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
----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
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.
----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.
----Let no corrupt communication proceed out of
your mouth, where the Greek says, Let every corrupt communication
not proceed out of your mouth.
----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
----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
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
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
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
----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
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
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
But how that shade of tenacity is to be expressed in English, without
upsetting the main argument (as abuse does)
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.
----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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
by Glenn Conjurske
A Sermon Preached on April 28, 1993. Recorded, Transcribed,
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
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
----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
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
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
----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
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
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
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
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
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?
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.
Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father. (Lev.
And the wife, see that she fear her husband. (Eph. 5:33
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
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
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
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
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.
|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
1An obvious misprint for fi3ter.
2The reader may note that Wycliffe's double o is a long o.
3Full was commonly used in Wycliffe's time as an intensive,
meaning very, exceedingly.
4Physical, we would say, meaning material, not
5Sometime 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.
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.