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Vol. 4, No. 2
Feb., 1995

All That Is In The World

by Glenn Conjurske

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I John 2:16).

Though this is one of the most important statements in the New Testament, it is very little understood. The first thing, then, must be to establish its plain grammatical sense. The three phrases, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” stand between the subject of the sentence and its verb, and this seems to obscure the real sense of the sentence in the minds of many. The subject of the sentence is “all”----all that is in the world. The verb of the sentence is the word “is,” which stands after the three descriptive phrases just named. The sentence is not affirming that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are not of the Father----that much, indeed, might go without saying----but rather, that all that is in the world is not of the Father. The singular verb belongs to the singular subject, and not to the plurality of things which stands between them. The phrases which stand between the subject and the verb stand in the place of appositives, and give the character of “all that is in the world,” but no way affect the grammatical construction of the sentence.

But this brings us to a further difficulty, which is caused by the difference in idiom between the Greek and the English. If we say in English, “All that is in the world is not of the Father,” the natural meaning would be, Some of it is of the Father, and some of it is not. So if I say in English, “All of these children are not mine,” the hearer of my statement would think that some of the children were mine, and some not. But if I made exactly the same statement in Greek, it could only mean, “None of these children are mine.” To affirm in Greek that only some of the children were mine, I must rather say, “Not all of these children are mine.” In that case, the word “not” would negate the word “all,” before which it appears. But if I say (in Greek), “All are not,” the word “not” must negate the verb “are” (before which it would appear in the Greek, though we must invert the order to make English of it).

Now then, I John 2:16 does not say, “Not all that is in the world is of the Father,” but rather, “All that is in the world is not of the Father,” and the true and only meaning of this is, “Nothing that is in the world is of the Father.” This will be easy enough to prove, for the New Testament contains a good number of examples of exactly the same grammatical construction, where there can be no doubt whatever of the meaning. Nor need we go far to find them. Another appears but five verses below our text:

I John 2:21----“no lie is of the truth,” where the Greek has “every lie is not of the truth.” (And it should be pointed out also that “all” and “every” are the same word in the Greek.) Now to render in English, “every lie is not of the truth” would make it appear that some lies possibly are of the truth. Therefore our translators very properly turn “every lie is not of the truth” into “no lie is of the truth,” which is its true and only meaning. Again,

I John 3:15----“no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” where the Greek has, “every murderer has not eternal life,” &c. To translate in the latter way, again, would give a possible false meaning to the English, making it to appear that some murderers may have eternal life abiding in them.

Heb. 12:11----“no chastening...seemeth to be joyous,” where the Greek has “all chastening does not seem to be joyous.”

II Pet. 1:20----“no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation,” the Greek being “every prophecy of the Scripture is not of any private interpretation.”

Eph. 4:29----“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,” where the Greek says, “Let every corrupt communication not proceed out of your mouth.”

Eph. 5:5----“No whoremonger, nor unclean person, [&c.] hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” But the Greek says, “Every whoremonger ...does not have an inheritance” &c.

Gal. 2:16----“for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” where the Greek original tells us, “all flesh shall not be justified by the works of the law.”

On the contrary, when the Greek wishes to express the fact that some are and some are not, it must invert the word order (putting “not” before “all” rather than before the verb), and say “not all are,” rather than “all are not,” which latter would mean that none are. Of this I give one example. In Romans 9:6 we read, literally, “Not all who are of Israel, these are Israel,” meaning that some are, and some are not. Some of those who are of the natural Israel are the spiritual Israel, and some are not. This he enforces with the facts that not all the natural sons of either Abraham or Isaac were counted as the spiritual seed.

All of the above examples (excepting the last one) present to us the very same idiom in the Greek as is found in I John 2:16, and they prove beyond question that the only permissible meaning of our text is, “Nothing that is in the world...is of the Father.” If it be asked, Then why did not the translators render it so? the reason is obvious enough. The three phrases which stand as appositives between the subject and the verb put a bar in the way of such a rendering. It is quite natural to see these broad descriptives standing in apposition to “all,” but it would appear somewhat strange to see them standing in that relation to “nothing.” This is no doubt the consideration which moved the translators to render as they did.

Having thus established the true grammatical content of the sentence, it behooves us to consider its spiritual and practical content, which is weighty enough. It is in fact one of the most striking condemnations which could be penned of that system which the Bible calls “the world.” Nothing which is in it is of the Father. In this the statement agrees exactly with the corresponding text which says, “The whole world lieth in the wicked one.” (I John 5:19). The latter statement may be thought to refer to persons, and it no doubt does, being in contrast to “we,” who are of God. But it need not be limited to persons, for the world is an ordered system (as the very word “world” means), and does not consist of mere isolated persons, but rather of those persons as bound together in Society, by various political, cultural, economic, commercial, and religious ties. Those ties which thus bind the people of the world together in a vast organized system are as properly “the world” as are the people who are in it. In the text of this article, “all that is in the world” cannot refer to persons, for “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” are not persons, but things. And the verse immediately preceding that text says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” Those “things” are not people, but are rather the goods and affairs and concerns and arrangements and philosophies and institutions which form the bonds and ties that unite those otherwise isolated individuals together in a vast system----and all lying in the wicked one. And here it should be observed that “the things that are in the world” are certainly not merely material things, but rather philosophies, institutions, trends, associations, customs, and ways. Material things are of course a part of it, but certainly not all.

Pay heed, then, to the plain declaration of our text. Nothing that is in the world is of the Father. Nothing in all that vast system proceeds from the Father, or has its sphere in him. But many Christians, who have but little understanding of what the world is, or why it exists, will balk at this. Some will even go so far as to suppose the very opposite----that all that is in the world is of the Father, for is he not the creator and sustainer of it all? Most Christians, however, rather divide the world into the good and the evil. They plainly see that there is very much that is evil on the radio and the television, but suppose that there is also much that is good. They see great evils in the public school system, but suppose that much of it is good as well. Twenty-five years ago I was speaking with a Christian friend concerning the school system. He remarked that it was strange that certain Christians were making such an issue over the efforts of the liberals to ban the Bible from the public schools, when (as he said), “one third of everything in the public schools has been of the devil all along.” “No,” said I----“three thirds.” This was a completely new thought to him, but my basis for the statement was the plain declaration of the apostle John, “All that is in the world is not of the Father.”

But you will say, Reading and writing are certainly of God. Yes, certainly----but not the world's reading. God is the creator of many things which the world contains, of course. But the devil is the corrupter of them, and the places which they fill and the uses to which they are put in the world are not of God. God created the building blocks out of which the devil has fashioned the world, but the system which the devil has built of them is not of God. God created human language, but the use to which the world puts it is against God. Man himself is not only created by God, but even created in his own image, yet the wicked are not of God. Nor is the lying tongue, though God created it. Nor is the actress, nor her act either, though God created her----body, soul, and spirit, beauty, charm, and wit. Nor are the idols of gold and silver and wood and stone, though God made all of those. Nor is anything that is in the world, though it is all fashioned from his creation, for as surely as the devil has perverted man from the purpose for which God created him, so has he perverted all the lower creation also. Yet it must be understood that John does not speak of all that is on the earth, but of all that is in the world. The devil has not yet engrossed every item on the earth, nor drawn every flower of the field nor every bird of the forest within his grasp. But the world----Society----civilization----this is his own domain, and all that is in the world is not of the Father. Though everything which the world is made of (everything but sin) exists only by God's creation, yet as part of the world it is divorced from him. Yet Christians can see no wrong in many things which are of the world. What then? Their spiritual eyes are but dim. If they could but see with the eyes of God, they would see evil enough, for they would see the devil's fingerprints upon every facet of the very existence and purpose of “all that is in the world.” Suppose that we can see no evil in such and such things of the world, what then? Let it suffice us that God has said, “All that is in the world is not of the Father.”

