ABUSIVE USE OF GOD'S WORD!   by Jim Langford on FactNet

In April 1988 a letter was written to an older brother, one long respected by his brethren and in his community as a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, reprimanding him for his “cowardly action” in refusing to accept disciplinary action against his own son. His son and his son’s wife had been charged with being “absent from meetings for over a year” and having “walked in a compromising manner” by meeting with another group of “divisive” Christians.

I have written before about the abusive use of God’s Word to conjure up a burden of guilt and shame against brothers and sisters who are guilty of nothing more than being loyal to their God-given consciences in the face of pressure from authoritative leaders. There are adequate warnings in the Scriptures about being on guard against distorting the truth, using the Law improperly and not correctly handling the Word of Truth. Some men, however, have become quite innovative at devising analogies to support their evil actions. But the letter I am about to quote from was especially unpalatable and despicable. It treaded under foot sacred ground. I appealed to the one who composed that letter and the many Sacramento brethren who appended their signatures to it, but there was nary a response. I again call this to their attention. The letter reads:

“How surely sad and hurtful your cowardly action has been to God and to those who, based on the word of God, have taken a stand against their own children. Is this a new test of God? Have you forgotten Abraham of whom God said ‘…now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.’ (Gen. 22:13) Brother ______, you’re going to meet this Abraham one day!

“God Himself turned His back on His perfect Son as the Lord Jesus cried ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?’ And, the unspoken answer comes back… ‘Because of ______ ____! Brother ______, you’re going to meet God and His Son one day!

“The ones among us who have followed in the steps of Abraham, have done so with the love of God in their hearts and the hope that one day (may it be soon) they might see their children ashamed and restored to fellowship with God and some of His people. They have eternal vision that yearns for their children to be laying up treasures in heaven and they are willing to discipline them now in the hope that their children’s sowing to the flesh will be shortened. Your action has immeasurably delayed their restoration. You have strengthened them in their carnality. Shame!

“The Lord Jesus said, ‘If you love me keep my commandments.’ Your words of love for the Lord have become lip service like Eli whose house had to be judged because he would not discipline his children (1 Sam. 3:13).”

[Appended were the signatures of the author and 25 other men]

There’s something appalling about that letter! It exudes a stench that even those with a pharisaical, hypocritical, censorious and self-righteous attitude should not be able to endure. But lo, with nostrils pinched, they sought to win back their brother with such tactics. To the contrary, that brother (and many others!) became increasingly convinced that something was terribly wrong with the fellowship he was once part of. In an addendum to this writing I will review the portions of Scripture slandered in this letter.

This letter showed absence of all restraint in marshalling against a brother in Christ Bible passages that have to do with eternal redemption, the very process by which the Eternal Son “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Let’s examine carefully what they did with their analogies.

“Have you forgotten Abraham,” the letter queries. Isaac, remember, was the ONLY seed through which the promised Messiah would come, the one through whom all nations would be blessed. Abraham was to slay the one whose birth was miraculous, the one who was guilty of no crime, who was an unusually dutiful, loving and obedient child. Isaac faced no “discipline” here! He was not like Eli’s sons, nor was he an Ishmael (who, by the way, was truly “put out!”). Abraham was commanded to do a thing for which, at the time, no reason could be assigned save the authority of Him who gave the command! WAS EVER SUCH A COMMAND MADE BY GOD UPON A HUMAN CREATURE BEFORE OR SINCE?

And yet, some men today, by putting away their children, claim to “have followed in the steps of Abraham.” And thinking “they have eternal vision,” compare the “discipline” they have meted out with the most exalted and magnificent act of the ages! Is taking a “stand against their own children…a new test of God?” they proclaim. And then, in the very next breath, they unhesitatingly leap into the most sacred of heavenly realms and liken their “stand” to that which Abraham’s test really pictured: the “forsaken” Son on the Cross of Calvary!

The writer of Hebrews, under divine inspiration, made the application that Abraham’s test prefigured (Heb. 11:17-19). And David, with supernatural vision, first uttered the words (Psa. 22) that will continue to reverberate throughout eternity: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Read those accounts, you brethren who concocted and signed that infamous letter, with unjaundiced eyes and humble hearts, and just try to find inspired parallels to the “disciplinary” action you expected our dear brother to take! Then admit that YOU HAVE invented a “new test of God” and BE “ASHAMED!” God’s “answer” to the horrible cry of His Only Begotten Son WAS SPOKEN in vivid detail so that there could be no misunderstanding by anyone. Read Isaiah 53, verses 5-12! The mundane analogy you have attempted was “unspoken” simply because it was unspeakable.

Our brother is now with “this Abraham,” and he’s rejoicing with him that God ALSO STAYED HIS HAND at the last moment and he RETURNED AGAIN WITH HIS SON (Gen. 22:5, 12). And, yes, our brother is now with the Lamb of God and His Father in Glory, and he understands (as we all will) that only God had the infinite wisdom, the almighty power and the all-encompassing LOVE to “stand against” His Precious Son at that appointed moment in eternity. You see, other men (including us) turned against Him when He was “without spot or blemish.” The Father rejected Him ONLY when He bore YOUR sins and OURS. Neither situation fits the parallels you tried to draw.

You continue to consume one another while the “principalities” and “powers” do their deceptive deeds in your midst undetected and unhindered. Who is there among you with the courage to STAND UP AND OBJECT? Or have most of you succumbed to the fear that you also may face inquisition and possible separation from your loved ones? Brethren, “cowardly action” has another face.