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Vol. 6, No. 8
Aug., 1997

That Nothing Be Lost

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on June 8, 1997

by Glenn Conjurske

“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” John 6:11-12.

I have often remarked that we ought to carefully observe which things the Holy Ghost has chosen to include in the Scriptures. Many small and apparently trivial things in the lives of the saints are included----such as Peter putting on his coat----where a thousand greater things are passed over in complete silence. The Bible tells us what kind of clothes John the Baptist wore, and tells us almost nothing else about him, aside from a few glimpses of his public ministry. But every one of those apparently trivial things which are scattered up and down the Holy Book are of some significance. They are included in the Bible for a reason, and it may be nearly an education in itself merely to observe which things the Holy Ghost has chosen to tell us.

But many overlook the apparently insignificant things in the Bible, and thus they miss half their spiritual education. I should perhaps observe that----as always----there is an error on the other side also. Some insignificant matters are included in the Bible merely because they are necessary for the setting. This is especially true in parables. It is a good rule not to make a parable go on all fours, but some folks will make it go on all fifteens, and so spin out of their own brains a dozen things which the Spirit of God never intended. The same is true in interpreting types. Take that which is obvious, and be done with it. If you look for more, you will find only your own vagaries, and attribute those to God.

The same is true in historical accounts. Some things are simply necessary for the setting, and that is all they are there for. To look for some deep spiritual significance in them betrays a lack of common sense, and common sense is by all means one of the most important qualifications in the interpretation of Scripture. It will not conduct us to the spiritual depths, but it will keep us from a thousand errors and vagaries.

But on. One of those apparently insignificant things in the Bible is this command of the Lord to gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost. I have heard sermons on the feeding of the five thousand, but never a word on this. Yet it is full of meat and marrow, both practical and doctrinal.

To take the practical first, I observe that in times of plenty men tend to become careless. They become wasteful. It was in a time of great plenty that the Lord spoke these words. He had just multiplied a few loaves and fishes, so that all this great multitude had eaten and were filled, and there were fragments lying all around. In such a time of plenty, men are generally wasteful, and therefore the Lord tells them to gather up the fragments, “that nothing be lost.”

Now the fact is, we live in a time of great plenty. The poorest of us generally have a great plenty. And the result of this time of great plenty is that America has become a nation of great wasters. Some years ago I heard or read----don't remember which----the account of a man from India who visited and toured America. At the end of his tour, when he was about to leave America and return to India, someone asked him what had impressed him most about America. He said, “The size of the garbage cans.” A missionary in Peru once told me, “We don't throw away anything here, not even a scrap of paper.” But the great plenty which prevails in America has created a whole nation of great wasters. Garbage cans are no more sufficient, and most businesses must have large dumpsters for their garbage, and a good deal of what they throw away is not garbage at all. I built my little cabin on wheels almost entirely out of what others had thrown away. What to do with the garbage has become a national problem. “Landfills” are everywhere, and filling up too fast for comfort. There is too much garbage, and not enough land to fill. Some years ago when a certain city's landfill was filled, some bright heads determined to just keep dumping there, and build a mountain of the trash. The inhabitants of the place promptly dubbed it “Mount Trashmore,” and those who do much travelling will find these Mount Trashmores scattered all around this country. America is a nation of wasters. Modern plenty and modern wastefulness have given a new meaning to the word “disposable.” This used to mean “capable of being disposed of,” (where “disposed of” usually meant no more than used or applied), but now “disposable” means “made to be thrown away,” and this applies not only to the containers in which the goods are sold, but to the goods themselves. No one thinks any more of applying the word “disposable” to the containers. It is taken for granted that they are to be thrown away. All of this reflects the great plenty and the great wastefulness of modern America.

Yet the Son of God was not a waster. “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.” And how telling is this word “nothing.” “That nothing be lost.” What was it which the Lord thus concerned himself about? Fragments of bread! How many Americans----and Christians too----throw them away every day. Years ago when I was preaching in Colorado, there was one woman in the church who was very appreciative of my ministry, and I generally went to her house every Monday morning, and we spent the time in spiritual conversation. She had a little daughter five years old, and one Monday morning this little girl got up rather late and began to eat her breakfast. She had a piece of toast, and after nibbling at it a little, she decided she didn't want it, and began to feed it to the dog. I----aiming to awaken something in her conscience about this----said to her, “What would you do if you didn't have a dog?” She looked up as cute and innocent as could be, smiled, and said, “Then I wouldn't be feeding him!” My question was entirely lost upon her young innocence. I had been aiming deeper. My concern was, “What would you do with the bread, if you didn't have a dog?” The plain fact is, she would have thrown it away. It is altogether too convenient for wasters to have a dog or cat or chickens to feed, so that they can practically throw their food away, and yet save their conscience. The plain fact is, if they didn't have the dog, the food would go to the garbage can, and parents who allow their children to give the food they don't want to the animals may be saving the food, but they are spoiling the child. They are ruining the character of the child----teaching him that his own whims are more important than it is to deal faithfully with God's provisions----teaching him that the only important consideration is whether he wants it or likes it. And really, the child, or the man, who has such a viewpoint has very little character. The time will come when he has no dog or chickens to feed, and then he will manifest his character by throwing the food he doesn't want in the garbage can.

I have always been poor, even in the midst of American plenty, and I have always been scandalized to see food wasted. When I was a student at Bible school I was scandalized to see my fellow students throw their food in the garbage can. I have always been some sort of a reformer or a crusader, and I didn't always have the good grace to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes I would walk up to one of those fellow students, who was scraping his food into the garbage can, and say, “Did you thank God for that food?” A little startled, he would say, “Well....., ah..........., um........., yes.” And I would say, “Then why are you throwing it away?”

Well, you know, there is a reason why he was throwing it away. His parents never taught him any better. They let him give it to the dog or the chickens----mighty expensive chicken feed, by the way----when he was little, and so he never learned any better. He was deficient in character. Remember, now, it was just fragments of bread of which the Lord said, “Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost.” Here was the eternal Son of God, who had just fed a multitude with five barley loaves, and who could speak a word and make another universe, careful about fragments of bread, careful that nothing be lost. And we his impotent creatures, who could not create one crumb of bread if our heaven depended on it, throw them away. Do you not suppose that God is scandalized by this? I know an old man who used to refer to oat meal as “pig food.” He once told me that when he was a boy his mother required him to eat his oat meal. She made him sit at the table until it was gone. But she was too soft, and she would go in the other room while he sat at the table, and he would get up and throw the oat meal away----and she, kind soul, would just “look the other way.” But I wouldn't count on God doing so. I am not so sure that God will be content always to look the other way when we waste what he has given us. I would rather expect the contrary.

The plain fact is, our character is manifested in such things. The Lord says, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10). “That which is least.” Fragments of bread. The Lord is careful about them, and we have no right to be careless. Parents ought to teach their children to be careful even of fragments of bread. It ought to be understood that what goes on your plate goes into your mouth, not to the garbage can or the cat. No child should be allowed to throw away his food. Now if his Daddy throws away his food also----if he eats the toast and throws away the crust----you will have to leave it to God to discipline him. And you need not be surprised if God does so. When God looks down and sees one of his children eating his bread and throwing away the crust, he may say, I will bring that man to the place where he will be happy to have a crust of bread.

