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Vol. 4, No. 1
Jan., 1995

Did Elijah Go to Heaven in a Chariot of Fire?

by Glenn Conjurske

We need only open almost any children's Bible story book to see pictures of Elijah going to heaven in a chariot of fire. This wondrous chariot of fire which transported him to heaven is also sung in various songs, written of in commentaries, and preached in sermons. Yet the plain fact is, Elijah never went to heaven in a chariot of fire. The Bible never says that he did, and in fact makes it quite clear that he did not.

Why then is it so universally believed that he did? Alas, this is but one example among many of the almost unaccountable ignorance of the Bible which reigns in the church of God. Popular errors, concerning both the facts, the principles, and the doctrines of Scripture, hold almost undisputed sway in the church, and the Bible remains an unknown book.

But I suppose that at this point some of my readers will be more than ready to contradict me, and positively affirm that Elijah did go to heaven in a chariot of fire----just as old John Jasper positively asserted that “de sun do move,” in contradiction of all the infidel scientists, all the carnal Christians who were influenced by the scientists, and all the other enemies of God. And yet John Jasper had at least half an excuse for his belief, for the actual language of Scripture does seemingly imply that “de sun do move,” but there is no excuse whatever for the popular notion that Elijah went to heaven in a chariot of fire, for the actual language of Scripture makes it perfectly plain that he did not. And by “the actual language of Scripture” I am not referring to the Hebrew original, which is inaccessible to most readers, nor to any subtle technicalities which only a council of lawyers could discover, but to the plain language of the English Bible, which any child can understand, if he has no veil of popular error or traditional interpretation before his eyes. I turn, then, to the actual language of Scripture. In the first verse of the second chapter of Second Kings we are told, “And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.” There is nothing here about any chariot of fire, but a plain declaration that “the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven BY A WHIRLWIND.” A whirlwind is not a chariot of fire, and a chariot of fire is not a whirlwind. This much is plain enough.

But does not the Scripture speak also of a chariot of fire? To be sure, it does, but it says never a word about that chariot of fire taking Elijah to heaven, while it positively asserts that it was a whirlwind which took him to heaven. We read of the chariot of fire in the eleventh verse of the chapter: “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, AND ELIJAH WENT UP BY A WHIRLWIND INTO HEAVEN.” This is also plain enough. How, indeed, could anything be plainer? “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” This verse, moreover, is the only one in the passage which makes any reference to the chariot of fire, and it says not a word about its taking Elijah to heaven.

What, then, was the purpose of the chariot of fire? That is also plain enough on the face of the text of the English Bible. “There appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder.” The horses and chariot of fire were not sent to carry Elijah to heaven, but to keep Elisha on earth. They were not sent to carry Elijah to heaven, but to separate him from Elisha----to part them both asunder. This much is also perfectly plain in the text. They must needs be “both parted asunder,” as I suppose, so that the whirlwind did not take them “both” to heaven.

But what need were there of so grand an agency to accomplish so simple a task? We do not send an army to kill a mouse. What need were there of horses and chariots of fire, to accomplish so simple a thing as to part them both asunder? Ah! this was not so simple a thing! Elijah had tried already to separate himself from Elisha, but without success. In the second verse we read, “And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.” And twice more that day Elijah said to him, “Tarry here, I pray thee,” but Elisha was not to be thus moved. Each time that his master said, “Tarry here,” Elisha responded in the same way, with “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” In that point he was firm, and was not to be moved.

Elijah was the man of God. To Elisha he was “the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” The welfare of the nation, and of the testimony of God, was bound up with this man, and Elisha would not part with him. He knew, for he was a prophet also, that God would take away his master from his head that day, and there was nothing he could do to stop that, but so far as lay in him, he would cling to the man of God. If God would take away Elijah, then Elijah must be taken away, but Elisha would surely not let him go easily, as though it mattered nothing to him. In this point Elisha towers above the sons of the prophets, in his solitary moral grandeur. All the sons of the prophets possessed the same knowledge that Elisha did. They could all say to him, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day?” (Verses 3 & 5). Yet to them it was a mere intellectual proposition, which little affected their hearts. To Elisha it was the wrenching of his very heart and soul, and he could not treat the matter with the glib indifference which he saw in the sons of the prophets----nor could he bear to hear them speak so lightly of so solemn a matter. “Yea, I know it,” he says: “hold ye your peace.” To the sons of the prophets Elijah was merely Elisha's master----a great man, no doubt, and a man of renown, but their hearts were not bound up with him. He was Elisha's master. But to Elisha he was “the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” He was the man of God, he was the power and the guiding hand of all that was true in the nation, and was he to be taken away that very day? Then Elisha's heart would cling to him to the last moment.

Now under such circumstances Elisha was not to be parted from the man of God. Though he was Elijah's servant----though he had poured water on the hands of Elijah----yet Elijah's thrice-repeated request that he “tarry here” was nothing regarded by Elisha. Nay, it was firmly resisted, with a double oath, thrice repeated: “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” Elijah apparently yielded in the face of such determination, and said no more about it. Elisha clung to the man of God. If God would take him, he must let him go, but he would not let him go a moment sooner. Thus “they still went on, and talked.”

It was upon this stage that the chariot and horses of fire appeared, bearing down upon these two prophets at full gallop. “Whoa, there! Whoa!” calls Elisha, but the horses of fire pay no heed. On they come, bearing down exactly upon this pair of prophets. Elisha plainly sees there is no stopping them, and no time to lose. He lets go his grip upon the arm of his master. Elisha darts to the left side, and Elijah to the right, the chariot of fire thunders on between them, and the whirlwind sweeps away the man of God, ere his stunned disciple can get back to his side. “My father! My father!” he calls after the whirlwind, “the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!”----but Elijah is gone, and there is no recalling him.

Now certain of my readers, who can see but little in the Scriptures themselves, may not appreciate my description of this scene. They will accuse me of finding things in the Scriptures which are not there----the very same thing that I thought myself when I was first introduced to the types of the Old Testament. Let such understand that Paul was also accustomed to seeing things in the Scriptures which were not there. He saw, for example, that Abraham went to offer up Isaac, “accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead” (Heb. 11:19)----a thing concerning which the Old Testament account says not one word. Yet Paul plainly saw it there, for there are certain things recorded in the Old Testament accounts which imply or necessitate certain other things, and those who rightly understand the Scriptures are those who understand not only what they say, but also those further things which they imply or necessitate. This is in fact the manner in which the Scriptures are designed to be used, as New Testament examples make plain enough. What the Old Testament account says is,

“I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” but what that text teaches is, “that the dead are raised.” (Luke 20:37). Ah! if men could but see the truth which lies beneath the text, they would not so easily mistake the facts which lie upon the surface.

And after all, those who cannot see the things which are explicitly contained in the Scriptures have little reason to complain if others happen to see more than they see themselves. Those who have lived all their lives believing that Elijah went to heaven in a chariot of fire would do better to fault themselves for their own blindness, than to fault another for seeing----even for seeing, as they suppose, more than is there. But it will be said, It is very easy to err in thus going beyond what the Scriptures explicitly say. Yes, of course----and we have also just shown that it is very easy to err in altogether failing to see what the Scriptures do explicitly contain, for has not the church in general, for centuries on end, held that Elijah went to heaven in a chariot of fire? It is easy to err, but it is possible not to err, and humble and spiritual minds, who live and feed upon the word and the will of God, may understand aright, without erring.

