August 16, 2017

H. E. Phillips: Counselor to Many

By Mike Willis

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety (Prov. 11:14).

Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established (Prov. 15:22).

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war (Prov. 20:18).

These and several other passages teach God-fearing men to take counsel with wise men in making difficult decisions. Every man should have a circle of counselors to whom he turns for advice. There are Several traits of good counselors.

Character Traits of Good Counselors

1. Good counselors are guided by the word of God. A good counselor, recognizes that Jesus is the "wonderful counselor" (Isa. 9:6) above all others.. They recognize that "the counsel of the Lord shall stand" (Prov. 19:21). Hence, good counselors are men guided by the word of God who direct men in applying Bible precepts in their lives.

2. Good, counselors are experienced men. Rehoboam. failed to recognize the superior wisdom gained from experience in older men, choosing rather to listen to the untried advice of his younger counselors (1 Kgs. 12:8). The disastrous results of his error should give us direction in looking to older men to be our counselors, more experienced advisors who have shown their wisdom in their own lives.

3. Good counselors are willing to tell the truth. King Ahab made the mistake of gathering about him a number of "yes" men who would tell him what he wanted to hear. He disliked the words of the prophet Micaiah who told him the painful truth (1 Kgs. 22:8ff). Good counselors are men who will tell us the truth, in a spirit of love for our souls and our well-being, regardless of how painful that truth is to us.

4. Good counselors care for your soul. Like the elders (who are better equipped to be good counselors than elders?) who watch for our souls (Heb. 13:17), a good counselor shows concern for the eternal well being of the one whom he is advising. Some counselors, generally psychologists, psychiatrists, and pastoral counselors, give advice based solely on the temporal happiness of man. Such counselors have frequently rejected belief in God, heaven and hell; consequently, their advice must be limited to the cares of earth life.

5. Good counselors have time for you. A spiritual man obeys the command to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). He makes time to listen to your problems, make them his own, and work with you to find a solution to them.

6. Good counselors are good examples. A good counselor is one who has demonstrated his wisdom in his own life. Who would go to a bankrupt, welfare recipient for financial advice or those guilty of assault and battery for advice on how to get along with others?

H.E. Phillips Is a Good Counselor

I have found brother H.E. Phillips to be a good counselor. The articles in this special issue and conversations with many others convince me that others have relied on him for counsel in the same way as I have.

H.E. Phillips is a man guided by the word of God. From the time that I heard him preach and teach Bible classes in Tampa, from the reading of his articles in Searching the Scriptures, and from the detailed study of his book Scriptural Elders and Deacons, I have long been convinced that brother H.E. Phillips has a reverence for the God who revealed his word to us and a familiar acquaintance with its contents.

Brother Phillips has been a man of many experiences whose wisdom has been demonstrated in his life. He converted his wife from denominationalism, demonstrating an unfeigned faith which could withstand the searchlight of one who best knew his actions, words, and thoughts. He gave up a lucrative job to be a preacher, demonstrating his love for the Lord's work. He lost a child, learning from the painful experiences of humanity. He faced the circumstances of his wife's nearly fatal auto accident, learning the brevity of life. He raised all of his children to be Christians, to marry Christians, and to raise Christian children. He fought the battles of institutionalism, witnessing the characteristics and conduct of men who have departed from the faith. Surely, this is an experienced man from whom one can learn.

Brother Phillips has the courage to preach the truth. During the institutional battles in the 1950s, he preached a meeting in Scottsboro, Alabama during which the brethren became so riled that he feared for his safety. As he and his family got into their car to leave, liberal brethren surrounded the car, shouted threatening words, and shook the car.

On another occasion, brother Phillips saw an unscripturally divorced brother begin dating a woman in the church. The man was a former professional football player who was about 6'4" tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds. Brother Phillips went to the brother and told him that he had no right to the woman, never holding back the truth from fear of his anger.

Brother Phillips is a good counselor because of his love for his fellow man. While a student at Florida College, I attended where brother Phillips preached. His warmness towards those with whom he worshiped was seen in the many hugs exchanged at worship, his presence at the hospitals and funeral homes, and his participation with the members in social outings. He loves his fellow man and is loved by them. The hospitality shown by the Phillips family, the financial burden borne by brother Phillips and the work of preparation by sister Phillips, has been a labor of love to both of them. I have eaten from his table and at his expense many more times than he has at mine; I am confident that many others can say the same.

Brother Phillips has always made time for those who need him. During my years at Florida College, several students went to brother Phillips' house for Bible studies which lasted into the early hours of the morning. On several occasions, he announced that some student was baptized at some hour in the middle of the night after a Bible study of several hours length.

He had been a counselor to many couples with family problems. Couples who witnessed the love between Polly and him and how is children acted saw a source of help to whom they turned in times of marital problems. He has spent many long hours with numberless couples.

Brother Phillips has been my friend and my frequent counselor. He talked with Sandy and me about the pressures facing couples who preach the gospel. He has discussed problems which we have faced and has helped us to overcome them. During the Florida College lectures last year, when everyone is always busy, I called brother Phillips on the spur of the moment and asked to talk with him; he graciously gave us several hours of his time, not making me feel like I had intruded on him at all. He has counseled me on the battles facing the church, always encouraging me to stand loyally for the truth. Generally, at his recommendation, we have closed with a prayer before parting. "We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company" (Psa. 55:14).

Conclusion

I love H.E. Phillips for the truth's sake. He has served the Lord well and the fruits of his labors are scattered over both sides of this planet. I love H.E. Phillips as my brother and friend. I would that I could somehow repay the debt of love which I owe him. The only means at my disposal, which would mean very much to him, is to give myself in devotion to the Lord and do for others what he has done for me.

Brother Phillips, may God bless your remaining years with joy and happiness. I will treasure every hour on earth we spend together until we join hands in heaven to sing God's praises throughout eternity. You have inspired many of us to greater service by your sincere service to God.

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 17, pp. 514, 535
September 7, 1989

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