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Vol. 9, No. 12
Dec., 2000

The Rich Young Ruler & the Terms of Salvation

by Glenn Conjurske

In preaching the gospel to the ungodly, I have often known the self-righteous to agree with every word, so long as I preach repentance, but the moment I begin to preach discipleship, they balk, and begin to object and oppose. The necessity of repentance they allow. It does not touch them. They think to stand among the “just persons, which need no repentance.” They are willing to allow that we must forsake certain sinful deeds in order to be saved----though their list of deeds which are sinful is usually short enough. I spoke once with an old woman whose list of sinful deeds apparently extended to but one----adultery, namely----and she informed me that she was too old to sin. But though they have very defective views of what sin is, they acknowledge that it must be forsaken in order to be saved. Yet when we preach discipleship to them, they balk and dispute. They will allow that we must give up certain sinful deeds, but they have no notion that we must give up the essence of sin, which is our own will and way. They can spare certain sinful indulgences, but to submit unconditionally to Christ----to give up their own will, way, possessions, position, plans, purposes, friends, relatives, and their own life also----this they cannot brook.

And this response is nothing new. This was exactly the response of the rich young ruler to the preaching of the master evangelist, the Son of God. Here was a young man concerned about the salvation of his soul. He came to Christ and asked him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And let it be observed in the first place that the Lord did not tell him, as most of our modern preachers would, that he had nothing to do----that he was not to think of inheriting eternal life by doing anything. Neither did he tell him, either soon or late, that he had nothing to do but believe. He first preached the law to him, and when the young man justified himself on that ground, he preached discipleship----and this, recall, in response to the direct question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Did the Lord deceive him? Are we to believe that the Lord “loved him,” and proceeded to trifle with his precious soul? Such a belief is profane, and we can give no quarter to those who would rather condemn the Lord than give up their own false notions of salvation by grace. It really ought to go without saying that what the Lord preached to this man was the truth of the gospel. He did not deceive the man (whom he loved), nor put in his way an unnecessary hurdle, nor set him running in the wrong direction, or upon the wrong track. According to the modern preachers of cheap grace and antinomian faith, the rich young ruler would have been lost indeed if he had believed and acted upon the Lord's preaching. He would then have been a victim of a works gospel, and guilty of failing to trust in Christ alone for his salvation, of self-righteousness, legalism, Pharisaism, Galatianism, popery, and some dozen or two other black heresies besides. All this for doing the one thing which the Lord told him he yet lacked.

Observe, the Lord first preached to him the commandments. “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” In this, however, we suppose the Lord was but testing him, for he purposely omitted those commandments which it is impossible for a sinner to keep. He said nothing of “Thou shalt not lust,” nor of loving God with all his heart, nor of loving his neighbor as himself. He spoke only of those things which a man may keep, and which many do keep. “Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” “All these,” the young man says, “have I kept from my youth up.” The Lord does not dispute this, but neither does he proceed to speak of those commandments which the young man had certainly not kept. He speaks only of that which is man-ward, and omits altogether the first and greatest commandment, which is God-ward. He omits also the commandments which touch the desires of the heart, and speaks only of those which concern the outward deeds. On that ground the young man justifies himself. The Lord does not deny his claim, nor advance to the deeper requirements of the law, but proceeds directly to the terms of discipleship. “Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Or, as another Gospel records it, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

Now this is gospel preaching. “Sell all----take up the cross----follow me.” The law knows absolutely nothing of any such requirements. This is gospel preaching, and I further prove it by the fact that the Lord prefaced it with “One thing thou lackest.” If he had been preaching the law to him, he might easily have proved him lacking in many things. He did this easily when he stooped down to write on the ground, in the midst of a company of scribes and Pharisees. They all, “being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one.” And we may be certain that it was not “Sell all, and give to the poor” which he wrote on the ground, nor “Take up the cross and follow me.” Such things would have produced no conviction at all among the scribes and Pharisees. They would have disputed the Lord's authority to lay such things upon them, and repudiated the terms themselves. It was doubtless the commandments which he wrote on the ground, the authority of which they all acknowledged----for there can be no conviction without this----and such of the commandments as would prove the guilt and deficiencies of the woman's accusers. He might have done the same with this young ruler, but he was not dealing here with hypocrites, who brought the woman for judgement, caught in the very act of adultery, and left her partner in sin to go his way. He was dealing here with an honest inquirer after the terms of eternal life. Moreover (and it is of the utmost importance to understand this), he was obviously dealing with one who regarded him as a true prophet of God, and trusted in him to teach him the true way of salvation. The fact that he “went away sorrowful,” instead of impugning or disputing the terms which the Lord required of him, proves indisputably that he trusted Christ to teach him the truth of the matter. With such a man before him, the Lord proceeds immediately to the terms of the gospel, and so preaches the terms of discipleship.

But the strongest proof that what the Lord preached to this man was the truth of the gospel lies in the plain and patent fact that when he “went away sorrowful,” the Lord let him go. He did not call him back, and say, “Wait! Wait! I was only testing you. I was only preaching the law, by which no man can inherit eternal life. The terms of salvation lie in another direction altogether. It is not necessary that you forsake all and follow me. It is not necessary that you sell all, and take up the cross. Come back! Come! Come! Only believe in me, and eternal life is yours.” No such thing. And yet if it was not the true gospel which the Lord preached to him, if the true gospel lay rather in those propositions which we have hypothetically put into the Lord's mouth in this paragraph, then we can only say that the Lord was guilty of inexcusable delinquency not to call him back. He was guilty of inexcusable trifling with the solemn things of eternity not to preach another message than he did.

Suppose some evangelist to preach exactly the same message today, and suppose some earnest inquirer, in hearing that he must forsake all, take up the cross, and follow Christ, were to go away sorrowful, unwilling to submit to such conditions, all the preachers of the antinomian gospel would immediately call him back, and earnestly inform him that no such things are required of him, that the evangelist who preached such a message is dark and legal and popish, knowing nothing of the gospel of the grace of God. This, I say, all the preachers of easy salvation would do, and this they would do though the preacher were Richard Baxter, or George Whitefield, or C. H. Spurgeon, or an angel from heaven. Thus do the modern preachers condemn the Lord's message, his preaching, and his dealing with souls, in order to maintain notions of grace which are fundamentally false.

But all the advocates of easy salvation will say that the Lord only preached the law to the rich young ruler, to convict him of his lost condition, and failing to convict him by that means, he let him go his way, as a man unprepared for the truth of the gospel. And this we would readily grant, if the Lord had merely preached the commandments to him, and left him justifying himself on that ground, saying, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” But the account does not end there. Failing to convict him on the ground of such commandments as he quoted to him, the Lord preaches discipleship to him, and under this preaching the man does not remain unconvicted. He does not any more justify himself. Just the reverse. He goes away sorrowful----”very sorrowful.” And why sorrowful? Precisely because he believed in the validity of the terms which the Lord required of him, knew very well that he had not kept them, and was unwilling to do so. Therefore he “went away sorrowful,” believing that these were the true terms of eternal life, and that those terms were too hard for him----such terms as he was not willing to comply with. This much is perfectly plain on the face of the passage, and they are really grasping at straws who pretend the man went away unconvinced, still justifying himself on the ground of the law. He certainly believed that the terms which the Lord preached to him were the actual conditions of eternal life, and if he was mistaken in believing this, the Lord was inexcusable not to correct him.