But supposing that the explanation of the matter which I have given is all presumption and error, and must all be disallowed. Be it so: the fact remains that Elijah went to heaven “by a whirlwind,” and not in a chariot of fire. The fact also remains that the only mission which the horses and chariot of fire performed in this text was to “part them both asunder.” A third fact remains also, which is that much of the church of God has read this portion of Scripture times without number, and preached and written and sung concerning it, and yet failed altogether to see that which is explicitly contained in it, while reading into it something which contradicts its plain content----and is this a light matter? It is in fact a rather plain indication of how thoroughly the mind of the church is controlled by traditional interpretation and popular errors, and how little weight the Scriptures actually have in it, and how little its statements are understood. This much can hardly be gainsaid. And I inquire further, if so much of the true church of God has been so far astray for so long a time concerning so simple a matter of fact, which is so plain upon the face of the text of Scripture, does it not appear to be more than likely that the church may also be far astray in the more difficult matters of principle and doctrine? Is it not probable that popular errors and traditional interpretations reign there also?

Yet it is not so easy to correct such errors, as it is mere errors of fact. It is a long and laborious process, and often effectually hindered by pride and lukewarmness. I may suggest, however, that if the church possessed a little more of the spirit of Elisha, the matter would be much facilitated. Elisha cared. Elisha was determined, and in earnest. Elisha clung to the man of God, as it were to life itself. Elisha was athirst, even for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. Ah! if the church of God today were only possessed of a double portion of the spirit of Elisha, popular errors and traditional interpretations might quickly die an unlamented death.


The Right Hand and the Left

by Glenn Conjurske

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left.” (Joshua 1:7).

“By the armour of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left.”

(II Cor. 6:7).

There was a time when I saw nothing particular in these texts concerning the right hand and the left. I assumed that nothing particular was meant----that this was merely a form of emphasis, not to be taken literally----that to turn not aside from the commandment of the Lord, either to the right hand or the left, meant nothing more than not to turn aside from it at all. But a deeper understanding of the nature of things has led me to the conclusion that these expressions of Scripture are not mere empty words. There are in actual fact two sides to every question. The path of truth is a narrow one, and there is a ditch on either side of it. To walk in that narrow path requires care and vigilance, in addition to commitment.

The fact is, there are two sides to every question, and the man who sees only one side will certainly err. Those who are well aware of the danger on one side of the path, but oblivious to the danger on the other, will almost certainly fall into the error on the side where they see no danger. Well aware of the danger on this side, but seeing no danger on that, they naturally seek to keep as far as they can from the danger which they plainly see, and so depart from the truth into the opposite extreme. A great deal of the false doctrine and false practice in the church of God is due precisely to this sort of one-sidedness, and when controversy is added to ignorance, we often see the combatants entrenched at equal distance from the truth, one party on the right hand, and the other on the left. This I believe to be exactly the case with the Bible version controversy which rages in the evangelical church at the present time. We behold a strong party entrenched in the ditch on one side of the truth, and a strong opposing party entrenched in the ditch on the other side----some exalting the King James Version too high, and others placing it far beneath its real merits----some preaching the perfection of the old version, while others spurn it altogether, and replace it with something altogether inferior. Few stand on the solid ground of truth between the two parties, and it seems that even among those who take a middle position, there are few who do not have at least one foot in the ditch, on one side or the other.

We are well aware that to keep our feet altogether in the narrow path of truth is no easy matter, yet the mere recognition of the fact that danger exists on both sides may go a long way towards inspiring men with that caution which will keep them from the danger. The commandment ought to stand always before our eyes, “turn not from it to the right hand or to the left.” We ought always to be engaged in the battle with “the armour of righteousness, on the right hand and on the left.” For be assured of it, whatever the particular issue may be, we may err on either side of it.

We may err on the side of love, and we may err on the side of truth.

We may err on the side of justice, and we may err on the side of mercy.

We may be too strict, or we may be too soft.

We may err on the side of unbelief, or on the side of credulity.

We may err on the side of superstition, or on the side of infidelity.

We may be too conservative, or we may be too liberal----too unwilling to change, or too eager to change.

We may be carnal, or we may be hyperspiritual.

There is legal theology on the one side, and antinomian on the other.

We may be too tight in our standards, or we may be too loose.

We may require too much of men, or we may require too little.

But some of these statements are likely to raise outcries on both sides. “How can we err on the side of love?” says one. “We cannot be too loving. `God is love.' It is always right to love.” Perhaps it is, in some sense, yet it is God who says to Jehoshaphat, “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.” (II Chron. 19:2).

Another says, “Hyperspiritual! How can a man be too spiritual? Every time I hear the term `hyperspiritual,' I know that somebody is trying to make an excuse for sin!” Yet that is strictly true which an old proverb says, Right overstrained turns to wrong, and another, Extremity of right is wrong, and it is God who says, “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” (Eccl. 7:16).

Now it should be understood that though certain truths may have several facets, the truth is not something which has five sides, or a dozen, but commonly two. There is reason for this. Truth is a moral thing, and its two sides are a reflection of the two sides of God's own moral nature. “God is light,” and “in him is no darkness at all”----no evil, and no complicity with evil----and yet “God is love.” The one side of his nature demands judgement upon sin, and the other side pleads for mercy upon the sinner. These two facts, “God is light” and “God is love,” are the two pillars of the truth, and the two pillars of all true religion. These two facts are the key to the Scriptures, and the key of all sound theology. When these two facts are recognized, and both of them allowed to stand as they are, and to control the mind and the heart and the walk, then we walk true, and turn not aside to the right hand or to the left. But when either side of the divine nature is emphasized or exalted at the expense of the other, we turn aside to the right or the left, and, to the extent that we do so, make havoc of faith and truth and righteousness.

Some turn aside to the right hand, standing for truth and righteousness with a high hand, with little of mercy or compassion, and untouched by the feeling of the infirmities of frail humanity. Such become proud, hard, and Pharisaical. Others turn aside to the left hand, preaching love and mercy and compassion, but with no proper regard for truth or holiness. Such become soft and latitudinarian, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.

Now it should be clearly understood that this turning aside, whether to the right hand or the left, may go much beyond a mere intellectual or doctrinal mistake. When God commanded Joshua not to turn aside to either the right hand or the left, he obviously meant something other than a mere mistake in understanding. This turning aside is not a mere matter of doctrinal ignorance, but of moral delinquency. The soft and liberal Neo-evangelicals, who preach love in glowing terms, while they disregard the rights of the Lord and the claims of his holiness, are wrong in their hearts. Those Fundamentalists who condemn all who do not see eye to eye with them, and gratuitously impugn the motives of men better than themselves, under the cloak of standing for the truth, are wrong in their hearts. These things are not mere mistakes of the understanding.

Nevertheless, there is a constant danger of doctrinal error on both the right hand and the left, whether that error proceeds from mere ignorance, or from the unjudged passions of the flesh. Reformers are in peculiar danger here. Such a one was Martin Luther. Moved by fervent zeal, impetuous in his nature, and firmly set to withstand the errors of the papacy, he was almost certain to fall into an equal error on the opposite side----and it is a fact that he did so. He fought a theology which was legalistic, and fathered a theology which was antinomian----a theology which moved him to reject the epistle of James as an epistle of straw, an epistle which, (Luther affirmed), had nothing of the nature of the gospel about it. Not that Luther was consistently antinomian. Far from it, in fact. Yet he fathered a theology which has always been antinomian in its tendencies, and which multitudes of Protestants have followed into the most blatant antinomianism, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and making Christ the minister of sin. Certain men who lived and died before the Lutheran Reformation----such as Richard Rolle and John Wycliffe----were much sounder on the terms of salvation than many Fundamentalists are today.

