"Exposing Error"

James P. Needham

There can be no doubt that exposing error is as much a part of preaching the gospel as is the presenting of the positive precepts of divine truth. This is undeniably proven by the following Scriptures: Jeremiah 1:10 - “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, to pull down and to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” In this verse, are found four terms: three negative (“root out,” “pull down,” “destroy,” “throw down”), and two positive (“build”and “plant”). Two thirds of Jeremiah’s preaching was to be negative , and one third positive. II Timothy 4:2 - “Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Three terms are used in this passage: two negative (“reprove,” “rebuke”) and one positive (“exhort”). Hence again, two thirds is to be negative.

Those non-combative soldiers of the cross who have more sympathy for the espouser of error than for its exposer had better spend more time taking inventory of their own preaching and less of it trying to determine if the combatant soldier is complying with their judgement in the battle.

If we learn anything from the above passages it is that MORE of our time should be spent in EXPOSING ERROR than in imparting the positive truths of the word. Anybody who has lived on a farm knows well the lesson. It takes more time to clear new ground of the trees and noxious weeds than it does to plant the seeds once that is done. The same is true in the spiritual realm. It is much harder to UNTEACH people than to TEACH them. It is absurd to even think of going into a new ground planting seed without first clearing it. It is worse than ridiculous to think of implanting the positive truths of God’s word in the hearts of men before they are disabused of the errors of men (Lk. 8:14).

Unfortunately, we know some who spend 2/3’s of their time in the negative alright, but not in fighting error, but those who are exposing it. They would do well to spend more time worrying about whether they are doing enough exposing error and less worrying about whether others are spending too much! If all would do their share, maybe it wouldn’t appear that some are doing too much.

All my preaching life I have had to fight error with a mass of compromising brethren about my neck. They usually say they are behind me, but when I investigate, I find they are so far behind me that nobody can tell whether they are supporting the truth or the error! They usually have a lot to say about how sound they are, but generally I have found them to be more SOUND then anything else! They think they have to tell everyone how sound they are, otherwise, they might not find out about it! One would never guess it from their actions! Lightning kills, not thunder!

It is strange how some brethren think they can convince others they are sound when they fellowship error, and fraternize those who espouse it while destructively criticizing those who expose it!