Pages From The Past . . .
The Soul's First Choice
(The contents of the following article will always be timely. The day will never come when such teaching will no longer be necessary or in season. It is taken from the Gospel Advocate of 1935, page 699. Brother S. H. Hall, who passed from this life, July 18, 1961, at an age of some four-score years is the author. - The Editor)
There are a few all-comprehensive subjects any one of which, if we can plant it well in the heart of man, will save ham and keep him saved. Let us now for a little while study one such subject.
Every intelligent, rational being must come to the "parting of the ways." He or she who lives in this world must come to where there are two roads, separate and distinct, leading in opposite directions. We come to this "parting of the ways" early in life. Some reach this point at an earlier age than others, because of more rapid mental development or because of environment or better advantages. The very moment we become responsible to God for our acts our ability and duty to choose between these two roads should be exercised - in fact, is exercised; for it is, absolutely certain that there is no neutral ground on which to stand after reaching this age. This is settled by our Lord in his words in Matt. 12:30 - we are either for Christ or against him. Our first duty, as responsible beings, is to choose the right road - to take a stand for God and his Son, who died that we might live. This duty is forever declared in the words of Jesus: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33 )
It is our duty as parents the very day the child is born to set our hearts on so guarding the precious soul that God has given us that this choice will be made the very first day the child is accountable. Mothers and fathers, will you think with me here? Can you give one reason for your child's soul being lost one day? Jesus tasted death for every man. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Do you not think there has been a shameful lot of carelessness practiced on the part of fathers and mothers in the church of our Lord? Are we as much concerned about the salvation of our children as we should be? I know very well that not one thing is stated in the New Testament about the age a child becomes accountable to God for his or her acts. It may be well that it is this way. This makes it all the more necessary that we be watchful, careful, and prayerful in staying with the child as it grows and develops, with the living God in our hearts, transplanting him into the young and tender heart of the child as early as possible.
Recently, while in a revival at Brownfield, Texas, the little nine-year-old daughter of James A. Fry asked her father if she might be baptized. He came to me with it for advice. My answer was: "Talk to the child and be fully persuaded in your own mind that a consciousness of the living God is in her heart and that he gave Jesus to die that she might live." I have read a lot of needless and senseless debating of this question. It is a question that should concern every true father and mother in the church of our Lord. We fight infant baptism, but fly to the other extreme that we must let the devil have our children for quite a while, and then call in an evangelist and have a revival to try to save them from hell.
Will you think just what it would mean if every father and mother in the church the wide world over would have that concern about the child's first choice in life as every father and mother are taught to have. The child makes it, regardless of whether we are concerned or not; but how often is that first choice all wrong because of our neglect?
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Dent. 6:4-7) It is not necessary that I multiply quotations, giving the many statements of Jehovah to parents, teaching them the responsibility that rests upon them as such to plant in the young and tender hearts of their children the God who has, through the blood of his own Son, saved them and blessed them. But suppose all our fathers and mothers were doing just here what they are taught to do - watching the development of their own child's mind with the idea of planting in it the living God, the loving God, the very first day possible? I ask again: What would the consequences be if fathers and mothers were so living? Who can imagine it? I know very well the cry that is going all over the world: "What is to become of our young people?" Why not ask, "What is to become of the fathers and mothers who have allowed such conditions to come among us?"
I am asking in all seriousness: Is the first choice of parents in their children's behalf their salvation? Is it not rather what course they shall take in life to make the most money, to be the most popular, or to have the easiest time? Making the salvation of the child the first choice is a question that is worthy of our thinking. He-re is your whole trouble. Parents are not trying to save their children; they are leaving this for the preacher and the Sunday school to do.
The idea of Christian parents depending on the preacher to save their children! God allowed us only one child. I would be ashamed of myself if that son, who died at the age of thirty, had gotten from any other preacher on earth the help he got from me. In nearly every congregation you go these days the parents are wanting you to help save their boys and girls. And I am willing to help. But, frankly, let me say that the only way I know to go about it is to go home with the parents and begin on them. Parents themselves, though claiming to be Christians, have not made seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness first; and their children know it. Here is your trouble. And since they know the father and mother have not been doing so, they naturally choose to travel the road they find father and mother in when they reach the age of choice. Children usually go the way the parent is going.
"Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. 20:11; 22:6).
One of the most beautiful stories in the whole Bible is that of the birth, life, and character of Moses. He was born and placed there among the flags, in that little ark made by a loving mother's hands, on the bosom of the lake. Pharaoh's daughter comes along and finds the child, and wants it for her own. Miriam, the sister of Moses, was standing off watching to see what would become of her baby brother. She runs up and proposes to obtain a nurse for this Hebrew baby. The suggestion is accepted, and this sister - imagine how her heart must have leapt with joy - runs for the mother of Moses, who was her own mother. This mother played the role of nurse for Pharaoh's daughter; how long, I do not know; but I do know she so well planted in the heart of Moses faith in the living, loving, powerful God that when he was taken from her and put through all the schools and universities in the whole Egyptian realm, the idea of the true God stayed there and caused him to turn his back on the throne of Egypt for his own people and their God.
I close this by asking: what if all the young people today in the church of Christ had a mother like the mother of Moses? Mothers, I beg you to think. Have your own sons and daughters ever seen you on your knees? Have they ever heard your voice lifted to God in prayer? I put the same question to you, fathers: How often have your sons and daughters heard you pray?
Truth Magazine, V:11, pp. 20-21