And beside all this, there immediately follows a conversation between Christ and his disciples, in which the same terms which the Lord preached to the young ruler are solemnly and repeatedly set forth as the conditions of eternal life. In the first place, “When Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” There is not the slightest doubt, then, that the Lord meant these conditions to be the actual conditions of salvation, for default of which this young man, along with the rich in general, are excluded from entering the kingdom of God. Though the door of heaven is open wide for all who will enter in, yet they must forsake all and take up the cross in order to do so, and the rich so love their riches that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved.

The people who heard him obviously so understood it also, for “they that heard it said, Who then can be saved?” His own disciples also certainly understood him to be setting forth the true terms of salvation, for another gospel records, “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?”

The rich young ruler, then, went away “very sorrowful,” believing that on no other terms could he be saved, and yet for love of his riches being unwilling to comply with those terms. The people believed that Christ was thus setting forth the actual terms of salvation, but supposed them so strict that they exclaimed, “Who then can be saved?” The disciples quite agree, never doubting that the Lord's conditions were the true terms of salvation, but being exceedingly amazed at conditions so hard, and exclaim with the rest of the people, “Who then can be saved?”

And does the Lord speak one word to correct them? Does he give one hint to correct what our modern preachers must suppose to be the universal misunderstanding of his words? Does he tell the people they have mistaken him, in thinking these terms to be the true conditions of salvation? Not a word of it. He only tells them that though it is impossible with men, it is possible with God. This, of course, speaking of the salvation of a rich man, for it is of the rich only that the Lord speaks when he says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Yet observe, we are not to think for a moment that there are any softer terms for a poor man. The terms are just the same, for rich or poor, high or low, bond or free, king or beggar. Yet it is a good deal easier for the poor to comply with such terms. It is for this reason precisely that Paul is obliged to write, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” The poor and the base and the despised have the advantage every way in the matter of salvation, though the terms are just the same for them as for the rich and noble. They have little to forsake, and are usually not so much attached to it, for it is a plain fact that where a man's treasure is, there his heart will be also.

Thus much we speak only to guard against the misuse of the Lord's words, as though it were impossible for any man to be saved, or easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for any sinner to be saved. Calvinism and other errors may so misuse the text, though it is perfectly obvious that it speaks only of the salvation of the rich. And thus far it is perfectly plain also that the Lord, the people, the disciples, and the young ruler all understood the terms of discipleship to be the terms of eternal life.

But there is more. Hearing that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to be saved on such terms, Peter affirms “Behold, we”----and the pronoun is emphatic in the Greek in all three Gospels----”we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” And the Lord tells him that “therefore” he shall have a hundredfold in this time, and in the world to come eternal life. They who have complied with those terms which the Lord preached to the rich young ruler shall have that eternal life which the Lord conditioned upon those terms. Can anything be plainer than this? Read the text. “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Recall now, these words were spoken in response to Peter's assertion, “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee,” and the question which he bases upon that fact, “What shall we have therefore?” Is the Lord trifling with the souls of men here, deceiving men instead of enlightening them, or preaching the plain truth of the gospel?

But with the text I have done. I turn to offer a few words of exhortation to the dear brethren of my beloved Fundamentalism----my first love, for which my tears yet fall, and my prayers ascend. I know all the arguments for cheap grace and easy salvation. I graduated from the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music. I was thoroughly enamored with the writings of Lewis Sperry Chafer. A third of a century ago I preached all those antinomian doctrines myself----preached that we must forsake all to be a disciple, but forsake nothing to be saved----preached that since salvation is a free gift we can do nothing to obtain it----preached that we have nothing to do but believe, and that even that should not be preached to sinners, lest they make a work of it. But the more I entered into the word of God, the more uncomfortable I became with those doctrines. All those scriptures which assert the responsibility of man were commonly ignored in the instruction which I had received, but I was a serious student of the Bible, and I could not be content to ignore them. If my instructors touched those unpleasant scriptures at all, it was only to wrest and make them void. My gospel compelled me to wrest the Scriptures----compelled me to employ all those miserable shifts by which the plainest statements of the Bible are emptied of their meaning----and for this my conscience condemned me. Yet so subject was my mind to all the fallacies and false premises by which those doctrines are supported, that it required five years of wrestling with the subject ere I had any clear understanding of it. My enlightenment, however, came about by a very simple process. I trusted the Bible. I ceased to employ those miserable shifts by which it is commonly made void. I let it speak. I took it at its face value, precisely as a man would his father's will, or a letter from a friend. I trusted that it was written to enlighten us, not to mislead us----that its truths are revealed to babes, not to philosophers----and that therefore all those subtleties, technicalities, and plain tom-fooleries by means of which it is commonly interpreted are not only highly impertinent and unnecessary, but altogether ruinous, and absolutely fatal to a sound understanding of the Book.

Since that time I have learned that all the great preachers of the past have held that repentance, righteousness, holiness, and discipleship are the necessary terms of salvation, but I did not learn these things from the great men of past, but from the Bible alone, taken at face value, and implicitly trusted. I learned these doctrines, not from the men of the past, but from the same Book from which they learned them. The preachers of the present day may do the same, if they will but deal honestly and fairly with the Book in their hands. I endeavor to put these truths beyond cavil, one facet at a time, in the pages of this magazine, but no arguments will avail where prejudice reigns, where men will not think, or where they are determined to maintain their system, maugre all Scripture. Alas, no other book on earth is treated with the unrestrained licentiousness with which most Fundamentalists interpret the Bible. The most wanton construction which the political liberals put upon the Constitution of the United States is scarcely so far astray as what Fundamentalists make of the Bible.

And how can it be otherwise? They have a system of doctrine which is directly opposed to every page of the Bible, and yet think to use the Bible for its support. A quarter of a century ago, I had a lengthy conversation with an elder in a certain church, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. We spoke for about two hours of the terms of salvation. I did no more than enforce at their obvious face value a number of those texts which Fundamentalists commonly ignore or explain away. At the end of two hours this man put up his hands, and said, “You have knocked the theological foundations out from under me. I don't know what I believe, or how to find out.” This he said very earnestly, with evident sincerity. And yet all I had done was to point out to him the perfectly obvious meaning, such as he could not deny, of the plain texts of the New Testament. Such I have endeavored to do with one plain text in the present article.