But you don't believe God will do that. Perhaps in Africa, but not in America. Americans take their plenty for granted. That is precisely why they are so wasteful. They do not believe it possible for the present affluence to cease. We may throw away our food and our goods today, for there is always more coming tomorrow. Perhaps so. I am no prophet, and I cannot pretend to say that the present plenty will not last till the day of judgement. Nevertheless, God certainly regards our character. You want to be used of God to do great things? Then be faithful in that which is least. Don't waste your fragments of bread, and God may give you greater things. The Son of God was careful of fragments of bread, even in a time of great plenty, “that nothing be lost,” and you have no right to be otherwise.

But I turn from the practical to the doctrinal. Understand, these fragments of bread had just been created by the miraculous power of God. The Son of God had brought them into being, to meet the need of the hour. But there would be another need tomorrow, and Christ would not work another miracle then. If there had been another miracle coming tomorrow, it would have been needless to gather up the fragments today. Though he wrought a notable miracle today to meet their pressing need, he would not work another tomorrow, but casts them upon their own care and resources.

It may be none of our business to understand why God does so. It may be enough to know that he does. Though the children of God are frequently troubled with pressing needs, and though God is always able to work miracles to meet those needs, yet it is seldom that he will do so. He is very sparing of miracles. This is the plain doctrine of the Bible. Even in the midst of the great profusion of miracles which characterized the earthly ministry of the Son of God, he gave men to understand that they need not expect a miracle for every need. Such an expectation could only serve to make men careless. It would teach them to disregard natural means and to be careless of personal responsibilities. But in this scripture, within a few minutes after he had wrought this notable miracle, the Lord teaches them to be careful about mere fragments of bread. He casts them upon their own care and their own resources for their needs for tomorrow, for there would be no miracle then.

I believe in miracles. I do not believe the age of miracles is past, nor that they were confined to the apostolic age. No one who has read church history as I have could believe that. I am not foolish enough to deny plain facts in order to sustain bad doctrine. I believe in the promises of God.

I believe that God answers prayer. And though I believe in the rarity of miracles, I surely believe in their existence. Miracles are seldom necessary, but where we have a pressing need, and a plain promise of God, and faith in that promise, and where nothing but a miracle will do, God surely works miracles. But understand, if God works a miracle to heal your body today, he casts you upon your own care and resources to maintain your health tomorrow. If by a miracle God raises Lazarus from the dead today, yet Lazarus must eat and drink, and avoid disease and danger, if he would live tomorrow. We know that the same villains who sought the death of Christ took counsel to put Lazarus to death also. What was Lazarus to do? Avoid them, by all means. Suppose now that he had gone to their council and said, “The Lord has chosen that I should live, and has proved it by performing a miracle to raise me from the dead. Now who are you to resist the will of the Lord? You have no power to put me to death, for the Lord can work miracles to keep me alive, as well as to raise me from the dead.” All this may be technically true, yet it would have been the short road back to the grave for Lazarus.

The Bible almost everywhere casts us upon our own resources to meet our own necessities. “When they persecute you in one city, flee to another.” Paul did not expect any miracles in such cases. When they shut up the city to take him, he was let down in a basket over the wall. When the Jews swore to kill him, he sent a young man to tell the governor. When God teaches us to be “wise as serpents,” he casts us precisely upon our own care and resources for our own well-being, when he has sent us forth as sheep among the wolves. He thus teaches us not to depend upon miracles. To depend upon miracles is not faith, but fanaticism, and it will not make men faithful, but careless and foolish. Men will waste and squander their goods and their health, and then cry to God for a miracle when their ways have brought them into desperate straits. This is neither faith nor faithfulness.

And the fact is, the church today is generally unfit to receive miracles. Miracles put the stamp of divine approval upon men as scarcely anything else can do, and I believe that one of the reasons why miracles are rare in any age is that there are so few men upon whom God is willing to put such a seal of approval. The miracles in apostolic times served to authenticate the gospel of Christ, the apostles, and the true church of God. But where is the church of God today? Miracles today would generally be used to authenticate our own sect or our own sectarian peculiarities, but where is the sect which God is willing thus to authenticate? There are Baptists enough who claim to be the only true churches, and I read not long ago in a Baptist periodical, “None but the Baptists are even trying to do the will of God.” Now for God to give miracles to such men would serve only to increase their sectarian pride and bigotry.

The Lord has something to say about the scarcity of miracles in Luke 4:25-27. “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land, but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” The fact is, though God was willing to put his stamp of approval upon Elijah and Elisha, he had a controversy with Israel. He cleansed but one leper, and he not an Israelite. He sustained but one widow, and she a Sidonian.

But I wish to turn again to the practical side. Though I believe there is deep doctrinal significance in the Lord's command to gather up the fragments that nothing be lost, yet the practical lesson lies nearer the surface. We have no right or business to waste what we have today, for there will not necessarily be any new supply coming tomorrow. Whether my health, my time, or my goods, I have a solemn responsibility to the God who gave them to me to conserve and use them to the best advantage. The charge against the unjust steward was that he wasted his master's goods. This is a great sin. In reality it is tempting God, and we have no right to expect God to restore to us tomorrow what we have wasted today. We have no right to waste even fragments of bread.

But understand, I am not unreasonable, and I do not believe God is. If it is really intolerable, God will hardly expect us to eat it. Though my wife has usually baked our bread, when we first moved to Madison we bought some bread and meat at the store, and I took sandwiches to work for my lunch. But when I began to eat them, I found that this was not bread at all, but only bread dough. It really was intolerable. I ate the meat and threw the bread away----though at that time we were so poor we probably could not have bought another loaf. It may be excusable to throw away what is really intolerable. But it is certainly only excusable once----and you may be sure I never bought that brand of bread again. If I had continued to buy that same bread, and continued to throw it away, there would have been no excuse for that. The man who eats toast every day, or once a week, and throws away the crust every time, has no excuse at all. He only manifests his lack of character. He only proves that his whims and lusts are more important to him than it is to do right. If the crust is really intolerable and inedible, he has no right to eat toast, for every time he determines to eat toast, he purposes to waste part of it. This is as much sin as it would have been for the disciples to leave the fragments where they lay, instead of gathering them up.

The book of Proverbs says, “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting, but the substance of a diligent man is precious.” (Prov. 12:27). That is, it is precious to himself, and he takes good care of it. The worthless man wastes it. He loves to hunt or fish, and take the game, for he loves the sport, but he wastes it after he has it. To the good man, his substance is precious. He will not waste it, and neither will he ruin it or wear it out by the careless use of it. I never cease to marvel at how fast some folks can wear out and ruin a book. Give some people a new Bible or hymn book, and in a few months' time it will be a disgrace to look at. Through mere carelessness, they will wear out a book more in a few months' time than it ought to be worn in twenty years. What is the difference between this and wasting our goods by throwing them away? We certainly cannot please God after this fashion. God is careful of mere fragments of bread. He commands us to be careful about them, and we have no right to be otherwise.

Cave Men

by Glenn Conjurske

We have all heard of the “cave men,” who belonged to the “stone age,” who “millions of years ago” lived in caves, and hunted with stone clubs and axes, before men had learned to build houses, or discovered the use of iron, or risen to any of the advancements of modern times. We have all heard of such things, and I suppose most of us were once upon a time gullible enough to believe them. The matter seems to be rather universally assumed. When I was but a very small boy my mother read to us a book about primitive cave dwellers, mostly concerned with a set of twins, a boy and a girl, named Fire-top and Fire-fly. I (susceptible as I always was in that direction) promptly fell in love with Fire-fly. Her charms were short-lived, however, and I recovered from them long before I recovered from the charms of those theories of the “cave men.” Those theories no doubt held sway over my mind until I learned the truth, and until I learned to think. There is one grand myth at the bottom of all of these tales----one grand myth of “science, falsely so called.” That myth supposes that man began his existence on a low plane of intelligence and refinement, and has been steadily advancing.

