Enemies of Soul Winning
By Dr. Jack Hyles
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Table of Contents
The subtle enemies that affect the soul-winning efforts of the local church have too long gone unnoticed as well as unchallenged. Dr. Jack Hyles, Pastor of the church with the "World's Largest Sunday School" and the worlds foremost soul-winning ministries, contests these enemies, one by one.
These enemies must be exposed for what they are: a definite attempt, by Satan, to stop fundamental, soul-winning churches from doing the work God has ordained them to do.
These insights given by Dr. Hyles may seem controversial, but in reality they are logical as well as Biblical.
Enemies of Soul Winning will reveal adversaries you may have thought were your friends!
Jack Hyles began preaching at the age of 19 and has pastored for 45 years. These pastorates include churches that varied in membership from 44 to over 100,000. All of these pastorates, other than the present one, where in the state of Texas: First, the Marris Chapel Baptist Church of Bogata, Texas; then the Grange Hall Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas; from there to the Southside Baptist Church of Henderson, Texas; and then to the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. He pastored the Miller Road Baptist Church for approximately 7 years and saw this church, under the Lord, grow from a membership of 44 to over 4,000. It was from the Miller Road Baptist Church that he was called to his present pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana.
Dr. Hyles has been Pastor of the First Baptist Church since August, 1959. This church has a membership of over 100,000 and has averaged over 23,000 conversions and 8,000 baptisms per year for the past 6 years. For many years the church has been acclaimed to have the "World's Largest Sunday School." During Dr. Hyles' ministry the First Baptist Church has increased in property evaluation to over $50,000,000.
Besides his position as Pastor, Dr. Hyles is Founder-Chancellor of Hyles-Anderson Schools, which enrolled approximately 4,000 students last year. The schools are operated by the First Baptist Church and are housed in separate facilities away from the church property. Dr. Hyles has served as President of the Baptist Bible College in Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Hyles is the author of 41 books and pamphlets, exceeding over 12 million copies in sales. Many of his sermons are also available on tape.
Dr. Hyles' experience covers numerous evangelistic campaigns, Bible conferences, etc. He has preached in virtually every state of the Union and in many foreign countries. His annual Pastors' School attracts thousands of preachers from every state and many foreign countries.
Lordship Salvation -
An Enemy of Soul Winning
Exactly what do we mean when we say, "Lordship Salvation"? We are talking about the false doctrine that says that in order for a person to be saved, he must make Jesus the Lord of his life. If that doctrine were true, then no one could be saved, because as long as we are limited by these fleshly bodies, we will be unable to make Jesus totally the Lord of our lives. This can happen only when we are like Him. I John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
The Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest Christian who ever lived, spoke of the battle he had. He said in Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing...." Inverse 19, he said, "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not want, that I do." In verse 23, he talks about the warfare between the flesh and the spirit, and in verse 24, he calls himself a "wretched man."
Of course, every believer should have a sincere desire and make a sincere effort to make Jesus Lord of his life, but in the flesh, that is impossible, and we will not be satisfied until we awake in His likeness. Psalm 17.15, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."
1. There is only one Gospel. Galatians 1:6-9, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
The word "another" in verse 6, and the word "another" in verse 7 are not the same words. The first means "another of a different kind"; the second in verse 7 means "another of the same kind." For example, suppose you say to someone at the table, "Pass another cookie to me." You could mean another one of the same kind you have been eating, or you could mean another kind of cookie that is at the table. What the Apostle is saying here is that some people were preaching another gospel; that is, another kind. Then he reminds us that that kind is not another of the same kind. Basically there are only two kinds of salvation: (1) Man does it; or (2) God does it. Someone has rightly said that the two kinds of salvation are wrapped up in two small words: do and done. Anything that we would do to save ourselves, anything that another person would do to save us, or anything that another group of people would do to save us is a false salvation. The true salvation is that it has already been done! Jesus has done it all, if we by faith appropriate what He did.
2. If there is anything that we can do to save ourselves or to help save ourselves, or if there is anything that another person or group of others can do to help save us, salvation is not of grace. We know, however, that salvation is of grace!
Ephesians 2:8, 9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." If it is of grace, works can have nothing to do with it, and if there is one tiny bit of works, it is not of grace! Romans 11:6, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." If we must make Jesus Lord of our lives in order to be saved, then salvation is not all of grace, and what is not all of grace is heresy!
3. David was saved when Jesus was not Lord of his life. All of us know the tragic story of David and his sins. Was David saved? Yes, he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? Of course not. Look at Psalm 51:12a. David said, "Restore unto me the joy of my salvation." He did not say, "Restore unto me Thy salvation." He was saved, but he was away from God. Jesus was not Lord of his life. If Lordship salvation were true, then David lost his salvation when he ceased to make Jesus Lord of his life.
4. Jesus was not Lord of Lot's life. II Peter 2:7, 8, 'And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)" Was Lot saved? Verse 7 says he was "just," which means he was justified in the sight of God, even though he was living in wicked sin. In verse 8 he is called a "righteous man," which means that he was righteous in the sight of God, having had the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to him. Romans 10:1 -3, "Brethren, my heart 's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
Romans 4:5, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that just ifi eth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Was Lot saved? Yes, he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? No, He wasn't.
Look at the awful thing Lot had done. In the first place, he had chosen to go to the well-watered plains toward Sodom.
In the second place, he had not only gone to Sodom, but Sodom had come to him. Two angels had come to visit Lot in Sodom. When the homosexual men heard of this, they came to Lot's house asking for him to give them those men so they could commit their sin with them.
Now look at Genesis 19:7, 8, "And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof" Lot called these wicked perverts "brethren" in verse 7. Then in verse 8, he offered his two daughters to these men if they would leave the angels alone. What a wicked thing! Later on when Lot fled Sodom with his two daughters, both of them became pregnant by him. Each gave birth to a son, and each son fathered a heathen race - the Moabites and the Ammonites. Was Lot saved? Yes, he was. God says that he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? No, He wasn't. If Lordship salvation were true, Lot could not have been saved, because Jesus was far from being Lord of his life at this time.
5. Noah was saved, but Jesus was not Lord of his life.
Genesis 6:8, "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Genesis 9:20-24, "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him."
Was Noah saved? Yes, Genesis 6:8 says he "found grace in the eyes of the Lord," and we know that salvation is by grace. Was Jesus Lord of his life? In Genesis 9:2 1, we find he got drunk and that he was naked inside his tent. In verse 22 his son saw his nakedness. Obviously from verse 24, his younger son had
done something to him. Perhaps this was a homosexual act committed with his own father while his father was drunk. To say the least, Noah was anything but a Christian who had allowed Jesus to be Lord of his life. Was he saved? Yes, he was. Was Jesus Lord of his life? No, He was not.
6. The Corinthian church members were saved, but Jesus was not Lord of their lives. I Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?" Notice in verse 1 that they were "carnal," which means "fleshly." Notice in verse 1 that they were "babes." Notice in verse 2 that they were so immature in their Christian life that they could not take spiritual meat, but had to have spiritual milk. In verse 3 it again says they were carnal. It also mentions that there were envyings and strife and divisions, and they walked as men, not as Christians ought to walk. Was Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He was not. Were they saved? Yes, they were. Look at the last two words in verse 1- "in Christ." II Corinthians 5: 17a says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Were they saved? Yes, they were. Was Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He wasn't.
7. Babes in Christ are saved, but Jesus is not Lord of their lives. I Peter 2:1, 2, "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." If one must make Jesus Lord of his life in order to be saved, he would have to be a mature Christian then, but the Bible says there is such a thing as a "babe in Christ," which means that such a person is saved, but he has a lot of growing to do.
8. The fact that the Christian must grow in grace means that a person can be saved without Jesus being Lord of his life.
II Peter 3:18, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." The word "grow" here means that the Christian has not yet "arrived." He is not yet mature. The words "in grace" mean that he is saved. Is such a person saved? Yes, he is. Is Jesus Lord of his life. No, He is not.
9. A person can be righteous in the sight of God and be saved without making Jesus Lord of his life. Romans 4:5, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Here is a person who does not work for God. All he does is believe. The Bible says his faith is counted for righteousness. Is he saved? Yes. Is Jesus Lord of his life? Absolutely not. Jesus commands us to work, to win souls and to serve God, but here is a man who does not do those things; yet he is righteous. He is saved, but Jesus is not Lord of his life.
10. A person can be saved and not have his body yielded totally to Christ. Romans 12:1, 2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacnfice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Were the people to whom he was speaking saved? Yes, they were. Notice the word "brethren" in verse 1. Was Jesus Lord of their life? No, He was not. The Apostle Paul was beseeching them to present their bodies a living sacrifice, to be holy, and not be conformed to the world, but be transformed in order that they might do the perfect will of God. Were they saved? Yes, they were. Was Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He was not.
A person can be saved and even call Jesus "Lord" without the Saviour actually being the Lord of his life. Luke 6:20, 46, 'And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor :for your's is the kingdom of God. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" This entire passage was written to the disciples by Jesus. Were they saved?
Yes, they were. Verse 20 plainly calls them His disciples. Now what did He say to His disciples? Among other things, in verse 46 He said they were calling Him "Lord," but doing not the things which He said. In other words, they were like the Lordship salvation crowd today. Since none of us can totally do everything He says until we awake in His likeness, it is foolish for us to say that Jesus is Lord of our lives. Were these people saved? Yes, they were. They were called "disciples" in verse
20. Was Jesus Lord of their lives? No, He was not, because verse 46 tells us that they did not the things which He said.
Yes, Jesus is Lord. He is Lord of the universe, and, of course, we believe that He is Lord. However, to believe that in order to be saved one must make Him the Lord of his life is just another form of salvation by works.
May God help me day by day to give Him more control of my life and yield more and more to Him so that He can become day by day more and more the Lord of my actions, my will and my life; but, I must realize that I am hampered by this body of clay, and that there is a battle being raged. I must yield myself to Him constantly, making Him more and more the Lord of my life, but I am looking forward to the day when I shall be like Him, and He, in fact, will be the Lord of my life.
An Enemy of Soul Winning
I have no problem with the word "dispensation." It is a Bible word, but I do have a problem with dispensationalism which says that salvation comes in different ways in different dispensations. For example, the Scofield Reference Bible, page 1115, in subpoint (2) of footnote 1 on grace, notice the words, "As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 3. 24-26; 4. 24, 25)." The note continues as follows, "The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ...."
Now it is certainly true that salvation in this age is by acceptance or rejection of Christ, but Mr. Scofield is wrong when he says that before the death and resurrection of Christ the condition of salvation was legal obedience! This is what I call "hyper-dispensationalism." There are those who likewise erroneously believe that salvation will be other than grace through faith during the millennium. This is also heresy! Salvation has always been and will always be by grace through faith in Christ. From the first sin in the garden of Eden until the last person who is saved in the millennium, every person who goes to Heaven will go there by grace.
I take even stronger issue with the hyper-dispensationalism which says that the letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor in Revelation 2 and 3 represent seven ages of church history. For example, Mr. Scofield says that the message to the church in Ephesus is the church at the end of the apostolic age. Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the church in Smyrna represents the "Period of the great persecutions to A.D. 316." Where is that in the Bible?
Then he says that the letter to the church in Pergamos represents "The church under imperial favour, settled in the world, A.D. 316 to the end." Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the church at Thyatira represents "A.D. 500-1500: the triumph of Balaamism and Nicolaitanism; a believing remnant (vs. 24-28)." Where is that in the Bible?
Then he says that the letter to the church in Sardis represents "The period of the Reformations; a believing remnant (vs. 4, 5)." Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the church in Philadelphia represents "The true church in the professing church." Where is that in the Bible? Then he says that the letter to the church in Laodicea represents the final state of apostasy. Where is that in the Bible? This kind of heresy is no where to be found in the Word of God, and the danger of it is that these hyper-dispensationalists enjoy teaching that since this is the day of apostasy, God does not do any great works anymore and that this is the day where we just hold out faithful to the end. According to them, no great churches can be built, and no great revivals can be had.
What a sad commentary! What a pitiful look at the Scripture! There is absolutely nothing that says we cannot have revival today. We can have revival anytime God's people will pay the price!
These seven letters to the seven churches are exactly that. There were churches named, "the church at Ephesus," "the church at Smyrna," the church at Pergamos," "the church at Thyatira," "the church at Sardis," "the church at Philadelphia" and "the church at Laodicea." These churches had problems like all churches do. The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle John to write letters to these churches to help the churches get straightened out. Would somebody please show me in the Bible where these letters represent the seven ages of church history?
There Is a False Teaching Also
Concerning the Last Days
The first time the term "the last days" is mentioned in the Bible is in Isaiah 2:2, 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." Here we have something that is predicted to happen in the last days.
Now we come concerning the last days to Joel 2:28, 29, 'And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
Please note what will happen in the last days. It is talking about the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon people. Please notice Acts 2:14-1 8, "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy."
It is Pentecost; 3000 people are about to be saved. Peter stands up to speak. He explains that what is happening there on Pentecost is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28, 29, which he quotes. Notice also in verse 17 that he calls these the last days.
Now I'm not saying that there are no signs that must precede the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. I'm fully aware of the tribulation plagues, of the end time war, of Russia and her allies attacking Israel and the Western Confederacy defending Israel, and of the Eastern Confederacy coming from the land of the sun rising to join Russia, etc. Though I do believe that the rapture is an imminent event that could take place anytime, I nevertheless do not discount that there are some signs that could point to the soonness of the tribulation period and the second coming of Christ at the end of that period. However, the term "the last days" describes the days from the resurrection of Christ even until this day and until the consummation of the age.
Now turn to II Timothy 3:1-8, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith."
Notice there in II Timothy 3:1 the term, "the last days." Likewise notice the condition of the last days, bearing in mind that the last days started at the resurrection of Christ, as we learned a while ago in Acts 2:16, 17. We find such things characterizing this age as people being lovers of themselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, etc. It goes on to say, "without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, "etc. Then it mentions "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" Now these are not things unique to the days in which we live. People have always been lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters. People have always been trucebreakers, false accusers, high minded, disobedient to parents, lovers of pleasure. People have always had a form of godliness.
However, we should notice here that whatever these last days are, in II Timothy 3:5 Paul tells Timothy, "from such turn away." He was saying, "Timothy, you turn away from these people," showing that these were already the last days. Notice the words in verse 6, "for of this sort are they...." Notice the word "are." That word is in the present tense. These people were there then. These people then were covetous, unthankful, unholy, false accusers and disobedient to parents. They were alive then, for the apostle said, "are they."
Notice also in II Timothy 2:6 it says, "and lead captive silly women laden with sins...." Notice the present tense. They were doing it then.
Now look down to verse 8. Notice the words, "so do these also..." In other words, as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, there were people at that very time who did the same thing. Paul is saying to Timothy, "In these last days, these people will do these things, and this is the way you are supposed to respond to them."
Now turn to Hebrews 1:1, 2, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Notice that Paul (probably the writer of Hebrews), used the present tense, "hath in these last days," so in Hebrews 1:1 the last days were already there.
Now turn to I Peter 1:19, 20, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Notice especially in verse 20 the words, "in these last times." Once again, Peter is saying what Paul had said - that these were the last days.
Now notice II Peter 3:3-5, "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water." In verse 3 he mentions the last days. In verse 5 he says, "for this they willingly are ignorant of...." Notice the present tense - they "are ignorant of." In other words, these "last days" were in existence at the time that this was written.
