By Louis T. Talbot, D.D. (1889-1976)
Long Pastor, Church of the Open Door President, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles
“And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:27
It has been laid upon my heart to write about some unshakable things that stand in the midst of the confusion and changing scenes of this present day. No other word describes conditions everywhere like the word shaken. Everything has been shaken to its very foundations; this is true no matter where we turn, or into what realm we may enter. It is true of the financial world. People who, a few years ago, computed their wealth in six figures today have no fortune and barely the necessities of life. In these financial crises which are about us everywhere, more than one individual came to feel that the only way out of his dilemma was the unhappy way of self-destruction. A survey of the political world will reveal the same conditions. Nothing is more unstable than present-day governments. Think of the situation in Palestine and China. Consider the odds against which the UNO is laboring. Likewise, in the religious world many are at a loss to know what to believe in regard to the great doctrines of our faith. Few of the great verities for which multitudes have fought and bled are any longer considered worth contending for. The world of religions is a place of confusion, and similar to the financial and political worlds, is like a ship at sea without a rudder.
My friends, these conditions in the world present an unparalleled opportunity to those who know God to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be a tragedy for anyone to go out of this life to stand before God without having used his time and talents in an honest effort to point men and women to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Christian people need not be perturbed, no matter what the future may hold. These are some things that are unshakable – as unwavering today as they ever were, and I want, as an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord of lords, to urge you to link your life with these verities so that you may be as the rock of Gibraltar − unmoved in your faith and a shining light to others.
THE THRONE OF GOD
The first of these unshakable things upon which I wish to dwell is the throne of God. In Hebrews 1:8 we read, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” We have seen other thrones topple and fall during two great world wars. Those that remain are becoming more and more insecure. We do not know what a day may bring forth. But there is a throne that is as unshakable as ever, and that is the throne of God. No matter what may take place in this world, or in the starry universe above, the throne of God in the center of the universe stands forever and cannot be shaken. Whatever his capabilities or lack of abilities may be, the man who acknowledges that throne and yields allegiance to it, will, even in this day, be as Mt. Zion which cannot be moved. The man who refuses to reckon with that throne, however learned and polished his life may be, will be spiritually bankrupt today and part of the chaos of the Christ-rejecting world.
The trouble of our nation and the world is that we have turned away from God. All of our national and local problems are the inevitable result of our departure from His government. I submit to you that when men depart from the realization that they are under the personal control of the living God and that they must give a personal account for every word and every deed to Him, they naturally gravitate to the law of the jungle which says, “Do as you please; satisfy the desires of the flesh without regard for anybody. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow, we die.” That is the philosophy of life when God is forgotten, and behind the fact of a forgotten God there stands the explanation of crime and kindred ills that are sweeping our nation today.
A man was riding along the road one day in a Ford when something went wrong and the car would go no farther. He looked at the engine, but could not find the trouble. He stood at the side of the road and stopped the first car that came by. It happened to be a Lincoln, and its driver said, “Well, what is the trouble?” “I cannot get this car to move,” the Ford owner replied. The man removed his gloves, took off his coat, and made a few moves beneath the hood and said, “Now start the car.” And sure enough the Ford was functioning again. The man had started back to his Lincoln when the one in the Ford said, “Pardon me, but what is your name?”
“My name,” said the man, “is Henry Ford.”
In this crisis hour we need the Creator of the world. The only hope is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In fact, we must choose between Him and chaos.
THE WORD OF GOD
The second unshakable thing is the Word of God. We read in Psalm 119:89, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” There was never a time when the Bible was attacked so fiercely as today, yet there was never a time when people had more reason to believe it to be the Word of God. Think of its fulfilled prophecies – prophecies concerning Christ, the Jewish nation, and the Gentile nations. Think of its marvelous unity. Think of its power to lift men from sin to fellowship with God. Water cannot rise any higher than its source, and the Book that can lift men up to God must come from God. Think of its indestructibility. All down through the ages men have been attempting to destroy the Bible, but it cannot be destroyed, because it came from God and therefore, like God, is eternal. The most scientifically correct book that this world has ever seen is the Bible. Science will never be able to disprove the divine order of the creation as recorded in the first chapter of Genesis.
