Can A Worldly Christian Be Saved?
by Glenn Conjurske
Or, to put the question another way
----Can a worldly man be a Christian?
The expression worldly Christian seems to be a contradiction in terms,
for a Christian is one who is not of the world ----chosen out of
the world. And, We [Christians] are of God, and the whole world lieth
in the wicked one. (I John 5:19).
But may it not be possible for a real Christian to be to some extent influenced
by the world, as an Englishman living in France might be influenced by
French ways? I grant that some such thing may be possible, as a result
of ignorance, or perhaps even of weakness. Nevertheless, to grant too
much in that direction is fatal to sound doctrine, and is a deception
which will prove fatal to the souls of men also. For first, we have the
very strong and express declaration of Scripture whosoever is born of
God sinneth not, but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the
wicked one toucheth him not. (I John 5:18).
Observe the strong contrast:
Verse 18: the wicked one does not touch those who are born of God.
Verse 19: the whole world
----that is, all who are not born of God ----lies
in the wicked one.*
The wicked one is the prince (that is, the supreme ruler) of the world
(Jn. 16:11), and the god of the world (II Cor. 4:4). The whole world
lies in the wicked one. This indicates the universal control which he
exercises in that sphere. Yet he toucheth not those who are born of
God. The conclusion is inescapable: those over whom the devil exercises
control are not born of God.
The next Scripture which calls for our attention is James 4:4, which says,
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the
world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world
is the enemy of God. To will to be a friend of the world is to desire
the approval, the acceptance, the favor, of the ungodly individuals and
institutions which lie in the wicked one. It is to refuse to go forth
unto Christ outside the camp. (Heb. 13:13). It is to refuse to identify
with the stone which is disallowed of men (I Pet. 2:4). It is to say that
the disciple may be above his master after all
----to directly deny the
Lord's promise that if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub,
how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matt. 10:25).
It is to say that there is fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness ----there
is communion between light and darkness ----there is concord between Christ
and Belial ----there is agreement between the temple of God and idols.
But the fact remains that there is no such agreement. The world is God's
----designed by Satan, built by Satan, and ruled by
Satan. The whole world ----every ungodly individual and every godless
institution ----lies in his lap. Friendship with the world is enmity
against God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the
enemy of God.
Now it ought to go without saying that an enemy of God is not saved. But
so shallow and twisted is the gospel which is widely preached in our day
that some will no doubt contend that an enemy of God may be a Christian.
I have even known some to contend that an atheist was saved. But the Bible
speaks otherwise. When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by
the death of his Son. (Rom. 5:10). When we were enemies, needing
to be reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we certainly were not
saved. But, whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy [same
word in the Greek] of God
----and therefore certainly not reconciled
The command of God remains, then, in all of its strength, Come out from
among them, and be ye separate! (II Cor. 6:17). And observe, this is
a commandment with promise. The promise is, and I will receive you,
and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.
The Father will receive the prodigal when he comes out of the far country,
and not one moment before. We grant again that God may make some allowance
----may forgive them, for they know not what they do ----but
the fact remains that whosoever is minded to be a friend of the world
(Darby's translation) is the enemy of God, and therefore headed for the
same destruction which awaits all of God's enemies. It is a simple question
of where the heart is, and no man's heart can be with God and with his
inveterate enemy at the same time. Friendship with the world is enmity
The same thing exactly is found in I John 2:15. Love not the world,
neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the
love of the Father is not in him. This is of the same purport as the
truth is not in him in I John 2:4
----a description of a man who knows
not God. If the truth is not in him, he is lost. If the love of the Father
is not in him, he is lost. He is not born of God, for every one that
loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not
God. (I John4:7-8).
To love the world may mean many things. It may mean to love the company
of the ungodly, from whom we are commanded to be separate. It may mean
to love the world's institutions and programs. It may mean its material
goods. It may mean its educational or its commercial pursuits. It may
mean its sports and entertainments
----its radio and television programs,
its music or its books or magazines ----its ways or its philosophies. It
does mean all of those things, and more also, for all that is in the
world . . . is not of the Father. All that is in the world is characterized
by the Spirit of God as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life. The whole system is against God ----designed by
Satan to oppose God and to usurp his place in the heart. Therefore to
love it is to manifest that the love of the Father is not in him. His
heart is all wrong. He knows not God, and is not known of him, for if
any man love God, the same is known of him. (I Cor. 8:3). And further,
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed
away. Behold, all things have become new, and all things are of God.
(II Cor. 5:l7-l8).
Behold, then, the great gulf which lies between the children of God and
the children of the devil. We are of God, and the whole world lies in
the wicked one. All that is in the world is not of the father, but
in the heart and life of the true child of God All things are of God.
In spite of all of the weakness and ignorance which may yet cleave to
the true children of God, they are yet poles apart from the rest of the
world's population, which lies in the wicked one. The fact that there
is so little difference between the church of our day and the world around
it proves only one thing: that the churches are largely filled up with
----friends of the world, and enemies of God. Are you
one of them? Do you love the world, or the things that are in the world?
Do you seek the world's approval, and enjoy its friendship? Then you are
the enemy of God. The love of the Father is not in you, and you have not
the shadow of a reason to expect to spend eternity with him in heaven.
We read further, in I John 5:4-5, Whatsoever is born of God overcometh
the world: and this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our
faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that
Jesus is the Son of God? To overcome is to conquer, or to get the victory
over, and it is very plain from the second and third chapters of the book
of Revelation that none but the overcomers are saved. But what does it
mean to overcome the world? This cannot mean to subdue or to change the
world. We have no such commission, nor is any such thing possible, so
long as the devil remains the prince and the god of it. The world will
lie in the wicked one, and so remain the unchanged and unchangeable enemy
of God, until it is destroyed by Christ at his coming. For us, to overcome
the world can only mean one thing, namely, to get the victory over its
----to free ourselves from its snares and to refuse its ways.
No man who is governed by the thoughts and ways of the world has any reason
to think or hope that he belongs to God. If any man does not overcome
the world ----get the victory over it ----he is not born of God, nor does
he possess any saving faith in Jesus Christ.
All of these plain scriptures indicate that if you have the world in your
heart, you are no Christian. You love the world because you are of the
world, and because the love of the Father is not in you. And though I
will readily grant that God will be merciful to those who conform to the
world through ignorance, yet I tell you solemnly that if you are banking
on this, this is a good indication that you have never gotten the victory
over the world. Your heart is in the world. You love it, and hold to it.
You cannot overcome it, for you have no will to do so. You are an almost
Christian, a half Christian, trying to hold to the world and to the Lord
at the same time, or trying to stay as close to the world as you dare.
If you were a real Christian, you would get farther than necessary from
the enemy of God, rather than staying too close to it. And so you would
do also if you valued your soul more than a few passing pleasures.
Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske
Books on Mormonism
If ever a religion existed which consists of cunningly devised fables,
that religion is Mormonism. Its two great prophets, Joseph Smith and
Brigham Young, were the one an imposter and the other a criminal. Mormonism
is a false religion, made by Smith, and Young was a tyrant and a criminal,
made by Mormonism. Its early history is a history of imposture, fraud,
crime, and immorality, so well attested that there is no excuse for anyone
to believe in it, and yet I have heard in recent years that Mormonism
is the fastest growing religion on earth. If this is a fact it only goes
to prove that people who do not believe the truth will believe anything.
All that is needed to reject Mormonism is to know what it is. There have
been literally hundreds of books written to show what Mormonism is, many
of the best sort of them by former Mormons. Most of these are now scarce,
and I have but few of them, though I have done my best to get the best
of them. For some of these I have paid a high enough price, and others
I have photocopied.
Perhaps the best book on the origin of the Book of Mormon is New Light
on Mormonism, by Mrs. Ellen E. Dickinson, published in 1885, and containing
272 pages. On the origin of polygamy among the Mormons we have The True
Origin of Mormon Polygamy, by Charles A. Shook, a book of 213 pages, published
in 1914. Shook traces both the doctrine and the practice of polygamy to
Joseph Smith, in answer to those who would exonerate him, and pin the
blame on Brigham Young.
On the early history of Mormonism we have an excellent volume of 275 pages
by J. H. Kennedy, published in 1888, entitled Early Days of Mormonism.
Besides giving a good account of the facts, this book also quotes from
and identifies a score of other books which set forth the early history
The Mormons early sent missionaries to Europe, who induced many to join
them and emigrate to Utah. One who did so wrote The Mormons: The Dream
and the Reality, published in 1857. It is anonymous, by One who Left
England to Join the Mormons in the City of Zion, and Awoke to a Consciousness
of its Heinous Wickedness and Abominations, and Edited by a Clergyman.
It details the cruelty, tyranny, obscenity, polygamy, and poverty among
the Mormons in Utah, and is written to dissuade others from joining them.
The same purpose underlies The Doctrines and Practices of The Mormons,
and the Immoral Character of Their Prophet Joseph Smith, by Edmund Clay,
a small book of 70 pages, consisting of a series of cheap tracts for
distribution, published in London in 1853.
There are a number of very good books on Mormon polygamy. One of the fullest
and best is Wife No. 19, by Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young's wives,
who left both him and Mormonism, and devoted her life to exposing and
opposing it. She was the ninteenth living wife of Brigham when she married
him, but a recent biography of her (The Twenty-Seventh Wife, by Irving
Wallace, 1961) indicates that she was actually the twenty-seventh. Wife
No. 19 is a large book of 605 pages, published in 1875. It is a very well
written book, and is in fact, as the title page states, a Complete Exposé
of Mormonism, but written especially from the standpoint of the Sorrows,
Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy. It has been reprinted
in recent years, by a secular publisher, at the exorbitant price of $36.50.
The biography by Wallace is well researched, well written, and contains
a good bibliography. Ann Eliza also wrote Life in Mormon Bondage, published
in 1908. It has 512 pages, and covers much of the same ground as Wife
No. 19, and much in the two books is verbally identical. The later book,
however, contains further information, for example, on the conviction
and execution of John D. Lee for his part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre,
and on her divorce suit against Brigham, which was pending in court at
the date of the first book.
The Women of Mormonism, edited by Jennie Anderson Froiseth, is The Story
of Polygamy as Told by the Victims Themselves. This was first published
in 1881, and revised in 1882. The second edition has 416 pages.
Exposé of Polygamy in Utah. A Lady's Life Among the Mormons, by
Mrs. T. B. H. Stenhouse, is A Record of Personal Experience as One of
the Wives of a Mormon Elder During a Period of More Than Twenty Years.
This was published in 1872, and has 221 pages. This book sets forth forcefully
the evils of polygamy, and the author's sufferings because of it, but
leaves us in the dark as to if, when, or how she may have been delivered
from it. A female friend of mine who read the book responded with, Why
doesn't she tell it all? I was subsequently very happy, therefore, to
discover and present to her a copy of Mrs. Stenhouse's next book, entitled,
Tell It All: The Story of a Life's Experience in Mormonism. This is
an autobiography of 623 pages, and a very good one, written in response
to the rather spiteful invitation of a certain Mormon paper to `TELL
IT ALL,' and published in 1875. I have seen several copies of this in
used book stores from Boston in Massachusetts, to Clarkston in Washington,
priced at from $40 to $75. I paid $40 for mine, but the fortunate seeker
might just as well find a copy for $5, for there is more of caprice than
anything else in the pricing of used books. Another female autobiography
is Fifteen Years' Residence with the Mormons, by Mary Ettie V. Smith
intriguing book, my copy of which has been read almost to shreds by the
people of my congregation, but Mrs. Stenhouse says of it that it so
mixed up fiction with what was true, that it was difficult to determine
where the one ended and the other began. This is most unfortunate, if
true; but how does Fanny Stenhouse know this? She in one way or another
(usually truthfully, I believe) detracts from all of her predecessors,
in order to give the more credit to her own book.
The best complete history of the Mormons that I am aware of is by
T. B. H. Stenhouse (husband of the above-named author), entitled The Rocky
Mountain Saints: A Full and Complete History of the Mormons, from the
First Vision of Joseph Smith to the Last Courtship of Brigham Young. This
was published in 1873, and has 761 large pages, and includes a good bibliography.
Stenhouse was for twenty-five years a Mormon elder and missionary, but
left Mormonism, and wrote to expose it for what it was. Polygamy, or The
Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism, by J. H. Beadle, is actually also a
full history of Mormonism, so that the word Polygamy, which appears
large and bold at the head of the title page, is hardly correct, and appears
in reality to be only an artifice to sell books. An earlier edition (1870)
of essentially the same book is entitled Life in Utah. The edition which
I have was published in 1904, and has 604 pages.
Several early accounts of the Mormons were published, among which are
Utah and the Mormons, by Benjamin G. Ferris, published in 1854, and The
Mormons, by J. W. Gunnison, my copy of which is dated 1856, but the preface
is dated 1852. Both of these authors resided among the Mormons in Utah
for a time.
A number of books deal with particular aspects of Mormonism. The Mormon
Prophet and His Harem is a partial biography of Brigham Young, combined
with much of the history of Mormonism, by Mrs. C. V. Waite, who lived
two years in Utah. Mrs. Stenhouse says of her, Mrs. Waite is the best
Gentile [non-Mormon, that is] lady-writer; but for obvious reasons, although
she was a woman of intelligence and penetration, her knowledge of the
inner life of Mormonism was necessarily circumscribed. Her book was
published in 1867, and has 298 pages. Peepstone Joe and the Peck Manuscript,
by Lu B. Cake, contains much on the character of Joseph Smith and his
supposed revelations. As the very title indicates, it is written in a
spirit of ridicule. Its main tenet is that Mormonism stands or falls with
Joe Smith, and that Joe Smith falls. The Peck Manuscript is really
a book in itself, an account by Reed Peck of the Mormon military operations
in Missouri. Secret History is a translation by Gleason Archer of a work
originally published in Danish in 1876, the translation being published
in 1984 by Moody Press. The author is John Ahmonson. This book is certainly
worth getting, though the modern title is a misleading misnomer, for there
is nothing secret about it. The kind of information it contains has
been published scores of times for over a century. The original title
was A Mohammed of Our Time. And as is too often the case with modern
books from Christian publishers, the binding is so poor and flimsy that
mine did not survive a single reading.
