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Vol. 3, No. 5
May, 1994

A Sword in Your Household

by Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon Preached on June 22, 1988, Recorded, Transcribed, & Revised.

You can open to the twelfth chapter of the book of Luke. Luke chapter 12, verse 51. He says: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Now you may turn to the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew, and I am going to begin reading with verse 21. He says: “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Drop down from there to verse 33. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. And he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Now, when Christ was born you know that angels came down announcing his birth, and they said at that time, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” Peace on earth has nothing to do with peace in your heart, as some liberals and others will attempt to interpret this. Peace on earth does not mean peace in your heart. It means peace between man and man, according to all the Old Testament prophecies: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation: neither shall they learn war any more.” That is peace on earth; and this is what the angels sang about, and in effect promised, when Christ came. This is what his disciples were expecting him to give. Therefore, during his life on earth----during his ministry----he turns to them, and he says: “Don't think that I came to send peace on earth. I didn't come to send peace on earth; I came to send a sword.” Now, we have a little difficulty here. How is it that we have all of these prophecies in the Old Testament concerning peace on earth----nation not lifting up sword against nation any more----beating their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks----and this “peace on earth, goodwill to man” at the birth of the Savior, and yet when he comes to his time of ministry, he says, “I didn't come to send peace on earth”?

Very plainly (and I'm sure you all understand this without me telling you), all of those prophecies concerning peace on earth will be fulfilled when Christ comes the second time. But when he came the first time, he said, “I didn't come to send peace on earth----not this time: this time I came to send a sword.” Now, you know from what I've taught you on the real marrow of dispensationalism----the real difference between Old Testament times and New Testament times, and between New Testament times and the kingdom time, that when God comes down and lays claim to the earth, and establishes his dominion in the earth, so that there will be righteousness in the earth, and the effect of that righteousness will be peace and quietness and assurance forever in the earth, the very first thing that he does is execute a sweeping, unsparing judgement that destroys every ungodly person. He did it with the flood in Noah's day, and he did it (or at least ordered his people to do it) when he established them in the land of Canaan, and he's going to do it again when Christ comes back. And that is the only way that there will ever be peace on earth, when the ungodly are destroyed, and the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their father.

Now, it is not that Christ does not desire peace on the earth----of course he does----but what he is saying is this: “Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth; I did not. I cannot send peace on the earth----not without utterly overthrowing and denying everything that is revealed in the Old Testament, and everything that belongs to the nature of God and to the nature of the life of faith. I cannot send peace on the earth until that sweeping, unsparing judgement sweeps away the ungodly. As long as this earth is filled with violence, and as long as the wickedness of man is great on the earth, and as long as the ungodly fill this earth and rule over it, and I have these few righteous souls here that belong to me, there cannot be peace on earth.” So he says, “Don't get any such idea that I came to send peace on earth. I didn't come to send peace. I came to send a sword.”

Now observe, when the Old Testament prophesies peace on earth, it says, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” But when Christ says, “I came to send a sword on the earth,” he never mentions nations. The only place he says that he's going to put that sword is in your household. You will find that in both of the passages that we read. First of all, in the one in Matthew chapter 10, he says in verse 34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” You see, these are all family relations. “And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.” Christ says, “I came not for peace, but to send a sword. And the place I'm going to put that sword is in your household.”

In the twelfth chapter of the book of Luke we see the same thing. Matthew says your foes are going to be those of your own household. Luke chapter 12, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” All of these are family relationships. Now, he says two things here besides a sword: he says, “I came to send division and variance.” Where? In your household. He never mentions nations. Never mentions cities or political parties or anything of the sort. The only thing that Christ ever talks about when he talks about sending this sword on earth is your household. And by the way, Christ says, “I came for this purpose: to put this sword in your household.” You say, “Well then, does Christ desire it? Does he want father against son, and son against father? Does he want mother against daughter, and daughter against mother? Does he delight in division and variance?” No----not as the real desire of his heart. But he can't do anything else without overthrowing the nature of God, and of Christianity, and of faith, and of the walk of faith, and of the Bible, and----as far as that goes----the nature of sin, and of the devil. As long as these things are together on earth, there's going to be a sword. And if these things exist together without a sword, something is desperately wrong. Christ says, “I came to send a sword.” It doesn't just say, “We'll tolerate this sword.” He says, “I came to send it.” He doesn't just say, “We can't avoid it, so therefore we'll endure it.” He says, “I came to send it. I came to make a division. I came to make a separation. I came to send division and variance.” Where? In your household. Why? Because Christ came into a world under the dominion of sin and Satan, to introduce the testimony of God there. And as soon as that testimony is introduced, division and variance immediately follow, and the first place where that division manifests itself is in the family. It will be altogether different at his second coming. Then he will not introduce the testimony of God into the midst of the kingdom of Satan, but will first bind the devil and destroy his kingdom, and then there will be “peace on earth.”

Now, let's look at some examples of this sword in the household. First of all, the principle is given to us in the fourth chapter of the book of Galatians. Galatians chapter 4, verse 28, says, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” So what he's saying here is, nothing has changed. Way back then when there was one son born after the flesh and one son born after the Spirit----one son of the flesh and one son of the promise----the son that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the promise. And he says, “even so it is now”----and always will be. As long as you have those two classes of persons on earth----he that is born after the flesh and he that is born of the Spirit----he that is born of the flesh will persecute him that is born of the Spirit. Now, of course, the very first place on earth in which that persecution is going to manifest itself is----in your household. That's where people are closest together. That's where they know each other the best. That's where they have the closest contact with each other, and that is always the first place the persecution is going to manifest itself. Brother persecuting brother, brother delivering up brother to death, father delivering child to death, children rising up against their parents, father divided against the son, daughter against the mother, and mother against the daughter, mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.

Now observe----and this is a point of the utmost importance. Some men may preach it this way: “The reason that we have this sword is solely because he that is born after the flesh is going to persecute him that is born of the Spirit. That's why we have the division; that's why we have the variance.” But it isn't that way. The division of which Christ speaks comes from both sides. Christ says, “Not only is the father going to be against the son, but also the son against the father.” And every relationship which he names, he names from both sides. “I came to set the father against the son, and the son against the father.” If the father is ungodly and the son godly, then the father is against the son, but the son is also against the father. And that is what Christ says in every instance. Every relationship which he names, he names from both sides. If you have an ungodly mother-in-law against a godly daughter-in-law, then you also have a godly daughter-in-law against an ungodly mother-in-law. The division comes from both sides. What! is the devil against Christ, and Christ not against the devil? Christ says, “This is what I came to send----a sword.” Not only the ungodly against the godly, but also the godly against the ungodly. And if you're godly and you're not against the ungodly, something is wrong with you. Maybe we should turn back to the passage in the book of Luke again, just so you can see it with your eyes again in black and white. Luke chapter 12, and verse 52. He says: “For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two”----yes, but also “two against three.” If the three are against the two, then the two are against the three. And he says, “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” This sword works both ways. It is not merely a matter that the one born of the flesh is going to persecute the one born of the Spirit. The sword comes both ways----the variance and the division come both ways. If the father is against the son, the son is also against the father.