The world is against God, and so thoroughly so that “whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4). The devil is both the ruler and the god of the world, and he is frankly too wise to stand at the head of a system which is half for God and half against him. The whole of it is against God. All of the devil's unequalled wisdom, serpentine cunning, immense power, and intense hatred to all that is of God, are united together to produce a system which is wholly against God, and against God in all its parts. Yet “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14), and nothing will suit him so well as that men should believe that his system is good, or that Christians should believe that it is of God, in whole or in part. To promote this view is no doubt one of the devil's primary concerns, and this he does in the world by means of all liberal theology, and all New Age dreams. And in the church he promotes this view by the doctrines of amillennialism and post-millennialism. If these doctrines were no more than false views of what shall be, they would not be half so pernicious as they are, but they are in fact false views of what is, and they are often effectual in blinding their adherents entirely as to the character, tendency, and end of the world----amillennialism holding the Satanic fiction that Satan is now bound (while that same Satan reigns supreme as the prince and god of the whole world!----and is shortly to be worshipped by the whole world!), while post-millennialism holds that the course of the present world tends to the kingdom of God, and views the great civilization which the devil has engineered on the earth as the work of God.

But the world is the rival of Christ. It is the enemy of God. It is the devil's substitute for God, and the purpose of its existence is to keep man from God. This it does (under the master-mind of Satan) by contriving to satisfy every need of the human heart, mind, and conscience without God----by making man secure, comfortable, and happy in the broad paths of sin, which lead to destruction. A thousand things, therefore, which are in fact the creation of God, and would be perfectly innocent in themselves, are not “of the Father” as incorporated into this system. Christians who have no understanding of what the world is, why it exists, or where it is going, may contend that much of it is good. Especially is this claim made for modern technology, medical science, and such like things, and yet in these very things we see the fullest manifestation of the devil's wisdom, power, and success, in providing for the heart of man an effectual substitute for all that is of God. Do these things draw men to God, or keep them from him? God by design has created man in weakness, with a myriad of needs of every sort, and it is need which draws man to God, who is the great Lover and Giver of the universe, and the source of every good and perfect gift. The devil understands this thoroughly, and has provided, in the world, a system which contrives to meet all of those needs without God, and so to effectually keep man from God. But the devil outdoes the great Giver, for he engages himself not only to provide for the needs of man, but also to fulfill his every lust. The devil freely gives what God has forbidden. While God requires present self-denial, the devil offers present self-indulgence, without stint or limit. While God requires you to paddle your lonely canoe upstream, against a strong current, to the place of joy and rest and safety which he has promised, the devil invites you to drift lazily with the current, in a floating palace, full of good cheer and good things----and deliberately blinds your eyes to the cataract over which the whole must shortly plunge. If he cannot blind your eyes entirely----for conscience is hard to down----he appeases your conscience with false and dead religions. Such is the world. Men behold the leaf or the bubble on the surface of the river, and contend that they are perfectly innocent. The water itself, they say, is good. Meanwhile they fail altogether to perceive the deep current which bears it all, nor the tendency of that current, nor the cataract below, to which it all flows.

But “All that is in the world,” as thus constituted, “is not of the Father.” Its existence and the reason for its existence are alike against God. The things which make up the world, though created originally by God, yet in their present arrangement and formation are “not of the Father.” The tendency of it is always downward, always away from God, always against his testimony and his cause. “All that is in the world,” even the most beautiful and noble things in the creation of God, as thus arranged and associated (as part of the world, that is), must be characterized as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.”

“The lust of the flesh,” as it appears in all of the smut and filth which fill the theater and television screens, the popular music and art, and the popular books and magazines, is of course condemned by the Christians. But “the pride of life,” as found in the same radio and television and books and magazines and music and art, they may approve or applaud. The very spirit which built the tower of Babel, the same spirit which built “great Babylon,” reigns unchecked in the world through which they walk, unperceived, unjudged, and perhaps approved by them. But let a man once understand what the world is, and why it is, and whither it tends, and he ceases to view it as good at all. He no longer speaks of the good which is on television, or in the public school system, or in the nation's politics, or in its sports or its books and magazines. He sees the whole world lying in the wicked one, the current all pulling one way, and that, of course, away from God and truth and holiness. He sees, in short, that “all that is in the world is not of the Father.”

Hitherto I have said but little as to what our relationship ought to be to “the things that are in the world,” my design being rather to delineate its character. But the question will naturally be raised. And like a thousand other questions, it is easier to ask than to answer, so far at least as details are concerned. There is, of course, danger on both sides----danger of carnality, and danger of hyperspirituality. A single eye and common sense will keep us from both. Our using the world has the evident sanction of God (I Cor. 7:29-31), but we are forbidden to love it. And even our using it must necessarily be with restraint and caution. We may wrench a little of it out of the devil's grasp here or there, for the necessities of life, or for the work of the Lord. But if we begin to use it too freely, and lose sight of its origin, its character, its course, and its end, we shall soon enough fall to loving it.

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor

“As Not Abusing It”

These words appear in I Cor. 7:31. I suggest that the word “abuse” is too strong, and rather diverts the mind from the true sense of the passage.

First, observe the context: Paul exhorts the saints that, ere they marry, they should consider the trouble it will bring them in the flesh (verse 28). He exhorts them to consider refraining from marriage, that they might be without carefulness, and attend upon the Lord without distraction (verses 32-35). In the midst of this exhortation, he enforces it by the transitory nature of all things here. Thus, in verses 29-31, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away.”

Thus he contrasts the present state with the eternal. (“Though” is not in the Greek. The meaning is simply, “they that have wives, as not having,” etc.) Now in each of these contrasting pairs, the second half is the simple setting aside of the first half. “They that have wives, as though they had none----they that weep, as though they wept not,” &c. The things which occupy us here will have passed away there, “for the fashion of this world passeth away”----and the time in which they remain is but short. Coming to the last of these contrasts, then, we should expect to read, “they that use this world, as not using it.” We should expect, in other words, the second half of the contrast to contain the simple setting aside of the first, as in all the other pairs. But instead of this we read “abuse,” which seems to set up a different kind of contrast altogether----not a simple contrast between the present use or possession, and the future absence of it (as in all the other pairs), but a contrast between a right and a wrong use of it.

