Elijah once thought, “I am left alone,” the only one right (Rom. 11:3). But he was wrong in this judgment, even though right in his God service. The “one against the world” attitude is self-inflating, and has wrecked the work of many a would-be reformer.
When one recognizes a truth which he had not before seen — and if you have not done this you are not growing as God intended — this should be a humbling experience. Should one not think, “Until now, I have failed in this matter.” Is it not presumptuous to conclude that you alone have such marvelous insight?
What if others are yet unaware of this truth — or perhaps fail to give it the emphasis it deserves? Will we help them by adopting a superior air, and treating them as if they were stupid, or do not love truth? Quite often it is the one who has newly “seen the light” that was — well, not as bright as they now seem to think. It is often the case that others have long known this particular truth, although they may not have set it forth with the clarity it deserves. Our attitude may push good men into defensive positions. (What pushed the “reformer” into his “one against the world” attitude?) When will we learn to teach such truth as we believe we have found, with vigor, application, documented by scriptures, but with no personal “credit” line? I get the impression that some think they invented the gospel.
Besides being the Christ-like spirit, such humility will be very helpful when someone examines our “new” truth, and finds it is an old error. Those who have recently taken excursions in “imputed righteousness” need to do a bit of research on this line.
We do tend to traditionalize our preaching; to emphasize one point to the neglect of others. But if someone knows the truth more perfectly let him balance his preaching and set it before us with clarity. It is not the scriptural, whole-truth scheme of redemption that riles truth lovers. Good men constantly learn more truth, they just don’t like to be fed 16th. Century error, and be classed as legalists if they refuse to eat it.
Robert F. Turner