But as an old French proverb affirms, By dint of going wrong, all will come right. For a thousand years ere the birth of Martin Luther, things were going wrong, in general, to the right side. A reaction was certain to come, in time. Luther was the instrument of that reaction, but all did not come right, but rather went wrong on the other side, for under Luther's influence Protestantism has been (more or less) going wrong to the left side for half a millennium. There have been reactions to this, in the ministries of Richard Baxter and John Wesley, and many lesser men----yet the tide has not been stayed. Antinomian doctrines have never in the history of the church been so rife as they are today. Repentance and holiness are generally regarded as optional, and even many who regard them as necessary define them so as to make them optional in fact. The time has come for a reaction against such theology. May God grant that those who labor to bring about that reaction may have wisdom enough to recognize both sides of the question, humility enough to acknowledge all that is good and true even in the position which they oppose, and prudence enough to employ the armor of righteousness “on the right hand and on the left.”

Humility is one of the primary keys in this matter, for pride is one of the main contributing factors to departures from the truth. When men set themselves to oppose errors, this may naturally and unavoidably lead them to oppose others. Thus, if they are lacking in love and humility, they soon fall to seeking for controversial victory, rather than humbly inquiring after the truth, and their pride will then usually drive them to an opposite extreme. And worse than that, they may also drive their opponents to the extreme of the other position, and thus establish them in the very error from which they sought to deliver them. “None of us liveth to himself.” (Rom. 14:7). Like it or not, the things which we do have an effect upon others. Fleshly passions in one man provoke the same in another. One man's obstinate adherence to an error on the one side is very likely to provoke a reaction which will put men in an equal error on the other side, and thus is fulfilled the old proverb which says, Disputations leave truth in the middle, and a party at both ends.

But who is sufficient for these things? How easy it is to err, and how difficult to walk true. What wisdom, what grace, what love, what humility, what diligence, what diffidence, become us all. Mere knowledge cannot keep us true, but neither can we keep true without it. Neither is all knowledge of the same importance or value. I would suggest, however, that to know to employ the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, and to understand the reason of this----this is one of the most valuable nuggets of wisdom which we may possess.

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Missionary Books

There is scarcely anything so glorious in the history of the church as the modern missions movement, which began late in the eighteenth century, spanned the nineteenth, and has continued, though in great decadence, to the present day. Every Christian ought to be familiar with the great men and the great works of this movement, and ought to continue reading its books even when he is familiar with them. There are few other books which will keep the true spirit of Christianity alive in the soul as these will. Mere study----especially linguistic, textual, and doctrinal study----tends to dry and wither the soul, while biographies of the great men of God and histories of the great works of God water the soul and stir the spirit.

William Carey is very rightly regarded as the father of modern missions, for though he was neither the first nor the best of missionaries, yet it was he who awoke the church to its responsibility to preach the gospel to every creature. The great work on Carey, his work, and his colleagues, is The Life and Times of Carey, Marshman, and Ward, by John Clark Marshman, published in two volumes in 1859. The author, who was Marshman's son, published a good one-volume abridgement of this in 1864, entitled The Story of Carey, Marshman, and Ward. George Smith refers to Marshman's work as “a valuable history and defence of the Serampore Mission, but rather a biography of his father than of Carey.” Smith wrote a substantial work on Carey, titled The Life of William Carey. These books are scarce, and those who cannot find them might begin with William Carey, by S. Pearce Carey, first published in 1923, and reprinted many times. But the author does not seem serious enough, and I wrote in the front of this book after reading it, “Written in a style that too much resembles a novel.”

Of missions to India not associated with Carey, several are worth mentioning. Henry Martyn and T. T. Thomason were both chaplains of the East India Company. John Sargent wrote the lives of both of them. They are: The Life of T. T. Thomason (1833), and Memoir of Henry Martyn. The preface to this is dated 1819, and I have the fourth edition, dated 1820. This book has been printed many times, and I also have an 1855 edition, which contains some additional matter. The Church of Scotland was represented in India by Alexander Duff, a strong leader and an eloquent preacher, but whose principles were not altogether spiritual. Like Carey, he adopted and advocated “the educational plan” of mission work. Carey's biographer, George Smith, also wrote The Life of Alexander Duff, which appeared in two volumes in 1879, and updated and abridged in one volume in 1900. An early Indian mission of the American Baptists is described in The History of the Telugu Mission, by David Downie (1893), and a mission of the English General Baptists in A Narrative of the Mission to Orissa, by Amos Sutton (1833).

Adoniram Judson is justly regarded as the father of American missions. I have spoken of him elsewhere, but a number of his colleagues may be mentioned here. The story of the whole mission to Burmah is told in The Gospel in Burmah, by Mrs. Macleod Wylie. This includes the ministries of Judson, Boardman, Mason, Kincaid, and others. Individual biographies of these men are also available. These are: Memoir of George Dana Boardman, by Alonzo King (improved edition, 1836); The Missionary Hero, “A History of the Labors of Eugenio Kincaid,” by Alfred S. Patton (1858); and The Story of a Working Man's Life, by Francis Mason (1870). There is a good deal of common sense in this book, but too little of a spiritual nature, and a good deal too little concerning his missionary career. Mason also wrote The Karen Apostle, a memoir of a native evangelist, but I have never seen it.

On the same boat that carried Judson to the East were Samuel Newell and his wife. Newell's wife never lived to see actual missionary work, but died at the Isle of France at the age of nineteen. Her life is recorded in A Sermon in Remembrance of Mrs. Harriet Newell...to which are Added Memoirs of Her Life, by Leonard Woods. The memoir consists largely of her diary and letters. This was published in 1814. I paid $25 for a copy of it rebound in buckram. I have also seen later printings of it.

Samuel J. Mills was among the companions of Judson who roused their denomination to its responsibility to take the gospel into all the world. Mills was not chosen to go himself as a missionary, but carried the torch at home. Memoirs of Samuel J. Mills, by Gardiner Spring, was published in 1820. A later biography of him is Samuel J. Mills, by Thomas C. Richards, published in 1906. This has a good bibliography.

One of the earliest fields entered by missionaries was the South Sea Islands. Some of the most thrilling of missions work has been done in these islands, and some of the best of missionary books concern the work there. Alas, many of them are scarce, and some which I desire most I am still seeking, yet I may mention several of the better sort. At their head stands A Narrative of Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands, by John Williams, a book of 525 pages, my copy of which is undated, except for the introduction to the first American edition, which is dated 1837. Williams was an enterprising pioneer, who built, in three months, with native materials and help, a ship of “between seventy and eighty tons burden.” This craft he sailed all over the South Pacific, taking journeys of thousands of miles, visiting the known islands and discovering others. Life in the Southern Isles, by Wyatt Gill (1876), is also of interest. Likewise History and General Views of the Sandwich Islands' Mission, by Sheldon Dibble (1839), and Tahiti with the Gospel (anonymous, 1834). Two deservedly popular biographies concern later work in the islands. These are James Chalmers: His Autobiography and Letters, by Richard Lovett, and John G. Paton, by James Paton. The latter has been printed numerous times in various forms. A general overview of the earlier South Sea missions is History of the Establishment and Progress of the Christian Religion in the Islands of the South Sea (anonymous, 1841).