Now notice I John 2:18, "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." Notice the words in the first part of verse 18, "it is the last time." The word "is" indicates present tense. John said the same thing that Peter and Paul said.
Again you find in the last part of verse 18, "it is the last time." How much more plain could it be? Paul, John and Peter all attested to the fact that the last days were in existence at the time they were living.
Now turn to Jude 18, 19, "How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit."
In Jude 18 the term "last time" is mentioned. In verse 19, it says "these be"-notice present tense. "They who separate themselves"-notice present tense. There Jude joined with
Paul, Peter and John in attesting to the fact that the last days were days during which they were living.
God's people can do great things
for Him now!
Daniel 11:20-23, "Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people."
Daniel 11:32, 33, 'And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days."
In verse 20-23, it is obvious that God is talking about the end time. He talks about the antichrist and his work; he talks about the league that will be made with Israel. All Bible teachers who hold the premillennial position would agree that these verses deal with the end time. Now, notice the last half of verse 32, "but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Then look again at verse 33, 'And they that understand among the people shall instruct many...." It sounds to me like exploits will still be done in the end time. The truth is, one of the greatest revivals (as far as evangelism is concerned) that the world has ever seen will take place during the tribulation period, and certainly God's grace is not limited to this generation.
It is a wicked thing for dusty Bible teachers with their dusty theology to compartmentalize the Bible concerning salvation and soul winning. It doesn't bother me for someone to talk about dispensations, and it doesn't bother me for people to divide the Bible, as long as they do not divide it up concerning the plan of salvation, concerning the power of God, and concerning soul winning! People can be saved today like they were in the book of Acts! God's people can have revival just like they always could!
I was preaching in the deep South. On Tuesday night I made a statement that startled myself. I made the statement that if somebody would pay the price in this generation, a church could still have 3000 people saved on one Sunday. I could not believe I said it. Flying back to Chicago the next morning, the Lord seemed to impress that upon me. In fact, I could almost hear Him speak and ask me if I believed what I had said the night before. I was somewhat stunned that I had said it. Somewhat to my own surprise, I went to my people that Wednesday night and told them that we were going to have 3000 people saved on the third Sunday of March of that year. (That date was about two months away.)
The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, began to work and pray as I've never seen a church work and pray. We were asking God to give us 3000 people saved on, as it were, another Pentecost. On that special Sunday, 5195 people walked the aisles of the First Baptist Church of Hammond receiving Christ as Saviour! The next year we had a second Pentecost Sunday, and over 3300 people were saved! Then the next year we had another Pentecost Sunday, and over 4900 people were saved, as Dr. Curtis Hutson was our guest speaker.
I'm not a great preacher. I don't profess to be a great Christian. I just profess to serve a great God Who is the same yesterday, today and forever, and Who will give revival when God's people pay the price!
I believe that II Chronicles 7:14 is still valid, and while the ultra-dispensationalists are saying it cannot happen today, there are men of God all over America who are seeing it happen! More people are being baptized today than in the history of the United States of America. More great soul-winning churches are being built than have ever been built.
Let the dusty theologians say it can't be done, but give me a generation of young preachers on fire for God who believe the Word of God, believe the promises of God and claim the blessings of God, and we will prove by the grace of God that it can be done today! I am not fighting dispensationalism; I am attacking vigorously the heresy and false teaching that says it can't be done today. Whatever God could do, God can do! Whatever God can do, God will do, if His people meet His conditions!
Formal Worship -
An Enemy of Soul Winning
Of course, the word "formal" comes from the word "form," which means "an outline." From this we can believe that formal worship then would be an outline of worship - going through the form.
II Timothy 3:5, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof from such turn away.
The first mention of worship in the Bible is in Genesis 22:5, "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."
This is the story of Abraham offering Isaac on Mount Moriah. Notice the words, "I and the lad will go yonder and worship." This is a far cry from what we call worship. The worship that Abraham was going to do was to go to a mountain, build an altar, take a knife, kill his son and offer him for a sacrifice.
The next mention of worship in the Bible is in Genesis 24:26, 48, 52, "And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. And I bowed my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. And it came to pass, that, when Abraham 's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth." Abraham had sent his servant back to the old country to choose a bride for his son Isaac. At each step in the accomplishing of this task, the servant worshipped.
Neither of these two instances had anything to do with a public worship service.
Worship in the Bible
Was an Individual Act
There is not one single mention of a worship service in the New Testament. There is not one single command or even an implication to the church to have a public worship service. Worship was a private matter.
In Genesis 22:5, Abraham and Isaac went to Mount Moriah to worship. This was an individual act. In Genesis 24:26, 48, 52, Abraham's servant worshipped in an individual act.
In Exodus 34:8, Moses worshipped individually upon the receipt of the second tables of the law. "And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped."
In Judges 7:15, in the midst of his battle against the Midianites, Gideon worshipped individually. "And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian."
In I Samuel 1:19, when Hannah was told that she would bear a son, she worshipped individually. "And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her."
In I Samuel 1:28, Hannah brought Samuel to Eli, and Samuel worshipped individually. "Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there."
In I Samuel 15:3 1, Saul worshipped individually. "So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD."
In II Samuel 12:20, David arose after the death of his illegitimate child borne by Bath-sheba, and after having repented, he worshipped individually. "Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat."
In II Samuel 15:32, David came to the top of the mount, and he worshipped individually. "And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head."
In Job 1:20, Job worshipped individually upon hearing of the death of his children. "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped."
In Matthew 8:2, a leper came to Jesus and sought cleansing. When he came to the Saviour, he worshipped Him saying. "And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." He worshipped individually.
In Matthew 9:18, a certain ruler came to Jesus interceding for his daughter, and he worshipped individually. "While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live."
In Matthew 15:25, a woman seeking healing for her daughter worshipped individually. "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me."
In John 9:38, a blind man was healed by Jesus, and he worshipped individually. "And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him."
In Acts 16:14, Lydia by the riverside worshipped individually. "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller ofpurple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."
In Acts 18:7, Justus worshipped individually. "And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named .Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue."
In Hebrews 11:21, Jacob, at the time of his death, leaned upon the top of his staff and worshipped individually. "By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff"
Worship in the New Testament
The word "worship" is mentioned 35 times in the New Testament. Not one time does it deal with a public worship service.
In Matthew 2:2, the wise men came to worship Jesus. This was not a public service. "Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews ?for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
In Matthew 2:8, Herod enquired of the wise men so he could come and worship Jesus. Had this been done, it would not have been a public service, but an individual matter. "And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."
In Matthew 4:9 and Luke 4:7, Satan promised to give Jesus the kingdoms of this world if He would fall down and worship him. "And saith unto him, All these things will l give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." "If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine."
In Matthew 15:9 and Mark 7:7, we have the mention of vain worship. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." "Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
In John 4:20, 22-24, we have Jesus rebuking formal worship as He talked to the woman at Sychar's well and explained to her that they who would worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. He was telling her that she worshipped one place and the Jews worshipped another place, but that worship was an individual matter and could be done anywhere. The woman at the well said, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus answered her, "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
In John 12:20, the Greeks came to worship at a feast. This was done by bringing offerings. "And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast."
In Acts 7:42, 43, we have the word "worship" mentioned concerning the golden calf in the wilderness. "Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, 0 ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacnfices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon."
In Acts 17:23, Paul mentions on Mars' hill that the Greeks were worshipping an unknown god. "For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
In Acts 18:13, worship contrary to the law was rebuked by some. "Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law."
In Acts 24:11, the word "worship" is connected with Jewish worship. "Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship."
In Acts 24:14, the worship was done by believing the Bible. "But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which were written in the law and in the prophets."
In Philippians 3:3, we have individual worship. "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ .Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
In Hebrews 1:6, we find the mention of angels worshipping. "And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him."
In Revelation 3:9, we have worship at the synagogue of Satan. "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."
In Revelation 4:10, 11, we have worship pertaining to the judgment seat; that is, worship that will be done in the air after the rapture. "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying. Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
In Revelation 9:20, we have worship of idolatry in the tribulation period. "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk."
In Revelation 13:8, 12, 15, we have the worship of the Antichrist during the tribulation period. "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
The consequence of those who worship the Antichrist is stated in Revelation 14:7, 9-11, "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture.... And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."
In Revelation 15:4, we have the tribulation worship. "Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glonfy thy name?for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest."
In Revelation 19:10, John worshipped an angel and was rebuked for doing so. "And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: lam thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."
In Revelation 22:8, 9, we have the same rebuke given to John again for bowing down and worshipping before an angel. "And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, Ifell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God."
We have just covered every time the word "worship" is mentioned in the New Testament. It mentions not one public service where they worshipped, not one formal worship, not anything like the average formal church does on Sunday morning-no anthems, no "Gloria Patri," no "Sevenfold Amen," no liturgy, no high-church public service.
The Church Assembled for Things
Other Than Worship
Though worship was a private matter and not a public matter, we nevertheless are commanded to assemble ourselves together as God's people. Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
According to the New Testament, the public meetings were for strength for God's people, for fellowship, for the taking of the Lord's Supper, for praying, for studying the Bible, for praise, etc. The soul winning was to be done publicly and from house to house. The worshipping was to be done alone, and the church assembled for the aforementioned reasons.
When formal worship is substituted for the real purpose of the assembly, Christians do not get strengthened, encouraged, exhorted or motivated to do the main task of the church, and that is to carry out the Great Commission, which is soul winning. To that end, formal worship becomes an enemy of soul winning!
Misunderstood Repentance -
An Enemy of Soul Winning
Over and over again the question is asked me, "Is repentance necessary for salvation?" Of course, this is of utmost importance. Anything that deals with the way a person can escape the fires of eternal Hell and go to Heaven to live forever is of vital importance. In this chapter, we will address this most important question.
1. First, we need to find what makes one lost. Please notice John 3:18, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." It is very plain in this verse what makes a person lost. Notice the words, "he that believeth not is condemned already." A person who does not believe is condemned, so not believing is what makes a person lost.
Bear in mind, the word "believing" is the Greek word which means "to rely upon." When one believes on Christ, he simply relies on Him to save him and take him to Heaven when he dies. It is very plain here that what condemns a person is believing not. Then notice it says, "because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." Once again, we are told what makes a person lost - because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. It is as simple as that.
Now look at John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Again, we are trying to decide and determine what makes one lost. It is very plain here. Notice the word believeth, "and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." What keeps a person from seeing life? Believing not! What makes the wrath of God abide on a person? Believing not! So, from what must a person repent in order to be saved? He must repent of that which makes him lost. Since "believing not" makes him lost, "believing" makes him saved. The repentance there is a turning from the thing that keeps him from being saved to the thing that saves him. So, yes, there is a repentance from unbelief in order to believe. It is simply a change of direction. It means a turning around. You are going away from believing, and you decide to turn around and believe. You change your direction; you change your mind. With your will you believe and rely upon Christ to save you. In order to believe, you have to repent of unbelief. That which makes a man lost must be corrected.
Now turn to John 5:40, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Oh, how simple this is, and yet how plain! Why does a person not have life, according to this verse? Because he will not come to Christ. So, if a person is going away from Christ, he must turn around and come to Christ, which is a change of direction or a change of mind. This is repentance - repenting of the thing that keeps one from being saved, repenting from "going away" to "coming to."
Notice Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Especially notice the words, "we have turned every one to his own way." That's what not being saved is - turning to our own way. Now if we turn to God's way, which is putting our faith and trust in Jesus, we turn around from going our own way to going His way, from unbelief to belief. This is Bible repentance. Bear in mind, it is the faith that saves. The turning around is necessary in order to put our faith in Christ. One must repent from that thing that keeps him from being saved in order to be saved.
If a person were saved by good works, then he would have to repent of bad works, or of not doing good works, in order to be saved. If a person were saved by quitting his sinning, then he would have to repent of his sinning in order to be saved. A person is saved by believing, so he repents of his unbelief or turns from his unbelief in order to be saved.
Let us look at the verses that teach us we are saved by belief.
John 3:15, "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3.18, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Acts 16:31, "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
There are those who say we have to repent of our sins in order to be saved. No, we have to repent only of the thing that makes us unsaved, and that is unbelief. If a person needs to turn from his sins in order to be saved, what sins does he turn from? Does he turn from pride? Does he turn from selfishness? Does he turn from covetousness? The truth is, nobody can turn from all of his sins until he is raptured and he receives a body like the body of the Saviour. I John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." According to Psalm 19:12, we do not even know all of our sins. David said, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults." What he is talking about here is being cleansed from faults he doesn't even know he has. A person, when he is first saved, does not know all the things that he is doing that are wrong, and if a person has to repent of all of his sins, where is growth in grace? Where is being a babe in Christ? Where does the carnal Christian fit in here?
Now don't misunderstand me. I am certainly for separation and for living a godly life, but the cleansing of our lives is not done by us any more than salvation is done by us. Salvation is simply repenting of unbelief, and believing, and letting Christ save us. We yield to Him to save us; He does! Immediately the Holy Spirit comes in to live. The Holy Spirit begins His work of cleansing in our lives. He is the one Who cleanses, just as he is the one Who saves. He is the one Who points our sins out to us after we are saved just as He is the one Who saves us when we are saved.
This chapter is being dictated in San Antonio, Texas. I am sitting in a Holiday Inn. Tomorrow morning early I will catch a plane for Chicago. Let's suppose I get on that plane, and I am trusting the pilot to take me to Chicago. I do not know how to operate the plane, nor do I know the route to Chicago by air. There is nothing I can do to get myself to Chicago by that plane. I trust the pilot to get me there. So, we get up in the air thousands of feet high, and let's suppose I get a knife and cut up the seat in front of me. Now, where am I going? I'm still going to Chicago. Why? I repented of "not trusting the plane to take me" to "trusting the plane to take me."
The stewardess comes and says, "Mr. Hyles, what are you doing back here?" I say, "I'm just cutting up a little bit!"
Then suppose I reach up and cut off a lock of her hair. Now where am I going? I'm going to Chicago. You see, how I behave on the flight does not determine my destination.
So, the stewardess goes to the pilot and says, "Mr. Hyles, back in seat 14A is causing some disturbance. Look at my hair. Go back and look at the seat." The pilot leaves the plane in the hands of the co-pilot and comes back to seat 14A and says, "Mr. Hyles, what are you doing back here?" He looks at the seat I've cut up, he sees the lock of hair that I've cut off the stewardess, and I reach out and cut off his tie. Now where am I going? I'm going to Chicago. That was all determined when I got on the airplane. Now the truth is, I will not enjoy Chicago as much as I would have enjoyed it, nor will I go to the part of Chicago I'd planned to, but I'm still going to Chicago.
When we put our faith and trust in Christ, and repent of unbelief, and believe, God's Holy Spirit comes in to live and begins to straighten us out. He points out our sins, and as we yield to Him, He cleanses us from our sins. If we misbehave on the journey, we are still going to Heaven, because we go to Heaven by trusting Christ to take us there. The Holy Spirit Who came in to live begins to point out things that we should and should not do. If we do not obey Him, if we misbehave on the journey, we will still go to Heaven; we simply will not enjoy it as much as we would have had we behaved, just as I would not enjoy Chicago as much as I would have had I behaved.