Now, back in the fourth chapter of the book of Galatians, where we have this set forth in principle, he says, “As then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” That's in verse 29, but the next verse says, “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” You see, you have the sword working both ways. You've got the son born after the flesh persecuting the one born after the Spirit----mocking in fact----but you also have, on the other side, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” If the one is against the other, then the other is against the one. And I believe there is a great deficiency in the church of God in this matter. We don't see much in the way of a sword in most households. We don't see much of variance or division. Do you have foes in your household? Do you have enemies in your household?----variance?----division? Why aren't the ungodly against you? Very probably because you aren't against the ungodly. In other words, you don't take a stand for anything----or, maybe I should say----against anything. You may stand for a lot of things and not get too much persecution. You take a stand against a few things and you will get some. And of course, if you stand against something, you're going to be standing against him that does it.

Why did the world hate Christ? He says to his brothers according to the flesh, “The world cannot hate you; me it hates.” Why? “Because I bear witness of it that its works are wicked.” He took a stand first against the world; then the world was against him. The world hated him precisely because he took a stand against it, and said its deeds were evil----or, as I like to translate it----its works were wicked. The meaning is the same.

Now then, Ishmael persecuted Isaac. He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit. On the other side, the mother who gave birth to the child born of the promise says, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” The sword worked both ways. Now, you can turn back to the twenty-first chapter of the book of Genesis, and we'll see this actual instance that Paul is spiritualizing in the book of Galatians. Genesis chapter 21, verse 9, “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight, because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” In other words, God puts his stamp of approval upon this sword working both ways. He puts his stamp of approval on Sarah's words: “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.” God says, “In everything that Sarah has spoken unto you, hearken to her; do it. Ishmael is not my child----in Isaac thy seed shall be called.”

Now, there arises a difficulty at this point, and it is the precise difficulty that arises in the heart of every one of us, and it is this, verse 11: “The thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight.” He didn't want to do it. He didn't want to cast out the bondwoman and her son. You don't want to do it, either. You don't want to take a stand against your father or mother or brother or sister or whoever it is. You don't want to have variance in your household. You don't want to have a sword in your household. The thing is very grievous in your eyes, as it was in Abraham's. But God says, “Abraham, let it not be grievous in your eyes----just do it.”

Now, we'll go back to the fourth chapter of the book of Genesis. We see this same sword in the household from the very beginning of the creation. From the very first two children that were ever born on earth, there was a sword in the household. And so the Lord says in effect, “Don't think that I came to send peace on earth. Don't get any such idea in your minds as that I came to send peace on earth. If I was going to send peace on earth, I would have to overthrow the whole revelation of the Bible from the very first chapter, the very beginning of the creation, the first two children ever born, the first household that ever existed----there was a sword in it. Don't think I'm going to send peace on earth----I can't do it. The sword in the household has been here ever since there has been a household on earth.” Now, in the fourth chapter of Genesis, we see the first instance. “Adam knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground and offered an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and unto his offering, but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain [verse 8] talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Why did Cain slay his brother? Turn over to the book of First John, chapter 3, verse 12. I'll read from verse 11: “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of the wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Now, it's a very simple proposition: You cannot mix a child of God with a child of the devil. You cannot mix a righteous man and a wicked man. And if you've got a righteous man and a wicked man----if you've got a man who is of God and a man who is of that wicked one, in the same household----there's going to be a sword. Unless maybe that righteous man compromises, and I'm afraid that's what usually happens. But it ought not to happen. There is a sword. It's been there ever since there was a household on earth, in which there was a godly man and an ungodly man. Why did he slay him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Now, when your works are righteous and your brother's works are evil, your very presence will condemn him. Your very presence will be a constant goad to his conscience. That is, if you are really righteous. If you are really standing where you ought to stand, and for what you ought to stand for, and against what you ought to stand against, your righteous life will be a constant source of irritation to him, and he will hate you----simply because your works are righteous, and his are wicked. You can't mix a child of God with a child of the devil----and how some of these folks marry ungodly people and live their whole lives with them----I don't know. I really don't understand it. It happens quite often, and I have known numerous cases where those apparently----or supposedly----godly women have prayed and labored their whole life for the salvation of their husband, and their husbands have died unsaved. How is this? Well, I can tell you another thing: I haven't known many of those supposedly Christian women who have been subjected to any persecution from those ungodly husbands, or who have really had any kind of a sword in their household. It's very likely because they just live their whole life in a state of lukewarmness and compromise, as they compromised to marry the ungodly man in the first place.

Now, I can give you an example on the other side. I know of a case which I read of in history, where a godly woman----she became godly after she was married----she got converted, and joined the Methodists. Now the Methodists in those days were full of zeal and power and love and holiness, and they were persecuted. They were hated by the world. They were the sect everywhere spoken against. Well, this woman became a source of constant irritation to her husband, and he forbid her to go to any more Methodist meetings. He said, “The next time you go to a Methodist meeting, I'm going to heat the oven red hot (he was a baker), and the moment you walk through that door, I'm going to throw you in it.” You see, she had a sword in her household, and the reason she had a sword in her household is because she was faithful to God. Well, she went to the meeting anyway. John Fletcher was preaching. It was at his church in Madeley. John Fletcher got up with a sermon all ready to preach, in his mind and heart, but when he stood up to speak, his mind went completely blank, and he couldn't think of what his message was supposed to be----totally forgot it. And he began to say to the congregation, “My mind has gone completely blank. I can't remember what I was going to preach, and I will just have to sit down, and not preach.” And as he began to say this, suddenly by the Spirit of God there was borne into his mind----Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. He preached on it with great power, and the woman sat there feeling as though every word was just for her. (And, by the way, it was. God no doubt gave that sermon to Fletcher at that moment for that woman.) And she walked out of that building full of exultant, victorious faith, singing on the way home, “If I had a thousand lives, I'd give them all for Christ.” She walked up to the house, and saw the smoke pouring out of the chimney from the oven. She boldly opened the door and walked in, and there was her husband on his knees crying to God for mercy.

