LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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FALSE DOCTRINES

 

E. E. Byrum

 

(From his book Life Experiences)

 

 

For a few years after entering the publishing work it seemed that my responsibilities as publisher, business manager, and associate editor were about all I was capable of managing, However, when D. S. Warner, the editor, died, it fell to my lot to assume the editorship with its added responsibilities.

The Gospel Trumpet, being anti-sectarian and a holiness paper, was a swift witness against false teachers and false doctrines and sin of every kind, consequently there was much opposition from many sources.

Brother Warner was a humble, godly man. He was not strong physically but was bold and fearless in his writing and preaching and was not slow to expose and reprove sin, and especially that which was under a garb of religion. His humility, zeal, and power with god, and ability to expound the Word of God, fitted him to be classed in the role of reformers. He did not make divine healing a specialty, although he taught and practiced it and a number of sick people were healed through his prayers and ministry; also people who were possessed of devils were delivered by his God-given authority to cast out evil spirits.

When false teachers with false doctrines undertook to impose upon the church Brother Warner often sent forth the judgments of the Word against them with a rebuke against the power of the evil one. He stood firm for a pure church and a proper manifestation of its power.

At the time of his death we were anxious to know who would take his place. I was not very well versed in prophecy and Revelation, consequently did not consider myself competent to take the editorship. There was no one competent to take his place in the work, but with each one’s filling his own calling and taking some extra responsibilities things moved along without a break in the furtherance of the propagation of gospel truths.

Two or three person applied for the place as editor but none were in full sympathy with our teaching, therefore were not accepted. There were three brethren who had written quite extensively on prophecy, and I was hoping that one of them would be in position to fill the place, but as no one seemed to be called or chosen for that purpose I had to act in that capacity, in which I continued until June 1916, when I asked to be relieved of the position as editor-in-chief that I might be able to enter another line of work. Brother F. G. Smith was chosen to take my place in that capacity.

The next year after the death of Brother Warner the enemy undertook to bring a false doctrine into our midst, and as a false doctrine is backed up or accompanied by a false spirit, so it was at this time. It seemed that in various places and at the same time the same teaching was propagated by the same false spirit. This even extended to congregations in England, although the chief place was at the Grand Junction, Michigan, campground, which was located one and one-forth miles north of Grand Junction, where the publishing house was located.

This came under the garb of deep spirituality and was propagated first by Brother C--, who was a minister in the church and one whose messages had been mostly on faith and a manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. He was the leader. With the aid of half a dozen other ministers and gospel workers with whom he associated daily, he was soon enabled to wield quite an influence over a number of people in the congregation, although most of the influence on others was in private conversations or at prayer meetings, at which times I was absent. There were several phases, or points of teaching, of which I shall mention only a few. Special emphasis was made on the necessity of an experience of deep humility and a very high standard of spirituality. There must be a confession, privately or publicly, of one’s past life, no matter how long one may have been converted or sanctified, in order to get "dug" out, as they expressed it, and attain unto this "grand experience."

To some who read this it may sound like a trivial affair, but it was amazing to know the number of passages of Scripture they used to prove their points. The there was a real power accompanying the teaching that, although it was counterfeit, so closely represented the genuine that it was difficult to determine sometimes whether it was a demonstration of the power of God or the power of the evil one.

Some young men and women who had always been reserved, quiet, and timid, scarcely able to say but few words in testimony, after going to the altar for prayer that they might get "dug out," after meeting the necessary requirements and having hands laid upon their heads by those elders, arose shouting and with a wonderful freedom and delivery of speech could testify, exhort, rebuke, and reprove with great boldness.

Accompanying this disruption was a lying spirit. Some who had been devout Christians would repeatedly tell lies, believing that they were telling the truth, and they could not believe otherwise until that evil spirit which overpowered them was rebuked.

The matter was still under headway before I knew anything about what was being propagated. Upon learning of it I immediately opposed it, although I had not yet talked with the leaders about the matter. When they heard that I opposed it they said it was because I did not wish to confess my past life.

That night, as I retired, I was praying in regard to the situation and to know how to meet it. I told the Lord that I did not believe it to be in accordance with His Word, that my sins had been confessed to him and forgiven never to be remembered against me anymore, and a confession of my past life would do me nor anyone else any good, but that I was ready to do whatever His Word required me to do.

After falling asleep I dreamed that I was walking with my open Bible in my hand down a mountainside. I was in a narrow pathway about eighteen inches in depth, which led down into the Valley of Humility and was making good progress when suddenly a voice to my right said, "you can go no further until you stop and confess your past life."

The voice sounded very much like the voice of the Lord, yet there was a strangeness about it.

I said, "All right, Lord, I am willing to confess if that is what You require," and was just about ready to begin when the same voice said, "You must lay your Bible down and step outside the path to make your confession."

In my dream I was just about to obey. As I grasped s small shrub outside and began to lift my foot to step out the shrub began to pull loose at the roots and I came near being hurled down the mountainside, which would have meant my death.

