The Prayer of Faith
by Glenn Conjurske
The prayer of faith, says James, shall save the sick.
Yet we have all known of many who have died in spite of many prayers.
Evidently not every prayer is the prayer of faith. And it
is evidently not always possible to pray the prayer of faith, for no amount
of praying can make man in the flesh immortal, nor prolong his natural
life beyond a rather brief limit. The ninety-first Psalm contains abundant
inspiration for the prayer of faith, saying, Thou shalt not be afraid
for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for
the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that
wasteth at noon-day. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand
at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee. Yet we can have
no perpetual tenure here, but rather, as the Psalm closes, With
long life will I satisfy thee. And we need only turn back a page,
to Psalm 90:10, to learn that there can be no limitless duration to such
promises, for there we read, The days of our years are threescore
years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet
is their strength labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly
away. This is the almost universal experience of the human race,
prayer or no prayer. The tombstone of a man who died at just fourscore
years in 1819 bears this eloquent testimony to the general truth:
Our age to seventy years is set,
How short the time, how frail the state,
And if to eighty we arrive,
We rather sigh & groan than live.
Some few, by reason, perhaps, of surpassing strength, may live beyond
even the fourscore years, but their tenure cannot be extended
indefinitely. I recently heard of a woman who is 120 years old. When asked,
How does the future appear? she replied Very brief.
And this is the simple matter of fact, which no prayer or faith can alter.
I take it as an established fact, then, that the prayer of faith cannot
be prayed in every instance, and there are other things which prevent
it besides the irreversible process of aging and the inevitable fact of
death. I suppose that lukewarmness may be the most common thing which
prevents it. The prayer of faith is certainly prevailing prayer
the prayer of faith shall save the sick ----and lukewarmness
certainly stands in the way of prevailing prayer.
I will not pretend to define dogmatically what the prayer of faith
is or is not, yet I believe it is safe to say that the prayer of assurance
is the prayer of faith. The Lord has said, What things soever ye
desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have
them. (Mark 11:24). This is certainly the prayer of faith,
whatever else the prayer of faith may be. The apostle John speaks in a
similar vein, saying, And this is the confidence that we have in
him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. And
if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the
petitions that we have desired of him. (I John 5:14-15). This, of
course, means that we know that we have those things before
we actually receive them, precisely as in the Lord's words, believe
that ye receive them, and ye shall have them
----at a future
day. The possession of this assurance is certainly a mark of the
prayer of faith, though I will not venture to say that the absence
of such assurance indicates the reverse.
Unfortunately, this doctrine which is so plainly taught by Christ and
by John, is never taught by Paul. It therefore must not belong to the
church. And to clinch the matter, Paul left Trophimus at Miletum sick.
All of this makes it indubitably plain to certain minds that the sick
cannot be healed by the prayer of faith today. Nothing miraculous is possible
today. Miracles have ceased. They belonged only to the apostles, and the
apostolic age. A little independent Baptist paper, recently received,
contains an article entitled 20th Century Healing Frauds, by Raymond A.
Waugh, Sr., of Midland, Texas. This article categorically asserts, The
`signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds' were the `Marks' or `Signs' of
the Apostles. When the Apostles departed from this earthly scene, the
Apostolic `signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds' were forever ended.
And therefore, All of those who have experienced fatal sicknesses
and diseases during the last 1,900 years that could not be healed by some
medical means have gone ahead and died, and that without exception. All
of those who have had physical disabilities that were beyond the capability
of Medical science to remedy likewise have continued on in their disability
until God has brought an end to their mortality.
But these reckless assertions as thoroughly overturn the Bible doctrines
of prayer and faith as they do modern healing frauds. When the doctors
have told Mr. Waugh that there is nothing more that they can do for his
wife, or his daughter, or himself, will he then cease to pray, and go
ahead and die? To this his doctrine shuts him up, and he really
has no business to lay such burdens upon others if he will not bear them
But against all of this modern unbelief, and all the modern doctrines
which are urged in support of such unbelief, I urge some simple facts
of history. I could indeed fill up this magazine with accounts of signs
and wonders wrought in answer to prayer, but that is not my
purpose, and most of them I leave alone, limiting myself in this article
to accounts of the prayer of faith. By this I refer to accounts
of prayers which have exemplified the Lord's words, believe that
ye receive them, and ye shall have them
----prayers in which
those who prayed knew that they had the things which they had desired
of the Lord.
Such assurance in praying neither began nor closed with the apostolic
era. The Old Testament saints possessed it as well as we. In the sixth
Psalm David cries to the Lord with great earnestness, O Lord, rebuke
me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have
mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: O Lord, heal me, for my bones are
vexed. My soul is also sore vexed, but thou, O Lord, how long? He
continues in this strain for some time, and when his praying to God is
finished, he turns to men, and says, Depart from me, all ye workers
of iniquity, for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord
hath heard my supplication. The Lord will receive my prayer. This
is that faith of which the Lord speaks, possessed before the answer is
given. We have no record of the answer in David's case, but I offer a
number of accounts which recount the prayer, the certainty of faith, and
The reader will note that in the instances which I am about to relate,
the prayer was followed by the full assurance of the answer, and that
of course before the answer came. Such assurance, I suppose, marks that
prayer as the prayer of faith. I would not contend, however,
that where no such assurance exists, there is no prayer of faith. It would
be an easy thing to fill this magazine with examples of signal answers
to prayer where no such assurance existed, or at least where it was not
mentioned. There must have been something of faith in those prayers, for
they obtained their answer, though there was no previous assurance of
it. To this we may add, it is certainly a mark of faith to say, Not
my will, but thine be done. Nevertheless, such praying is not to
be confused with that which the Lord speaks of in Mark 11:24, and which
John speaks of in I John 5. John speaks of knowing that we have the petitions
which we have desired of him. This is assurance. And it should be pointed
out that John speaks this concerning if we ask any thing according
to his will. That is, he speaks of praying when we know that our
petition is in accordance with his will. In such a case we may pray with
the full assurance of faith, and this, certainly, is the
prayer of faith, whatever else may be worthy of the name.
Martin Luther was known as a man of prayer, and a man of faith. At one
point he found his friend and coadjutor Melancthon sick unto death, and
very dejected in mind. Melancthon had written his will, and was expecting
to die. When Luther arrived he found Melancthon apparently dying.
His eyes were dim, his understanding almost gone, his tongue faultering,
his learning imperfect, his countenance fallen, incapable of distinguishing
anyone, and indisposed to all nourishment. At such a sight Luther was
in the most terrible consternation, and turning to those who had accompanied
him in his journey, exclaimed, `Alas, that the devil should have thus
unstrung so fine an instrument!'
----Then in a supplicating posture
he devoutly prayed, `We implore thee, O Lord our God, we cast all our
burdens on thee and WILL CRY TILL THOU HEAREST US, pleading all the promises
which can be found in the Holy Scripture respecting thy hearing prayer,
so that THOU MUST INDEED HEAR US to preserve at all future periods our
entire confidence in thine own promises.' After this he seized hold of
Melancthon's hand, and well knowing the extreme anxiety of his mind and
the troubled state of his conscience, said, `Be of good courage, Philip,
YOU SHALL NOT DIE. . . . Do not therefore give way to this miserable dejection
and destroy thyself, but trust in the Lord who can remove it and impart
new life.' While he thus spake, Melancthon began visibly to revive, as
though his spirit came again, and was shortly restored to his usual health.
