Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dealing with a Brother

I am happy to say that the newspaper article I read depicting a theologian willingness to compromise was not the case at all. Apparently the author of the article has misrepresented the brother. I feel confident from his own statements that he would agree with what I have written in my last post.

I wrote an email to him and received a kind response, for which I am grateful. In the case of the newspaper or my brother, I believe my brother. If the only evidence we have is the newspaper article, it is not enough. Apparently, the author of the article took a sincere question as rhetorical, when it was not, and misunderstood the lecture.

I am glad I asked the brother some questions. In time past, I have been written up by slanderous men, who did not bother to ask questions. Below is an article I wrote on the occasion of a good man being "written up" by a zealot.

Dealing with a Brother
By Phil Sanders
Gospel Advocate 2002

It happened again. Some zealots have decided to label a brother a “false teacher.” The evidence was slimly built upon ignorance, assumptions and misinformation. The accusers did little to substantiate the facts but relied upon rumors and hearsay. Nor did the accusers feel any need to contact the brother to find out the whole truth. Lately it has been open season upon many a faithful brother in the Lord. I am reminded of Solomon’s proverbs,

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword” (Prov. 12:18).

“The first to plead his case seems just,
Until another comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17)

“Do not go out hastily to argue your case; Otherwise, what will you do in the end, When your neighbor puts you to shame? Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another, Lest he who hears it reproach you, And the evil report about you not pass away” (Prov. 25:8-10).

The assumption is that since the offense was not personal, and since the brother spoke publicly, he is fair game for public accusation and perhaps slander. Such men who speak out thus feel protected by the fact that a brother cannot sue them. They feel free to bite and devour others on the narrowest of pretext. They do not seem to ask whether the charge is either true or kind.

The justification for such speaking out normally falls upon the need to protect the flock. Certainly faithful gospel preachers will speak out against evil. I wonder, however, if the protectors ever thought about the souls of the people they ridicule and condemn. Even a brother who is deceived has a soul.

Let every one know that false teachers should be marked and avoided (Rom. 16:17,18), that factious people should be rejected after a first and second admonition (Tit. 3:10-11), and that those who go beyond the teaching of Christ do not have God and must not be supported (2 John 9-11). But we should also realize that not every accused person is guilty.

I fear some of our brothers have been driven away from the Lord and the church by careless and hateful speaking. How tragic when hateful and crude speech drives away a brother who could be saved. A hateful representative of the truth has more than once driven a young man into the hands of a false but benevolent teacher. No one sleeps with a dog that bites.

To be sure, ravenous wolves must not fill any pulpit, classroom, or editor’s desk (Matt. 7:15-20; 2 Tim. 2:16-18). Yet there are some that are misunderstood or misquoted. There are others still who although good in heart are simply misinformed. Like Apollos they need an Aquila and Priscilla to take them aside and shown them the way of the Lord more perfectly (Acts 18:24-28). It never seems to occur to some brethren that a private discussion could help a brother. They have decided that “writing up” a brother is the best means of dealing with him.

The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22,23). Those who practice writing up a brother upon rumor and faulty evidence fail to show these characteristics toward their brother. Where is love? Where is peace? Where is patience? Where is kindness? Where is gentleness? Being “sound” in doctrine does not ensure being healthy in heart or practice.

The golden rule should apply between brethren. “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). I have often wondered how some sound brethren might feel if indeed a brother unjustly and publicly accused them of sin. I wonder how they might feel if they had been slandered in ignorance and judged without mercy.

Some have argued that there is no need to discuss a matter privately with a false teacher before “writing him up” publicly for all the church to know. I wonder how many “sound” brethren would like being treated that way. The Lord teaches us to treat others the way we wish to be treated. Writing up a brother before one clarifies an issue and before trying to make amends violates this principle. Paul commands, “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning” (Tit. 3:10). In some cases, the “written-up” brother finds out about his admonition through a third party weeks later. Such behavior shows that the writer cares little about the soul of the one he has spoken against. Apparently the accusing writer feels exempt from the golden rule, since he has found an opportunity to accuse. Do we not owe it to our brother to talk to him before we talk about him?

The Pharisees sought to find fault and accuse Jesus with lies and half-truths. They likely felt victory in condemning righteous Jesus to a cross for blaspheming. They had no love for Jesus, though Jesus loved them. This, by the way, is one of the reasons the common people wanted to hear Jesus but cared nothing for the Pharisees (Luke 15:1,2; 18:9ff.). One unjust accuser who has labeled many brethren recently lamented that he had no friends. People don’t like to sleep with dogs that bite.

