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Vol. 4, No. 8
Aug., 1995

King James' Other Book

by Glenn Conjurske

I need hardly say that I am for the King James Version. I love it and use it, and believe it to be superior to every other version which has ever been produced in the English language, either before or since. But I am not for the modern defenders of the precious old Book. I believe that no one in history has ever wrought so effectually to besmirch and defoul the reputation of the King James Bible, as the modern King James Only men. This, of course, is directly against their intentions, but it is a fact nevertheless. They everywhere parade the most baseless fictions and follies as though they were the undoubted facts of history, and thereby drive all who are not invincibly ignorant of the real facts to suppose that their cause must be as weak as their arguments----to suppose, that is, that the King James Version must be as false, base, and puerile as the arguments with which its defenders seek to establish it. It is as though the pole cat has set himself to defend the house cat. Kitty smelled all right before, but she is odious enough today. I understand that some of the King James Only men themselves begin to realize this. Some of them have taken exception to the base metal of Gail Riplinger's New Age Bible Versions. But somehow they fail to see that all of them have been circulating the same kind of coin themselves for years.

Among the rest of the fictions which many of these King James Only men set forth is that King James himself was a godly and spiritual man----evidently not only a saint, but an eminent one. This is the opposite of the truth. Not that it much matters, for King James was in no sense the maker or translator of the version which bears his name. Whether he was a saint or a sinner has very little to do with the character of the King James Version. Still, when men are teaching fiction on the subject, it is well to set the record straight.

I do not intend here to write any detailed examination of King James' character, but only to speak a few words concerning another “book” of his, which made some splash in the world when it was published, in 1618. It was commonly called King James' Book of Sports, and called by some the Dancing Book. In reality it is hardly a book at all in the modern sense, though commonly so called, but rather a royal proclamation, similar in size to one of the shorter books of the New Testament. Its title appears as follows: THE KINGS MAIESTIES Declaration to His Subiects, CONCERNING lawfull Sports to be vsed.

A few words from this “book” will sufficiently indicate its character, and the character of the king. (I modernize the spelling.)

“Our pleasure likewise is, That the Bishop of that Diocese take the like strait order with all the Puritans and Precisions* within the same, either constraining them to conform themselves, or to leave the Country according to the Laws of Our Kingdom, and Canons of Our Church, and so to strike equally on both hands, against the contemners of Our Authority, and adversaries of Our Church. And as for Our good people's lawful Recreation, Our pleasure likewise is, That after the end of Divine Service, Our good people be not disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any lawful Recreation; Such as dancing, either men or women, Archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless Recreation, nor from having of May-Games, Whitson Ales, and Morris-dances, and the setting up of May-poles and other sports therewith used, so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or neglect of divine Service; And that women shall have leave to carry rushes to the Church for the decoring of it, according to their old custom. But withal We do here accompt [= account] still as prohibited all unlawful games to be used upon Sundays, as Bear and Bull-baiting, Interludes, and at all times in the meaner sort of People by Law prohibited, Bowling.”

What this Book of Sports really was was an attack upon the Puritans and Puritanism, as is evident in the above extract. I do not enter into the questions involved, as to whether the Puritans ought to have kept the Sabbath, or whether they ought to have forced others to keep it by law. On some points James may have had the better of them from a technical and doctrinal standpoint, but that is really irrelevant. It was not truth or godliness that moved James, but just the reverse. Sabbath or no sabbath, the things James recommends are ungodly on any day. Right or wrong, the position of the Puritans was the recognized position of the godly in the land, and King James' Book of Sports was in reality an attack upon vital godliness, besides an undisguised attack upon the Puritans. The book was, as Neal affirms, “a grief to all sober Protestants.”** Yet there are King James Only men today who apparently believe that James was a godly Puritan himself, and affirm that he employed the Puritans to translate the King James Version. This is fiction.


With the People of God

by Glenn Conjurske

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” (Heb. 11:24-26).

These verses are some of the richest in all the Bible. Moreover, they are also some of the most important, such as must be lodged very near the center of the heart of every man who would hold to a sound system of practical theology. I do not intend to give any exposition of them here, but only to enforce the words which stand above as the title of this article.

The statements in these verses define the associations of the saints of God. Whatever their calling may be, they are called to association “with the people of God.” But this of necessity requires their disassociation from the world. Moses did not dream of associating with the people of God, and yet retaining his associations with the Egyptians. He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter,” and the next words following those which I have quoted above are, “By faith he forsook Egypt.” Every man who is called to association “with the people of God” is by the same token called to separation from the world.

And observe, this was Moses' own choice. He was not disowned by Pharaoh's daughter: he forsook her. She had been a mother to him, and that not by any natural law of necessity, such as is the usual basis of motherhood, but by a voluntary choice of her own. She chose to be a mother to him, when there was no necessity for it at all. And yet after all her care for him for many years, he refused to be called her son. By this act he likely brought a great deal of reproach upon himself, but his act was both right and necessary. Pharaoh's daughter had shown herself personally a friend and benefactor----yea, a mother----to this poor, perishing son of Israel, but for all that, she belonged to the camp which was against God and against the people of God. For Moses therefore to associate with the people of God, he must break his ties with her, and all that she stood for.

This doctrine of separation is indeed one of the most elementary lessons in the walk of faith, but it has been but little understood in the history of the church. The Plymouth Brethren understood it, and some of them still do. Many of the Fundamentalists half understood it, and that is about all that can be said. They understood ecclesiastical separation, but little more than that. Had most of them been in Moses' shoes, they would have gone out to attend the religious meetings of the people of God, but retained their place in the household of Pharaoh all the while----unless they were driven out. But Moses was not driven out. “He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.”

But even ecclesiastical separation has been repudiated by most of what was called Fundamentalism a generation ago. A new movement arose within the ranks of Fundamentalism, known as Neo-evangelicalism. That movement swept away most of what then existed of Fundamentalism, taking full possession of most of the Christian schools and publishing houses----so that now almost all of the books and literature which are read by Fundamentalists are written and published by Neo-evangelicals. This bodes very ill for the future of Fundamentalism.

But what is Neo-evangelicalism? It is at bottom a movement which repudiates separation from the world. It repudiates even ecclesiastical separation, advocating infiltration rather than separation. It advocates, in other words, that Christians should remain as members in worldly, liberal, and apostate churches. The line of demarcation between the saved and the lost is largely obliterated in their thinking, and all who name the name of Christ are regarded as Christian brethren. What, even the pope of Rome? Ah, it takes most of these evangelicals a long stretch of years of deep exercise of heart before they will acknowledge the pope as a brother in Christ, but some of them eventually reach that acme of spirituality, and the movement definitely takes them in that direction. If Moses had turned Neo-evangelical, he would no doubt have deeply repented for his rash step in leaving the household of Pharaoh, and his unchristian spirit in refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. And he would no doubt have come to the realization that Pharaoh's daughter was a true Israelite after all----perhaps mistaken in some of her ideas about God, but right in her heart.