I awakened. The interpretation came clear and plain. In order to confess I would have to lay aside my Bible, as the Bible did not require such, and I would have to leave the narrow way and step out upon the territory of the enemy.

Soon after this another brother and I were called to hear some charges some of those young people had made against a young brother. He denied the charges and we had reason to believe that he was innocent, but their charges were definite and positive and unrelenting. We at once recognized a lying spirit was to be faced. As we knelt in payer we rebuked the lying spirit and asked the Lord to cause its exposure. It was only a day or so until we learned that all the charges were leis and the young man was entirely innocent. That spirit was so deceptive and had such power over them that I really believe that at the time they believed they were telling the truth, although they knew there was no foundation for their statements.

The next day I found a fourteen-year-old boy under the same delusion and made up my mind to expose both the spirit which ruled them and also their teaching.

The leaders considered that almost everyone who opposed them or their teaching was possessed of devils, and even came to my office to cast devils out of me, but failed in the attempt.

From that time I took charge of the meetings that were being held and exposed the doctrine, if it may be called such, and also the evil spirit and false power that was manifest. The leader began to leap and shout and said, "Be careful that you do not take a stand against the Holy Ghost."

"I shall risk taking a stand against the Holy Ghost," I said. "This spirit is of the devil and its power is broken, and no place will be given to it henceforth."

Immediately the leader sat down and kept quiet and those who had been blinded, influenced, and confused were loosed from its power, and it was as if a veil had been removed from before their eyes spiritually, and they could see clearly and easily discern both the false spirit and doctrine.

When the leaders began t realize the depth of their deception they were very much humiliated, but the Lord enabled them to find deliverance from the delusion.

A few years later an attack was made on the doctrine of sanctification. The adherents claimed that sanctification was only the "setting apart" for service as taught in the Old Testament, and not a heart cleansing or experience aside from justification. It was accompanied by a spirit of exaltation, spiritual blindness, and confusion, by which the enemy sought to work division in the church. They spent much time searching the Scriptures and wresting them to prove their points.

The first intimation we had of the working of this spirit of division in our midst was one day when a young sister came to me and was weeping and in much confusion. For several years she had been living a victorious, sanctified life and her testimonies at prayer meeting were always a flame of inspiration and power. She asked whether we really had the true light on sanctification. She said that three young men who were employed by the publishing company had been studying the subject and had received new light and it seemed so plausible that she accepted their teaching, but since doing so she had become so confused that she did not know what was right and was very unsettled in her spiritual experience.

She said she was sure that she had been converted and afterwards sanctified and obtained a real experience which she had enjoyed for a number of years, but these brethren told her that according to their new light on the subject she was mistaken in regard to getting the experience of sanctification after conversion, and they quoted scriptures to prove their assertions, and said that it was all obtained at one time and that there was no heart-cleansing in sanctification after conversion.

Little by little she yielded to their persuasions until it seemed plausible, but when she accepted it she became confused and lost her joy and victory and found herself under the binding influence, from which she was unable to break away without help.

After having prayer with her she was loosed from the power of that spirit and free from the confusion.

This was repeated several times and we found others being affected in like manner and a spirit of division working in our midst.

On Thanksgiving Day about one hundred employees of the publishing plant assembled in then main office of the publishing house to observe a Thanksgiving service. As several present were somewhat confused over the teachings that had been presented to them secretly and privately it became necessary to expose the false teaching and false spirit. As this was done the Lord poured out His Spirit upon us and there were many shouts of victory, which was followed by a wonderful healing service wherein many were healed, among whom was a lame man, also a woman who had been deaf in one ear for eleven years.

A statement was made that the false doctrine and false teaching mentioned would be allowed no place in our midst henceforth. As soon as the services closed these three brethren mentioned agreed to "stick together and not yield or relent." As two of them had charge of the subscription department, and the other one was assistant to the secretary of the company, they thought themselves of such importance as to be indispensable. They stepped forward boldly and said:

"Well, if you meant what you said, we suppose that means we are to go, as we have no intention of changing our minds or giving up our teaching."

"We mean exactly what we said," was the reply.

"All right, that means we will go."

"Then you are now immediately excused and relieved of all responsibilities in connection with your office work and are at liberty to go."

This ended our troubles from that time among our office employees where otherwise a less drastic position would have meant constant confusion and division instead of peace and unity of spirit.

It was only a few days later, however, that a letter was received from a minister in one of the Western States saying that Brother H--, another minister, had received some wonderful new light on sanctification, and the brethren there were considering it. He said the "leading brethren" were accepting it and warned me not to oppose it, especially thought the Gospel Trumpet, until we had met Brother H—and had had a private talk with him. Otherwise there were twenty preachers there ready to take their stand with Brother H--.

Having already met the doctrine and suability of the spirit accompanying it I picked up my pen and wrote the heading of an article for the Gospel Trumpet—"Preachers on Strike."