I have spoken elsewhere of Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission. Of missionaries to China not associated with Taylor, I mention a few. Of the London Missionary Society, two: James Gilmour of Mongolia, by Richard Lovett (without date----Gilmour died in 1891), and Griffith John, by R. Wardlaw Thompson (1906). Belonging to a later generation, but one of the best of missionaries, was Jonathan Goforth. His life is told by his wife in Goforth of China (1937)----an excellent book, which has been often printed. Mrs. (Rosalind) Goforth also wrote a couple of books concerning herself, which are How I Know God Answers Prayer, (1921), and Climbing (1940). These are worth while, but not to be compared to her life of her husband. Goforth himself is the author of By My Spirit, a record of revivals in Manchuria under his ministry----a book which the modern church would do well to read. Similar in content is his pamphlet When the Spirit's Fire Swept Korea (recently reprinted by my son).

Africa is a large field which has been worked by many missionaries and mission boards. Foremost among African missionaries is Robert Moffat, whose excellent Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa passed through many editions. I have the sixth edition, printed in 1844 (preface dated 1842). His life, and that of his excellent wife, was written by their son John, and is titled The Lives of Robert and Mary Moffat. This also saw several editions, and is one of the great missionary classics. David Livingstone was stirred to missionary labor by Moffat, and was to become his son-in-law. His missionary work was later abandoned, however, (to the grief of Mary Moffat) while he engaged in explorations and scientific studies. Post-millennialism lowered his spiritual principles, and under its influence civilization and progress were practically put on a level with the gospel. His master passion was to abolish the slave trade. How many missionaries of the cross are buried in Westminster Abbey? Yet there is value in knowing David Livingstone. His own Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa is a large book with small print, which those who are devoted to knowing Livingstone may wish to read. The much smaller (anonymous) Missionary Travels and Adventures in Africa will suit most readers better. The Personal Life of David Livingstone, by W. Garden Blaikie, is a large and good biography. Turning to others, Garenganze, by Frederick Stanley Arnot, is “Seven Years' Pioneer Mission Work in Central Africa.” Arnot had had a passion for Africa since he had heard Livingstone at the age of six. Arnot belonged to the Plymouth Brethren. So did Dan Crawford, the author of Thinking Black, which is “22 Years Without a Break in the Long Grass of Central Africa” (1912). Mission work was obviously conducted then on different principles than it is now. Crawford also wrote a sequel to this, entitled Back to the Long Grass. He gives good information on Africa, but we could wish the content more spiritual, and the style more serious.

A great deal of excellent missionary work has been done in Africa, but this is not always recorded in excellent books----and doubtless there are good books on the subject which I have not yet discovered. I must mention such as I have. In more recent times, two lady missionaries: Mary Slessor of Calabar (without date), and Christina Forsyth of Fingoland (1919), both by W. P. Livingstone. More recently still comes Rowland V. Bingham----the founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, and a man worth knowing. He wrote Seven Sevens of Years and a Jubilee (1943), which is the story of the Sudan Interior Mission. A biography of him is A Flame of Fire, by J. H. Hunter (1961). Finally, I mention a little book of experiences and incidents by John C. Wengatz, entitled Miracles in Black. This is a book for the heart. It was published in 1938, and has been recently reprinted in paperback.

The American Indians offered a mission field which was but little cultivated by the church, but a few titles may be mentioned. History of the Wyandott Mission at Upper Sandusky (1840), is by James B. Finley, of whom I have spoken in the chat on Methodist biographies. This mission was founded by an uneducated Mulatto, by the name of John Stewart, who “went out not knowing whither he went,” under an impression that he was to go to the northwest to preach the gospel. His story is told in a very interesting little book entitled, The Missionary Pioneer, written by I know not whom, but “published by Joseph Mitchell” in 1827. J. B. Finley also wrote Life Among the Indians, but this is not primarily a record of mission work, but a description of Indian life and history, and most of its content does not concern spiritual matters.

South America was not entered by missionaries so early as other fields, and much of the pioneer work there has been done in recent times. I was a boy of eight when the five men who founded the mission to the Auca Indians were martyred, and I still remember the news of it. Books on that mission are Through Gates of Splendor, by Elizabeth Elliot, wife of one of the martyred men (1957), Jungle Pilot, by Russell T. Hitt (1959), and The Dayuma Story, by Ethel Emily Wallis (1960). These books are not hard to find. Another five men were martyred in Bolivia, but this was not so highly publicized, and is not so well known. The story is told in God Planted Five Seeds, by Jean Dye Johnson, one of widows. The book is dated 1966, though the events took place years earlier. Another recent book is Mission to the Head-Hunters, by Frank and Marie Drown.

I must yet speak of William Taylor, though I cannot pin him to any one continent, although he died as the (Methodist) “Bishop of Africa.” By the modern way of thinking he would likely not be regarded as a missionary at all, for he did not go to one nation or tribe and spend his life there, but travelled the world over, preaching everywhere. Yet in this he more resembled the apostles than modern missionaries do, and he penned a book entitled Pauline Methods of Missionary Work. He also established self-supporting missions in various places. A few of his books are Christian Adventures in South Africa, Four Years' Campaign in India, Ten Years of Self-Supporting Missions in India, Our South American Cousins, and The Flaming Torch in Darkest Africa. The African natives named him the “flaming torch,” or “burning fire-stick.”

There are also numerous anthologies, and denominational and general histories of missions. Heroes and Martyrs of the Modern Missionary Enterprise, by Lucius B. Smith, is a book of over 500 pages, first published in 1856, and printed several times. I have seen copies of this priced anywhere from $10 to $150. A similar but smaller work is Heroines of the Missionary Enterprise, by Daniel C. Eddy (1850). Full biographies are of course much superior to these anthologies, but the latter may serve to introduce the reader to missionary names unknown before, and whet the appetite for their biographies. The same is true of general and denominational histories of missions, such as, History of American Baptist Missions, by William Gammell (1849), and The Origin and History of Missions, by Thomas Smith (1857), in two mammoth and elegant volumes.

I list no more, but wish to enlarge upon the remarks made at the beginning. The frequent reading of missionary books is excellent for the health of the soul. Children in Christian homes ought to be put through a long course of such reading, from the time they are able to read at all. Nothing is better calculated to secure their hearts to the cause of Christ. I myself have a large bookshelf filled mostly with missionary books, and one of my reasons for augmenting the contents of this shelf as much as I can is to provide proper reading for my children. My children, who have more time than I do, have read a good number of these missionary books which I myself have not. I buy a missionary book with the intention of reading it when I can, but my children begin to devour it as soon as I bring it in the door. Further, parents who wish to read to their young children can do no better than to read them missionary books.


Grace Stott's Preparation for Missionary Work

I continued in London a few months, when it was definitely settled that I should accompany Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and party, who were to sail the following May. Almost as soon as that decision was arrived at my health began to give way, though up to that time I scarce remember one day of sickness. After trying several places, with the vain hope my illness might prove a temporary weakness, and that I might still be able to go forward, the doctors gave it as their definite decision that I ought not to go to China at present. Mr. Taylor reluctantly communicated this decision to me, but added, “I hope you will be able to follow us in a year.” This news was a great blow to me; I had thought I was willing, for God's will only, that I would be content to go or stay, just as He called; but when the word came “stay” I was bitterly disappointed. This led to much heart searching: for the first time I saw how easy it was to deceive oneself, and night after night I cried to God to save me from self-deception.