I know a young man who recently got married. He got an apartment several months before he got married and lived there alone until the wedding took place. What a mess that apartment was! His pants were hung on the bedpost, his shoes were left on the floor beside the bed, and the bed was never made. Then one day he got married. Now how did he get married? He got married by turning from being single to being married. He repented of not being married and got married. When he took his new bride to the apartment, she was aghast, but immediately she began to straighten things up. She put his shoes in the closet, took his shirt off the chair, removed his clothes off the bedpost, and made a lovely little apartment out of the mess that he had made. Now he was not married because he cleaned up his apartment; he was married because he
repented of that thing that kept him from being married. He repeated the vows and accepted her as his wife. It was then that she came in; it was then that his apartment began to get clean!
Practically every false doctrine comes from getting things out of order. God's divine order is salvation, then change; not change and then salvation! If one has to be changed to be saved, that's salvation by works. It is also salvation by the flesh. The truth is, one is cleansed from the sins of the flesh just as he is saved; by yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting Him do His work.
2. You can repent of something other than sin. Matthew 7:3, "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders." Notice that Judas repented. Now what does it mean? It means he repented about keeping the money. He had sold our Saviour for thirty pieces of silver; he changed his mind and took the silver back. A change of mind and change of direction took place, but it had nothing to do with salvation. He had made a bad deal; he regretted he had made that bad deal, and he tried to correct it.
Everybody who lives in sin eventually repents, but they do not repent of unbelief. They change their mind about sin. No one lives in sin without realizing later that it did not bring the joy, happiness, peace and contentment that it claimed to bring. I talk to people every week who are tired of their sins, unhappy in their sinful life or living a miserable, wretched life because of the results of sin. What have they done? They have changed their mind about sin, and in some cases, they even quit their sin - at least that sin which was most predominant in their lives. You can repent of sin without repenting of unbelief. Such was the case with Judas. No doubt he repented that he had done wrong. He certainly repented of the bad deal he had made. He turned around, changed his mind and brought the money back, but he did not repent of that thing from which he must repent in order to be saved, and that is unbelief.
3. God repents. Notice Genesis 6:6, "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." Bear in mind, the word "repent" means "change of mind." God made man and wished He hadn't. He was grieved because of what man had done, and He repented that He had made man. This does not mean that God repented from sin, because God could not sin; He simply changed His mind, which He does often. Basically, that is what answered prayer is much of the time.
Now notice I Samuel 15:35, "And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel." God had made Saul king over Israel. The truth is that God did not want to do so, but Israel clamored for a king. Saul was chosen to be that king, but it then did not turn out as it should have. So, in this verse it simply says that God repented that He had made Saul king. He changed His mind.
What I'm saying is, there is repentance other than repentance from sin. A lady can change her mind about the kind of perfume she wears. A man can change his mind about the kind of food he eats or the kind of clothes he wears. He can change his direction concerning his manners. You can repent from discourtesy to courtesy. You can repent from stubbornness to leniency. You can repent from impatience to patience, but those things don't save. Repenting from the thing that makes you lost is the thing that makes you saved, and that is, repenting of your unbelief.
Now notice Exodus 32:9-14, "And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and thy shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."
Let me paraphrase the story. God said to Moses, "I'm sick and tired of the people and their rebellion. Get out of the way so I can consume them." Moses came to God and said, "Lord, don't do that. You're the One Who brought the people out of the land of Egypt, and if You consume them, the heathen people are going to criticize You. Not only that! You promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that you would multiply their seed and that You would give them the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession." Moses pleaded his case before God, reminding God what God had promised. Then verse 14 simply says, "The LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." The word "evil" here means something that would cause them pain; it's not talking about sin. God decided not to hurt them after all. He decided not to consume them after all. He changed His mind, but He did not change His mind concerning a sin, because God cannot sin.
Now turn to Jonah 3:9, 10, "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
God was going to punish Nineveh. Jonah had preached in Nineveh and had warned the people that destruction was coming. The people believed God, turned from their unbelief to belief, and God changed His mind about punishing the people. In verse 10 the Bible says, "And God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
Again, God simply changed His mind and changed His direction. He was going to punish; they believed; He decided not to punish. He changed from the direction of punishing to the direction of not punishing. This is repentance, but not repentance from sin, because God cannot sin.
Look at Amos 7:3, "The Lord repented for this: It shall not be, saith the Lord."
Amos 7:6, "The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord God."
So, repentance does not always deal with salvation and sin; it is simply a change of direction or a change of mind.
4. Now we consider repentance and salvation. Look at Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
Peter is preaching here. He tells the people to repent and be converted. Now we have to go back to what saves. John 3:14-16, 18, 36, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Acts 16:31, "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
So these people had to repent from not believing and believe in order that they might be converted. They had to change directions, change their minds.
Let me say again that I do not believe for a second that Christian people should live like the Devil. No preacher preaches separation more than I do. I simply believe that that separation is a work of the Holy Spirit just like regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit, and it starts after one has repented from that which makes him lost, and that is unbelief. When this is done, he believes, he is saved. Then the Holy Spirit comes in and begins to tell the Christian what sins from which he should repent. The man changed his mind about unbelief. The Holy Spirit directed him there. Now the Holy Spirit comes in to live and begins to change his mind about other things.
Now look at Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Peter is saying, "Change your mind and be baptized." Now, about what did they change their minds? This is answered in verse 41. Look at what they did in response. They gladly received His Word, and then they were baptized. So what was this repentance? It was repentance from not receiving His Word to receiving His Word. That's all Peter was saying. He was saying, "Change your mind about receiving the Word," which states that you must believe and repent from unbelief in order to be saved.
Now turn to Acts 17:30, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent." Notice God commandeth all men every where to repent. Repent from what? Repent from the thing that keeps them lost, and that's unbelief. What corrects this? Look at Acts 17:34, "Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Dammaris, and others with them." Notice it said, "certain men believed." So, when he said, "repent," he was saying "repent from unbelief and believe," because just as in Acts 2:38 and 41 a command was given to repent, and the believing was the obedience to that command. They changed their mind about belief. They decided to believe instead of not believe.
Now look at Mark l:15, "And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Jesus Himself is saying repent, and notice immediately He says, "repent, and believe." What He was saying is, "Quit unbelieving, and believe. Quit not believing, and believe." Again, I'm not saying a Christian should live like the Devil, but I am saying that changing your life does not save you. That's salvation by works. Faith is what saves you. You turn from unbelief to belief; from no faith to faith, and then repentance from sins begins, because He Who convicted you from the sin of unbelief to believing now lives in you. How easy it is now for Him to convict you day by day of other things from which you can repent and about which you can change your mind.
5. Repentance from sin is directed to God's people.
Revelation 2:5, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Here is a case of a church that was a good church. It was a church that worked. It worked hard. It hated sin. It was doctrinally sound. Revelation 2:2, "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." It was a patient church. It was a church that believed in the name of Jesus and did not faint in their standing for that. Revelation 2:3, "And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." However, it was a church that had left its first love. It does not say that that church lost its first love, but they left their first love. When you lose something, you don't know where it is. When you leave something, you know where to find it. It does not say that this church did not love any more. The truth
is they did love. Love is what made them faithful, what made them work, what made them have patience, what made them hate sin, what made them stand for the name of Jesus, what made them hate false doctrine. This was a church of people who loved God, but they had left their first love - that first sweet love - maybe more shallow than the love they had then.
It does not say that they loved Him less. The truth is they probably loved Him more, but God is saying, "I want both. I want the deep, mature love that you have now and the sweet expressive love that you used to have.
The only sin this church had committed was the sin of leaving their first love -that "Amen!" love, that "Hallelujah!" love, that "Glory to God!" love, that sweet, expressive love. Nevertheless, they sinned, and God told them to repent. Repent from what? Repent from drinking? No. Repent from adultery? No. This is not the subject here. It's repenting from not loving Christ with the first love.
This same type repentance was commanded to the church in Pergamos. Revelation 2:16, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and willfight against them with the sword of my mouth." The same thing was said to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:21, 22, "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." The church in Sardis was told likewise to repent in Revelation 3:3, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." The church at Laodicea received the same command in Revelation 3:19, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
So you can see that God tells individuals to repent; He also tells groups to repent. He tells nations to repent. Time and time again He called Israel to repentance.
Now let us review, as follows:
1. God says to the unsaved, "Repent of your unbelief."
It's very interesting that in I John the word "repentance" is never mentioned, and yet the purpose of I John was to give people the assurance of salvation. I John 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." Of course, repentance is certainly implied throughout the entire book, because the book tells us that what saves is believing on Christ (or relying on Him) to save, which, of course, implies that that person must repent of what makes him lost, which is unbelief.
2. God says to the saved people, "Repent of sin." This is done by the Holy Spirit as He comes in to live to remind us to take the clothes off the bedpost, the shirt off the chair, put the shoes into the closet, etc.
3. If a person must repent of his sins to be saved, of what sins must he repent? Can he repent of all of them? Isn't that sinless perfection or holiness? Isn't that salvation by works? Of what sin must one repent? He must repent of the sin that makes him lost, and that's the sin of unbelief.
4. If turning from sins would get you saved, then turning back to sins would get you lost. In Acts 16:30 the very simple question is asked, "What must I do to be saved?" This is the one time in the Bible where this question is asked. Now the answer to this question must be what saves a person. Acts 16:31, "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." There's the answer-belief. There is nothing about repentance here, except, yes, there is something about repentance, because you can't believe without repenting from unbelief.
5. If a person has to clean up his own life before he gets saved, we are back to Arminianism or salvation by works.
6. We cannot do what the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy
Spirit first convicts us of our sin of unbelief to bring us to Christ. Once He brings us to Christ, He comes in us to live. Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spint of Christ, he is none of his." I Corinthians 6:19, 20, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Then when the Holy Spirit is in us, He begins to convict us of things in our lives that should be changed. Then the Christian life becomes a constant repenting until we wake in the likeness of Christ.
False Bibles -
An Enemy of Soul Winning
In order to live as a child of God, I must have a perfect Bible. Matthew 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Notice the words, "every word."
If I have my prayers answered, I must have a perfect Bible. John 15:7, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." That means that somewhere in the world, there has to be a perfect Bible.
God has told us that His words are pure. Psalm 12:6, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in afurnace of earth, punfied seven times."
God has told us that these pure words would be preserved forever. Psalm 12:7, "Thou shalt keep them, 0 LORD, thou shalt preserve them for this generation forever." Since today is a part of forever, somewhere in the world there must be pure words of God. Hence, it does not satisfy me for someone to say that only in the original do we have the pure words of God. Since there are no original manuscripts today, or for that matter, there are no manuscripts even near the original manuscripts as far as time is concerned, then what these people are saying is that we do not have anywhere today any book that contains the pure words of God. Yet, I am commanded to preach the Word.
II Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
Now since the words of God are pure, and since all of the so-called Bibles do not have the same words, only one can be the real Bible that contains the very words of God, the pure words of God, and the preserved words of God. The purpose of this chapter is not to enter into a discussion about the Textus Receptus or Westcott-Hort; it is simply to say that if God commanded me to preach His Word, He would have to give me His Word to preach, and certainly His Word is pure, because the words of God are pure according to the aforementioned Scriptures and will be preserved forever. This preacher believes that those preserved words are in the Bible that I hold in my right hand at this very moment-the King James Bible!
I have more respect for the person who says that one of the false Bibles contains the very words of God than for a person who says only the original contains the very words of God. At least he believes, though wrongly, that we still have the words of God which are pure. For many, many reasons I believe that the King James Bible has been preserved in the English language word-for-word. I have to believe that. I must have the words of God, if I live, if I preach and if I get my prayers answered.
1. There are some things that are incorruptible. The word "incorruptible" means "perfect," "cannot change," "cannot be improved." If you change something, it must go to perfection or from perfection, so if something can be changed, it must have been imperfect and been made perfect, or it must have been perfect and made imperfect. Let us notice some things that are incorruptible.
(1) God. Romans 1:23, "And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and foutfooted beasts, and creeping things." This means God is perfect. He cannot be improved; He cannot change. He cannot be taken from imperfection to perfection or from perfection to imperfection.
(2) Our future crown. I Corinthians 9:25, "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." Once the crown is received, it cannot be improved; it cannot change. It will be perfect.
(3) Our glorified bodies. I Corinthians 15:52, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." I John 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Notice that our glorified body will be like His, and it will be incorruptible. His glorified body is incorruptible. You cannot improve it; you cannot change it. Then, my glorified body will be incorruptible. It cannot be improved; it cannot be changed.
(4) Our inheritance. I Peter 1:4, "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." Our inheritance will be perfect. It cannot be improved; it cannot be changed.
(5) The Word of God. I Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Luke 8:11, "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." You will notice the seed from which we are born again is incorruptible. It is the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. Consequently, you cannot improve it; you cannot change it. If you do, you must go from imperfection or to imperfection. Notice in
I Peter 1:23 it is called "incorruptible." Just as God is incorruptible, just as our crown is incorruptible, just as our glorified body will be incorruptible, just as Jesus' body is incorruptible, just as our inheritance is incorruptible; likewise, the Word of God is incorruptible.
Notice in Psalm 126:6, it is "precious seed." This implies that there is some seed which is not precious. Luke 8:11 teaches us that this seed is the Word of God. It is perfect; it cannot be changed; it cannot be improved.
2. The words of God are the genes of regeneration. Titus 3:5, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Actually the word "regeneration" means "to be re-gened." Just as the genes of my parents brought my old nature into existence, even so the genes of God brought my new nature into existence. Your old nature is sinful because there was sin in the genes, but the genes of the Word of God are incorruptible, meaning that which is born of God; that is, the new nature, cannot sin.
Now if the very words of God must be pure, and if in fact the King James Bible contains the preserved words of God, then any other words are not the words of God. This means that the Revised Version is not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. This means that the Good News for Modern Man is not precious seed, because it is not incorruptible. This means that the Living Bible is not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. This means that the Reader's Digest Bible is not precious seed, because it is not incorruptible. This means that the New King James Bible is not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. This means that the New Scofield Bible is not precious seed, because it is not incorruptible. This means that the New International Version (NIV) is not precious seed, and it is not incorruptible. This means that the American Standard Version is not precious seed because it is not incorruptible. If the versions do not agree, then all of them cannot be the very words of God that have been preserved for us.
3. The genes of the new birth must be incorruptible. I Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." These words were penned in the first century, but it says that the incorruptible seed "liveth and abideth for ever." Since today is a part of "for ever," we must have the incorruptible seed in order to be re-gened, or regenerated, or born again.
4. Suppose corruptible seed is used. Can a person then be born again from it? You answer that question. According to I Peter 1:23 we read, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed...." Then, if corruptible seed is used, one cannot be born again. I have a conviction as deep as my soul that every English-speaking person who has ever been born again was born of incorruptible seed; that is, the King James Bible. Does that mean that if someone goes soul winning and takes a false Bible that the person who receives Christ is not saved? I believe with all of my soul that the incorruptible seed must have been used somewhere in that person's life. If all a person has ever read is the Revised Standard Version, he cannot be born again, because corruptible seed is used, and I Peter 1:23 is very plain to tell us that a person cannot be born again of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible seed, and it explains that that incorruptible seed is the Word of God, and it explains that it liveth and abideth forever.