Yet before proceeding with this train of thought, it will be necessary to point out that “using” and “abusing” are in fact two different words in the Greek. “Using” is v , and “abusing” is v . These two, it will be seen, are the same word in essence, but the second is strengthened by the prefix v. Yet I suggest that the difference between the two words is not so great as would be suggested by “use” and “abuse.” Many, in fact, contend that v is practically equivalent to v , and that we ought to read simply, “they that use this world, as not using it.” This, as we have seen, would exactly suit the context.

But if so, if Paul actually meant the same thing in both clauses, why did he use a different word in the second? I suppose that his primary thought and argument is, according to the context, “they that use this world, as not using it,” but in prefixing v he casts a side glance at the Corinthians' reigning as kings, which he had rebuked earlier in the epistle. So Bloomfield: “Thus is glanced a censure at the too luxurious way of living among some Christians at this seat of Grecian profligacy.”1 And Wordsworth well says on the prefixed v: “It denotes a downward affection of the mind, which shows itself by a riveted devotion to its object, and may be illustrated by the attitude and temper of the men of Gideon who fell down on their knees to gulp down the water, in contradistinction to the three hundred who only lapped it, and passed on (Judges vii.6). This was the trial and test prescribed by God (vii.4). They who lapped were chosen: the others were rejected. The one were v , the other v .”2

This is true enough, and well said. But “abusing” is too strong a word for this. Thus Godet writes “It is a mistake here to translate ' in the sense of abusing; for there never is for any one a time of abusing. To the notion of the simple ' , to make use of, the preposition v adds, as in the preceding verb, a shade of tenacity, carnal security, false independence.”3

But how that shade of tenacity is to be expressed in English, without upsetting the main argument (as “abuse” does)----this is not so easy, and after noting the various attempts which have been made after it, I venture to question whether it is possible. Various renderings have been suggested. Robert Young: “those using this world, as not using it up.” Henry Alford: “they that use this world, as not using it to the full.” So in his “Authorized Version Revised,” but in his Greek Testament he has, “they who use the world, as not using it in full. So, or merely `as not using it.”' He rejects “abusing,” because it “destroys the parallel.” And that parallel----“those using this world as not using it”----I believe to be the point of primary importance in the verse, while whatever is added by the prefixed v is only incidental. And since it does not seem possible to retain both in the translation, I judge it best to translate, “they that use this world, as not using it,” and reserve any further elucidation for a note in the margin.

After I had written thus far, I determined to check the early English versions, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they speak with one voice for the rendering which I recommend. Thus:

Both Wycliffe versions----“êei êat vsen êis world, as êei êat vsen not.”

Tyndale (1526)----“they that vse this worlde/ be as though they vsed it not.” The same in Tyndale's revisions, Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, and the Great Bible.

Geneva N. T. (1557)----“they that vse this worlde, as thogh they vsed it not.” The same in the Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishops' Bible of 1568, and the Rheims N. T. of 1582.

The Bishops' Bible as revised in 1572, however, read “they that vse this worlde, as not abusing it,” and the King James Version followed this, but the old rendering was better.

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Fundamentalist History and Biography

A Fundamentalist may generally be defined as one who stands for the fundamentals of the faith. The Fundamentalist movement, in its full development, usually also included separation from churches and institutions which questioned or denied the fundamentals. If, however, we were to insist upon this separation as a part of our definition, we would thereby exclude many of the most prominent men of the movement, such as W. B. Riley, who did not leave the Northern Baptist denomination until 1947, the year in which he died. It is also a little difficult to date exactly where the Fundamentalist movement began, for there have always been men who stood for the fundamentals of the faith. The Fundamentalist movement, however, developed as a response to the widespread denial of the fundamentals by modernists, which swept through the church in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The prototype of Fundamentalists is C. H. Spurgeon, who separated from the Baptist Union in 1887, as soon as it became apparent that modernism was sheltered in the Union. But the Fundamentalist movement did not develop until some years afterwards, and when it did, it was an American movement.

Though evangelism has always occupied a very large place in Fundamentalism, its primary emphasis has usually been upon soundness in doctrine, so much so that most of the movement has manifested but little interest in its own history, or in the lives of its leaders. This I believe to be the main reason why the lives of many of the most prominent leaders of the movement have never been written. Another reason doubtless lies in the fact that the movement has produced but few men whose lives would inspire anybody to record them. A good case in point is C. I. Scofield, probably the most influential man in establishing the theology of the movement. There is but little to say about a man whose labors were primarily scholastic, and who describes his own life as “chiefly one of drudgery.” Yet a meager biography of him was written by Charles Gallaudet Trumbull, entitled Life Story of C. I. Scofield, published in 1920----a small book of 138 pages, containing no information beyond the completion of the Scofield Reference Bible. This book is scarce. The History of the Scofield Reference Bible, a small book of 71 pages by A. C. Gaebelein, contains good information on Scofield, and some other persons and events in Fundamentalism.

Half a Century, by A. C. Gaebelein, published in 1930, is an interesting, but of course incomplete, autobiography. 1983 saw the publication of Arno C. Gaebelein, by David A. Rausch. This is worth having, but hardly worth the $69.95 which the publisher wants for it.

Dr. Gray at Moody Bible Institute, by William M. Runyan, published in 1935, is not a full biography, and does not profess to be. It recounts James M. Gray's relationship to D. L. Moody, and his work at the Moody Bible Institute. I also have a small tract by Gray entitled “The Story of My Conversion,” and a Moody Bible Institute Bulletin, dated November, 1935, containing a notice of his death and tributes by his colleagues.

On the Moody Bible Institute, Moody Bible Institute: A Pictorial History, by Bernard De Rimmer (1960) contains excellent historical information, and dozens of photographs----but not all of a spiritual character.

The Dynamic of a Dream is a very interesting and well written life of W. B. Riley, by his second wife, Marie Acomb Riley. It was published in 1938, nine years before his death, and contains only 200 pages. But the authoress was in love, and smitten with a very good case of admiration for her subject, and this makes for a good book. We wish it were twice the size it is, and that it contained an account of his last nine years. This book is also scarce.

A. C. Dixon's life was also written by his second wife, Helen C. A. Dixon (the widow of Charles M. Alexander, and the author of his life also). Its title is A. C. Dixon: A Romance of Preaching, a book of 324 large pages, well indexed, with twenty illustrations. The book is satisfactory for information concerning most of Dixon's life, but lacks the glowing enthusiasm of Riley's biography. I believe the writer was a little too tame to do justice to either Dixon or Fundamentalism.

E. Schuyler English contributed two biographies. The first is Robert G. Lee: A Chosen Vessel, a large and profusely illustrated volume, but published in 1949, many years before Lee's death. The second is a life of Harry Ironside, entitled Ordained of the Lord, published in 1946, and expanded and rewritten in 1976. Ironside himself wrote Random Rem-iniscences from Fifty Years of Ministry, which is brief but interesting.