The Heart & the Conscience, or Conviction & Convenience

by Glenn Conjurske

Twenty-five years ago I wore a full beard, but shaved the area around my mouth. At that time I visited some Mennonites in Indiana, who wore beards exactly like my own. One of the young men there asked me if I had my beard for conviction or convenience. “Convenience,” I replied, for I wore a beard solely to save the time and trouble of shaving. He said no more, and I inquired no further. A little later in the day one of the older men asked me the same question, in the same words. This obvious preoccupation about something so insignificant as a beard aroused my curiosity, and I replied, “Convenience: how about yourself?” “Oh,” said he, “Conviction, conviction.” I asked him what the conviction was. He said, “To be like Christ.” I asked him why then he didn't have a moustache. He replied very forcefully, “I've wondered about that!” I left him to wonder at his leisure, but I suspect there was no conviction at all in his beard. He merely followed the traditions of the elders, who evidently found it convenient to shave the moustache, and therefore found no application there of the conviction to be like Christ.

For my own part, I have long since ceased wearing a beard, for I found the beard more troublesome and uncomfortable than shaving. If there had been anything of conviction in it, however, I would be wearing it still, for conviction cannot be abandoned for convenience' sake.

Yet I have been appalled to see so many Christians who hold their doctrines obviously for convenience' sake, and yet preach them as though they were solid convictions. They believe, or profess to believe, what they like, or what suits the occasion. They use the Bible as Joseph Smith and his successors used their prophetic powers. Smith always had a “revelation” ready when he needed one. When he was up to his ears in “spiritual wifery”----and physical adultery----the Lord very conveniently gave him a revelation, sanctioning polygamy----and requiring his Emma to forgive him his past wrongs, and receive all the wives which were given to him. Years later, when the Mormon territory sought statehood, the federal government peremptorily denied the privilege, unless the Mormons would abandon polygamy. This was a hard thing, since polygamy had been the staple of their religion for two generations. Yet Joseph F. Smith, then successor of the original Joseph Smith, diligently sought the Lord, and gave forth the assurance that the Lord was about to give him something. Sure enough, “the Lord” gave him a “revelation,” revoking polygamy.

All this is shameful imposture, and yet I have known Christians enough who use the Bible as the Mormon prophets use their supposed revelations. Years ago a number of us were discussing the difficulties of divorced persons, who it may be are unable to contain, and are yet evidently forbidden to marry. I asked, “What would you do if you were single, and yet believed it wrong for you to marry?” One man replied with some forcefulness, “I would never believe that!” I thought at the time, It must be very convenient to be able to believe what you please, but I have no such ability. My beliefs are convictions, dictated by truth and righteousness and Scripture, and I hope I am unable to believe whatever happens to suit my present situation. Yet I have observed that same man change his doctrines and standards a number of times since then, and apparently usually on the basis of convenience. If he wants to do a thing, he manages to find the sanction of God for it, as Balaam did, and usually finds it quickly enough at that. We of course know that it is possible for a man to gain further light, but we know also that it is a rare thing for the truth of God to mark out an easy, pleasing path for us.

We know right well, however, that in some matters the Bible does mark out a pleasing path for us. The Bible condones, for example, all the delights of love and courtship and marriage, and none are so quick as I, nor so determined either, in opposing those hyperspiritual notions which browbeat the spiritual, condemn the innocent, bind heavy burdens upon men, and make them sad whom God would make glad. Against all this we stand, decided and resolute, and yet contend that in general the path which the Bible marks out for us is one of self-denial, not self-indulgence.

When a man always manages to find just the doctrine which suits his desires, and just as the occasion calls for it, we have grave reason to suspect his sincerity. The man who stands for years against inter-racial marriage, but changes his view when a pleasing woman of another color comes along----the man who stands for years against debt, but changes his doctrine when he wants to buy a house----the man who stands for years against a “one-man ministry,” but changes his views when he has a prospect of becoming the “one man”----such men give us good reason to question their sincerity.

We grant that it is possible to receive new light at just the moment when we need it, but this is not very safe when the new light corresponds with the desires of the heart. We have a “conflict of interest,” and will easily deceive ourselves. We have ulterior motives, and these are more than likely to blind our eyes. Even if we could suppose this sincere, it must yet be far from safe. It reduces the learning of truth to a mere intellectual process----or a mere pretense. There is no conscience in it. “I studied the matter out. I searched the Scriptures, the lexicons, the concordances, the commentaries, and I found”------------------------just what I wanted to find. Can this be safe? It is certain that conscience has nothing to do with the process. When our interpretation follows our conscience, it is pre-eminently safe, whereas when it follows the heart it is always to be suspected. The conscience is the vehicle by which the truth is ordinarily conveyed to our minds, where the heart will only deceive us. I borrow money to buy a car, or contemplate doing so, but “Owe no man anything” stares me in the face. My debt becomes a great burden on my conscience. To be right I must get out of debt. This is safe and sincere, but how safe can it be to say, “I am tired of living in this old house. I want a better one. I have searched the Scriptures, and have learned that it is not wrong to go into debt”? Whatever may be said for its sincerity, the obvious ulterior motive makes the process unsafe.

But we are convinced that it is usually no more sincere than it is safe. Consistency is always the test of sincerity, and inconsistency always the proof of hypocrisy. Those who hold their doctrines or standards for convenience' sake are usually consistent in nothing but their inconsistency. They hold their standard only because it is convenient, and so hold it only while it is convenient. Such folks will always be as unstable as their circumstances. I know a man who used to preach to me, as though it were the first fundamental of the faith, that it is always wrong to leave a true church. He preached this so forcefully to me because some in his own church were inclined to leave it, and to come to the greener pastures which they saw under my preaching. But I pointed out to the preacher of this doctrine that to my own knowledge he himself had left a true church on two different occasions in the not very distant past. Ah! that was different. He had left those churches “with their blessing.” I was not at all sure of that, but this I know, that very shortly afterwards he left the church to which he then belonged, and certainly not with their blessing, but under threat of excommunication. The fact that he himself did not live by the doctrine which he preached to others was the full proof that he held it hypocritically. He held it for convenience, to suit the circumstances then present. It was no conviction at all.

Seven or eight years ago a faction in the church set themselves against myself. They accused me of many things. Their charges were trivial at first, but became more and more grave as time went on, and along with their charges they always had a doctrine with which to condemn me. One of their favorites was that it was wrong to defend yourself when accused. Nothing would do but an “unqualified apology”----that is, an unqualified admission of guilt. By this means they had me both coming and going. If I admitted their charges, I was guilty. If I defended myself, I was something worse than guilty. Now I never for a minute believed their doctrine, nor did I ever believe that they believed it. They held it hypocritically, for convenience only. It suited their present purpose, which was to condemn me. The proof that they held it hypocritically lay in the fact that they held it inconsistently. It applied to me, but not to themselves. They all defended themselves, and quite vigorously too, when they were accused. Nay, they defended themselves when they were guilty, and condemned me for defending myself when I was innocent. One or two of them tried a time or two to act on their doctrine, and when they were accused of something, they immediately acknowledged the truth of it, and made no defence. But this was really too much for their carnal natures, and they did not stick with it long. I even heard of an “unqualified apology,” which had been given to me, being taken back ten minutes after I left the room.

