Encouraging Episodes

By Larry Ray Hafley

While in a meeting recently, a brother casually mentioned that last year he had taken two young people to a nearby gospel meeting where J.T. Smith was preaching. He said that both were baptized two months later and both mentioned the sermon J.T. preached as one that “bothered” them and caused them to obey the gospel. J.T. was not remotely aware of the good that was done, until now.

Several years ago, a young couple took their worldly neighbors to a meeting. Hollis Creel preached a stinging lesson on the Christian and his recreation. The young couple worried about the effects of the sermon because their neighbors regularly paraded about in scanty attire. However, a few weeks later their neighbors obeyed the truth. “What was it,” they were asked, “that opened your eyes? Was it the film strips? Was it the answers to your denominational arguments?” “No,” they said, “it was the lesson on recreation and modesty that brother Creel preached.” And brother Creel probably thought his efforts in that meeting nearly twenty years ago, “bore no visible fruit.” But it did.

A young Baptist couple came to a meeting. Brethren had worked hard with this couple. The visiting preacher knew of this pair, but he had never met them. So, when they came in late, the preacher, unaware of their presence, preached on the work and organization of the church, dealing directly with institutionalism among churches of Christ. Later, when informed of the Baptist couple’s attendance, he winced and thought he had “blown” an opportunity to convert them. After all, they had heard a lesson against benevolent societies, Herald of Truth, etc. – things they could “never understand.” But the young couple obeyed the gospel soon afterward. Again, the question — “What opened your eyes?” “Well, it will not what you might expect,” they said. “It was the sermon on the work of the church. We could see the parallel among Baptist churches and their unscriptural organization. That made us think. ” And the preacher thought he had “blown” it.

A young Methodist woman had been the object of efforts to convert her. The local preacher spoke to her just before services began and encouraged her to become a Christian. She expressed and confessed her faith, but, despite numerous lessons, studies and tracts, she said she was “not ready for baptism.” Shortly after the meeting closed that night, she came and requested to be baptized into Christ. Why the change? “Well, the invitation song got me to thinking.” What if she had been disturbed and distracted by careless brethren while the strains of, “careless soul, why will ye linger, trembling on the brink of woe,” wove their win-some melody into her soul?

Benefit Of These Blessed Events?

First, only eternity will reveal that good that is done by sound and faithful gospel preaching. “Be not weary in well doing.” “Preach the word,” “the whole counsel of God.”

Second, do not give up on your friends, neighbors and relatives. Take them to meetings in the area.

Third, never under estimate the power of the gospel. Truly, the word of God will not return void. God does give the increase.

Fourth, rejoice when the truth is preached on any subject. “Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee” (Josh. 1:9). “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).

Guardian of Truth XXX: 2, p. 36
January 16, 1986