By Connie W. Adams
Advice or Divine Instruction?
It is not uncommon to hear something like this: “Paul advised Timothy to `preach the word.'” No, Paul instructed Timothy to preach the word. There is a difference. A recommendation might be accepted or rejected. A note of caution might be ignored. But divine instruction cannot be set aside without imperiling the soul. To view Bible teaching simply as advice contributes to moral and doctrinal relativism. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” is not just good advice; it is a divine imperative.
Meeting Readers of Guardian of Truth
Everywhere we go in gospel meetings, we meet readers of this magazine. Some mention specific articles which they have read with great profit. Some tell me they read it “from cover to cover.” Some say they pass it on to other family members. Some are critical (and that should always be considered) but most express great appreciation for the paper and the efforts of the writers. Sometimes those who write articles wonder if any-one out there ever reads what they write. The answer is “yes.”
Bored or Edified?
“Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil” (Eccl. 5:1). Several times during my lifetime I have read the accounts of those who have made shipwreck of the faith. Common to many of these accounts is a feeling of “boredom” with public worship. They have decided that it is irrelevant. While all of us must admit that there are times when announcements are long, or prayers are long ex-tended and, at times, barely audible, classes are not as interesting as they could be, or sermons are long or not well delivered, or it may be that songs are poorly led, when all is said and done, boredom is the problem of the one who professes to be afflicted by this malady. Why did you come? To be amused? To be entertained? Are you totally passive? Is there not a mental effort to be made on your part to offer worship to the Lord? Parents should be watchful about this attitude in their children. If they do not want to sing, or are fidgety during prayer, or want to talk during the Lord’s supper, or don’t want to stand when the congregation is asked to do so, then these are signs of an attitude problem that needs some adjustment. All of us who take a leading part in any worship gathering ought to do our best to improve our part. But the spirit of the worshiper is crucial to pleasing the Lord. When we have grandchildren who tell us they are “bored” they soon learn that is a fast track to a chore so their minds will be occupied and they won’t be “bored.” That is a state of mind which is under the control of each individual. Are you “bored”? Then do some-thing about your attitude.
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). The lesson here is clear: Money does not satisfy. He who has much still wants more. It is reported that someone asked John D. Rockefeller how much money he wanted. He replied, “Just a little more.” Paul said, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Poverty is not very satisfying either. There is no virtue in it any more than there is in great wealth. The truth is that money has no character of its own. It assumes the character of whomever owns it. $100 can be spent on lottery tickets, alcohol, or pornography. Or it could be used to feed your family, pay a debt, help someone in need, or to preach the gospel. But Jesus was right when he said, “For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). So, put your trust in the Lord. He is an all-sufficient provider.
“The Good Ole Days”
“Do not say, Why were the former days better than these? For you do not inquire wisely concerning this” (Eccl. 7:10). Every younger generation has heard from seniors about the “good ole days.” There are lessons to be learned from history. And there is something good about preserving our heritage. I yet recall many of the stories told by my parents and grandmother when I was a child. But it is entirely possible for the older to abuse the younger about the “good ole days.” Inherent in some of these accounts is the notion that the younger are somehow inferior because they were not born sooner. They cannot help that. There is an implied superiority in such statements as “you just wait until you get to be 75 (or 80, or 85).” Well if they make it to that venerable age, they will have to do just that “just wait.” Sometimes accounts of the former days include the implication that those who lived through that time were infinitely wiser and remarkably purer than the present generation. And it is possible for that to be so since civilizations tend to decay with time.
But everything about “the good ole days” was not so great or necessarily good. We tend to romanticize the former days. The cowboys of the old west have been elevated to the status of folk heroes. But their life was hard, filled with tedium, brought little financial reward and was far from pleasant. Have you ever been downwind of a stock yard? I know of a congregation that canceled a service because the air conditioner went out on a hot summer Sunday. In the “good ole days” nobody had air conditioning. They opened the windows and created a breeze with fans supplied by the funeral home. I have drawn all the water from a well with a rope tied to the end of a bucket that I care to. I like my faucet in the house, thank you! I have slept under so much cover on a bitterly cold winter night that it was hard to turn over. I’ll just keep my electric blanket, thanks!
There are congregations that live continually in the past. It is sad to see once large and thriving congregations reduced to a mere handful, oftentimes still meeting in the same large house and with some of the older members still trying to relive the glory days of yesteryear when well known men preached to large audiences and where great battles for truth and right were fought. The history of those days ought to be remembered. But congregations have to face present realities and adjust to changes that time and tide have wrought. While we all must be anchored to the truth of the gospel, let us be sure we know the difference in that and being tied to traditions of our own making. Some have become so attached to a piece of physical property that they have lost sight of the true work of the church and the changed prospects for success in a given place. Christ is still head of the church. It is still the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Its business is still to sound out the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8). Listen, brethren! We cannot go into rewind! Yesterday is gone. We can study it and we can learn from the experiences of those who lived it. But we cannot recall it. We are here now and there is work to do, now. Let us “rise up and build.”
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 17, p. 3-4
September 5, 1996