One night, when on my knees, with tearful confession of self-will, it seemed as if I heard a voice saying, “If you still want to serve me go back to Glasgow, and take my messages to the Salt Market and the district round about.” My heart almost stood still: the Salt Market was one of the vilest and most wicked places in Glasgow, inhabited almost exclusively by thieves and women of ill-repute. It was hardly fit for a man to go into such a place----could it be God was sending a young girl there, uncalled by man, unprotected, and without means of support----could that be God's will for me? I knelt in silence; I dared not speak. I had had one lesson in self-will, and dared not say “No,” while I feared to say “Yes.” At last the answer came, “Yes Lord; if Thou wilt go with me every step of the way.” I then told the Lord that as I could not go alone I should refuse to go any day I did not feel His presence and power with me. From that hour strength seemed slowly to return. Meantime arrangements were being made for the sailing of the Lammermuir party. I offered to remain a few weeks and help with the outfits.

About a fortnight before the ship sailed, one of the party withdrew through the illness of her mother. Passages had been paid, and unless another took her place the money would be lost. Mr. Taylor turned to me: I had been getting stronger----was it not possible that God, having made me willing to stay, was now opening the way for me to go? To Mr. Taylor it almost appeared so. I prayed, but could get no light; it seemed as if the Lord, having given me His orders, would hear nothing more on the subject, so I had to say, “I can't go,” even though it almost broke my heart to say the word.

The Lammermuir sailed on May 26, 1866, and as I watched her towed slowly out from the docks I felt China must be left behind for the present. Mr. Taylor's home was broken up the day they left, but friends had kindly invited me to spend a few days with them previous to returning to Glasgow, and it was here I had my first lesson in faith. The friend who had been as a mother to me after my grandmother's death had died during my stay in London. I had, therefore, no home to return to.

I had paid all my incidental personal expenses, and never having referred to money matters, friends must have supposed I had plenty, but in fact I only had just enough to take me by rail to Glasgow. Wishing to have a few shillings in my pocket, by which to obtain lodgings, I wanted to go by steamer, that being the cheaper way. Friends tried to dissuade me, not knowing my reason; the expenses were figured up and after removal of luggage, &c., &c., I found I would save but 4s. 6d., and they urged it was not worth taking so long a journey for that sum. I had been asked to visit a young lady on that day, and was about to write a note to say that, leaving by steamer, I could not keep my engagement, when the thought came to me, could I not give up that 4s. 6d. for the Lord's sake? Perhaps He had some service for me to do, or I might interest her in China, so I decided to go by the night train and keep my engagement. We had a time of sweet fellowship together, and, when leaving, she pressed a small packet into my hand, saying, “Take this as from Him.” When I opened it there was exactly 4s. 6d. inside. Oh, how strengthened and helped I was by that simple act. It seemed as if God had said, “Do not doubt; I will care for you.”

I had never heard of living by faith, and if asked could hardly have told the meaning of the words; but I did know if an earthly master sent his servant to do some special work for him, he would at least see that he had enough to eat, and I dared not think my heavenly Father would treat His child worse than that, so I was “without carefulness” in this matter. I had learned to use my needle well, and thought I might help to support myself in that way. Having some warm Christian friends, I had no doubt that if I told them I wanted needlework they would be sure to let me have some, and for the rest the Lord would provide. My business was to do His will.

On my return to Glasgow I was still far from strong, but gave from ten till two daily in visiting the poor degraded outcasts of Salt Market district. No needlework offered, my Father seeing I was too weak to do anything more than the daily visiting. I soon learned why God had sent me in this way, for almost the first questions fiercely asked were: “What Church has sent you here?” “No Church.” “Who has sent you?” “No one.” “Are you not paid for coming?” “No.” “Then why do you come?” “Because I love you; I have been saved myself, and I want you to be saved too.” And when they found that I was not only willing to read with and pray for them, but to nurse poor sick ones, kindle a fire, make beef tea, or sweep a hearth if need be, beside nursing their babies, both hearts and homes were opened to me at once. At first the elders of the Church to which I belonged were uneasy at so young a girl going into dens of such wretchedness, and one elderly man warned me of the dangers to which I was exposing myself, and feared that evil might befall me; but I felt that was God's business. He had sent me, and He was responsible, and never during the three and a half years I laboured amongst them did I receive the least insult or hear unbecoming language if they knew I was present.

After three months, during which God had provided for all my wants in a remarkable manner, sending money from whence I did not know, so that I had lacked nothing, I was one day asked to speak with a few of the elders. They said they thought perhaps God had called me, and they would like a share in the work----would I accept a small sum from them weekly? I told them I could not be put under any rule whatever; I had to feel my way to depend on God for wisdom by the hour, and must work just when and how I could; that if their money would mean being under their control, I must decline; but if they would like to help, no matter in how small a sum, leaving me quite free, I would rejoice in their fellowship. From that hour, until I left for China, three and a half years afterwards, they stood by me, helping me on, but never interfering. In this way the Lord supplied all my wants.

It was not long before I began to see that I was the one God wanted to train through these means. I had all my life had a hatred and dread of sin and sinners. A bad person filled me with disgust, and it was not till I was sent down there among the utterly lost that I began to separate between sin and the sinner, and while hating the one to love the other. They had human hearts, and readily responded to the touch of love, and I felt circumstances and God's grace alone had made me to differ. During that time, so far as I knew, only two had been converted, but God had put His child into His own school, and He was teaching her lessons that would have to be lived out when He gave her her life's work. Never, never shall I cease to give God thanks for those years of contact with sin and for the faith lessons learned there, yet during all the time I never once lost consciousness that my life's work lay in China, and I had but to wait His time.

----Twenty-Six Years of Missionary Work in China, by Grace Stott; New York: American Tract Society, 1897, pp. 3-9.



By Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon Preached on Sept. 25, 1994, Recorded, Transcribed, & Revised

Open your Bibles to the sixteenth chapter of the book of Luke. Luke, chapter 16, beginning at verse 1, “And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do, for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, how much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?”

Father, I pray that you will indeed enlighten our minds and stir our spirits this morning, that you will teach us, and move us to be what we ought to be in the stewardship that you've committed to us. Give me, Father, a warm heart and a clear mind, and enable me to preach the message of God this morning. Amen.

Now, the first thing I want to point out is that this parable is obviously about stewardship. “A certain rich man had a steward.” I think “stewardship” is a word that the modern evangelical church has so corrupted that it is very little understood. All the major so-called Christian organizations have a stewardship department, and what does that stewardship department consist of? Well, it's a department which exists for the purpose of getting money for the organization. And, generally speaking, the thing that they concentrate the most upon is trying to persuade Christians to give something to them in their wills. Hold on to your money, use it as you please, use it for yourself, lay it up in a bank while you live, but of course, when you can't hold on to it any more, when you're going to die, then give it to the work of the Lord. This is the kind of idea that the modern church has made out of stewardship, which is directly the reverse of the true idea of it. Stewardship, of course, is using your goods for the Lord while you live----not bequeathing them to him when you die. Actually, the real fact of the matter is, stewardship is using his goods for him while you live. Your goods are in fact not yours at all. They're God's. This is the root idea of stewardship. A steward is a treasurer. He's a manager. He doesn't own the goods. They're only committed into his hands to take care of them, to use them for his Lord's interests.

Now, we are all stewards. We have something committed to us. It is not ours. This comes out twice in this passage that we have read. At the end of this passage, in the 12th verse, “If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?” What you have, then, is not your own.