C. H. Spurgeon thus describes his own prayer of faith: When, some
months ago, I was racked with pain to an extreme degree, so that I could
no longer bear it without crying out, I asked all to go from the room,
and leave me alone: and then I had nothing I could say to God but this,
`Thou art my Father, and I am Thy child; and Thou, as a Father, art tender
and full of mercy. I could not bear to see my child suffer as Thou makest
me suffer; and if I saw him tormented as I am now, I would do what I could
to help him, and put my arms under him to sustain him. Wilt Thou hide
Thy face from me, my Father? Wilt Thou still lay on me Thy heavy hand,
and not give me a smile from Thy countenance?' I talked to the Lord as
Luther would have done, and pleaded His Fatherhood in real earnest. `Like
as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.'
If He be a Father, let Him show Himself a Father,
----so I pleaded;
and I ventured to say, when they came back who watched me, `I shall never
have such agony again from this moment, for God has heard my prayer.'
I bless God that ease came, and the racking pain never returned. Faith
mastered it by laying hold upon God in His own revealed character, ----that
character in which, in our darkest hour, we are best able to appreciate
I have remarked above that I do not believe it is always possible to pray
the prayer of faith, and also that lukewarmness is one of the great impediments
to it. Now the two incidents which I have just related may afford a clue
as to when it is possible to pray the prayer of faith. It was in his darkest
hour that Spurgeon prayed so. Luther prayed so when he was in the
most terrible consternation. At such times men cannot be lukewarm,
and therefore they can pray in such a way as to prevail with God. And
do not the very terms which we have quoted at the head of this article,
from the book of James, bear this out? The prayer of faith shall
save the sick. This is not praying for coughs and colds, or minor
headaches or backaches. It is when the sick is in desperate straits
he is in deep distress or danger ----that the prayer of faith is
said to save him. When our plight is desperate, it becomes necessary,
it becomes natural, to pray the prayer of faith ----not that we
cannot do so at other times also.
Charles M. Alexander
----who was song leader for the gospel campaigns
of both R. A. Torrey and J. Wilbur Chapman ----says something to
the purpose in this regard. Says he, The night on which my father
died is the one to which I look back definitely as the date of my conversion.
I had to cross the city on foot at a late hour, and as I trudged along,
the thought kept recurring again and again to my mind ----`Is my
father's soul safe in heaven?'
Of course I knew he had been a professing Christian, an elder in
the church, and all that sort of thing. Still the thought would not down
my father safe in heaven?' In the travail of my spirit I turned to God,
and as I walked along the streets of Atlanta, I prayed: `O God, if by
token, or vision, or impression there is any way whereby Thou canst vouchsafe
assurances to the creatures Thy hands hath made, give me, I pray Thee,
to realize the certainty of my father's being safe at home with Thee.'
I prayed, [note +] as men generally do, when forced into desperate straits ----in
faith, believing. And the answer came, as clearly and distinctly as any
answer ever came, to myself or any one else: `Your father is safe with
The load of doubt lifted immediately from my heart. I looked up
towards the stars, and right there, under the open sky, pledged myself
and life to the service of my Master and Lord.
I do not quote this as an example to follow. No doubt a hundred thousand
others have prayed such prayers at such times, and the wish is likely
to be the father of the answer. I quote it for the connection which Alexander
makes between the desperate straits and the prayer of faith.
Desperate straits, of course, do not concern only the health
of the body. George Whitefield relates the following: You know how
I was threatened to be arrested, soon after my arrival, for above three
hundred pounds, due on account of the Orphan-house in Georgia, and I do
not know but a writ was actually taken out. This drove me to my knees.
GOD gave me to wrestle, with strong cryings and many tears, both before
and after I went to rest
----I could plead with him that it was
not for myself but his poor. . . . GOD was pleased to give me an answer
of peace. Having as I thought a full assurance of immediate help from
some quarter or another, I went to sleep most comfortably. Early the next
morning a friend came to me to enquire, if I knew where a gentlewoman
of his acquaintance might put out three or four hundred pounds. I replied,
let her lend it to me, and in a few months, GOD willing, she shall have
it again. ----Upon being acquainted with my circumstances, she most
chearfully sent me the sum I wanted, and thus my enemies were disappointed
of their hope.
Hanserd Knollys and Benjamin Keach were both prominent Baptists in the
eighteenth century. Mr. Keach was at one time so ill, in 1689, as
to be given over by the physicians, and several of the ministers and his
relations had taken leave of him, as a dying man past all hopes of recovery.
Knowing nothing of the refinements of modern theology, he did not have
sense enough to go ahead and die, or at any rate his ministerial
brethren did not have sense enough to let him. But (says Crosby)
the Rev. Mr. Hansard Knollys seeing his dying friend and brother in the
gospel near to all appearance expiring; betook himself to prayer, and
in an earnest and very extraordinary manner, begged that God would spare
him and add unto his days the time he granted to his servant Hezekiah.
As soon as he had ended his prayer, he said, `Brother Keach, I shall be
in heaven before you,' and quickly after left him. So remarkable was the
answer of God to this good man's prayer, that I cannot omit it, though
it may be discredited by some, there are yet living incontestable evidences
of the fact. For Mr. Keach recovered of that illness and lived just fifteen
Jabez Swan, a prominent Baptist evangelist in America during the nineteenth
century, relates the following: The next day I was summoned home
to my family in Norwich, New York. All four of my children were sick,
some of them not expected to live. I sought before I left the sympathy
of a neighboring pastor with whom my old friend Chamberlain was at work
in the city. He and pastor Bellamy prayed for my family. When prayer was
over, Brother B. said, `I don't know who is dead at your house, but no
more will die now.' At the moment of prayer my youngest son lay, the doctor
said, dying, in a most distressing manner. His fever gave way so suddenly
that he came near dying before anything could be given to rally him.
The prayer of faith had prevailed, and his children were all spared.
Another instance comes from the life of Valentine Cook, an American Methodist
preacher. A woman who was present supplied this account to Cook's biographer.
At one time, she said, their class-leader
----T. G. ----was
taken very ill. Her husband was with him most of the time, and was greatly
distressed on his account. The case at length was pronounced hopeless
by his physicians. Mr. Cook coming into the room when it was supposed
the sick man was actually dying, approached his bed, and said to him in
a distinct tone of voice, `Brother G ---- ------, do you know
me?' `O yes,' was the reply. `Do you desire,' said he, `that we continue
to pray for your recovery?' `I leave that,' said the afflicted man, `to
you and them.' He then walked into the room where the physicians were
in consultation. `What,' said he, `is the conclusion? Must Brother G ---- ------
die at this time?' `He must without the intervention of Almighty power,'
was the reply. `Well, then,' said Mr. Cook, `I'll go to Him in whose hands
are the issues of life and death. I shall file two pleas for his restoration:
the one on account of his family, and the other on behalf of the Church.'
He then retired to the woods. In less than an hour he returned, and was
told that there was no change for the better. He again retired, and did
not return till some time after dark. When he entered the sick man's room,
he exclaimed, `Brother G ---- ------, the Lord has heard our
prayers: your life will be prolonged, for the sake of the Church and your
family.' He immediately left for home, declining to exchange a single
word with any one as he retired. In less than a week Brother G ---- ------
was walking about his room, and is living to this day, though evidently
on the margin of eternity.