Probably the most influential of more recent Fundamentalists is J. Frank Norris, whose image is indelibly stamped on the Independent Baptist movement. He was certainly one of the most colorful personalities in the movement----like Billy Sunday, his own original----and one of the most interesting of books on the subject of this chat is Inside History of First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, and Temple Baptist Church, Detroit, subtitled “Life Story of Dr. J. Frank Norris.” This is neither a full history of Norris's churches, nor a full life of Norris, but it does contain a number of the most thrilling chapters from both. The book has no title page except its paper cover, which names neither author, publisher, nor date, but it is obviously the work of Norris or his colleagues. A very similar book is The J. Frank Norris I have Known for 34 Years, by Louis Entzminger. Both of these books are hodge-podge collections thrown together with little organization (as is a little paperback called Norris Extravaganza by Roy A. Kemp), but the information contained in them is of such interest that we may bear with such faults.

The Plot that Failed, by T. T. Shields, published in 1937, is a detailed history of his battle with the modernists of McMaster University in the Jarvis St. Baptist Church of Toronto. Though lengthy (376 closely printed pages) this book is anything but dull. A biography of Shields entitled Shields of Canada was written by Leslie Tarr, and published in 1967. Shields was called the Canadian Spurgeon. He differed from most Fundamentalists, in that he was an amillennialist.

But I must confess that I am under some difficulty in endeavoring to do justice to the theme of this chat, and that for a number of reasons:

1.The lives of many of the leading Fundamentalists have never been written, so far as I am aware. I know of no biography of I. M. Haldeman, of W. E. Blackstone, of John Roach Straton, of Len G. Broughton, of R. E. Neighbour, of William R. Newell, of Clarence Larkin, of Paul Rader, of William Pettingill----though in Rader's case The Redemption of Paul Rader, by W. Leon Tucker, records his early life, and his own books Life's Greatest Adventure and 'Round the Round World give further information.

But on this subject I should say that the fact that I have never found a biography of a certain man is no proof that there is none. I looked for at least fifteen years for a life of Mordecai Ham, not knowing whether or not there was such a thing, but at length, in 1990, I found 50 Years on the Battle Front with Christ, by Edward E. Ham, which is a good biography.

2.The next difficulty is that it is hard to know who should be classed as a Fundamentalist. It is hard to define the movement itself, both as to time, and as to doctrinal and practical positions; and even if I were certain of those things, scanty information on the individuals involved leaves me still uncertain as to where to class them. Some who are usually regarded as Fundamentalists are perhaps unworthy of the honor, such as George W. Truett, who stood for the fundamentals, but often with the modernists, and G. Campbell Morgan, who was generally with the Fundamentalists in doctrine, but professed to “abominate their spirit,” and endeavored himself to stand on neutral ground between Fundamentalists and modernists, and engage in “constructive Bible teaching” to both. He was soft in his doctrine also, changing the “eternal punishment” of Matthew 25 into “age-abiding punishment,” and affirming that it has nothing to do with personal retribution, or the eternal destiny of souls. He likewise softens “eternal fire” in Matthew 18:8 to “age-abiding fire.” Those who want information on him may find it in G. Campbell Morgan, Bible Teacher, a small book by Harold Murray, and A Man of the Word, a very satisfactory work of 404 pages, with an index of proper names only, by Jill Morgan. Truett's life was written in George W. Truett, by Powhatan W. James (311 pages), and in a small “Pen Picture” of 87 pages, by Joe W. Burton, entitled Prince of the Pulpit.

3.Some of the lives of Fundamentalists which have been written are hardly worth reading, either because they are meager in content and poorly written, or because the man's life is not very edifying. Both of these things are true of William Edward Biederwolf, by Ray E. Garrett. The book has only 116 pages, which are enough to display a great deal of the worldliness of Biederwolf.

4.I should also mention in the fourth place that I purposely ignore some Fundamentalists in this chat (including R. A. Torrey, the greatest of all of them), having spoken of them elsewhere. But I proceed to name a few more biographies, and the reader may take them for what they are worth.

The Life of A. B. Simpson, by A. E. Thompson, is a book of 300 pages, with chapters by Paul Rader, James M. Gray, and several others. It is the “Official Authorized Edition” of the Christian Alliance Publishing Company. The book was published in 1920, as was also J. Wilbur Chapman, by Ford C. Ottman, which has 326 pages.

Fire Inside (362 pp. 1968), by Migdon Brandon Rimmer, is the life of Harry Rimmer. J. Gresham Machen is the title of two, the one being a large book by Ned B. Stonehouse, subtitled “A Biographical Memoir,” the other a small paperback by Henry W. Coray, subtitled “A Silhouette.”

I have two biographies of Charles E. Fuller, originator of the Old Fashioned Revival Hour radio broadcast, and Fuller Theological Seminary. The first is The Old Fashioned Revival Hour and the Broadcasters, by J. Elwin Wright, a book of 254 pages, published in 1940. The second is A Voice for God, by Wilbur M. Smith, which has 224 pages, and was published in 1949. Fuller lived until 1968.

I mention two who were of a different sort than most whose lives are mentioned here, William Jennings Bryan, and Henry Parsons Crowell. Crowell was a businessman who served for forty years as President of the Board of Moody Bible Institute. A large biography of him, profusely illustrated, is Breakfast Table Autocrat, by Richard Ellsworth Day (315 pp., 1946). Many Fundamentalists have been engaged in political activity, though none of them went so far with it as William Jennings Bryan. Numerous biographies of him have been written, some completely secular, and all of them probably more political than religious. I have but one, The Life of William Jennings Bryan, by Genevieve and John Herrick.

A few more books on recent Fundamentalists are M. R. DeHaan, by James R. Adair; a life of Bob Jones, Sr., entitled Builder of Bridges, by R. K. Johnson; Walter L. Wilson, by Kenneth O. Gangel, and Man Sent from God, a life of John R. Rice, by Robert L. Sumner. Rice, himself----much influenced in his early days by J. Frank Norris----was probably the most influential Fundamentalist of recent times. He died in 1980. The biography by Sumner is a good one.

I turn now to histories of Fundamentalism, and on this there is but little to say. It is really a shame that so little has been written in this field, and that for four decades the only real history of Fundamentalism was written by a modernist. Indeed, we might suppose him a secularist from reading his book, except for his being a professor at Crozer Theological Seminary. I refer to The History of Fundamentalism, by Stewart G. Cole, published in 1931, and reprinted in 1971----yet scarce, and deservedly so. Of this book, W. B. Riley's wife and biographer says, “. . . its sentences fairly bristle with modernistic prejudices.” This is very true, though “prejudices” may be too weak a word. Modernists are “progressives” and “forward-looking Christians,” while Fundamentalists are “divisives,” and the defense of the faith is “religious propaganda.” Aside from its modernism the book has two major weaknesses: most of it is very sparse in facts and details, and it was written too early to include much of the movement.