Her way was effectual to the conversion of her ungodly husband. The way not to convert your ungodly families is to live in peace with them, without any sword in your household, and compromise your whole life long, and don't take a stand for anything, and don't make any waves, and don't rock the boat, and don't become a source of irritation to them. Just compromise, and come down to their level when you're with them, and live as though you're one of them, and like them, and you'll never make any impression on them, and they'll die and go to hell. If you want to save them, get a sword in your house, like that Methodist woman did. She made short work of saving her husband. You don't think it will work that way, but you know Christ says, “I would you were hot or cold: because you are lukewarm I will vomit you out of my mouth.” There's a much better chance for a persecutor to get saved than there is for somebody that is peacefully coexisting with a child of God----and no enmity, and no sword, and no variance, and no division between them.

The Lord Jesus Christ had variance in his household when he sojourned among men. His brethren did not believe on him. I mentioned before that he said to his brothers, “The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are wicked.” Christ, of course, is our pattern, our example. We all know that. Christ is our example, but do we follow him? He didn't go out and “share the gospel.” He went out and testified to the world that its works were wicked. And he was hated for it. And, as he said to his ungodly, unbelieving brethren, “The world cannot hate you,” I suspect that he would have to say to his lukewarm, unfaithful church today: “The world cannot hate you; you don't bear witness to the world that its works are wicked. There's no sword between you and the ungodly. No sword in your household, no enemies in your household, no foes, no variance, no division----just peaceful coexistence between the children of God and the children of the devil.” How can they coexist? There's only one way: it's when the children of God come down to the level of the children of the devil.

Turn over to the fifteenth chapter of the book of John. He says in verse 18, “If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Now, this brings the thing down even to a lower level. This is not even a matter of testifying against the works of the world. Here we are told we will be hated just because we are not part of the world----just for living the kind of life which says, “I am different. I don't engage in the activities that you folks engage in. I don't live the same kind of life that you do. I don't belong to the sphere that you folks belong to.”

Now, you may turn back to the book of Matthew, and we'll close. Back to the tenth chapter of the book of Matthew again. In the twenty-first verse he says: “The brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” Now this looks like a literal sword, and it's in the household. And I emphasize it one more time, every time Christ speaks in these three passages that we have read----wherever he mentions this sword, he always puts it in the household. Then down to verse 34: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”

But you don't want your foes to be those of your own household. You labor to prevent such a thing. Very well, if you don't compromise in the process. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18). That is, of course, “if it be possible” without compromise----“if it be possible” without becoming worldly and lukewarm yourself. It is no more right to seek reproach and persecution by flaunting your righteousness, than it is to avoid it by compromise. “As much as lies in us,” we ought to live at peace with all men. But if you compromise and lower your flag in order to keep peace in your household, the Lord has another word for you: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it.” He that clings to all of those earthly and fleshly ties, and all of those things that make up his life, shall lose it: “but he that loseth his life”----renounces it, gives it up for Christ's sake----he “shall find it.” And he may well save his ungodly family at the same time. But if he can't save them by faithfulness, it's folly enough to expect to save them by unfaithfulness.

Let's pray: God, thank you for the faithful witness of this holy, faithful book, and oh, God, may we have faithful hearts. God, I pray that you might raise up once again a church, a movement, that actually enters into the spirit of this holy book and of this holy religion which you have revealed to us. Oh, God, may we be that people. Send forth your Spirit upon us, we pray, and give us willing hearts to deny ourselves down here, in order that we may reign with an eternal weight of glory upon us for ever and ever up there. Amen.


The Making of Many Books

by Glenn Conjurske

“Of making many books there is no end.” (Eccl. 12:12). This is one of the great evils which Solomon found under the sun. It is one of those vanities which fill the earth. Richard Baxter, in lamenting “the slow progresse of knowledge, and the small addition that each age doth make to the foregoing,” assigns the making of many books as the first reason for it. He says,

“Every ignorant, empty braine (which usually hath the highest esteem of it selfe) hath the liberty of the Presse, whereby (through the common itch that pride exciteth in men, to seeme somebody in the world) the number of bookes is grown so great, that they begin with many to grow contemptible; and a man may bestow a great many yeares to find out the Authors weakness, and that his books have nothing in them but common; and so many must be tossed over before we find out those few that are cleare and solid, that much of our lives are spent in the discovery: And yet he is thought to scape well that onely loseth his time and labour and gets no more hurt by them. Some think the truth will not thrive among us, till every man have leave to speak both in Presse and Pulpit that please: God forbid that we should ever see that day! If ten mens voyces be louder then one, then would the noyse of Errour drown the voyce of Truth: Ignorance is usually clamorous and loud, but truth is modest, though zealous: One orthodox faithful Teacher, would scarce be seen or finde room for the crowd of seducers: For the godly, compared with the ungodly, are not neer so few as the men of cleer understanding, in comparison of the ignorant: And they are most forward to speak, that know least.”

If this evil was great in Solomon's day, it was multiplied a thousand times in Baxter's, and ten thousand times in our own. If “the common itch that pride exciteth” was the same in Solomon's day as it is in ours, yet the means to produce books were not the same. There were then no paper mills turning out tons of paper every day. Most everybody today throws away paper enough every day to contain all of Solomon's books. There was no such abundance in Solomon's day. Every piece, whether of parchment, papyrus, or vellum, must be produced by a long and laborious process. Printing did not exist, and every copy of every book must be written one letter at a time by hand. It was expensive and laborious to produce books then, and consequently the temptation to do so must have been very small compared to what it is today.

The production of books, like almost everything else, has been rendered easy by modern invention and advancement, but this is not all good. Many of the inventions and achievements of modern times are in some sense a blessing, but every one of those blessings carries a curse on its back. Modern inventions and achievements have eased man's burdens, but in the present sinful state of the human race, ease is never an unmixed good, for either man or society. The ease with which books may be made in our day is no exception to this. The manufacture of paper, typewriters, computers, word processors, copy machines, and printing presses puts it within the power of almost everyone to fill the earth with printed pages, though they have nothing of permanent value to say, and no call from God to say anything. It has been my settled conviction for many years that ninety-five out of a hundred of the books which have been produced in the history of the church ought never to have been written. The writers had nothing but the commonplace and mediocre to say, even when it was true----and a large proportion of the books have not even that in their favor. In our own day things are grown very much worse, so that it is doubtful that one of ten thousand of the books which now flood the market ought ever to have been written. There are many more books being written today than in times past, and those books are quite generally of much less value. Pride and presumption prevail, while spirituality, depth, and even knowledge are at a very low ebb. Yet men must write and print, not because they have anything that must needs be said, nor any call of God to write, but because modern affluence and achievement have made it easy to do so, and because they lack the humility and sober thinking which Paul recommends when he says, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3).