Such examples may serve to illustrate the hypocrisy which usually accompanies the profession of doctrines and interpretations which suit our desires and purposes. The knowledge of the truth is another matter. The truth generally requires self-denial of us, not self-indulgence. It does not usually flow in the direction of our selfish and worldly desires, but cuts across them. It does not sustain sinister emotions and purposes, but condemns them. The Bible generally requires hard things of us, not easy, and those who profess the sanction of Scripture to do just what they wish to do are either insincere or deceived.

The Bible says, “If any man be willing to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,” (John 7:17), but since when does being willing to do our own will qualify us to understand the truth? This text implies the overcoming of some latent unwillingness to do his will. It is the conscience which chides us concerning that unwillingness, till we have surrendered the point, and become willing to do the will of God rather than our own. Such a process gives us the ability to understand the truth. It gives us a single eye----puts away our conflict of interest and our ulterior motives. But those who desire to do a thing, and sit down to study the Bible to see what the will of the Lord is, are most likely to deceive themselves. The heart looms large, and the conscience is suppressed, in such a process.

Balaam tried for a time to follow his heart and his conscience both, but his heart prevailed, and led him astray, though somehow he managed to find the sanction of God for his wayward course. This is the way of all who follow the heart instead of the conscience in the interpreting of the Bible. Now it goes without saying that the heart must always yield to the conscience----that it can never be right for the conscience to yield to the heart, and yet we have observed the long course of some----always a downward course----in which the heart prevails at every point, and conscience is apparently an idle spectator, while yet the sanction of Scripture is claimed for every step. But we do not believe the conscience is an idle spectator. Though there are times when the conscience may receive its due, and the heart its desire also, yet there will be conflict between the conscience and the heart, and where the heart is always followed, the conscience must necessarily be violated, and the Scriptures wrested also. Our only safety lies in always giving the conscience its due, though it must often be at the expense of the heart. In no other way can we be right. Where the desires of the heart are given precedence over the claims of the conscience, the course must necessarily be downward. Those who take such a downward course, and yet claim that their conscience is clear, are no doubt as hypocritical in their claims as they are in their course.


n Book Review n

by Glenn Conjurske


Me? Obey Him? by Elizabeth Rice Handford

Revised Edition

Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1994, 126 pp.

More than a year ago I published an unfavorable review of the first edition of this book, being then unaware that there was a revised edition. Recently a friend has put this revision into my hands, and I suppose I ought to say something about it, in order to avoid any appearance of unfairness. But we have nothing to retract from what we wrote before. The author has not yet learned to write literary English, nor has she altered her doctrine. The introduction to the revision tells us, “This revised edition does not alter the message; it only relates to the problems Christian women face in the twenty-first century. Chapter 7 is added to help you in appealing a poor decision.” By the author's avowal, then, I would not be unfair to her if I never noticed the revision at all, her message being unchanged, yet it might be unfair to myself, as it might cause me to appear to be unfair.

I quote the above sentence only to indicate that the message of the book is unaltered, but I must say that I do not like its tone. Is this Fundamentalism or Neo-evangelicalism----or mindless rhetoric, or insincere advertising? What problems will women face in the twenty-first century that they did not face in the twentieth? And who could tell this now----or in 1994, when this revision was published? One thing is certain: that the added chapter never mentions any such problems.

At any rate, the author avows that the message is not altered. In general the book appears to be unaltered, so far as I have examined it, except for the addition of chapter seven. To that chapter I proceed.

And I note in the first place the soft terms in which she speaks of a husband's delinquency. “How to Appeal a Bad Decision.” Elsewhere she calls it a “poor decision,” an “unwise decision,” an “unfair decision,” a “wrong decision.” All this looks more like a mistake than sin. Do husbands never sin? Once she speaks of an “evil decision,” but her language in general assumes the husband practically impeccable, while she blames the wife even for the husband's wrong. If the wife were but submissive, the husband would require no wrong of her.

She always has an example from experience which suits and confirms her doctrine. One husband required his wife to get an abortion. On discussing the matter with the wife, the author found that she did not want the baby. If she had wanted the baby, (we are to conclude), her husband would not have required this of her. Another husband required his wife to participate in wife-swapping parties. She obeyed, but claimed she could only bring herself to do so by getting drunk first. Yet on questioning her, the author elicited the confession that the woman wanted to join in the adulterous orgies. Again, we are to conclude that if the wife's desires had been altogether pure, her husband would not have required the wrong of her. God would secure this. But all this is just spiritual brow-beating, and that of the worst possible sort, for it extends beyond the choices and acts, to the very desires of the heart. There is no one alive who never has wrong desires in one direction or another. A woman may have a wrong desire----for the flesh works in all of us----and yet choose to do right, but Mrs. Handford makes her wrong desire the reason that her husband requires her to do wrong. She labors almost everywhere to make out that every wrong “decision” on the husband's part is the wife's fault. If she were only obedient, nothing wrong would be required of her. Or if (by some miracle) it was, God would make a way to escape, so that she did not have to sin, even if it meant working a miracle to accomplish that. In all this her doctrine is unchanged from the former edition.

But if her examples from experience always tell in her favor, her examples from the Bible are singularly unfortunate. Under the bold heading, “How to Appeal a Husband's Wrong Decision,” she writes, “Abraham, the Old Testament Patriarch, found himself in that kind of bind when he learned that God was going to destroy Sodom. Abraham went straight to God to ask how that could be. 'God, are You really going to kill all the righteous people in Sodom along with the wicked people? That's not like You. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?' (Gen. 18:25). Then follows one of the sweetest conversations between God and man recorded in Scripture, as Abraham persuades God to reconsider His decision!” (pp. 99-100).

But what evidence is there that God “reconsidered his decision”? He certainly did not change his mind or purpose. And as for Abraham, there was no question of obedience here at all. God required nothing of Abraham, but merely told him what he would do himself. Nor was God's determination a “wrong decision.”

She next speaks of Abraham offering up his son, obeying without question when God apparently commanded him to do wrong. But we observe that it was God Abraham was obeying, not man. No one would have any right to obey such a command coming from man, regardless of the man's authority. Mrs. Handford, we know, everywhere insists that a woman must obey her husband as though he were God, but the present example ought to set that notion in its true light. We owe to God an obedience which we do not and cannot owe to any man on earth.

But her point in this is that when we unquestioningly obey, God will work it out for the best. “God always, always makes 'a way to escape' for the child of His who obeys Him. God makes it so His children do not have to sin. So God provided a ram for the sacrifice and spared Isaac's life.” (pg. 100). This is a perversion of the scriptural promise. The only “way of escape” which we need when commanded to do wrong is to “obey God rather than men,” as Daniel did, and the Hebrew midwives, and the apostles of Christ. According to Mrs. Handford's doctrine, the three Hebrew children ought to have gone to Nebuchadnezzar's feast fully intending to obey him----fully intending, that is, to bow to his image----and it would have been God's responsibility, somewhere about the last minute, to provide a “way of escape,” so that they did not “have to sin.”