“Love” is of course the watchword of Neo-evangelicalism----as it always has been of liberalism----but all that most of it really amounts to is love for the world. Moses embraced “the reproach of Christ,” and esteemed it great riches. Neo-evangelicalism shuns the reproach of Christ, and will go almost any length to escape and avoid it. This dislike for the reproach of Christ is the foundation of Neo-evangelicalism. For this cause they pursue worldly education, and covet its highest “degrees.” For this cause they seek to excel in every branch of worldly endeavor. For this cause they seek to evangelize celebrities, and to use those celebrities in all of their programs. For this cause they preach toleration, belittle doctrinal purity, and sneer at strict standards of practical righteousness. For this cause they repudiate the doctrine of separation. They seek to walk with the people of God, and with the people Egypt also. Moses knew of no such broad pathway.

But there is an error on the other side. While some think to serve the Lord with the people of the world, others think to serve him without the people of God. They find none with whom they can walk in the narrow pathway, and so endeavor to walk in it alone. They belong to no church, and attend none. They rarely join in the fellowship of the saints, seldom hear the word of God preached, seldom blend their voices in the singing of the congregation of the saints. They have forsaken the assembling of themselves together, and walk no longer “with the people of God.”

But though I believe such a course to be a mistake, I am not able to censure it without qualification----at least not in all cases. For some who endeavor to wend their way to heaven without the people of God I have only the most heartfelt sympathy. This is not such a course as they would choose, but such as they have been forced to by conscience, by faithfulness, by the word of God, and by the worldliness and materialism of the churches. They cannot in good conscience join with churches whose membership is little different from the ungodly world. They cannot put their children under the influence of the worldly leaders of the modern church. Therefore they walk alone, not because they wish to do so, but because they believe they must. I have been in that position myself, and I have only sympathy for others who are there.

But then all who take such a course do not have the same spirit. Some may be compelled to such a course by conscience, but others are impelled to it by nothing but pride. I have known a number of such folks down through the years, and believe I may safely say of the great majority of them that the main ingredient in their character was pride. They know better than everyone----though their own doctrine is shallow and unsound enough. They can find none whose godliness comes up to their standard----though their own godliness is no better, and perhaps not so good. They are unwilling to submit to the authority or the standards of any church on earth, and any and every little technicality of doctrine or practice is made the occasion to stay outside. Here is a man who cannot join one church because they admit alien baptisms, cannot join another because the women wear no head coverings, cannot join a third because they hold that some divorced people may remarry, cannot join a fourth because the people wear wedding rings, cannot join a fifth because the men have no beards, nor a sixth because they have a steeple on their building, nor a seventh because they practice closed communion, nor an eighth because they pay the preacher a salary----and it may be that the level of real godliness is higher than his own in every one of those churches. Such a one may “try” various churches from time to time----“try,” that is, to see whether he can so change them as to conform them to all of his own views. Failing in that, he immediately departs, and has never a good word to say of that church for all the time to come. Pride is the real cause of his isolation, whatever grounds he may profess for it.

But then I believe also that there are real and sufficient grounds for staying out of many churches----churches which profess to be fundamental, but where half or three quarters of the members show no evidence whatever that they have ever been converted. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” is sufficient warrant to leave such churches. The extreme worldliness of others is warrant enough----especially for those who have children. We have all seen examples enough of such churches. A number of years ago I attended a few meetings of a thriving and prominent Open Brethren assembly in another state. One of those meetings was a Friday evening Bible study. The ministry was dead and unprofitable, with nothing in it to instruct the mind, nothing to warm the heart, and nothing to stir the spirit. On Sunday morning, of course, they gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus, but as soon as the noon meal was finished (where I and a number of others were guests at the table), the party broke up----the women to the kitchen to talk, the young people to the dining room to play cards, the men to the den to watch television----and I, out the door. Now if anyone had asked me, I would certainly have advised them to either change that church or leave it. But those who have tried will know that there is little hope of changing such churches. The old bottles are too brittle to change their shape.

A man may be compelled to stay out of some churches because he could not in good conscience sign their doctrinal statement, assent to which is required of all who join. To join others would mean to support or condone programs which he believes to be directly against the doctrine or example of Scripture. In such cases a man might attend a church for the sake of the fellowship, without joining it. I have done the same myself at times. But the fact is, many churches are so worldly and materialistic in both principle and practice, that I would be the last one to blame a man for refusing even to attend their meetings. How can a man with a family stay in such an atmosphere, and place his children under such an influence?

But what is he then to do? Must he then walk the narrow pathway alone?

I think not. He may at some time be forced to this against his wishes, and as a temporary thing, but it is both wrong and dangerous to continue indefinitely in such a course. Dangerous, for, as an old German proverb says, “One log does not burn long by itself.” Zeal is likely to cool in those who attempt to walk alone. Spiritual life is likely to languish without the fellowship of the saints. Not necessarily so, but usually so. A Moses might walk alone with God for forty years, and yet remain a man of God. A John the Baptist might be alone in the deserts with his God, and yet his spiritual life flourish. But such men are rare. They are the sort of logs which can not only can burn alone, but which serve always to communicate fire to those around them. But if so, for that reason they ought not to walk alone. Suppose there is no danger at all in your separating yourself from the people of God. Suppose you are the one among a thousand who can walk alone, and walk well. You have no need of an elder to watch over you, nor a prophet to exhort you. Your zeal will not cool, though not warmed by the fellowship of the saints. You do not need the people of God, nor the meetings of the church of God. You can stand strong and true and faithful without them. Is this your case? Then by all means THE CHURCH NEEDS YOU.

Israel, by the way, needed Moses also, but they rejected him, and he was therefore compelled to walk alone, without the people of God, for forty years. Yet this was not his choice. When he left the household of Pharaoh, it was with the full intention of walking “with the people of God,” but he was compelled by providence into a path of solitude. This fact ought to make us very careful about judging others who walk alone. If the church of God rejects their ministry, they may be forced to this, as Moses was. And if the church drives away spiritually hungry souls, by its worldliness and carnality, it has little business to judge them for walking alone. I met a woman many years ago who was in just such a state. She had been converted ten years. She of course joined a fundamental church when she was converted, and went on for about two years, full of zeal and joy. But one thing always troubled her. She could not understand why the older Christians were cold and dead, and had none of the zeal and joy which she had. This was not pride, for after a couple of years she came to the conclusion that since they were all older and more mature in the faith than she was, and none of them were like she was, she must be wrong. She gave up her spiritual experience in order to conform herself to a carnal church. She went on in that state for three years, but had no satisfaction in it, and at length concluded that if that was all there was to the church, there wasn't anything to it, and she dropped out.