William M'Kendree was another Methodist preacher, and one of the early
bishops in the American Methodist church. He was a man of great power
and great influence. These old Methodists did not lightly take upon themselves
the office of preaching, and many of them went through long and deep turmoil
of heart before doing so. When M'Kendree was in the midst of those exercises,
the following occurred: On a certain day, as I sat at a table, my
father stepped in and addressed me thus: `William, has not the Lord called
you to preach the gospel?' I answered, `I cannot tell: I do not know what
a call to preach the gospel implies.' He added, `I believe he has, and
I charge you not to quench the Spirit.' For a moment I was as one thunder-struck.
We both shed tears. I asked him why he thought the Lord had called me
to preach the gospel. He answered, `While you lay sick of the fever...when
the doctor and all your friends had given you up for lost, I was greatly
afflicted at the thought of your dying in your sins. I applied myself
to the throne of grace, and prayed incessantly. While I was on my knees,
the Lord manifested himself to me in an uncommon manner, and gave me an
assurance that you should live to preach the gospel, and I have never
lost my confidence, although you have been too careless.' He then repeated
his caution not to quench the Spirit.
A similar account (and yet others could be given) concerns another Methodist
preacher, Ashley Hewitt. He was expiring in great Christian triumph
in one room, and a lovely daughter was expiring in another room of the
same building. His only remaining earthly anxiety was for the conversion
of that daughter. She was a member of the Church, but had never professed
a change of heart. In the triumph of all-conquering faith, he had embraced
the conversion of that child. His oft-repeated inquiry, `Is she yet converted?'
was as often answered in the negative; but she was an earnest seeker.
At length her friends saw her draw her last breath as they supposed, and
felt the pulse stand still. These sad tidings were carried to the father.
`Did she give any evidence of conversion before she expired?' was the
anxious question of the father. The answer, `No,' did not appal his heart
or shake his confidence. `Then she is not dead!' was the answer of unwavering
faith. Soon a noise was heard in the chamber of the supposed dead girl.
She was alive in more than one sense. She proclaimed to all the full assurance
of faith, and soon expired, shouting the praises of God.
R. A. Torrey was a man of prayer and faith, and a firm believer in the
prayer of faith, though he affirms also that it is not always possible
to pray `the prayer of faith.' He relates, In my first pastorate,
after I had been there a little while, a member of my congregation, not
a member of my church, was taken very ill with typhoid fever, and went
down to the gates of death; he was entirely unconscious. When I went down
to call at the home I found the physician there sitting by his bed. The
physician, who was a friend of mine, said, `He cannot live; recovery is
absolutely impossible. He will die in a short time.' I knelt down to pray,
and as I began to pray I was led to pray that God would raise up this
----he was absolutely unconscious; had been unconscious for
a long time ----and perfectly restore him to health. As I prayed
there came into my heart a confidence that that man would get well. I
knew it. When I rose from my knees I turned to the physician and said,
`Dr L., Eddy Clarke' ----that was the man's name ----`will
get well.' `No,' he said, `Mr Torrey, he can't get well.' I said, `Doctor,
he will get well.' He said, `Mr Torrey, he can't get well. It is an impossibility.'
I said, `That may be; but he will get well.' The physician was himself
a backslider. He said, `Oh, well, that is all right from your standpoint,
but he can't get well.' I said, `I know he will get well.' Then I went
home. After a time they came up to my house and said, `Eddy is dying.'
No, I said, he is not dying. Oh, they said,
he is, and they told me just what he was doing ----going
through the stages of death. I said, `He is not dying. What is more, he
won't die and can't die.' But they said, `He will die.' I said, `He can't.'
He didn't. He is living yet, or at least he was the last I knew.
Surely this is a clear instance of believe that ye receive them,
and ye shall have them. R. A. Torrey, though he was the greatest
of the Fundamentalists, was evidently ignorant that that scripture belonged
to another dispensation, but if the Lord condescends to answer the ignorant
according to their faith, then surely ignorance is bliss. May God deliver
us all from that knowledge which deprives us of our faith. Let us by all
means add to our faith knowledge, but how can knowledge which
shrinks and dwarfs our faith be said to be added to it?
The prayer of faith is our unfailing resource when all other resources
fail, and that not only for the healing of the body, but in all other
exigencies as well. Man's extremity is God's opportunity,
and in every such extremity into which the Lord may place us, he looks
for faith, and for the prayer of faith. Some, I am well aware, will fault
me for making the prayer of faith our unfailing resource, as though I
were thus robbing God of his glory, for God (they will say) is himself
our unfailing resource. Suffice it to say, I know that as well as they
do, but I have not one grain of sympathy with the hyperspirituality which
thus discards the plain declarations of Scripture, for it is God who says,
Ye have not because ye ask not, and it is God who says of
the man who lacks faith, Let not that man think that he shall receive
anything of the Lord. The prayer of faith is our unfailing resource,
and the lukewarm and unbelieving, who cannot pray the prayer of faith,
will do well to consider the fact that they have no resource at all
in repentance, for that door is always open.
William Bramwell, a prominent English Methodist, was no stranger to the
prayer of faith, and I give the following from his biography:
Another instance of Mr. Bramwell's faith, was at the time when a
general alarm agitated our body respecting a bill which M. A. Taylor,
Esq. was about to bring into the house of commons, to abridge the religious
liberties of Dissenters. Many at that season were led to plead mightily
to God, that our privileges might be continued; and, among others, Mr.
Bramwell did not forget to offer up his fervent supplications. At the
evening service, one Lord's day, before a very crowded congregation, he
got into an agony of prayer; and, after wrestling for some time, he said,
`Lord! thou hast now told me that this bill shall never pass into a law.'
Adding, `It is out of the power of any man, or any set of men, to bring
it to pass!' Several of the congregation thought he was going too far;
but in about a week afterward the bill was quashed.
Bramwell was known for such praying. On one occasion Thomas Riley
powerful preacher among the Methodists, and also an officer in the army ----was
ordered to the front in Spain. Bramwell went to prayer for him. After
many applications from day to day, he met the soldier and his wife at
the house of a friend. It was the last night of Riley's stay; the next
morning his regiment was to march, and the next month his corpse might
probably be stretched on some of the bloody battle-fields of the Peninsula.
Mr. Bramwell sat abstractedly for a while, struggling apparently with
some inward perplexity. He could obtain no satisfactory answer to his
entreaties. `But after supper was over,' says the gallant soldier, `he
suddenly pulled his hand out of his bosom, laid it on my knee, looked
me in the face, and said, Brother Riley, mark what I am about to
say: You are not to go to Spain! But the marching orders?
Never mind: remember, I tell you, you are not; for I have been wrestling
with God on your behalf, and when my Heavenly Father condescends in mercy
to bless me with power to lay hold on Himself, I do not easily let Him
go; no, not until I am favoured with an answer. Therefore, depend upon
it, that the next time I hear from you, you will be settled in quarters.'
The next morning, however, Riley's regiment left Sheffield, with Spain
for its prescribed destination; but he had not proceded far before he
learned that the order had been countermanded; it was not to go to Spain!
The next time Mr. Bramwell heard from the soldier, it was to say, that
the latter was settled in quarters on English ground, as predicted.
There is room in such praying, certainly, for a great deal of presumption,
as there is in everything which concerns faith. I would grant
contend ----that a great deal of what goes under the name of faith
in the church is nothing other than presumption. This may make us all
humble and diffident, but it does nothing to discourage real faith. God
knows how to confound presumption, but he that believeth shall never be
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
by Glenn Conjurske
The word if is not much appreciated by most modern Evangelicals
and Fundamentalists. The reason for this is plain enough. It cuts across
the grain of modern theology. The word if implies contingency
or uncertainty. That contingency is unwelcome to people whose theology
stands all on the side of grace and security, and slights or denies human
responsibility. Yet the word if is used hundreds of times
in the Bible. What are these one-sided theologians of grace to do with
all of these? The usual, of course. Ignore them if they can, or explain
them away any way they can.
