Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 18, 1951
NUMBER 36, PAGE 1,11b

At The Close Of The Day

Cled E. Wallace

At the close of the day on January 5, 1951, brother R. L. Whiteside quietly released his hold on this life and departed to be with Christ. "It is very far better." He was in his eighty-second year. It seems fitting that he should depart at the close of the day.

Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar when I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep, too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell, and after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell, when I embark;
For tho' from out our bourne of time and place the flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot-face to face when I have crost the bar.

Measured by the divine standard of true greatness, brother Whiteside was a great man. The facts of his life pay him proper tribute without being touched up, or played up, by imagination. In 1945, in collaboration with C. R. Nichol and Foy E. Wallace, Jr., I wrote the introduction to his "Commentary on Romans." From it I lift this paragraph.

He successfully served as president of Abilene Christian College for two years. He has ministered to some of the strongest congregations as a preacher, spending five successive years with the church in Denton, Texas, where he has lived for many years. He has engaged in a number of oral and written debates, was always confident and at ease and the cause of Christ prospered as a result of each discussion. His deportment has always been that of a gentleman in debate as on all occasions. For a number of years he wrote the Annual Commentary on the Bible School lessons published by the Gospel Advocate. For some ten years he served as Query Editor of the Gospel Advocate and was otherwise a regular contributor to that paper. He is a veteran writer and widely recognized as a very able one.

He also during one period wrote the advanced quarterly for Bible study published by the Firm Foundation Publishing House and contributed articles to the Firm Foundation during many years.

Proper tribute was paid brother Whiteside in the final service in the meeting-house of the church in Denton, Texas, Pearl and Bolivar streets. A large crowd was present, including many preachers. It flooded me with memories from the long ago. My father lived in Denton and preached for that church during some years in the very early part of the century. I was baptized in that meeting house, made my first prayer-meeting talk there at the age of fifteen, and in later years did quite a bit of preaching there.

Attention was given to two passages of Scripture which he dearly loved and had marked in his Bible. "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Gen. 5:24) "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing." (2 Tim. 4:7,8) Brother Whiteside walked with God for he knew Him and trusted Him fully. He knew what the Bible says about God and believed it without holding back. He walked and fought and kept the faith right up to the finish. As I say these things my own father walks into the picture and stands beside him. They were near the same age, fought the same battles, and took their flight for glory not far from the same time. When the crowning time comes "at that day" God will not hold back.

In his early manhood brother Whiteside came under the influence of David Lipscomb and J. A. Harding. Brother Lipscomb was his ideal as a teacher. He encouraged independent thinking and close study of the word of God as a guide. Brother Whiteside was an independent thinker and a close student all his life. He came as near getting everything out of a passage of Scripture that the Holy Spirit put into it, and then stopping, as any man I ever knew. He was anxious to go every step as far as "that which is written" and just as anxious not to go one step farther. That was his idea of keeping the faith. He departs at a time when he is sorely needed.

Brother Whiteside's health began to fail in 1944. He came to Temple, Texas, where I then lived, and went through the Scott and White clinic. He spent two weeks in my home. His trouble was diagnosed as a heart ailment from which he never recovered. He has been confined to his home most of the time since then, much of it on his bed. I have visited him many times during the time of his confinement and have never heard him complain. He was patient, talked little of his condition, but much about the church, for which he felt deep concern. He did much of his writing propped up in bed, and his thinking was as clear as a bell right up to the last. When I last saw him alive, shortly before the end, his frame was shaken and weakened by hiccups, which the doctor could not control. He ignored it, and expressed the hope for strength to do some more writing that he had in mind.

The thought has been repeatedly expressed in my hearing that we need R. L. Whiteside and will miss him. We still have him. His "Commentary on Romans" is a constant companion of mine as it is of many others. He has left with us a lot of his strength in his books. Men like Nichol and Whiteside never die. They just keep on living.

Brother Whiteside had a large family. He was given every attention during his illness by his wife Ruth, whom he loved to compare with "Ruth, the Moabitess," and his daughter, Miss Inys. They still have him, too, in memories that bless, even while they burn.