Charles M. Alexander, though in general he was not what would be called a solemn man----certainly did not possess the gravity of R. A. Torrey, with whom he labored----yet wrote at the age of 36, “The older I grow the more solemnly do I sit down to a sheet of white paper, to write words upon it.” And this he spoke with reference merely to writing personal letters. This was sober thinking, but alas! how rare! How many undertake to write books and edit magazines with no such solemnity upon their spirits. How few have taken solemn heed to the admonition of James, to “be not many teachers.” (James 3:1, Greek). No, but they must write, and print also, and the earth must groan under the weight of books and booklets and pamphlets and magazines and papers and bulletins. This is a great evil.

Solomon lamented this evil, and he was wise enough not to contribute to it. He wrote books, but they were few and small. Though he had abundance of goods and servants at hand, and could more easily have produced books than any other man of his day, and though he had wisdom beyond any other man living, yet he resisted the urge to multiply books. In this he stands as the complete contrast to many who have nothing of Solomon's wit or weight or wisdom, and yet must write books many and large. Solomon wrote but three, the largest of them being such as could easily be printed in a book the size of the magazine in the reader's hand----yet containing a weight of wisdom such as is not to be found in thousands of other books combined. His other books are nothing larger than a single article in this magazine----and smaller indeed than most of the bulletins and papers which fill the church today----but deep and delightful in their content. We might wish he had written more, but perhaps if he had done so, we might wish he had written less.

But Solomon was of no mind to multiply books. He had a prior consideration, which was to be fit to write them. In the verses immediately preceding our text he says, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” What wisdom is here! It was only “because the preacher was wise,” that he took it upon himself to teach the people. And he was wise because he sought wisdom. “He gave good heed.” He “sought to find out acceptable words.” He did not rest in God's gift of wisdom to him, but diligently sought it. This we may suppose he did after the same manner which he recommended to others. “Wisdom,” he says, “is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7). And again, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding. Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding, if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:2-5). Solomon was not as some I know, who, when they have read one book upon a topic, must think themselves authorities upon the subject----and when they have read three, it will be a wonder if they do not take to writing one of their own. Solomon sought wisdom as other men seek silver, and as they search for hid treasure. Therefore he was wise, and therefore he taught the people.

Therefore also, what Solomon wrote was of solid weight and worth. Says he, “The words of the wise are as goads.” Not the shallow, tame, insipid stuff which flows in such profusion from the Evangelical presses of our day----but goads. Not the pleasant, balmy, dreamy, sleepy, stuff which is called “edifying” in the modern church----which offends nobody and moves nobody----but goads. Not the sentimental, flowery, candlelight-and-incense stuff which is called “liberating”----but goads. Goads are things which make themselves felt. They prick the conscience. They wake the sleeping. They prod the lukewarm and lazy. They rouse to action. Such are the words of the wise.

Such words need not be many. There are but few men in history of whom we wish that they had written more, but there are multitudes, even of the best of them, of whom we wish they had written less. Many are called to preach, who are not called to write. Many apostles and prophets and preachers of righteousness have never been called of God to write a book. Even those apostles and prophets who have undoubtedly been called of God to write, have written but little. And in this connection I wish to point out one further fact. I have been aware throughout the writing of this article that the proper application of it may be lost merely because of the meaning which we attach to the word “books.” A book to us is a work of fairly large size, but this was not necessarily so to Solomon. A book is anything which is written. None of the books of the Bible are very large, and the books of Ruth, the Song of Solomon, Obadiah, Haggai, Jude, Malachi, and others, are mere small tracts, or single sheets. Yet these are “books,” and the making of many even of these is the evil which Solomon laments.

But further, “the words of the wise” are “as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” The words which ought to be written are sure and solid, as driven nails. They are pointed, and make their way to the inner man, where they stick fast. The content and savor of them remain firmly lodged in the soul, after the passing of many years. Some few such books I have read, but alas, they are few indeed. Meanwhile, what multitudes have I read of another sort----trumpets which give an uncertain sound, with nothing in them which is moving, or cogent, or telling----in short, nothing in them distinctive enough to justify their existence. Not that we can gain nothing from books of such a sort. Doubtless we can, but with what a loss of time and labor in the process, when we must winnow out a bushel of chaff to find two or three grains of wheat. Why must such books be written? Is it not sinful to subject men to such fruitless labor, when our life is but a vapor, soon to vanish away? Most of the books written during the history of the church are incapable of accomplishing anything more than to perpetuate the general spiritual weakness of the times which produced them. Men ought not to write books of such a sort. Those men ought to write books who have been called and commissioned as prophets of God, who have a message to deliver which will reform and change the prevailing state of things, rather than contributing to perpetuate it.

But this brings us to Solomon's next point. “The words of the wise” are as goads and fastened nails, and they are all “given from one shepherd.” This is solemn. If a man is to write, whether a book or a tract, he ought to have a sufficient reason for doing so. There is only one reason which is really sufficient, that being that he has a work of God entrusted to him, a message from God committed to him, and a call from God to deliver it. Without this it is presumption to write at all. If no man ought to take it upon himself to preach unless he is called of God to it, how much less to write! When a man speaks, his words die away upon the air waves, and, unless he has something weighty and striking to say, are little likely to find any permanent root even in the souls of those who hear him. Yet we are admonished, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.”

(I Pet. 4:11). The meaning of this is not merely “according to the Scriptures”----though that much is taken for granted----but with a prophetic voice, as God's spokesman, delivering the message of God, suited to the times and the people and the occasion before him. Nor has any man any right to speak in the name of the Lord unless it is as an oracle of God----unless he is certainly taught and gifted and called of God to so speak. How much less, then, to write, when every word which we pen may remain to be either the bane or the blessing of the church till the end of time. How dare men to write without the certainty that they are called of God to it, and that the things which they write are given from one shepherd?

What the one true Shepherd of the church gives to a man to write may be safely written. This may consist of the true exposition of the word of God and of the true spirit of Christianity. It may consist of the relation of true spiritual experience. It may consist of the publication of historical and technical information----and some of the most valuable books in existence are nothing more than this. But let none suppose that they are called of God merely because they are impressed with what they have hammered upon their own anvil, nor even because they have admiring friends. The call of God consists of more than this. Diffidence becomes us all, and if we ought to be slow to speak, we ought to be much slower to write. For this cause there is little likelihood that the young will be called to do much writing, though they are likely to think themselves so. “Ask the young people,” says an old French Proverb: “they know everything.” They know all the answers, and no wonder, since they know so few of the questions. Let them stay till they are masters of their subject. The best advice for the young who feel compelled to write is this: let them write, but let them lay it by for five years, and see how much of it they will yet endorse five years hence. The world will not perish for lack of it in the mean time. Or let them look over what they wrote five years agone, and see if they approve it still. Some of my own writings, which I had penned in younger days, I have had to put into the fire, though I had spent scarce and hard-earned money to print them. And though I am now forty-seven years old, and though I have made it my principal business to get wisdom for very nearly thirty years, there are nevertheless many subjects, especially doctrinal subjects, which I dare not yet to write upon. On many themes I have more questions than I have answers, and the scripture which constantly impresses itself upon my mind is, “We know in part.” All of us----the most learned and wise among us----“we know in part.” Though we spend our time and our strength and our resources to get wisdom----though we get wisdom with all our getting----yet “we know in part.” We scarcely begin to learn how to live, and we die. We scarcely begin to know how to do the work of God acceptably and effectually, and the fleeting vapor of our lives vanishes away. Yet men must write and print, when as yet they know nothing as they ought to know. This is a great evil.