One of the most common means by which if is explained away
is to affirm that, at least in certain cases, if does not
mean if. It rather means since. So we are often told, and it is very common
to see the word actually translated since by the unsound scholarship
of our day. But I am bold to say that, whatever modern scholarship may
say, it is never legitimate to translate if as since.
In some few cases it may be apparently harmless to do so, but it is certainly
never necessary, and never legitimate. I intend to prove that ere I am
finished, and prove it to the satisfaction of simple souls who know nothing
of Greek. This is not nearly so much a question of Greek grammar as it
is of common sense, and common honesty. I shall refer to some Greek, to
be sure, but I entreat the unlearned reader not to be turned back by that,
for I shall make all abundantly plain to anyone who knows English.
I must point out at the outset that there are two different words for
if in the Greek New Testament. One of these is j (ei), used
(usually) with a verb in the indicative mode. The other is j (ean), used
with a verb in the subjunctive mode. Speaking in very broad terms, the
difference between these may be said to lie in the degree or kind of contingency
which each represents. That difference may be sharply delineated as follows:
If he is would represent j with the indicative.
If he should happen to be would represent j with the subjunctive.
In some instances there is very little practical difference between the
two, and sometimes apparently none at all, for the two words are sometimes
----as in parallel passages in the gospels.
If ye love them which love you is j with the indicative in
Luke 6:32, but the same expression, in the same context, is j with the
subjunctive in Matthew 5:46. And whatever difference there may be between
the two, it plainly appears that contingency ----uncertainty, that
is ----belongs to both of them. Neither of them implies or asserts
the certainty of the condition proposed, but just the reverse. The very
purpose and genius of the word if is to present a thing as
a possibility or a contingency. This is the fact ----but it is a
fact which does not suit modern theology. It is the determination, therefore,
of many modern Evangelicals to rid the word if (when it is
j with the indicative) of any idea of contingency at all. They would have
us to believe that this if does not contain any uncertainty ----that
instead of indicating a bare possibility, it indicates a certain fact.
Thus, where the Bible says, If ye then be risen with Christ,
this must be turned into Since ye then are risen with Christ.
Where the Bible says, if ye are Christ's, this is turned into
since ye are Christ's. This alteration they think themselves
free to make wherever they please ----which happens to be wherever
their theology dictates it. And the worst of it is, many of them do not
even trouble themselves to learn whether the English if which
they thus dispense with is j or j in the Greek, but think themselves at
liberty to turn every English if into since, just
as its suits their fancy, or just as their theology requires.
----whichever Greek word lies behind the English if ----directly
overturns the real meaning of the word. Its province is to indicate some
kind of dependence of one thing upon another. It simply indicates the
dependence of the conclusion, or the result, upon the condition ----and
it implies nothing whatsoever as to whether the conditional clause is
true or not. So Liddell and Scott's Lexicon says of j with the indicative,
with the present, perfect, and past tenses, to state simply a present
or past condition, WITH NOTHING IMPLIED AS TO ITS FULFILMENT.1 The
conditional clause (introduced by if) may state something
which is certainly true, it may state something which is certainly false,
or it may state something which may be either true or false. I mean directly
to illustrate all three cases by plain examples from the New Testament,
but I must first apprise the reader of the fact that in looking through
the New Testament for such examples ----directly contrary to modern
notions on the subject ----I find almost none in which the condition
stated is certainly true, while there are very many in which it is certainly
false, and very many also in which it may be either true or false.
First, then, in the following examples the condition stated is certainly
----at any rate these are the nearest thing I can find to examples
of that sort ----and of course in all of them I limit myself to
j with the indicative:
----if God so clothe the grass of the field.
----if they have persecuted me.
I Peter 4:18
----if the righteous scarcely be saved.
Some might wish to put things like if thou be the Son of God
into this category, but in that case, while the condition stated is certainly
true, the very purpose of the word if
the mouth of the devil or the impenitent thief ----is to challenge
its truth, and to cast doubt upon it.
Much more common are the examples in which the condition is certainly
false (again, of course, limiting myself to j with the indicative):
----if Satan cast out Satan.
----if I by Beelzebub cast out devils.
----if Abraham were justified by works.
----if they which are of the law be heirs.
I Cor. 12:17
----if the whole body were an eye.
I Cor. 12:17
----if the whole were hearing.
I Cor. 12:19
----if they were all one member.
I Cor. 15:13
----if there be no resurrection of the dead.
I Cor. 15:14
----if Christ be not risen.
I Cor. 15:16
----if the dead rise not.
I Cor. 15:19
----if in this life only we have hope.
----if righteousness come by the law.
----if the inheritance be of the law.
----if I yet preach circumcision.
Now if the tomfoolery of the modern teachers of the church is indeed the
truth, we ought to render these, since Satan casts out Satan
Abraham was justified by works ----since there is no
resurrection of the dead ----since Christ is not risen ----since
in this life only we have hope ----since righteousness
comes by the law ----since I yet preach circumcision ----and
so forth, for all of these are j with the indicative.
But the most common usage of j with the indicative is to state a condition
which, from the speaker's viewpoint, may be either true or false
because the speaker does not know whether it is true or false, or because
it may in fact be either. Examples of this abound:
----if thy right eye offend thee.
----If thou wilt, let us make three tabernacles.
----if ye do not forgive.
----if ye love those who love you.
----if ye have judged me to be faithful.
----if any man have not the Spirit of Christ.
----if it be possible, as much as lieth in you.
----if thy brother be grieved with thy meat.
I Cor. 7:9
----if they cannot contain, let them marry.
I Cor. 8:3
----if any man love God.
I Cor. 11:34
----if any man hunger.
I Cor. 14:35
----if they will learn anything.
I Cor. 14:38
----if any man be ignorant.
II Cor. 13:5
----examine yourselves, if ye be in the faith.
----if ye bite and devour one another.
----if ye are led of the Spirit.
II Thes. 3:14
----if any man obey not our word by this epistle.
I Tim. 3:5
----if a man know not how to rule his own house.
I. Tim. 5:4
----if any widow have children.
----if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill.
----if ye have bitter envying and strife in your
Now in all of these instances, the condition mentioned is assumed by the
speaker to be either true or false. In some few cases this may be so merely
because of the ignorance of the speaker, as in If thou wilt, let
us make three tabernacles. But in the great majority of the cases,
the condition may be either true or false. It is true in some cases, and
false in others. This is too obvious to admit of doubt. If ye have
bitter envying and strife in your hearts. If thou commit no
adultery. If any man be ignorant. If ye bite and
devour one another. In all of these, the condition is true of some,
and not true of others.
And I observe here that even in the few places where the condition stated
is unquestionably true, it remains unwarranted to substitute since
for if. The substitution will often destroy good English,
or introduce ambiguity. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute
you is good English, and perfectly clear, but Since they have
persecuted me, they will persecute you destroys that clarity, for
since is liable to be taken in the sense of because,
which introduces a false meaning.
But I turn to that class of texts in which our modern teachers are accustomed
to substitute since for if. Some will no doubt
press us to render if ye are led of the Spirit in Gal. 5:18
as since ye are led of the Spirit, but will they then consent
to render II Cor. 13:5, examine yourselves, since ye are in the
faith? Will they render I Cor. 7:9, since they cannot contain,
let them marry? Such renderings require us to assume the very point
which is at issue. Other texts in which since is commonly
----if...we were reconciled to God by the death
of his Son.