For five years she went on alone, endeavoring to serve God, but not doing very well at it. At that point she came to my house, as a business representative. I told her I was not interested. But she knew something about me, and wanted to talk to me. She pressed her case, but still I told her I was not interested. She practically begged me to let her come in and make her presentation, promising me she would stay no more than ten minutes. I let her in, and she began her work, but our conversation soon turned to the things of God, and she stayed three hours. She was back again the next day, and often afterwards. Her joy and zeal were all restored, and her face glowed as she spoke of it. Yet still she joined no church, for at that time I myself belonged to none, having a little before left one for conscientious reasons. After a little I was called away from that city, and we did not see this woman for eleven years. After eleven years we got a letter from her, saying she had not had any spiritual fellowship or teaching for eleven years, and she was ready to give up again. Yet there were a number of fundamental churches in that city----but worldly and unspiritual. Churches ought not to judge such souls, “but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.” (Rom. 14:13). If those churches would remove the stumblingblocks out of the way, and offer solid spiritual food and a sound spiritual example, such souls would gladly come to them----though many of their present members would doubtless leave. The principles, ways, programs, and general state of many evangelical churches is just such as naturally attracts the worldly and unspiritual, and sends the spiritually minded away mourning and hungry.

But having spoken thus much to dissuade the unspiritual from judging the spiritual and the hungry, I must yet insist that every child of God has a responsibility, as far as in him lies, to serve the Lord “with the people of God.” Scripture commands us, “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25). And again, “Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (II Tim. 2:22). This seems plain enough.

But what is a man to do if he can find none with whom he can in good conscience join in church fellowship? It may be he ought to look farther. It may be there are none in his own town, but are there none on the earth? Surely he might find some somewhere. True, he might have to give up a good situation to join with them, but what of that? That is exactly what Moses did, according to the text cited at the head of this article. When he determined to join “with the people of God,” he gave up one of the best situations on earth. He turned his back upon it, and walked away from it, not looking back, but looking ahead, to the eternal “recompense of reward.” Surely this is recorded in Scripture as an example for us to follow.

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Fletcher of Madeley

John William Fletcher (1729-1785) was born in Switzerland, as Jean Guillaume de la Flechere. He moved to England in 1750. Having feared God from his youth, he had no one to teach him the way of salvation. Hearing one speaking slightingly of the Methodists, he asked who they were. Being told they were a people who did nothing but pray, he determined to find them. He did so, and found the salvation of his soul also. Ordained in the Church of England in 1757, he settled as vicar of Madeley in 1760, where he remained until his death. He was a close coadjutor of Wesley and Methodism. He is not much known at this day, but the church would be better off if he were.

In 1768 Lady Huntingdon erected a school at Trevecka in Wales, and invited Fletcher to take charge of it, which he did, with signal blessing and success. However, after the publication of the Minutes of Wesley's conference of 1770, Lady Huntingdon accused those Minutes of popery, and required that all who did not fully disavow them must quit the college. Fletcher replied that he could not disavow them, but must approve them, and accordingly quit his post. Shortly afterwards he published a vindication of the Minutes, which launched him into a controversy of several years' length, and produced his Checks to Antinomianism. These fill over 1200 pages in his Works, and may be regarded as the great work of his life. They are as the title indicates, checks to Antinomianism, but they are also checks to Calvinism, being strongly Arminian throughout. A quiet dignity breathes through these Checks, though they are strongly controversial, and Fletcher's spirit is mild and courteous----and in that, the very opposite of the spirit of his Calvinistic antagonists.

John Wesley writes of these Checks, “One knows not which to admire most, the purity of the language, (such as a foreigner scarce ever wrote before,) the strength and clearness of the argument, or the mildness and sweetness of the spirit which breathes throughout the whole.”

From the opposite camp, J. C. Ryle (a Calvinist) writes, “As a writer, Fletcher's reputation will never perhaps stand so high as it deserves. Unfortunately, a very large portion of his literary remains consist of controversial treatises against Calvinism, and in defense of Arminianism. In these treatises I must plainly say the worthy Vicar of Madeley says many things with which I cannot agree, because I cannot reconcile them with the statements of Scripture. Yet, even when I do not agree with him, I feel bound as an honest man to admit that Fletcher is a very able adversary, and makes the best that can be made of a bad cause, and writes with courtesy.”

Arminians, of course, will suppose that Fletcher makes the best that can be made of a good cause. For my own part, though certainly not agreeing with everything Fletcher writes, I regard his Checks as among the best and soundest theological writings in the history of the church, and particularly needful at the present time, when Antinomianism is the rule rather than the exception. The four volumes of his Works were republished in 1974 in a good cloth-bound edition, and are available today.

Beauties of Fletcher is a small abridgement of his Checks (315 pages) published by the American Methodist book concern in 1840.

Turning from his writings to look at the man himself, we certainly see in him a great man, and an eminent Christian. J. C. Ryle, after giving Fletcher a high character “as a preacher,” and “as a writer,” continues, “As a man, Fletcher's character stands above all praise. I can find very few men of a hundred years ago about whom there is so striking an agreement on all sides that he was pre-eminently and peculiarly a most holy man, a saint indeed, a living epistle of Christ. His deep humility, his extraordinary self-denial, his unwearied diligence, his courage in Christ's cause, his constant spirituality of tone, his fervent love to God and man, his singleness of eye, are features so strongly marked and developed, that even his adversaries never pretended to deny them. Wrong as he was in some of his views of doctrine, his worst foes never ventured to doubt his singular holiness of life.”

There are a number of biographies of Fletcher. The first is A Short Account of the Life and Death of the Rev. John Fletcher, by John Wesley. This is a short, popular work, which will be found in all editions of Wesley's complete works.

The Life of the Rev. John W. de la Flechere, by Joseph Benson, is a full biography of 350 pages, tending to be a little tedious in detail. Much larger and fuller, of course, is Wesley's Designated Successor (subtitled “The Life, Letters, and Literary Labours of the Rev. John William Fletcher”), by Luke Tyerman, which contains nearly 600 large pages, and most everything that can be known about Fletcher, after Tyerman's usual manner. This book is very scarce. I have seen but one copy of it in my life.

Of smaller works, Fletcher of Madeley, by F. W. MacDonald, is a popular work of 200 pages, based upon Tyerman. The Life of The Rev. John William Fletcher, by Robert Cox, is a small book published in 1822, but by a man unfit to write a life of Fletcher, for he never once mentions the Methodists in the book.

A small volume of Letters of the Rev. John Fletcher was edited by Melvill Horne. This contains a number of letters not in his Works.

Fletcher remained unmarried most of his life, believing that marriage was something less than spiritual. He was persuaded otherwise by the scripture which informs us that Enoch “begat sons and daughters,” and “walked with God.” He therefore married late in life, and died after a few years of one of the happiest marriages. His wife's life was written by Henry Moore (one of Wesley's biographers), and is entitled, The Life of Mrs. Mary Fletcher. My copy is dated 1820. The book is largely compiled from her journals, which are occupied mainly with her inner spiritual thoughts and experience. This book contains some interesting references to Fletcher.