This is also borne out in Psalm 19:7, "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple." Notice the words, "the law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul." It is the law of the Lord that converts. It is the Word of God that regenerates. The Word is the seed, and the seed must be incorruptible.
7. The perfect Word of God must be used if a person grows in grace. 1 Peter 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." Notice that it is the "sincere" Word of God by which we grow in grace. So, to grow in grace, we must have the sincere (pure) Word of God.
This same thing is taught in Deuteronomy 4:10, 36, "Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire."
Notice the words of God are what teach us, and from the words of God we are to be instructed. If they are in fact words of God, they must be pure, because a pure God could not give impure words, and an incorruptible God could not give corruptible words.
8. These words of God are perfect. There are several things in the Bible that are called perfect.
(1) His work is perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4, "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."
(2) His way is perfect. Psalm 18:30, "As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him."
(3) The Heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
(4) The glorified body will be perfect. I Corinthians 13:10, "But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(5) The law of the Lord is perfect. Psalm 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." So we must have an incorruptible, perfect Word of God. To say that this could be found only in the original manuscripts is to say we have no words of God today that are perfect, which means we have no perfect Book to preach, we have no perfect Book to read, we have no perfect Book by which to grow, and we have no perfect Seed by which we can be born again or re-gened or regenerated.
9. There are several ways that the words of God are made into impure words by translators and theologians (selfstyled).
(1) They add to the Word of God. Proverbs 30:5, 6, "Every word of God is pure; he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Notice several things in these verses. First, every word of God is pure. Psalm 119:140, "Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it." Psalm 12:6, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Psalm 19:8, "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." Second, in Proverbs 30:6, we are told not to add to these words. Third, in verse 6 the Bible says that He reproves those who do add to His words.
Then in verse 6 also, the Bible says that those who do add to His words are liars.
Now notice Deuteronomy 4:2a, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you...." We are commanded not to add to His Word.
(2) They take away from the words of God.
Deuteronomy 4:2, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." God plainly commands that we not diminish His Word.
Now notice Revelation 22:19, "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" A stern rebuke and warning is given to anyone who takes away from the words of God. This means that God's judgment will rest upon those who try to give us a condensed Bible.
(3) They will try to change the Word of God. Jeremiah 26:2, "Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word." Here we have a command not to diminish one word. It is not talking here necessarily about taking words away but changing a word or diminishing a word. Let the translators of the many versions take heed and take warning.
In conclusion, one may ask, "What does this have to do with soul winning?" Beloved, it has everything to do with soul winning. If the words of God are the incorruptible seed, and if seed must be incorruptible, if someone is born again, then the soul winner must have a perfect Bible. Thank God, we do!
Church Leaders (Nobles)
Not Soul Winners -
An Enemy of Soul Winning
Nehemiah 3:1-5, "Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests, and they builded the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up the doors of it; even unto the tower of Meah they sanctified it, unto the tower of Hananeel. And next unto him builded the men of Jericho. And next to them builded Zaccur the son of Imri. But the fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build, who also laid the beams thereof, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof And next unto them repaired Meremoth the son of Urijah, the son of Koz. And next unto them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabeel. And next unto them repaired Zadok the son of Baana. And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord."
My ministry has spanned two generations. I have preached in the great churches of both generations. I have preached in the great fundamental colleges and Bible institutes of both generations. I have watched the deterioration of churches and colleges and Bible institutes. I have wondered what caused it. I have studied the cause, and in this chapter I present at least one thing that has aided the deterioration of our churches and schools.
When I became Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Hammond over 33 years ago, I inherited an unusual situation for an old-fashioned, hellfire-and-brimstone preacher such as I. I inherited a church with 22 committees. It seemed to take five people seven days to put flowers on the communion table, and it seemed to take seven people seven days to plan the music for Sunday.
I inherited a church where my predecessor preached in formal attire with striped pants and a scissor-tail coat. The church would not allow the piano to be played on Sunday morning. They allowed only a pipe organ for accompaniment. They would not allow a congregational song leader on Sunday morning. Sunday morning was the formal worship service. Sunday night was an informal service, attended by a handful.
When I went to the First Baptist Church as Pastor, my Associate Pastor, now Evangelist Jim Lyons, went with me. Shortly after we arrived, Brother Lyons went to his office on Sunday morning to find a picture taken from his wall. This picture was one of his wife and children. A note was placed beside the picture from one of the trustees saying that he could not hang a picture on his wall without permission from the Board of Trustees.
In the church there was a constitution committee. Every adult Sunday school class was required to have a constitution. Each constitution was submitted to the constitution committee for approval.
Shortly after I arrived we had a missions conference. Dr. John R. Rice and Dr. Walter Wilson were scheduled to preach. The missions committee came to me and said, "You can't have the missions conference without permission from the missions committee." (They soon found out that they were wrong on this!)
At the first service of the missions conference we took an offering, whereupon I was advised by the finance committee that I could not take an offering without permission form the finance committee. (They soon found out that I could take an offering without permission from the finance committee!)
It wasn't long until we had a deacons' meeting, whereupon the deacon chairman asked, "Pastor, do you have any speaking engagements that you want us to approve? The deacons must vote to approve where you speak." (They soon found out that this would not work either!)
Soon the deacon chairman said, "We would like to have a list of all the organizations where you serve as a board member so we can approve them." (Of course, I would not submit to this either.)
There are many other things that would simply enlarge upon the situation that I inherited which are unnecessary to be mentioned. What I'm saying is that this church, at that time a member of the American Baptist Convention, had become what so many other churches are now becoming. Now this wasn't the way the church was first organized. Nobody starts a new church with this kind of super-organization and unnecessary baggage. What caused this deterioration? What is causing a similar deterioration in many of our churches today? Such deterioration has brought formal worship services, a paralyzed pulpit, weak pastoral leadership, an over abundance of unnecessary committees and a de-emphasis on soul winning.
When a church is started, it is an exciting time. Especially is this true of an independent, fundamental Baptist church. These churches are started on street corners, in vacant lots, in storefront buildings, in basements, in tents and in many other places. When a church is started, there is a fervor of soul winning; people are getting saved. No one ever thinks about a music committee, educational committee, a missions committee, a flower committee or a finance committee! They are simply interested in getting people saved and down the aisle and building an old-fashioned, New Testament Baptist church. Notice the step-by-step deterioration of a convert in a young church.
1. The period of spiritual infancy. During this time there is usually a period of adjustment while learning the songs, some Bible, and the Christian vocabulary and manner of life.
2. The period of enthusiastic work at the church. The people become excited about the work. Though awkward, they attempt to win souls; they are zealous. This period continues for some time.
3. The period when the work becomes a ritual. After a while, some get adjusted to the work. They keep on teaching a class but are not too excited about it. They keep on working on the buses but have lost much of their enthusiasm. However, during this time, they become known in the church. They come to a place of great respect. Perhaps at one time they had the biggest bus route or fastest-growing Sunday school class. This made them highly visible in the church. Everybody knows them, and they are becoming, to an extent, church leaders.
4. The period of becoming noblemen. Now one is a deacon, a trustee, church clerk or church treasurer. He can be called a "nobleman" in the church. Perhaps he is Sunday school superintendent or treasurer. Then he becomes so busy in the organization and business of the church and in his place of leadership that his Sunday school class is neglected. His bus route is low on his list of priorities, and his soul winning has diminished. After a while, he quits his soul winning, resigns his bus route, and makes only a token effort in his Sunday school class. He has too much to do as a deacon or a trustee or as a church officer, until finally he resigns his Sunday school class.
While he does this, there is another group of people who have not been saved for long. They are building the church while he is running the church. The new, zealous Christians are
doing the work, so we have a cast system that has developed. The older, seasoned Christian has traded the building of the church for the running of the church. The younger, less-experienced Christian is building the church. This will eventually lead to its destruction. One group builds the church and another group runs the church; the commoner does the work while "their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord."
Every deacon ought to be a soul winner. Everyone who sings a special ought to be a soul winner. Every church officer should be a soul winner. The same people who lead in the church should build the church. There are hundreds of churches in America who have a group of nobles whom the people respect and follow while a bunch of commoners are doing the work! After a while, the church is controlled by the non-builders, and those who are building the church have no part in the running of the church. The builders become second-class citizens. No bus worker or soul winner is a second-class citizen! There should be no division between the work of the church. Every person should be a soul winner. No one has a right to lead the church who is not taking part in building the church, winning folks to Christ, building bus routes and building Sunday school classes.
Sometimes the nobles even get involved in some other project outside the church -perhaps some interdenominational organization which is a parasite off the New Testament churches. The greatest child evangelism in the world should be in the local church. The greatest youth for Christ program should be in the local church. All across this nation there are men who once built the church who have become nobles and stopped doing what they once did in soul winning, Sunday school building, passing out tracts, street preaching, etc. They have become nobles who run the church while another group builds the church.
The same thing happens in colleges. While in college, the student is a soul winner. He brings folks down the aisles, he passes out tracts, he witnesses on the street corner. He may even preach on the streets. Perhaps he builds a bus route. When he graduates, he has impressed the administration, and he is hired on the faculty. Far too many times, he thinks he no longer has to be a soul winner. He has graduated from the production end. He is now on the faculty. He is now a nobleman. Certainly you wouldn't expect a nobleman to do the work of soul winning! So, the result in many colleges, seminaries and Bible institutes is that the students do the work and the noblemen teach the classes. This, of course, will lead to the spiritual destruction of a college. When the students obey the Great Commission, and the administration and faculty do not, the wrong people are doing the teaching!
This same thing happens in our day schools. Many of our Christian high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools literally ignore the local church. Every teacher in every Christian school in America should be actively involved in the local church, and more than that, each one of them should be involved in the production part of the local church. 'Tis sad but true, many Christian school teachers feel they are doing their job for God in the school and that their work for God ends there. Nothing is farther from the truth! The church is many times more important than the school, and no one is qualified or deserving to teach in a Christian school unless he is doing the work of producing, soul winning, church building in the local church.
Once again, we have arrived at the place where we do not think the nobles have to put their necks to the work of the Lord. The faculty is supposed to win souls just like the students. The administration is supposed to win souls just like the faculty and students. The staff is supposed to win souls just like the laymen. The deacons are supposed to win souls just like the custodian. The Ph.D. is supposed to win souls just like the illiterate. The old folks are supposed to win souls just like the young people. Nobody has a right to be a nobleman in a church unless he is participating in the carrying out and obeying of the Great Commission. Now how can we avoid this dreadful situation of the nobles who put not their necks to the work of the Lord?
1. The noble should keep working. This should be kept before the church constantly. I preached this sermon vigorously at First Baptist Church of Hammond, and the statements that have been made in this chapter have been made many times from my pulpit. No one has a right to be a deacon at First Baptist Church who is not helping to build the church and win souls to Christ. No one has a right to teach at Hyles-Anderson College who is not active in the soul-winning program. No one has a right to teach or be on the administration of our Christian schools unless he is winning folks to Christ, building bus routes, passing out tracts, witnessing on the street corner. Let the most zealous people in the church be the noblemen. Let the greatest soul winners in the church be the noblemen. Let the bus captains be the noblemen. The simple truth is, in the sight of God, these who are obeying the Great Commission are the noblemen!
Some nobleman is reading this chapter. You know who you are. There was a day when you were active in production. There was a day when you built a great Sunday school class. There was a day when you went soul winning. There was a day when you built a bus route. There was a day when you were bringing folks down the aisle receiving Christ as Saviour, but, you have become a big shot, affluent and "high brow." You have no right to remain a nobleman unless you remain in the ministry of obeying the Great Commission!
Our churches are filled with committee members who feel that is their job as a member of the church. We are incumbered by unnecessary, superfluous committees such as flower committees, Christian education committees, pulpit committees, music committees, youth committees, library committees, literature committees, etc. who do nothing to obey the Great Commission and are using these committees as shields behind which to hide, deceiving others and trying to deceive themselves into believing they can totally disobey and disregard
the Great Commission! Because they put petunias on the communion table once a week; or because they belong to the missions committee, the finance committee, the budget committee, the roof committee, the ceiling committee, the wall committee, the floor committee, the picture committee, the painting committee, the mashed potatoes committee, the "bother the preacher" committee, the "run the pulpit" committee or the "pester the pastor" committee, they think they are immune from obeying the Great Commission!
God pity these churches that are organized for everything but soul winning. Why not organize a tract committee, a jail-preaching committee, a street-preaching committee, bus committee, soul-winning committee, rescue mission committee, and obey the Great Commission instead of having a group of professors in some college who have never built a church, never had an altar call, never seen a mourner's bench, never preached a tent revival, never felt the breath of the Holy Ghost upon their lives but sit in their halls of ivy behind the shields of their desks training our young people and killing our churches as they fill our pulpits with their own clones!
2. Make the builders the most famous. This is why we at Hyles-Anderson College have no inter-collegiate athletics. The most popular person on the campus of our college is not the fellow who puts the ball through the hoop the most times. The most popular person on the campus of Hyles-Anderson College is not the fellow who makes the touchdown runs. The most popular fellow in Hyles-Anderson College is the one who has the biggest bus route, the one who wins the most people to Christ.
Let us make the soul winners the famous people in the church. Instead of boasting about "Mr. Big Bucks" because he gives a big offering, brag on the fellow who has the biggest bus route. So many of our Christian colleges have gotten to the place where we recruit athletes and give athletic scholarships and music scholarships, speech scholarships. Brother, why don't we give soul-winning scholarships and bus route scholarships and magnify those who do what God says to do!
3. Do not put the church or the school in the hands of the non-working nobles or intellectuals. Do you know what's happening to our schools? The churches are building schools that are not like the church! Our people go to church on Sunday and hear one kind of music and then go to school on Monday and hear another kind of music. Praise God, at Hyles-Anderson College, if we have a piano concert, we don't have a great deal of classical music. Let the high-brow schools do that. Let the old-fashioned, independent, fundamental schools use "Blessed Assurance," "At Calvary," "There's a New Name Written Down in Glory," "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood" and "Amazing Grace" at their piano recitals! Our churches are dying because noblemen have taken over the churches. Our schools are being destroyed because noblemen are taking over the schools. Church music is deteriorating because noblemen have taken over the church music and the training of our church musicians in our Christian colleges!
One of my deacons, who is a multi-millionaire, came to me one day and said, "Pastor, I'm resigning from the deacon board. I think you are the greatest preacher alive, but I do not agree with you on business. If I stay on the board, I'll get upset with you and leave the church. I don't want to do that. I want to come to this church. I want to hear you preach. I want to see people saved. I'm resigning the deacon board because I do not agree with you on business, and I do not want to cause you trouble." What he was saying was that he was afraid if he stayed on the deacon board he would become a nobleman and not keep on obeying the Great Commission. Praise God for a man like that!
All across America our churches are stocking deacon boards with the wealthy people and the businessmen, and the big shots are running the church while the soul winners are being run by the big shots. Now I'm not opposed to wealthy men being on the deacon board, but I think the deacon board and the
leadership of the church should be representative of the entire church. On our deacon board at First Baptist Church of Hammond we have professional men, we have businessmen, we have Ph.D.'s, but we also have men who are illiterate and can't write their names. We have deaf men on our deacon board because we have deaf men in our church. We have a blind man on our deacon board because we have blind men in our church. We have poor men on our deacon board because we have poor people in our church. We have businessmen on our deacon board because we have businessmen in our church, but because a man has money or formal training does not give him any more votes or influence than the fellow who can't write his own name.