----if we be dead with Christ.
----if God be for us.
----if ye are Christ's.
----if a son, then an heir of God.
----if ye then be risen with Christ.
Is it legitimate to replace if with since in these
texts? Absolutely not. Why should such an alteration be made in these
texts, and not in a hundred others, where the Greek is precisely the same?
It is theology alone
----and bad theology at that ----which
calls for such a change. Greek grammar has nothing to do with it. Greek
grammar is only dragged in by the tail, directly against its nature ----like
a hare dragged into the kennel with the hounds. But the hare's tail is
too short for the purpose ----and if we should happen to get him
in, it will be at the expense of his life. We have abundantly proved above
that the use of the word if has nothing whatsoever to say
to the question of whether the condition stated is true or false. Except
in such cases as II Cor. 13:5, where it introduces a pure contingency,
its sole province is to establish the connection between the condition
stated, and the conclusion drawn from it. If a son, then an heir.
Of course, then, if not a son, not an heir. The word if establishes
the connection between the condition and the conclusion, and that is all
that it does. If this text is applied to the true saint, then the condition
is true. If it is applied to the hypocrite, the deceived, the man who
has a dead faith which is without works, then it is certainly not true.
He is neither son nor heir. To put since into texts like these
is but one more plank in the platform of antinomianism ----but one
more means by which to calm the legitimate fears and squelch the conscience-begotten
doubts of false professors, and thus to give assurance and security to
those who have no business with it. But have it your way. Since
you are a son, you are an heir. This is no doubt strictly true ----if
you are a son, which is what Paul said in the first place.
But some will tell us, We may say `since' here, for Paul is speaking
to true saints. Is he indeed? Then go thou and do likewise. Be sure
that when you have since in your mouth, you have none but
true saints in your congregation, who indeed are Christ's,
and so have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts,
are in fact new creatures in Christ Jesus. Then your since
may do little damage to souls, though it will yet make havoc of Greek
If God is for us, who can be against us is a most precious
pearl, IF God is for us, but God is not for everyone. Peter
says, The face of the Lord is against them that do evil. To
preach, therefore, to those who profess faith in Christ, and yet do
evil, that since God is for them, none can be against
them, is to corrupt the word of God, and confirm the wicked in his wicked
way. God said if, not since, and the two are not
the same thing. It is certainly true that God is for those who are for
him, but it is just as certainly true that he is against them that do
evil, and at any rate the substitution of since for if
is absolutely illegitimate. Kenneth Wuest translates Gal. 3:29, since
ye are Christ's.2 Why then does he not translate Gal. 3:18, since
the inheritance is of the law?
----for the construction is
exactly the same in both verses. Again, Wuest translates Gal. 4:7, since
(you are) a son.3 Why does he not translate Gal. 5:11, since
I yet preach circumcision? ----for they are both j with the
indicative. There is no more justification in the Greek for the one than
there is for the other. It is not Greek, but doctrine, which dictates
this change, and whether the doctrine is good or bad is immaterial. If
the doctrine is good, it will stand secure without any such change, for
the change itself is no way legitimate.
I think I have abundantly proved that already, but consider further that
the word if ( j with the indicative) is often used to state
two things in succession which are directly contrary to each other, so
that if the one is true, the other must of necessity be false
they are both introduced with the same if. Consider these:
||if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, ...
but if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God.
||If they have persecuted me, ...
If they have kept my saying.
If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil,
but if well, why smitest thou me?
||If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die,
But if ye...mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
||And if by grace, then is it no more of works, ...
But if it be of works, then is it no more grace.
|II Tim. 2:11-12
||If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.
If we deny him, he also will deny us.
If ye endure chastening, ...
But if ye be without chastisement.
To thrust in since here must be to thrust out sense, for it
is perfectly plain that in every one of these examples, if the one condition
is true, the other is false. The if involved has nothing to
do with the matter. Its only function is to indicate the relationship
between the condition and the conclusion. If they have persecuted
me, they will persecute you
----if they have kept my word, they
will keep yours. If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ----if
ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. If the condition
is true, the conclusion is true. If the condition is false, so is the
conclusion. The if, that is, is a real and true if,
which denotes real contingency. It does not mean since ----never
has, and never can. To translate it since is to destroy it ----and
usually to destroy sound doctrine also, and it may be to destroy the souls
of men in the process.
But I trust the reader will pardon me if I press the application of these
things a little further, for I surely hope that my readers may learn more
from these pages than the bare fact that if means if. It seems
we have come to a rather sad state of affairs in the church of God when
a man must seriously teach
----and contend ----that if
means if. I have sometimes been asked, Why should I learn Greek?
and my response has been, To protect yourself from being imposed
upon by modern preachers. My observation has been, when our modern
preachers affirm that the Greek means this or that, perhaps as often as
not they are entirely astray in what they affirm. But, not to be too hard
on anybody, it must be understood that most of the teachers of those impositions
are themselves the victims of them. They only repeat what they have been
taught. But this is a serious mistake, and not an altogether innocent
one. Is it too much to expect that the teachers of the church should think
for themselves ----and study for themselves? When men hear it affirmed
that if means since, is it too much to hope that they might
think, that if if means since in one place, or a dozen, then
it must mean so elsewhere also? Is it too much to expect them to open
a concordance, to see whether these things be so, before they teach them
to the world?
Alas, there is more involved here than lukewarmness and laziness and shallow
thinking. Men grasp too eagerly at the vagary that if means
since, for it too well suits their theology. It is commonly when the plain
meaning of the plain English does not suit their doctrine that preachers
resort to the supposed meaning of the Greek. But in most cases the Greek
says precisely the same thing as the English. They resort to the Greek
only to set aside the plain sense of Scripture, and the Greek will no
more bear them out than the English. Observe, however, I have nothing
at all to say against the sincere and honest use of the Greek, by competent
and spiritual men, to correct or supplement the English version where
it is needed. What I object to is coupling together bad Greek with shallow
thinking, in order to support bad doctrine. Such is the modern notion
that if means since.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
by Glenn Conjurske
A Sermon Preached Oct. 18, 1989
----Recorded, Transcribed, &
I want to speak to you again tonight on the subject of the discipline
of children. I plan to cover a lot of ground that we've covered before,
but also probably some we have never talked about before. But let's pray:
God, we do pray that you might give us your wisdom and your help tonight,
as we look into this subject which is so necessary to the well-being of
our children, and so near to our own hearts. Give us a single eye, Father.
And give us wisdom, understanding, and grace to act according to your
The verse that I'm going to start with is in First Kings chapter one
verse that I have spoken on a number of times before here, but I really
think that it is perhaps the most important verse on this subject in the
Bible. Certainly one of the most important. First Kings, chapter one.
I'll read beginning with verse 5. Then Adonijah, the son of Haggith,
exalted himself saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and
horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. And his father had not displeased
him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very
goodly man, and so forth.
Now the key word here is displeased. If you are ever going
to do anything with your children, or for them, you must displease them.
The reason for that is very simple: they are depraved. They're sinners.
They are inclined to do the wrong things, and they need to be taught,
and disciplined to do the right things. Now, our love for our children
will very often lead us not to displease them. We don't want to displease
somebody that we love. That's human nature. It goes without saying. It
is a difficult thing to have to do it. But it must be done. You'll notice
that the result here of David's failing to displease his son was (in verse
5, which I read), Adonijah exalted himself. He became very
proud. Pride is the natural result of parental softness. There are two
things which are, as far as I can tell, the root of all sins. Those two
things are lust and pride. And both of them will grow to fruition under
parental softness. And David's son Adonijah is a perfect example of this.
