Exhortation within the brotherhood is worthy of sincere attention. The Word instructs believers to
“exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). To exhort is to urge someone to pursue a particular course of conduct, to make improvements in his attitude and walk of life.
Apparently, if believers confine their learning to their own efforts and interpretations there is the danger of self-deception and failure to clearly discern good from evil. A great responsibility is placed upon each member of the body of believers to take a personal, sincere interest in the spiritual maintenance and growth of his brethren.
It is clearly prophesied in the Word that the need for an active and supportive relationship within Christ’s body, the church, will become even more essential as the end of the age approaches. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).
The Apostle Paul gave specific instructions to Timothy and Titus as younger church leaders to
exhort and correct, with authority and longsuffering (patience), in the spirit of the true doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2, Tit. 2:15). It is a basic scriptural principle that shepherds of a flock (watchmen) are called upon to be vigilant and to sound the warning regarding the specific dangers of their respective age and culture because Satan persists in devising cunning methods for corrupting God’s people (Eze. 33:7-9, 1 Pet. 5:8).
God cared for His people Israel in the time of David by providing men with “understanding of the times” (1 Chron. 12:32) and He instructs spiritual teachers to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) by the inspiration of His spirit (John 16:13).
Through the years our ministers and elders have presented the gospel message and scriptural
warnings through the avenue of preaching. The Apostle Paul wrote, “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 2:21).
Preaching (prophesying) consists of Spirit-inspired, the extemporaneous proclamation of spiritual truth from a biblical text which results in “edification, and exhortation and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).
Paul acknowledged that along with his duties of leadership and preaching he also was called upon
to be a teacher (2 Tim. 1:11). This form of exhortation (teaching) often includes review of the scriptural passages on a particular subject prior to expounding a message directed to meet a specific need. It is another form by which the Holy Spirit provides instruction through the servants of the Lord who function as His mouthpiece.
Topical Bible presentations, under the authority and direction of the church, offer helpful instruction in the application of scriptural principles to practical godly living. They also assist the believer in recognizing false doctrines and unwholesome worldly attractions.
Each year the elders gather in the conference. They search the Scriptures and prayerfully seek the
guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine what standards should be established, warnings sounded, and exhortations articulated within the church.
This is in accord with the scriptural approach begun by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Great effort is made to retain a sound scriptural basis to the deliberations and conclusions of these conferences and to share them through various avenues with the entire brotherhood.
The Word indicates that the church benefits when exhortations from the leadership are inspired by the Spirit and then humbly received by the brotherhood. In Antioch, the believers “rejoiced for
the consolation” provided by the letter delivered from the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:31).
The Hebrew believers were told of the great blessing they would receive if those with the rule over them could watch for their souls (exhort) with joy and not with grief (Heb. 13:17). Submission brings this joy; gainsaying brings grief (Tit. 1:9). A gainsayer is one who contradicts or rejects the authority which he is under.
Recently the elder body felt directed by the Spirit to prepare and distribute a written exhortation
regarding modern movements within Christianity which have the potential of undermining the love, peace, and doctrinal unity of our brotherhood. This booklet, entitled “Winds of Doctrine,” has as its stated purpose “to identify and warn against beliefs and practices which are unscriptural and potentially deceptive to the true believer.”
It seeks to underscore the biblical basis for our doctrine and to help individual believers understand more thoroughly and defend more effectively the precious truths which have long been embraced by our forefathers. These truths constitute a priceless heritage of tried and tested spiritual wisdom.
This article also describes the consequences which usually follow when groups of believers forsake their established patterns of basic beliefs and adopt modern scholarly approaches for discerning truth.
Ultimately a questioning of the inerrancy of the Bible creeps into these movements, in spite of the noble objective of making the gospel more appealing to the masses in order to draw them to Christ. Emphasis on individual liberty results in an unwillingness to submit to God-ordained church authority.
Carried to the extreme, Jesus is ultimately welcome in individual lives only as a Saviour, not as Lord. Separation from the world and from false religion is diminished and eventually, the church loses its visible distinction, which is essential for its effectiveness in reaching lost mankind.
If these various forms of exhortation are given sincere attention, the convictions of the brethren
may become more firmly and unitedly based upon the sacred Word of God. Likewise, the enemy’s efforts to bring confusion and deception will be thwarted. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Col. 2:6-7).