One of the most common words we hear is “my.” Little children learn it early. One of the first words that they learn to speak with emotion and expression is “my”----or “mine.” By the way, parents, when you hear your little child say, “my----mine,” stop him, curb him. That's a very bad habit, and we all learned it early. But what we have is not ours. What we have is God's. We're only stewards. We're just treasurers, managers. That is the plain doctrine of the 12th verse, where it says, “If ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who shall give you that which is your own?” That implies what you have now is not your own. It's another's. It belongs to your master. It doesn't belong to you. You're just managing it for him.

Again, in the first verse of this chapter it says, “There was a certain rich man which had a steward, and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.” You understand, “his” here refers to “his Lord's” goods. The man was a steward. They weren't his goods. They were his master's goods. And he was accused to his master that he was wasting his master's goods. You know, we all have a master, and we are all stewards. We all have an accuser, too. The accuser of the brethren accuses us day and night before God. We all have an accuser, and we all have an advocate, a defender to defend us when we're accused before God. And you know, I wonder how our advocate manages it. When your accuser stands before God to accuse you of wasting your master's goods, how do you think your advocate manages that? The devil stands before God and says, “See John Jones down here. He's supposed to be a good Christian. Now look at how he wastes your goods.” And I have an idea that our advocate and high priest just might have to hang his head and say, “It's true. He does waste our goods.”

Well now, how do you waste your master's goods? I think the primary thing involved here is that you forget that they are your master's goods, and begin to use them for yourself. You know, if there is one thing that has distinguished my message, my ministry, it has always been that I have preached all-out devotedness to the cause of Christ. That was the subject of the first sermon I ever preached. But before I ever preached a sermon, right after I was converted, I went up to upper Michigan with a couple of men to hear an evangelist preach. He preached in a football stadium. I don't remember anything he said, except one thing. One thing impressed me, and stuck with me. He said, “God is not going to hold you responsible for ten per cent of your income. He is going to hold you responsible for every penny.” And that's true. That's strictly true. It isn't yours. It's his. A steward----that's all you are. A treasurer, a manager.

Now, this particular steward in the parable is accused to his lord that he wasted his goods. I understand that to mean he spent them for himself. He decided to use his lord's goods for his own interests instead of for his lord's interests. You know, every once in a while folks in this life do that. They're called embezzlers, thieves. Ah, they go to prison for it, if they're found out. They're stewards, treasurers, but the company goods begin to come up short, and the Cadillacs and the boats begin to appear in the steward's garage. And the books are audited and the accounts come up short, and the steward is accused as wasting the goods over which he was a steward. He was not the owner. They were not his goods to do as he pleased with them. He was just a steward of them. Now, this is where we all are. The goods that we possess are not ours. They're God's. He has entrusted them to us----and for what? Obviously for his interests. To serve him with. To promote his interests. To serve his cause. That's what the goods are given to us for. I'm not just talking about money, though that's what this parable is primarily talking about----material goods----but time, energy, strength, intellect, personality, everything you've got. You're a steward of it.

Well, you say, “How ought this to work, then? I can't spend all my money for the cause of Christ. I'd starve. My family would starve. We'd wear rags until they wore out, and then we'd go naked. You can't do that.” That's true. But you know, a steward would undoubtedly receive a personal allowance. He's allowed to use some of his master's goods for his own necessities, but there's a line drawn somewhere. He gets a personal allowance or salary, and when he begins to use more than that for himself, then he's wasting his master's goods. Well, God gives us a personal allowance. He says, “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” He says, “Labour, working with your own hands that you may have need of nothing.” So, you are certainly allowed by God to use his goods for yourself in that measure which he has prescribed, so far as to supply the necessities of this life.

But understand, all necessity is relative. I'm not going to nit-pick. All necessity is relative. We undoubtedly all of us possess things that aren't strictly necessary. I own about 50 or 60 folding chairs. They are not strictly necessary. You folks could stand up like I am. Forks and spoons aren't strictly necessary. I doubt Adam and Eve had any. But I won't nit-pick, and I don't believe God will. God will allow you not only those things that are strictly necessary, but those things that are practically so. But still there's a point at which necessity ceases, define it as liberally as you will. There's a point at which necessity ceases, and when you're still spending at that point, then you're wasting your master's goods.

All right, back to the parable, the 2nd verse, “he called him,” that is, the master called the steward, “and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.” Now this also is going to happen to every one of us, whether we waste our master's goods or not. There's going to come a time when our stewardship is going to cease. God is going to come down to us some day and say, “Thou mayest no longer be steward.” All of the earthly goods that were committed into your hands are going to be taken out of your hands in a moment, and you're going to enter into eternity as naked as you were born. You are not going to take any of it with you. You're going to cease to be steward of those goods. Stewardship is going to cease. This steward then, in verse 3, says within himself, “What shall I do, for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.” The man has caught wind of the fact that he's going to be fired, going to be turned out of his position, not going to have any of his master's goods to waste any more, or to spend upon himself. He's going to be turned out. So, he determines----unrighteously now, dishonestly----while he is still in his place of stewardship, he's going to use his master's goods to secure his own future, so that when his master fires him, and he's turned out, he'll have a place to go. So he begins to call together his master's debtors. And he says to one, “How much do you owe my lord?” And he says, “A hundred measures of oil.” And he says, “Take your bill and write fifty. I'll put my signature on it for you.” Cut the debt in half. Of course he didn't pay the fifty. You understand what he was doing? He just gave him a receipt for fifty measures of oil which he never paid.

Now the reason that he did this is because he was expecting to be turned out of his place of stewardship, and then he would be able to go to one and another of these debtors and say, “Remember when you owed my lord a hundred measures of oil? And I just gave you a receipt for fifty of them which you never paid.” “Yes, I remember that.” “Well, now I need a little help. I helped you: now you help me.” This is what he was about. You say, “Well, it's dishonest. It's crooked.” To be sure, it was crooked, but what he was doing was using the goods that belonged to his master to secure his own future welfare. That is what this parable is all about. That's what we're supposed to be doing. That's what God tells us to do.

Drop down in the parable to the ninth verse: “And I say unto you, make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” He says, I want you to do just the same thing that this unjust steward did. Now, back up, read what the steward said, verse 4: “I am resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses, so he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him”----and made friends with them. That's what he did. You know, normally debtors are not friends with those to whom they owe money. There's an old Italian proverb that says, “Does your neighbor bore you? Lend him a sequin.” When he's in debt to you----even if it's for a trifle----he won't show up any more. Well, normally debtors are not friends with their creditors, nor friends with their creditors' stewards or bill collectors. This fellow was a steward of this rich man, and I have an idea that when this man that owed him a hundred measures of oil saw this steward come around, he would cross the street----maybe sneak down the alley. He didn't want to meet with him. But this steward just reversed that order of things, and made friends with these debtors. True, he did so by being crooked, by sacrificing his master's interests, but he made friends with them so that when he was turned out of his stewardship, they might receive him into their houses----so that he would have a place to go. Now then, that much is back in the fourth and following verses, but here in the ninth verse the Lord says, That's what I want you to do----“make to yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when ye fail [that is, when ye die], they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” You are a steward of your Lord's goods. This is what you do with them. You take your Lord's goods, and make yourself friends with them, so that when you die they may receive you into everlasting habitations. That is the plain doctrine of this parable.

Now he says in verse 8, “And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Now let's get some things straight here. He commended the unjust steward, not because he had done righteously. Oh no. He hadn't done righteously. He commended him because he had done wisely. When his lord found out what this unjust steward was doing, he said, “Fellow, you are pretty shrewd. You've got a head on your shoulders.” He was crooked as a snake, but he commended him because he had done wisely, not because he had done justly. Now what did he do, in that he did wisely? Well, he used what he had in the present to secure something for the future. This is wisdom, and that is what Christ advises you to do. You take the mammon of unrighteousness----the things that God has committed into your hands----and you use it to secure your future. Understand, of course, he's not recommending that you do it unrighteously, but there is no need to do it unrighteously. He has committed his goods to you with the purpose that you should use them to secure your future----your eternal future, of course. To squander those goods in the pleasures of this life is to waste them.