What God Chooses

A Sermon by Glenn Conjurske, Preached on May 22, 1992

Recorded, Transcribed, and Revised

Open your Bibles please to the book of I Corinthians, the first chapter. I'll begin reading at verse 18, and read to the end of the chapter. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.” That's as far as I'm going to read.

I'm going to speak to you tonight particularly on verses 27-28, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.” I'm going to speak to you on what God has chosen.

I believe that modern Christianity is far, far astray from the Christianity of the Bible. I've believed that for more than 25 years, almost ever since I was converted. The reason I believe that is because I read the Bible and find one kind of Christianity, and look around me and find another kind. I believe there are various reasons why the Christianity of our day is so far astray. The main reason, of course, is because it has departed from the word of God. Particularly, the church has departed from that which God chooses, and has chosen after the likings of the world and the flesh.

Now, everything in Christianity and in true religion is based on what God is, what God says, and what God does. And if the church of God thinks otherwise than God thinks, it has gone astray. If it chooses otherwise than as God has chosen, it has gone astray. Now, God says here what he has chosen. He has chosen the foolish, the weak, the base, and the despised. How many churches do you know, how many Christian organizations do you know, which choose the way God chooses? You probably don't know many. You likely don't know any. How is it that God says, “I have chosen the weak, and the foolish, and the base, and the despised,” and yet we look all around us at the churches and the Christian organizations, and see them choosing the rich, the noble, the esteemed? God says, “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination with God,” and yet we see the modern church choosing always that which is most highly esteemed in the world, choosing always exactly the opposite of the things that God says he has chosen. Why is that? Well, because man thinks he is wise. He trusts in his own understanding, and so departs far astray from the ways of God. I'm talking about Christians making choices as to how we're going to go about doing the work of God, how we're going to go about winning souls and accomplishing the things God has given to us to do. Most of the modern church despises and shuns the very things which God says he has chosen. This is the history of Neo-evangelicalism, and Fundamentalism is only about half a step behind them.

Because we don't know the word of God, we have the idea that the best way to do the work of God is by using those means which will appeal to the folks that we are trying to win. Choose the noble things, the things that people will esteem, the things that people will be drawn to, the things that people will look up to, and thus some way get into their hearts and win them to the cause for which we stand----and it's a grand mistake. It uses the flesh to win the flesh, and the world to win the world, and it leaves the world and the flesh unjudged. God says, I've chosen the weak. I've chosen the foolish. I've chosen the base. I've chosen the despised. I don't choose the things that people look up to. I choose the things that people look down upon. I don't choose the things that people admire. I choose the things that they despise----and I use them, and they work.

God has a reason for this. It says, “that no flesh should glory in his presence.” Now, the modern church, generally speaking, will choose the things that the world looks up to. You want to draw a crowd? You want to preach the gospel to them? Well, you get a Miss America on your platform, or a big-name football player, or anything you can find out there in the world that is going to be looked up to and admired by worldly folks, and use it to draw a crowd, and you're going to win them from the world----to what? Not to the cross of Christ, “by which I am crucified to the world, and the world to me.” You don't win them to the ways of God at all. You put the world on the platform, and you win them from the world to the world, and that is the extent of it.

Now, I believe that God's way is best, and that God's way works. The world has wisdom, but God says that he has made foolish the wisdom of the world. You want to find out how to do the work of God? You read the Bible. You don't read the modern psychology books, and imbibe “the newer insights of educational psychology.” They don't work. They are foolishness with God. God's way does work. And by the way, God's way glorifies God, and that ought to be one of our primary objectives in everything that we do.

Now, having said that much by way of introduction, I want to get into some specific things here. Verse twenty-seven says, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” I have preached other times on “the foolishness of God.” It says in verse 25, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” The foolishness of God is wiser than men. The modern church of God has never learned to choose the things that God chooses, or to choose the way that God chooses, because the way that God chooses does in fact look foolish, and we think we know better. It's lack of faith. You know, God has done some mighty foolish things in the history of the world. You know what else? They all worked. God has done things that no wise man would ever dream of doing, and they worked. And the wise things that the wise men have done, didn't work, and God has made foolish the wisdom of the world.

I want to talk to you about a foolish thing that God has done. Turn back with me to the book of Judges, the seventh chapter. Remember the purpose of God, “that no flesh should glory in his presence.” He will bring down the pride and the glory of man, and therefore God chooses the foolish things, and by them destroys the wisdom of the wise. God chooses the weak things, and by them destroys the mighty things.

Judges, chapter seven. We have an account of one of the most foolish things that God has ever done. It says in verse 2 of Judges, chapter 7, “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.” God has a purpose here. He's saying, If I let you go out with thirty thousand men, you're going to say, My own hand hath saved me. God has a purpose, and that purpose is that no flesh should glory in his presence, and so he says, “The people that are with thee are too many. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.” Remember, now, God is about to send Gideon out against an army as the sand of the seashore for multitude, and the first thing he does is reduce his little army from thrity thousand to ten thousand. But if you think that was foolish, read on. “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” Well, you know the story. I'll just read verse 6, “The number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand.” Now, if you'll drop down with me to verse 12 you'll read an interesting thing. “And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.” And God is going to send an army of three hundred men against them. This was the height of foolishness, and the depth of weakness. No general on earth would fight with such an army, unless he were insane. But this is the army of God's choice.

But God had greater foolishness yet in store. Reading in verse 16, “He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise; and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.” What a weak and foolish army this must have appeared to be, in the face of this great armed multitude which filled the land before them, but would you believe these three hundred men went out to the battle without a sword in their hands? Every man has a trumpet in one hand, and a pitcher in the other, and unless they had three hands apiece, they carried no swords. That's the foolishness of God, and it's wiser than men.

And here, by the way, we see how absolutely necessary it is to walk by faith, in order to choose as God chooses. If you had been in Gideon's army, wouldn't you have supposed the enterprise the height of folly? Wouldn't you have rather left behind either the trumpet or the pitcher, and held a sword in your hand? Wouldn't a sword in your hand have given you a little more security? No doubt, but faith gives us security also, and by faith we can rest secure even in the weakest and most foolish position, if God is in it. Ah! if men but knew God, how easy it would be to rest even in his weakness and his foolishness.

But it is our business to trust God when we can't see the end, and have no idea how he is going to extricate us from the foolish position he has put us in. Gideon didn't know how God would deliver them. He walked by faith, not by sight. But God had swords enough in reserve to destroy the whole army of the Midianites. Every man in the Midianite army had a sword in his hand, and God just turned every man's sword against his fellow, and so the foolishness of God proved wiser than men, and the weakness of God stronger than men.

