Private Reproof vs. Public
June 5, 2012
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061

The following is excerpted from the new book The Hyles Effect, which is available in print for purchase or as a free eBook from the Way of Life web site --

The very fact that there are still many preachers today who believe a public warning about influential independent Baptist leaders is wrong is evidence that the spirit and error of Jack Hylesism is alive and well.

It is time for this heresy to be buried.

They say, “Who do you think you are to speak against such men?”

I can’t answer for others, but my personal answer to that is, “I don’t think I’m anybody at all. I’m just a frail and simple man God saved and called to preach, but I have His authority to speak and so does every other God-called preacher.”

God solemnly charges the preacher to identify false teachers, to exhort, reprove, and rebuke with all authority, to speak as the oracles of God, to earnestly contend for the faith, and even to warn about born-again compromisers (Romans 16:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; 1 Peter 4:11; Jude 3; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Tim. 4:10). Nowhere in Scripture are these commandments restricted in their scope. Nowhere does God say that a Bible preacher can reprove and rebuke only the members of his own church or that he can reprove and rebuke anyone who errs
except an influential Christian leader.

To reprove public sin and error publicly by the Word of God under the guidance of the Spirit of God and in His wisdom is
not slander and is not gossip and is not “throwing rocks” and is not “shooting the wounded” and is not hateful and is not dishonoring to Christ.

Private offenses and private sins need to be dealt with privately, but public errors need to be dealt with publicly. When a man builds an ecclesiastical empire, of sorts, and influences thousands of people beyond the borders of his congregation, his errors are no longer private matters and they are no longer matters pertaining only to his church.

When a man admits and repents of a sin or error, that is one thing and is dealt with in a certain way. But when an influential man covers up sins and errors and lies about them and even goes on the attack against those who try to expose them, that is another matter altogether and is to be dealt with in entirely a different way.
We must be very careful about what we say about men of God. We must be careful not to spread unsubstantiated rumors. We must be careful not to give heed to vindictive, disgruntled, backslidden people who are trying to injure the work of God. We must be very wise in what we say and in how we say it. We must make sure that we are speaking the truth, and we must test our hearts before God to make sure we are speaking the truth in the right spirit and for the right reason.

We don’t publicly reprove every pastor who errs or call out every church that compromises. Contrary to the silly and slanderous accusation that some have made against us, we don’t consider ourselves the “policeman of the IFB movement.”

The reality is that some men’s influence is much greater than others. Some men’s ministries effect only their own congregation, whereas some men’s affect tens of thousands.

When the sin of hypocrisy and the compromise of the principles of equality under the gospel was spreading in the early churches, the apostle Paul singled out Peter to rebuke before them all, for the simple reason that he was the most influential personality in that mess.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I SAID UNTO PETER BEFORE THEM ALL, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:11-16).

We must be wise in speaking, but speak we must when the situation merits it. Let us fear God more than man.

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21).

One can hide in the crowd in this life and take his “stand” with the weak-kneed majority, but no one can hide at the judgment seat of Christ.

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