She mentions a Christian woman whose ungodly husband wanted her to go to the stock-car races. She protested that she could not go, as she was a Christian. Mrs. Handford convinced her there was nothing wrong with it, and she went. And how God honored her obedience!! They had “an absolutely wonderful time.” Her husband told her, “I've never had a more wonderful time in my life!” So is this Mrs. Handford's idea of Christianity----to secure a wonderful time for the ungodly? This is not Christianity, but worldliness. How much better for the man's soul if he had been forced to go to the races alone, fretting because his godly wife would not go with him. This might have served to convict him of the sinfulness of his ways. An “absolutely wonderful time,” at an ungodly affair, at the hands of his Christian wife, would certainly remove him farther than ever from such conviction.

She next takes up the Canaanite woman, whose daughter was vexed with a devil, and proves by it that the Lord hearkens to our appeals. Thus encouraged, women ought to appeal to their husbands also. But it is hard to tell what this has to do with the subject. There was no question of obedience for the Canaanite woman. The Lord had required nothing of her, and he never requires wrong of anybody. When God becomes as sinful and fallible as man is, or when man becomes as impeccable as God is, it will then be time enough to talk of obeying a man as though he were God.

We see no need to follow her further. She claims that her message is not altered. Yet we do believe that the new chapter substantially softens her stance in one point, and though the rest of the book appears in general to be a verbatim reprint of the former edition, yet she does make one small but very significant alteration in chapter six. In the first edition she wrote, “Certainly you get to express an opinion----if you are asked.” This is now altered to, “Certainly you get to express an opinion.” Those four words were not removed by accident, and their deletion is really a very large concession, though it doubtless leaves intact her root principle, that a woman is to obey her husband as though he were God----for we may endeavor to change the mind of God also. Yet she could hardly have added much of the content of the new chapter----on “How Can I Get My Husband to Change His Mind?”----if she had not first dropped the words “if you are asked.” And in dropping these words she doubtless softens somewhat the spiritual browbeating to which her doctrine subjects those who believe it.

Another False Definition of Repentance

by Glenn Conjurske

It is common for all antinomians to define repentance as a change of mind. The obvious purpose of this is to empty the word of its meaning. William Pettingill says, “Strictly speaking, the word repentance means 'a change of mind.' ... Since it is not possible for an unbeliever to become a believer without changing his mind, it is therefore unnecessary to say anything about it.”

Pettingill was the right-hand man of C. I. Scofield at the Philadelphia School of the Bible, and similar statements might be found from others who belonged to that camp.

We may grant that repentance is “a change of mind,” of a sort, but we absolutely deny that it is such a change of mind as Pettingill supposes. It is “unnecessary to say anything about” the change of mind for which he contends, since “it is not possible for an unbeliever to become a believer without it.” But the repentance of the Bible is certainly of a different sort than this. It certainly is necessary to say something about the “change of mind” which the Bible demands, else why does God “now command all men everywhere to repent”? Is God so foolish as to command all men to do what it is unnecessary to say anything about? Why did Christ commission his apostles to preach “repentance and the remission of sins” to all nations, if it is unnecessary to say anything about it? Why did Paul preach to all men everywhere he went, from the beginning to the end of his career, “that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance,” if it is unnecessary to say anything about it? Was Paul a fool, to spend his whole life preaching something which it is unnecessary to say anything about?

The plain fact is, though we may grant that repentance is in some sense “a change of mind,” it is not the sort of change of mind which is commonly supposed----or wished----by the orthodox antinomians of our day.

Two different things may be meant by “a change of mind.” One of those things may be a legitimate description of repentance. The other certainly is not. When we speak of a change of mind, we ordinarily mean a change of purpose, though a change of mind may refer merely to a change of opinion. Repentance certainly is a change of purpose, though it is certainly not a mere change of opinion. But antinomians capitalize upon a play on words here. “A change of mind” may describe repentance in one sense, but the sense in which they mean it is certainly false.

That repentance is not a mere change of opinion may be proved several ways.

First, except for the insincere, who profess opinions which they do not actually believe, we do not suppose it lies within the realm of possibility to change our opinion, by a mere choice or act of the will. If I believe the sky is blue, I cannot decide to believe it green. We cannot change our opinions. They must be changed, by the force of evidence----whether that evidence is sound or unsound, false or true. I once believed Calvinism to be the truth, on the basis of what I supposed to be sound evidence. I could not then decide to believe it false. I now know Calvinism to be false, on the basis of sound and solid evidence. I cannot now decide to believe Calvinism true, any more than I can decide to believe I am a woman, or a polar bear. The evidence which formerly convinced me was partial, one-sided, misinterpreted, imaginary, but such as it was it was adequate to my mind to convince me of the truth of Calvinism, and I could not voluntarily alter my opinion. But observe: God now commands all men everywhere to repent. Does he then command impossibilities? No man can decide to change his opinion, and if repentance is a change of opinion, then no man can repent. Thus, in an ill-advised attempt to make repentance easy, our antinomian preachers have actually made it impossible, though the impossibility may never appear to them, who evidently seldom think anything through, and who are content to say nothing about repentance.

But further, if repentance is a mere change of opinion, the Bible uses all the wrong prepositions with the word, and never the right one. The Bible requires us to repent of or from certain things, but never once requires us to repent about anything. But if repentance is a change of opinion, we must certainly repent about things, not of them.

In the next place, the repentance of the Bible is most obviously a moral thing, but there is nothing moral in a mere change of opinion. Faith itself is reduced, by these antinomian gospellers, to a mere belief of facts----”salvific (!) facts”----and thus the whole gospel is bereft of its morality, and the whole difference between the righteous and the wicked is made out to be an intellectual one. The Bible terminology, which maintains a moral difference between the godly and the ungodly has been for the most part abandoned by modern Fundamentalism, so that we hear nothing of the righteous and the wicked, or the godly and the ungodly, but only of the “saved” and the “lost,” or the “saved” and the “unsaved”----for the “saved” on this plan may be no more righteous or godly than the “unsaved.”

And finally, nothing could be more obvious in the Bible that, whatever repentance may be, it has to do with sin. Those who wish to make it a mere change of opinion seem unable to discover this, though it is written broadly on the very face of the New Testament. “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” “Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth.” “Repent of this thy wickedness.” “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” “I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent.” “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication.” “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.” “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk. Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

We might cite yet other scriptures in proof of the fact that repentance has to do with sin. But the perversity of those who wrest the Bible in order to maintain a false gospel will have nothing of this. Repentance is a change of opinion, and not about sin, but about God. This they think to extract from Paul's expression “repentance toward God.” But this says nothing of repentance about God. The repentance of the Bible is repentance from sin, and to repent toward God is to do this before him----with an eye to his offended majesty and his impending judgement. Men may renounce sin to please their wives, or to gain a place in a church or cult, but this is not repentance toward God.