Several of my books on Mormonism are associated with one of the most interesting
and enjoyable experiences I have had in hunting for books. I had spent
a couple of days shopping for books in Grand Rapids, but had found the
selection very disappointing (as I usually do). The friend with whom I
was staying, however, informed me that Ken Kregel had gone out of town
to pick up a load of books, and that they should be ready for sale shortly.
I stayed till the next day, when a phone call revealed that the books
were at the store, and would be unpacked that day. We went to the store
just after noon, but found hardly any of the books unpacked, and I plainly
saw that at the rate they were being unpacked (the store help having other
things to do also), there was no way they would be finished that day.
I suggested that we offer to help unpack them. My friend secured our permission
to do so, and we went to work in good earnest, setting aside, of course,
whatever we wanted ourselves. Mr. Kregel informed us that there were some
old books on Mormonism in the lot. I told him I would be interested in
them. He said the price would be high. This I might have guessed, but
I wanted the books, and had plenty of money with me. He was as good as
his promise, pricing the books at from $30 to $50 each. The five Mormon
books which I bought came to a total of $200. But he gave me a 10% discount
for my work of unpacking them. This was more than I expected, and
I felt something like Tom Sawyer getting paid for letting his friends
paint the fence.
One of the treasures I found that day was the Life and Confessions of
John D. Lee, written by himself while he was in prison awaiting execution
for his part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and published by his lawyer,
along with a large account of his trial. Lee was executed in 1877. My
copy of this book was published in 189l, and contains a very brief appendix
on Brigham Young. Another of the treasures of that day is Origin, Rise,
and Progress of Mormonism, by Pomeroy Tucker, of Palmyra, New York, the
birthplace of Mormonism. Another is Under the Prophet in Utah, by Frank
J. Cannon and Harvey J. O'Higgins. This book is purely secular and political,
but is very moving in places, and sets forth clearly the graft and corruption
which prevailed in the Mormon hierarchy under Joseph F. Smith, son of
These books on Mormonism will be found to be generally fascinating reading,
with nothing dull about them. On the other hand, they will not be found
to contain much that is spiritual. But this is not to say they are not
profitable. Much of the Bible is history, and much of the history in the
Bible is a history of wickedness. This also is profitable to thoroughly
furnish the man of God unto every good work.
by the editor
When Mormons are confronted with the facts of history concerning Mormonism,
they have been known to respond with Oh, you have been reading anti-Mormon
----as though such a reply could turn the plain and well attested
facts of history into fiction. Mormon denials of the facts can no more
obliterate those facts than Communist propaganda could change the nature
of Communism. Former Communists will admit those facts, which they would
have denied while they were Communists. The same is true of the Mormons.
In the nature of the case, the real facts must be learned from apostate
Mormons. Their testimony, of course, will go for nothing with loyal Mormons.
Let it be so. If people would be convinced of the evil of Mormonism, they
need not read any anti-Mormon literature. All they need do is read
the sermons of the Mormon prophets and apostles themselves. They will
find them to be a band of men whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness,
besides heresy, blasphemy, and hypocrisy.
I offer the reader a few specimens of Mormon preaching, all from the mouths
of their most esteemed leaders, and all published by the Mormons themselves.
Brigham Young speaks: After we had given the brethren such a scouring
two or three months ago, about returning lost property when found, one
or two men brought in two or three rusty nails of no value, which they
had picked up; this was tantamount to saying to brother Sprague, `If we
had found your purse, or if we had found Brigham's purse, we would see
you in hell before we would return it.' We wish to impress upon you the
necessity of your bringing the ax you find, the hay fork, or any other
lost property which you find, to the person who is appointed to take charge
of such property, that the owners may again possess it. But if you should
pick up a piece of rotten wood, and bring it to brother Brigham, or Dr.
Sprague, with a show of honesty, and in derision of the counsel you have
received, it would be like saying, `If we could find or steal your purses,
you should never see them again. We are poor, miserable devils, and mean
to live here by stealing from the Saints, and you cannot help yourselves.'
Live here then, you poor, miserable curses, until the time of retribution,
when your heads will have to be severed from your bodies. Just let the
Lord Almighty say, `Lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the
plummet,' and the time of thieves is short in this community.
It should be understood that these miserable devils and curses were Mormons.
Indeed, one of the most salient features of these Mormon sermons is the
heinous wickedness which they frequently impute to the Mormon people.
But Brigham Young failed to mention that he himself was the greatest thief
of all. While others stole hayforks and purses, he stole estates and fortunes.
Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to
do so, I promise that you will be damned; and I will go still further
and say, take this revelation, or any other revelation that the Lord has
given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned.
By this dictum of the Mormon prophet and president, the successor of Joseph
Smith, every woman ever created must be damned, for no woman ever did
or can accept polygamy in her feelings, whatever she may submit to from
a sense of duty.
Another of the abominations of Mormonism is the doctrine of blood atonement
the precious blood of Christ, but the blood of sinners themselves, shed
to atone for their own sins, and shed, of course, by the Mormon priesthood.
By this doctrine was justified the murder of all who got in the way of
the priesthood, and especially of apostates from Mormonism, before they
could tell their stories to the world. But this is anti-Mormon literature.
Read the words of President Jedidiah M. Grant, Counsellor to Brigham Young,
and so one of the triumvirate who formed the Presidency of the Mormon
Some have received the Priesthood and a knowledge of the things of God,
and still they dishonor the cause of truth, commit adultery, and every
other abomination beneath the heavens, and then meet you here or in the
street, and deny it.
These are the abominable characters that we have in our midst, and they
will seek unto wizards that peep, and to star-gazers and soothsayers,
because they have no faith in the holy Priesthood, and then when they
meet us, they want to be called Saints.
The same characters will get drunk and wallow in the mire and filth,
and yet they call themselves Saints, and seem to glory in their conduct,
and they pride themselves in their greatness and in their abominations.
They are the old hardened sinners, and are almost
----if not altogether
----past improvement, and are full of hell, and my prayer is that God's
indignation may rest upon them, and that He will curse them from the crown
of their heads to the soles of their feet.
I say, that there are men and women that I would advise to go to the
President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to
their case; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed
We have those amongst us that are full of all manner of abominations,
those who need to have their blood shed, for water will not do, their
sins are of too deep a dye.
You may think that I am not teaching you Bible doctrine, but what says
the apostle Paul? I would ask how many covenant breakers there are in
this city and in this kingdom. I believe that there are a great many;
and if they are covenant breakers we need a place designated, where we
can shed their blood.
Talk about old clay; I would rather have clay from a new bank than some
that we have had clogging the wheels for the last nineteen years. They
are a perfect nuisance, and I want them cut off, and the sooner it is
done the better.