The Pharisees once accused Jesus of leading the people astray, but Nicodemus defended Him. The words of Nicodemus ought to sting the hearts of those who practice unfair accusation. “Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” (John 7:51). Every brother, because he is a brother, ought to have the right to be heard before he is labeled and condemned. Would a sound brother faced with a false accusation not wish to be heard before sentence is passed? Why then should we not offer this right to any brother? Unwillingness to hear a brother often drives a wedge deeper than the initial offense.

James reminds us, “So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:12,13).

There can be no doubt that there is a time to judge, but let our judgments be according to the teaching of Jesus. “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Find out the facts, let every word be established, and check with your brother to see if you have understood him correctly. You might be surprised that what you heard or assumed may not be completely right. A fact may be true but not the whole truth.

I fear that some have fallen into the trap of judging mercilessly on the basis of tradition rather than truth. Jesus taught against such. “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you” (Matt. 7:1-2). One is not a Calvinist for simply quoting from the New International Version.

What do we owe our brothers with whom we differ? We owe them love (Rom. 13:8). We owe them a hearing (John 7:51). We owe them concern for their souls (2 Thess. 3:15). We owe them the fairness and respect we desire when we are accused (Matt. 7:12).

Let us talk to each other with patience before we talk about each other.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jesus Is LORD!

Jesus is Lord, the Christ, the Son of God. That is the basic confession of all Christians (Rom. 10:9-10; Phil. 2:5-11). One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father.

Not only is Jesus Lord, He is the Lord of lords, and the King of kings (Rev. 17:14). There is no other Lord; He is the one and only Lord (Eph. 4:4-6). Further there is no way one can go to heaven apart from Jesus (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12). Only His blood can free us from sin.

Jesus Himself gave us the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16), wherein these truths are very clear:
1. He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18). There is no authority elsewhere apart from Him.
2. To disbelieve His gospel brings everlasting condemnation (Mk 16:16).
3. Disciples are to take the gospel to every creature.

Paul wished that everyone were a Christian (Acts 26:28-29), even King Agrippa who was a Jew.

What I have said is not suggesting that love does not play a part in our preaching and teaching (Eph. 4:15). Loving others does not mean selling out the cross, but with love preaching the cross of Christ. Preaching the cross is preaching love.

When I have read a theologian among us say that we should not try to bring all men into the kingdom of Christ, I cringe. I would that all men were in the kingdom of Christ. Indeed, if men are not in that kingdom, they are still in the domain of darkness (Acts 26:18-19; Col. 1:13-14).

Love warns the lost; it does not weakly pacify them. Love speaks the truth; it does not leave men believing a lie. Love for God means loyalty to him, not concession to the world. Let us be transformed from the world not conformed to it (Rom. 12:1-2).

Let us shine our light on the world and salt the earth with truth and love, not compromise and concession. Buy the truth, and do not sell it (Prov. 23:23); we aren't saved by jettisoning the gospel to pacify unbelievers.

my two cents,

Monday, November 27, 2006


What would make anybody get up at 4:15 and be at an overloaded parking lot by 5 AM? Jackie and I do it every year. Is it the bargains? Yes. Is it our loved ones? Yes. Is it the madness and the people? Yes.

Black Friday is probably the only day out of the year that I go shopping with Jackie for several hours. We accomplished filling much of our list in the six stores we visited. We slept late the next morning.

With a three-year-old grand-daughter, Christmas (yes, I said the word) will be much brighter this year.

We are at an odd time of life. We don't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday but as a family holiday. While we try to teach folks better about the pagan compromise and what the Bible actually says about the birth of Christ, we are not ready to give up saying "Merry Christmas" when we go into the stores. I weary of "happy holidays."

By the way, the transcript to the television program airing just before Christmas is about the Biblical importance of the birth of Christ. Go to to download the transcript to program 636. We have taped well into 2007.

On the night after Thanksgiving, we kept our tradition at the Sanders house of making home-made pizzas. MMMMmmmm, they were delicious. We forgot, however, the Christmas cheer (a non-alcoholic beverage from the Welch's company).

Thanks for all your kind wishes and expressions of love toward Jackie. She is at work today. Therapy is helping a lot, but her arm won't be full strength for some time.

If you haven't subscribed to Think Magazine from Focus Press, I hope you will do so. I'm working on the January article, "What Does the Future Hold?" I think you will find the article informative and challenging.

Nashville School of Preaching begins January 8. I will teach on Tueday evenings. My two courses for the spring semester include: Bible Geography and 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. Tuition is free, hope you will join us if you live in the Nashville area. For more information, go to:

Regions University is also gearing up for its spring semester. You can learn more about this leader in distance education by going to Look closely for the many courses in their catalog.

Keep me in your prayers, I need them.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Be thankful

The last several days have been quite eventful. Jackie, my lovely wife of 32 years, had successful surgery last week and is recovering nicely. She is a great blessing in my life. The Lord was so good to give her to me.