As for “a change of mind,” there is one passage of the Bible which plainly shows us what sort of change of mind repentance is. We read in Matthew 21:28 & 29, “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” If someone wishes to translate this (as the NIV does), “Afterward he changed his mind, and went,” this would at any rate give an essentially correct meaning, though it is weak and anemic. But observe what sort of change of mind this was. It was not a change of opinion, but of purpose, issuing, of course, in a change of course or conduct. We must be careful to state also that repentance is no more a mere change of purpose than it is a mere change of opinion. We may change our purpose a hundred times without one whit of repentance. Repentance is a moral change of purpose, a purpose to forsake sin, and live holy, righteous, and godly. This is perfectly plain, but this passage is obscured by all the popular modern Bible versions, which we are supposed to believe are “more accurate.” The Berkeley Version tells us, “Afterward he felt sorry, and went out.” The New American Standard and the New King James versions inform us that he afterward “regretted it,” and went. But repentance is neither feeling sorry nor regretting it. It is above and beyond either of these. Herod “felt sorry” and “regretted it” before he beheaded John the Baptist, and doubtless afterwards too, but this is not repentance. Repentance is a change of purpose. The liberal modern versions, such as Goodspeed and the Revised Standard Version, quite properly retain “repented” here, but modern Evangelicalism is simply hopeless in its attempts to revise the Bible, understanding no more of Greek than Wuest or Lenski, and precious little of the truth either, marring all that it seeks to mend, and usually, as here, seeking to mend what needs no mending at all. At any rate, it plainly appears from this passage, properly translated, that repentance is “a change of mind” in the sense of a change of purpose. “Changed his mind,” however, is a very weak and deficient rendering, for repentance is a moral change of mind, perfectly expressed by the English word “repent,” whereas “a change of mind,” as commonly employed in our language, has nothing moral in it.

We suggest that it would be nothing short of ridiculous to thrust into the gospel accounts such things as, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed their minds long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Or, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Change your minds, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Or, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Change your minds, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Or, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye change your minds, ye shall all likewise perish.” The whole populace would have been left wondering what it was they were to change their minds about----though the inspired New Testament would resolve the mystery, for it plainly makes sin the issue in repentance, as we have shown above.

Once indeed the Bible does inform us that people “changed their minds.” In the 28th chapter of Acts we are told, when Paul was bitten by a serpent, “And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds”----being convinced by the contrary evidence----”and said that he was a god.” And here it would be as ridiculous to say they repented, as to say “Change your minds” where the Bible does say “Repent.” Repentance is a moral revolution. These barbarians' change of mind had nothing moral in it. Having formed one opinion, on very slight evidence, mixed with superstitious notions of their own, they were soon convinced of the contrary by other evidence, and so “changed their minds.” But this is expressed in the Greek by a word wholly different from “repent,” and the two things are as diverse as salt and pepper. The one is a moral change, the other is not.

In days gone by it was common to say, “amend your lives,” where we now say “repent,” and some of the early translators of the English Bible rendered the word this way. Myles Coverdale has in Luke 13:3, “I tell you naye, but excepte ye amende yourselues, ye shal all perishe likewyse,” and in Luke 17:3, “Yf thy brother trespace agaynst the, rebuke him: and yf he amende, forgeue him.” The Geneva Bible reads in Luke 15:7, “I say vnto you, that likewise ioye shalbe in heauen for one sinner that conuerteth, more then for ninetie and nine iuste men, which nede none amendement of life,” in Luke 16:30, “but if one came vnto them from the dead, they will amend their liues,” and in Rev. 2:5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first workes: or els I will come against thee shortly, and will remoue thy candlesticke out of his place, except thou amende.”

Such a rendering we think immeasurably superior to “change your minds.” But if “change your minds” is too weak, “amend your lives” is no doubt too strong, for it would seem to make “works meet for repentance” the essence of repentance, rather than the fruit of it. But repentance and works meet for repentance are not the same thing, for though a man may not repent without amending his life, he may amend his life without repenting. Repentance is the determination, and that before God, to amend his life. So Paul preached, to all men everywhere, “that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” (Acts 26:20). And though the Geneva Bible translates this, “that they shulde repent, and turne to God, and do workes worthie amendment of life,” we think the translation “amendment of life” is likely to cause doctrinal if not practical confusion. Nor is there any need. “Repent” and “repentance” are perfectly adequate, and everybody knows what they mean, except perhaps certain antinomians, who have been indoctrinated in a false definition of the words, and we strongly suspect that even they know the true meaning in their heart of hearts, for it would be difficult to miss this, with a Bible in their hands.

Feminine Modesty & Slacks

by Glenn Conjurske

It often happens that the arguments which are employed in favor of a thing are the strongest arguments which we could wish against it. I have often enough been confirmed in my own belief precisely by the arguments which are used against it. When we behold how utterly empty the arguments against a position are, this may serve to confirm us in that position quicker than many arguments for it. Lame arguments, shallow arguments, along with follies and fallacies of all sorts, will tell more effectually against the position for which they are used, than they will for it. If these are the best arguments which can be found for the thing, then the thing is certainly wrong. An example of this has recently come under my notice, in the form of an argument in favor of women wearing slacks.

Since publishing a little piece on feminine modesty in our August number, I have had occasion to look into Mrs. Elizabeth Handford's book on the subject, entitled Your Clothes Say It For You. She relates a conversation which she had with a certain pastor, who argued that his daughters ought to be able to wear slacks, in order to engage in certain activities. Mrs. Handford properly insisted that God intends that males and females should be different, and look different, in their normal outward appearance. She asked this pastor what would distinguish his daughters in appearance from the boys, if they all wore slacks. He replied, “Pretty feminine curves”!!

Pretty feminine curves indeed, and it is the nature of slacks to reveal those curves. But with what effect? The plain fact is, those curves are not only pretty, but very provocative also, and it is the sight of those feminine curves which inflames the lusts of a man. We will not dispute the fact----for a fact it is----that a thin woman in a pair of loose slacks may be generally modest in appearance, yet she ought to consider what damage she does by her example. Those who may plead her example for wearing slacks may not be so thin as she is, nor wear their slacks so loose either.

But there is yet more. I mentioned the above conversation from Mrs. Handford's book to a man, and he replied that dresses may reveal those feminine curves also. They may indeed, as all men must certainly know. The dresses which do so are those which are tight around the hips, and especially those which are drawn tight around the waist. A woman who wears a dress or skirt with a tight belt around her waist ought to wear a long blouse, which is not tucked in, and so conceal those “pretty feminine curves.” Let a word to the wise be sufficient.

Yet no dress is likely to reveal so much as slacks do. Even a tight dress conceals the lower curves of the feminine form, where slacks display all.

Another Word on Recorded Christian Music

by Glenn Conjurske

In a former number of Olde Paths & Ancient Landmarks I spoke against recorded Christian music, all of it, including the most conservative. It distracts and weakens the mind, and stands in the way of meditation, prayer, thought, and depth. I recently happened to hear some of the most conservative sort, consisting of some Mennonite ladies singing hymns without musical instruments. The voices were sweet, and the harmony fine. Nevertheless, the thing which impressed me most strongly in hearing this music was its artificial sound. And why artificial? Because it was a performance. This was not singing as the birds sing----not spontaneous singing, not singing from the heart, not singing and making melody to the Lord, but performing, singing for the microphone, to be heard of men. Therefore it was artificial, without freshness, and I could not help but feel when I heard it, Give me rather the singing of our little congregation! Give me those precious times when some of us gather spontaneously around the piano, and sing from our hearts to the Lord. The harmony may not be so good, nor the voices so sweet, but it is real. It is from the heart.

