"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.XII Pg.5-6
July 1944

Sighting-In Shots

Cled E. Wallace

A Matter of Principle

In a sermon I expressed opposition to the use of instrumental music in the worship of God on the ground that such worship is will worship. It is offered because it pleases the worshiper. God has nowhere expressed his pleasure in having Christians worship him in any such fashion. He says, "singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." (Eph. 5: 19.) A fairly well-informed lady member of a denominational church took me to task at the conclusion of the service. She could not understand why anybody should oppose such a lovely thing as the music which is mechanically produced. And it is hard to make anybody see it whose principles are broad enough to justify membership in a church organized by men and guided by a human creed. If a man or a woman belongs to a church the New Testament says nothing about, subscribes to a human creed, wears human religious names, and ignores divine authority in such fundamental ways, I suppose he or she might as well go along and play on instruments, burn incense, sprinkle water on little babies, or do anything else he or she likes to hear, see, or feel, or smell. What difference does it make to such people what God says or does not say, anyway? But it makes a big difference with those of us who have decided to get our religion from the Bible, and be able to give chapter and verse for what we believe and practice. It is a matter of principle. In the light of her too broad principles, the lady considered my opposition to instrumental music an absurdity to be smiled at. In the light of the principle I accept such opposition as a necessity and her broad principles are rebellion. It would be foolish to try to convince a man that instrumental music in worship is wrong while he thinks it is perfectly proper to be a Methodist or a Baptist or a Presbyterian or anything else like that. He might as well go ahead and play on as many instruments as there are denominations, as long as he accepts such loose principles.

They Can See It in Business

George Matthew Adams tells the story of a businessman who engaged a young fellow to work for him. He took him to the back of his store and asked him to move a pile of bricks to the other side of the yard, and when the job was finished, he asked him to move them back to where they were, and then he had him move them to the other side again. Then he said to the young fellow: "That will be all. You are the chap I have been looking for. I can depend upon you for anything I ask." They can see it in business, but they cannot see it in religion. It might occur to them that God is looking for people that he can depend on to do anything he asks. "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word." (Isa. 66: 2.) Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, went to Elisha, prophet of God, to be cured of leprosy. The prophet told him to dip himself seven times in the river Jordan and he would be cured. Naaman wouldn't move a pile of bricks even once. He became angry, went away in a rage, and complained because the prophet of God did not act in a more rational way. Naaman "thought" he would come out and stand and call on the name of his God, and strike his hand over the place, and carry on a show designed to honor his distinguished guest. But he had to come under and dip the required number of times to secure his cleansing. After that, he was anxious to do anything God might ask. Many a business man who would laud the young fellow for moving a pile of bricks three times, simply because of orders from his employer, thinks it foolish to be baptized simply because God says so. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." God saves, and he has a perfect right to name the conditions.

He hasn't promised to save anybody who cannot be depended on to do what he tells him to do. The man who ridicules God's commands as foolish is certain to be lost. He is sure-tagged for hell. "He became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation." (Heb. 5:9.) What would you think of a young man, for instance, who would move a pile of bricks three times under the circumstances which inspired Mr. George Matthew Adams to write an article about it, but would refuse to be baptized in obedience to a command of God? If men are to be praised for obeying men in business, they should not be sneered at for obeying God in religion. "This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."(Eccl12:13.)

A Serious Business

The work of saving men from sin is serious business. Jesus Christ, "existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yes, the death of the cross." (Phil 2: 5-8.) God sent him as the greatest apostle ever known on the greatest mission ever conceived-the redemption of mankind from sin. In pursuance of this mission, the "ministry of reconciliation" was chosen, the great commission was given, and the gospel became the power of God unto salvation. When Christ ascended up on high, the Holy Spirit came down and the apostles became active ambassadors on behalf of their reigning Lord. "We cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard," Peter and John said sharply to the angry Sanhedrin. "The love of Christ constraineth uswoe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel." Paul considered himself a "debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish," to the full extent of his opportunity and ability in preaching the gospel. A world lying in the evil one is a direct challenge to the church. The fact that the world was evangelized in a generation, in the face of persecution armed and designed for annihilation, affords eloquent testimony to the magnificent manner in which that challenge was met in the first century when Christianity was new.