I offer a word also to those who may not be young in years, but who are young in their doctrines and opinions. Such seem to have a peculiar temptation to write. The erstwhile Calvinist has just turned Arminian, and he must tell the world about it. The amillennialist has just discovered the truth of premillennialism, and he must share his new-found treasure with the world. This is a great mistake. The very fact that he has but recently changed his views is proof enough that he ought not to be writing. Let him stay till his views are thoroughly settled. Let him stay till he has learned the finer points of the truth. Let him preach his new-found treasure if he will, as Paul preached in Damascus that Jesus was the Christ, and powerfully confuted the Jews. But preaching and writing are two things. Paul wrote no books on the Messiahship of Jesus in Damascus----or if he did, God has seen to it that they have perished.

I much admire the spirit which Gipsy Smith manifested with regard to the well known Bible text, “What must I do to be saved?” He begins a sermon on that text thus: “I wish to take as my text the question of the jailor and the answer which Paul and Silas gave, and I want to say to those who are preachers and evangelists that I wanted to preach from these words fifteen years before I dared. For fifteen years these words were simmering in my heart and mind. I read all the sermons I could get hold of, but they did not satisfy me; somehow they did not deal with the whole passage as I thought the passage demanded; and I asked some of my preacher friends to preach from these words that I might hear them and see if I could get any light to help my poor struggling mind and heart, and they preached for me, but their sermons did not help me----not that they were not good sermons from the sermonic standpoint, but somehow or other I felt that the whole truth I wanted did not come that way. I studied the commentaries and they did not help me. We have dragged this text, `What must I do to be saved?' and the other, `Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,' out of their setting, and we have made them like a great classic, like that other great text in the third chapter of John: `God so loved the world.' We have treated that and several other texts in the same way, and we have blazoned them everywhere. We have hurled them at everybody, and we have said, `Believe! Believe! Believe!' until believing does not mean very much. I say we have dragged these words out of their context and we have not dealt with them justly.”

What an admirable spirit is this----diffident of his own understanding, getting wisdom with all of his getting, leaving no stone unturned in his search of it, and meanwhile delaying for fifteen years before he dared to preach from so simple a text as “What must I do to be saved?”----while thousands of men of less weight and wisdom were preaching false and shallow doctrine from it. When Gipsy dared at length to speak from this text, he had something of value to say. It was indeed a message from the one Shepherd. Not that the man saw everything clearly, but he had something true and valuable to contribute. Such a spirit is necessary in a faithful preacher of the word of God, and how much more so in a writer.

But to proceed. Though I have thus far limited my remarks to the writing of books, there is in fact much more involved in the making of many books than the writing of them. The printers and publishers of books certainly contribute a great deal more to the evil of making many books than the authors do----and often moved by nothing more spiritual than the sordid expectation of monetary gain. Therefore they print not what is good, but what will sell. Thus many of the best of books must lie forgotten in dusty libraries, while the market is flooded with the unsound, the unspiritual, and the worthless.

What, then? Do we expect publishers to publish what they cannot sell? We expect of them neither more nor less than God expects of them. We expect them to do the work of the Lord, whatever the cost, and whether it is popular or not. We expect Christian publishers to print nothing but what their Lord would have them to print. If there is no market for it, and yet they are called of God to print, then let them go forward by faith and prayer and labor and sweat and tears, and make a market for it. The fact of the matter is, the publishers of Christian books have a place of influence in the church high above that of hundreds of preachers all put together, and so much the greater need have they therefore of spiritual discernment, of faithfulness, and of single-eyed and uncompromising commitment to Christ and his truth. If money is to determine their course, let them by all means sell automobiles or real estate, and leave the making of books to men who are worthy of so high a trust. What an awful account will they have to give who have filled the church with many books, and most of them of the wrong sort. Even supposing they did this in ignorance, with nothing but the best of intentions, they will yet have no easy account to give, for publishers certainly have no more right to print such books than authors have to write them. How much worse if they have acted from mere selfish and worldly motives.


Discontent in a Good Place

by Glenn Conjurske

Some years ago I heard a recorded sermon on the prodigal son by Bob Jones the first, who was one of the great evangelists of modern times. He remarked that the prodigal's character was bad ere ever he left the father's house, the proof of his bad character being in the fact that he was discontented in a good place. Such discontent is common among men, and it is the proof indeed of a wrong state of heart. A proud heart, the lusts of the flesh, and the temptations of the devil are at the bottom of that discontent.

One of the most common places in which we see that discontent is in young people under the parental roof. As it was with the prodigal son, so it is with thousands of others. They are in a good place----probably a much better place than any they could carve out for themselves----yet discontented there. As the father said to the elder brother, so he could truly have said to the prodigal, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” Ever with a father who loved him, and watched over him, and advised him, and provided for him----yet discontented there. That discontent was of the flesh. He doubtless had no quarrel with the good things the father provided for him, but he wanted something he could not have under the parental roof. He wanted freedom from his father's authority. He wanted the liberty to do as he pleased. This is very often the reason for discontent in a good place, and this is not only of the flesh, but of the devil. Pride and lust are the root of it. Pride, in thinking that he knows better what is good for him than his father does, who is twice his age, and the lust of something which he cannot have under the wise and loving care of his father.

The devil destroyed Eve by making her discontented in a good place. This he did by occupying her heart with the thing which she was deprived of in her place, and making her to feel that it was necessary to her happiness. That being done, her soul was naturally filled with discontent, though she was in the very paradise of God. The gratitude, which ought to have welled up in her soul for all of the good which was freely given to her, died away. She was no more occupied with those good things. She was deprived of something----something which she thought essential to her welfare----and therefore dissatisfied with the good place she was in. That dissatisfaction was of course in reality dissatisfaction with God. Her faith----her belief in the goodness of God----had withered away under the foul suggestions of the fiend. She was a fallen creature----fallen in her heart----ere ever she put forth her hand to take the forbidden fruit, as the prodigal son was fallen in his heart ere ever he left his father's house.