When I came to the First Baptist Church of Hammond, one of the wealthiest men in town invited Mrs. Hyles and me to his house to eat. The food we ate was flown in from Europe. The house was a castle. The spoons and forks and knives were lined up like soldiers in pursuit. We sat down to eat, and in the midst of the meal, the wife of this wealthy man asked me if I were going to join the ministerial association. I tried to avoid the question, but she wouldn't let me. Finally, her wealthy husband said, "Pastor, answer my wife! Are you or are you not going to join the ministerial association?"
I put my silverware down, looked him in the eye and said, "Sir, you run a business in this town. If you ever need my advice about how to run your business, you ask me and I'll give it to you. I'm Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond. If I ever need your advice about whether I join a ministerial association or howl preach, I will ask you, but until I ask you, you keep your nose out of my business!"
God give us sense again. God give us some reasoning power again.
There is not a week passes but that I get a call from some pastor who is having trouble. As soon as he tells me he is having trouble, I can take it from there. Some influential people in the church want to run the pastor. Some fellow who is president of the corporation, president of the local civic club, chairman of the board, and whose wife presides at the local flower club, is so accustomed to running things, he wants to run the preacher. It's typical. It happens all the time, and the poor preacher who is faithful in his preaching the Gospel has his hands tied by some man who doesn't know any more about preaching than the preacher does about the man's business.
Sure, wealthy people in the church should be represented on the board. The middle-class people in the church should be represented on the board. The poor people in the church should be represented on the board. The highly, formally educated people should be represented on the board, and those who have little or no formal education should be represented on the board. No one class of people should be allowed to run a church, and, by the way, no one class of people is better than another class of people because of financial standing, prestige, political power or formal training!
I know a big church that was almost destroyed because when the pastor who had been there over 40 years resigned, the choosing of a new pastor was basically placed in the hands of seven well-to-do, wealthy men, and these men called a pastor that, in my opinion, practically destroyed the church. What a pity!
We have businessmen in our church; we have doctors in our church; we have lawyers in our church, but they sit side by side with everyone else. The poorest man in our church is as welcome as the richest, the least formally-trained person is as welcome as the most formally trained, the illiterate is as welcome as the Ph.D., and all are equally represented in places of leadership. The doctors, lawyers, the college-trained and the businessmen are humble, godly people who realize that whatever they have is by the grace of God, and they happily sit side by side with those who have less money, less formal training and less opportunity.
The vice president of a bank in downtown Hammond was on our deacon board. (Though he is now in Heaven, we remember him with gratitude.) One night I recommended something that he thought was unwise, but as a deacon he stood and said, "I'm the vice president of a bank, and what the Preacher suggested doesn't make sense to me, but I make a motion we do it because the Preacher wants to do it, and I think he knows best in this case." God pity the nobles who are trying to run their preachers, and God pity the preachers who let them do it.
When I first came to Hammond, the deacon chairman came to me and said, "Pastor, some of the deacons are concerned about your preaching. We want to have a meeting to discuss your preaching. Is that okay?" I said, "Why, of course it is." He said, "How about tomorrow night (Monday night) in the Frances Classroom?" I said, "That will be fine." He said, "Would 7:00 be all right?" I said, "Seven o'clock is fine." He said, "All right, then, we will have a meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 in the Frances Classroom to discuss your preaching." I said, "That's good." About 7:30 the next night he called me and said, "Where are you?" I said, "I'm at home. Where did you call?" He said, "I thought you said we could have a meeting in the Frances Classroom at 7:00 tonight to discuss your preaching." I said, "You can, but don't expect me to be there, because my preaching is none of your business." I told them they could have a meeting every Monday night at 7:00 in the Frances Classroom if they wanted to, but I was not going to be there.
Years ago at a deacons' meeting at First Baptist Church, a deacon was discussing a little problem that had arisen. He was a good man, and this meeting did not keep him from continuing to serve on the deacon board, but he mistakenly stood and said, "Pastor, if you hadn't said something in your sermons recently about a certain thing, we wouldn't have this problem." I left the front of the room, walked to the back row of the deacons where he was sitting, and in front of all the deacon board I said, "Sir, when we paint these walls, you get one vote. When we build a building, you get one vote. When we borrow money, you get one vote, but when I walk in the pulpit, you don't get a vote!"
I am not in any way trying to cast reflection on the highly trained or highly successful, but I like what the old fellow said when he said, "The only difference in the educated and uneducated is that they are ignorant on different subjects." I am not fighting for diminishing the importance of the educated and wealthy; I am for putting everybody on the same level.
In another generation, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes was moving his membership to a Baptist church in Washington, D.C. Numbers of people joined the church that Sunday. Charles Evans Hughes was on one end of the line, and a very, very poor person of another race was on the other end of the line. When the pastor read the names of those who had come for membership, he started with Charles Evans Hughes, whereupon Justice Hughes said, "Pastor, start at the other end of the line. The ground is level at the foot of the cross." He was right!
Several years ago a very wealthy couple visited First Baptist Church of Hammond. She was sitting there with her furs and diamonds, and he was sitting there with the best of apparel. Across the aisle from them was a little Mexican boy who had a hole in his pants. He reached down and with embarrassment put his hand over the hole in his pants. The very wealthy lady looked at her husband and with a tear in her eye said, "Honey, do you know what makes this church great?" He said, "What?" She replied, "That little Mexican boy over there covering up the hole in his pants is just as welcome here as we are." She was right. It could also be said that she was just as welcome as that little poor boy was. Praise God, the ground is level at the foot of the cross!
4. Nobles and common men should share the leading of the church. At this writing, we have seven doctors and three lawyers in our church. We have numbers of businessmen. I doubt if there is a church in America who has more college graduates than the First Baptist Church of Hammond. Praise God, I also doubt if there is a church in America that has as many poor little bus kids as the First Baptist Church of Hammond, and there is not a church that has as many Spanish-speaking people as we have in the First Baptist Church of Hammond, and there is not a church in America that has as many deaf people as we have in the First Baptist Church of Hammond, and there is not a church in America that has as many poor people as we have in the First Baptist Church of Hammond, but here is one church where the ground is level! No one is better than anybody else because of the house in which he lives, the car that he drives, the ring on his finger, the clothes on his back or the degrees hanging on the walls of his office. Together every class financially, every class educationally, every class socially should have representation in the leadership of the church; that is, if all are participating in the obeying of the Great Commission.
5. The pastor should preach these truths sternly and lovingly to his people. God has a way of protecting such a pastor. When I took my stand in the early days at Hammond, we lost over 400 people. Some people threatened to take the buildings away from us, but how God has blessed through these years! Put a guard around your church. Walk guard around it yourself. Watch for every little place that you can see a danger point. Keep the church in the hands of the soul winners, the street preachers, the bus captains. Don't even check to see what the balance is in their bank accounts. I have no doubt in my mind but that American Baptist Churches started their decline when they put the building of the church in the hands of the common people and the leadership of the church in the hands of the noblemen. The same could be said about thousands of Southern Baptist churches, Baptist Bible Fellowship churches, Southwide Baptist Fellowship churches and strictly independent churches.
Practically all of these churches were started by workers. That's why the churches grew, but over the passing of the years, the inevitable happened. Hard-working people become successful people. When they become successful, they often cease to become a part of those who build the churches.
Such was the case in our text. The people were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after the 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Nehemiah had returned to help with the rebuilding of this wall. People were working hard, but sad to say, "their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord." Let this not happen in your church and mine. Let us love everybody equally and give everybody equal opportunity! Do not look down on somebody because he is poor or because he is rich. Do not look down on somebody because he is unlearned or learned, educated or uneducated. Let the ground stay level at the foot of the cross!
Opposition to Pastoral
An Enemy of Soul Winning
One of the great battlegrounds in New Testament churches is that of pastoral leadership. It is the opinion of this preacher that far too many pastors have allowed their hands to be tied, and far too many people have tried to tie the pastor's hands. Now I do not think for a minute that the pastor should be a dictator. I simply think he should be a leader. For the next few pages, we will discuss the Scriptural position of the place of the pastor in the leadership of the church.
1. In business matters, the church should be a pure democracy. Of course, it would be unwise for the pastor to be allowed to borrow money on behalf of the church or to build a building without church approval. The business of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, is in the hands of the people, not the pastor.
I know a pastor who said to his people that he would leave if they did not build. I think this is poor leadership, and I also think it is unwise leadership. God may call the pastor to another church, or He may call him to Heaven, and the people would be saddled with a debt that he incurred. When it comes to the borrowing of money, the church is a democracy. When it comes to the church budget, the church is a democracy. When it comes to church business, the church is a democracy.
Just as ridiculous as the pastor being the business dictator of the church is the unscriptural practice that the deacons are supposed to be the business dictators of the church. There is no Scripture whatsoever to substantiate this. At the First Baptist Church of Hammond, the deacons are an advisory board. The pastor recommends the budget to the deacons; the deacons work on the budget and then present it to the church. The final authority is in the hands of the church. The pastor cannot spend a dime of the church budget on his own. The only money that he can disburse at his own discretion is money that is given him with that instruction. Quite often people give a check made out to the church and they say, "Pastor, use this in any ministry you feel wise." This is exactly what I do, but unless the money is designated for such, I have no power whatsoever to disburse the money, except as is dictated in the budget, which is approved by the church.
Let me also say that there is not one Scriptural reference of trustees or a board of trustees in the church. Philippians 1:1, "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." Here you have the simplicity of the organization of the New Testament church - pastor, deacons, people. At our church, we have five trustees elected from the deacon board. However, they do not form a board of trustees; they simply form the official signature of our church. So, when the church votes to take action in business matters and loan matters, the trustees sign the papers. There are hundreds of deacon boards in America and boards of trustees in America who rebel against pastoral dictatorship, and then in turn wrestle the power of business in the church for themselves, making the church a bureaucracy which is just as unscriptural as a dictatorship.
2. The spiritual program of the church should be under the leadership of the pastor, and the people should follow. If I were to lead the First Baptist Church into borrowing money that the church did not want to borrow, and God called me Home to Heaven, I would have done the church an injustice. However, if I lead the church to have a Bible conference, and I choose the speakers, which I would, this does not leave the church with any responsibilities in the case of my death.
When I became Pastor of First Baptist Church, there was an evangelism committee to try to tell me when to have evangelistic meetings. There was a missions committee to try to tell me when to have missions conferences. There was a finance committee to try to tell me when to take an offering. There was a pulpit committee to try to tell me whom to have preach when I was gone and to approve where I could preach. Of course, I could not live under this situation, and I would not, and I did not. If I'm not going to be the spiritual leader of the church, then I'll move on and get a soap box and a vacant lot and preach on a street corner somewhere.
A typical example of the average church battle concerning this subject is the story of Moses and Aaron.
1. While Moses was busy, he received a call from God.
Exodus 3:1, "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his fat her in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb." Notice that Moses was busy keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. He was seeking no place of leadership whatsoever. This is usually the way it is. God calls a man who is busy somewhere else. I know of no place in the Bible where God called someone who was seeking a position. He calls someone who is busy doing the job where he is. I have been pastoring for 45 years. I have never sought a church, nor have I ever wanted to leave a church where I was pastoring. I have tried to stay busy and work hard. I tell God my phone number and my address (He probably already knew it!) and tell Him to contact me when He wants me to move. Until then, I will not seek to move, nor will I desire to move.
I was busily serving as Pastor of Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. One day I received a letter from First Baptist Church of Hammond. I had never heard of the church, nor had the church, for that matter, ever heard of me. One of the deacons, Mr. George Huisenga, owned a little gift shop in downtown Hammond. He sold enough Christian books to receive a catalogue from Zondervan Publishers. Zondervan had published a little book for me, and that little book was advertised in the catalogue. In this advertisement were some statistics about the growth of the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. The little advertisement couldn't have been over 1 1/2" square. Mr. Huisenga saw it, tore it out of the catalogue, went to the pulpit committee, tossed it on the chairman's desk and said, "This is the fellow you ought to consider calling." Nobody had recommended me, I had not sought the position, and for that matter, I did not want the position. They sent me an application form. I replied that I was not interested.
They continued seeking me and pursuing me. Finally when I was speaking in the Chicago area, two members of the pulpit committee came to hear me speak. They took me out to eat and introduced me to the rest of the pulpit committee. I told the committee that I had no interest, that I would be flying back to Texas the next day, and that I did not want to leave my church in Garland, Texas. Mr. Huisenga looked at me and said, "Well, we did buy you a meal. Would you at least pray this prayer at least one time sometime soon: 'Dear God, do You want me to visit First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana? Amen.' - would you pray that prayer?" I said, "Yes, I'll do that."
I went back to Texas, and to be quite frank, I forgot the promise I made. Weeks passed. One night I was driving from Oklahoma City to Dallas. I left Oklahoma City after preaching in a Baptist church there and drove through the night to get home. In the wee hours of the morning, I came to the little town of Denton, Texas. Just before I got to that town, I remembered the promise I had made to Mr. Huisenga, and so I simply began to pray while driving, "Dear Lord, do You want me to visit Hammond, Indiana? Amen." Within five seconds after I prayed that prayer, I was stunned as I looked to the right of the highway and saw a neon sign that said three words: HAMMOND WELCOMES YOU. I could not believe it! I stopped the car, walked over and put my hand on the sign to be sure it wasn't a mirage. It was the Hammond Service Station in Denton, Texas, and painted on the sign were such things as "cheap gas," "mechanic on duty," etc., but there in neon it simply said, HAMMOND WELCOMES YOU. I was stunned. I trembled as I drove the rest of the way to my home in Garland, Texas. That was on a Wednesday.
After the service Wednesday night, I was to drive to Lake Louise, Tacoa, Georgia, to speak in a Sword of the Lord Conference. I asked my deacon chairman to drive with me so we could share the driving responsibilities, as I had not slept the night before, and I was afraid that two nights in a row driving all night would make me so sleepy I would be injured in an accident. I couldn't forget that sign the night before, so I thought I had better pray some. My deacon chairman drove from Dallas to Little Rock, and from Little Rock to Memphis, I drove.
As I was driving, I got to thinking about the sign I had seen the night before. It simply said in neon lights, HAMMOND WELCOMES YOU. I began to pray as I was driving between Little Rock and Memphis. Something like this was my prayer:
"Dear Lord, did You mean anything by that sign last night? Should I visit Hammond? Make it plain to me."
I fell asleep at the wheel while praying! When I woke up, I was just a few inches from the back of a big six-wheel truck. I jammed on the brakes, skidded the tires, burned some rubber and stopped, after barely tipping the truck in the back, doing no damage to the truck or my car. I was scared to death! I looked up! Would you like to know what was on the back of that truck? Two words-HAMMOND, INDIANA. I said, "Dear God, if You will get me to Tacoa Falls safely, and if that church ever calls me again, I'll go preach up there."
When I drove into the conference grounds at Tacoa Falls, Georgia, before I got out of the car, somebody came out of the office and said, "Is Dr. Jack Hyles here yet?" I said, "Yes, here I am." They said, "There is a call for you." I said, "It's from Hammond, Indiana, isn't it?" They said, "Yes. How did you know?" I said, "I saw some signs along the way!" I picked up the phone and told the caller that I would come to visit Hammond, Indiana.
What I am saying is that I had no desire to go anywhere. I was busy where I was. God literally had to grab me and shake me to get me to consider going to Hammond. Now I praise His name that He called me here to Hammond.
Exodus 3:2-4, "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I." Notice that Moses was surprised when God called him to a place of leadership, but notice that he did say, "Here am I."
Now look at Exodus 3:10, "Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt." God called this unsuspecting, unseeking man to lead His people out of Egypt. No real leader wants to be a leader. A man who wants to lead is not qualified to lead. In my opinion, that's what's wrong with our presidential system in America. The way we choose a president will never offer us a real leader. We choose from men who seek the job. We should seek the man who is qualified for the job. Notice
Exodus 3:11, "And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" Especially notice the words, "Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh?" Moses did not feel worthy to do the job. Ah, it sounds to me like this fellow is going to be a leader.
Moses even argued with God somewhat in Exodus 4:1, "And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee." He had some reluctance, feeling that he could not do the job, and God had to convince him that he would not have to do the job alone.
Now notice Exodus 4:10-12, "And Moses said unto the Lord, 0 my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but lam slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." Moses argued on the basis that he was not a good speaker. He was not eloquent; he was slow of speech. Maybe he had some impediment of speech.
What I'm saying here is that Moses did not seek the job, Moses did not want the job, Moses did not put himself up for the job, and at no place did he exalt himself.
Now notice that Aaron did not seek the job of the high priesthood. Exodus 40:1, 12-15, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying. And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priest hood throughout their generations." Aaron was God's choice. Aaron did not apply for the job of being the high priest. He did not seek it. He did not necessarily want it, but he was chosen by God.
So we have two men. One was the leader of Israel; another was the high priest of Israel. Both were chosen by God; neither seeking the job, or for that matter wanting the job, or for that matter feeling qualified for the job, but they were called of God.
2. People often challenge God's leaders. Numbers 16:1-4, "Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, even one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face." Let us notice several things about this rebellion of Korah.
(1) This is the same Korah that is mentioned in Jude 11. "Woe to them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." So, according to the Word of God, we know Korah made a serious mistake.
(2) He was of the family of Kohath, a son of Levi. Now the three sons of Levi were Kohath, Gershon and Merari. So we have these three families-the Kohathites, the Gershonites and the Merarites. Each was given a task to perform concerning the tabernacle. The Gershonites were responsible mainly for the tent of meeting; that is, the tabernacle itself. The Merarites were responsible for the boards and bars of the tabernacle. The Kohathites were responsible for the transporting of the furniture of the tabernacle. Ah, it's a wonderful thing to have a part in the work of God. It is also a wonderful thing to be satisfied with the part that God has given to you.
(3) There were others in the rebellion. Dathan and Abiram, men of the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, no doubt felt they should have been chosen to do the job that Moses and Aaron had been chosen to do.
(4) They rebelled against Moses. Numbers 16:12. Notice, there were 250 princes; that is, bosses, men of rank. Notice also they were famous in the congregation, men of renown, men who were accustomed to being in charge and well-known people.
This is the same old story. You would think that this was a Baptist church split. The Devil has no new methods. He operates the same way, and he has always operated the same way.
(5) They gathered themselves against Moses and Aaron. Notice in Numbers 16:3, "Ye take too much upon you." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Neither Moses nor Aaron took the job upon them. They did not want their jobs. They did not seek their jobs. It was God Who called them, just as God calls men today to pastor churches. Moses tried every way he could to avoid the job that God called him to do. He did not feel qualified; he did not want the position.
I know how he felt. I do not like to lead. I certainly do not like to be a boss. If I had my way, I would never boss anybody. Time and time again after I have had to be a boss or a strong leader, I've gone to my office and wept. Such is the case with any real man of God.
Now notice the words in Numbers 16:3c, "... wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?" This is the typical lie that rebels use. Moses did not lift up himself; Aaron did not lift up himself; God lifted them up! God called them!
Every organization must have a leader. A country must have a king or a president. A state must have a governor. A city must have a mayor. A team must have a coach. A school must
have a principal. A home must have a father. A church must have a pastor.
Now notice the words in verse 3, "seeing all the congregation are holy." Somehow these people could not accept the fact that what they were doing was holy. God had given the Kohathites the responsibility of transporting the furniture; He had given the Gershonites the responsibility of transporting the tent; He had given the Merarites the responsibility of transporting the boards and the bars, and bless your heart, that was as holy as the jobs that Moses and Aaron had.
There is no unholy job for God; every job is important. If God has given you the responsibility of pastoring a church, realize that it is holy and sacred, and give it your best. If God has given you the responsibility of being the church custodian, realize it is holy and of God, and give it your best. If God has given you the responsibility of being a church secretary, choir director, Sunday school teacher or deacon, you have been called of God just as much as the pastor has. Give it your best, but let each be satisfied with the will of God for his own life. There are no big shots or little shots in the New Testament church.
No real pastor wants to lead, but he has to; he has been called of God to do so. Every real God-called pastor would rather follow than lead, but somebody has to lead, and there is nobody to lead but human beings.
3. The first committee ever appointed made a tragic mistake! Deuteronomy 1:19-22, 26, "And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged. And ye came near unto me even one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God."
(1) The Israelites were at the door of the Promised Land. They came to Kadesh-barnea, and God told them that He had given them the land. In Deuteronomy 1 :20b, notice the words, "which the LORD our God doth give unto us." In verse 21, notice the words, "go up up andpossess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee." It was God's command for them to go possess the land.
(2) They wanted to appoint a committee. Look at verse 22. God had led the Israelites all the way from Egypt, as He led Moses, and Moses led them. God told Moses and Moses told the people concerning the passover. God told Moses, and Moses told the people concerning the crossing of the Red Sea. God told Moses, and Moses told the people concerning the journey across the wilderness. Then they came to the very door of the Promised Land - their goal. Again God led Moses, and Moses led the people. It was time to enter into the Promised Land. Couldn't they go in the same way they got to the door of the Promised Land? Yes, but, sad to say, the people wanted to appoint a committee!
Someone has said that a committee is a group of the unprepared who are unqualified to do the unnecessary and who read the minutes and waste the hours. Somebody else has said that a camel is a horse put together by a Baptist committee.
(3) The committee came back and recommended not to go. The Israelites took the advice of the committee and refused to go into the Promised Land. How tragic! For 40 years they then needlessly wandered in the wilderness all because they had changed their method of following the will of God as a people. Sure, God allowed them to have the committee, but that was not His first choice.
His first choice was for the people to follow Moses as Moses followed God.
Our churches are "committeed" to death!
4. God expects His people to follow His chosen pastors.
Hebrews 13:7, 'Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."
(1) Notice the word "remember." It means, "don't forget," "Keep this before you."
(2) Notice the word "rule." The word "rule" is the word "guide" or "lead."
(3) Notice the words, "who have spoken unto you the word of God." Here we have the spiritual leaders whom God chooses. They are our guides or leaders - again, not in matters of business that would cumber the church with a great debt, but in spiritual matters.
(4) Notice the words, "whose faith follow." Wow, what a statement!
Now look at Hebrews 13:17, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief for that is unprofitable for you." Here you have the same word "rule," and then you have the word "submit," which means "to yield." Then it tells us to whom we are to yield - to those who watch over our souls. Then we are reminded that they must give an account to God for what they do. We are not talking here about moral matters. We are not talking here about business matters; we are talking about spiritual leadership.
Now when does this unscriptural practice of a muzzled pastor start? So often it starts with the choosing of a new pastor. A man of God serves faithfully for many years. His people follow him; they trust him; they love him. He leads them well, and they follow well, and there is a wonderful relationship.
Then, the pastor resigns or passes away. The people must choose another man of God.
Between pastors, people who are capable have to assume some of the responsibilities that the pastor had fulfilled. Oftentimes, these are places of leadership. These men who are capable of leadership fulfill these responsibilities, and, of course, they are often men of renown, famous men in the congregation, as we noticed in Numbers 16:1. These men enjoy this leadership, but now it's time to call a new pastor. The church calls a new pastor, and the pastor assumes the responsibilities Now these men who have led in the interim period have enjoyed their place of leadership and hate to relinquish it to the pastor.
Then the people do not know the new pastor and do not trust him as much as they did the old pastor. This is normal and a natural thing. However, the people are supposed to follow the new pastor, not because they know him well, but because he is God's man! Soon his hands are tied. He does not have the liberty the other pastor had. A few men in the congregation who are famous and well-known do not want to relinquish the powers that they had to assume during the interim period.
In conclusion, let it be said that this pastor does not enjoy leading, nor is he advocating men who want to usurp authority and power. He is simply saying that when God calls a man to a place, that man is usually busy somewhere else and does not seek the place. No pulpit committee or no church should seek a man who is seeking them. Let God lead the committee to the man, as was the case in the First Baptist Church of Hammond a third of a century ago, and let that man be fully persuaded in his own mind that he is the man, and let the church be fully persuaded. Then let that man lead with love and the people follow with love. Let the business of the church be a democracy, and let the spiritual program of the church be placed in the hands of God's chosen man. What a wonderful relationship can exist when God's people follow God's man and when God's man, not wanting to lead, accepts the call of God and does lead!
The Universal Church -
An Enemy of Soul Winning
(For a detailed study on the doctrine of the church, consult the author's book on this subject.)
I could not believe my ears! I was listening to a preacher on the radio. He announced that it was time to take communion. He suggested that each listener get a cracker or a piece of bread and some juice and sit beside the radio and take communion with his other listeners. He then said, "If you do not have any bread, a banana would be all right. If you don't have any juice, any kind of liquid, even a glass of water, will do as long as you do it in memory of the broken body and shed blood of Christ." What a tragedy! What a travesty! What a total lack of knowledge concerning the Lord's Supper being an ordinance of the New Testament church!
I was reading a national publication. It told of an international youth organization having communion at its annual convention. What a shame to miss totally the purpose of the Lord's Supper and bypass the institution to whom it was given!
Over and over again I hear and read the term, "electronic church." Of course, there is no such thing as the electronic church, but it is just as scriptural as the term "invisible church" or "universal church."
The word "church" in the New Testament is a "called out assembly," and it is to have pastors, deacons and members. This called-out assembly has been given a commission found in Matthew 28:19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to even creature."
The local church has been given two ordinances: baptism and the Lord's Supper. The church is the unit by which the work of God is carried on.
The following sentences are certainly an oversimplification and at best are a summary. The New Testament knows nothing about "a church" or "the church," except as it is given a location. All believers cannot and do not form a church because all believers have not yet become a called-out assembly. This chapter is being dictated on an airplane. I am flying from Chicago to Charlotte, North Carolina. It is Monday afternoon. Yesterday, a called-out assembly met in an auditorium on the corner of Oakley Street and Sibley Street in Hammond, Indiana. This called-out assembly is named the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. This is all that Jesus had in mind when He started the New Testament church, and it seems that for some time the Christian world used the term "church" only as it relates to a local, called-out assembly.
Shortly after the beginning of the fourth century, Emperor Constantine supposedly was converted. He had a desire for all to do likewise, and it has been recorded by some that he commanded baptism. From this endeavor came the Catholic denomination. It was named the "universal church," the name "Catholic" meaning "universal."
Here the battle started. We then had New Testament Baptist people (though often called by other names such as Anabaptists, etc.) believing in the Scriptural doctrine of the local, New Testament church, and we had the Catholic denomination advocating a universal church. Hence, the battle started concerning this doctrine, and it wages until this day. Historically, the Anabaptists and Catholics strongly differed on the doctrine of the church.
With the passing of the centuries came the Protestant Reformation from which came our Protestant denominations of today. Of course, the Reformation began as a battle between Martin Luther and the Catholic denomination over justification by faith; and though Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and other reformers are to be greatly admired, they, nevertheless, continued the Catholic originated doctrine of the universal church; that is, that all believers form the church. The term "invisible church" is often associated with this doctrine.
As far as this doctrine is concerned, the battle that once was Catholics versus Baptists now becomes Catholics plus Protestants versus Baptists.
With the passing of the centuries something happened that I often call the "second reformation." As the Protestant denominations became more liberal, especially on the doctrine of salvation, many churches and pastors and members became disenchanted with the mainline Protestant denominations. From this group came what we call "inter-denominationalists." Basically, they are fundamental Protestants, and much of their discontent with the mainline Protestant denominations was caused by the same thing that caused the first reformation - the doctrine of justification by faith. However, just as their forefathers protested on that doctrine, they did not protest on the doctrine of the church and continued teaching the doctrine of the universal or invisible church.
So the first battle concerning this doctrine was waged between the Catholics and the Baptists. Upon the first reformation, the Protestants joined in this malay, and at the second reformation the interdenominationalists were added to those advocating the universal or invisible church, making it now a battle between the Catholics, Protestants and interdenominationalists versus Baptists. Sad to say, because so many Baptist preachers have been trained in inter-denominational institutions, the doctrine of the universal or invisible church has infiltrated even Baptist movements and Baptist churches. The usually reliable Scofield Bible has added fuel to the flame until it has now become in many Baptist circles unpopular for one to advocate and believe the historic Baptist doctrine that Jesus started only the called-out assembly, or the local New Testament church, and that that is the only church in existence and will be until the rapture.
As we investigate this doctrine of the church, it must be remembered that we are always talking about a called-out assembly.
1. There are now New Testament churches. Much has been said about when New Testament churches started. The Scofield Bible erroneously teaches that the "church" was started at Pentecost. Of course, we can not accept the fact that there is such a thing as "the church." There are churches, and the first New Testament church was started during the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. Since it is a "called-out assembly," it appears that the first church was started in Matthew 10:1, "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." The word "called" here comes from the same root word from which the word "church" comes. Here Jesus called out the apostles. Matthew 10:2-4, "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him."
Now turn to I Corinthians 12:28, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues." Notice that in the church were first apostles. It was in Matthew 10 when Jesus called out the apostles. Though I would not make an issue of this, it seems plain to me that this was the beginning of the first called-out assembly or the first church. I would make an issue, however, that the church was not started on Pentecost, and that it was started sometime during the public ministry of Jesus.
Notice please Matthew 18:17, "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Here we have a mention of a local called-out assembly. Mr. Scofield in his Bible says that this is "discipline in the future church," but there is nothing that says, "tell it to the future church"; it simply says, "tell it to the church." The church was certainly in existence by Matthew 18:17.
Read Acts 2:41, 47, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Notice the words "added to." It is impossible to add to something that is not already in existence. It is obvious that these verses are talking about people being added to the local New Testament church assembly. Consequently, there must have been an assembly. You cannot add to something that is not already in existence. (Again, study my book, The Church for a more detailed explanation.)
2. Though the New Testament church was started during the earthly ministry of Jesus, there were such assemblies in the Old Testament. God never changes His philosophies. If Christians in the New Testament age need the fellowship of God's people and compose a unit for that fellowship, for the propagation of the Gospel, and for the edification of believers, then there would certainly be a need in every age for a similar assembly. Again, let it be stated that we are not talking about a New Testament church. However, wouldn't the Old Testament Christians need to get together? Wouldn't there be a need for edification, for Bible study?