I know of no other history except A History of Fundamentalism in America, by George W. Dollar, published in 1973----a book of over 400 large pages, in a very poor paperback binding. Dollar majors on Baptist Fundamentalism, and gives very little recognition to non-Baptists who played a large part in forming the movement, such as James H. Brookes and R. A. Torrey. He does well enough inside the Baptist circle, but falls into all kinds of blunders when he speaks of others. He makes A. C. Gaebelein----who was a German Gentile----a Hebrew Christian (pg. 260), and C. I. Scofield pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago (pg. 359----Scofield was actually pastor of the Congregational church to which Moody belonged, in Northfield, Massachusetts). His statements on page 235 concerning Plymouth Brethren and Brethren histories are all ignorance and confusion. I wrote to him once pointing out these and other errors, but received no response. The second printing (dated 1983, and presently on the market) does not correct these errors, for it is, so far as it goes, a reprint of the first. A number of the errors of the first edition, however, are omitted in the second, for pages 291-411, containing a biographical index, glossary, bibliography, and general index, are omitted altogeher. This is really too bad. The second printing also reduces the page and type size. But in spite of blunders and deficiencies, there is a great deal of useful information in the book, and there is really no other book of its nature available. Dollar was professor of church history at Bob Jones University, and shared in the prejudices of that school. This caused him to be unfair in his treatment of some persons, such as John R. Rice and R. A. Torrey.


Earthen Vessels

by Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon Preached on April 28, 1993. Recorded, Transcribed, & Revised.

Open your Bibles with me to Second Corinthians, chapter 4. In verse 6 we read, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

Father, I pray that you might pour out your power tonight, even into this earthen vessel, and that your word might be spoken with power, and Father, that it might go home to all of our hearts with power. Give us your blessing tonight, Father. Warm our hearts. Move us. Do your work in our souls. Give us your grace, Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Now in this verse that we just read it says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” We have two things here----a treasure, and earthen vessels. What is the treasure? The treasure is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The treasure is what Paul talks about in the first verse of this chapter, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry.” It's this testimony, this light, this ministry. That's the treasure. What are the earthen vessels? The earthen vessels are human beings, with all the frailties that belong to humanity----all of the weaknesses, flaws and foibles, idiosyncrasies, ignorance. Just weakness----earthen vessels. We have this treasure in earthen vessels.

Now there's a reason why we have this treasure in earthen vessels, and he tells you what that reason is in the 7th verse: “That the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” He speaks a similar thing back in the first book of Corinthians, in the first chapter. I Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 26: he says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.” God has a reason for putting this treasure in earthen vessels. That is that the sufficiency and the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. Not only so, but when God chooses earthen vessels in which to put this treasure, he may often bypass the strong earthen vessels, and choose the weakest ones, because the weakness of God is stronger than men, and the foolishness of God is wiser than men. God does his work by his own strong arm, but he does it always through weak earthen vessels.

Now there are two difficulties that these earthen vessels cause. Actually there is a third one, which I'll dismiss first. Quite often folks get enamored with an earthen vessel, and because they are enamored with the earthen vessel they imagine that there's a treasure in it, and there is no treasure. This is how cults are formed----folks get enamored with an earthen vessel. There is no treasure in it, but because they are infatuated with the earthen vessel they think there's a treasure in it, and they take something which isn't a treasure. They take darkness, and think it's light. And this danger exists in the true church of God as well. There are many earthen vessels in the places of ministry, which are in fact empty vessels, but the vessels themselves have some form and comeliness, and the people gather around them, and take chaff in the place of wheat. Such a thing could not happen if the church of God were really hungry, for hungry folks must have bread, and I believe that a little more of true hunger in the church of God would put a good many men out of the ministry.

But I say no more about empty vessels. I intend rather to speak of vessels which actually contain a treasure. There is danger enough where we have these two things----where we have both the treasure and the earthen vessel. There are in fact two dangers. The first one is that we see the treasure that's in the earthen vessel, and we value the treasure that's in the earthen vessel, and because of it we begin to set that earthen vessel up on a pedestal, and begin to think that that earthen vessel is a vessel of gold----forget that it's an earthen vessel----begin to excuse the faults of this earthen vessel. Maybe fail even to be able to see the faults of this earthen vessel----maybe even begin to defend moral delinquency in this earthen vessel, because we so value the treasure that we see in it. I could give you some examples of just exactly that, if I pleased tonight, but I don't want to mention any names.

But I want to talk about an error on the other side. There is always a danger on both the right hand and the left. Some see the treasure, and therefore fail to see even moral delinquency in the vessel of clay. Others behold the weakness in the vessel of clay, and their eyes are fixed upon the weakness of the vessel, and they can't see the treasure. Or they allow the weakness of the vessel to stand in the way of their profiting by the treasure that's in it.

Now when I'm talking about the weakness of the vessels of clay, I'm not talking about moral delinquency, though vessels of clay are subject to that, too. Many of God's greatest men have fallen grievously. But I'm not talking about moral delinquency. I'm just talking about the weakness that's common to humanity. And I'll tell you, human beings have all kinds of weaknesses. Here's brother so-and-so over here, and he talks too much, and some folks think he's obnoxious. He doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. And here's another brother over here, and he's so quiet folks think he's unfriendly. Well, what are those things? Perhaps just human weaknesses. Something that belongs to a person's particular temperament or disposition. Over here's a brother that laughs too much, and folks think he's light and frivolous----think he's unspiritual, because he laughs so much. Over here's a brother that doesn't laugh at all----appears to be unhappy, and folks think he's unspiritual because he seems so somber and sad. But you know, you will search a long way to find a perfect earthen vessel. And I suspect that when you have found one, you won't find too much treasure in it, because God seems to go out of his way to choose the weak, and the foolish, and the base, and the despised vessels of clay. Human beings have idiosyncrasies. They have flaws and faults and foibles, and they make mistakes. And it doesn't matter how good your heart is, you'll make mistakes. Most of the difficulties that Christians have getting along with each other, that churches have maintaining harmony and unity, are not over any kind of serious doctrinal difficulties. They're not over any kind of moral delinquencies. They're just over the weaknesses of the vessels of clay.

Now you know, when God has a treasure to give, he always gives it in an earthen vessel. Christ ascended up on high, and he gave gifts to his church. Every one of them was in an earthen vessel. He gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, helps, governments. From the highest of the gifts down to the lowest, every one was in an earthen vessel.

But here is what happens when God bestows his treasures upon his church. God takes an earthen vessel, and puts a treasure in it, and gives it to you, and you don't look at the treasure, you look at the vessel. You say, “God, that vessel isn't a very pretty color.” And God says, “But there's a treasure in it.” You say, “That vessel is misshapen. There are all kinds of vessels with a better appearance than that one.” And God says, “There's a treasure in it.” You say, “God, that vessel is too small.” And God says, “But there's a treasure in it.” There's an old proverb, by the way, that says, “Precious things come in small packages.” You look at that earthen vessel, and get all taken up with its earthiness. You can't see the treasure in it. You say, “But God, there isn't even any glazing on this earthen vessel. Couldn't you at least have taken it to a ceramic shop and put a little glaze on it? It's just drab, rough earth.” And God says, “But there's a treasure in it.”

Well, eventually we may begin to believe God, and begin to see the treasure after all. But we still have trouble with the vessel. We say, “God, you know, I see that treasure, but I don't like that vessel. See, my idea is not to have a rough, poorly-shaped, earthen vessel to contain this treasure. My idea is a beautiful, golden pot at the end of a shining rainbow, with fleecy white clouds all around, like I used to see in the picture books when I was a kid.” God says, “I don't have any golden vessels. All my vessels are earth.” Well, you may want to say, “God, I want this treasure. Just give me the treasure, but you can keep the vessel.” And God says, “Oh, no, I give no treasures, except in earthen vessels. I know they're weak.

