Tim was a sensible young man of twenty-three years of age who had recently returned home after serving two years in the army. Prior to his tenure of military service he had led a very active life in the sphere of the church. In catechism he often raised good questions that were indicative of profound concentration and deep interest in the things of God. He always took a leading part in the discussions of the Young People’s Society and when he was expected to furnish an introduction, essay or the like, he without fail produced that which spoke for itself of hard and diligent labor. Tim was well versed in the truth of Scripture and the sincerity of his interest in the truth was not questioned. To many youth of the church Tim might be called an excellent example, worthy of emulation.
On the occasion of our writing, we find Tim with a saddened and perplexed heart. For a few months now he had been keeping rather steady company with a young lady named Roberta and, although he hadn’t as yet told even his parents, he was seriously considering marriage. Ordinarily that would be a reason for joy rather than sorrow but in this case Tim was not sure that he was following the right course. Roberta, whom he had known only a short while, was at one time a member of the Roman Catholic Church. In that church she had been baptized and reared. A few years ago she left that church and became affiliated with a group that called themselves “Undenominational.” She had said that she was now converted from Catholicism but Tim knew from conversation with her that there were still some tenets of that faith in her that had not been uprooted. What bothered Tim still more, however, was her peculiar conception of and attitude toward the Bible. They had often talked about that and although Roberta had told him that she believed the Bible was the Word of God, he did not feel quite satisfied with this. To him there were various things that left the impression that she really did not mean this and that she actually believed that the teaching of men and the church stood above the Word of God. He was strengthened in this opinion when upon several occasions he attempted to correct her doctrine by pointing to the Scriptures and she would invariably reply, “The minister that I heard or my church doesn’t interpret that the way you do.”
Otherwise Tim thought very much of Roberta, in fact, he thought that he loved her enough to ask her to marry him. She was a nice looking girl, had a jovial personality, was above average in intelligence, very industrious and not one who was especially attached to “worldly things.” In many respects he admired her but it was this church thing that bothered him. That stood in the way. He turned it over and over in his mind.
Would she go along with him? Would she join his church? Oh, yes, she had once told him that she would go along with him hut that not until “after” they were married would she join his church because she had many friends in her church with whom she was not yet ready to part and, as she put it, “the people in your church are so bigoted.” That hurt Tim somewhat but not enough to break off his relation with her. Down deep Tim felt that the main thing was really not whether she would join his church but rather whether she believed as he did, confessed the same God, loved the same Jesus and lived the same truth! That must be determined first and then the matter of church affiliation would create no problem.
Tim wondered if he could probably instruct Roberta in the truth of the Confession. If only he could get her to come to catechism with him but then, he had tried this once and when she learned that in catechism they study Confessions, she turned stone cold for her undenominational friends had told her that churches with Confessions are false, “man-made” churches and she believed them. She had been indoctrinated with the lie that the true church has “no creed but Christ.” Then again she really didn’t care too much because she had heard that in many churches the so-called “Confessions” are just dead letters anyway that really didn’t mean anything. She thought it was a waste of time to be instructed in “dead letters” and therefore was not interested in pursuing a catechism course. She had told Tim that although she thought she could join his church, she did not feel that she would bind herself, by doing so, to anything like Confessions. Everyone is free to think and believe as they wish and she intended to do so regardless of what church she joined.
Tim thought about it and the more he did the more he concluded that Roberta was all confused. He tried to convince himself that she was really a good girl who was all mixed up about this “religious” thing and he attributed it to her mixed background. First her Romish belief that the authority of the church is over and above that of Scripture projected itself to the fore and then the spirit of un-denominationalism that really ignores the doctrine of the church altogether seemed to gain precedence. If he would present her with the truth from the Bible, she would appeal to the contrary teachings of the “church” to defend her error and if he would cite the truth from the Confessions, she would become evasive and claim that that was not the Bible. Truly she was all mixed up and Tim felt that was error too!
Just then a thought came into Tim’s mind. He knew that he could not set her straight but then he remembered that one time he had asked a question in catechism to which the minister replied among other things that “the revelation of the truth in the Bible is sufficiently clear for any and every believer to obtain the necessary knowledge unto salvation.” To him that meant that she would have to be convinced of the truth from the Scriptures or otherwise . . . well —.
Hurriedly he looked up the Article from the Confession in connection with which this had been said and he found it to be Article 7 of the Netherlands Confession. He read it carefully and we are not going to quote it here but will, D.V., comment on its content the next time but the thing that drew Tim’s attention and that we are concerned with now is found at the very end of the article. There two passages are quoted from Scripture. They read: “Try the spirits whether they be of God. Likewise if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.”
These passages also we wish to discuss later. To Tim they meant that it was impossible for him to propose marriage. Roberta’s doctrine was not of God but of the spirit of error. He could not receive her into his house. God forbade it and he must marry “in the Lord.” There must be a spiritual unity, a oneness of faith and doctrine or there cannot be a yoking together. To be unequally yoked is error!
We are glad Tim saw it. It spared him immeasurable grief and misery that is always consequent to error and which not a few who refused to “head the warning of the Word” have reaped.
“How shall the young direct their way?
What light shall be their perfect guide?
Thy Word, O Lord, will safely lead
If in its wisdom they confide.”