If Eve's faith had not failed, with what ease she might have resisted the devil's insinuations. She might then have said, “Get thee behind me, foul fiend. My God has already proved his goodness to me by all of the delights of this paradise which he has given to me. I believe that he loves me. I believe that he is good to me. If this forbidden tree were in fact good for me, he would have given me that also, as he has freely given me every other tree in the garden. Nay, if the forbidden fruit is good for me, then he will give it to me, in his own time. For that I will wait. He doubtless has good reasons for withholding it from me now, but he will not do so for ever.” But alas, her faith failed, and with her faith failed her gratitude. She no more appreciated the good place she was in. In spite of all the good which was poured out upon her in such profusion, yet a general discontent filled her soul, leaving it wide open for the temptations of the devil. Would that discontented souls could perceive the dangers of their state!

But understand, though Eve was in a good place, her place was not yet perfect. There is no perfect bliss short of the bliss of heaven. Though in an earthly paradise, yet Eve was in fact deprived of something. She was deprived of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now we can hardly suppose that it was God's intention permanently to deprive men of the knowledge of good and evil. This he would no doubt teach them, but in his own time and way----a better way, of course, than that by which they learned it. God's ways are always better, but they usually take longer. Faith, filled with a sense of the goodness of God, and the ultimate blessing therefore of those who serve him, waits.

For good and wise reasons which we need not here rehearse, God often does deliberately put his people into places which leave much to be desired. The carnal see only what they are deprived of, and put forth their hand to take it, as Eve took the forbidden fruit. The hyperspiritual, on the other hand, profess that the place which God has given to them is perfect, and therefore become passive before God, and seek nothing more----but this is as much a failure of faith as that discontented impatience which will take all to itself with or without the will of God. Faith ceases not to desire what God has yet withheld, and to actively seek it----but to seek it from his hand, and meanwhile to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Ps. 37:7). Faith says, “Now therefore give me this mountain” (Josh. 14:12)----yet Caleb had waited forty and five years for it already. God says, “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” The devil says, “Put forth your hand and take it now.” The prodigal might have had “the portion of goods that falleth to me” in due time, but he was not willing to wait. He must have it now, before the proper time.

There is in fact a discontent which is perfectly consistent with faith and gratitude. But that discontent is submissive, pliant, and patient. And beyond all these, it is full of gratitude for the good already possessed. It appreciates the good place it has, while at the same time feeling that it leaves yet much to be desired, for there is no place under the sun----no church, no family, no situation under the sun----which is perfect. Though in a good place, and fully appreciating it, faith yet has desires, and it may be very strong and compelling desires. Faith is determined to right what is wrong, and to receive all that God has to give. It makes its requests known unto God, and it may be with strong crying and tears----yet “with thanksgiving” (Phil. 4:6), and yet with the patient submission which says, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” There is no sin in the discontent which seeks to remedy that which is wrong or deficient, while it abides with thankful heart in the good place which God has given.

The discontent which is sinful is of a different sort. It is primarily occupied with that which is denied or lacking, as Eve was with the forbidden fruit. This preoccupation with the defects of a good place, a good father, a good church, a good shepherd, or a good position, breeds a general discontent which is characterized by a restless impatience and a peevish ingratitude. This it was that made the prodigal discontented in the father's house, and Eve dissatisfied in the very paradise of God. This it is that has made many young people discontented under the parental roof. This it is that has made many souls dissatisfied under the ministry of a man of God. This it is that has moved them to leave the green pastures which they had in a good church, and seek out another, which often proves to be dry and barren. Such discontented souls not only preoccupy themselves with what is wrong, but usually magnify every little defect, and imagine a great deal of wrong which does not exist----their own spirit being the primary thing which is really at fault----while at the same time minimizing or overlooking a great deal of real and substantial good.

But in the good providence of God such discontented souls usually become a scourge to themselves. They quite commonly leave a good place for a bad one, as the prodigal son did. “Many a one,” says an old Italian proverb, “leaves the roast, who afterwards longs for the smoke of it.” There is a God in heaven, who watches over the peevish and restless ingratitude of such souls, and gives them the desire of their hearts, and sends leanness into their souls (Ps. 106:15). When the prodigal son left the father's house, with money in his pockets, smiles on his face, a spring in his step, and grand ideas in his head, he little dreamed that one day, humbled and broken, he would have to drag his weary feet back over every inch of the same path which he was now treading with so light a heart. But so it must be, for there is a righteous God in heaven.

Yet sometimes by chance such discontented souls happen to leave a good place for a better. But what avails it? Those who cannot be contented in a good place can no more be contented in a better one. Their discontent flows from a wrong state of heart, and as an old proverb says, “A discontented man knows not where to sit easy.” His discontent proceeds from his heart, not from his circumstances. He cannot be contented anywhere. Put such a soul into lush green pastures, and yet the grass will be greener on the other side of the fence. He would be dissatisfied in Paradise, as Eve was.

Churches, therefore, make a great mistake when they receive such discontented souls into their bosom. If they leave one church to join another, humbled for their own past failures, with proper love for those they are leaving behind, and with gratitude for all that they have received there, but yet compelled by Scripture and conscience to adhere to truer principles, all may be well. Simple faithfulness sometimes requires such of men, and I have nothing to say against it. But there is a proper spirit in which this is to be done. If they are filled with a general discontent, judging the church they have left instead of judging themselves, they will prove a scourge to the church which receives them. The general discontent of their hearts will manifest itself there as it did where they were before, though all will be rosy for a time, as it was with the prodigal in the far country. Thus I have known a man who left one church to join another, complaining of the low standards and the bad doctrine of the church he was leaving, and praising the church he went to join, and yet in a few months' time he was just as discontented with the new one, and left it to go back to the old one. Unless his heart is changed by self-judgement, as the prodigal's was, he will no doubt be dissatisfied still. Others I have known who proceed from church to church, always dissatisfied, always judging “the church” or its leadership instead of themselves (though they are part of the church), and always murmuring and spreading discontent. Such discontent is not the holy fruit of faith, but the unholy fruit of pride.

Yet there is a very good hope for such discontented souls. That hope is in repentance and self-judgement, and it often happens that the lean place in which they find themselves, after they have left the fat one, causes them to come to themselves as the prodigal did, and judge themselves, and return to the place of fatness, scourged and humbled and grateful. The story of the prodigal son has a very happy ending, and the prodigal in the lean place presents a very striking and beautiful contrast to the same prodigal when he was in the fat place. When he was in the good place----tenderly cared for and abundantly provided for----he was filled with an unholy discontent with his place and his surroundings, judging the worthy father who thus cared for him, chafing under the household rules, fretting for his want of liberty, and restless to be gone. But when he was in the bad place----destitute of all things, and no man giving unto him----he was filled with a holy discontent, judging himself instead of his surroundings and his associates (though they were unworthy), and purposing in humble faith to arise and be gone.