I know they're not what you might want, but it's the only kind of vessels I have”----“that the excellency of the power might be of God,” and not of the vessel. And God purposely chooses the weak ones, the base ones, the foolish ones, the despised ones.

You know, God could have done something other than he has done. Honestly, God didn't need these weak earthen vessels that he has put his treasures into. He has myriads of angels walking the golden streets. He could have put his treasures into them----every one of them a vessel of pure gold. Those angels don't have any of the weaknesses of humanity. They're powerful. They don't have any spiritual weaknesses. They don't have any emotional weaknesses. They don't have physical weaknesses. They don't have, as far as I know, they don't have any idiosyncrasies. They don't have any faults and flaws and foibles. They're all just vessels of pure gold. And there's no reason on earth why God couldn't have just filled these vessels of gold with his treasures, and said, “Go down there to earth and spread the light.” Well, there is one reason. He wants the excellency of the power to be of God, and not in the vessel.

Now I want to talk to you tonight about some earthen vessels into which God put some treasures. But I want you to understand, when I'm talking about the weaknesses of humanity, I'm not talking about moral delinquency. I'm not talking about walking in sin. I'm just talking about human frailty. We all have our share of it.

The first earthen vessel I want to talk to you about tonight is Job. I want you to turn back to the book of Job, chapter 1. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Verse 8: “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Now Job was a vessel of earth. He may have been, according to God's testimony, the best vessel of earth on the earth, but he was a vessel of earth. And oh, he did very well when God smote him with stroke after stroke, and took away everything that he had. Job bowed his head before the Lord and said, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.” But as time wore on, and Job began to feel the force of all of his losses, all of his troubles, he didn't do quite so well.

Now, in Job chapter three, it says, (beginning with the last verse of chapter two), “So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” Now, sometimes vessels of clay don't handle very great grief very well. Job had very great grief, and it says in chapter three, verse one, “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year, let it not come into the number of the months. Lo, let that night be solitary, let no joyful voice come therein. Let them curse it that curse the day, who are ready to raise up their mourning. Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day: Because it shut not up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hid sorrow from mine eyes. Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”

Well, this looks to me like weakness, and a lot of it. In fact, I have a great suspicion that if any of us heard one of our people, or heard one of our ministers, talking like this, we'd rebuke him very sharply. They have no business to talk like that. I'm not going to try to answer the question of whether it was sinful for Job to speak so, but it is certainly a picture of the weakness of a vessel of clay. The best vessel on earth, by the way, but oh! so weak when he's smitten down with very great grief. So weak that he curses his day, and curses the night, and lets forth a volley of imprecations against that poor innocent day upon which he was born. That's the weakness of humanity. You say, “Well, I'm not that weak.” Well, I don't think I am either, but I don't know. I haven't really been where Job was. I'm not sure what I might do if I was there, but I do know I'm weak. You know, the interesting thing is that God never called Job to account for this, never mentioned it to him. I honestly don't know if this volley of imprecations was sinful or not. It looks to me like it was, but I won't try to answer the question. But whatever else it was, it was very great weakness. Yet in the forty-second chapter of Job, God never calls Job to account for this. He just says in the seventh verse, “And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.” In spite of all of that weakness, probably even sinful weakness, what does God say? Well, he says, “He knows our frame. He remembers that we're dust. He hath not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” He didn't chide Job for that volley of imprecations, but accepted him, and filled him with his treasures.

I want to talk to you about another weak earthen vessel----a very weak earthen vessel. His name is Jonah. You can turn to the book of Jonah. In the fourth chapter of the book of Jonah, we read, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.” What displeased him? Well, his prophecy didn't come true. God sent him to Nineveh to preach, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” And Nineveh repented, and God spared Nineveh, and Jonah didn't like it. So it says, verse two, “He prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O Lord, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” Now, this was the weakness of a weak vessel of clay. Just pouting because God spared the people. You say, “Well, was this sinful weakness?” I think it was. I suppose he should have been rejoicing because God spared the people. But his reputation as a prophet was spoiled, and so he sits down and prays to God to take away his life. Now, what would you have done, if you had been there? I have an idea what some of you would have done. You would have said, “We can't acknowledge Jonah as a man of God. How can we sit under the ministry of a man like this? He's selfish and childish. His own reputation means more to him than half a million souls.” Nevertheless, it was this poor, weak vessel of clay that God chose to be his prophet, and never chose Jonah's detractors at all.

God saw Jonah in all of his weakness and discouragement, but he didn't cast him away, but went to work to teach him better.

But there's more yet to come, and it may be worse rather than better. “So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.” Well, you see here human weakness. God prepares a gourd to shield him from the heat and encourage him in his grief, and he's exceeding glad of the gourd, and the gourd withers, and the next day he's wishing to die, and saying, “God, take away my life. It's better for me to die than to live.” Why? Because the gourd died! Can anybody here relate to Jonah's weakness? I can. One little circumstance happens, and I'm exceeding glad, and the next day another little circumstance happens, or somebody says a little word to me, and I'm all discouraged. That's just how Jonah was. So God said to Jonah, verse 9, “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.” God comes to him with just a mild, gentle reproof. Do you think you're doing well, Jonah, to sit here pouting about that gourd? Jonah says, “Yup, I'm doing well. I do well to be angry, even unto death.” Well, that's human weakness. You can say, that's more than weakness----that's sin. Well, maybe it is sin. Maybe there's something of sin in it anyway, but it is certainly the weakness of the emotions of a vessel of clay. Yet that vessel of clay was a prophet of God, with a divine treasure inside.

Now I want to talk about one more vessel of earth. That's Elijah. You'll find him in the first book of Kings, the 19th chapter. “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” Now, I honestly don't understand one thing. I don't see a whole lot of difference between Job and Jonah and Elijah. They were all just weak vessels of clay. The thing I don't understand is why everybody criticizes Job, and criticizes Elijah almost to death, and they never say anything about Jonah. Actually, I think if I were going to pick the worst of the three, I'd have to say it was Jonah. Yet everybody leaves Jonah alone. Too busy picking on Elijah and Job. I don't think there is much difference between them, except maybe that Jonah's weakness was worse. Elijah fled and went out a day's journey into the wilderness, and went out there and started praying to God to take away his life. That same Elijah who has filled all of our hearts with admiration when we see him standing on Mount Carmel boldly defying all the hundreds of prophets of Baal, calling down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. We see his great faith pouring twelve barrels of water over the sacrifice before he prays to God to send the fire. All of your hearts have been inspired by him I'm sure. That same Elijah two days later is out in the wilderness praying to God to take away his life. How is that? Oh, he's a vessel of clay, that's all.

