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.
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
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
----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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
----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
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
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
----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
----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
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
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.
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Ï Book Review Ï
by Glenn Conjurske
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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
----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.
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
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
----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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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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.
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
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
----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
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
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
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
----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
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
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
----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
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?
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.