Did Elijah Go to Heaven in a Chariot
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!
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
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
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
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
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
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -------
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A great deal of excellent missionary work has been done in Africa, but
this is not always recorded in excellent books
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
----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
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
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
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
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
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
by the Editor
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
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
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
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
----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
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
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.