So much for the weak, and the foolish. Back to I Corinthians chapter 1. It says in verse 28, “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.” Base things. What does that mean? Well, the kind of thing that everybody looks down upon. Despised. Things which nobody has any use for. Publicans. Fishermen. Shepherds. The poor. Folks that nobody else would choose.

Now I want to talk a little bit tonight about the birth of Christ. You can turn while I'm speaking to the beginning of the book of Luke. One of the most compelling manifestations of God's choice appears in the birth of Christ. I could talk to you about Mary. I believe that Mary was a poor girl, and when God came down to choose a woman to be the mother of his Messiah, he chose a poor girl. I know that from what Mary herself says in the first chapter of the book of Luke, verses 46 to 48. Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour, for he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.” And then she says further on, verse 52, “He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and hath exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away.”

Turn with me to the book of James for a minute. The early church had some of the same kind of problems the modern church does. They wanted to choose the things that were esteemed and noble in this world, and James says in the second chapter, the first verse, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place, and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool, are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world?” Besides telling us that God has chosen the foolish, and the weak, and the base, and the despised, the Bible has told us that God hath chosen the poor. And when God came into the world in the person of Christ to preach the gospel, he came “to preach the gospel to the poor.” (Luke 4:18). God has chosen the poor. I don't mean the rich can't be saved, but “not many” of them will. “Not many” wise. “Not many” mighty. “Not many” noble. And certainly not many rich. God has chosen the poor, and when he chose Mary, he chose a poor girl. He chose a woman of low estate.

Now do you think God had a choice? Do you think that when God looked down from heaven upon all the young maidens in all the land of Judaea, and when he said, “Upon one of these girls I'm going to send my Holy Spirit, and she's going to conceive in her womb, and bring forth the holy thing called the Son of God,” did God have a choice which girl he was going to take? When God sent the angel Gabriel to one of those girls in Judaea, did he have a choice which girl it would be? Yes, and God chose a poor girl, a woman of low estate.

Well, that's not all. Second chapter of the book of Luke. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. . . . And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” And therefore he was born in Bethlehem, right?----because Caesar Augustus made a decree? No, God chose Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 says, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Now the first thing I want you to see with regard to the birth of Christ is that God looked down upon all the thousands of cities of Israel, and he said, I'm going to pick a little one, a small town, the kind where the big-shots never go. You know what you folks would have done, if you were going to bring the Christ into the world? You would have said, Jerusalem, obviously. That's the capital city. That's the city of David, the city of the great king. That's where the temple is. It's the city of God. It's the Holy City. Jerusalem, obviously. When the wise men from the East saw his star, and God some way revealed it to them that this star indicated that the Christ was born, the King of the Jews, you know what they did? They went straight to Jerusalem, and said, Where is he? But he wasn't at Jerusalem, because God had a choice, and God said, Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth the governor. God chose, and he did not choose the way man would have chosen.

God passed by the metropolis, passed by the holy city, the city of the great kings, the capital. Even though it was only a few miles away, he passed it by, and chose the little place, the base and the despised. Not only that. Read on in the second chapter of Luke. Verse 7 says, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Now let me ask you a question. Do you think that when the eternal Son of God, who shared his Father's glory for aeons upon aeons, before the world was created, who was worshipped by all the angels----walked on the golden streets, possessed everything that existed, created it with his hand, flung the stars into the sky with his own hand----do you think when he came into the world to be born, he didn't have a choice about his birthplace? Do you think he was forced out in the stable with the animals because the inn was full, or do you think that he chose that? I tell you this babe that was born was the eternal Son of God. He could have spoken a word and created a thousand inns. He could have spoken a word and created a palace of pure gold, with a silver cradle, lined with purple and scarlet velvet. He CHOSE to be born out in a cow barn, and be laid in a manger. Why? Because God chooses the base and the despised. The Son of God had a choice. He chose to come into the world that way.

You don't believe me yet? Let's read on. Verse 8 says, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Now, you may say it was circumstances that forced the Christ out into the cow barn, and into the manger. The decree of the emperor filled the city with travellers, and there was no room in the inn. But ah! the same God who sent his Son sent an angel to announce the birth of his Son. Do you think he had a choice to whom he should send that angel? Why didn't God send that angel to the king on the throne in Jerusalem? Why didn't God send that angel to the council of the Sanhedrin? “Say, you great ones of the earth, Be informed that my Son is born in Bethlehem of Judaea!” Why didn't he send that angel to the rich? Why didn't he send that angel to the scribes and Pharisees and lawyers? Why did he go out into the field and find poor shepherds, that had to sit up at night watching their flocks, and say, Angel of mine, go there, out to the poor shepherds in the field? Don't go to the city. Don't go to the rich folks. Don't go to the fine houses and palaces. Don't go to the Sanhedrin. Don't go to the religious leaders. Don't go to the temple. Go out there into the field to these poor rustics----shepherds, watching their flocks by night. God chose that.

Now this passage of scripture is to me one of the most thrilling in the Bible. It says an angel appeared unto them, came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them, and they were sore afraid. You would have been, too. You're out there on an ordinary evening watching your flocks at night, just like every other night, and suddenly there's an angel, and the glory of the Lord lighting up the skies, and they were sore afraid. But the angel said, “Fear not,” and gave them his precious message. And then it says----and this is one of the most sublime verses in the Bible----after the angel had quieted their fears, and given them his message, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest.” The heavens above their heads were filled with angels, and these poor shepherds saw them, and heard them sing, and NONE OF THE GREAT ONES OF THE EARTH EVER KNEW IT HAPPENED. You know why? Because God had a choice. He had a choice to whom he was going to send his angels, and he chose to send them to the poor shepherds out in the field, and pass by all the palaces, and temples, and all the great ones of the earth. They never knew it happened.

Well, when God has something to do in the world, this is the way he chooses----and what a standing rebuke this is to modern evangelicals, who fear and shun and despise and disdain and reject the very things which God has chosen. You look back through the history of the world, through the history of the church, and see how God has done his work.

A hundred and fifty years ago, there was a young man in the city of Chicago by the name of D. L. Moody. He had only been to school for three years, and couldn't read. When he wanted to read the Bible, he had to skip half the words. He'd read all the little words, and spell out the big ones letter by letter----didn't know what they were. But he felt the call of God upon him to preach. He went to all the pastors in Chicago, and asked them if he should preach. He told them all, “I feel the call of God upon me that I should preach,” and you know what they told him? Every pastor in the city of Chicago told him, “Don't preach. You'll make a mess of things. You're not fit to preach.” But God had a different idea. When God came down, and looked over these United States of America, and over this great city of Chicago, he saw all of these fine churches all over the city of Chicago, and all of these preachers with doctors degrees, and high education, maybe cultured and intellectual, and so forth, and God passed by every one of them, and he went down into the back room of the shoe store, and found a little shoe salesmen that couldn't even read the Bible, and he said, “D. L. Moody, I want you. I'm going to shake two continents with your words.” That was another proof, by the way, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men.

