Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 2, 1961
NUMBER 26, PAGE 2,14b

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Okla.

"Received Into Glory"

All people who believe the Bible believe that those whom God approves will be "received into glory" in the world to come. The strange thing is that one can hardly find a person who has any religious instincts at all who does not seem to feel that he will be among that number. When people die, almost invariably the preacher who delivers the funeral oration will find some small indication of religious sentiments in their lives and project these into evidence of eternal salvation. I suppose it is natural that men should thus attempt to widen the "strait gate," enlarge the "narrow way," and increase in number "the few" that ultimately will enter into life eternal. Certainly it is not our desire to blight the expectations of eternity bound souls nor to increase the load that is carried by those who mourn the loss of their loved ones, yet we must face the fact that those who will ultimately be "received into glory" have been irrevocably determined by the Divine will.

The Psalmist said "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." (Psa. 73:24) Those who expect to be received into glory in the world to come, must, while they live, be guided by the counsel of the Almighty. Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven." Someone has well said. "Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people." Men whose lives have been shaped and guided by the counsel of the Wicked One need not expect to be received into glory in the world to come. Too few people, in religion, recognize the place and importance of the word of God in that realm. Reception into glory and the counsel of God are inseparable.

Trapped By Their Own Devices

Apostasy has ever been the same. It follows a clear pattern. He who would appreciate the apostasies of the present but has to study those of the past.

One of Aesop's well known fables suggests some interesting considerations. "A pot of honey having been upset in a grocer's shop, the flies came around it in swarms to eat it up, nor would they move from the spot while there was a drop left. At length their feet became so clogged that they could not fly away, and stifled in the luscious sweets, they exclaimed, 'Miserable creatures that we are who for the sake of an hour's pleasure, have thrown away our lives'!"

Apostasies of the past among the people of God show that God's people have made each time the mistake of the flies of Aesop's fable. They have swarmed around some "human expedient" which seemed at the moment most propitious, yet ultimately became the means of their enslavement and ruin. The "cooperative" movements of the first century, no doubt instigated as propitious human expedients resulted in the diocesan concept of church government, and ultimately the Roman hierarchy. The "cooperative movement" of the Restoration Movement resulted in the formation of the "Missionary Society," the introduction of mechanical instruments of music in the worship, denominational affiliations, open membership, and the formation of a new sect, the digressive "Christian Church."

Some of our own brethren are already suffering the dilemma of the flies of Aesop's fable. They are trapped in their own devices. Having given their support to the institutional concept of congregational activity, they are being stifled by their own "honey." There is a major movement among the brethren to press, at this time, for the support of the colleges operated by the brethren from the treasuries of the churches. In the past, such movements have been successfully killed. Now, however, the situation is different. The men, who have in the past stifled these movements, are opposed to all forms of institutional church activity. A large segment of the brethren have allowed their appetite for "honey" (institutional attachment) to ensnare them. Having given their endorsement to and support of one form of institutional church activity, they now find they are called upon to swallow it in every form. They are fighting, but their feet are clogged in the honey. We await with interest the outcome of their struggle. It is our judgment that, like the flies of our story, they are fighting a losing battle. They have surely been trapped by their appetite for honey.

That Fatal First Step

No man ever became a murderer who did not first hate his enemy. No man ever became a drunkard who did not take his first dram of liquor. No man ever became an adulterer, who did not first look upon the opposite sex with lust. No church ever went into apostasy which did not take its first step without divine authority. Often, the ultimate state of ruin is so far removed from the first downward step that their relationship cannot be perceived. Safety lies in steadfastly resisting the slightest presumption in the wrong direction.

The word of God solemnly warns us: "Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thess. 5:22); "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (Jas. 2:10); "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me." (Matt. 25:45)

Presumption may travel in two directions. It may be directed toward the Lord. An individual may presume upon God's authority, grace and forbearance. On the other hand, it may be self-directed. He may presume upon his own strength and power of will. David prayed, "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me .... " (Psa. 19:13) Uzzah presumed upon God's authority and forbearance by taking hold of the ark of the covenant and died. Cain presumed upon God's authority by making a vegetable sacrifice and it was rejected.

Nadab and Abihu presumed upon God's authority by offering strange fire and were destroyed with fire from heaven. Peter presumed upon his own strength and power of will saying, "Though all be offended, yet will not I," and before the "cock crew twice, denied his Lord thrice."

When man or church is tempted to take the first step toward evil or apostasy, it is presumed by that man or church (1) that God will not condemn for so slight an aberration, and (2) that he or it will not allow the matter to go beyond self-imposed limits of safety (?). We ran across the following recently from the pen of Dr. South (Ency. of Prose Illus.): "Every presumption is properly an encroachment, and all encroachment carries in it still a further and a further invasion upon the person encroached upon. It enters into the soul as a gangrene does into the body, which spreads as well as infects, and with a running progress carries a venom and a contagion over all the members. Presumption never stops in its first attempt. If Caesar comes once to pass the Rubicon, he will be sure to march further on, even till he enters the very bowels of Rome, and break open the Capitol itself. He that wades so far as to foul and wet himself, cares not how much he trashes further."

A great many world leaders deceive themselves along this line in their relation to World Communism. No amount of concession will satisfy the objectives of Communism save the absolute surrender of mankind to Communism. Every student of the ideology knows this to be true. It is the belief of the Communist that irresistible forces in nature and history carry the world irrevocably toward an absolute communistic state. "Peaceful co-existence" with Communism is impossible. It is either abject surrender or stand and fight. It is a presumptuous monster. Give it the first step by concession and it will not be satisfied short of the final step of complete domination. Sin and apostasy in man and church are like this in the realm of the spiritual.

In his personal life, each man must oppose sin at the first step. No concession can be made, no quarter given. "Peaceful co-existence" with sin is impossible. No church, by the some token, can afford to take the first step into the realm of that which is unauthorized by divine authority. That which opens the door to one innovation will open the door to one hundred. We either stand and fight or surrender to complete apostasy. There can be no state of "peaceful co-existence." The forces of innovation and the forces of truth can never meet save in mortal combat. Contrary to self-pacifists, there is no "middle-of-the-road."