This is the fundamental falsehood of all the theories of the cave men. It is the opposite of the truth, and it is difficult to dignify such notions with the name of science, for their real basis is actually philosophy, though alas, it is philosophy falsely so called, for it is not the love of wisdom, but just the reverse. Modern man wishes to believe in the steady advancement of the race. It pampers modern pride, and the devil is no doubt willing enough to lead his willing disciples into these elysian fields of self-gratulation. I really have no doubt that the devil and his hosts are the real authors of these theories of “cave men.” Such theories suit his purposes exactly. Not that there have never been any real “cave men,” but these were the result not of the advancement of the race from its primitive ignorance, but of the degradation of the race from its primitive refinement.

What, then, is the truth of the matter? I suppose it a simple matter of fact----an axiom, if you will----that the man has never lived who equalled Adam in intelligence, understanding, refinement, and ability. Not that Adam knew all that modern man knows. No, for radio waves and electrical power had probably not been discovered in Adam's day, nor internal combustion engines invented. Nevertheless, the men who originally inhabited the earth were no “cave men,” and they lived in no “stone age.” We read of the first generations of men on the earth,

“And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he BUILDED A CITY, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.” (Gen. 4:17). Here is the first man ever born on the earth, building a city. Surely he was no “cave man.”

Of the generations which immediately followed we read, “And unto Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begat Mehujael; and Mehujael begat Methusael; and Methusael begat Lamech. And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other was Zillah. And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.” (Gen. 4:18-22). No “cave men” here, and no “stone age,” but workers in brass and iron, and musicians with harps and organs. And all of this but seven generations from Adam, and doubtless during the lifetime of Adam himself, who lived 930 years. The stories we have heard about modern man coming up from “cave men,” then, are just myths. They are “science fiction.” They are one of the many proofs that when men do not like to retain God in their knowledge, nor to glorify him as God, God gives them up to an unsound mind, they become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened.

Well, but is there not factual evidence of the “cave men” and the “stone age”? Have not caves been discovered containing the actual relics of the ancient primitive men who once inhabited them? I suppose they have, but this no more proves the “stone age” theory than a cloudy day proves that the sun does not shine. And let it be understood that we have evidence nearer to hand than any ancient caves discovered by the geologists. When missionaries went to the South Sea Islands they found men living in the “stone age,” knowing nothing of the use of metals, all of their tools and weapons being made of stone, or bone----and this not “millions of years ago,” but less than two centuries ago. When Robert Moffat went to South Africa, he found men dwelling, not in caves, but in mere depressions in the earth, with neither walls about them nor roof over their heads----and this less than two centuries ago. If, therefore, geologists or explorers have discovered caves inhabited by human beings at a more remote period----if they have discovered the remnants of societies which knew nothing of the use of metals----this should hardly surprise us. But what does it all prove? Certainly not that the whole race was thus sunk in degradation. Certainly not that this was one step in the upward progress of man from his primitive ignorance and brutishness. Nothing of the kind. Did Moffat's discovery of men who had no dwelling but a little open hollow in the earth, which gave them neither protection nor privacy, did this prove that the whole race was thus degraded? No more does the discovery of the relics of ancient “cave men” prove that the whole race ever lived in such a state. The primitive ignorance and brutishness of man exists only in the vain imaginations of those whose foolish hearts are darkened. Those ancient cave dwellings, and those ancient instruments of stone, are rather a proof of how far certain segments of the race had descended from its primitive understanding and refinement. But that there was any universal descent of mankind into such a degraded state, that there was ever any world-wide “stone age,” is what we absolutely deny----and what no man can prove. They may assert that their “stone age” and their “cave men” represent one stage in the upward progress of the whole race from its original brutality----indeed, they may assert that the race rose from a monkey or a puddle of slime----and, for all that, they may assert that the sky was once green and the grass blue----but they have not an iota of evidence for any of it.

The same “science” which tells us of the “stone age” tells us also of a supposed “ice age,” in which glaciers “came down” from the Arctic regions, and, among other wonders, “scooped out the Great Lakes.” So I was taught in grade school, and so numerous intelligent folks believe today. These glaciers were very selective in their scooping, and managed to leave islands in the Great Lakes, and mountains in their vicinity. But the greatest wonder is the coming “down” of the glaciers at all. We all know that glaciers flow “down” the sides of steep mountains, by the force of gravity, but it seems that gravity did not yet exist in the “ice age,” for these glaciers came “down” from North to South, flowing sometimes down, sometimes up, and up and down the sides of the mountains which they failed to “scoop” away. Those who believe such tales may well believe the stories of the “stone age”----but they ought to be careful how they impugn the intelligence of the “cave men.” As for the scientists who invented these tales, they might have done better to tell us that the glaciers came “down” from heaven, for such a tale would at any rate leave the law of gravity intact. But they do not believe in the existence of heaven. Nevertheless, apt as all their disciples are to swallow tall tales, and defiant as their glaciers were of all the known laws of gravity, they would doubtless find believers enough if they told us that the glaciers went up to heaven.

Meanwhile, back on earth, there have been real “cave men” of which these scientists know nothing. These were no degraded and brutish specimens of humanity, but the noblest of the noble, “of whom the world was not worthy,” for “they wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb. 11:38). The same faith which put Abraham in a tent put David in a cave. “David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam.” (I Sam. 22:1). Here he dwelled while patience had its perfect work. Such a “cave man” we may gladly acknowledge as our ancestor.


A Public School Tragedy, & the Wrong Lesson Learned

by the editor

I have recently read a sad (but very typical) account of the destruction of the faith and morals of a child in the public schools. This account is from pages 263-265 of Fighting the Devil in Modern Babylon, by John Roach Straton, Boston: The Stratford Company, copyright 1929. Straton was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City, and one of the most prominent leaders of a former generation of Fundamentalists. He writes,

“I could tell, for example, of a certain friend of mine living in the State of California. He was a banker and a man of influence and high standing in his community. He, himself, told me the story of the happy development of his home, with a loving wife and a strong, fine son. All went beautifully until this boy reached high school, and then the father told me that they began to have trouble with him. This increased. He accepted the materialistic ideas of `science' and life that there were given him. He swallowed the theory of Evolution and announced himself proudly as `an evolutionist.' Like most of the youngsters who thus accept it, he became very vain over his assumed superiority concerning his knowledge of the nature of our world, the facts of life, religion, etc. His father told me how he dropped out of the Sunday school and church. They could not get him to go without driving him, which they did not feel was wise to do. And so he drifted from bad to worse. To make a long story short, I will say that this lad, still in his teens, one day took his father's magnificent high-powered automobile, and went away joy-riding with a group of his school chums. One of these young fellows brought a pocket-flask with him, and all of them indulged in a round of drinks. My friend's son was at the wheel, and because this liquor went to his head, he butted into a railroad train with the automobile. There was a terrific accident which completely smashed the machine and killed the boy who had brought the flask, and who was sitting in the front seat with my friend's lad. The result of that terrible accident was a lawsuit in which my friend----this unhappy father----was sued because of the death of his neighbor's son. As he told me the story his eyes swam in tears. He said: `Dr. Straton, my dear wife and I went through hell during that trial. Business and pleasure and everything else had to be put aside, while we battled as best we could for our poor undone boy.' The final result was that, after months of agony in the courtroom and outside, the case was settled with a heavy cash payment from my friend.

