Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 18, 1963
NUMBER 11, PAGE 4,12a

The Hour Is Come


In the agonizing hours of his night of betrayal, after he had finished the last supper and had with his disciples left that "upper room" (John 14:31), but before he had left the walled city to go across the Kidron and up the slopes of Olivet to Gethsemane (John 18:1), Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and prayed to his father, saying, "Father ,the hour is come...."

It was indeed so. The hour of his final humiliation, but the hour also of triumphant fulfillment. He had finished the work God gave him to do; there remained now only the searing mockery of those he had come to save, and the inevitable physical pain of the actual crucifixion — a pain that he may well have welcomed to dull perhaps the anguish of heart he felt because of the incarnate evil of the race which here was reaching its zenith.

Followers of Christ through all the long centuries have come again and again to those crises in their own lives, and in the life of the church, when they might truly echo the words of Christ — "Father, the hour is come."

The Hour For Appraisal

Many faithful Christians have faced such an hour these past few years; some are facing it now; and it is very certain that a huge multitude of the believers are going to face it in the years immediately ahead. It might be described as an "hour of appraisal." It is a time when men take stock of their lives and of the church. For at least two decades before his death (in 1941) this writer's father, J. D. Tant, ended nearly all his public writings with the solemn warning, "Brethren, we are drifting." It was a warning that went largely unheeded, although perhaps a few were caused to ponder their course by it.

But in the twenty years since this voice was silenced by death there has been a wholesale "drifting" such as even Tant himself could hardly have credited. Signs of it are too abundant and too obvious to need detailing. But the "drift" finally reached such alarming proportions that all over the nation many thousands of sincere Christians were compelled to make what the politicians have called "an agonizing reappraisal" of their situation. The results are known to us all. Many hundreds of faithful congregations declared their firm and fervent opposition to all human schemes, innovations, and organizations for doing the Lord's work, and once again affirmed their determination to have a "thus saith the Lord" for all they practiced or preached in their efforts to serve Christ. Likewise many thousands of like-minded Christians were faced with the heartbreaking situation of being members in congregations where this total dedication to God and his ways did not prevail, but where human innovations, organizations, and projects were constantly sponsored and promoted.

The Hour Of Decision

These people, whose number is legion, faced, and are facing "an hour of decision." A judgment must be rendered, a choice must be made. Will they remain with a congregation which they firmly believe to be in error (and with no hope of correction), or will they disassociate themselves from those influences which would lead them further and further into error, and seek to establish in their cities and in their communities faithful New Testament bodies of humble disciples? Many thousands of our readers have already faced this situation — and have made their choice. Others among our readers are in the very process of resolving the problem. And, no doubt, as time goes on, there will be many, many others yet to face the hour of decision.

The Hour Of Sacrifice

But once the decision has been made, let no one deceive himself into thinking the problems are all solved! There follows then the hour of sacrifice." For to serve God faithfully in such a day as this, and to remain loyal to those principles of truth and righteousness which guide us, demands sacrifice beyond anything most of us have ever really considered or thought necessary. But if the readers of this journal generally could but see first hand the problems, the difficulties, and bitter opposition facing so many of their comrades in Christ, we believe it would stir us all as we have never been moved before. There are scores of faithful little bands all over the nation, pleading desperately for help. That long-ago cry of the Macedonian, "Come over into Macedonia and help us!" has in our day swelled into a mighty chorus.

And what is being done to meet this plea? Are Christians everywhere rising to the challenge? Is our sacrifice in keeping with that which the hour demands? Let every individual answer for himself. But there are hundreds of congregations who, we believe, could do more than they are doing now. And there are many small and struggling groups of disciples who need to realize that "the preacher" whom they so earnestly desire to help them is already doing two or three men's work in some other locality. We must depend on ourselves — ordinary working people, farmers, schoolteachers, house-wives, clerks, students, doctors, carpenters, and laborers — to get the message of Christ to the people in our communities.

The preachers we know are doing, and will do, all they can. Many of them are finding work in secular jobs to support themselves and their families while they preach 'Lie gospel. That is good, and not bad! That is the way the cause of Christ has always made her mightiest advancements. Let every congregation double and triple its contributions for the support of gospel preaching; and let every gospel preacher in the land be able to devote ALL his time to preaching (which is exactly what ought to happen!) — and still there is room for ten thousand others who will labor with their own hands, as Paul did, to plant the cause of Christ in every nation of the earth. Most of the "timeserving preachers," you may be sure have long since sought the greener fields of the popular side; those men who are left among us to proclaim the simple gospel are men who need and deserve the very best support that brethren can give. It should be to our everlasting shame that even one man who is willing to give all his time to preaching should be compelled to spend half, or even less, of that time in trying to make a living for himself and his dependents. It is good, not bad, that consecrated men are willing to do this; but it is bad, not good, that brethren will permit them to spend their years in any such fashion Truly, "the hour is come"! Let every reader recognize the awful destiny resting upon his appraisal of the circumstances, his decision, and his sacrifice for the cause of truth. (And if any congregation or individual is interested in knowing of some worthy place that needs help, or some faithful gospel preacher who is having to divide his time between making a living and preaching the gospel, we will be glad to put you in touch.) — F.Y.T.