Now if the reader of these lines is one of those discontented souls----whether still fretting and restless in a fat place, or strayed away already to a lean one----may God grant him to see himself in the sketches which I have drawn above, and to judge himself as the prodigal did in the far country, and return indeed to the place of marrow and fatness, and do so with the humble and grateful heart which is necessary to appreciate and enjoy it.

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Three Baptist Evangelists

American Baptists in the latter part of the nineteenth century were blessed by the ministry of three evangelists, or revivalists, as they might now be called. Those three were

Jacob Knapp (1799-1874),

Jabez Swan (1800-?),

A. B. Earle (1812-1895).

These men are all worth knowing, though information on them is scanty enough. They were described as follows in 1873, in the biography of Swan: “In our Baptist churches, three men are now familiarly known as Evangelists. Brethren Swan, Knapp, and Earle. Each has been abundant in labors, and each has been wonderfully successful. Each labors in a different manner. Brother Earle, if not convincing is persuasive; he has marvelous tact. Elder Knapp is Thor. Woe to him who comes before his sledge hammer. He preaches with clenched fists; albeit he said in a sermon, `I never struck a man; I'd never strike a mosquito if he wouldn't sing before he'd bite.' Elder Swan is mighty in the scriptures, and an archangel in prayer.”

The life of Jacob Knapp is well told in Autobiography of Elder Jacob Knapp, a book of 341 pages, published in 1868, with an introductory essay on Knapp and his ministry, by R. Jeffery. The book also contains a short section of Knapp's views on various subjects connected with evangelism, and five of his sermons.

Swan's life is told, largely by himself, in The Evangelist: or Life and Labors of Jabez S. Swan, edited by F. Denison, a book of 466 pages, first published in 1873. Swan was a man of depth as well as power, and this is a good record of his work, and his views on various subjects.

Something of A. B. Earle's work is recorded in several of his books. Bringing in Sheaves, a substantial book of 384 pages, was first published in 1868. It went through several printings, and is an excellent book. Winning Souls (501 pages, 1891) gives the sermons and other exercises from one of his campaigns. Incidents used by A. B. Earle in his Meetings is a small book of anecdotes published in 1888. The Work of an Evangelist I have never seen, though I have sought it for many years. The Rest of Faith (1871) is a book of 96 very small pages, on what some would probably call “the deeper life,” or “the higher life.” It contains some account of his personal experience. (Jabez Swan, on the other hand, would not have endorsed this book, for he says, “To me, the notion of this higher-life is a perfect delusion, and I think it will work evil in the end.” I am with Swan on this.)

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor


The word “conversation” appears a number of times in the common English Bible, and in no case does it have anything to do with speech. This ought to be evident in I Peter 3:1, where we read, “Likewise ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” “The word” here, which they are to be won “without,” of course cannot be the word of God as such, for no man can be saved without the word of God. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” and numerous other scriptures testify the same. But these men have already heard the word, and are disobedient to it. Such may be saved without the preaching (or nagging or scolding) of the wives, by their conversation. This is clearer in the Greek than it is in the English, for “word” has no definite article, and the phrase may be translated “without a word.” The women are to win their husbands without speaking, by their conversation.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives, as one archaic sense of “conversation,” “Manner of conducting oneself in the world or in society; behaviour, mode or course of life.” Thus, husbands who are disobedient to the word of God are to be won by the conduct, behavior, and demeanor of the wives, without the preaching of those wives. This of course does not mean that no wife ought ever to preach to her ungodly husband. Far from that. Every wife in such a situation ought to preach as much as she can without doing harm by it. The difficulty is that such preaching from a wife is likely to have a negative effect upon an obstinate husband, especially if her preaching is perceived to be nagging, while her pure living will have a positive effect.

This----conduct or behavior----is the meaning of “conversation” in most of the places in which it appears in the English Bible. Thus:

Gal. 1:13----“Ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God.”

Jas. 3:13----“Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”

II Pet. 2:7----“Vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.”

II Pet. 3:11----“What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”

In all these “conduct” or “behavior” is the meaning, but it should be understood that it does not speak of conduct or behavior on a particular occasion (as we generally use the words) but to a person's conduct in general, his manner of life, or his walk, as the Bible speaks. So we find the word “conversation” twice in the Old Testament, both times from the Hebrew Er#d#, or “way.” Thus in Psalm 37:14, where the our English Version translates “such as be of upright conversation,” the first printed English Psalter (“Iohan Aleph,” 1530) has “the right treders in the waye,” George Joye's Psalter (1534) “them that go the right waye,” and Coverdale (1535) “soch as go ye right way.” The Great Bible (1539) altered this to “such as be of righte conuersacion,” and the Geneva Bible (1560) to“suche as be of vpright conuersation.”

This is not the only sense of the word “conversation” in the English Bible, however. The Oxford English Dictionary also defines “conversation” as “The action of living or having one's being in a place or among persons”----that is, to dwell, to sojourn, or to live. This is its meaning in

II Cor. 1:12----“In simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.”

Eph. 2:3----“Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh.”

It is doubtless in this sense also that the word is employed in Phil. 1:27, and 3:20. In the former we read, “Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” Here, however, the Greek word is entirely different. It is v , whence come our “polity,” “politics,” etc. The Greek v means properly “to be a citizen,” but it may also bear the sense “to conduct ourselves,” or, as we would ordinarily say, simply “to live.” It is so translated in this verse in the Wycliffe Bible, which says, “Oneli lyue 3e worêili to êe gospel of Crist.” It is so translated also in the King James Version in Acts 23:1, where Paul says, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”

The noun of the same root is used in Phil. 3:20, and this I believe is improperly translated “conversation.” v is a state or commonwealth, or its laws or constitution, or the administration of the same. This is its real and proper meaning, which is lost altogether in rendering it “conversation”----and with it is lost very important truth, which the Fundamental church stands in great need of at the present hour. The revised version has, “For our citizenship is in heaven,” with “commonwealth” in the margin. Darby has “our commonwealth.” This is its real meaning, and it is for lack of understanding of this that we now have the church flooded with “dominion theology,” “Christian politics,” and even the bold assertion of some who call themselves Fundamentalists that “Christianity is politics”----meaning, of course, the “politics” of this world, which is in fact under the “dominion” of the devil, and will remain so until the devil is bound at the coming of Christ. I add as a very interesting side light on this, that Murdock's literal translation of the Syriac Peshitto has in this verse, “Our concern is with heaven”----not a very literal rendering of the Greek, but it nevertheless well expresses the undoubted consequence of it. The Christians of the second century, who produced the Peshitto, understood this much better than does the church of our day.