But he says, “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” The word “generation” you can translate “kind” or “sphere.” The children of this world are wiser in their own kind than the children of light. What does it mean, wiser? It means they better know how to secure their ends than the children of light know how to secure their ends. That's what wisdom is. Wisdom is knowing how, and in the Bible wisdom is constantly associated with self-interest. Isn't that what we have here? The children of this world are wiser in their own kind than the children of light. They know how to secure their own ends. They know how to secure their own welfare. What does it mean that the unjust steward did wisely? It doesn't mean he did righteously, or that he did well. It means he acted in such a way as to secure his own welfare. That is wisdom.

Now, the moral of the parable is: you do what he did. You are a steward. You have your hands full of your Lord's goods. What should you do with them? Well, you have two choices. You can spend them for the fleeting pleasures of this life. You can spend them for the passing, perishable goods of this life, or you can use them to secure your eternal future. “Everlasting habitations”----that's eternal. Use your goods to secure your everlasting future. Make to yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. How do you do that? Well, there are lots of ways you can do that. Give to the poor. Give to somebody that is preaching the gospel. Make to yourselves friends. By the way, this verse long ago determined me that there is no necessity to give anonymously. Some people suppose they ought always to give anonymously. They think it is wrong to give somebody a gift, and let him know where it came from. I don't believe so. The Lord says, “Make to yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness.” The mammon of unrighteousness is just earthly goods----money. Make yourselves friends with it----here, obviously, spiritual friends. You can make yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness as the unjust steward did----unrighteously----and those friends aren't going to receive you into everlasting habitations. It's talking about making yourselves friends in a spiritual sense, contributing to save their souls, or if they are already saved, to help them on their way.

But you know this parable gives modern Fundamentalism as much trouble as almost anything in the Bible. Not because the parable isn't perfectly clear in its meaning. You know why it gives them trouble? Precisely because it is clear, and they don't like what it says. It cuts right across the grain of their theology. They don't want to believe what it says. But the parable itself is perfectly clear. Their theology secures their eternal future by a glib and easy act of a dead and worthless faith, with no denial of self and no commitment to the cause of Christ. This parable cuts right across the grain of that. What this parable actually requires of us is present self-denial, in order to secure our future welfare----and this is exactly the doctrine of the whole New Testament.

Now after the conclusion of the parable itself, he adds a few other admonitions in the application of it. Verse 10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Here is a statement concerning character. A person that is unrighteous in that which is least is naturally going to be unrighteous in the greatest things also. A person that will lie about little things will lie about big things. A person that will cheat in a little thing will cheat in a big thing----understanding now that he thinks he can get away with it, all other circumstances being equal. The fellow that will steal a quarter will embezzle a thousand dollars, or a million, if he thinks he can get away with it. But “that which is least” here is money. What he is talking about is money, and he calls it “that which is least.” Oh, it's a strange thing that that which is least in God's eye is such a big thing in men's eyes. God calls it “that which is least.” And he has committed some of it to us, along with some other things. He has put it into our hands. The more we have of it, the more responsibility we have in it.

Oh, if people could only get a hold of this idea of stewardship! This money is not mine. It's God's. I'm his treasurer. I'm his steward. I'm here to support his interests, to do his things with this money. Yet people have the idea that the more money I have in my hands, or in my pocket, or in my bank, the more I have, the better off I am, and the more pleasures I can have, and the more goods I can have, and the easier life I can have----as the old proverb says, “He that hath money hath what he listeth”----whereas the real truth is, the more I have of this world's goods, the greater is my responsibility to God. He gave this man only a thousand dollars, and he gave you a million. That means you have a thousand times more responsibility. It's not too hard to figure out what to do with a thousand dollars. You just stretch it every direction, and it still doesn't go very far, or last very long, but if you've got a million, oh, then you've got some responsibility to God, who is the owner of that million. Now he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much. “That which is least” is just your earthly goods. You prove yourself faithful in that which is least, and God will commit something more to you.

Now he says in verse 11, “If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Now what does it mean to be faithful in the unrighteous mammon? You say it means to be honest----pay my bills, don't embezzle, don't cheat. Oh, it means a lot more than that. To be faithful in the unrighteous mammon means to use it for God. It belongs to him, and to be faithful means to use it for him. That's the point of this parable.

You know, it just occurs to me that whenever Christians are in need, they like to encourage themselves with the fact that the Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills. They even sing about it, and throw in “the wealth in every mine,” along with the cattle on a thousand hills. All the cattle grazing on the hills of the millionaire ranchers, all the millions in the bank accounts of tycoon Jones----these are all the Lord's, and he therefore has plenty with which to take care of my needs. Yes, that's true enough, but did it ever occur to you that it's equally true that he owns all of your cattle, and all the money in your bank accounts, and all the goods in your hands? You are only a steward of those goods, and if you don't use those goods for his interests, he will take them from you, and put you out of the stewardship.

Now he says if you are not faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who is going to commit to you the true riches? Where are you going to get true riches? From God----but he says he's not going to commit them to you, if you're not faithful in the unrighteous mammon. Interesting, by the way, that money should be called “unrighteous mammon.” Of all the things that exist, which might be thought of as being indifferent, God singles out money to call it unrighteous. You say “Well, there isn't anything wrong with money as such, only with what men do with it.” Yet God calls it unrighteous----so closely is it allied to man's sinfulness. Not that it's sinful to possess it or use it. You can't come to that conclusion, because while calling it unrighteous mammon, the Lord tells you to use it. But God does call it unrighteous. It all needs to be laundered, and God here puts us all in the money-laundering business. Apply it to the cause of Christ. Use it to make yourselves friends, who will receive you into everlasting habitations.

“If ye therefore have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” These are the spiritual and eternal things, the true riches. Money is just a fleeting shadow. True riches are the enduring and eternal and spiritual things. The only way to secure the true riches is to be faithful in the unrighteous mammon.

Now then, “If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?” In our present state we don't own anything. We're stewards. There's a time coming when we can have something which is our own. We're going to get to heaven and the Lord is going to say, “Here's a mansion, and it's yours.” “Mine?” “Yes it is. Yours to keep for ever.” “Can I do whatever I want with it?” “You can do whatever you want. It's yours.” What you have down here is not yours. It's God's. You're just the manager. He's just committed it to you, and committed it to you for a purpose. And that purpose is to use it for his interest. But you know, the marvelous thing that we come to in the end is: I can use it for his interest, and for my own at the same time. The fact of the matter is, the more thoroughly and consistently I use it for his interests, the more thoroughly I promote my own. That's the way God has arranged things. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:24). If I just use it for my own interests, I just lose it, and don't promote my own interests at all. That's being unfaithful with the mammon of unrighteousness, and nobody is going to commit to me the true riches. But if I use it for his interests, that is the way to secure my own----true riches, given to me to be my own for ever and ever. What I have while I walk on this globe is not mine. It's God's, and I'm his steward. This is the true meaning of stewardship. We're all stewards, and the time is coming shortly when we're going to be put out of the stewardship, every one of us. And then the question will be, What have we done with the things that were committed to us? Christ says this is what you do----use them to make yourselves friends, eternal friends, that will receive you into everlasting habitations when you fail.

