Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 1, 1960

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Facing West

Apostasy is a peculiar creature. Like many things in nature, it can be stopped at its source before it has time to gain momentum or not at all. No fully developed apostasy in religion has ever been known to be stopped. An avalanche is often averted in the snow covered Alps by firing cannon shots into accumulations of snow and dissipating them before they join with other such accumulations and become a mighty, destructive avalanche crushing all in its path. Dams are constructed on the feeder streams of mighty rivers to control the water at its source in times of great precipitation. Once the great river is swollen by the waters of the flood, there is no escape from its devastation and ruin. A lighted match carelessly dropped in a wastebasket would do little harm if the resulting fire were put out then and there. A single bucket of water dashed upon it would quench it. However, allow it go to unopposed and it will become a raging, ravaging holocaust utterly impossible to control.

There are many preachers and teachers in the church of the Lord who profess to believe in and teach the authority of Christ, the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures, the all-sufficiency of the church, and the absolute necessity of strict adherence to the Divine plan in all matters in religion. Yet, they effect to see nothing which is now being practiced by the churches at all antagonistic to these concepts. They continue to preach and teach the principles but refuse to make an application of them. We think these men are much like a man we heard about recently. He bragged that he arose the minute the first ray of sunshine touched his bedroom windowpane. Upon hearing him say this, a friend remarked, "That is terribly early to get up isn't it?" His classic reply was, "Not so early; you see my bedroom window faces west" We verily believe that the windows of many of the brethren face west. The day is going to be more than half gone before they awake to the realization that we are in the midst of a great apostasy. Then, it will be too late. The avalanche will be crushing down upon them. The angry waters of the flood will have leaped the levees. The tiny blaze of the lighted match will have become a leaping, roaring wall of flame searing all in its path. We remember how David Lipscomb was caricatured by our Digressive brethren a generation ago as an old man with a broom trying to sweep back the mighty tide of the ocean. The tide was the mighty wave of liberalism then sweeping the churches. The broom was the Gospel Advocate. The idea was that brother Lipscomb could as well sweep back the tide of the ocean with a broom as he could stop the tide of digression then sweeping the churches with the influence of the Gospel Advocate. That they were correct, history attests. Practically all the churches were swept into the tide of error. A new start had to be made. A remnant only was saved. So has it ever been. Present day Christians need to change their sleeping quarters from the west to the east side of the house. Should they do so, they would find the sun of digression and error already in their faces. — (J. W. A.)

"Be Children"

Who has not at one time or another wistfully yearned with the poet, "Backward, turn backward, 0 time in its flight, make me a child again just for tonight?" We view this as sort of an escape mechanism on the part of an individual — a running away from the present and from reality. Yet, our Lord and his inspired apostles taught that men must in several particulars revert to childhood to be true disciples of the Master. Some brethren have evidently misunderstood what they have said along this line, however. They have confused childlikeness with childishness. We are not taught to be childish, but childlike. There is a difference!

Paul said, "In malice be ye children...." (1 Cor. 14:20) No person familiar with the habits and attitudes of children could possibly misunderstand what Paul is talking about. Children will have a falling out and solemnly vow that they will never speak to one another again, yet within the hour will be seen with arms about one another, the closest of friends. Malice can find in their hearts no soil in which to take root and grow. God would have this attribute recreated in the lives of his children. Well did Shakespeare say, "Deep malice makes too deep incision." Malice makes a deep incision in the character of him who holds it. In his heart it will fester and spread until it becomes a deadly malignancy corrupting his whole being. Regardless of the evil nature of that which is said and done against him, the Christian cannot afford to cherish malice within his heart against any. To do so is to let another's evil take root within him. So much of life is wasted by the useless holding of malice in the heart. Bitterness, disillusionment, hatred, suspicion, evil speaking, and discontentment are its evil fruits. Let us so sterilize the soil of our hearts that the tares of malice cannot find root and grow in it. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Tennyson wrote some beautiful words concerning wronging a friend that we should like to adapt to the hearing of malice in our hearts against one who has done us injury. We would say with Tennyson of him who bears malice that he:

"Wrongs himself more, And ever bears about

A silent court of justice in his breast,

Himself the judge and jury, and himself,

The prisoner at the bar, ever condemned."

Let us then as Paul taught, " malice be children, but in understanding be men." — (J. W. A.)

Walking Beside Us

We recently read the following story in Nuggets (March 1960.): "During the age of Pericles, which is often referred to as the golden age of Greece, a great deal of public building went on. It was in these years that the Acropolis, the beautiful civic center of that age was built."

"Such a huge program required a large number of mules to carry the stones down the hills from the quarries and up the hills to the building sites. One old mule that had served faithfully for many years gradually became too feeble to carry his load. A driver with a heart retired him instead of having him destroyed. He supposed the old animal would laze about in the pasture, eat his fill, and lie down in the sun if it were cold and in the shade if the sun were hot. But to his surprise the old mule did not do that. Instead it appeared at the quarries every morning and waited until its group of mules was loaded. It then plodded along beside them on the old familiar route, a 'ghost' worker carrying no load. The mule did not know what else to do; it couldn't break the habits of a lifetime."

In the recent controversies among the brethren over developing apostasies, we have read of some old preachers, elders, and teachers who have said, "We believe you brethren are right in your opposition to these movements within the church, but we are too old to be involved in brotherhood controversies." A statement of this kind makes us wonder if what appeared to be "soundness" in the past in the lives of these men was that at all. Had it really been, like the old mule of our story, though they are too old to bear much of the load, they would faithfully plod beside those of us who are attempting to carry it. — (J. W. A.)

Source Of Wisdom

..."The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame." (Proverbs 29:15)

The wisdom implicit in these words is recognized by mature people. A child "allowed to express himself" without the guidance, instruction, reproof, and correction of his parents will likely be despised for his unruly, and incorrigible character. While reproof and the rod are never pleasant to the recipient, they can be a source of wisdom. Hence the statement, "He who spareth the rod hateth his son."

It is unfortunate that many in the church do not recognize the value of the rod and reproof in the realm of things spiritual. It is thought to be at variance with the "spirit of Christ" to indulge in reproof or the use of the rod. Whereas the Spirit of God says, "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Heb. 12:6-8) The illegitimate child of days gone by was ignored and allowed to grow up without parental reproof or correction. Why? Because he was regarded with greater favor than the legal child? Indeed not! He was not regarded with the love and favor of a legal son. Chastisement was, therefore, an evidence of the father's love. Why then should it be regarded as antagonistic to the spirit of Christ in the church?

We hear much today about "positive preaching." Preachers are lauded because of their positive preaching in meetings. What is meant by this is not what was formerly meant by it. Then, it meant that a preacher was uncompromising in his setting forth of Bible truth and condemnation of human error. Now, it means that he is inoffensive, that he says nothing that will condemn his neighbor's religious faith and practice. God's great men have all been positive teachers; that is, they have positively set forth divine truth and positively condemned all error. — (J. W. A.)