Brethren and sisters, we want you to repent and forsake your sins. And
you who have committed sins that cannot be forgiven through baptism, let
your blood be shed, and let the smoke ascend, that the incense thereof
may come up before God as an atonement for your sins, and that the sinners
in Zion may be afraid.
Brigham Young often preached the same doctrine: Will you love your brothers
and sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned
for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman
well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant. . .
. This is loving our neighbour as ourselves; if he needs help, help him;
and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the
earth in order that he may be saved, spill it. And if any of you who understand
the principles of eternity, if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding
of blood, except the sin unto death, would not be satisfied nor rest until
your blood should be spilled, that you might gain that salvation you desire.
That is the way to love mankind.
The following from President Heber C. Kimball: ...do I love the wicked?
Yes, I love them insomuch that I wish they were in hell, that is, a great
many of them, for that is the best wish I can wish them. And those that
killed Joseph and Hyrum, and David W. Patten, and other Patriarchs and
Prophets, I wish they were in hell; though I need not wish that, for in
one sense they are in hell all the time; and if they have not literally
gone down into hell they will go there, as the Lord God lives, every one
of them, and every man that consented to the acts those murderers performed.
That is loving the wicked, to send them there to hell to be burnt out
until they are purified. Yes, they shall go there and stay there and be
burnt, like an old pipe that stinks with long usage and corruption, until
they are burnt out, and then their spirits may be saved in the day of
God Almighty. It is my feelings that they may be damned for their awful
iniquity in shedding innocent blood, as also all who sanction their acts,
both men and women, together with all who associate with them and partake
of their spirit, for that spirit is opposite to God and His servants.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -----
The Utility of Various Versions of the Bible
by Glenn Conjurske
It was the opinion of all of the early Protestant translators of the
English Bible that the translations which they produced were imperfect
human productions. None of them ever imagined that the versions which
they brought into being were free from human oversight and error. This
they all plainly state in the prefaces which they wrote to their several
translations. Believing this to be the fact, they of course also believed
that there was great advantage to be gained from the use of various translations
of the Bible, and some of them state this also in their prefaces. The
modern advocates of the perfection of the King James Version, of course,
take exactly the opposite ground, holding that the King James Version
alone is the word of God, that it is perfect and without error, and that
there is therefore no reason to consult any other version
----or, for that
matter, to consult the original languages, either.
My purpose in this article is to give a full statement of the views of
the early English translators themselves, in their own words, along with
such comments of my own as will exhibit the significance of their remarks.
I shall quote from William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, Richard Taverner,
and the translators of the Geneva, the Bishops', and King James versions.
Some of them, often uncertain of the correct translation themselves, set
down numerous alternate renderings in their margins. Hundreds of such
marginal readings formed an integral part of the King James Version of
1611, as well as of the other early English versions. Others of the early
translators, keenly aware of the imperfection of their own work, freely
solicit the learned and the godly to correct it. Though they labored in
the fear of God, with a single-eyed love for the truth, and with all care
and diligence, yet the notion that their finished work was perfect never
entered their minds.
I proceed to quote from the translators themselves, only remarking first
that for the sake of the unlearned I have modernized the ancient spelling
of these men, fearing that the unlearned for whom I write may not recognize
the modern either in the ancient ether or eyther, the modern
human oversights in the ancient humaine ouersightes, the modern
high in the ancient hye, etc. It has been with great reluctance
that I have determined upon such a course. The difference between the
ancient and the modern spelling is not so great but that men of ordinary
intelligence can with a little diligence make it out, yet I feared that
simple souls might lose the train of thought in struggling with the strangeness
of the words. That all may see the kind and the extent of changing which
I have done, I give one sentence of Myles Coverdale in its ancient dress:
where as some men thynke now ye many translacyons make diuisyon in ye
fayth and in the people of God, yt is not so: for it was neuer better
with the congregacion of God, then whan euery church allmost had ye Byble
of a sondrye translacion. The reader will see this sentence below with
modernized spelling. I hardly need say that aside from the spelling I
have not altered a syllable. Where the sense of a word is so far changed
as to make it unintelligible, I give the meaning in a footnote.
William Tyndale was one of the godliest and most spiritual men who ever
wrought in the work of translating the Bible. He was the first to translate
the New Testament into English from the original Greek, and the translator
of the first printed English New Testament, which was published in 1526.
He wrote in his Epistle to the Reader which appeared in that version,
Them that are learned christianly I beseech, forasmuch as I am sure,
and my conscience beareth me record, that of a pure intent, singly and
faithfully, I have interpreted it, as far forth as God gave me the gift
of knowledge and understanding, that the rudeness of the work now at the
first time offend them not; but that they consider how that I had no man
to counterfeit, neither was helped with English of any that had interpreted1
the same or such like thing in the scripture beforetime. Moreover, even
very necessity, and cumbrance (God is record) above strength, which I
will not rehearse, lest we should seem to boast ourselves, caused that
many things are lacking which necessarily are required. Count it as a
thing not having his full shape, but as it were born before his time,
even as a thing begun rather than finished. In time to come (if God have
appointed us thereunto) we will give it his full shape, and put out, if
ought be added superfluously, and add to, if ought be overseen through
negligence; and will enforce to bring to compendiousness that which is
now translated at the length, and to give light where it is required,
and to seek in certain places more proper English, and with a table to
expound the words which are not commonly used, and shew how the scripture
useth many words which are otherwise understood of the common people,
and to help with a declaration where one tongue taketh not another; and
will endeavour ourselves, as it were, to seethe it better, and to make
it more apt for the weak stomachs; desiring them that are learned, and
able, to remember their duty, and to help them thereunto, and to bestow
unto the edifying of Christ's body, which is the congregation of them
that believe, those gifts which they have received of God for the same
In the preface to his Pentateuch, published in 1530, Tyndale wrote, ...I
submit this book, and all other that I have either made or translated,
or shall in time to come, (if it be God's will that I shall further labour
in his harvest,) unto all them that submit themselves unto the word of
God, to be corrected of them; yea, and moreover to be disallowed and also
burnt, if it seems worthy, when they have examined it with the Hebrew,
so that they first put forth of their own translating another that is
We shall of course be told that Tyndale only regarded his version as incomplete
and incorrect because of the hardships and disadvantages under which he
labored: he intended to improve and correct it in time. And this is at
least part of the truth. And yet I ask, what were Tyndale's disadvantages
to God? Paul wrote under the same kind of hardships and disadvantages,
always persecuted, and writing some of his epistles from prison, and yet
God so wrought as to secure the perfection of the originals which Paul
wrote. It is God, we are told, who has secured to us a perfect translation
in English, and that in fulfilment of specific promises in the Bible.