God did the same thing with Gipsy Smith. A gypsy boy. Lived in a tent and a gypsy wagon all his life. Never saw the inside of a school house. Didn't know one letter from another. He couldn't read the Bible. He worked hard trying to learn it, but had never gone to school a day in his life. There were cultured, educated, intelligent men all over England and America that God could have chosen to make world-wide evangelists of them, and God passed them by, and reached down and took this poor gypsy boy who'd never been inside a school building. Just grew up in a tent, and a wagon. Slept out in the fields. You know when Gipsy Smith started preaching, the first night he went out to take his position with the Salvation Army, he had to sleep in a bedroom, in a bed, and he didn't know how. He'd never been in a bedroom before. Didn't know how to use it. You know what he did? Well, bedrooms aren't very big, and I don't know how he did this, but he backed up into the corner, as far away as he could get from the bed, and ran, as much as he could run in that little room, and dove in. That's all he knew about using a bed----but he never preached without conversions. Couldn't read the Bible, either. He'd get up to read the Bible, and he was a little shrewder than Moody, being a gypsy, and he'd read along slowly and deliberately until he saw a big word looming up, then he'd stop before he got to the big word, and make a comment or two, and then start reading on the other side of the big word, and so he managed. But he never had a meeting without conversions. Why? Because God had chosen him. Why did God choose him? Well, God chooses the base and the despised, and the weak and the foolish, and God's ways work.

Bud Robinson was another one whom God chose. Bud Robinson grew up in a log cabin in Tennessee, in the lowest depths of poverty. Never saw a church or a school house. Couldn't read a letter. He stuttered so badly he couldn't talk----literally, he could not give you his name, if you asked for it. He could only stutter, and stutter, and stutter. When he did talk, if he got a word out, he'd lisp. But he went to a camp meeting in Texas, and he got converted. He went there to have some fun with a girl, to flirt with a girl. Sat down next to the girl. By the time the sermon began God had touched his heart, and by the time the sermon was over, his burden of sin was so heavy he didn't wait for the invitation. He ran down the aisle. He had a pistol in one pocket, and a deck of cards in the other, and he said the deck of cards in one pocket felt as big as a bale of cotton, and the pistol in the other pocket felt as heavy as a mule. That's conviction of sin, by the way. And he fell on his face headlong at the altar, and began to cry to God for mercy, and he was saved that night. He went out, and lay under the wagon to go to sleep, but he was too happy to go to sleep. So he lay out under the wagon, looking up at the stars, and it seemed as though God said, “Bud Robinson, I want you to preach.” And Bud said, “God, I will.” Well, he went and asked his friends about it, and they all said, “Bud, you're a fool. You can't preach. You can't even talk. How could you preach? You'll disgrace yourself. You'll disgrace the church. You'll put everybody to shame. Shame the gospel of Christ.” But Bud said, “I have to. I promised God I would.” So he started to go up and down the settlement, and to work for souls. He got a recommendation from the quarterly conference of the Methodist church, and they asked him to step outside while they discussed his case, and he found out later from a friend what they said. He was little, and despised, and they didn't want to discourage him. They said, “He can't do any good if he preaches, but he can't do any harm, either. Let's give him a license to make him happy.” So they gave him a license to preach. I think he could have dispensed with that. I believe he already had one from God, but that's what he thought he ought to do, and that's what he did. At the next quarterly conference he reported sixty conversions. Had three hundred conversions the first year. How did he do it? By the way, he had epilepsy, besides not being able to talk. He'd stand up on the platform trying to speak, stuttering, stammering, and couldn't get any words out. Stuttering and stammering, until he'd finally get out six words, “Come to Jesus, he loves you.” And then he'd fall prone on the platform in an epileptic fit, foaming at the mouth----but people got converted. All the intelligent preachers, educated preachers, refined and cultured preachers preached, and little happened. Bud became one of the founders of the Nazarene church, and the most prominent preacher among them. God chose the foolish, the weak, the base, and the despised, and it worked. I tell you, the modern evangelical church doesn't have a notion in the world as to how God chooses----and certainly no intention of choosing as God does. Evangelize the celebrities. Go after the rich. Make a big splash. Do things up big. Choose the noble, the highly esteemed, which God says is abomination. And it doesn't work.

God chose the early Methodists. They turned the world upside down in their day, when they were poor and despised and hated and persecuted. They met in old sheds and barns, often unheated barns. People would sit there in unheated barns and shiver while they heard the word of God. Sometimes they didn't even have a barn or a shed, and they stood out in the field with the hot sun beating down on their heads. Often they'd stand out in the field in the pouring rain to hear the word of God, and to preach the word of God----and God was with them, and they turned the world upside down, because God chose the weak and the foolish and the base and the despised. But after a generation or two the Methodists started to get some money. They started to become respectable, and they started to build meeting houses. After a little while they started to build elegant meeting houses. Started to put up steeples, and have organs, and pews, and stained glass windows, and moved out of the barn into the cathedral. You know what happened when they moved out of the barn into the cathedral? God stayed out in the barn. The Methodists lost the power of God. They didn't turn the world upside down any more.

Well, God has a choice, and God's choice is wise. He chooses purposely the foolish things of the world, but his way works better than when men choose the wise things. God chooses the weak things, and it works better than the strong things. He chooses the weak things to bring down the mighty. God even chooses the base and the despised, and he even chooses the things which are not, which don't even exist, to bring to nought the things that do exist. And God's ways work. The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


In Us or By Us?

by Glenn Conjurske

Paul writes, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:3-4). Upon this text C. I. Scofield says, “Now, through the Spirit of life, the righteousness which the law required is fulfilled in (not `by') us, because we walk in yieldedness to the Spirit's will.” This comment is a very good example of what has been called eisegesis, in distinction from legitimate exegesis----that is, reading into the Scriptures what is not there, instead of digging out of them what is there. It consists in this case, as often, of taking common speech and forcing upon it a technical meaning, which the author never meant or thought of. “In,” it is insisted, must mean literally, technically “in.” The emphasis is shifted from “us,” where it belongs, to “in,” where it does not belong, and a thought is introduced which is not in the passage at all----and not only introduced, but made out to be the point of the passage.

Understand, the contrast which was in Paul's mind when he penned the passage was (obviously) that contrast which he plainly expressed. The contrast of which Paul plainly speaks concerns those “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Why should this contrast be thrust out of sight, and another introduced in its place, which Paul never mentioned? This is unsound interpretation. Its real basis is not what the Scriptures say, but what doctrinal bias wishes them to say. If Paul had meant, “in us, not by us,” he could certainly have said so. I contend that he never thought of such a thing. His point is not that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, not by us, but that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The other is forced into Paul's words, not derived from them.