And my advice to those who have these recorded performances is just this: throw them away. I should hate to become so accustomed to this artificial stuff that I could see nothing amiss in it.

The Rod of God

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on September 24, 2000

by Glenn Conjurske

The power of God is with the man of God. This is an obvious fact of history, and plainly taught in the Bible. When Elijah was taken up from earth to heaven, and the longing Elisha cried after him, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof,” this was no idle talk. Neither was it the language of partiality, dictated by his own attachment to Elijah. There was nothing inordinate in his attachment. He knew what Elijah was, and his devotion to Elijah was the natural and very proper result of that understanding.

But was Elijah indeed the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof? Did the fortunes of the nation depend upon him? I appeal to the facts. There was a time when Elijah had said, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” Now unless Elijah was either a deceiver or deceived, all was dependent upon him. No alms, no righteousness, no prayer, no repentance even, could bring one drop of rain upon the whole land of Israel, except it first cleared Elijah, and came by his word. Ahab and the rest of the nation doubtless scoffed at Elijah's pride and presumption when he made such an announcement, but the passing of months and years without a drop of rain or dew made believers of them. Ahab then knew that the power of God was with Elijah----knew that the fortunes of the whole nation were dependent upon Elijah, and sent therefore to every kingdom under heaven to seek him. “As the Lord thy God liveth,” said Ahab's servant, “there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.” The power of God was with the man of God, and it was utterly vain for Ahab or Israel to think of obtaining the rain of heaven in independence of the man of God. The rain must come by the word of Elijah, or not at all. When accosted and commanded as “Thou man of God,” Elijah replied, “If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty.” If he was a man of God, then the power of God was with him. “And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.”

And as it was with Elijah, so it was also with Elisha after him. When Naaman sent to the king to be healed of his leprosy, the king rent his clothes, and supposed the king of Syria sought a quarrel with him. “And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” He should see that the power of God was with the man of God. The Shunammite knew this, and therefore clung to the feet of Elisha when she was in distress, saying to him the same words which he had spoken himself to Elijah in years gone by, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” Her child was dead. Nothing would do now but the power of God. She knew this, and knew where that power was to be found. She knew that the power of God was with the man of God, and so “she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel.”

Now the rod of Elisha was the rod of God. He had no doubt wrought wonders enough by means of it, and he will now send it by his servant, saying, “Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child.” This would not satisfy the mother, who evidently had more discernment on this point than the prophet. Elisha supposed the rod of God would be effectual in the hands of his servant, “but there was neither voice, nor hearing,” and Gahazi must report to his master, “The child is not awaked.” The rod of God in the hands of Gehazi was of no more power than the name of Jesus in the mouth of the vagabond Jews. “Jesus I know, and Paul I know,” said the demon, “but who are ye?” The power of God was with the man of God. The rod of God was the symbol----perhaps the vehicle----of the power of God, but that power was not in the rod, but in the man who held it. The Shunammite knew this, and held fast to Elisha himself, wherever he might send his rod.

So thoroughly true was this fact, that the power of God was with the man of God, that even the dead bones of Elisha retained that power, and when they were touched by another dead man, he came to life. This fact appears everywhere in Scripture and history. When Charles G. Finney walked over the bridge to enter a town, a solemn awe fell upon the inhabitants. Whitefield's Tabernacle was commonly called “the soul trap,” for when men entered the place they could not escape the power of the man in the pulpit. The power of God was in Peter's shadow, and Paul's handkerchiefs. By those handkerchiefs God wrought “special miracles,” for they were effectual where the rod of Elisha failed, when sent from his body by the hands of others. And we cannot help but think that if men but understood this, in the present day of democracy and independence, they would not itch for their independence as they now do. It is a poor bargain to exchange the power of God for our independence, and may be as profane as Esau's barter of his birthright for a mess of pottage.

But observe, we do not recommend looking for power, or success, and cleaving to that. We could hardly make a greater mistake. The Antichrist will have power, and such success as will put the greatest prophets of history in the shade. What we contend for is cleaving to the man of God, whether his power appears or not, as David's men did when David was in the wilderness, in the time of his weakness and reproach. The Shunammite clave to Elisha when she perceived him to be a man of God, not when she had seen his power, or received any benefit from it. “And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.”

But to proceed. Moses, too, was a man of God, and the power of God was with him also. Moses knew this----knew how the power of God was conferred upon him, and had seen its effects in the judgements upon Egypt and the deliverance of Israel. He therefore says to Joshua, “Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.” What wonders he had worked with “the rod of God”! What expectations he had of its success in the coming battle! The Lord had told him at the burning bush, “And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.” Moses acted in faith on that word, and wrought wonders. Not that the power of God was in the rod. The rod was but the symbol of the power. The power was with the man who held it. This will plainly appear as we proceed.

Now behold the battle. “Joshua did as Moses had said to him.” Joshua went with his chosen men to the battlefield. Moses went to the top of the hill with the rod of God in his hand. “And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” From this it plainly appears that the failure or success of the whole enterprise was entirely dependent upon Moses. Regardless of the relative strength of the opposing armies, regardless of the various strategies of their generals, regardless of the morale of the troops, regardless of every other consideration under the sun, when Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed, and when Moses let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. The power to win the victory that day lay entirely in the hands of Moses, though he never set foot on the field of battle.

But how can this be explained? I believe in the efficacy of means. So did Moses. “Choose us out men,” he had said to Joshua. This does not mean to choose the halt and the maimed and the lame and the blind, but what the Bible often calls “chosen men”----the best, the strongest, the fittest. These Joshua chose, and entered the battle with the best army he could put together. Yet when Moses let down his hands, Amalek prevailed, though when he held them up, Israel prevailed. This really says nothing at all against the efficacy of the means employed on either side. One side or the other must have won that war, by the strength of their army, or by the “time and chance” of the day, if God had not been in the battle. We suppose that those soldiers of flesh and blood were not the only combatants in that war. Elisha once said to his servant, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” God sent Israel against nations greater and mightier than themselves, and promised to fight for them. Israel's victory did not depend upon their strength, but upon the fighting of those invisible hosts which later stood round about Elisha. When Moses held up his hands, the Lord engaged these invisible hosts in the battle. When Moses let down his hands, the Lord commanded them to withdraw. Such I suppose to be the real facts of this battle. At any rate, however you may wish to explain it, it is perfectly plain that all depended upon Moses. The power of God was with him, and there was no victory without him.