R. C. Trench on Archaic Language in the Bible

[Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-1886) was a clergyman in the Church of England, and at the close of his life an Archbishop. He was one of the most learned men of his day, and his learning was not of the merely scholastic type, for he was wise as well as learned. There is solid wisdom in the following extract. This was written in 1858, long before the appearance of even the Revised Version. I dare say if he were to come back to the land of the living today, and see “what manner of stuff is” now being “offered to us in exchange for the language of our Authorized Version,” he would humbly beg to be sent back to his grave.----editor.]

In dealing with obsolete words, the case is not by any means so plain. And yet it does not seem difficult to lay down a rule here; the difficulties would mainly attend its application. The rule would seem to me to be this: Where words have become perfectly unintelligible to the great body of those for whom the translation is made, the j ' of the Church, they ought clearly to be exchanged for others; for the Bible works not as a charm, but as reaching the heart and conscience through the intelligent faculties of its hearers and readers. Thus it is with `taches,' `ouches,' `bolled,' `ear' (arare), `daysman,' in the Old Testament, words dark even to scholars, where their scholarship is rather in Latin and Greek than in early English. Of these, however, there is hardly one in the New Testament. There is, indeed, in it no inconsiderable amount of archaism, but standing on a quite different footing; words which, while they are felt by our people to be old and unusual, are yet, if I do not deceive myself, perfectly understood by them, by wise and simple, educated and uneducated alike. These, shedding round the sacred volume the reverence of age, removing it from the ignoble associations which will often cleave to the language of the day, should on no account be touched, but rather thankfully accepted and carefully preserved. For, indeed, it is good that the phraseology of Scripture should not be exactly that of our common life; should be removed from the vulgarities, and even the familiarities, of this; just as there is a sense of fitness which dictated that the architecture of a church should be different from that of a house.

It might seem superfluous to urge this; yet it is far from being so. It is well-nigh incredible what words it has been sometimes proposed to dismiss from our Version, on the ground that they “are now almost or entirely obsolete.” Symonds thinks “clean escaped” (2 Pet. ii.18) “a very low expression;” and, on the plea of obsoleteness, Wemyss proposed to get rid of `straightway,' `haply,' `twain,' `athirst,' `wax,' `lack,' `ensample,' `jeopardy,' `garner,' `passion,' with a multitude of other words not a whit more apart from our ordinary use. Purver, whose New and Literal Translation of the Old and New Testament appeared in 1764, has an enormous list of expressions that are “clownish, barbarous, base, hard, technical, misapplied, or new coined;” and among these are `beguile,' `boisterous,' `lineage,' `perseverance,' `potentate,' `remit,' `seducers,' `shorn,' `swerved,' `vigilant,' `unloose,' `unction,' `vocation.' For each of these (many hundreds in number) he proposes to substitute some other.

This retaining of the old diction in all places where a higher interest, that, namely, of being understood by all, did not imperatively require the substitution of another phrase, would be most needful, not merely for the reverence which attaches to it, and for the avoiding every unnecessary disturbance in the minds of the people, but for the shunning of another and not a trivial harm. Were the substitution of new for old carried out to any large extent, this most injurious consequence would follow, that our Translation would be no longer of a piece, not any more one web and woof, but in part English of the seventeenth century, in part English of the nineteenth. Now, granting that nineteenth-century English is as good as seventeenth, of which there may be very serious doubts, still they are not the same; the differences between them are considerable: some of these we can explain, others we must be content only to feel. But even those who could not explain any part of them would yet be conscious of them, would be pained by a sense of incongruity, of new patches on an old garment, and the one failing to agree with the other. Now, all will admit that it is of vast importance that the Bible of the nation should be a book capable of being read with delight----I mean quite apart from its higher claim as God's Word to be read with devoutest reverence and honor. It can be so read now. But the sense of pleasure in it, I mean merely as the first English classic, would be greatly impaired by any alterations which seriously affected the homogeneousness of its style. And this, it must be remembered, is a danger altogether new, one which did not at all beset the fomer revisions. From Tyndale's first edition of his New Testament in 1526 to the Authorized Version there elapsed in all but eighty-five years, and this period was divided into four or five briefer portions by Cranmer's, Coverdale's, the Geneva, the Bishops' Bible, which were published in the interval between one date and the other. But from the date of King James's Translation (1611) to the present day nearly two hundred and fifty years have elapsed; and more than this time, it is to be hoped, will have elapsed before any steps are actually taken in this matter. When we argue for the facilities of revision now from the facilities of revision on previous occasions, we must not forget that the long period of time which has elapsed since our last revision, so very much longer than lay between any of the preceding, has made many precautions necessary now which would have been superfluous then.

Certainly, too, when we read what manner of stuff is offered to us in exchange for the language of our Authorized Version, we learn to prize it more highly than ever. Indeed, we hardly know the immeasurable worth of its religious diction till we set this side by side with what oftentimes is proffered in its room.

----On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, by Richard Chenevix Trench; New York: Redfield, 1858, pp. 35-39.


+“Reading novels, like smoking opium, creates beatific visions, which die away like the colors on soap bubbles, and leave the reader wretched and dissatisfied.”----The Story of a Working Man's Life, by Francis Mason (1799-1874, Baptist missionary to Burmah); New York: Oakley, Mason, & Co., pg. 45.

The Teacher's Danger

A Plea for Evangelism, by C. I. Scofield (1843-1921)

[Scofield was known as a “Bible teacher,” as are many who follow him today. Evangelism is often neglected by them, and sometimes belittled, so that the following “message to Bible teachers” is as pertinent today as it was when Scofield uttered it. It is given below exactly as it appeared on page 412 of Serving and Waiting, (“Official Organ of the Philadelphia School of the Bible, C. I. Scofield, President”), edited by William Pettingill, volume 8 (1918-1919).----editor.]



The following letter has been addressed by Dr. C. I. Scofield to each of a large number of Bible teachers in the United States, Canada, and England. The exhortation comes with great force, since it comes from “such an one as” Scofield “the aged,” just after he has been snatched out of the very jaws of death in answer to prayer on his behalf, as related in an editorial paragraph elsewhere in this magazine:

“JANUARY 23, 1919.


“You and I are Bible teachers. It is of Christ's grace, and is a great gift. But near to it is a great danger.

“For many months I have, through physical disability, been laid aside from all oral ministry. During this time it has been increasingly pressed upon me that I should beg the forbearance of my teaching brethren, while I state in plain terms the teacher's danger.

“In a word, it is neglect of the gospel message to the unsaved. But, brother, that is the great message. It is sweet and needful to feed the flock of Christ, but it was to seek and to save lost men that Jesus came, died and rose again. It is not enough to repeat gospel texts, and say: `Come to Jesus.' There is a tender seeking note in the gospel, truly preached. How many gospel sermons did you preach in 1918? How many found salvation under your ministry? Let us make 1919 a mighty, tireless effort to save lost men.

“Yours in Christ's love,



Editorial Policies

Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts such articles if they are judged to be 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.