But Scofield is not alone in this interpretation. Evangelicals, and especially Calvinists, determined that man shall have nothing to do in the attainment of his own salvation or sanctification, but that the grace of God shall do all for him or in him, have found this word “in” too convenient to resist, and so have commonly taken it in a technical sense which Paul certainly never meant. Those who know Greek are certainly aware that, from a technical point of view, “by us” is as legitimate a translation as “in us,” and it is so translated by MacKnight. The real fact is, however, the expression means neither “in us” nor “by us,” in the sense in which Scofield and others employ those terms. The meaning is in our case, or in our persons, and it has no reference whatever, one way or the other, to whether we are active or passive in the accomplishment of it.

But further, the sense which Scofield would put upon the words is altogether inadmissible, from the simple standpoint of common sense. To insist upon “in us, not by us,” is not only wresting the sense of this scripture; it is also wresting the things which this scripture speaks of. The subject here is sanctification, or practical righteousness, and in the nature of the case this is not something which can be wrought “in us, not by us.” Thoughts and emotions, which are largely involuntary, might perhaps be implanted within us without any deliberate action on our part, but righteousness does not consist merely of thoughts and emotions, but of deeds. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” (I John 3:7). It is a simple matter of fact that deeds must be done, and they must be done by us. Theological notions aside, it is a simple matter of fact and of common sense that every step which we take in the path of righteousness is an act which we do, based upon a choice which we make. The man who is tempted to lie, to steal, to cheat, to compromise, must make a choice and perform an act, either of sin or of righteousness. This he must do consciously and deliberately. It is done by him, and not merely in him.

And observe what it is which is said to be “fulfilled in us.” It is “the righteousness of the law”----a term which is almost universally (and very rightly) understood to mean the righteousness which the law requires. That righteousness does not consist merely of involuntary emotions, or of anything else which can be wrought “in us, and not by us,” that is, in us, without any deliberate action of our own. The righteousness which the law requires certainly consists of deeds, and not merely emotions.

All of this, indeed, is plainly implied in the very terms of the text: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The word “walk” is constantly used in the New Testament, and particularly by Paul himself, to denote our conduct, whether good or bad. To walk is synonymous with to act, or to conduct ourselves. Thus:

Rom. 13:13----“Let us walk honestly.”

Rom. 14:15----“Now walkest thou not charitably.”

II Cor. 4:2----“Not walking in craftiness.”

Eph. 4:17----“That ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk.”

Eph. 5:2, 8----“Walk in love.” “Walk as children of light.”

Eph. 5:15----“See that ye walk circumspectly.”

II Thes. 3:6----“Every brother which walketh disorderly.”

The plain meaning in all of these is to conduct ourselves, or to act, and a good many further examples might be cited were there any need for it. And is it needful to point out that walking is never a passive thing? To walk is something which we do, not something which is done to us, or for us, or in us, or through us. There is nothing passive about it. A young child, or an old invalid, may be helped to walk, but still he does the walking himself, unless he is dragged or carried, and then he does not walk.

Ah, but your theology requires that man shall be the passive recipient of righteousness, and not the active agent of it. Then, unless you speak purely of imputed righteousness, your theology is wrong. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” This is not passive, and neither is walking after the Spirit. The scripture says, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Now the man who would contend that to walk after the flesh is a passive thing, which we do without effort, choice, endeavor, or personal action, would be laughed to scorn. No more is walking after the Spirit a passive thing. The word “walk” appears but once in the text, to denote both of them.

If this notion, then, of righteousness “in us, but not by us” is true, it must be gotten from elsewhere in the New Testament, not from Romans 8:4. But that is hardly possible, for the real fact is, the New Testament continually, everywhere, requires choice, endeavor, and action of us. Take one example from among hundreds: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.” (I Thes. 4:3). Abstaining from fornication is a matter of conscious choice and deliberate action, as it is also where Paul says, “Flee fornication.” And this is called sanctification. Examples of the same sort might be multiplied.

The righteousness of the law, then, is fulfilled in those who act or conduct themselves according to the Spirit. According to the plain meaning of the text, after the analogy of the whole of the New Testament, and in the very nature of the case, that righteousness is something which we do.

About My Father's Business

by Glenn Conjurske

“Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” (Luke 2:49). So said the Lord Jesus at the age of twelve years, when his parents found him in the temple hearing the doctors and asking them questions. From his point of view it was strange that they should not have understood this. His behavior was no doubt very strange to them, and theirs equally so to him. “Why hast thou dealt thus with us?” says his mother. “How is it that ye sought me?” he returns. His mother's words were meant as a reproof to him, but his words were a reproof to her also----and an equal reproof to most of the people of God who have lived since those days. So normal and expected is it that we should all be about our own business, that when a man appears who is about his Father's business, he seems a strange being to most of the church. He is called a fanatic, or an extremist. He is thought unsociable and abnormal. All this, when a man appears who “must be about his Father's business.” How much more if he is a boy.

Yet it is a simple fact that the Lord Jesus was a boy when he spoke these words. When the passion of other boys was sport and play, his passion was to be about his Father's business. Ah! we may thank God he has not been wholly without disciples in this. Of Joseph Alleine (1634-1668) we are told, “When but a schoolboy (as I have heard) he was observed to be so studious, that he was known as much by this periphrasis, The lad that will not play, as by his name.” And as was the boy, so the young man. As a student at Oxford, “he had such a panic sense of the value of time, and the importance of study, that nothing could induce him to relax his labours.” This Alleine was the author of An Alarm to the Unconverted, which had a larger circulation than any book but Pilgrim's Progress and Robinson Crusoe, and is thought by some to be responsible for the conversion of more sinners to God than any other book ever written. Yet Joseph Alleine died at the age of 34. It was well for him, and for thousands of others, that he “must be about his Father's business” while he lived. Neither was it any mere coincidence that the boy who would not play should grow into the man who did so much good on the earth. He was possessed by the same spirit which possessed his Lord.

Now it goes without saying that if this was the Lord's spirit when he was a boy, it was so also when he was a man. There was no need to exhort him with a weekly sermon to be up and doing the work of God. No need to play upon his emotions, or his hopes and fears, to move him to use his time and strength and goods for the work of the Lord. No----his compulsion came from within. He carried about in his holy and devoted breast an inward, compelling necessity to be about his Father's business. “I must be about my Father's business.” That inward necessity carried him into strange paths----caused him as a boy of twelve to leave the company of his parents, without their knowledge, and spend three days in the temple with the doctors of the law. How little did even his parents----godly though they were----understand him! “How is it that ye sought me?” he asked them, and we might add, How is it that they sought him for three days? If they had but known him, they would have gone first to the temple of God----his Father's house----to seek him, and spared themselves three days of searching and sorrowing.

But he is as little understood today. We know that “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I Jn. 2:6), yet few indeed are his professed disciples who are constrained by an inward, compelling necessity to be about their Father's business. It is not only boys who play today, but men and women. And when here and there a man walks in the steps of his Master, refraining from play in order that he might work for his Lord, he is accounted strange, fanatical, legalistic, or unsociable.