And God, we beg to affirm, was as perfectly capable of giving us a perfect
version through William Tyndale as he was of giving us a perfect original
through weak and failing men like Moses and David and Solomon and Jonah
and Peter and Paul. And if God has some way, by the promises of his word,
obliged himself to give to us a perfect version in English, why must he
wait until 1611 to do so? Surely William Tyndale was as fit an instrument
for this as any of the translators who followed him. And if God's promises
have any way obliged him to secure for us a perfect version in English,
that promise must have just as much obliged him in Tyndale's time as it
does in ours. It would seem reasonable, therefore, to expect that the
first English version should supply the need and fulfil the promise. Is
God obliged to bring his version through nearly a dozen revisions before
he can bring it to perfection? He gave us perfect originals without the
benefit of any revisions at all. If Paul's epistles had been revised ten
times in a period of eighty-five years, three times by Paul himself, then
by one of his disciples, then by another, then by the first again, and
again a year later by the same man, then by a company of exiles in Geneva,
once more by a company of English bishops, and finally by a company of
men appointed by the king of England
----besides all kinds of lesser revisions
by all kinds of printers and editors, including several revisions of the
King James Version itself since its first publication ----there is not
a soul on earth who would attribute the final result to God, or hold that
it was perfect and without error.
Why (we may as well ask) did not God work to secure the perfection of
Wycliffe's English Bible, a century and a half before Tyndale's was printed?
Ah! (some will tell us), Wycliffe's version must of necessity have been
corrupt, since it was translated from the corrupt Latin Vulgate! But query,
How was it, then, that Wycliffe's Bible led so many from darkness to light?
Nay, how was it that the Latin Vulgate led so many (including Wycliffe
himself, and Martin Luther in later days) from darkness to light? And
while we are asking questions, why did not God work to secure the perfection
of the Latin Vulgate? It was a revision of the Old Latin versions, made
upon the same principles, and with the same purposes, which produced the
King James Version from the older English versions. Moreover, God was
certainly aware that for a thousand years the Latin Vulgate would be the
only Bible that most of the world would ever see. And if the purposes
or promises of God in any way oblige him to secure a perfect version to
those who speak English, then he must have had exactly the same purposes
and the same obligations towards those who spoke Latin. Do the purposes
and promises of God apply only to the English? And only since 1611? But
Myles Coverdale was another thorough Protestant, who had assisted Tyndale
in his work before the latter's imprisonment. He was the translator of
the first complete Bible printed in English, which appeared in 1535. His
New Testament and Pentateuch were revisions of Tyndale's work. The rest
of the Bible was his own translation. He translated, as his title page
tells us, out of Douche and Latyn
----that is, from several German
and Latin versions, including Martin Luther's translation and the Latin
Vulgate. The large portion of the Old Testament which he translated at
first hand became the basis for the subsequent revisions which eventually
produced the King James Version. Much of Coverdale's version was retained
verbatim in those revisions, even where a direct translation from the
Hebrew would probably have led to a different result. A large part of
the Old Testament of the King James Version is thus the work of Myles
Coverdale, retained untouched through all of the intervening revisions.
Of himself and his translation Coverdale says: Considering how excellent
knowledge and learning an interpreter of scripture ought to have in the
tongues, and pondering also mine own insufficiency therein, & how
weak I am to perform the office of a translator, I was the more loth to
meddle with this work. Nothwithstanding when I considered how great pity
it was that we should want it so long, & called to my remembrance
the adversity of them, which were not only of ripe knowledge, but would
also with all their hearts have performed that they began, if they had
not had impediment: considering (I say) that by reason of their adversity
it could not so soon have been brought to an end, as our most prosperous
nation would fain have had it: these and other reasonable causes considered,
I was the more bold to take it in hand. And to help me herein, I have
had sundry translations, not only in Latin, but also of the Douche interpreters:
whom (because of their singular gifts & special diligence in the Bible)
I have been the more glad to follow for the most part, according as I
was required. But to say the truth before God, it was neither my labor
nor desire, to have this work put in my hand: nevertheless it grieved
me that other nations should be more plenteously provided for with the
scripture in their mother tongue, than we: therefore when I was instantly
required, though I could not do so well as I would, I thought it yet my
duty to do my best, and that with a good will.
Again, Now to conclude: for so much as all the scripture is written
for thy doctrine & ensample, it shall be necessary for thee, to take
hold upon it, while it is offered thee, yea and with ten hands thankfully
to receive it. And though it be not worthily ministered unto thee in this
translation (by reason of my rudeness) Yet if thou be fervent in thy prayer,
God shall not only send it thee in a better shape, by the ministration
of other that began it afore, but shall also move the hearts of them,
which as yet meddled not withal, to take it in hand, and to bestow the
gift of their understanding thereon, as well in our language as other
famous interpreters do in other languages. And I pray God, that through
my poor ministration herein, I may give them that can do better, some
occasion so to do.
Clearly Coverdale had no idea that his work was in any way overseen by
God so as to secure its perfection, or even its excellence. He invites
others to correct his Bible, and expresses his own intention to do the
same, in the following words: And though I have failed any where (as
there is no man but he misseth in some thing) love shall construe all
to the best without any perverse judgement. There is no man living that
can see all things, neither hath god given any man to know every thing.
One seeth more clearly than another, one hath more understanding than
another, one can utter a thing better than another, but no man ought to
envy, or despise another. He that can do better than another, should not
set him at nought that understandeth less: Yea he that hath the more understanding,
ought to remember that the same gift is not his but God's, and that God
hath given it him to teach & inform the ignorant. If thou hast knowlege
therefore to judge where any fault is made, I doubt not but thou wilt
help to amend it, if love be joined with thy knowledge. Howbeit wherein
so ever I can perceive by myself, or by the information of other, that
I have failed (as it is no wonder) I shall now by the help of God overlook
it better & amend it.
Precisely because Coverdale believed that no translator could see all
things perfectly, and that therefore no translation could be perfect,
he strongly recommends the use of various versions. He says, Whereas
some men think now the many translations make division in the faith and
in the people of God, that is not so: for it was never better with the
congregation of God, than when every church almost had the Bible of a
sundry translation. Further, Seeing then that this diligent exercise
of translating doth so much good & edifieth in other languages, why
should it do evil in ours? Doubtless like as all nations in the diversity
of speeches may know one God in the unity of faith, and be one in love:
even so may diverse translations understand one another, & that in
the head articles and ground of our most blessed faith, though they use
sundry words. Wherefore me think we have great occasion to give thanks
unto God, that he hath opened unto his church the gift of interpretation
& of printing, and that there are now at this time so many, which
with such diligence and faithfulness interpret the scripture to the honor
of God and edifying of his people, where as (like when many are shooting
together) every one doth his best to be nighest the mark. And though they
can not all attain thereto, yet shooteth one nigher than another, and
hitteth it better than another, yea one can do it better than another.
Who is now then so unreasonable, so despiteful, or envious, as to abhor
him that doth all his diligence to hit the prick, and to shoot nighest
it, though he miss & come not nighest the mark? Ought not such one
rather to be commended, and to be helped forward, that he may exercise
himself the more therein?
Once more, Now whereas the most famous interpreters of all give sundry
judgements of the text (so far as it is done by the spirit of knowledge
in the Holy Ghost) me think no man should be offended thereat, for they
refer their doings in meekness to the Spirit of truth in the congregation
of God: & sure I am, that there cometh more knowledge and understanding
of the scripture by their sundry translations, than by all the glosses
of our sophistical doctors. For that one interpreteth something obscurely
in one place, the same translateth another (or else he himself) more manifestly
by a more plain vocable of the same meaning in another place.