Now love may be the thing that's at the root of the softness, but it's
foolish love. We might make ourselves a proverb which says, He that
is soft on his son hates his son
----as the scripture says,
He that spares the rod hates his son. Sparing the rod is one
kind of softness, but there are three kinds that I want to talk about
tonight. I'm not necessarily going to give you these in the order of their
importance, because I'm not sure if I can say what that order is. But
I want to talk about three kinds of softness.
There is a softness in speech in dealing with our children.
There is a softness in requirement.
And there's a softness in enforcement.
Now all three of them are bad, and lead to bad consequences. One of the
most obvious ways in which softness manifests itself is in our speech.
God does not speak softly to the human race. God speaks roughly, if you
please. He speaks authoritatively. He spoke that way to Adam before he
ever sinned. When Adam had none of those inclinations to evil within him
which are in our children, God still did not use soft language when he
spoke to Adam. He didn't come to Adam and say (softly and sweetly), Now
Adam-honey, I really don't want you to eat of that tree. Nothing
of the sort. That kind of speech is a sure sign of parental weakness.
Mothers especially are guilty of this, but I tell you that any mother
who has to sweet-talk and soft-talk her children to try to secure obedience
is on the road to ruining them. God did not sweet-talk Adam. He did not
adopt any pleading or pathetic tones, as though he were asking Adam for
a favor. He didn't say, Now Adam-honey, you know it will make me
feel very bad if you eat of that tree. And Adam was not a sinner.
He had no inclination in him to do wrong at that time. Nevertheless, God
spoke with authority, and said, Thou shalt not eat of it, for in
the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. This soft
and syrupy speech that a lot of mothers use
----and some fathers,
too ----is the first contribution towards ruining their children.
It is, in fact, a pretty good indication that they are half ruined already.
You ought to be addressing them as their superior ----from a place
of authority over them. But many parents address their children from a
position of equality, giving them reasons instead of requirements, and
many others address them from a position of inferiority, pleading, and
sweet-talking, and bribing, and pacifying. This is wrong, and it will
be the ruin of your children.
You say, Well, doesn't love express itself in soft terms, and a
soft tone? And I say, Yes, it does. But love is not
the only business you have with your children. God has committed to you
a place of authority, and authority does not plead and sweet-talk. I don't
mean that we ought never to speak gently and tenderly to our children.
I don't mean that, because love certainly ought to be expressed in soft
and gentle tones and words, but authority has another manner of expression,
and we ought to be expressing both to our children. There is a time to
use soft speech
----when my child needs love. And there is a time
to use authoritative speech ----when he needs authority. Softness
of speech tends to the ruin of a child. When you sweet-talk him, he has
the upper hand, and he knows it. If God spoke in tough terms to Adam before
ever Adam had any evil inclination within him, if God threatened him with
death when he was pure and innocent, then it's our business to use tough
language ----not hard and harsh, but authoritative language ----to
our children, who definitely are sinners and are inclined to do what is
But by speaking with authoritative language, I do not mean raising the
voice and adopting a threatening tone. Threatening language generally
raises the voice. Authoritative language may lower it. I'm not talking
about volume. I'm talking about spirit, manner, intonation. A threatening
tone indicates weakness in the person speaking. Authoritative language
indicates strength. Threatening language implies, Johnny, I really
don't expect you to obey me, so therefore I must put a threatening tone
in my voice. And it doesn't work.
A threatening tone does not get results. And you'll find
you listen for this: it might be a little difficult to listen for it in
yourself, but listen for it in folks around you ----the person who
uses a threatening tone of voice is usually speaking over and over and
over. Repeating their child's name over and over and over. The person
who speaks with an authoritative tone needs only say the name once. An
authoritative tone is spoken from a position of strength which expects
a response. A threatening tone is used from a position of weakness, which
doesn't expect a response. That's all communicated to your child by the
tone of your voice. When you speak threateningly, he understands. I don't
know how kids are so smart, but they know these things intuitively. He
understands that you are speaking from a position of weakness. He knows
that he's got the upper hand with you. You ought never to use a threatening
tone, and it should never be necessary. We ought to speak in such a way
as that the child understands that we mean business ----we're not
going to speak again. When my father used to lay down the law to us, he
would finish with I have spoken ----spoken slowly and
deliberately and authoritatively. We knew what that meant, and no one
moved a wing, or peeped, or chirped.
But there is a time to speak softly. And by this I mean softness of tone,
not volume, because I don't believe we ought ever to have to raise our
volume in speaking to our children. If your child is subject to you, you
may speak to him in a whisper, and get exactly the same results that you'll
get when you're yelling full volume. If you speak authoritatively, you
don't ever have to speak loudly. As a matter of fact, if your child is
subject to you, an authoritative look will do as well as an authoritative
word. Just a glance of the eye. An authoritative glance of the eye. If
you have to raise your voice to get results
----or try to get them ----this
is the absolute proof that you have already failed altogether to maintain
your place of authority. It is the proof that your child is not subject
to you. When I speak of speaking authoritatively, I certainly do not mean
raising the voice, yelling, speaking reproachfully, or threateningly.
Such things are only resorted to when parents have lost their authority
over their children.
When I talk about speaking softly now, I mean gently and tenderly. There
is a time when we need to speak softly. Soft and tender tones to express
love. There's a time to be tender with your children. But that time is
not when you are giving them orders. And that time is certainly not when
they are disobeying your orders. Then it's time to be tough, and to speak
authoritatively. None of this, Johnny-honey or Janie-honey,
I really don't want you to do this. Johnny, Mommy doesn't think that you
should do that. Such language, on the very face of it, proves that
you have abdicated your place of authority. You are a lobbyist, not a
So much for the first point, softness in speech.
Another kind of softness, which is just as serious, or perhaps more serious,
is softness in requirement
----not requiring enough from my child.
Now I don't want this to be misunderstood. I'm not talking about requiring
things of them which are more likely to puff them up with pride than anything
else. The largest portion of our requirements of our children should be
negative ones. They should be restraints. You read God's commandments
in the Old Testament, and you'll find a great deal of Thou shalt
not ----restraining us from doing what we ought not to do.
This is not requiring us to do great things, or to assume responsibility,
or anything of that sort. The biggest share of God's commandments are
negative ones. Thou shalt not. And our commandments to our
children, especially little children, ought to be of the same character.
I'm talking about restraint. This is what children need. This is what
the human race needs ----restraint.
But I have known mothers enough who are actually afraid to restrain their
children, or to require anything of them. Little Johnny is a little angel
until his will is crossed, and then he is transformed into a bear and
a tyrant. So mother dutifully refrains from requiring anything of him.
When she must, she knows she will have a scene and a confrontation. Then
she resorts to sweet-talking and bribing. But I have talked a great deal
about restraining children before.*
I pass on to the next one, which I think is perhaps the most serious.
This is softness in enforcement. It may be a serious thing if I don't
require enough of my children, but it's a much more serious thing if I
don't enforce what I do require. If I don't require enough of them, or
don't restrain them enough, they will likely grow up with a character
which is unrestrained, and, of course, proud. This is the thing that you
see in David's son. David didn't displease him, and the natural result
of that was, he exalted himself. But if I do require, and don't enforce,
I make him a rebel. Every time you command and fail to enforce, you teach
your child to despise your authority, and so you teach him to despise
God's authority, for your authority is derived from God, and a child who
is not subject to his parents cannot be subject to God. And I want you
to understand that in all of this dealing with children, we are not merely
regulating their conduct. We are forming their character.