You would like to see me on the golf course, or on the tennis court. Say, I would be glad to play also, but there is no place for it now, while the world is perishing around me, and in the very church of God the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. I must be about my Father's business. If it is right to play, I shall play to my heart's content in heaven, where time will not be so dear as it is now, where there will be no perishing sinners around me who need to be saved, no saints of God who need reproof and correction and instruction in righteousness, no ignorance and superstition to deal with, no poverty to struggle against.

Ah, then----if it is right to play----then the Lord may say to thee and me, “Take a thousand years, and play tennis, and if that does not suffice you, take another thousand. And you who love words, take a thousand years and play Scrabble. All of you----play golf, play chess, play ball, run the hundred million mile dash. Enjoy yourselves.” All of this, no doubt----if it is right to play. Surely heaven is the place for it, and eternity the time.

But so far is the church today from that inward, compelling necessity to be about our Father's business, that many actually debate over what kind of entertainment is legitimate----taking it for granted that it is right to spend our precious little mite of time in some kind of entertainment. Years ago a certain Reformed Baptist pastor was in my home. He was a godly man, whose standards were certainly above those of most of the church today. He had no doubt heard some things about me----enough to know that I was legalistic, “anticultural,” and probably fanatical. He began to question me on such things as whether I regarded it as wrong to listen to classical music. Now I knew that if I told him it was wrong to do so, he would have disputed the point, and I would have made no impression. I replied therefore, while the tears flowed from my eyes, “God has given me one little drop of time, in which to determine all the issues of a vast eternity, for myself and thousands of others, and I am not going to spend it listening to classical music.” He obviously felt the force of that, and made no reply.

It is the shortness, the uncertainty, and the preciousness of TIME, coupled with the overwhelming vastness of the NEED which presses upon us on every side, which ought to give us that inner, compelling “must” to be about our Father's business. So it was with the Lord Jesus. We have seen him thus as a boy, and it goes without saying that he was nothing changed as a man. As a boy he said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” And as a man, “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day. The night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4). It was the shortness and preciousness of time which compelled him.

But is time any less precious today? All good men must reprobate the unconscionable apathy of a Nero, who could fiddle while Rome burned, but the same folks who will condemn Nero will play while the world perishes.

But you disagree with me. Your kind of Christianity says, We ought to play. Mine says, We ought not. One of us, then, is mistaken. One of us is wrong. What then? I dare say I shall have as easy a time of it to obtain the forgiveness of God for being too much about my Father's business, as you shall have for being too little. I suppose I shall be as easily forgiven of God for working for Christ, as you shall be for playing for yourself. We must all of us shortly appear before the judgement seat of Christ. If I am wrong, my plea is ready. When my Lord takes me to task for serving him too much, for going to extremes, and allowing the zeal of his cause to consume my time and strength and money, yea, and for disturbing the peace of the church by calling upon others to do the same, I have my answer ready. “My Lord, I thought I was supposed to live as I did. I saw the harvest great, and the laborers few. I saw the whole world unconcerned on the broad road to the flames of hell, and scarcely anybody to warn them, and I could not bear to play while they perished. I saw the whole church of God lukewarm and worldly and starving, and I felt so desperately the need to move them, and teach them, and call them back to the old paths of holiness and devotedness to Christ, and all the things of this world seemed so vain and empty in comparison, that I just could not give myself to them. I thought I was following the example of Christ and his apostles, and of all the old prophets of God. Honestly, I didn't know any better. Can you forgive me for this?” What will your plea be then?

But (alas) I have little fear that I shall ever stand in need of such a plea. When I stand before God to give account of myself, I have little fear that he will take me to task for serving him too much. My fears are all the other way. If I am censured there, it will be for wasting so much precious time, for being so lazy and languid in the cause of Christ, for being so much occupied about my own affairs. And for that I shall have but little excuse.

And play, we should understand, is not the only thing which keeps men from the work of God. We may never play at all, and yet fail altogether to “be about our Father's business.” We can find business enough of our own to occupy our minds and our hands and our time----if we have no compelling necessity inside to “be about our Father's business.” In one of the saddest utterances of Scripture, Paul laments that “All seek their own things, and not the things of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21). And this he speaks of saints, not of sinners. Now I must confess, it is with some reluctance that I even quote such a verse, lest saints should be comforted rather than convicted by it----comforted to know that in seeking their own things instead of the things of Christ, they are in company with “all” the rest of the saints. Yet the verse is obviously designed to convict us, for though “all” are guilty, there is yet no excuse for it.

And yet not quite all are guilty, for this very chapter gives us two notable exceptions. First, Timothy, whom Paul was about to send to them, saying, “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your estate, for all seek their own things, and not the things of Christ Jesus.” Timothy would naturally care for their estate, as a mother naturally cares for her babe. His compulsion came from within. It was his nature to give himself to the work of Christ, and to be about his Father's business. And then, Epaphroditus, “who for the work of Christ was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” This man must be about his Father's business, not only at the expense of his own affairs, but almost at the expense of his own life. This is the spirit of Christ, and the spirit of Christianity.

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï

by the Editor

Woe Worth the Day!

All who use the King James Version have read “Woe worth the day!” in Ezek. 30:2, but probably not one in ten thousand have had a clue as to what it means. It is one of the very few expressions in the book which are so archaic as to be really unintelligible. “Worth” is an old English word which means to be or become----the equivalent of the Hebrew hy*h* and the Greek v ----so that this expression means simply “Woe be the day.”

The word “worth” was common in this sense from Anglo-Saxon times, where it appeared as “worìan,” “wurìan,” or “weorìan,” and was in fact the sister of the German werden. A few examples of its use follow:

Luke 1:34, Anglo-Saxon----“ça cwæì maria to êam ængle, hu gewurì êis, for êan ich were ne on-cnawe.” (“Then said Mary to the angel, how shall this be, for that [a] man I know not?”) “Were” is “man,” as in “werewolf.” “Ich” is “I,” as in German, and “cnaw” is our “know.”

“èanne wurì ic iclansed of all mine sennes, and hwittere ìane ani snaw.” That is, “Then shall I be cleansed of all mine sins, and whiter than any snow.” (Vices and Virtues, c. 1200, Early Eng. Txt. Soc., pg. 83.)

Wycliffe: “whanne boêe he and his wyf weren passid êe tyme of child-getyng, God behi3t hem Isaac, and tolde what shulde worêe of him”----that is, “told what should become of him.” “Behi3t hem” is “promised them.” (Select Eng. Wks., ed. by Thos. Arnold, vol. II. pg. 277.)

Hugh Latimer----“I have heard much wickedness of this man, and I thought oft, Jesu, what will worth, what will be the end of this man?” (Sermons, Everyman's Library, pg. 141.)

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OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise, and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own views are to be taken from his own writings.