I love to look at those words cut into the stone outside of the Bible Institute building: “For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” In this day, when people have more reason to believe the Bible to be the Word of God than ever before, if a man says to me that he does not believe the Bible to be the Word of God, I immediately class him as an ignoramus. The Bible is the world’s best seller. I wish to urge you to build your life upon the Word of the living God.
THE CHURCH OF GOD
The third unshakable thing I wish to mention is the church of God. My authority for this statement fell from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord made this statement after questioning His disciples as to whom the people in that day considered Him to be: “He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:15-18).
The Lord Jesus built His church on the great central fact of Christianity, which is His deity. That is where the church stands: not on the example of Christ, nor on Christ as a good man or a great Teacher, but on Christ as the eternal Son of the living God. And because of that everlasting foundation, the church is secure for time and for eternity. Every local assembly worthy of the name church has that foundation. Liberal bodies that deny the deity of Christ are not churches but simply clubs. The one and only church, the church which Christ is building is made up of men and women who confess Christ as the eternal Son of God and are washed in His precious blood. It stands forever. Christ’s church is called “His body,” to illustrate the mystical union between Christ, the Head, and His people.
One day I boarded a streetcar and sat beside a man who was reading his Bible. We began to talk and the man said, “To which church do you belong?” I answered by asking, “What is your church affiliation?” He replied, “I am a Methodist. I was born a Methodist and I will die a Methodist.” Then he repeated his question, “What is your church?” My answer was, “I belong to the church which is His body.” The man looked puzzled as he said, “That is a new one. I never heard of it before. When was it organized?” My reply was, “It was organized 2,000 years ago.” When he asked, “Where are its headquarters?” and I answered, “In Heaven,” the poor man thought I had taken leave of my senses. When the Lord returns and the church is raptured, the only one that He will recognize will be that church.
THE CHILD OF GOD
The last unshakable thing that I wish to discuss is the child of God. “He that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17). That was D. L. Moody’s favorite text, and he endeavored in life to put the will of God for him into execution. If you, by the grace of God, determine to do the same thing, you will abide forever. You ask, “What is the will of God for me?” The will of God begins with believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. The Lord said to certain ones, “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life” (John 6:40). After you have come to know Christ as your Savior, then you may speak to Him in regard to the sphere of your service. It may be that God will have you to go to Africa, or India, or China, or to some other needy field. The will of God is not only the holiest place but also the happiest place in which to dwell. It is said that following a consultation with a specialist, at which time he had been informed that he was the victim of an incurable disease and had only a few months to live, Dr. W. B. Hinson, the great gospel preacher, walked out into the garden of his home which he loved. Looking at the mountains reaching their majestic heads heavenward, and gazing in the direction of the mighty Columbia River, watching the sun as it slipped behind the everlasting hills, he said, “When the mountains have forever ceased to be exalted in the towering strength above the cities of the earth; when the river has run its last mile; and when the seas have passed forever from the universe; when the sun has risen and set in all its beauty and glory for the last time; yea, when the moon and all the stars have forever ceased to give their light; when the mighty trees of the forest have shed their last leaves, and all nature has departed to its final rest, I shall live on, yes, I shall live on.”
We have also read of the great sadness that came into the heart of a noted English pastor who had shepherded his flock for forty consecutive years. With deep emotion and with quivering lip, the pastor had resigned his pastorate amid the shedding of many tears in his congregation. The next day the sexton was standing under the gallery in the great auditorium when he saw the pastor come out and step behind his much-loved pulpit. For a moment he stood there in profound agitation, and then with a trembling but confident voice, he said, “I must sever my connections with this church.” Then looking to Heaven and thinking of his eternal union with Christ, with upraised hand, he added:
But this I do know,
We two are so joined,
He can’t be in Heaven,
And leave me behind.
These are dark days, possibly the darkest we have known for many a year. Let us lay hold as never before with a firm grip of unwavering faith upon these unshakable things, and spend our lives making them known with all of their meaning to a poor, lost, dying world.
Dr Talbot’s sermon was published in The Biblical Evangelist where Dr. Robert L. Sumner is the good editor. Published in Vol. 41, Number 1, January – February 2010 issue.