But God didn't take away his life. One of the most touching passages in the Bible follows immediately upon this: “As he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?” You know, it's a very interesting thing, how God dealt with all these weak vessels of clay. How did God deal with Job in all of Job's frailties? God just came to Job and started asking him questions. He didn't come to him to rebuke him. He didn't come to him and slap him up, or knock him down, or kick him while he was down. He just came to him and started asking him some questions. The same thing God did to Jonah. He just came to Jonah twice, and said, “Jonah do you do well to be angry?” And then he encouraged him. And he does the same thing here to Elijah----just comes to Elijah and says, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”

Now, this was Elijah's opportunity. Now he's going to give vent to his pent up feelings. And he said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” Oh, I've heard so much criticism of Elijah. J. Frank Norris talks about the criticisms that he used to heap on Elijah for sitting out there pouting in the cave, discouraged to death, praying God to take away his life, feeling sorry for himself. And Norris says, “You know, one of the things I'm going to do when I get to heaven, I'm going to hunt up old Elijah, and I'm going to apologize to him.” You know Norris was there once, too, and he was ready to quit. He was discouraged to death. Thought everybody was against him----and I guess everybody was. He said, “All the stars had gone out of my sky.” He didn't have anything left, and he was ready to quit. Well, that's human weakness, but it's worse weakness to get up from that state and start criticizing Elijah. But I'm sure that by now Norris has apologized to Elijah. But I am never going to have to apologize to Elijah, or Job, or Jonah either. I'm just going to tell them when I get to heaven, “I always defended you with all my might.” Oh, I've got some other folks I'm going to have to apologize to up there----and I plan to. But not Elijah.

Well, God says to him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Feeling sorry for yourself. Praying for God to take away your life. Making intercession against Israel. What does all this prove, by the way? Well, it just proves this. It proves that Elijah was an earthen vessel. That's all. WHAT IT PROVES IS THAT ELIJAH WAS A MAN OF LIKE PASSIONS WITH US. We're all the same. You say, “Oh, no, not me. I don't act that way.” Well, you may yet, when they're seeking your life. And if you don't, you've got some other weakness. We're not all constituted alike, but we are all constituted weak. All that Elijah's conduct proves is that Elijah was a vessel of clay. It proves that he was a man of like passions with us, or should I say a man of like passions with you? All it proves is that Elijah was a human being, and yet Elijah has been so condemned and criticized for this! God didn't criticize him. Elijah sat out in the wilderness, feeling sorry for himself, and praying that God would take away his life. God said, No, Elijah you've got a little too much treasure in you for that. I have a different plan. I'm just going to rapture you away to heaven in a whirlwind, and never take away your life at all.

Understand now, I'm talking about human frailty. I'm not talking about moral delinquency. I'm not talking about crime and sin----just human weakness. The weakness that belongs to vessels of earth, because they're vessels of earth. We're weak in body. Maybe weak in mind, weak in heart, weak in emotions. We're just frail vessels of clay, but yet God has chosen to put his treasures into us.

But there's something further involved here. I don't want to preach all on one side tonight, because you know sometimes there is something in those earthen vessels that really does obscure the treasure that's inside them. You know, we're not just weak. We're sinful, and some of our weakness is sinful. I think some of Job's was. I think some of Jonah's was. God chooses to put his treasure into these earthen vessels, but then he does something with the earthen vessels. You see, that treasure which is in those earthen vessels is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It's light. But light in an earthen vessel may not be seen very well. Light doesn't shine through earthen vessels. But God has a way to take care of that. He breaks those earthen vessels.

You'll find this back in the book of Judges, the seventh chapter, verse 16. Of Gideon and his men it says, “He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.” Now this is exactly the same thing you have in II Corinthians, chapter 4----earthen vessels with light in them. You can't see the light in the earthen vessel. (By the way, that's why Gideon put it there, so the enemy wouldn't see them approaching.) “And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise; and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.” Now this is something that God does with every earthen vessel into which he puts a treasure. He breaks it. You may want to go to God and make intercession against these vessels of clay that God has put this treasure in, and say, “God, you have the wrong kind of vessel here----too weak, too many faults and foibles and idiosyncrasies, makes too many mistakes.” And God says, “You leave that vessel to me. I'll take care of it.” And he will. And he goes to work to break those vessels so that the light can shine out clear and true. God will break every vessel of clay.

But oh! how hard it is to be broken! But we cannot escape this. God breaks some of his vessels by the hands of their enemies. Some of his vessels he breaks by the hands of their friends. Some he breaks by providential afflictions. Some he breaks by poverty. Some he delivers into the hand of the devil and says, You sift him for me. But he breaks every one. If you are a vessel of clay into which God has put his treasure and his light, and if you are going to be used of God to carry that light out to the dying world, you're going to be broken. You can't avoid this. It will happen. God is going to do it.

Now for most of us this turns out to be a long drawn-out process. We don't break very easily. I see the hand of God at work to break me in this thing and that thing from time to time, and I say, “O God, break me gently!” You may be saying that, too, some time. And God may say to you, “Do you really think I should break you gently, after all that criticism you poured out on poor discouraged Elijah out in that cave----or on some other vessel of clay that you judged so harshly, just because he was a vessel of clay?----just because he was a man of like passions with yourself?” Oh, we ought to be careful not to despise God's vessels of clay, and not to despise the treasure in despising the vessel. There were some folks that despised Job when God was breaking him----sat around him pointing an accusing finger, saying, “If it wasn't for your sin, none of this would have happened to you.” But God sent them to Job, to have him pray for them, when they were all done despising him. And God told them, “Job I will accept.”

Well, God is going to break his earthen vessels, and if you're one of them, he's going to break you. And it won't be easy. It won't be pleasant. But when he's done, the light will shine, and oh! the glory, the excellency of the power will be of God. You, just a weak, failing vessel of clay, making mistakes, failing often, blundering along through this life----just a frail vessel of clay, and a broken one besides, but a clear, pure light of the gospel shining out into all the world.

Let's pray. Father, we thank you for your earthen vessels, and oh, we thank you for the precious treasure that you've put into them. Grant us, Father, that we may value both the treasure and the vessel as you do, and bear with all the frailties of the vessels of clay, love and forgive, and help, and appreciate; and God, help us to deal as we ought with our own vessel of clay, lest the thickness and the hardness of the vessel stand in the way of the light that is in us. Oh, Father, pour out your grace upon us, and make us vessels meet for the Master's use. Amen.


Fear and Dread

by Glenn Conjurske

“And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every foul of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hand are they delivered.” (Gen. 9:2).

Man is given dominion over all of the animal creation. That is to say, he has authority over all of them. God is the author of that authority, as he is of all authority. “Into your hand they are delivered,” is the word of God. God has subjected the beasts of the earth to man, and this he has done by putting the fear of man into all of those beasts. Now it so happens that very many things in the lower physical creation are designed by God as illustrations of higher things, in the spiritual realm, and this fear among the rest, for this fear of man in the animals is a very apt picture of the fear of God which is the proper response of man to the authority and dominion of the Lord.

Fear is in fact the proper response of man to all God-ordained authority. So God speaks of the various authorities which he has established:

“My son, fear thou the Lord and the king.” (Prov. 24:21).