“Does it seem strange to you, that after telling me this story, this father explained to me why he had connected himself with one of the patriotic organizations in this country, which has been formed to combat the evils in the schools, and the un-American and un-Christian things that flow from them? This father said to me, `When that trial ended, I made up my mind that I would devote my fortune and the remainder of my life to battling this dangerous and distressing outside influence which, through the schools, stealthily entered my home, wrecking our peace and happiness, and stole from us our only son!”'

The account of the corruption of this son of godly parents, by the influence of the public schools, is only one of millions of such which could be told. It is not the exception, but the rule. Most of the children from Christian homes who are put in the public schools are lost to the world, the flesh, and the devil. I grew up in an evangelical Baptist church, with a large group of youth, all of us in the public schools, and almost every one of us (including myself) thoroughly corrupted by them. Some few of the number were afterwards converted, but today there are but few of the whole number who know the Lord. Some profess Christianity, but are practically indifferent to the claims of Christ.

All of this is to be expected. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” The story of the son related above by Straton could be repeated a million times, with variations, of course, in the circumstances. There may be no deaths or lawsuits, but what of that if the children's souls are lost? Christians generally fail to save their own children, nor can they expect to save them, while they put them in the public schools. Some manage to save them to at least a form of godliness, but rarely to spirituality.

The father in the above account learned a lesson from the loss of his son, but he certainly did not learn the truth. He learned the wrong lesson, and so set himself upon the hopeless task of reforming the world's schools. For make no mistake about it, the public schools are the world's schools. They are in and of the world, part and parcel of the world, and never will or can be anything else. The Christian's business is to separate from the world, not to reform it. It cannot be reformed, so long as the devil remains its prince and its god. The above account was published in 1929. Since that date two generations of the best of Fundamentalists have labored with all their might to clean up the public schools, and with what result? The public schools are immeasurably worse today than they were fifty years ago. How could it be otherwise, while the devil is the god of this world? Evil men wax worse and worse, as the Bible says they will. The world waxes worse and worse, and the public schools, part and parcel of the world, wax worse and worse. The business of the Christian in the matter is to “come out from among them, and be separate.”

I have seven children, ranging in age from nine to twenty-five years. Not one of them has ever spent one hour in school. They have been taught informally at home. I determined before I was married that my children would never go to school----and that before “home schooling” was ever heard of, and while it was illegal everywhere. I had never heard of anyone educating their own children at home. On what basis did I come to that determination? I understood from the Scriptures what the world is----that it is society or civilization as it now exists, and that it is the implacable and unchangeable enemy of God. It plainly appeared to me also that the public schools are part of the world. That, and no other consideration, determined me not to allow my children in the public schools. But Fundamentalism has never yet understood what the world is. A large part of its energies, therefore, are spent in attempts to reform and cleanse that system which never has been and never can be anything but the kingdom of the devil. When Christ comes and dethrones the devil and all his hosts, then “the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” Till then, the kingdoms of this world will remain the domain of the devil, and not all the powers of “patriotic organizations,” the “religious right,” or the Fundamental church, can change it. If Christian parents wish to save their children, let them keep them out of the public schools----not that that alone will save them.


Ï Book Review Ï

by Glenn Conjurske


Radio, The New Missionary, by Clarence W. Jones. Moody Press, 1946.

If my readers wonder why I review a book which is 50 years old, I tell them in the first place that principles do not change. The principles set forth in this book were of evil tendency fifty years ago, and they are the same today, though they are generally accepted as good and true. Though written before Neo-evangelicalism as such had any existence, yet the principles contained in the book are surely Neo-evangelical, for as a plain matter of fact, much of Fundamentalism was largely Neo-evangelical in principle before Neo-evangelicalism emerged as a separate movement, and much of Fundamentalism remains so today.

In the second place, it is profitable to study the origins of things. The origin of anything is usually a fair test of its character, and though it may change in after years, it is seldom that a stream rises above its source. This book sets forth the origin of missionary radio. It was written by one of the founders and directors of the first missionary radio station in existence, station HCJB, in Quito, Ecuador.

While not denying that good has been done by missionary radio, I yet contend that its overall effect has been harmful, that the principles which underlie it constitute a departure from the principles of Scripture, and that it was conceived and born in an atmosphere which was anything but spiritual.

As to the principles contained in the book, there is surely more of worldliness in them than of spirituality. The book repeatedly affirms that the Lord is doing a new thing in missionary radio. “If there was any philosophy or spiritual strategy behind this move of reaching the regions beyond by radio, it was that the LORD was going to do a new thing in missionary endeavor.” (pg. 14). New it was, no doubt, but whether it was the Lord who was doing it is another matter. Where does the Bible teach us to expect the Lord to do a new thing to reach the regions beyond? The old command to the people of God to “Go” remains just where it was, nor does Scripture ever contemplate reaching the regions beyond by any other means. Does “the magnificent new equipment developed by a modern age” (pg. 125) give us license to depart from the ways of Scripture----and claim divine sanction for it too? Indeed, it is clear enough to me that “If there was any philosophy or spiritual strategy behind this move of reaching the regions beyond by radio,” that philosophy originated in the laxity of a soft generation which is always ready to substitute something cheap and easy in the place of difficult and costly duty.

Why now should tens of thousands of heralds of salvation face stormy seas, and wild beasts, and persecuting governments, and angry mobs, and jungle fevers, and man-eating savages, when a few dozen less heroic souls may sit at the controls and the microphones of a comfortable studio, and reach “the regions beyond” without “going” anywhere? True, the book avows that “There never was any thought or idea that missionary radio should displace or replace established missionary methods” (pg. 20), but the book unwittingly and repeatedly affirms that such is its effect after all----not entirely, but at least largely.

But there is something worse than this. One of the greatest evils of missionary radio was the multiplication of radios among the peoples who did not previously possess them. Many of the primitive peoples of the world had neither radios nor the gospel. The principle which the missionaries followed was to get radios to the people, so that they could get the gospel to the people. “To secure the largest results from missionary broadcasting, more people must have receivers. Not only the radio merchant, but, in some cases where no other way presents itself, the missionary must look ahead and prepare to see to it that the desired audience shall get reasonably priced receivers quickly.” (pp. 82-83).

“Because of the scarcity of receivers in the country, arrangements had been made to attempt the importation of radios at the earliest possible moment to increase the listening audience. ... It was expected that the stimulus of having a new broadcasting station to tune in on in their own country would encourage Ecuadorians to purchase receivers.” (pp. 30-31).

Surely this was doing the devil's work. While the people had neither radios nor the gospel, the missionary had a great tactical advantage, which was entirely thrown away by giving the people radios. “It is one of the outstanding needs of today and tomorrow that a great volume of good, cheap receivers be made available to radio missionaries who are planning future activities in Africa, India, and China. Only when receivers are so plentiful and so cheap that every village has a large radio for all to listen and many native believers are equipped with smaller radios for `listening posts,' will the fullest advantage have been taken of all that missionary radio offers to the Church of Christ in carrying out the great commission.” (pg. 91). This is surely blindness and infatuation. Where there were “many native believers,” why could not those believers themselves preach the gospel to their neighbors, instead of gathering them together to hear the gospel by a radio “listening post”? Here is another easy substitute for plain duty, which serves to enervate the native converts as well as the missionaries.

