Protecting Against Offshoot Deceptions

I believe that definite responsi­bility rests upon all our ministers a n d leaders in trying to safeguard our church members from the deceptions brought to bear upon them by offshoots that arise from time to time.

By E. K. SLADE, President North Pacific Union Conference

I believe that definite responsi­bility rests upon all our ministers a n d leaders in trying to safeguard our church members from the deceptions brought to bear upon them by offshoots that arise from time to time. From the beginning of our work many have come to us, or have risen-up from our midst, with burdens along lines intended to lead astray, or to confuse. And we are told that we shall see more of this as we draw near to the end.

Persons engaged in such movements have a method of approach that is intended to de­ceive. They do not announce themselves as enemies of the truth or as agents of the evil one. On the contrary, they pose as reformers having a message from God, manifesting a marvelous show of piety and devotion. They shrewdly draw statements from the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy, placing these in a setting that is intended to mislead. If possi­ble, they would deceive the very elect.

They so use the message of reproof that God has sent to His church as to make it ap­pear that the Lord has turned entirely away from His people. They artfully draw out statements that concern leaders and the min­istry in such a way as to deceive the people into thinking that God is an enemy to any one occupying a position of leadership in the church today. Many who are new in the faith, or who are not well established, are brought into confusion and discouragement, and oftentimes are wholly deceived, by such deceptive methods.

I do not believe that it is incumbent upon us to spend time in making attacks upon the deceivers of God's people. I incline to think that a far better way is for us to carry on a ministry that will strengthen and establish our people more fully in this message. First of all, let me stress the importance of having our candidates for baptism well prepared to join the church. And obviously there is quite a difference between joining the church and being joined to the Lord.

Many times per­sons are brought into the church prema­turely. They should be well established in all the doctrines, and should know t hem well. In addition to this, I believe that we should go much farther than we do in establishing people in the pro­visions of justification, forgiveness, sanctifica­tion, and salvation through grace. Herein lies our weakness in bringing people into this message.

I recall that wonderful statement made by Paul when he wrote to make an appointment with the believers in Spain. He brought into his letter these words: "I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." Paul understood by experience the power of God unto salvation, which is the very essence of the gospel. He was no stranger to the ex­perience of the indwelling Christ. He was acquainted with other doctrines and theories that pertained to the Lord's work, but in a deep and definite way he knew what it was to have Christ abiding within.

I do not wish to dwell too long upon this point; yet I wish strongly to emphasize the thought that we should go farther than we have been in the habit of going, in thoroughly establishing people in a sound Christian ex­perience. They should know what salvation through grace is. They should understand the gift of salvation fully. They should un­derstand that a body of doctrines, and all that we may say about organization and financial responsibilities in the church, amounts to but little, unless this more vital principle is under­stood and experienced.

You will understand, I am sure, that I am not minimizing the importance of candidates' being thoroughly indoctrinated. What I am trying to say is that there is no salvation in the doctrines alone. These may be understood perfectly and yet the individual still be wholly unfitted to come into church relationship. There is no power in doctrine alone to hold people. It is true there is an appeal in the beautiful harmony of our doctrines; yet, robbed of the presence and power of Christ and the meaning of the cross, the various Bible doctrines are not sufficient to hold the membership of our churches in a constant, deep, true experience.

I believe that candidates for baptism should be made thoroughly acquainted with the im­portance of organization. But I have in mind more than a theory of organization. They should know the great vital gospel principles that are involved in true organization. The individual coming into the church has much to give up. The wicked man must forsake his way. He consents to a relationship with his brethren that is of great significance. He cannot hope to follow an independent course.

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By E. K. SLADE, President North Pacific Union Conference

August 1938

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