The article was published, and the preachers went on a strike. Later, some of them saw the error of their position and renounced it, while some of the others began to preach for some denominations. Several people fell into the confusion, but the church and doctrine of sanctification shone forth as before.

The enemy generally makes his attacks on the church under the plea of "advanced light," or superior spirituality and power. In the year 1906 something somewhat different was started, which was afterward sometimes called "the shouting" or "jumping spirit." A few evangelists decided to show greater demonstrations in the camp-meetings by not only doing more leaping and shouting themselves, but to have the congregations participate.

At first they were almost alone in their extra demonstrations, then they began to teach that it was a command of the Bible to "shout his praises" and "leap for joy." Others began to leap and shout, and at times it spread like wildfire.

At first the demonstrations did not seem to be actuated by a false spirit. Some doubtless were moved by the Holy Spirit in their manifestations, but the majority leaped and shouted of their own accord because other were shouting or because they were told to leap and shout.

Such self-exertions do not often continue to be repeated in such a general manner without the enemy’s taking advantage of some by pushing them into extreme measures bordering on fanaticism, which unless properly held in check bring reproach.

These happenings occurred at two or three places where camp-meetings were being held at the same time. At one place, after a sermon was preached about four hundred people were on the floor at one time leaping and shouting. That of itself perhaps could not have been considered objectionable as they were rejoicing and having a good time in the name of the Lord. But it began to draw near the danger line when a few ministers under a spirit of harshness began boldly to command those to arise and shout who had not been leaping and shouting.

There were a number of old fathers and mothers in Israel who had been faithful for many years, who were of more quiet dispositions. They did not feel led to leap and shout and did not do so. Then they were told if they did not it was because they were not right in their souls and that their place was at the altar to get an experience of salvation. Some of them went to the altar, thinking that perhaps something might be wrong with their experience, as they could feel that there was something wrong somewhere.

At the altar they were instructed to repent and get right with God, then they could shout like the others were shouting. But as they had nothing of which to repent their efforts only resulted in their minds becoming confused. Thus they were more burdened than before, having no liberty in prayer.

They were then told that they were bound or possessed by an evil spirit, and those who were instructing them laid hands upon them and rebuked the devils. But this did not bring victory. As the burdens increased some f them came to the altar at the next service. But their confusion deepened, and as they could not get a victory they were told that they had sinned against the Holy ghost because they had rejected the power of the Holy Spirit that was being manifest through those who were leaping and shouting.

Upon my arrival at the camp just at the close of that unusual shouting service I found there were quite a number of good brethren who were not in full accord with the trend of things. Several brethren and sisters assembled in a tent that evening and entered into an agreement of prayer that the power of that spirit of extremism be broken. At the night service a good brother while preaching tried to leap and shout and create a similar demonstration in the audience. He could not lift both feet from the floor at the same time when he would try to leap, neither could he get a demonstration started by the audience. He did not know the source of his difficulty, but those who were praying knew. The power of extremism was broken.

At the altar that night and old sister cam weeping and said, "I want to go to heaven, but they tell me that I have sinned away my day of grace. Is there any help?"

Knowing that she had been a faithful old sister and had been confused over the happenings during the meetings, and as she said she knew of no sin that she had committed and was saved when she came to the camp-meeting, I told her to take her stand in regard to spiritual things just where she was when she first came and pay no attention to her bad feelings about leaping and shouting and her later consecrations at the altar, and to consider herself still a child of God. She did so, and as prayer was offered her soul was flooded with peace and joy. Others who had in like manner been rejected, seeing her with victory, came and were soon rejoicing.

There had been many people saved at this camp-meeting, and those who were leaping and shouting were not just a set of ignorant people, but were good, intelligent, and most of them true, faithful followers of Christ. The enemy took advantage of a few whom he undertook to push forward into extremism by their leadership, but was defeated.

I would not decry any good that was accomplished, nor any unusual manifestation of the Holy Spirit even by way of leaping and shouting, but I detest the operations of the evil one, even through good-meaning people.

The enemy has made a special effort to undermine or destroy almost every fundamental principle and doctrine of the church within the last few years and would discard the Bible altogether if possible.

Some time ago an attack was made on the teaching concerning the church itself, through a spirit of compromise, bigotry, and pretension of "broad-mindedness." And the same spirit has since tried to make inroads through well-meaning persons to revise the teachings of the church on almost every fundamental doctrine, lower the standard of holiness and divine healing, discard opposition to sectarianism and some of the ordinances of the church.

The church     which Jesus said He would build (Matthew 16:16-18; Acts 20:28) includes every Christian, and excludes none, and will stand forever despite false teachers, false doctrines, and the creeds of men. The work of the reformation in the church at the present time is the preaching and practice of all the Word of God, to bring God’s people into the unity of the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3) in fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus (John 17:20-24).

Aside from paganism and idolatry in various parts of the world we now have to meet the special efforts against Christianity by atheism, infidelity, and higher criticism of the Bible. But the Bible and Christianity will prevail by the preaching and practice of the full gospel.