Weldon E. Warnock
Moundsville, West Virginia
In this article we will deal briefly with a variety of things. We trust they will be profitable to you.
Somebody has said that there are three kinds of "sound" brethren: (1) those that sound off at the mouth, (2) the ones that are sound asleep and (3) those that are sound in the faith.
The brethren that sound off at the mouth are the talebearers, gossipers and backbiters. Solomon said, "The words of a talebearer are as wounds" (Prow. 26:22). Paul wrote, "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Gal. 5:15). The remedy for this is "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (Jas. 1:19). Also, as the Psalmist said, ". . . I will keep my mouth with a bridle" (Psa. 39:1).
Then there are those who are sound asleep. They are not concerned with the progress and work of the church, but are satisfied with the status quo. There is no effort to improve themselves spiritually nor to try to save the lost. To this kind of brethren Paul's exhortation is most timely; "Awake thou that deepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:14).
The sound in the faith brethren are those who are spiritually alert and faithfully active in the work of the Lord. They do not have to have somebody constantly trotting after them to get them to do their duty. They can be depended on for the kingdom of God is first and foremost in their lives. The church needs more brethren of this caliber.
The Bible condemns social drinking. Some have the notion that if one does not drink to excess he has not done any wrong.
An enlightening verse concerning this matter is 1 Peter 4:3. It states: "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries." But someone may ask: "Where is social drinking in this passage?" The answer is the word "banquetings."
R.C. Trench defines the word as "the drinking bout, the banquet, the symposium, not of necessity excessive, but giving opportunity for excess" (Synonmyms of the New Testament, p. 225/. Symposium is defined as "a drinking party, feast" (Webster). "Banquetings" would not mean, therefore, drunkenness as Peter includes this sin in the expression, "excess of wine," but rather it means "to tipple." "Tipple" is defined to "drink, as liquor, often or in small quantities."
Those who see no harm in the social drink should take notice that Peter lists it along with revellings, idolatries, etc. God does not condone social drinking any more than he condones drunkenness. Both are sin.
"Possum-Eared Church Members"
(The following are excerpts from a sermon delivered after the turn of this century by Baxter F. McLendon, a pungent (to put it mildly) and colorful denominational preacher. Wonder how it would go over in many of today's fashionable churches?)
"I am measuring you Bennettsville (South Carolina, WEW) church members by the Pharisees and remember that they tithed right down to the mint, anise, and cummin, and yet when I talk to you great big, fat, slick, stalled, financial Shylocks about paying God what you owe Him, you wriggle, twist and squirm like you have a hornet in your clothes. I have heard that a big nose is a good thing, it is a sign of intellectuality; that a big mouth is a sign of character, of great character; a big chin is a good sign - a sign of courage; big ears are a sign of generosity. I expect some of the pastors of this town ought to get some ear fertilizer. There are more little, possum-eared church members over Marlboro county than patriotism during an election year.
"And to you, dear women, I would like to say that soiree congregations that I preach to I hardly know whether I am in a hen-roost or flower garden. Some of you pay more for flowers, plumes, feathers, and rooster tails in one season than you do for the cause of the Gospel in a year, and yet you have the nerve and audacity to claim to be a follower of the lowly Nazarene. Understand me: I am not against your wearing plumes and feathers and trying to look good, because some of you need to; but I am afraid you will feel embarrassed at the judgment when the all-seeing eye of God is turned on you."
The Bible teaches Christians to redeem the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). Redeeming the time means "to rescue or recover our time from waste; to improve it for great and important purposes" (Albert Barnes).
We have 168 hours in each week. How are we using this time? It is a shame that some can find only one hour a week for God, if convenient, and the rest they use for their own interests. Week after week is spent with self in the foreground. Sports, recreation, entertainment, clubs, TV and what have you are allowed to interfere with the services of the church, personal work, visiting the sick, studying the Bible, etc. Brethren, let's use our time more wisely!
Longfellow wrote, "What is time? The shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock, the running of the sand, day and night, summer and winter, months, years, centuries - these are but arbitrary and outward signs, the measure of Time, not Time itself. Time is the Life of the soul"
Getting Out of the Rut
Many have convinced themselves that they cannot do anything in the church. How many times have we heard, "I can't," when we asked a brother or sister to do something? It is easy for brethren to get into a rut and remain in spiritual stagnation. Churches can do the same. They have no programs of work. There is no effort to get busy and try to convert souls to Christ. They simply "keep house."
I am reminded of the story about a frog that once fell into a deep rut and his friends in vain tried to pull him out. Thus, knowing that it was an impossibility, they left him for what surely would be the rest of his life in the deep rut.
The next day his friends saw Mr. Frog hopping along as pert and cheerful as ever. After expressions of amazement, they inquired how he had escaped from the rut. "Well," he said, "A truck came along, and I just had to get out."
The moral of the story is that many members and churches need some kind of truck to come along and get them out of their ruts.
Guardian of Truth XXVI: 7, pp. 97, 103