By John T. Lewis
We hear a great deal these days about balancing the budget. Whenever a government, city, county, or nation cannot balance its budget it is headed for chaos and disintegration. But I am not writing about balancing the budget in governmental affairs; but the great need of a balanced diet in the pulpits and the religious journals of our country.
Paul said to the church at Corinth: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. 1 fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able; for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not carnal, and do ye not walk after the manner of men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-4) Again Paul speaking of the priesthood of Christ, says: “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing. For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:11-14). If Paul were living today he could not describe the present day conditions of the church better than he did in the above quotations from his inspired pen. This unfortunate condition exists today not in one congregation; everywhere the church is being submerged by a tidal wave of sentimental, stand-for-nothingism.
If a gospel preacher goes to a place today and thunders away against the present day evils which are stopping the flow of spirituality and opening the flood gates of sensuality and infidelity, the chances are he will be accused of making personal issues, and be invited to leave town, without pay for his services. Or if an editor should permit a few articles dealing directly with the present day issues he will be swamped with letters telling him how he will have to run the paper or to stop it. These conditions are to a great ex-tent controlling the spiritual food or diet that is going out from our pulpits, and through our religious papers of to-day. What would you think of firemen on their way to a fire who would stop to listen to ever peanut on the way telling them how to fight the fire? Or what would you think of a fire chief that would stop fighting a fire to tell the curious crowd around, about the thousands of pretty buildings that were not on fire, and finally draw off his men because they were attracting too much attention to the fire? The chief of a fire department never calls his men away from a fire as long as he thinks there is a possiblity of a spark rekindling the blaze. That is my idea of fighting sin, and every departure from God’s truth. The popular ideas of preaching and religious journalism today would never rekindle the fires of Smithfield; but rather lead the church back to where it was during the “dark ages” shrouded in Catholicism with human opinion as the standard of authority in all matters of religion.
If the present attitude toward religious papers, that con-tend for New Testament teaching and practice, is carried to its logical conclusion it would drive the Bible out of our homes. It is a common thing to hear church members say: “We quit taking the because it was always fighting.” Now let us apply this theory to the New Testament. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15). Of course you would not want to hand this to your religious neighbors. It is not the spirit of Christ (?). You know we believe in “preaching the gospel in love.” “Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:27-28). Who would want to hand this kind of literature to the hypocrites in the church today? Just such teaching would drive them away from the church! “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrine the precepts of man” (Matt. 15:7-9). What right have we to talk about other people’s worship? So it would never do to hand the gospel according to Matthew to vain worshippers, hypocrites and false teachers.
“The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said, I am the bread which came down out of heaven.” Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would you also go away?” (Jn. 6:41-67) Preaching that would cause people of the world to murmur, and even drive “many disciples” away from the Lord, would certainly be out of harmony with the spirit of the age. Therefore if Jesus Christ were on earth today, in person, he would find many of the pulpits closed against him, and if he were publishing a religious paper it would not be allowed to come into many Christian (?) homes. You know the churches to-day believe in having “the spirit of Christ,” and in “preaching the gospel in love.” Any casual observer knows that “the spirit of Christ” today is quite different from what it was in the apostolic age. “But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fastened his eyes on him, and said, 0 full of all guile and all villany, thou son of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:9-10) It does not make any difference if the Bible does say Paul was “filled with the Holy Spirit,” any carnal minded Christian can tell you that he was not “preaching the gospel in love.” So if Paul were on earth today you certainly would not want him to hold your meeting because he would run all the Elymases away and that would be too bad.
Paul labored eighteen months at Corinth, on his second missionary journey, and he planted the church there. Soon after Paul left Corinth false teachers got into the church, and turned the people against Paul and his teaching. They became guilty of almost every sin that has ever been catalog-ed. Paul wrote them a letter, mentioned, and condemned their sins in the most withering terms. Thus he spread the whole disgraceful matter to the world. Brethren, do you think I Corinthians should be deleted from the New Testament? You know we ought not to let the world know any-thing about the factions, parties, and fornicators that are in the church today and any religious paper that would publish and condemn such things is not fit to hand to our neighbors or to go into Christian (?) homes!
A balanced diet therefore is not only to preach God’s love to the world; but also his wrath and condemnation against sin and sinners, in the church and out. (Reprinted from tl Gospel Guardian, October 1935, pp. 8-9.)
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 12, p. 12-13
June 17, 1993