Of these “listening posts” we are told, “As an experiment toward developing an audience for its programs, The Voice of the Andes established a radio circle. ... Purchasing radio receivers with special funds given for the purpose by friends at home, HCJB placed these sets at strategic points ...

“Most of the families and individuals used their receivers conscientiously as soul-winning depots, and some remarkable conversions occurred. This plan had the virtue of using native believers, who were stimulated and strengthened as they did something for Christ and souls. The radio circle approach to the neighbors was a natural approach, free from any church or foreign element.” (pp. 83-84). But since when is it desirable to preach the gospel “free from any church element”? Here is just the unspiritual viewpoint of modern Evangelicalism, which does not care to have too much religion in its religion. And as a matter of simple common sense, how is listening to American missionaries by a radio imported from America “free from any foreign element”? But these things by the way. The real evil is deeper:

“Such a radio circle introduces the idea of radio into many a humble home and community that never thought they could have a receiver. Soon the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker begin to investigate the possibility of having a receiver for themselves to listen in their own homes. Radio agents are quick to accommodate these prospects, and so, slowly but surely, the infiltration of a new idea takes place, and a whole nation eventually becomes radio-minded.” (pg. 84). And can anyone be so infatuated as to suppose this to be the work of the Lord----to make a whole nation radio-minded? This is the short-sightedness of man, who, when he departs from the pattern given him in the New Testament, usually ends in aiding the kingdom of darkness rather than the kingdom of light. It has been said of Chinese missions, “The missionaries taught the people to read, and the Communists supplied the literature.” The missionaries departed from the apostolic pattern, and in place of preaching the gospel, they were building schools----and not to teach their converts, but the general populace. The devil was not slow to make use of the advantage thus handed to him by the church. Likewise with the radio. The missionaries labored to put cheap radios into the hands of the people----to create a people who were “radio-minded.” The end result of such a program plainly appears today. The devil has a much more powerful hold upon the people of the world than he ever could have had without the radio, and it was the missionaries who labored to flood the world with this curse.

The time was when people were glad to hear the gospel from mere curiosity, merely to relieve their boredom, merely to give them something to do, and many who were thus drawn to the preaching of the gospel were converted by it. Many came to the meetings of the old Methodists merely to hear the singing----and not “special music” which was “performed” by “Christian artists,” but simple congregational singing. Those days are forever gone. The radio now supplies them with constant music of whatever sort they wish, all day and all night. The radio has also created whole nations of sports addicts, who must hear every play of every game----and talk about it when they are not listening to it. They can scarcely be moved to think of God, or eternity, or their souls. Such a state of things is the direct creation of the radio, not being so much as possible without it. These are some of the evils brought about by the radio. To make whole nations “radio-minded” was surely the work of the devil, and yet it was the work of misguided and short-sighted Christian missionaries.

But these missionaries were not only short-sighted, but sadly lacking in spirituality. They aimed “to tell the old, old story in a new and attractive way” (pg. 14), indeed, “with a masterly array of equipment with which to preach the gospel more attractively.” (pg. 73). Note well, “more attractively.” More attractively, that is, than it was preached by Peter and Paul and Whitefield and Wesley----for they had none of this “masterly array of equipment.” This is really casting a slight upon the Holy Ghost and the gospel itself.

And how was this “more attractive” preaching to be accomplished? By means, among other things, of “gospel sermonettes and music.” (pg. 119).

But the “old, old story” told in the “new and attractive way” was not quite the old, old story after all, but was itself a manifestation of the lack of spirituality of the missionaries. In naming the policies of the station, the author says, “Always preach a positive gospel message. ... By proclaiming a positive message of the gospel of Jesus Christ in programs based on the Bible themes of the Blood, the Book, and the Blessed Hope, HCJB has focused the attention of its listeners upon the Redeemer Himself, and not upon the controversial issues of one religion versus another. ...HCJB has concentrated its broadcasting on the eternal verities and not upon human frailties.” (pp. 32-33). This is Neo-evangelicalism. Translated into plain English, this can only mean to refrain from preaching against the sins of the people, or the errors of their religion----which was, in general, Romanism. This is another slight upon the apostles, upon John the Baptist, and upon Christ himself.

So much for the gospel preaching by the new and attractive way. These missionaries, however, were not content to preach the gospel. Their lack of spirituality is further seen in the fact that the spiritual and the worldly were always mixed together in their thoughts and in their ways. “In addition to these more vital reasons, there are several secondary reasons why it `pays' to use missionary radio on the foreign field. By judicious programming, other than gospel programs can be arranged and broadcast so that the general educational and cultural standard of the people can be raised. HCJB broadcasts news, music, classes in language, and history, geography, etc. These programs are appreciated by the government as aids to the country's progress. The good will thus gained is a primary factor in maintaining good relations and an unquestioned place `on the air' for the gospel.

“Lending its facilities to the building of hemisphere solidarity has been a worthwhile war-time activity of HCJB.” (pp. 110-111).

So then the offence of the cross is ceased! We may now preach the gospel and please the government too. If only Paul had been so “judicious”! If only he had labored for the “progress” of the empire, if only he had engaged in educational and cultural work, he might have gained the “good will” of the authorities, and this would no doubt have been “a primary factor” in keeping him out of prison. And if he had been at the same time careful to preach the positive message of modern Evangelicalism, ignoring “human frailties” and the differences between one religion and another, he might have kept the gospel “on the road,” and out of the dungeon. This is the unspiritual atmosphere in which MISSIONARY RADIO was born.

“The Spanish language programs have always had the preference as to place and amount of time on the broadcast schedule. Programs calculated to appeal to Spanish-speaking listeners have always been presented, with their own music (!) and characteristic style. While the gospel programs of all kinds have precedence over everything else, still, many other interesting and helpful features are carried.” (pg. 32). So then, the American Christians who faithfully and sacrificially gave their money to support these missionaries were actually paying to broadcast secular programs and music.

But more. The founders of missionary radio had also a gospel bus, containing a mobile transmitter. They travelled to remote areas to hold gospel meetings, and broadcast those meetings over the air. The author describes a typical meeting:

“Word went around, 'They're going to broadcast tonight!' `Dolores Antaña is going to sing!' 'Pedro is going to play the guitar!' 'The jefe politico [the mayor of the city] is going to speak!' One lad told another, 'There'll be pictures----free!' ... Not only the municipal band showed up, but the army's battalion band was there. ... For an hour or two the radio program went on as each performer gave his best to the microphone. The two bands took turns in the program, presenting the fanciest numbers of their repertoires. The town's best singers were there----the musicians and artists of the select 'salas.' Everything that went into the microphone and transmitter also came out through the loudspeakers so the crowd, as well as the invisible radio audience, could hear and enjoy the program. ...

“As darkness came over the plaza, the movie machine was set up and a large bedsheet strung up so the crowd could view the picture on both sides of the transparent cloth. The particular movie shown was a travelogue of the Panama Canal and pictured modes of travel from South to North America. The professor of the school was delighted----his children would see what the outside world looked like. The government had always approved of this type of work----to them it was education for the masses.” (pp. 75-76).

Now where was the gospel in all of this? The reader must understand that the movie was one of the old silent type, and while the “travelogue” played before the people, the missionary made a spiritual application of it. The preparation for the trip is applied to preparing for the journey from time to eternity. The ticket is salvation by the blood of Christ, and so on through the “travelogue.”