And in the passage on the “powers that be,” Paul says, “For this cause pay ye tribute also, for they [the secular authorities] are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour.” (Rom. 13:6-7).

“A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear?” (Mal. 1:6).

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling.” (Eph. 6:5).

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear.” (I Pet. 2:18).

“Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father.” (Lev. 19:3).

“And the wife, see that she fear her husband.” (Eph. 5:33----so says the Greek).

But it must be evident by the very citing of these passages that there are different degrees of fear----perhaps even different kinds of fear. And it seems to me that there are two things which affect the kind or degree of fear which obtains in any situation. The first is the closeness of the relationship between the subject and the authority. A wife is not likely to fear her husband in the same degree that she does the king. But a far greater determining factor is the state of the heart of the subject. An upright man does not fear the authorities as the criminal does. An obedient and dutiful son does not fear his father as a rebellious son does.

And it is just here that the fear and the dread of man, which God has put into the animals, comes to our assistance, and very aptly illustrates these two kinds of fear. All animals fear man, but they do not all have the same degree of fear, nor the same kind of fear. Wild animals dread man. Tame animals fear him. The dread which the wild animals have for man leads them to flee from man. The fear which the domestic animals have leads them to serve and obey man. The wild bear, who might kill a man with little effort, yet avoids man and flees from him, while the tame house cat, who is a thousand times weaker and more vulnerable than the bear, will go to sleep in the man's lap, purring all the while. The cat trusts man: the bear does not. The degree of faith necessarily determines the degree of fear, but it must be understood that in man the degree of faith is determined by the state of the conscience. A guilty conscience destroys faith. “Holding faith and a good conscience,” says Paul, “which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (I Tim. 1:19). Men put away a good conscience when they determine to sin, and the putting away of the good conscience makes shipwreck of faith. Thus incapable of trust, the man must fear.

But let the fear of the beasts be what it may, it is evident that the Bible plainly teaches these same two kinds of fear in man for his Creator. The fear of the ungodly answers to the dread of the wild beasts. Such men avoid God. True, “there is no fear of God before their eyes,” for “God is not in all their thoughts.” They have no more dread of God from day to day than the lion in the jungle has of man, for he thinks nothing about man----perhaps has never seen a man. But only let that lion be brought near to a man----face to face with him----and he will have dread enough. He will flee if he can, perhaps attack if he cannot----but it is strong fear that moves him. That same strong fear possesses the heart of the ungodly sinner when he is brought face to face with God.

The fear of the godly is of a different sort. He has voluntarily subjected himself to God. He fears God as the horse or the dog who obeys and serves his master, but he does not dread him.

Now it is evident that the Scriptures contemplate both of these kinds, or degrees, of the fear of God. On the one hand we are told, “Happy”----or “blessed,” as the word is usually translated----“is the man that feareth alway.” (Prov. 28:14). And if the testimony of the Old Testament will not suit some in a question like this, it is Peter who says, “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here”----the whole of your earthly life, that is----“in fear.” (I Pet. 1:17). This is plain enough.

Yet on the other side the apostle John says, “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (I John 4:17-18).

Yet there is surely no contradiction between Peter and John. It is not the same sort of fear of which they speak. Peter speaks of the fear of a son for his father, John of the fear of a criminal for an officer. That fear of which John speaks is only that which “hath torment,” but this is certainly not true of all fear. The kitten fears its little mistress, but there is no torment in that fear. The wife is required to fear her husband, but there is no torment in that fear----unless she is cheating on him. Then, indeed, she has a tormenting fear, and cannot help but have. It is a guilty conscience which is the root of that tormenting fear.

Yet many contend that a saint of God ought not to fear the Lord at all. Love (they say) ought to be his only motive, and love casts out fear. The fear of God of which the Scriptures speak they will reduce to “reverence” or “respect,” or something else----indeed, anything else, so long as it is not fear. It is true enough that we may get altogether beyond that tormenting fear, which fears being cast off, or cast into hell. But is there no judgement of God for a saint to fear? Surely there is, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Cor. 11:31-32). Is it a light thing to be chastened of the Lord? Ask David. Ask Samson. Ask Miriam. Ask Moses. The son who does not fear his father's rod shall surely feel it. “The fear of the Lord is clean,” and keeps our feet in the path of righteousness, so that the Lord will have no occasion to use that rod. Yet this is not the tormenting fear, which is the fruit of unbelief and a guilty conscience.

That tormenting dread of the final judgement of God, which is aptly represented by the dread of the wild beasts for man, is altogether proper in a willful transgressor. Such fear we may leave behind us when we cease to be willful transgressors. But that filial fear of God, which is pictured by the fear of the obedient ox for his master, is the proper portion of all of us, throughout all the time of our sojourning here.

John Wycliffe on the Sword of the Spirit

[The following is taken from Select English Works of John Wyclif, edited by Thomas Arnold, Oxford: Clarendon Press, vol. II, 1871, pg. 368. Wycliffe's original appears in the left column, with the same, line for line, in modernized English in the right column. Words added for clarity in the modernized column are indicated by small raised type.----editor.]

But, for he were a feble fiêter1 êat ever suffride and never smoot,2 êerfore Poul clepiê êe sixte armure, swerd of êe Holy Goost.2 And êis armure is ful sharpe, siê it perischiê more êan iren swerd, for it partiê êe soule and spirit, when it makiê man lyve to God and leve worldli affecciouns, and êus doiê no bodili swerd. And êus êe tunge in mannes mouêe is a scaberke to êis swerd, and shapen in forme of bodili swerd, withouten boon2 or straunge part. And with êis swerd was sum tyme woundir wrou3t a3ens spiritis, but êis swerd failiê now in preching of Goddis lawe. For prelatis han scaberkis wiêouten swerdis, and oêir han swerdis of leed, bi which êei tellen worldly wordis, wiê fablis and gabgingis6 on God. And so no woundir 3if êis swerd assaile not enemyes as it dide. But, because he were a feeble fighter that ever suffered and never smote, therefore Paul calleth the sixth armor, sword of the Holy Ghost. And this armor is full3sharp, since it pierceth more than an iron sword, for it parteth the soul and spirit, when it maketh a man live to God and leave worldly affections, and thus doeth no bodily4 sword. And thus the tongue in man's mouth is a scabbard to this sword, and shaped in the form of a bodily sword, without bone or strange part. And with this sword was sometime5 wonder wrought against spirits, but this sword faileth now in the preaching of God's law. For prelates have scabbards without swords, and others have swords of lead, by which they tell worldly words, with fables and lyings on God. And so no wonder if this sword assail not the enemies as it once did.


1An obvious misprint for “fi3ter.”

2The reader may note that Wycliffe's double “o” is a long “o.”

3“Full” was commonly used in Wycliffe's time as an intensive, meaning “very,” “exceedingly.”

4“Physical,” we would say, meaning “material,” not spiritual.

5“Sometime” means “once,” or “formerly,” as “sometimes” in Eph. 2:13 in the King James Version.

6An evident misprint for “gabbingis,” that is “gabbings.” “Gabbing” is Wycliffe's common word for lying.

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