Richard Taverner, whose revision appeared in 1539, says in his dedication
to the king, This one thing I dare full well affirm, that amongst all
your majesty's deservings, upon the Christian religion (than which surely
nothing can be greater) your highness never did thing more acceptable
unto God, more profitable to the advancement of true Christianity, more
displeasant to the enemies of the same, & also to your grace's enemies,
than when your majesty licensed and willed the most sacred Bible containing
the unspotted and lively word of God to be in the English tongue set forth
to your higness' subjects.
To the setting forth whereof (most gracious & most redoubted sovereign
lord) like as certain men have neither undiligently nor yet unlearnedly
travailed: So again it can not be denied, but some faults have escaped
their hands. Neither speak I this to deprave or malign their industry
& pains taken in this behalf: no, rather I think them worthy of no
little praise & thanks for the same, considering what great utility
& profit hath redounded to your grace's whole realm by the publishing
and setting forth thereof, although it were not finished to the full absolution
and perfection of the same. For assuredly it is a work of so great difficulty,
that I fear it can scarce be done of one or two persons, but rather requireth
both a deeper conferring of many learned wits together, and also a juster
time and longer leisure.
Wherefore the premises well considered, forasmuch as the printers hereof
were very desirous to have this most sacred volume of the Bible come forth
as faultless & emendately, as the shortness of time for the recognizing
of the same would require, they desired me your most humble servant for
default of a better learned, diligently to overlook & peruse the whole
copy: and in case I should find any notable default that needed correction,
to amend the same, according to the true exemplars. Which thing according
to my talent I have gladly done. ...
But now though many faults perchance be yet left behind uncastigate,
either for lack of learning sufficient to so great an enterprise, or for
default of leisure, I trust your majesty & all other that shall read
the same, will pardon me, considering (as I have already declared) how
hard & difficult a thing it is, so to set forth this work, as shall
be in all points faultless and without reprehension.
The translators of the Geneva Bible (1560) speak with more confidence,
but yet in such a way as to make it plain that they had no such idea as
that their translation was without fault. They say, Now as we have chiefly
observed the sense, and laboured always to restore it to all integrity:
so have we most reverently kept the propriety of the words, considering
that the Apostles who spake and wrote to the Gentiles in the Greek tongue,
rather constrained them to the lively phrase of the Hebrew, than enterprised
far by mollifying their language to speak as the Gentiles did. And for
this and other causes we have in many places reserved the Hebrew phrases,
notwithstanding that they may seem somewhat hard in their ears that are
not well practised, and also delight in the sweet sounding phrases of
the holy Scriptures. Yet lest either the simple should be discouraged,
or the malicious have any occasion of just cavillation, seeing some translations
read after one sort, and some after another, whereas all may serve to
good purpose and edification, we have in the margin noted that diversity
of speech or reading which may also seem agreeable to the mind of the
holy Ghost and proper for our language. They plainly say in this statement
that all of the various translations may serve to good purpose and edification.
This takes for granted that no one version is perfect or all-sufficient.
And the fact that they set numerous various readings in their margin indicates
that they had no absolute confidence in the perfection or all-sufficiency
of their own translationn.
The translators of the Bishops' Bible (1568) say, Finally to commend
further unto thee good reader the cause in part before intreated, it shall
be the less needful, having so nigh following that learned preface, which
sometime was set out by the diligence of that godly father Thomas Cranmer,
late bishop in the see of Canterbury, which he caused to be prefixed before
the translation of that Bible that was then set out. And for that copies
thereof be so wasted, that very many Churches do want their convenient
Bibles, it was thought good to some well disposed men, to recognize the
same Bible again into this form as it is now come out, with some further
diligence in the printing, and with some more light added, partly in the
translation, and partly in the order of the text, not as condemning the
former translation,8 which was followed mostly of any other translation,
excepting the original text[,] from which as little variance was made
as was thought meet to such as took pains therein: desiring thee good
reader if ought be escaped, either by such as had the expending of the
books, or by the oversight of the printer, to correct the same in the
spirit of charity, calling to remembrance what diversity hath been seen
in men's judgements in the translation of these books before these days,
though all directed their labours to the glory of God, to the edification
of the Church, to the comfort of their christian brethren, and always
as God did further open unto them, so ever more desirous they were to
reform their former human oversights, rather than in a stubborn wilfulness
to resist the gift of the Holy Ghost, who from time to time is resident
as that heavenly teacher and leader into all truth, by whose direction
the Church is ruled and governed. And let all men remember in them self
how error and ignornace is created with our nature: let frail man confess
with that great wise man, that the cogitations and inventions of mortal
men be very weak, and our opinions soon deceived: For the body so subject
to corruption doth oppress the soul, that it can not aspire so high as
of duty it ought. Men we be all, and that which we know, is not the thousandth
part of that we know not.
Three things shine through here with perfect clarity: 1. that they did
not believe the former translations to be perfect; 2. that they did not
believe their own translation to be perfect; and 3. that they did not
believe any translation produced by frail, ignorant man could be perfect.
They write further:
Whereupon for frail man (compassed him self with infirmity) it is most
reasonable not to be too severe in condemning his brother's knowledge
or diligence where he doth err, not of malice, but of simplicity, and
specially in handling of these so divine books so profound in sense, so
far passing our natural understanding. And with charity it standeth, the
reader not to be offended with the diversity of translators, nor with
the ambiguity of translations: For as Saint Austen doth witness, by God's
providence it is brought about, that the holy scriptures which be the
salves for every man's sore, though at the first they came from one language,
and thereby might have been spread to the whole world; Now by diversity
of many languages, the translators should spread the salvation (that is
contained in them) to all nations, by such words of utterance, as the
reader might perceive the mind of the translator, and so consequently
come to the knowledge of God his will and pleasure. And though many rash
readers be deceived in the obscurities and ambiguities of their translations,
while they take one thing for another, and while they use much labour
to extricate them selves out of the obscurities of the same: yet I think
(saith he) this is not wrought without the providence of God, both to
tame the proud arrogancy of man by his such labour of searching, as also
to keep his mind from loathsomeness and contempt, where if the scriptures
universally were too easy, he would less regard them. And though (saith
he) in the primitive Church the late interpreters which did translate
the scriptures, be innumerable, yet wrought this rather as an help, than
an impediment to the readers, if they be not too negligent. For saith
he, divers translations have made many times the harder and darker sentences,
the more open and plain: So that of congruence, no offence can justly
be taken for this new labour, nothing prejudicing any other man's judgement
by this doing, nor yet hereby professing this to be so absolute a translation,
as that hereafter might follow no other that might see that which as yet
was not understanded.
I beg the reader to observe three things in the above quotation: 1. So
far from supposing that the providence of God had wrought to give them
one perfect translation, they suppose it to be the providence of God which
gave them many imperfect versions. 2. They believed that this multiplicity
of translations was a help to the better understanding of the text. 3.
