Tiger Woods spoke Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington during “We Are One,” an inauguration celebration for President-elect Barack Obama. Below is the text of his speech, entitled “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” as posted on his Web site:
“I grew up in a military family – and my role models in life were my Mom and Dad, Lt. Colonel Earl Woods. My dad was a Special Forces operator and many nights friends would visit our home. They represented every branch of the service, and every rank. In my Dad, and in those guests, I saw first hand the dedication and commitment of those who serve. They come from every walk of life. From every part of our country. Time and again, across generations, they have defended our safety in the dark of night and far from home. Each day — and particularly on this historic day — we honor the men and women in uniform who serve our country and protect our freedom. They travel to the dangerous corners of the world, and we must remember that for every person who is in uniform, there are families who wait for them to come home safely. I am honored that the military is such an important part, not just of my personal life, but of my professional one as well. The golf tournament we do each year here in Washington is a testament to those unsung heroes. I am the son of a man who dedicated his life to his country, family and the military, and I am a better person for it. In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln, the man at whose memorial we stand, spoke to the 164th Ohio Regiment and said: ‘I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country.’ Just as they have stood tall for our country – we must always stand by and support the men and women in uniform and their families. Thank you, and it is now my pleasure to introduce the US Naval Glee Club.”
WE are all standing upon the threshold of an awful future, replete with facts and instinct with entities, about which we know but little. Let but the heart cease its beating, or one vital function of this body cease its office, and we are gone-gone! to grapple with the stern truths of ages, at once interminable, inconceivable, unknown.
” To be or not to be,” after death, is answered, and nearly all men, though with different degrees of faith, are looking confidently to an existence beyond the grave.
The idea of immortality has descended down the stream of human generations from the first pair in Paradise, running down every branch from the central tide, disappearing in one, corrupted in another, and becoming more lucid and satisfactory in another, to the present age. It is seen in the language, literature, and manners of every age; in the history, philosophy, and poetry of every people. It is seen in the retributive horrors of Tartarus, the rich fields and streams of Elysium, the Hesperian seas and islets of the Red man, the heaven and hell of the Christians.
But the heathen apply the idea of immortality to the soul only. The ancient heathen complained that the sun went down at night, and arose in the morning, but their friends went down in the gloomy darkness of death, and rose no more. They saw upon the face of every mysterious Providence which swept the earth, in bold and living colors the pencillings of immortality: they felt the truth attested within by an instinctive shrinking back from annihilation, yet the tomb was invested with an eternal darkness, and the body surrendered to a perpetual sleep. With them the night of death was starless: there was no anticipated morning whose auroral splendors would break in upon the darkness of the grave, and hang the rainbow of hope over the dust of the dead.
The idea of the resurrection of the body does not appear to have occurred to them. To what source is the world then indebted for its existence? Not to reason, for the mind has not the requisite data; not to nature, for it is super-nature; not to science, for it is beyond the province of science; but to the Bible. It is the great fact recognized in the text, and is purely a subject of revelation. Let semi-infidel divines seek for the evidences of the resurrection elsewhere; it is only found in the Bible. I Would not exclude those rich illustrations corroborating Bible fact, which pour from every department in philosophic and material existence-no; but I appeal to the Bible, proven as it is to be the Word of God, as the highest evidence of the resurrection of the dead.
Hear with what authority it speaks: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise” (Isa. 26:19). “Dead men”! “Dead bodies”! “They shall arise!”-“He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by His spirit that dwelleth in you”(Rom. 8:11). “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2) “Asleep”! “Awake”! “The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28, 29). / Such announcements, my hearers, have kindled a smile upon the brow of bereavement, and a star in the graves of the departed.
This doctrine being peculiar to Christianity and having nothing analogous in nature, has been a favorite object of attack by every school of Infidels since its announcement. It is condemned as false, because it involves a mystery. This argument is of no force unless it is true universally, unless every other thing which involves a mystery is false too. If it is true universally, if every thing which involves a mystery is false, then there is nothing true in the universe. The argument proves too much, therefore is worth nothing.
The objector confounds two things very essentially different; mystery as to fact, and mystery as to a mode. A fact may be plain, while the manner of its production may be mysterious. The doctrine of the resurrection is a doctrine of fact, and as such is clear, but its mode is mysterious. The objector confounds mystery with absurdity. An absurdity is something contradictory in its very nature to human reason and common sense, such as supposing an effect greater than its cause; a mystery is something beyond human comprehension on the account of its magnitude, or the relation it sustains to Infinite Power. The resurrection of the human body is not an absurdity, for it is not contrary to human reason; but a mystery, for it involves the agency of infinite power to accomplish it. A doctrine whose foundation stone is Omnipotence, could not from its nature be subjected to the feeble rules and restrictions of reason.
To deny the truth of the resurrection because its mode is a mystery to us, is to say that a finite mind is equal in discovering and investigating power to all difficulties involved in the existence and nature of any truth, however intimate its relations to the great infinite, either in being orprinciple.
Another objector says, the resurrection contradicts the great principles of science. No science is perfect: it has been the business of one age to modify and improve the science. of the past age; a future age will but expose the learned follies of this. Science is scarcely out of its swaddling-clothes. Is it entitled to more credence than the Bible? Must this old Book, hoary with the age of centuries, written by the finger of inspiration, born at Sinai, completed amid the splendors of the Apocalypse, whose footprints are seen in the crumbled dust of earth’s wrecked and mined greatness, whose teachings are Godlike, whose precepts are thunder-given, whose promises are the hope of the world, fly the stage before the gorgeous diction and sacrilegious pretensions of an ungodly and pseudo-philosophy?