Monday, after warning Jackie not to go down the deck stairs behind the house, I went down the stairs and slipped. I have bruises on hip and leg, wrist and arm. I am blessed I didn't break my neck, end up in the hospital, or kill myself. How foolish! I knew there was ice on the deck and steps. I am still really sore from the bruising.

Last night, all ten of our family was home. First time in months we have all been together. Laura is expecting a baby in May. Haydn was so delightful. My three sons in law are such fine men. We are blessed to have them in the family. After four daughters and one grand-daughter, a female dog, and a female cat, it is nice to have a little masculine company.

My four lovely daughters are such a blessing and comfort. They were discussing how Jackie and I should get long-term health care and buy cemetery plots. You'd think we had a foot in the grave! They do care about our future. Tara was telling us how many people are struggling at this time due to the high cost of health care after retirement. The doctors told Jackie that 80 percent of health care costs come in the last year of life.

Life, over all, is much brighter than ever. Concord Rd. is growing weekly; Nashville School of Preaching is expanding; Regions University is a blessing; and the television program had its best month on record in October ( We tape two new programs Sunday evening. Think magazine and Spiritual Sword still ask me to write, and I have an article appearing in Gospel Advocate in coming days. (I also have an exciting bit of news to share when all things are confirmed.)

I am thankful for everything. Life is so full and rich. My family loves me. Jackie is more beautiful than ever. The Lord forgives me. The brethren still want me. I am so blessed. I am still healthy in body and mind.

I give God thanks. He is soooo good to me. I pray He is always blessing you.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Widening MIndsets

It should not surprise the sincere Christian who is more interested in serving the Lord than in enjoying the world that the world is, well..., worldly.

Paul's admonition in Romans 12:2 is perhaps needed more now than ever:

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Many in American society simply do not know God. The God they think they know is often not the God of the Bible; it is the God they prefer not the God that is. Warped views of grace, unrealistic and hypothetical theology, and imagined doctrines abound. I am reminded of the Paul's words to Colossae (that little town on the road to somewhere else):

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ" (Col. 2:6-8).

The world loves to tell Christians all their faults and to suggest they have something better to offer. If we let the world re-invent our churches, we are sold out to the world. We cease being servants of Christ. If we determine that worldliness attracts more souls than righteousness, we will be a mirror of the world not of the Word.

Some think if we offer forgiveness without expectations of change (better known as repentance), that we can be a hospital for the hurting saints. It doesn't work. You can attract people but you can't change lives that way.

Imagine with me a man in a car accident with a very broken leg. The man is hurting and desires relief from his pain. Can you imagine telling the doctor to just give him some strong pain medication to relieve the pain but not worry about setting the leg? Let's kill the pain for now! But you know what's next. Pain medication wears off. Unless the bone is set back into place, there will be no relief.

Even more ridiculous is the approach some take to broken souls. Telling people of God's forgiveness might kill the guilt, yes. But if the soul doesn't repent of its sin, the brokenness will remain. Being free from guilt (from a human perspective) is not the same as forgiveness (from God's perspective). Many a person who thinks he/she is free from guilt is nevertheless still bound in sin. The unconditional grace some are preaching today is a fantasy, not a fix.

Because several have beat this drum loudly (grace without repentance), many have bought into it. Having itching ears, they have sold out of a myth. They believe their pain can be taken away without the needed changes.

The mindset of "anything will do" is far from the mindset of a loving and obedient servant. To speak of loving obedience today will lead to accusations of "legalist" and "Pharisee" from the religionist open to the world. Amazingly, he is willing to sanctify everyone but the one who is committed to serve God with obedient love.

One who says baptism is only the immersion of a person old enough to believe and repent (the Biblical view) is considered bound up in a "human tradition," while the "open" person who allows infant sprinkling (a concept never found in Scripture) is somehow untouched by human "tradition."

One who only sings in worship (because that is all the Bible teaches) is considered bound up by human "tradition," while those "open" to the modern practice of using instruments in Christian worship (a practice never approved by the New Testament or by the early church) are somehow untouched by human "tradition."

One wonders how people can add unscriptural practices and yet claim to be more Scriptural in such matters than those who reamin with the Scriptural practices. Being "open" to the innovations demanded by culture is not more Biblical than listening to the instructions of the New Testament--whether in baptism or in worship.

Those on the broad road likely made fun of those who took the narrow road. They likely deceived themselves into thinking they were smarter (because most everyone joined them) than those unfortunate people who took the strait and narrow path. Every day each walks down their roads, the distance between them gets further.

Some are splitting the church in order not to be "open" and "non-judgmental." They are so fearful of setting the bone and correcting the break, they would rather fellowship the world than correct the error.

Jeremiah understood the pain of preaching to people who did not want to listen. I fear those who preach the truth today may face the same pain of watching the world take away the people of God.