And what an awful place of responsibility was this! Those who aspire to the places of leadership in the church are really little better than fools, if they have no sense of the responsibility of such a place. They want the glory of the public platform and the public eye, but are altogether careless of the account which they must give of their leadership, and unconcerned about the greater judgement which will be theirs for the place in which they stand----much less do they care for the fate of those who must suffer for their failures. Leadership involves some form of headship, and nations, families, and churches must partake of the fortunes of their heads. They must bear the consequences of the follies and weaknesses of their heads. Selfish leaders care nothing for this. They seek their own glory, and scarcely spend a thought on the consequences which must fall upon their subjects. Moses sought none of that glory. He sent Joshua to the battlefield, and retired himself to the top of the hill, so that though the victory lay altogether in his hands, it appeared to be Joshua's.

And at this point we come to the most solemn matter in this history. It is clear that everything was dependent upon Moses, and equally clear that Moses was insufficient for the task. The success or failure of the whole battle lay in the hands of Moses----the life or death of Israel's chosen men rested solely in his hands----and he was unable to perform what was required of him. His hands were weary, and he could not hold them up, though he saw the armies of Israel driven back when he let them down.

But in the midst of this solemn setting we find a glorious fact. Moses knew that he was insufficient for all that devolved upon him. He stood where the apostle Paul stood after him, who knew that he was the savour of death unto death to some, and to others the savour of life unto life, and must immediately exclaim, “And who is sufficient for these things?” Moses no doubt felt this as deeply as Paul did. And he did not learn it when he saw Israel driven back when he let down his hands. He knew it beforehand. He did not say, as some glory-seekers would, “I will stand alone atop the hill, holding up the rod of God.” He said indeed, “To morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand,” but when he did so he did not go alone. No, but “Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.” Though the power of God was in his own hands, yet he must lean upon the hands of others, and he knew it.

And yet the presence of Aaron and Hur at his side, and the part which they performed that day, served only to emphasize the fact that the power of God was with the man of God. Moses did not take these men into the mount in order that he might hand the rod of God to them when his own hands were weary. If that were all, he might have sent the rod of God to the top of the hill in the hands of a dozen strong men, and gone to bed himself. The power of God was not in the rod, but in the man who held it. It must be the hands of Moses which held up the rod of God, and Moses was insufficient for this. But he had sense and humility enough to provide for the exigency, and thus he took Aaron and Hur with him.

But if the hands of Moses were not sufficient for such a work, no more were the hands of Aaron and Hur. If Moses could not hold up his own hands the whole day, much less could Aaron and Hur hold up the hands of another. Their own hands must soon be as weary as those of Moses. But “wisdom is better than strength,” and these men devised means by which to conserve their strength, while they held up the hands of Moses. “They took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” While Moses sat on the stone, and they stood at his sides, they could hold up his hands without holding up their own, and thus the victory was secured.

Now observe, though it remains a fact that the power of God was with Moses, and all the issues of that day were dependent upon him alone, yet it is also a fact that the victory was entirely dependent upon the offices of Aaron and Hur. If they had not held up the hands of Moses, Israel would have been defeated. They were therefore as necessary as he, only with this difference. It must be the hands of Moses himself which were held up, while ten thousand others could have performed the work of Aaron and Hur. Could have, but in fact didn't. It requires a peculiar kind of devotedness and humility to hold up the hands of another. Most men would rather hold up their own hands. They want their own ministry, their own glory. They find it irksome to contribute to the glory or the success of another. They would rather go off and hold up some powerless stick of their own, than to hold up the hands which hold the rod of God. Indeed, the pride and presumption of some leads them to think themselves called to weaken the hands of the man of God, instead of holding them up.

But I must bring these things home. There are two things which I feel very deeply. I feel the awful responsibility which rests upon me in the place of leadership which I have in this little flock. The weakness of this congregation is my weakness. The failures of this church are my failures. And more deeply still I feel my insufficiency. Though I see Amalek prevail, and though I see Israel driven back, yet my hands are weak. I appeal to you to hold up my hands. Some of you, I know, delight to do so, but perhaps you cannot feel the need of it as I do. You look at me, and think me strong. You cannot feel my weakness as I do. But I need you to hold up my hands. I need encouragement, inspiration, prayer, exhortation. I leave you to your own ingenuity as to what to do and how. It was Aaron and Hur who devised the means by which to hold up the hands of Moses. They knew what needed to be done, and devised what they could do, and they did it, and it was effectual. Go ye and do likewise.

Index to Volume 9, 2000
Articles by the Editor

Adonijah 1
Ancient Men on Terms of Discipleship as Terms of Salvation 217

Book Reviews
Joshua's Long Day, by Totten 15
Me? Obey Him? Revised Edn. 274
Menace of Religious Movie, Tozer 139
Story of Lizzie Johnson, Warne 108

Bible Revision, Mending or Marring 180
Best Books of 20th Century 68
Blank Verse & Modern Poetry (poem) 86
Burgon's Prophecy of King James Only Movement 85
Cain & Abel & their Offerings 25
Calvinism, Hyperspirituality, & the Use of Means 126
Cold of Snow in Time of Harvest 64
D. A. Waite & F. H. A. Scrivener 207
Dave Hunt Again on Social & Political Action 200
End of All Perfection 233
Epidemic of Amateurism 145, 191
Feminine Modesty 187
Feminine Modesty & Slacks 281
Fiction Again 197
Foolishness of Love 29
Forsaking All 121
Four Unpopular Words 251
Greet One Another with Holy Kiss 162
Heart & Conscience, or Conviction & Convenience 271
Hyperspirituality & Use of Means 112
I Am of Christ 77
Inspiration of King James Version 97
Intellectualism & Revision of English Bible 149
Jehovah, Spelling & Pronunciation 158
Justification by Faith Only 169
Long Walks to Meetings 41

Love of Brethren & Assurance of Salvation 72
Loyalty and Faithfulness 9
Making Disciples 203
Mary and Martha 49
Moral Authority 258
Prayer & Resignation, in Seeking a Wife or Husband 210

Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
A woman that is watched... 83
Believe not all that you see... 208
Better untaught than ill taught. 105
Falling is easier than rising. 22
He that loses his temper... 231
One is better than none, & One and none is all one. 262
Two heads are better than one. 46

Recorded Christian Music 56, 282
Religion 33
Repentance, False Definition 264, 277
Review of the Century 73
Rich Young Ruler & Terms of Salvation 265
River Milk & Honey Falls 228
Romans 14, Modern Mistake on 166
Sharing the Gospel 206
Spirituality & Hyperspirituality 90
The Rod of God 283
The Ministry of Christ 7
Translation of Baptizw 37
Value of Clock-Watching 24
Watch-Dog Ministries 193
What I Have Against the Creation Science Movement 100
Why Many Believers are Not Saved 241
Why the Editor is not an Expert on Anything 185
Worship Teams 95

Articles & Extracts by Others
Adam Clarke on Ancient Adages 83
All Agreed on Repentance & Faith, by Richard Cecil 250
Gospel Tract of Yesteryear on the Terms of Salvation 227
Howell Harris on Terms of Salvation 138
Jonathan Edwards on the Terms of Salvation 87
John Wesley on the Conditions of Salvation 70
R. A. Torrey on Terms of Salvation 106
Recorded Music, Rodeheaver 144

Editorial Policies

OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise, and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own position is to be learned from his own writings.