Now the enforcement which I am speaking of is to require immediate, exact,
and cheerful obedience. It is the business of authority to enforce its
dictates, to require submission. God does not give suggestions to the
human race, but commandments.
Now listen, I understand completely that it is love on the part of parents
that leads to softness. I know that by my own experience, but it's the
worst thing for the child. It's like the father of a wild sixteen-year-old
who loves his son, and therefore gives him a motorcycle. He might just
as well give him a ticket to the grave yard. He thinks he's giving his
son a motorcycle because he loves him, and he no doubt does love him,
but love is dangerous and destructive where it isn't controlled by holiness.
David no doubt loved Adonijah, and there is no doubt he loved Absalom,
but he ruined both of them by his softness. And ruined them for eternity.
Parental softness ruins a child's character, and it ruins his present
happiness also. A child who does not submit immediately, and exactly,
and cheerfully to his parents' commands cannot be happy. He can't be
he isn't. You will observe that the children who are disobedient are always
the same children who are fussing and crying and pouting. They are unhappy
children. A child who is not subject to his parents can never be happy.
Is that what you love him for, to make him unhappy?
Children need authority for security. They need parents that they can't
manipulate. They need parents that they can't push around. They need parents
that speak authoritatively to them, and require things of them, and enforce
their requirements. That will give them security. But more important,
it will give them character. I don't mean authority without love. You've
got to have both, and you can have both. The one certainly does not exclude
or any way qualify the other.
Now we want immediate obedience. I think it should go without saying that
this implies that you ought to speak once only when you tell your children
to do something. Some parents have to tell their children the same thing
over and over, and threaten besides, before they get any response. I've
never been imp enough to count how many times some of you repeat yourselves,
but I know it's too many. Why is it that you have to repeat yourself when
you've already told your child what you want? There's only one reason:
because he didn't obey the first time. Why didn't he obey the first time?
Because he knows he doesn't have to. He knows you have no intention of
enforcing your command the first time. You have taught him that. He's
waiting for you to say it again. He probably knows exactly how many times
he can push you to say it, before you start getting serious, or before
you intend to enforce it. If it's six, he'll push for six every time.
Actually he'll push for seven. The six he has already. He knows how many
times you will speak before you enforce
----or he knows when the
tone of your voice changes ----knows when you mean business and
when you don't. And the more you speak without enforcing, the more you
teach him to despise your authority. This is the most destructive kind
of parental softness. Obedience ought to be immediate, and it is your
business to require that and enforce it.
Next, a child should be required to obey without answering back. A child
who is generally subject might be dealt with in a different manner from
a child who is generally insubordinate, but a child who is generally insubordinate
should always be required to obey without speaking at all. When you give
your child an order, he has only one reason to speak, and that is to challenge
your authority, and push you as far as he can. There are two words that
you should especially watch for, and never allow. Those are the words
why and but. You get a child that's insubordinate
I heard an example of this just this evening before the meeting ----you
have a child that's insubordinate, and you say, do such and such,
and his first word will be but. What he's saying is, But
Mother, but Father, I don't want to do what you're saying. He will
make some excuse, of course, but the sum of all those excuses is, he does
not want to obey you. And I will insist on this: you ought to spank that
child every time he uses the word but, when he's given a command.
Never allow that word but to come out of his mouth, but spank
him every time. And I'll be bold on this: if you don't do it, you're ruining
your child. You're allowing him to challenge your authority, and push
you every time you give him a command. There's no reason for a child to
say but when he's told to do something.
And there is no reason for him to say why?
would never allow either one of those words to proceed out of the mouth
of my child. Now if you give him a command, and he cheerfully obeys you,
and then comes back and says, Daddy, why did I have to do that? ----that's
a different story altogether. He wants to know why. But when you tell
him to do something, and he says, Why? he doesn't want to
know why. He only wants to challenge your authority. I had one child that
used to try that on me, and when she would say, Why? I would
say, You tell me why ----and her proper response was,
Because you said so. But after a while she learned to say,
I have to do it because you said so, but I want to know your reason.
Now it may be legitimate for a child to want to know your reason, so long
as he understands that he is to obey whether you give him a reason or
not. God does not require children to submit to your reason, but to your
authority. They may have no capacity to understand your reason. A fourteen-year-old
girl may have no ability at all to understand why you forbid her to wear
tight clothes, and an explanation of it may do her more harm than good.
Her business is to submit to your authority. To demand a reason for submission
is to undermine the essence of authority, and reduce it to a non-entity.
God gave Adam a reason when he gave him a command, but that reason was,
for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ----that
is, because I have commanded you, and I mean to enforce it. This is the
proper exercise of authority, and it is perfectly effectual where it is
exercised in an atmosphere of love and trust.
Now if you're a tyrant, and if you lay foolish, unreasonable, irksome,
or humiliating requirements upon your children, you should not be surprised
if they demand a reason. If you exercise authority without love, you forfeit
their respect, and your ability to rule them. But if you exercise your
authority with reason and love, for children to demand a reason is generally
to challenge your right to command, and you cannot allow it. If you have
a child that is generally insubordinate, he will regard every requirement
as irksome, and I would consider it one of the most important things you
can do for such a child, to require him every time without exception to
obey you without speaking
----for whatever he says will likely be
a challenge to your authority.
Next, obedience should be exact. If you say, Johnny, come here,
and he walks up within ten feet of you, he knows very well you want him
to come farther than that. That's just pushing you, challenging your authority.
What should you do then? Say it again? Say, come all the way here?
No, you should spank him, and send him back where he was, and call him
again. And by the way, if you don't believe in spanking, you don't believe
the Bible. Throw the old Bible away, and found your own religion, with
some modern psychology book for your Bible, and some liberal educator
for your pastor. I believe in spanking, but I'll tell you, I have seven
children, and the whole seven of them, all put together, don't get a grand
total of one spanking in a year. They would if they needed it, but you
raise children the way you ought, and they will soon cease to need any
The next thing is, obedience should be cheerful. Turn to First John, chapter
five. We read in the third verse, For this is the love of God, that
we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.
Now God requires some pretty hard things of us. But it says, his
commandments are not grievous. We have submitted to his authority.
We trust in his wisdom and his love, and therefore his commandments are
not grievous. The same ought to be true of a child. If your child finds
your commandments grievous to him, if, in plain English, he doesn't want
to obey, I can tell you absolutely that your child is not happy. A child
cannot be happy unless he obeys cheerfully. You want your children to
be happy? Get them right, and they will be happy. But a child who is insubordinate,
or who obeys reluctantly and grudgingly, can never be happy. He can never
be secure, either. And if all you secure by your discipline is the reluctant
and grudging submission of your children, you haven't secured anything
at all. You may as well spare yourself the trouble, and let them go their
----for they will as soon as they can.
But I want to talk about character. Your discipline of your children is
not merely to regulate their conduct, but to form their character. It's
to train them up in the way they should go
----which is the way
of godliness ----that when they are old they may not depart from
it. Your softness will absolutely destroy your child's character. Softness
will produce both pride and lust in a child. He'll become proud, self-important,
and accustomed to having his own way ----and not accustomed to self-denial.