Notice Acts 7:3 7, 38, "This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us." The Israelites were called "a church in the wilderness." Now this does not mean they were a New Testament church. It does mean that they were a called-out assembly. They had been in Egypt, through the passover lamb and the Red Sea miracle; they were called out of Egypt, and they assembled in the wilderness. So, this was a called-out assembly - not a New Testament church, but, nevertheless, God had called out His people and had them assembled. Again let me emphasize that God never changes His philosophies. If His people in one age need to assemble, His people in all ages need to assemble.
3. There will be a church in the air. Hebrews 12:23, "To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect." In conjunction with this, read I Thessalonians 4:14-1 8, ' 'For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
Here we have what is commonly called the rapture or the calling away or the calling out of God's people. This will take place at the first resurrection when all the saved people are called out of the world to an assembly in the air where we will enjoy the Marriage of the Lamb, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and the Judgment Seat of Christ. Then for the first time, all of God's people will be assembled. Because they will be called out, and because they will be assembled, then and only then will all Christians become a church, for then and only then will all Christians become a called-out assembly!
I make a big issue of this because of the error that many make of bypassing local congregations because they feel they belong to "the church" simply because they are saved. These are they who advocate the doctrine of the invisible church, such as all believers are called in the Scofield Bible.
The very nature of their work, however, contradicts their doctrinal position, for those who advocate the doctrine of the invisible church always go to the visible church when they need money, and, gullible as we are, we in the visible churches support our invisible church friends, as they bypass us but feed off of us!
It is also interesting to note that colleges and Bible institutes that teach the invisible church seem to get most of their students from the visible churches. Often, however, these same invisible church adherents neglect and sometimes ignore the local church. Mr. Scofield even calls the invisible church the "true church," which would imply to me that the local church is not the true church.
In one interdenominational institution that has many Baptist students, the students are not allowed to go to a church on Sunday morning. They have what they call the "campus church." (There are as many Scriptures for the electronic church as there are for the campus church!) It might be interesting to visit that campus on a Sunday evening and a Wednesday evening to see what emphasis it gives to the very institutions who have made it what it is. They are sending out preachers to pastor the very institutions that they neglect and overlook. One of its graduates told me recently that she attended that institution for four years and never one time went to a Baptist church.
4. There will be some kind of an "assembly" in the tribulation and in the millennium. God will not change His mind about the needs of His people. We are told that there will be multitudes of people saved in the tribulation period. It seems to me that these people would need more than ever a place of refuge, of strength, of edification, of encouragement, of Bible teaching, like a church. Though there will not be "New Testament churches," nevertheless, there will be assemblies of Christian people who will need such an institution.
Preachers often erroneously call this "the church age." It should be called the "New Testament church age." There is no doubt that the New Testament assembly (church) is a unique one, and there has never been nor ever will be one exactly like it. Bearing in mind that God does not change His philosophies, nor will the needs of Christian people change, there must be some unit of assembly for the Christians in the tribulation and in the millennium.
The Great Commission will likewise be given to these assemblies or, better still, it will apply to them. Matthew 28:19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Notice the words, "even unto the end of the world." When will the world end? Read Revelation 20:11, "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." Revelation 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." This is at the end of the millennium, after which we will abide in the New Jerusalem. Until that time, there will always be saved people who will live on earth, and an unchanging God will have some form of assembly for them, so it is interesting that the Great Commission is until the end of the world, which means that there will be soul winning in the tribulation and in the millennium, and there will be baptisms in the tribulation and in the millennium. These are church ordinances or assembly ordinances.
Now turn to Matthew 26:29, "But Isay unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." You will notice here that our Saviour promised us that He will one day take communion with us. So we see that communion will be given and taken during the millennium. Since this supper is a church ordinance (or an assembly ordinance), it leads us to believe that there will be some kind of an assembly of Christians until the end of the millennium.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that these assemblies will not be New Testament churches. New Testament churches were started by Jesus Himself probably in Matthew 10:1, and certainly during the public ministry of Jesus, and will end when all believers of this New Testament church age are raptured, thereby forming the church in the air.
During this New Testament church age, we are to be faithful in attending our churches just as a soldier is faithful and supportive of his own unit of battle. Suppose I meet a soldier on the street, and I ask him, "What battalion are you in?" and he replies, "Oh, I don't belong to a local battalion; I belong to the invisible army or the universal army. Occasionally I visit a local squad or platoon or company or battalion, and I think they are all right, but I belong to the great battalion composed of all soldiers everywhere." My dear reader, such soldiers would build an army that would never win a battle. There must be the individual fighting unit, and there must be leaders in that unit. So God has given us the individual fighting unit called the local church. Without it we will be as ineffective as an army would be without squads or companies or battalions; and the invisible, universal church is as unscriptural as the universal, invisible army is unlawful!
The Modern Tongues
An Enemy of Soul Winning
Matthew 28:19,20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, Jam with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Luke 24:47, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
John 20:21, "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
All of the aforementioned Scriptures deal with the cornmission that our Lord has given us to take the Gospel to the entire world and to every creature. Upon the resurrection of our Lord, the church in Jerusalem had a wonderful ingathering of souls. However, a problem arose. There were people there out of every nation under Heaven. Acts 2:5, 9, lO, 11a. "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians...."
Now, what could be done? People from all over the world were there in Jerusalem. Peter stood up to preach. The Gospel was being delivered, but the people could not understand what Peter was saying.
Suddenly, a miracle took place. God gave the ability to the soul winners there to speak in other languages. Acts 2:4, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." The word "tongues" here is the word "glossa," in the Greek, which means either the physical tongue or a language.
Now then, every man from all the countries heard the Word of God in his own language. Acts 2:6, 8, "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" It is very interesting here that the word "language" in verse 6 and the word "tongue" in verse 8 are used interchangeably. Then in verse 11, we have the word "tongues" mentioned again. "Cretes andArabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." This was given in order that people might be saved.
1. This wonderful miracle was perverted by some immature Christians. I Corinthians 3:1-4, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: or hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"
Paul wrote many letters as inspired by the Holy Spirit. He wrote to the churches in Corinth, Rome, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse and Thessalonica. The only church to which he mentioned tongues was the church at Corinth. These were the "tongue-talkers." Now let's see if they had something that the other churches did not have. Let's see if they were more spiritual than the other churches. Notice several things in the first four verses of I Corinthians 3.
(1) They were carnal, which means "fleshly." (Verse 1) It is obvious that they lived in the flesh. You will find this same thing in verse 4 when Paul asks the question, "Are ye not carnal?"
(2) They were babes in Christ. (Verse 1)
(3) They were not mature enough to eat spiritual meat. (Verse 2) He had to feed them with milk.
(4) They were a church tilled with envying, strife and division. (Verse 3) Notice, they are called carnal twice more.
(5) They walked as men. (Verses 3 and 4)
So here we have a church of fleshly people who are babes in Christ; who could not bear to eat spiritual meat, but had to be fed with milk; who were filled with envy, strife and divisions; and who were followers of men.
So this is the church that was filled with the tongue-talkers. Did they have something the other churches didn't have? They absolutely did! They had carnality, envying, strife, divisions and were spiritual babes. It doesn't sound like they had some kind of a second blessing or a sanctification that others didn't have. Certainly they were not to be envied, but rather to be pitied.
2. This gift of speaking in other languages in order for people to be saved who could not understand the language commonly used was the least important of all the spiritual gifts. I Corinthians 12:4-10, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues." I Corinthians 12:28-31, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are allprophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
Now notice several things:
(1) All were not given the same gifts. I Corinthians 12:8 and 9 say that one was given the word of wisdom, another the word of knowledge, another faith, another the gifts of healing, etc. The modern tongues movement claims that this gift of tongues is available to all. Absolutely not! God does give gifts to each of us, but does not give all of us every gift.
(2) This gift of tongues was the least important of all. Notice the list in I Corinthians 12:8-10. The last one mentioned is the gift of tongues. Now notice the list in I Corinthians 12:28. Once again, the last gift mentioned is the gift of tongues. Notice the word "secondarily" in verse 28.
Also notice the word "thirdly" in that verse. These are adverbs which modify the verb "set," which means that these gifts are given in order of their importance. The apostles were more important than the prophets, the prophets more important than the teachers, the teachers more important than the miracles, the miracles more important than the healings, etc. The last in importance is the gift of tongues. This gift was last in importance because it was least needed.
(3) This gift was not earned. The fact that it is called a gift teaches us that it is not earned.
3. There is no record that Jesus, our example and pattern, ever had to use this gift. All Christians would agree that our goal should be to be like Jesus. I John 4:17, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world." Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." John
14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
There is not one record in all the ministry of Jesus when He spoke in tongues, meaning He had no occasion to do so. His entire earthly life was limited to one little country of just a few square miles. It was not necessary for Him to speak in tongues. Now if He did not speak in tongues, is a person less spiritual because he does not have that gift or because his calling does not necessitate such a gift?
4. Jesus rebuked the Corinthian people because of their perversion of this gift. Notice the following study of I Corinthians 14.
Verse 1, "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." The best spiritual gift, and the one to be most desired, was to prophesy, which means "to teach, to reveal truth," etc.
Verse 2, "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries." These people who were speaking in tongues when no unsaved people were present and who were causing confusion in the church were understood only by God and not by man. Of course, God understands all languages, but the people couldn't understand, so the "tongue-talkers" were rebuked for using this gift in the church.
Verse 3, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Those who were perverting this gift were not edifying. Notice that they could not comfort, exhort or edify God's people with this gift.
Verse 4, "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edified himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." Notice the selfishness of those who spoke needlessly in other languages, and the unselfishness of those who taught so they could edify the church.
Verse 5, "I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." Paul wished for every Christian that he would have the opportunity someday to witness to a person in another language so that person could hear the Gospel in his own language and be saved, but he plainly says that the one who teaches the Bible is a greater person than he that talks in another language.
Verse 9, "So likewise ye. except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air." Notice he says that someone who talks in other languages, unless there is someone there who can understand that language who is not saved, is speaking into the air. He is wasting his time.
Verse 12, "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." Notice Paul says that since you are wanting spiritual gifts, you should seek the most important one; that is, edifying the church, or of being understood so you can help people.
Verse 14, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." Paul rebukes the heresy of praying in tongues. Listen, it is a waste of time. God knows English, and the gift of tongues was given so that people of other races might be saved.
Verse 15, "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." Paul teaches here that to be spiritual is to pray or sing so one can be understood. The modern "tongue-talkers" would lead us to believe that to be extra spiritual is to talk in tongues. Paul says to be extra spiritual is to be understood.
Verse 16, "Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" It has always been the common practice of New Testament, soul-winning Baptist churches to say "Amen" in church. Paul wonders how one could say "Amen" if he cannot understand what is being said.
Verse 18, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all." Paul told the people that he spoke with tongues more than all of them did. Of course, this was necessary. Paul traveled from country to country, and God enabled him to speak in other languages so that the people of different nations could understand the Gospel.
Verse 19, "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." Paul said that when you go to church, it's 2000 times better to speak and be understood than to speak and not be understood.
Verse 22, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe." Ah, here is the clincher. It plainly says that tongues are for those "that believe not." In other words, it is a tool for soul winning. The modern tongues movement-I suppose I should not say "modern," for it is not modern; it was used in the baby, un-spiritual, carnal church in Corinth - confuses the unsaved, and in some cases even frightens them away from the Gospel.
Verse 26, "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrines hath a tongue. hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying." Paul is saying here that in church everything should be done to edify. This totally eliminates the talking in tongues in church unless there are unsaved people there who cannot understand the language being used.
Verse 33, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." Paul explains to us that the tongues movement being used at the church at Corinth (which was not a Bible tongues movement at all) was confusion, and God was not the author of that!
Verse 34, "Let your women keep silence in the churches:
for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." Along with the perversion of tongues and other perversions by the church at Corinth, the ladies were speaking in these languages. Paul told them to be quiet in church. Notice also verse 35, "And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
Verse 39, "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues." Here is the conclusion of the matter. Paul says that teaching is the best gift, but we should not disbelieve the gift of tongues. This gift was begun on Pentecost. Sometimes it is necessary.
The First Baptist Church of Hammond is located in the metropolitan Chicago area. People from many parts of the world have settled in Chicago. It is not unusual for people to come to our services who cannot understand English, but speak other languages. For example, we have a special ministry to the Spanish-speaking people. In our Spanish-speaking department alone, it is not unusual for us to have over 2000 people to come to hear the Gospel preached in Spanish. There is no need for anyone to have the gift of tongues concerning the Spanish people, because we have people who can teach them in their own language.
We also have a ministry to the Vietnamese and Cambodians, so it is not necessary for one to have the gift of tongues to reach them.
It is quite common for Romanian people to be saved in our church. Fortunately, we have a businessman and his wife who speak fluent Romanian, and often during the invitation time, we call upon them to come and win Romanian people to Christ.
On occasion we have had people to come to the altar who can understand only Arabic. Again, fortunately, we have a doctor and his wife in our church who speak Arabic.
The same thing could be said concerning German people and others.
However, one Sunday morning one of our young businessmen came to the altar and said, "Pastor, I have a Chinese lady on the back row of the lower section of the auditorium who is weeping and obviously wants to be saved, but she cannot understand English. I have tried to witness to her, but she speaks only the Chinese language. Please ask if anyone in the auditorium can speak Chinese." I did ask for someone to come to translate the Gospel into the Chinese language. There was no one. This young man was so disappointed. He went back to his seat, and I forgot about the Chinese lady because of the busy time during the invitation.
After the service this same young businessman came forward. His face was as pale as a ghost. He said, "Pastor, something happened back there a while ago that I could not believe."
He continued to talk, stuttering as he did, but this is what he said. "Pastor, I went back to the back row, and I told this Chinese lady in English that I could not find anyone to tell her how to be saved, but that I was going to tell her in English, even if she could not understand. Immediately when I started presenting the plan of salvation, a startled look of understanding came on her face. She pointed to her ears, shook her head up and down as she was understanding what I said. I tested her. I asked her to stand up; she did. I asked her to sit down; she did. I asked her to raise her hand; she did. She was understanding my English, though she could not speak or understand the English language. I told her how to be saved. She received Christ as her Saviour, and immediately after she prayed and received Christ, she pointed to her ears, shook her head from side to side as if she could not understand me anymore. Pastor, I don't know what that is."
Now I did not say it; I'm just telling you what the man said. It has never happened to me; I have never had an occasion to have such a need, but this young businessman, not expecting it, not seeking it or even desiring it, told me that story. You can make your own judgment, but whatever happened in this instance, it is exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost, and it is exactly what the gift of tongues was to the New Testament church in the book of Acts.
Where Are the Nine?
Recently an article appeared in a leading conservative publication which I feel must be answered. I am a novice at this; to my knowledge I have never done this before, that is, publish an answer to someone else's article. It had the same title as does this answer, and it appeared to me to be directed toward my good friend, Dr. Bob Gray of Longview, Texas, whom I love and admire dearly. I feel I must rise in his defense and in defense of all of those who feel somewhat under attack by the aforementioned article, many of whom pastor some of the greatest soul-winning churches in America. That article dealt with churches who are baptizing multitudes but are seeing little or no church growth, and I feel it hit the jugular vein of soul-winning churches, and it must be addressed.
First, let me say that I consider myself a friend to the author of the article. I love him, respect him, and admire him very much. I have no plan to attack him. I think he is a good, sincere, honest child of God. He is one to whom our country owes a debt. He is a great preacher, and I have some feeling that my dear brother did not mean for his article to come across exactly as it did.