Perhaps the saddest thing about the whole affair is that a Christian missionary could narrate all of this without shame or embarrassment. Can we conceive of the apostles of Christ conducting a gospel meeting, the first two hours of which consisted of secular music by ungodly artists, and speeches by ungodly politicians, and the gospel itself a spiritual application of a travel movie?

All of this is aimed at gaining the approval of the world. In enumerating the various mundane equipment which missionaries need to evangelize effectively, the author lists everything from printing presses to trading posts. And to what end? “Sometimes a farm, a school, or a gospel radio station will add great weight and prestige to the program of evangelism for a country or community, greatly multiplying the dividends from missionary labor. Of course it is possible for the missionary to get along without these things and still do a limited job.” (pg. 126, emphasis mine). So then, it is prestige they want. This is Neo-evangelicalism. And all of this casts another slight upon the apostles of Christ. Surely they were doomed to do “a limited job” indeed, who had none of this modern equipment. But does modern Evangelicalism actually preach the gospel more effectively than the apostles did?

But I turn to something else. The book claims that radio station HCJB has fulfilled the “blueprint” of the Great Commission, first to Jerusalem, then to Judea, then Samaria, and finally the uttermost parts of the earth----first broadcasting locally, then gradually adding more power and other frequencies, to reach eventually around the world. But in all of this talk about fulfilling the Great Commission, its first word is conspicuously absent. The first word of the Great Commission is “Go.” “Go ye into all the world.” “Go ye therefore and teach all nations.” In the ways of God and the economy of the gospel----in the planting and building up of churches----there is in fact no possible substitute for the personal presence of the preacher, and the first word of the Great Commission secures this. But modern Evangelicalism is wiser than God, and has found a way to fulfill the Great Commission without obeying it. By means of high-powered radio transmitters, “strategically located,” we are told, missionaries “can literally carry out the commission of Jesus Christ to His Church----`Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.”' (pg 115). And this is “literally” carrying out the Great Commission, ignoring its first word?

The book tells us, however, “...radio easily, quickly, and economically provides a vastly increased opportunity for multitudes on the foreign fields to `hear' the life-saving message of salvation. This one fact alone affords sufficient answer to the question, `Why use radio in missions?”' (pg. 95). Yes, and “...it is conservative to say that a preacher of the gospel, through a radio microphone and a sufficient number of broadcast stations carrying the message simultaneously, can preach to more people in a month than the Apostle Paul could speak to in a life-time!” (pg. 99). Thus does modern Evangelicalism delight to substitute that which is quick and easy for that which is slow and solid. Yet those who have wisdom will prefer the tortoise to the hare after all. George Whitefield once said, “When our LORD has any thing great to do, he is generally a great while bringing it about, and many unaccountable dark providences generally intervene. Thus it was with Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and all the eminent men of GOD in the days of old.”[

But the radio missionaries plead the urgency of the case. “First, missionary radio helps meet the URGENCY of the task of world-evangelism.” (pg. 95). Perhaps so. We know that the field is great and the laborers few, and we entirely sympathize with those who feel the urgency of the matter. But the fewness of the laborers is the fault of a lukewarm and unspiritual church, and the fact is, the existence of missionary radio will contribute more than any other thing to alleviate the church's sense of the urgency of the matter. The proper response to the vastness of the field, the fewness of the laborers, and the urgency of the need, is to labor to revive and stir up the church of God, and moreover to pray the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers. But what need have we of shields of gold, when we know how to make shields of brass? Instead of laboring to restore the shields of gold which have been carried away to Egypt, missionary radio provides us with shields of brass, and the main effect of those brasen shields is to make the church insensible to its lack of gold. But we live in a generation which is always ready to adopt a quick and easy way for everything. It is assumed that if it is quicker and easier, it is better, but this is almost never the case.

But so infatuated are the radio missionaries with their new, attractive, quick, and easy way, that they do not hesitate to make it indispensable. “One of the methods that God has chosen to use and bless in sending out this glorious message at home and on the foreign fields is RADIO. Here is a modern way of efficiently reaching the masses who cannot be approached in any other manner.” (pg. 109). Observe, “cannot.” It was impossible, then, for the apostles of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission, and the omniscient God obviously never intended that they should. “Multiplied instances have revealed the penetrating power of radio to reach hitherto unreachable persons or areas with the gospel.” (pg. 103, emphasis mine). Well, this is at any rate plain speaking. Here we learn that it was impossible to fulfill the great commission before the advent of this modern wonder. There are many who cannot be approached in any other manner. Pardon me, but this is worse than folly. It casts a slight upon the apostles of Christ, and upon the Great Commission itself. And despite the author's claims to the contrary, it certainly makes radio an actual substitute for conventional missionary work.


The Healing of Bud Robinson

[In the following account we may clearly see:

1. Error in Doctrine.

2. Confusion in practice.

3. Real devotedness to Christ.

4. Real and debilitating physical maladies.

5. Real faith.

6. Real healing, by the undoubted mercy and power of God.

---- editor.]

I want the reader to know that from over labor and handling a great sulky plow, I injured something in my left side, apparently a blood vessel near my heart. That caused me such pain that it was days before I could get up and down and my left side turned black. It seemed as if it would kill me. After I got over that and able to go back to the plow, I hurt myself again. The same place in my side seemed to give way near my heart and for a few days I was nearly helpless and became partially paralyzed in my left side. From that I went into nervous convulsions. These were so severe that they pulled me to pieces. They would strike me apparently in my left side where it was injured so severely and then seemed to crawl over my body until they would pull my arms out of joint at the shoulder. They were pulled out of place and put back nearly five hundred times and would not stay in place. We finally had to leave them in their dislocated condition. For years I suffered untold agony. It finally seemed to settle in or around my stomach and the headache was as common as it was to wake up in the morning. I suffered with it untold agony until night. None but the Lord knows how much I really suffered. I have seen the time when it seemed as if my head would split open. My head was never easy and I never had an easy day with my stomach. And yet, strange to say, in that fearful condition I preached most of the time. I did not let paralysis or convulsions or a bad stomach or a pain in my head or anything of the kind----not even dislocated arms----keep me from preaching the gospel. I very seldom missed an appointment. I challenged the devil on it that I was going to preach the gospel if I had to sit in a chair and be rolled to the church on a wheel chair. I would not let man or devil or my afflictions keep me from preaching the gospel of Christ.

When I had suffered in that condition for several years, a little woman, Sister Laura Penuel, a Missionary Baptist woman, a graduate from one of the best schools in North Carolina, who had been saved and sanctified for twenty-odd years and had been healed for more than twenty years, heard about me and made a visit to my home. She read to me out of her English Bible and her Greek Testament and out of the Hebrew Bible, and showed me in all of these different languages that God wanted to cure His people and make them whole. I confess right here that no preacher in the church of which I was a member, which was the Southern Methodist, had ever told me one time that I could be healed. This little woman wanted to anoint me with oil and pray for me and lay her hands on me, but it was so new to me that I did not have the faith on that occasion to allow her to anoint me with oil and pray for me. But I was interested and asked her if she would be willing for me to pray about it until I could get the mind of the Lord and then come back and pray with me again. She said she would.