I had a little conversation with one of you on this subject, and was asked,
What can I do about pride in a child? And I said then, just
as a suggestion, which I had never thought of before, the way to deal
with pride in a child is to get him to submit to his parents. And the
more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it was divine wisdom
given to me at that moment, and it is, in fact, the truth. The way to
deal with pride in a child is to get him in subjection to his parents.
It is naturally humbling to submit to somebody, and obey somebody. You
may be pretty sure that these big-shottish, self-important children are
as insubordinate as they are proud. Pride and insubordination go together.
They're twin sisters. Humility and submission go together.
There's another thing involved also: parental softness will foster lying
in children. Lying is one of the most difficult things to deal with in
----but also one of the most necessary things to deal with.
The Scripture says, outside are liars ----everyone that
loves and makes a lie. A liar is not saved. He's not going to get saved
until he repents of his lying. Now it's one of the most difficult things
to deal with because very often you don't know when your child is lying,
and when he isn't. You say, Johnny, did you do that? (when
you're almost certain that he did), and he says, No, Daddy, not
me. And because you're not absolutely sure he did, you can't discipline
him. So he gets away with whatever else he did, and with lying also. What
do you do? Well, I think a little wisdom will enable you to set him up
and find him out, by asking him questions when you know what the truth
is. And you've got to make it your business to know. A child that is suspected
of lying should be kept under your eye. You can't let him run loose as
he pleases, and then ask him what he's been doing. He knows he has the
upper hand on that plan. The Bible says, A child left to himself
bringeth his mother shame. One reason for parental softness is parental
But love is another source of softness, and I think one of the difficulties
that parents have in dealing with lying is that they're not inclined to
believe that their children are liars. I understand that. But you can
be pretty sure that every child who is insubordinate is also a liar. They
go together. C. H. Spurgeon says, Every liar has some other latent
----in other words, some other evil in him. That's why
he lies, to cover it up, or to get away with it. Children will lie just
for pride's sake, because they don't want to be exposed as being wrong.
That's pride. They will lie to avoid embarrassment. That's pride. They
will also lie to avoid getting a spanking.
Now you can very often get a pretty good idea if your child is lying by
the simple fact that he won't look you in the eye. If your child will
look you directly in the eye, and say what he has to say, that's probably
an indication that he's telling you the truth. Not necessarily, though,
because I've seen the contrary, and I've seen it in three year olds, who
have become such habitual liars that they can look their parents in the
eye, never bat an eye, never wink, and speak calmly, and cooly, and deliberately,
the most far-fetched lie on earth. But if you catch them at a stage when
they're just learning to lie, they won't look you in the eye when they
lie. You will say, Look at me, and say, Did you do this?
and they'll avoid eye contact, look at the floor, and say, No.
Or they'll look at your forehead, or your nose, or anything but your eyes.
That's a pretty good indication that they're lying. But I've seen some
three year olds that can look their mother right in the eye and lie, when
I know they are lying. When you've got one like that to deal with, you've
got a job on your hands. But I really think that lying can be dealt with
the same way as pride and everything else. You get that child subject
to his parents. A child that's subject to his parents doesn't have much
occasion to lie. That's a fact. He's humble. He knows how to take No
for an answer
----cheerfully subject. He has nothing to hide. He
isn't trying to get away with anything. He has little or no occasion to
But the parental softness that allows insubordination, foments and fosters
pride and lust and lying. Your authority is given you by God to put your
children in the right way and keep them there. If you use it properly,
it will accomplish that. It will curb lust and pride. It will teach them
self-denial, which is the grand essential of discipleship to Christ. If
any man will come after me, let him deny himself. A child cannot
follow Christ without self-denial, and a child who does not know how to
deny himself is in a bad way. I have known a child of Christian parents,
who time after time apparently wept her way to the cross of Christ, but
never could manage to stay there. And it was as plain as day to me that
parental softness was the real problem. The poor girl grew up manipulating
her parents, getting her own way, knowing nothing of self-denial
oh, what a struggle she had to try to submit that wayward will to Christ.
I have given great offence to the parents of strong-willed children
by affirming it, but I believe it to be the very truth: strong-willed
children are made, not born. They are made by parental softness. I have
watched some of them being manufactured ----observed the whole process ----and
I know whereof I speak.
But God says, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when
he is old, he will not depart from it. And that implies that he
didn't depart from it when he was young. You can train up a child in the
way he should go, and one of the main ingredients in that training is
your authority. Curb his lusts and his pride. Conquer his insubordination.
You do that by requiring him to do as he ought, and enforcing your requirements.
Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible
by the Editor
They Who Separate Themselves
Of the mockers of the last times we read in the common English Bible,
These be they who separate themselves. (Jude 19). This is
usually understood to mean those who separate themselves from
the people of God, but this hardly seems possible, unless he is here speaking
of some different persons from those he has been speaking of throughout
the epistle. But it would really seem he is speaking of the same persons.
----These dreamers defile the flesh, etc.
----These speak evil of those things which they know
----These are spots in your feasts of charity.
----Enoch also...prophesied of these.
----These are murmurers, complainers.
----These are they who separate themselves.
But it is plain that these of whom he has spoken throughout
the epistle do not separate themselves. For observe further:
----For there are certain men crept in unawares ----sneakretly,
as my little boy used to say, but crept in.
----These are spots in your feasts of charity, when
they feast with you.
If these, then, are the same as those mentioned in verse 19,
clearly they do not separate themselves. And it may interest the reader
to know that (with one exception, to be noted shortly) the King James
Version is the only early Protestant version in English which ever affirmed
that they did. William Tyndale's New Testament (1526) rendered this clause
These are makers off sectes, and makers of sects
was the reading of all of his revisions. It was the reading also of Coverdale,
of Matthew, of Taverner, of the Great Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the
Bishops' Bible. The only exception to this was in Coverdale's Latin-English
New Testament, published in 1538. In this New Testament Coverdale printed
an English version in parallel columns with the Latin Vulgate, and purposely
conformed the English to the Latin, in order to remove one common objection
of the papists to the Bible in English. Coverdale's Latin-English Testament
has These are they that separate them selues, after the Vulgate,
Hi sunt qui segregant semetipsos, as Coverdale prints it.
Now it will be observed that the difference between makers of sects
and they who separate themselves is not a difference in translation.
The two are rendered from two different texts. Semetipsos (themselves)
is not found in all the Vulgate manuscripts, nor is its counterpart J
v found in most Greek manuscripts. Nor was it found in the printed Greek
New Testaments from which the early English Bibles were translated. But
the makers of the King James Version had it in Beza's Greek text, and
on the strength of that departed from the text of the earlier English
Yet besides introducing a manifest difficulty into the book of Jude, J
v is but weakly supported by textual evidence, and the majority of printed
editions of the Greek Testament
----whether Textus Receptus, critical
editions, or majority text ----have not contained it.
Tyndale's makers of sects may be a little too strong. Makers
of divisions may be more suitable. The reader will note that those
who made divisions at Corinth did not separate themselves, but remained
in the church. So, apparently, did these of whom Jude speaks.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Martin Luther on Evangelical Ecumenicalism
I understand that you have undertaken a notable mission
of reconciling Luther and the pope. But the pope will not be reconciled,
and Luther refuses. Be mindful how you sacrifice both time and trouble.
If you succeed, in order that your example may not be lost, I promise
you to reconcile Jesus Christ and Belial.
----The Life of Luther. Written by himself. Collected and Arranged
by M. Michelet, Translated by William Hazlitt; London: David Bogue, 1846,
pg. 223. (Letter to Spalatin, a fellow-Reformer, Aug. 26, 1530.)
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.