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor

One Fold

We read in John 10:16, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this FOLD. Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one FOLD, and one shepherd.” The word “fold” appears twice in this verse, where two entirely distinct words appear in the Greek. The first word is properly rendered “fold,” but the second does not mean “fold” at all, but rather “flock.” The first word designates an enclosure in which to keep the sheep, while the second word designates the sheep themselves.

But it will naturally be asked, Why, then, does the English Bible read “fold,” if it ought to read “flock”? Many will of course put this down as only one more among a myriad of proofs of the inferiority of the old Bible. I was once of that mind myself, but time and experience taught me otherwise----taught me rather to be very diffident about rejecting any reading of the old version, unless I first knew the reason for that reading. In the pride of youth I often condemned the readings of the King James Version, only to find that I must return to them, after I had learned a few things.

These reflections bring to mind a story worth repeating, and I will therefore repeat it. Among the learned men who wrought in the production of the King James Version was one Dr. Kilby, or Kilbye. Of him we have the following account: “The doctor was to ride a journey into Derbyshire, and took Mr. Sanderson to bear him company; and they, resting on a Sunday with the doctor's friend, and going together to that parish church where they then were, found the young preacher to have no more discretion, than to waste a great part of the hour allotted for his sermon in exceptions against the late translation of several words (not expecting such a hearer as Dr. Kilby), and showed three reasons why a particular word should have been otherwise translated. When evening prayer was ended, the preacher was invited to the doctor's friend's house, where, after some other conference, the doctor told him, he might have preached more useful doctrine, and not have filled his auditors' ears with needless exceptions against the late translation; and for that word for which he offered to that poor congregation three reasons why it ought to have been translated as he said, he and others had considered all of them, and found thirteen more considerable reasons why it was translated as now printed.”*

This young preacher is the prototype of most of the critics of the King James Bible today, and especially of those who make new versions with which to replace it. Nevertheless, the King James Version is not perfect, and it contains readings which are not only false, but, as I suppose, inexcusably so. “One fold” in John 10:16 is one of those readings.

Nonetheless, we ought to inquire after the reason of such a reading. If the master violinist keeps a cat in his violin case, we might condemn the practice without understanding his reason for it----for no reason, we might assure ourselves, could be sufficient to compensate for the disservice done to the cat. Nevertheless, we should be anxious to know his reason. If it turns out that his reason is to keep the violin warm, we might discard it without another thought, for violins might be kept warm in other manners----if indeed they need to be kept warm at all.

When William Tyndale published his first New Testament, in 1526, John 10:16 read as follows: “and other shepe I have/ which are not off this folde. Them also must I bringe/ and they shall heare my voyce. And there shalbe won flocke/ and won shepheerde.” This was a good, literal translation of the Greek. George Joye's revision reads just the same (with variations in spelling). Tyndale's first revision, in 1534, unfortunately departed somewhat from the literalness of his first performance, but was nothing altered in reading “flock.” It reads, “and other shepe I have/ which are not of this folde. Them also must I bringe/ that they maye heare my voyce/ and that ther maye be one flocke and one shepheerde.” This was followed verbatim in all of Tyndale's editions, by Matthew in 1537, and by Taverner in 1539. Coverdale, in 1535, renders the verse, “And I haue yet other shepe, which are not of this folde, and those same must I brynge also, and they shal heare my voyce, and there shalbe one flocke and one shepherde.” All of this is as we would expect it, for so reads the Greek.

In 1538, however, Coverdale published his Latin-English New Testaments, each page displaying the Latin Vulgate in one column, and an English translation of it in the other. The Latin Vulgate does not read “one flock” in this verse, but unum ovile, “one fold,” repeating the same word for “fold” as is used earlier in the verse. Coverdale's translation, therefore, exhibits, “And I haue other shepe that be not of thys folde, those must I also bryng, and they shall heare my voyce, and ther shalbe one folde, and one shepeherde.” And when in the following year Coverdale produced the Great Bible, he retained this false reading, exhibiting “ther shalbe one fold” (1540 ed.). This clause is preceded by one of the pointing hands which appear so often in the text of the Great Bible. These pointing hands marked the places in the text which were to be elucidated by annotations in an appendix. Those annotations, however, were never printed (probably failing to receive the royal permission), and the later editions of the Great Bible dropped the hands from the text. We are thus left without explanation as to what moved Coverdale to depart from the correct rendering of the previous English Bibles. We do know, however, that he brought much from the Latin Vulgate into the Great Bible, in an attempt to conciliate the papists, and we may suppose it was the same purpose which moved him here. Yet Mozley says well, “Coverdale did badly in bringing fold into the English Bible. Why A.V. did not cast it out again is a mystery.”§

Yet why the Authorized Version did not cast it out again might not be altogether a mystery. One of the great strengths of that version is its conservatism. It was not given to change as all of the modern versions are. Yet upon occasion its strength was also its weakness, for it unquestionably retained some things which ought to have been changed. Because all of the early English Bibles were characterized by a healthy conservatism, the Great Bible exercised a good deal of influence over its successors. When the Geneva New Testament was produced in 1557, it was based upon Richard Jugge's edition of Tyndale's New Testament, (probably because Tyndale's version came directly from the Greek, while none of Coverdale's did), but at that time (in 1557) the Great Bible had been the Bible in common use for upwards of fifteen years, and the Geneva version adopted numerous readings from it. Hence at John 10:16 the Geneva New Testament reads “ther shal be one shepefolde, and one shepeherde,” against both Tyndale and the Greek. The Geneva Bible of 1560 followed suit.

Thus when the extremely conservative Bishops' Bible was produced in 1568, it had before it the example of both of the Bibles in common use (Great Bible and Geneva Bible) for “fold” or “sheepfold,” and there was therefore little likelihood that this would be changed. The Bishops' Bible, therefore, reads, “there shalbe one folde, and one sheepehearde.”

Again, when the King James Version was produced, it had before it the example of the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Bishops' Bible, for “fold.” And though in many places it departed from the example of all of these, yet in this place it did not. Thus the erroneous “fold” came to stand in the English Bible. The modern versions, of course, correct it, along with a host of things which did not need to be corrected.

The real and only authority for the second appearance of “fold” in the verse is the Latin Vulgate. All the Greek manuscripts read “flock.” The Syriac Peshitto reads “flock.” All the manuscripts of the Old Latin read grex, that is, “flock.” Why Jerome altered this to ovile, “fold,” in the Vulgate, must remain, I suppose, a mystery----but mystery or not, it is an error. Being translated from the Vulgate, we of course expect the Wycliffe Bible to read “one fold,” and so in fact it does, the earlier version having “o fold and o schepherde,” and the later, ”o foolde and o scheepherde.” But in Wycliffe's English sermons we read, “And so shal êere be oo flok, and oon herde over hem alle.”* This is another mystery. There is no question that John Wycliffe's Bible was the Latin Vulgate, which reads “fold” without variation. Whence came he by “flock” here?

As for the doctrine of the passage, the one fold is clearly Judaism. The other sheep are the Gentiles. The one flock is the church, the “one new man” of Eph. 2:15. The sheep are said to be “of this fold,” that is, to belong to it, but the sheep are the flock. What doctrinal conclusions are to be drawn from this I leave alone for the present, only pointing out that it may be hard to draw proper conclusions from an improper translation.

Editorial Policies

Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts such articles if they are judged to be profitable for scriptural instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own views are to be taken from his own writings.