When she left I went to see my pastor----a splendid man, a graduate from Vanderbilt----but he looked wise and told me that nobody had been healed since the apostles died and he gave me no encouragement, but rather seemed to ridicule the idea of a person's being healed. But I want to thank the Lord for one thing----what he did or said did not discourage me. I began to pray and fast and consult the Lord about it and in ten days I grew a crop of faith. I sent for the little woman to come back and she brought with her another lady who had been saved, sanctified and healed. Her name was Mrs. Georgia Church, and she was a pronounced second blessing holiness woman.

I notified my neighbors that Sister Penuel would be back on a certain day. When she got there I had my house packed full of my neighbors and she read her Bible and began to preach on the subject of divine healing. I wanted to be anointed with oil and prayed for so much that I could hardly wait for her to get through with the message. She had us kneel at the chairs. There were between fifteen and twenty that knelt, and she anointed me with oil. It was all so new to me. She had a little vial of olive oil and seemed to just put the end of her forefinger into the neck of the little bottle, and I watched her as she did that, and take out a little oil. And she said, “Brother Buddie, I anoint you with this oil in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” Then the most beautiful peace and rest that I had experienced for years seemed to thrill my whole body. My side that had been so weak was completely restored and the paralysis in the left side disappeared like the rising of the sun and seemed to pass over the hills, as the glory of the Lord flooded my soul. My head was made perfectly easy for the first time in many years and the Lord touched my stomach until it became entirely well. The Lord cured my headache and bad stomach and convulsions and even my lungs, although they had been so wrecked that they had been bleeding a lot and the devil had told me, “If you have another hemorrhage you will die.” But before I had another one Sister Penuel anointed me and my lungs became as easy as rubber heels on my shoes. I have scarcely had a headache now in around thirty years.

I ran then up until a few years ago when I was struck by an automobile and knocked about thirty feet and taken up with about nine broken bones. But I want the reader to get this thought, before my healing at times I was so nervous that I actually wanted to get out in the yard and pull my hair and scream. But, beloved, from the day I was healed until now my head has been just as easy as a knot on a stump. If I have any nerves, I do not know where they are located. My lungs have never bled a drop and I have now traveled 1,275,000 miles and have preached over 28,000 times.

----Does the Bible Teach Divine Healing? by Bud Robinson. Kansas City, Mo.: Nazarene Publishing House, n.d., pp. 29-32.

The Wisdom of Nathan

by Glenn Conjurske

We are all familiar with Nathan's parable, which he spoke to David, after David had taken Bath-sheba, and killed her husband to cover his crime. I hope that most of us have understood the exquisite wisdom embodied in that parable, by which he moved David to condemn his own act, before ever he heard a word of reproof or accusation from the prophet. Yet I wonder how many of us have understood the necessity of such wisdom in dealing with the sins of others. For lack of that wisdom I fear that offenders are often made worse instead of better, and when this occurs their reprovers naturally lay all the blame on the offender. Yet I suppose that much of the blame often lies upon the one who undertakes to reprove and restore. It is not without reason that Paul says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one.” This is not the work of novices and bunglers, but of wise and spiritual men.

Now there is a very obvious reason for the necessity of the wisdom of Nathan in dealing with the faults of others. It is a simple fact that when men are accused, they are very prone to defend themselves. It is difficult to admit guilt. It is humiliating and embarrassing. Most of the human race will go great lengths in excusing and defending themselves, rather than acknowledge their faults. This is a simple fact of human nature. We do not say it ought to be so: we simply affirm that it is so----and anyone who undertakes to reprove or correct his brethren ought to have this fact continually before him. If he does not, he will in almost all cases do more harm than good.

Understand, the success of a reprover depends upon his moving the offender to condemn himself. Without that, no good can be done. But if instead of moving him to condemn himself, he moves him rather to defend himself, he has done great harm, and perhaps irreparable harm. Instead of moving the man to forsake his sin and mend his ways, he has moved him to entrench himself more deeply in his wrong. Moreover, he has engaged the offender's pride in such a way as to make it much more difficult for him to acknowledge his fault for the future, than it would have been in the past. It is a very difficult thing for a man to admit that he is wrong, but when he has once defended that wrong, the difficulty is much increased. Unwise reprovers, then, who do no more than provoke the offender to defend himself, have actually done great damage to the soul of the offender----as much damage as the physician does to his patient's body, when he prescribes a treatment which increases the disease instead of curing it.

Oh that all the officious correctors in the church of God but understood the grand necessity of the wisdom of Nathan! What good might then be done, and what evil prevented. But the plain fact is this: if this matter were once understood, many self-appointed correctors would cease to be correctors at all. It is almost always easier to detect a fault than it is to correct it. This is true in all realms, and as true in the spiritual sphere as in any other. Those who recognize this will doubtless do more praying than reproving. I am sometimes painfully conscious of the faults of others, and even feel a responsibility to do something about it, and yet I refrain, being keenly conscious of my insufficiency for the task. I pray that God will deal with the refractory soul. I pray for the wisdom of Nathan, but meanwhile I keep my hands off the case, being virtually certain that I would do more harm than good by attempting to deal with it.

But let it be understood also that though all of us have an inbred inclination to defend ourselves when we are accused, that propensity is not of equal strength in all of us. It is full-grown in the proud, but it may be very much subdued in the humble. We must know the souls we would correct. I may know one soul whom I would seldom hesitate to correct, and another whom I would seldom attempt to correct, for I know the humility of the one, and the pride of the other. I know who will receive admonition meekly, and who will not receive it at all. We must know our man, as well as his fault.

Here is a man who is disputatious and irritable. He is too much impressed with his own abilities, and takes it ill that others are not equally impressed. He loves to set forth his own theories, and quickly becomes heated when they are opposed. Who will go to such a man and tell him his fault? Who cannot see what the result will be? He will soon be heated and belligerent, defend himself, find something to blame in his reprover (as though that excused himself), perhaps lose his temper, and, if his reprover is his pastor, likely leave the church.

Some will doubtless say, Let such a man be reproved forthwith. Let him lose his temper. Let him leave the church. He is probably no true Christian anyway. And I must grant that there may be cases where this may be the proper course. There may be cases where reproof is a plain necessity, and amendment a great improbability. Yet I observe that Paul says, “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one”----not drive him away. Restoration ought to be our aim, and where we see little likelihood of accomplishing it, we ought to be very slow to reprove. We cannot consider the man alone. No man lives to himself, and if we drive away the offender, he takes away his wife and family also, and what is to become of them? What we want in such a case is the wisdom of Nathan, and we ought to secure this by our own prayer and humility before we undertake to correct such a man.

We wonder how long Nathan knew of David's fault before he undertook to correct him. The real fact is, no man is to be reproved carelessly. David was a meek and spiritual man. He had surely manifested his readiness to receive reproof when he submitted so meekly and thankfully to the correction of Abigail. Yet I observe that Abigail's reproof, though forceful enough, was meekness itself in its spirit. He must be a very Nabal who could resist the force of such an appeal. It may be worth observing also that Abigail was a woman, and it is probably generally easier for a man to take reproof from a woman than from another man. At any rate, Nathan did not approach this matter carelessly. He came to David cautiously, with a plan laid deep in wisdom. That wisdom taught him not to come to David with a condemning spirit, nor pointing an accusing finger. Such an approach is almost certain to fail. He came with a stratagem in his mouth, by which to move David to condemn his own act. Not that such a stratagem will always succeed. No, for there is a great step between condemning our own act----or one essentially equivalent----and condemning ourselves. By means of the wisdom of Nathan we might lead the proud man to condemn his own act, but when we say, “Thou art the man,” he will immediately lose his temper, and begin to accuse and condemn us rather than himself. I once used such a stratagem with a man, a fictitious case in which I was sure he would agree that the thing itself was wrong, but when I came to “Thou art the man,” he turned the tables, and the fault was all in me! Indeed, I once had a man blame me for being a detective and finding out his fault, though his own offense was a very serious one.