They expressly avow that they do not suppose their own translation to
Last of all we shall hear from the translators of the King James Version.
Their preface, entitled The Translators to the Reader, contains many
astute and profitable observations. They say, Many men's mouths have
been open a good while (and yet are not stopped) with speeches about the
Translation so long in hand, or rather perusals of Translations made before:
and ask what may be the reason, what the necessity of the employment:
Hath the Church been deceived, say they, all this while? Hath her sweet
bread been mingled with leaven, her silver with dross, her wine with water,
her milk with lime? . . . We hoped that we had been in the right way,
that we had had the Oracles of God delivered unto us, and that though
all the world had cause to be offended and to complain, yet that we had
none. Hath the nurse holden out the breast, and nothing but wind in it?
Hath the bread been delivered by the fathers of the Church, and the same
proved to be lapidosus, as Seneca speaketh? What is it to handle the word
of God deceitfully, if this be not? Thus certain brethren. Also the adversaries
of Judah and Jerusalem, like Sanballat in Nehemiah, mock, as we hear,
both at the work and workmen, saying: What do these weak Jews, &c.
will they make the stones whole again out of the heaps of dust which are
burnt? although they build, yet if a foxe go up, he shall even break down
their stony wall. Was their Translation good before? Why do they now mend
it? Was it not good? Why then was it obtruded to the people?
Further, ...we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest
translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession
(for we have seen none of theirs of the whole Bible as yet) containeth
the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King's Speech which he
uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and
Latin, is still the King's Speech, though it be not interpreted by every
Translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase,
nor so expressly for sense, every where. For it is confessed that things
are to take their denomination of the greater part; . . . A man may be
counted a virtuous man, though he have made many slips in his life, (else,
there were none virtuous, for in many things we offend all) also a comely
man and lovely, though he have some warts upon his hand, yea, not only
freckles upon his face, but also scars. No cause therefore why the word
translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current,
notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in
the setting forth of it. For what ever was perfect under the Sun, where
Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, men indued with an extraordinary measure
of God's spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had
not their hand?
Now observe several things in these quotations. First of all, it is very
plain that the translators of the King James Version had no such idea
as that the King James Version alone was the word of God. They do not
even quote from it when they quote from the book of Nehemiah, but from
the Geneva, and alter it, too. They plainly affirm also that the very
meanest, or poorest, translation of the Bible is yet the word of God.
Neither had they any such idea as that a translation must be perfect or
without error in order to be the word of God, but plainly affirm that
a translation is the word of God in spite of its imperfections and blemishes.
Finally, they deny perfection to any translation, but explicitly reserve
that to the originals put forth by the apostles, who were endued with
Concerning the advantage of various translations in the margin they speak
at length: Some peradventure would have no variety of senses to be set
in the margin, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding of controversies
by that show of uncertainty, should somewhat be shaken. But we hold their
judgment not to be so sound in this point. For though, whatsoever things
are necessary are manifest, as S. Chrysostom saith, and as S. Augustine,
In those things that are plainly set down in the Scriptures, all such
matters are found that concern Faith, hope, and Charity. Yet for all that
it cannot be dissembled, that partly to exercise and whet our wits, partly
to wean the curious from loathing of them for their every-where-plainness,
partly also to stir up our devotion to crave the assistance of God's spirit
by prayer, and lastly, that we might be forward to seek aid of our brethren
by conference, and never scorn those that be not in all respects so complete
as they should be, being to seek in many things our selves, it hath pleased
God in his divine providence, here and there to scatter words and sentences
of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points that concern
salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain)
but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us
than confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with
S. Augustine, (though not in this same case altogether, yet upon the same
ground) Melius est dubitare de occultis, quam litigare de incertis, it
is better to make doubt of those things which are secret, then to strive
about those things that are uncertain. There be many words in the Scriptures,
which be never found there but once, (having neither brother nor neighbour,
as the Hebrews speak) so that we cannot be holpen by conference of places.
Again, there be many rare names of certain birds, beasts and precious
stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided
among themselves for judgment, that they may seem to have defined this
or that, rather because they would say something, than because they were
sure of that which they said, as S. Jerome somewhere saith of the Septuagint.
Now in such a case, doth not a margin do well to admonish the Reader to
seek further, and not to conclude or dogmatize upon this or that peremptorily?
For as it is a fault of incredulity, to doubt of those things that are
evident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left
(even in the judgment of the judicious) questionable, can be no less than
presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations
is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity
of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is not so clear,
must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded. ... They that
are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of
readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.
One thing comes through very clearly in all of this, namely, that they
themselves were often uncertain of the correct translation. They therefore
regarded it as not only advantageous, but necessary, to set alternate
readings in the margin. It never entered their minds to suppose that the
King James Version, or any other version, could be perfect, though they
regarded the very poorest of them as the word of God. So thought William
Tyndale also. So thought Myles Coverdale. So thought the translators of
the Geneva Bible, and the translators of the Bishops' Bible. And so for
many generations have thought all of the judicious servants of Christ
from every quarter, such as John Wesley, C. H. Spurgeon, John W. Burgon,
John Nelson Darby, R. A. Torrey, and scores of others who could be mentioned.
The new doctrine, which exalts one English version to the place of perfection,
and declares that no other version is the word of God, never saw the light
of day until our own lazy, proud, ignorant, and shallow generation
in ages past both the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate have been
regarded with the same superstitious reverence. It is indeed ironic that
those who now exalt the English version to the place of perfection regard
both the Septuagint and the Vulgate with something like abhorrence, holding
them to be depraved and corrupt, though these two versions were formerly
regarded with exactly the same superstitious veneration which is now paid
to the King James Version.
In affirming the advantage of using various versions of the Bible, however,
let it be plainly understood that I do not mean to recommend the many
modern versions which are on the market today. Many of them are not translations
at all, but paraphrases. Others contain so much paraphrasing that they
hardly deserve to be called translations. Some are childish and shallow,
others heady and intellectual, others irreverent, and it seems the more
they come the worse they get. They all lack the solid spirituality of
the older versions. The church of our day simply lacks the depth and the
spirituality to be able to produce an acceptable translation of the Bible,
and as for the idea of setting the modern versions alongside the ancient
ones, that thought may be dismissed with one word of Scripture: For
what hath chaffe and wheat to do together? saieth the LORDE. (Jer. 23:28,
Myles Coverdale's version).
What Heaven and Hell Have in Common
by Glenn Conjurske
A Sermon Preached on August 26, 1992.
[Though it cannot be printed on paper, it may benefit the reader of this
sermon to know that almost all of it was preached with flowing tears and
a voice choked with deep emotion. It is reproduced as it was preached,
with only a few slight revisions.]
You can open your Bibles with me to the book of Luke, chapter 15. I'm
going to speak to you tonight on what heaven and hell have in common.