Christians today view a world in sin with too much complacence, or indifference, maybe it is. Too many well-fed and properly clothed disciples feel that the measure of their responsibility is attending a service or so and dropping in a coin or so occasionally. But is it? Paul said: "I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart." Let us note the occasion of this distress. His "kinsmen according to the flesh," the Jewish nation, for whom God had done so much and from whom Christ had come, were displaying an amazing and unreasonable stubbornness in their rejection of the Lord and opposition to the gospel. Paul was chilled to the heart at the thought of their lost condition, in their fatal self-righteousness. Suffer for them? Sacrifice on their behalf? He would do anything and everything for them. "I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren's sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Were it possible to do such a thing or right to wish such a thing, Paul was capable of choosing a place in hell, if thereby he could purchase a home in heaven for the Jewish race. Such burning intensity mocks the insipid indifference of many present-day disciples. Sin is a terrible reality, and through it death reigns. It even worked condemnation and ruin through such a good thing as the law. The gospel is the only means of escape from sin with its indescribable consequences. How zealous, then should Christians be in preaching the gospel! It is serious business.

The Divine Dignity Of Christ

The letter to the Colossians is a masterful effort to exalt the divine dignity of Christ, the one and only adorable Redeemer. "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." (Col. 2:9-12.) This burial and resurrection which took place in their baptism made them Christians, joined them to Christ, made them members of "the body, the church." (Col. 1:18.)

A Christ is presented in Colossians as the "fullness" of God, so in Ephesians the church is exalted as the "fullness" of Christ. The purpose of God looked forward "unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ." (Eph. 1:9,10.) The church is the goal of the divine purpose which God purposed in Christ. It is the title Paul applies in this letter to the redeemed, the new humanity "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them." (Eph. 2:10.) God wrought mighty things "in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and, power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph. 1:20-23.)

While Christ was on earth, come down to do His Father's will, He foresaw this grand consummation of the divine scheme. He confined His earthly ministry mainly "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," but view afar a new Israel. "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd." (John 10:16.) Then years afterward Paul from Rome wrote the Ephesians that Christ was the head of the church, and "that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Eph. 3:6.) Paul himself was the "chosen vessel" to carry the Lord's name among the Gentiles. He reminded them that at one time they were no people, but were "at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world." (Eph. 2:11,12.) But Christ came, shed His blood, took the Mosaic law out of the way, that middle wall that separated between Jews and Gentiles, and created a new institution of spiritually born Jews and Gentiles, making no distinction whatever between them. This institution is the "one new man," the church which Christ said while on earth, "I will build." (Matt. 16:18.) He built it, He is head of it, He is Savior of it, and both Jews and Gentiles are saved in it. Salvation is found nowhere else except in it. "And might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." (Eph. 2:16.) It is "a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit."

In the light of this teaching, new meaning attaches to that characteristic expression of Paul's, "in Christ." "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1.) "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new." (II Cor. 5:17.) "Who bath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 1:3.) "In Christ" certainly denotes a very close and intimate relationship. What, then, is it? Christ is the head of the body, the church. Paul says we are "baptized into Christ" and "did put on Christ." (Rom. 6:3-6; Gal. 3:26,27.) We were "all baptized into one body." (I Cor. 12:13.) To be in Christ, then, is to be in the "church which is his body." All the blessings are found therein. Why should any one care to remain outside who has any respect for the honor and glory of Christ? One cannot detour around Christ and have fellowship with God, nor can he detour around the church and have fellowship with Christ.

According to Paul, then, the blessings of God flow to humanity through the church. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. 3:10, 11.) The goal of "the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" is the result of Christ's redemptive work, the spiritual community of the saved. Anything in the way of a religious denomination that a man can "join" after he becomes a Christian is not of the Father's planting, nor "according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord"; Christ is not head over it, and it "will be rooted up." (Matt. 15:13.)

Pagan philosophers mocked as Paul discoursed on the resurrection of the dead. Sadducees countered the teaching of Jesus with hypothetical objections and captious questions. "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God," reveals the status of the modern objector as clearly as it did that of the ancient Sadducee. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven," is a most satisfying assurance in view of the authority that supports it. The teaching of Jesus and Paul is infinitely superior in every respect to the hazy speculations of so-called "wise men." "For ye know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." There is that about Paul and there is that in us that forces us to believe he knew. There is nothing in materialism that can so appeal to that ineradicable passion of the human heart to live forever.

Long years of suffering and toll, climaxed by prison life, made the prospect of life beyond death peculiarly precious to Paul. "If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable." He wrote this to the Corinthians in the midst of such conflicts he said that he died daily. Out of his prison life he wrote the beloved Philippians that death would be gain to him; that he had a desire to "depart and be with Christ." He was tired, but was willing "to abide in the flesh," because it "is more needful for your sake." "It is very far better," though, to go and be with Christ. This is the faith of the gospel. This is what makes any affliction "our light affliction, which is for the moment," in view of "an eternal weight of glory." This prospect is what renews the "inward man" day by day, while "our outward man is decaying." The epistles of Paul are honeycombed with this hope. "We are saved by hope," he said. "And exercise thyself unto godliness: for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things," having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come: Faithful is the saying; and worthy of all acceptation. For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe."