By Irven Lee
Older preachers who live now can well remember the decades of the depression years and the war years when with some effort several could be baptized in one gospel meeting. That was not a period of perfection that deserved a halo because many churches were weak and small. Circumstances were such that rapid growth was possible. Many new churches were established, and older ones grew. Hope could be found in many hearts. It was a good time to preach if one were content to live without much money. Then this day ended when the innovations began to come.
Zeal went way ahead of knowledge as men set out to help the Lord make better plans for His church. Big institutions were set up to collect and spend money. These big central agencies were not like anything found in the New Testament, but they were very much like the arrangements that were common among the denominations. It seems that many of our brethren wanted to be like the nations about us. They wanted the Lord’s church to be as well planned and as well organized as the denominations!
Family life buildings were established in some places to provide “Christ centered recreation for all ages,” whatever that is. They could offer basketball, arts and crafts, sewing, volley ball, exercise classes, ceramics, painting, and table games and thus be a “friendly church that fills your spiritual needs”! These plans are from the minds of people who are not so hungry for Bible study and for gospel preaching.
The sun went down on the happier period of growth. Division, bitterness, and worldliness came in as apparently welcome guests. There is cancerous growth in some places brought on by food, fun, frolic, and more efforts to be acceptable to the world they have copied. This requires more compromise of principles of conviction and less concern for a “thus saith the Lord.”
The most digressive element is now finding wonderful harmony with their “brethren” of the Christian Church. They may soon add the instrument and be in fall fellowship. The other things have already been added. The Christian Church will not have to change one thing. It will only have to notice that those who had been in the narrow way are now in the broad way with it.
That must be a pleasant surprise to these people of the Christian Church.
During the time of the Old Testament there were periods of apostasy, and then occasions of repentance and restoration. Since Christ there have been periods of unbelief followed by periods of awakening faith. This is a dark period of frustration, friction, and factions. The first quarter of this century was such a period for our brethren, but the next twenty-five years was a period of growth.
Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,
The eternal years of God are hers;
But error, wounded, writhes with pain,
And dies among his worshipers. (William Cullen Bryant)
Truth is and always has been powerful and able to make one free from the bondage of sin (John 8:32; Heb. 4:12; James 1:21). The word of God is truth in spiritual matters (John 17:17). No group of “great preachers” now living will be able to come forth with something more powerful or enduring than the living Word. We need not apologize for the sword of the Spirit or the parts of the Christian’s defensive armor (Eph. 6:10-20).
God is, and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). His precious promises are not empty words (Heb. 13:5,6; 1 Peter 5:6,7; Matt. 28:20). “If God be for us, who can be against us? ” (Rom. 8:31) Let the devout young saints come forth and speak boldly as they ought to speak (Eph. 6:20). Time, patience, effort, and boldness can again prepare the soil for planting and harvesting by God’s help. He will give the increase.
Modernism, humanism, liberalism, and hedonism have captured America’s fancy. The promoters have presented themselves as being the intelligentsia and the elite among society. They are without God and without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12). They have no more to offer than the philosophers of the sin-sick Roman world into which the apostles went to preach the good news. One of the best known facts of history is that the apostles and their brethren did not preach in vain. Our addicts of alcohol and other chemicals, with all their fornication and greed for money, are not showing America a beautiful picture. A beautiful dawn is ready to erase some dark shadows. Show the world the beauty of holiness, walk by faith, walk humbly with your God and see that godliness has the promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:8). Please read and follow the advice our Lord gave in Matthew 10:24-42.
All the prophets, apostles, and other great servants of God were bold from courage prompted by great faith. The gospel is God’s great power. You have it, along with His promise to be with you, as you take it to all nations. Cowards have no place in God’s army.
More athletes, politicians, and business men are speaking up in recognition of God and the Bible. There is a stirring of interest in a return to truth. The effects brought on by humanism, hedonism, modernism, and greed are horrible, and millions are beginning to notice and to desire a return to honesty, stability of marriage, respect for property rights, and for law and order. The gospel of salvation can be preached in a world like this. The fields are ready to be prepared for planting, but the laborers are few. Pray about it (Matt. 9:35-38).
Preachers who want to preach to have a second salary, and preachers who will only pick up and repeat the words of psychologists and popular writers will not be able to stop the tide and turn it in another direction. These men will only go along with the tide. It takes strong men who arc well prepared to stand against the popular wiles of the devil. Having done all to stand, stand therefore! Fight a good fight! War a good warfare! God bless you, every one!
My generation lost many battles in the last thirty years, but the war between truth and error is not over and it will never be. There are some worthy new recruits enlisting and training to be loyal soldiers of Christ. Watch the tide fall back as the frightening effects of humanism become more and more apparent. Make a bold counter attack and have your names written in the Lamb’s book of life rather than among the ungodly entertainers and other promoters of carnal pleasures. Make whatever sacrifice it takes to get the job done. Let us pray that the beautiful dawn of a new day will soon be seen in which men will speak as the oracles of God.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 8, pp. 242, 246
April 17, 1986