I do not think my brother is a compromiser. If I understand the meaning of the word "compromise," it describes someone who goes against what he believes for his own personal gain, whether it be popularity, money or success. I do not think that my dear brother is a compromiser. I think he is consistent with his pen and in the pulpit with what he believes, and I do not think he is "selling out" for anybody.
There are many things in his article with which I agree. I agree with him concerning revival and the need for real revival in America. I agree with him that Christians across America should heed II Chronicles 7:14. I believe that God's people in our country need to repent. I also agree with him that soul winners should always present the plan of salvation thoroughly and carefully. This is not in defense of shallowness. I agree with him that numbers are not important for numbers themselves. I agree that our soul winning should not be for numbers but to keep every person out of Hell that we possibly can.
I have no desire to publicize my personal differences or convictions or standards with my beloved brother or to air in public the dirty linen of fundamentalists, but someone needs to rise in defense of the great soul-winning churches and the great soul-winning pastors who felt the brunt of this article.
1. Soul winning is not a method of church building. It is a command from our Commanding General. Occasionally someone will come to the Pastors' School at First Baptist Church of Hammond, spend a week hearing and seeing the soul-winning emphasis here, and go home to win souls and see his church grow. This growth may continue for several years, and then it may level off. Often this same pastor will then go to someone else's pastors' school to find other methods by which he can build his attendance. Soul winning is not a method; it is a command. We are supposed to go soul winning and do soul winning if our churches grow or if our churches decrease in attendance. An increase in church attendance is simply a delightful product of soul winning; but if such an increase does not occur, the command of the Great Commission is no less valid.
We are likewise commanded to baptize people upon their acceptance of Jesus Christ. If the church grows or not, the Great Commission is still valid. We are to win souls, baptize our converts, and train our converts to win souls.
2. Our command is not to build churches. I know of no place in the Bible where we are commanded to build churches. Matthew 16:18 tells us that it is Jesus' place to build the church. It is our job to obey His command. I am not in the church-building business; I am in the soul-winning business, and I'm doing my best to conserve the results and to build a spiritual hospital for the healing of wounded Christians and a dining hall for the feeding of God's people. It is easy for us in obeying the Great Commission to ofttimes enjoy church growth. Then our motives become wrong, as we decide to build churches rather than win souls. The motto of my ministry is, "I will not use my people to build my work; I will use my work to build my people."
3. Where are the converts? In Luke 17:12-19 we have the story of the cleansing of ten lepers. Only one returned to express gratitude, and our Saviour asked the question, "Where are the nine?" (Luke 17:17) The answer is found in the same verse, "Were there not ten cleansed?" Regardless of where the nine are, they were cleansed. This is the big thing. It was nice for the one to return to express gratitude; it would have been nicer for all ten to have returned, but the main thing about this story is that all of them were cleansed. Now, I'm not saying that all the people who walk the aisles in our churches to receive Christ are sincere; but I do believe that the percentage of people who are genuinely saved who walk the aisles in the churches under attack by our dear brother is just as great as the percentage of the churches who have lesser numbers profess faith in Christ.
Now let us discuss where the nine are and where many of the converts go who are saved in these churches. Since these churches are not primarily concerned about building churches but keeping people out of Hell, they reach into many areas of society whose people can do nothing for the church. Many of these are transient. For example, at our church we reach thousands of bus people a year who live too far to attend First Baptist Church regularly. Many of them are children and teenagers whose parents will not let them return to First Baptist Church.
Every Sunday we have sailors walking the aisle professing faith in Christ. These men are stationed at a naval base about 80 miles from First Baptist Church. These are not men who are going to attend our church regularly. They come and go; but, thank God, they are cleansed, if they are sincerely receiving Christ.
We operate a rescue mission. Scores of these mission men are baptized every year. Most of them are men whose lives have been ruined and wasted, and they come from all over the country as transients. They get saved and go back to their families or go to the next city. They cannot be added to the attendance of our church; but, thank God, if they sincerely trusted Christ, they are cleansed.
The churches under attack by our dear brother are churches that preach on the streets and reach street people. These people are transients. They are reached, they are brought to church, they are baptized according to the Great Commission, but they do not live in our city. They go their way. We try to do what we can to contact people in other cities to help them; but if they are never seen again, they were cleansed if they were sincere in their profession of faith in Christ.
Churches of our persuasion go to rest homes and take the Gospel of Christ. When these people receive Christ, many are allowed to come to church for one Sunday just to profess faith in Christ and be baptized. We have baptized scores of people from rest homes this year who cannot regularly attend our church and most of whom will never come to our church again; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Scores of our converts each year are shut-ins. Our church and others like ours go to the highways and hedges, go to the maimed, the halt, and the blind, and we do all we can to get people saved. Our job is not to get them to help us build a church; our job is to get them cleansed. After a person who is a shut-in is saved, we believe he should get baptized. We make special arrangements for such people to come to church on at least one occasion so they can be baptized. They do not increase our church attendance; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
We have a ministry to the truck drivers. Many of our people go to truck stops to do soul winning. Every Sunday we will have from half-a-dozen to twenty (sometimes even more) truck drivers who sit together on my right on the front. These men love our services. Many of them receive Christ as Saviour. In obedience to the command given in the Great Commission, we baptize them. They go back to their truck stops, get in their trucks, and go on their way. They will not be shown on our future attendance records; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Our people bring their relatives to our church, especially when they come to visit at vacation time. Hundreds of these people are saved every year. They are baptized while they are here and then return to their own homes. They do not help us increase our attendance on a regular basis; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Hundreds of people have come from the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to visit our services because they have heard of our church. When they come, they bring their lost loved ones with them because they know that we will do our best to get them saved. Many of these unsaved loved ones receive Christ or at least say they do. Then they return to their homes; they live too far to help us increase our church attendance; but, thank God, if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
Every week we send many of our men to jails across the area. We have an active prison ministry. Hundreds of these prisoners are won to Christ each year. When they are discharged from prison, many come to our church to get baptized before they return to their homes in other cities and states. This does not help us in our attendance; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
In Luke 14:16-24 we find the parable of the great supper. There are several places mentioned where we are to go to invite folks to come. These places are the streets and lanes of the city. We are told to bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind. Then in verse 23 we are told to go to the highways and hedges. Now most of the people you will find in these places and under these conditions are not people who are going to build your church, but we are to reach them. Then we are commanded when we reach them to baptize them; and, praise God, if they were sincere, they are cleansed.
Add to this the educable slow or retarded people (we reach hundreds of these), the migrant workers, and many other groups such as the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and the Chinese, and you will find that a real soul-winning church that obeys the Great Commission will reach multitudes of people that will never help their attendance; but, thank God, if they are sincere, they are cleansed.
I sincerely believe that this is the heart of the Saviour; and when He looks down and sees an unselfish group of people who are obeying the Great Commission and are willing to reach multitudes who cannot boost the attendance or boost the offering, I think the Saviour then says, "I'm going to build that church. That church is a tool being used to obey My commission, so I'm going to build it, keep it in good shape, send it new members, and send it converts from nearby who are stable families."
So in answer to the question, "Where are the nine?" the answer is, they are cleansed. That's the big thing-not if they count in the attendance report. It is for this reason that the soul-winning churches are the growing churches in most cases. However, I rise in defense of a church that is not growing but is busy obeying the Great Commission.
I pastored country churches as a young man. In one place we had only seven prospects that we found in a church census. So, we would go down to the next town 25 miles away on Saturday and win everybody we could to Christ. Then we baptized them. They could not help our church attendance; but if they were sincere, they were cleansed.
When I was a boy growing up in Dallas, Texas, a church was started one block from the high school I attended. It was called the Galilean Baptist Church. I will never forget the soul winning that church did. They preached on street corners; they passed out tracts in shopping areas. I can remember that on Sunday afternoon the pastor would go down to the zoo and stand by the monkey cages where the crowds gathered and preach to the people. This church reached thousands for the Lord, but it never became a giant church. It was average-sized at best and was only a fraction of the size of a church just a block away. They won thousands to Christ. They did not keep them all or most of them; but all of those who were sincere were cleansed.
It is hard for people whose main desire is to build a church to understand those whose main desire is to obey the Great Commission and keep people out of Hell. We obey the Great Commission. Jesus builds the church by sending us enough local people to keep the tool in good shape so it can do the job for God in reaching others and in obeying the Great Commission.
4. In a sense, the church that doesn't grow or that decreases in attendance is growing. When a ministry first begins, there is not much attrition, especially in the case of a new church. Most of the growth in the first few months or years is net gain. However, as a church grows older, she begins to lose people in certain ways. It is much like a lavatory in a bathroom. There is a drain at the bottom, and there is a drain at the top. When one wants to fill the lavatory, he plugs the drain at the bottom, and all the water that comes from the faucet is net gain. There comes a time, however, when water begins to reach the
top and flows out through the upper drain. A church is like this. There comes a time in the life of a church when it begins to lose people for various reasons. When such natural losses come, the church must be reaching many people to take the place of the losses. The membership and attendance must be replenished, so a church is actually growing when it isn't growing. Death takes some; college takes others. Marriage takes some; others move out of the area. Yes, sad to say, some become disgruntled and leave; others become shut-ins; and others choose to go to smaller churches nearby.
For example, when I became Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond 33 years ago, you could hardly find a fundamental church in our area within driving distance. Now there are 40 churches within driving distance of my house that are soul-winning fundamental churches. Most of these are pastored by people who at one time went to First Baptist Church, and some are even our converts. Most, if not all, of these churches have members who were saved at First Baptist Church of Hammond.
At one time there were six song leaders in churches in our area who were saved at First Baptist Church. I remember one time finding that there were three deacon board chairmen in our area who were saved at First Baptist Church.
I was in the airport at O'Hare Field in Chicago. My name was paged because an agent wanted to see me. A young married lady who heard my name came up to me and told me how glad she was to see me. She wanted me to know that she was saved at First Baptist Church and that she was now going to another church in the area. Recently I was at a police department in a suburb of Hammond. I was told that the captain there was saved at First Baptist Church and was going to a church in the suburbs. A few years ago I spoke at a Sunday school convention on the north side of Chicago; I counted 27 of our converts who were teaching Sunday school in other churches within an hour and a half' s drive of the First Baptist Church of Hammond.
The converts of soul-winning churches migrate over the entire country. There are hundreds of preachers from First Baptist Church who are pastoring churches around America. Add to that hundreds of church secretaries, assistant pastors, Christian school administrators, Christian school teachers, etc., and you have a great host of people, many of whom were saved here, who are scattered across the country.
Then there are those who have been saved at First Baptist who have moved to other parts of the country. Often in San Diego or Norfolk or Jacksonville or some other area near a naval base, I meet sailors who were saved at First Baptist and who are serving in other churches.
The other day I was in San Antonio, Texas. I met a Mexican lady who was saved at First Baptist Church. A few years ago I was in Denver. A pastor came to visit the services to tell me that one of our converts was a faithful member of his church. Almost everywhere I speak, laymen come to me and say, "I was saved at First Baptist Church, and I'm serving God here." I was on the airplane the other day. A stewardess told me she was saved at First Baptist Church of Hammond.
Soul-winning churches have converts all over the world. A missionary in the back country jungles of Mexico found a little group of people who had never heard the Gospel. Very carefully this missionary explained the Gospel. One little Mexican boy began to smile and shake his head up and down. The missionary inquired as to why he was smiling and nodding. He said, "I know all about that. I used to live in Chicago, and I went out to the First Baptist Church of Hammond and got saved." Some preacher friends of mine were in Korea. They went to an army base to eat a bite. The guard at the guardhouse checked their identity. One of the preachers witnessed to the guard, whereupon the guard replied, "I was saved in Hammond, Indiana, several years ago."
Preachers all over America tell me that while they are out soul winning they meet our converts. Likewise, I meet the converts of other fundamental soul-winning churches while I'm out soul winning.
I was preaching in Longview, Texas. I had to drive well over a hundred miles to get to the Dallas airport. I was in a rented car. I got behind an accident, and for almost an hour I couldn't move. When the roads were cleared, I found myself driving over the speed limit in order to make my plane so I could get to my church in time for the service that night. I was pulled over by a state trooper. He looked at my driver's license and began to cry. He said, "You won me to Christ seventeen years ago."
You see, soul-winning churches have converts everywhere. They are not attending our churches; they give no money to our churches; but if they were sincere, they are cleansed.
5. There is a deadly accusation against us that we believe "easy-believism." (Of course, I must confess that I don't know what "hard-believism" is.) I simply believe in "believism." Perhaps the folks who were bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness and were saved from death by simply looking at the brazen serpent lifted on a pole were accused of believing an "easy-lookism." I would imagine that somebody accused the Ethiopian eunuch of practicing "easy-believism," and the same thing would be true of the Philippian jailor or the woman at Sychar's well. Each of them was saved during one conversation in the matter of a few minutes. I feel the term "easy-believism"is a term used by those who are spasmodic in soul winning for those who are faithful in soul winning. It may even be an excuse for their lack of soul-winning effort.
6. Was Jesus a failure after having spent 33 years on this earth after doing so many things that the Bible says the world could not contain the books that would be written if all He did was placed in print? He came to the cross. At the time of His death, His follow-up program was seemingly a failure. His board chairman was denying he belonged to the church or the faith of the Lord. His treasurer was committing suicide. One of his board members was doubting. The rest forsook Him and fled, and only a few ladies gathered around the cross. Where were those that He had cleansed? I don't know where they were, but I know one thing: They were cleansed!
Now I believe in a follow-up program. I would compare our follow-up program at First Baptist Church of Hammond with any follow-up program in America, but I'm afraid that too many churches are following up on converts they are not having. I've often said that I would rather conserve two out of a hundred than one out of one.
7. If one must criticize, why not be critical of the churches who are not growing and not winning souls instead of the churches who are not growing and yet obeying the Great Commission? If you must criticize, why not criticize the churches who are baptizing ten and have less in attendance than those who are baptizing 6,000 and have the same attendance?
Why not reward the hard-working bus workers instead of criticizing their churches? Why not reward and honor the folks who preach on the streets and go to the jails, the rest homes, the streets and lanes and highways and hedges to get the maimed, the halt, the blind and bring them to Christ instead of criticizing their churches? Why not reward and honor those who preach and reach the forgotten who cannot come to church regularly but nevertheless have been cleansed? Why not honor and reward the pastors and churches who reach so many who can in turn offer nothing to the church?
I commend my brother for these many years of preaching the Gospel. I commend him for overcoming obstacles. I admire him and love him deeply, and I cannot help but believe that he is more in agreement with the churches that were the object of his article than he is with those churches who spend less time obeying the Great Commission and reaching those who can give us nothing in return. I honor him, I respect him, I admire him, and I appreciate his ministry.
Now let him and me both join in appreciating the ministry of pastors and people who go day and night obeying the Great Commission. It is sad that those who are called fanatics and who are fought by city councils, police departments, newspapers, false teachers, ministerial associations, businesses, atheists, and others because of their soul-winning zeal, are also fought by a faithful servant of God who perhaps lapsed into a moment of judging motives.
May God bless him for his years of service; and may God bless those embarrassed by his article who preach the same Gospel, exalt the same Saviour, and believe the same Book.