compare 1 Timothy 6:4. David Lipscomb wrote: “They had such a morbid
fondness for questionings and disputings over untaught questions and words that
it amounted to a disease. These men deal
with subtle, useless and unpractical questions, which have no bearing on
ordinary life, and only tend to stir up strife and useless discussions, and
make men discontented and rebellious.” Campbell
Let us never forget what Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:18-19. “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” NKJV
F.L.Rowe wrote in his book: “The History of Reformatory Movements:” “Forgiveness takes place in the mind of God, and not in the heart of the sinner.” Compare Hebrews 8:7-13.
Brinsmead wrote: “It makes a lot of difference whether we think the body is a prison (of the soul) or a temple of the Holy Ghost. 1 Cor. 6:19.”
The New Testament church had every problem we have today. “The Church (at Corinth), torn with divisions, plagued by sex scandals, involved with lawsuits, weakened by corruption of the worship and the neglect of the poor, was one of Paul’s greatest evangelistic successes. The corrupt urban society of
was a fertile ground for Paul’s preaching.
His success in the pagan and hedonistic culture had a profound impact on
the development of Christianity throughout the ages. Paul was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit
when faced with the daunting task of changing the Corinthians into the very
body of Christ. The two letters of Paul
to the Corinthians deal with issues that have been relevant throughout history
and will continue to inspire the Church till the end of time. In these letters, Paul deals with tawdry sex
scandals taking place within the Christian community and also gives one of the
loftiest descriptions of true Christian love ever given.” [adapted from Stephen Doyle] Corinth
As Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word.” Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matt 5:16