LIPSCOMB AND WHITESIDE ON THOSE WHO CAUSE DIVISIONS
DAVID LIPSCOMB (1831-1917):
In his remarkable comments on Romans 16:17-18, David Lipscomb stated: “No greater evil, according to the Scriptures, could befall the churches than the divisions arising from the introduction of teachings and practices not required by God. The fundamental truth of the Bible is that God alone has the right to direct and guide the faith and service of his children. Everything added to the work or worship of God by man is a usurpation in the sight of God, and ought to be resisted. Things that enter into the worship of God ought to be distinguished from the things indifferent and from mere expedients used to help men in performing the service of God that render them comfortable while doing the worship. These constitute no part of the service, but are helps to man while doing that service, not additions to it. (Here Lipscomb has in mind such things as church buildings in which to assemble, pews on which to sit, a table for the Lord’s Supper, hymnals, etc., hf). All additions to the service of God are sinful and cause divisions. God has forbidden that anything be added to what he has required. There cannot be a doubt but that the use of instrumental music in connection with the worship of God, whether used as a part of the worship or as an attractive accompaniment, is unauthorized by God and violates the oft-repeated prohibition to add nothing to, take nothing from, the commandments of the Lord. It destroys the difference between the holy and the unholy, counts the blood of the Son of God unclean, and tramples under foot the authority of the Son of God. It has not been authorized by God or sanctified with the blood of the Son.
“Everyone who adds to the appointments of God causes divisions contrary to the word of God. Paul commands these brethren at Rome to mark, take note of such, and avoid them—avoid them by refusing to recognize and associate with them as brethren. This requirement is imperative and necessary to preserve the harmony and unity of the churches of Christ.
”Things not taught in the Scriptures cannot be taught in the worship or work of the church as service to Jesus Christ. To bring things not taught into the service is to place them with their authors on a par with the commandments of God and with God himself. Those who bring things not commanded by God into the services of God must do it to make themselves popular or to build up a strong worldly church. This is to serve their fleshly desires.”
Adding a supplementary remark to Lipscomb’s comments, J. W. Shepherd pointed out: “These makers of divisions and offenses, however fair and fine their pretensions and speeches might be, were not sincerely serving Christ, but rather serving their own sensual and selfish ends, and the aim of all their kind and plausible words is only to deceive those innocent ones who are slow to suspect it in others” (A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles by David Lipscomb, Edited, With Additional Notes by J. W. Shepherd, Volume I, Romans, Second Edition, Gospel Advocate Company, 1962, (First Edition, 1943).
R. L. WHITESIDE (1869-1951):
Commenting on the same passage, R. L. Whiteside said: “The man who causes divisions in the Lord’s church by the introduction of things not taught is an enemy of Christ, even though he may not think so. His interest is in self, and not in Christ. ‘They that are such serve not our Lord, but their own belly.’ The more a man appears to be interested in people the more he can deceive—‘by their smooth and faith speech they beguile the hearts of the simple’—the trusting and unsuspecting are more easily deceived. The word translated simple does not mean weakminded, but rather, unsuspicious. The deceiver knows how to get the unsuspicious to follow him. People seem never to learn that smooth and fair speech is ‘the stock in trade’ of a deceiver. If he were to announce that he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing and that he had come to destroy and not to feed, he would not deceive even the simple. ‘For even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness’ (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Paul warned the Colossians against being deluded by ‘persuasiveness of speech’ (Col. 2:4). ‘And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you’ (2 Pet. 2:3). From all such we should turn away” (A New Commentary On Paul’s Letter To The Saints At Rome, Robertson L. Whiteside, 1945, (Fifth Edition, 1961), Published by Miss Inys Whiteside, Denton, Texas).
We would do well to take note of and to heed the words of these two able men of the past as they stress the significance of Paul’s instructions in Romans 16:17-18.
October 6, 2020