Let's read first of all from Luke chapter l5, beginning at the beginning:
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners,
and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What
man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not
leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is
lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his
shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his
friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have
found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall
be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and
nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece,
doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till
she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her
neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece
which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence
of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Father in heaven, I pray that you'll help me to preach your word tonight.
Father, you know that I'm unworthy, unfit, to preach this message, but
I pray that for the sake of your people, and the sake of perishing sinners,
that you'll give me your power. I ask for your help, Father, in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed his blood that sinners might be saved.
Now we have here a picture of some of the inhabitants of heaven
inhabitants of heaven that have dwelt in heaven ever since they have been
created. Now we know that there is a great deal in heaven to occupy their
thoughts and their minds and their attention ----to take up their time.
We see them elsewhere (the angels of God in heaven) in the book of Revelation,
around the throne of God, singing continual praises to God. We know that
there must be unbroken delight and pleasure in heaven. The Psalmist says
there are pleasures for evermore at God's right hand. And the angels undoubtedly
may freely partake of all of the pleasures that are there. But in the
midst of all of their pleasures ----in the midst of all of the soul-enchanting
things that surround them there ----they're occupied with one thing, and
that is the salvation of souls on earth. It says there's joy, there's
rejoicing, in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
I think that says that in the midst of all of the pure and bountiful pleasures
of heaven, they never miss the conversion of a sinner. Whatever they may
be occupied with up there, they always have one eye turned towards the
earth, looking for the returning of a prodigal sinner
----always have one
ear toward the earth to hear the news of a sinner come home to God. It
says, there is rejoicing and joy among the angels of God over one sinner
that repenteth. Now I believe that implies that there is joy among those
angels over every sinner that repenteth. They never miss one. They're
always concerned about that, and always occupied about that.
Now I said I was going to preach to you tonight on what heaven and hell
have in common. You can just turn the page over to the sixteenth chapter
of the book of Luke. We'll see a picture drawn for us of the inhabitants
of hell. Luke chapter 16, verse 23, it says, And in hell he lift up
his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in
his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and
send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool
my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember
that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus
evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside
all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they
which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us,
that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father
Abraham, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house, for I have
five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into
this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the
prophets: let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham, but if
one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him,
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded,
though one rose from the dead.
A lost soul, in the flames of hell. He has enough to be occupied about
also, having no rest day nor night, but tormented in the flame, and begging
for just a drop of water to cool his tongue. That being denied him, his
thoughts immediately turn to the same thing that occupies the angels in
heaven. There are lost souls on earth. He begins to beg Abraham to send
Lazarus to them, to preach the word of God to them, that they might repent,
and not come to that place of torment. Now it's perfectly plain from these
two scriptures that we have read, that even though the inhabitants of
heaven and the inhabitants of hell have plenty to occupy them in the places
where they dwell, yet both the inhabitants of heaven and the inhabitants
of hell have one common concern, and that is the salvation of souls on
earth. Unfortunately, neither of them can do anything about it. They must
only spend their hours and days and years and decades and centuries looking
to the earth wishing, and hoping, and longing, that somebody will do something
to save the perishing souls on earth
----but they themselves can do nothing.
Well, there is somebody that can do something, and that is the saints
of God that live on earth. But as the scripture says, All seek their
own things, and not the things of Christ Jesus. And those days and months
and years and decades and centuries pass away, and the church of God does
very little to save the perishing souls on earth. I have an idea that
sometimes the angels of God in heaven, in the midst of their praises to
the eternal Father, cast an eye to the earth, and see the state of things
down here, and turn their faces up to God in pain, and say, Why don't
the saints of God do something to save the lost?
You know, if there's rejoicing among the angels of God every time a perishing
sinner repents and lays hold of eternal life, in between those times there
must be a lot of longing and wishing and yearning for those lost souls
those angels can't do anything at all about it. You know what would happen
if one time God made an announcement in heaven, and said to the angels
that surround the throne, There's going to be a change of dispensation.
I'm tired of waiting for the saints of God on earth to do something to
save the lost. I'm going to give you angels an opportunity. I'll give
you five minutes to go down to the earth and preach the gospel to all
that you can ----persuade all that you can to turn from the way of death,
and flee from the wrath to come. ----You know what would happen? There'd
be a stampede. And the church of God has that opportunity, every day and
every hour, and doesn't do anything with it.
I have an idea that the same thing would happen if God went down to the
nether regions, and announced to the lost souls who are in torment, I'm
going to give you a five-minute break from the torments of hell. You can
go back to earth for five minutes. You know what I think they'd do in
those five minutes? I don't think they'd be kicking up their heels enjoying
their liberty. I think they'd go back to the lost souls on earth, and
persuade them not to come to that place of torment. That's what the rich
man was concerned about when he was there, with no hope of a five-minute
break. I think if he had a five-minute break, that's what he'd do with
it. But the church of God on earth does little or nothing.
I know, we attempt to do some things, but we're not half earnest enough
----maybe not persevering enough ----maybe not bold enough ----not
earnest enough ----not fervent enough. And I suspect above all, we don't
pray enough. I know how difficult it is to endeavor in this crooked and
perverse generation to persuade people to turn from the error of their
ways. I know how easy it is to get discouraged. But I also believe that
God is the God of all flesh, and there is nothing too hard for him. And
I also believe if we just cared more, we would do more. Maybe just pray
more. Obviously we need more power if we're going to do anything, if we're
going to accomplish anything. Do you spend your time praying for it?
Now I'm not going to be hyperspiritual, and contend that you ought to
do nothing except labor to save souls. You can't do that. Christ chose
his apostles that they should be with him, and that he might send them
forth to preach. (Mark 3:14). First you need to be with him. Otherwise
when you do go out to preach, you won't accomplish anything anyway. Maybe
you will accomplish ill, instead of good. And when those same apostles
were in the midst of the work, he took them apart, and said to them, Come
ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while. (Mark 6:31).
I'm not contending any hyperspiritual foolishness, that you ought to do
nothing but labor to save souls. I do believe, however, that we all could
do more than we do do. The time is short, and eternity is for ever, and
there are souls all around us that are on the broad road that leads to
destruction. How many opportunities do we let slip away every day
that the inhabitants of heaven and the inhabitants of hell would give
anything for ----if they could just have one such opportunity ----but they
can never have even one. And we let those opportunities slip away from
us day after day, and do nothing.
Well, there are three classes of people that we've looked at tonight.
The inhabitants of hell are concerned about the salvation of souls on
earth. The inhabitants of heaven are concerned about the salvation of
souls on earth. And we, the saints of God on earth, profess to be concerned
about the salvation of souls on earth. The angels of God in heaven can
do nothing about it
----only yearn and long. The inhabitants of hell can
do nothing about it ----only wish and plead. We, alone, can do something
They [pointing upward] would, if they could.
They [pointing downward] would, if they could.
We could, if we would.
Father, help us all, to be more faithful than we've ever been before.
And you pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, that we might also be effectual
and successful in turning souls from death to life, from sin to holiness,
and from the power of Satan to the grace of God. Amen.
Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections
of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts articles
by other writers if they are judged profitable for scriptural instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own views are to be taken from his own writings.