Nathan's “Thou art the man,” then, may not succeed at all. And here I must speak of a branch of the wisdom of Nathan which may not plainly appear in the text. “The wisdom that is from above,” while by all means it “is first pure,” aiming first of all to convict of sin, and move the offender to condemn his sin and himself, is “then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits.” (James 3:17). The work of Nathan was only half done when he had moved David to condemn his act. At that point David had no thought of condemning himself. To move him to that required the second half of “the wisdom that is from above.” If at that point the spirit of Nathan had not been “gentle” and “full of mercy,” it is very unlikely he would have moved David to repentance. We may be sure there was no triumphant gloating in Nathan's “Thou art the man”----no condemning spirit, no harshness of tone, no determination to humiliate. Any of this would have defeated his purpose----and may indeed have moved David to sacrifice Nathan as he had Uriah. I suppose that Nathan uttered these hard words with head hung and voice subdued, perhaps with tears flowing from his eyes. All of this belongs to “the wisdom that is from above,” and its very gentleness subdues the sinner and overcomes his sin.

Correctors of others must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. To that end they must be extremely careful not to paint the man's faults blacker than they are. Unless the offender is a model of meekness and humility, to paint his fault blacker than it is will almost certainly move him to defend himself. It is difficult enough for a man to acknowledge his actual guilt. If we ask him to acknowledge more than that, we are almost certain to fail. We are almost certain to move him to deny his guilt, in what he must justly regard as a false, because aggravated, accusation. If we are to do him any good, his own innate sense of justice must be arrayed against himself, but when the charges brought against him are false or aggravated, that innate sense of justice will necessarily and unavoidably be arrayed against his accusers. Nor can these observations be limited to the facts of the case. There may be agreement all around as to what the facts are, and yet ten different opinions as to the gravity of them. A reprover who treats trivial matters as grave sins will probably only provoke bad feelings, and so make the heart of the offender worse instead of better. The fact is, a man cannot convict himself of grave guilt for a trivial fault, and to ask this of him proves only the ill-will of the reprover.

And all of this leads me naturally to speak of what I regard as one of the main ingredients in “the wisdom that is from above.” That ingredient is love. It is certainly not knowledge which makes men “gentle, easy to be intreated, and full of mercy,” but love. Wisdom teaches us how to gain our end, and when our end is the restoration of an offender, what can knowledge do, without love? There is more of this wisdom in an ounce of love than there is in ten pounds of knowledge. How easy it is to admit our fault to a man, when we know that he loves us. But if we have reason to doubt that love, if he manifests a condemning spirit, a determination to triumph over us, a disposition to humiliate us, it becomes extremely difficult to acknowledge our fault to him.

All of this applies as well to winning souls as to reproving an erring brother. No sinner can be saved until he condemns himself, and it is the first business of the evangelist to lead him to that. This is conviction of sin, and to bring it about the evangelist must certainly point as it were an accusing finger at the guilty sinner, as did John the Baptist, as well as Christ and his apostles. But how is he to do this without provoking the sinner to defend himself? Not easily, we may surely suppose. This is the work of wisdom. “He that winneth souls is wise,” and it is wisdom indeed which can convict the conscience, and at the same time draw and win the heart. But I have seen some very unwise dealing with souls, which was not calculated to win them at all, but only to drive them away. I was once knocking on doors with a fellow Christian, and with great grief watched him manhandle a gentle and hungry-hearted woman. His dealing with her resembled a boxing match. He had her on the ropes, and every time she tried to take a breath, he hit her again. Alas, it was not long afterwards that I was to feel his merciless blows myself, while he led a faction in the church against me. It is not thus that souls are won or hearts turned from sin. This is the work of love. How exceeding precious is the account of the Lord's dealing with the woman at the well. He did not spare her sin, but fully exposed it, and yet did not provoke her to defend herself----not even for a moment----but drew and won her sinful heart to that repentance which is unto eternal life.

And thus it is that we must deal with erring saints as well as erring sinners. Nathan undoubtedly possessed that wisdom from above. It was no doubt for this reason that “the Lord sent Nathan unto David.” It behooves us all to covet that wisdom, and not fancy ourselves sent to correct our brethren until we possess it.


A New Twist on the Inspiration of the Originals

by Glenn Conjurske

Editors of papers have the fortune or misfortune always to receive gratis and unsolicited a number of papers which others have taken it upon themselves to edit. Among those which this editor thus receives is a little paper called the Bible Baptist Blueprint, edited by DeWayne W. Austin of Hamilton, Ohio. This is devoted largely to Calvinism, Baptist sectarianism, and the King James Only doctrines. As to the third of these, my readers may suppose I have said too much already. I, they will find, am of another mind----though I confess I do sometimes get weary of the matter. Yet these doctrines continue to carry away a large segment of Fundamentalism with ill-advised zeal, and they continue to stand, as they have from the beginning, upon unsound argument, subtle sophistry, and shallow thinking----or, as we may surely say in many cases, no thinking at all.

The July-August, 1997, issue of the Bible Baptist Blueprint, just received, contains the following remarkable statement, under the title “What is Biblical Inspiration?”:

“The Holy Spirit so controlled the writers that the language they used conveyed the divine meaning and did not pervert it.

“This did not destroy the writer's individuality or personal style. We have God's word in their style.

“Remember it has references [sic] to the originals----not the various translations from 1881 to the present day.”

I make no attempt to judge whether this is subtle and purposeful sophistry, or the simple absense of thinking which has characterized the King James Only movement from the beginning, but it is certainly one or the other. My readers are no doubt aware that 1881 is the date of the Revised Version, but all who think at all must be equally aware that there is a gap of approximately eighteen centuries between “the originals” and the translations which have appeared since 1881. Why does he not say that inspiration applies to the originals, and not to any of the translations which have been made since the second century? This would be consistent and sensible, and “the historic Baptist position” to boot. Ah! but it would exclude the King James Version from that inspiration which belongs to “the originals.” Mr. Austin continues, “Yet there is one Bible today for English speaking people, the KJV 1611 (1789), which is the preserved Word of God, an accurate translation of the pure line of manuscripts,” etc. He does not actually assert that “the KJV 1611” is in fact “the originals,” yet he carefully avoids denying it, and certainly leaves the reader with the impression that it is in the same category with the originals, so far as its inspiration is concerned. And the most unfortunate thing about it is that Fundamentalism is filled with unthinking souls, who will accept such statements without a second thought, and I must say without a first thought.

If men were to speak thus in any other sphere, the whole world would immediately see the folly of it. Here is a teacher who affirms, “The Atlantic states belong to the original thirteen colonies of the American union, but all those states west of the Mississippi are new-comers.” Those who think at all will immediately ask, “What of all the states between the Atlantic and the Mississippi?” Here the teacher does not exactly commit himself. He will not say they belong to the original colonies, nor will he deny it, though he certainly seems to class them with “the originals.” Would not the world immediately pronounce such a teacher a knave or a dolt? Why may men get away with such tactics in the theological realm, and gain a large following of Fundamentalists besides?

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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.