The question may well be: shall we stand, or sit or lie down? And, usually the easy way is to sit or lie. Physically, to stand requires more strength, more will and more wisdom. Likewise, in the spiritual use of the word in the Bible, to stand implies boldness, urgency and understanding. How sad it is today to see many soldiers in the army of the Lord who want to do their warfare lying down! Some others just sit there and watch the battle rage! Men who stood against premillennialism like a stone wall, now turn their eyes the other way and refuse to truthfully look upon other dangers that they admit, in their heart, are just as great. Indeed many of the true "giants" among us today, who a few years ago buckled on the whole armor of God and went forth in every place, wielding the sword of the Spirit as an effective weapon against foes of truth and righteousness both in and out of the church, have now either ceased to fight at all or else have turned their strength against those who still oppose sin, false doctrine and innovations.
Many seem to have learned that a king usually sits while the soldier stands, and some seem to want to be king. In high places, where the applause of the brethren is received, there is room to sit down. Out on the battlefield, where sin and error still stalk, there is only a proper place for those with courage to stand. In those places of wealth and ease and physical security, the preacher may have to lie down and allow his conscience to be trampled by the proponents of every conceivable innovation, but where hunger for real righteousness precedes that hunger for the praise and promotion of men, Christians must stand!
We must not stand in the wisdom of men (1 Cor. 2:5), for if our faith is in the skills and wills of men it is fragile indeed, but we must stand "in power of God." Yes, we must stand up, just as Jerusalem was called upon to do by Isaiah (Isa. 51:17). God's true people must arise out of the slumber that prevails, and with wakefulness and watchfulness, ever alert to detect all impurity of doctrine or practice, with the steady steps of a truly dedicated and loyal watchman, we must wage relentless warfare against denominational forces outside the church, sectarian tendencies inside the church and deliberate or misguided efforts by many brethren to lead the church into unauthorized activities and unscriptural organizations. In so doing we will not only take a more definite offensive against sin and error, but we will also take a more specific action to bring the saving gospel to all people everywhere.
Likewise Christians need to stand still. Moses said, "Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of God" ( Ex. 14:13 ). There comes the time when we need to let God catch up with us. Sometimes we get ahead of God! We take things in our own hands and forget to let the Lord lead us. We depend upon human invention and wisdom. We sometimes act like we think we "can get this job done all by ourselves." We devise means and methods, plans and programs, and try so hard to be "on the march" that we may forget to wait for orders from the Captain of our salvation, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Some of us may have too much confidence in the policies, promotions and prestige of men, and not enough faith in the old-fashioned, pure and unadulterated gospel of Christ. In the days of Moses they needed to realize that neither Moses nor the multitudes of Israel could save one of them from the armies of Egypt, but that God, with majesty and power and altogether of grace could save them all. Today we must be aware that the cunning of man and all human skill combined cannot save a soul nor keep the church pure and true, but that the word of the Lord faithfully preached and practiced by his own people is the all-sufficient power to draw men from sin to salvation and to make the church indeed a glorious body without spot or wrinkle.
Finally the Christian must stand as he confronts the enemies of truth. He must not turn his back. Isaiah said, "I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed . . . . Who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is my adversary? let him come near to me" (Isa. 50:7,8). We must face the enemy of Christ. We must not simply stand afar and maintain neutrality, but we must "stand together" with the opponents of righteousness-that is we must meet them in close quarters, we must engage them in real conflict. Some preachers today seem to desire peace at any price and a truce seems to be the goal of many rather than a real victory. Of course there are many who fight hard for the inventions and innovations that threaten the peace and the purity of the church today. We cannot agree with them, but we can admire their zeal and grit. Less honorable are those men who see the error of such departures and the danger of such practices, but who choose to lie upon the beds of neutrality and see the body of Christ torn and rent rather than take up the battle stations and stand firmly in defense of that which their true conscience demands. One famous Admiral said, "No Captain can do wrong if he puts his ship alongside that of the enemy." The enemy is not far removed from us, but in almost every city, town, village and country-side there are evil forces working today that will destroy the purity and holiness of the Lord's church unless those who know and believe the truth follow the orders of our Captain (Christ) and take our places in the front line of service.
This is not intended as an essay of ambiguity. I shall not propose to discuss every field of activity comprehended in implications of this article, but it does seem necessary that we spell out a few of them.
There are still many, many men who truly believe that the church is all-sufficient to do every work God has assigned it without involving the divine body in the building or maintenance of any human institution, but some of these believers seem to lack the courage to stand up and state their convictions and give their reasons for so believing. In the meantime strong opponents of this ideal affirm again and again that the church is not thus all-sufficient, and surely the angels of heaven look down with shame for the good and godly men who bow down to the human institutions or at least turn their face away from the defense of the one divine body, Christ's church.
Likewise there are some who agree that the centralization of power in one eldership such as we see in connection with "Herald Of Truth" is a dangerous thing at least, but to those who seek physical security there is another danger that is sometimes more alarming, and that is if one stoutly opposes this system he will be "ruined" as a preacher and even if he only criticizes he will be branded as an "anti" and a "hobbiest" and therefore his calls for work will be minimized and his present employment may be terminated.
Hundreds of brethren today are opposed to supporting the colleges from the church treasury, but who speaks out against it? Where have you read in either the FIRM FOUNDATION or the GOSPEL ADVOCATE an article showing the unscripturalness of such? At what lectureship has some courageous soul ventured to even speak a word of warning? A few years ago almost any preacher would gladly state the truth on this issue, but a few bold men have recently defended the practice, and now the wheels have been set in motion that will make such contributions as common in a few years as are now seen in sending to various homes. And, because those bold men have been men in high places-professors, presidents, etc. in the schools-others who have always spoken quickly and strongly in opposition seem to have become strangely quiet. Is it fear that the colleges will impose a boycott? Or is it simply lack of concern for the purity of the church for which Jesus died?
Paul said, "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Eph. 6:13).
"Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers. of the cross, Lift high his royal banner, It must not suffer loss; From victory unto victory, His army shall he lead, Till every foe is vanquished, For Christ is Lord indeed."
Truth Magazine, V:6, pp. 1, 3-4