But I could never see any point or relevancy in the objection. In what department of true science are those principles found and taught, conflicting with the doctrine of the resurrection? I appeal to all the tomes in the wide range of scientific lore for an answer-they are nowhere. All science is founded upon the discoveries of sense; and if it teaches such principles, it has exceeded its province, therefore it is no argument. Revelation is the only oracle of our faith, and the proper tribunal before which to refer our theological questions. It is under its potent influence alone that life and immortality become divine realities. To go to science to settle matters of faith, is like going to a dictionary to learn history, or to geology to learn mathematics.
Again, the objector says, it is contrary to our experience. But the great error in the objection is, that the objector assumes that his individual experience is the universal experience of the race. The exact and entire experience of an individual now is unlike in many respects the experience of his contemporaries; how much more is it unlike the experiences of men in different ages of the world, and in different stages of its development. It does not follow because the tawny son of the tropics has never seen the earth whitened with snow, that the Laplander has not seen. it; neither does it follow because we never saw a man raised from the dead, that the Apostles did not see it.
Again, it is urged that the resurrection is contrary to the immutability of the laws of nature. This argument is of no force, for the resurrection is not to be brought about by the regular action of the laws of cause and effect, but by a supernatural power. “Do ye not therefore err,” said Christ to the Sadducees, “because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?” “Why should it be thought incredible with you,” says Paul, “that God should raise the dead?” It is a provision of Redemption, hence above nature and nature’s laws, yet not contradictory to them, to either nature or its laws. It is a provision of a supernatural plan coming down upon nature, and entering in unity with it; into the unity of God’s grand system, embracing the material, immaterial, and moral.
Another objection is, the resurrection of the dead is because this body continually changes its substances, so that the bodies we now have are not the same we had a few years ago, nor will be the same a few years hence -that the bodies in which we have sinned or acted righteously may not be in many instances the same bodies as those which will be actually rewarded and punished. This argument contradicts the infidel’s own theory of the seat of personal identity, transferring the ego from the soul, the only true subject of reward and punishment, to the body, which is rewarded and punished simply as the instrument.
Such an argument would liberate in a few years every criminal in the world. Why retain a man in prison longer than the time afforded by this supposition for a perfect and entire change of the substance of his body? Know you not at the expiration of the hypothetical number of seven years that he is immaculate unless he sinned during his imprisonment? that there is not a particle of that guilty body which was incarcerated? Open your state prisons and penitentiaries, and let their hordes out upon society, they are innocent. The same argument would so affect the proceedings of our criminal courts, that judge and jury would have to exercise great care to know how much of the guilty body was arraigned at the bar, if any, in order to mete out the ends of justice.
Such an argument, though popular and common, contradicts common sense, the common consciousness and experience of mankind. Again, it would apply with equal force against the resurrection of Christ. His body, according to this hypothesis, changed several times, at least four times. Yet what body did he bring up? This brings us to the true and Scriptural answer to the objection-the same body he laid down in the grave.
We have an evidence of the resurrection of the human body in the resurrection of Christ. “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” “If Christ rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, ‘then is not Christ risen.” (I Cor. 15:12,13). The resurrection of the race follows naturally from the resurrection of Christ. This is clear from the federal representative nature of Christ. The relations he sustains from his federal representative nature to Adam proves it. If Adam in his representative character brought death into the world by his fall, and died himself, it is reasonable that Christ, in his representative character, should by his life, death, and resurrection bring life into the world. The relation he sustains from his federal representative nature to us proves it. Being our second federal Head, and Heaven-appointed Proto-
type, and that he did take upon himself a human body, and resumed that body after it had lain in the grave, exalted it to heaven, changed and glorified, is powerful evidence that our bodies too shall be raised, changed, and glorified, and dwell with His forever.
Again, if it was necessary for Christ, to complete the plan of salvation, to be raised from the dead, it is also necessary, to complete the execution of the plan, that man also should be raised, and furthermore if he was able to raise himself, he is able to raise others. Such is the argument of Paul, hence he adduces as his principal evidence the fact, that Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection is the type of ours. Part of our nature is in heaven ; the exaltation of a part argues the exaltation of the whole. The Great Head of the church has gone up, and the body must follow. He is, as the Apostle expresses it, “The first fruits-of them that slept.”
The Jews were commanded to cut the first ripening grain in their fields and take it to Jerusalem, and lay it upon the altar as a pledge of the coming harvest and as a thank offering to God. At the end of the harvest they all again met at Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest feast; which they did with sacrifices and thanksgiving for many days. Now Christ the “first fruits” lays upon God’s altar in heaven, as a pledge of that glorious harvest at the end of the world, which will leave every old tomb tenantless, and gather us all, soul and body both, redeemed and glorified into heaven.
The scheme of human redemption necessarily embraces the resurrection of the human body. Its provisions extend to the body, as well as to the soul. Hear the Scriptures: “Ye are not your own, but are bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your body and your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Cor. 6:19, 20). Both body and soul are God’s. both bought by the blood of Jesus. Surely a body bought by the blood of Christ, especially when that body has been the sanctified temple of the Holy Ghost, cannot perish forever. “We wait for the adoption, to wit, the ‘redemption of the body.” (Rom. 8:23). “I am the resurrection and the life,” Christ exclaims. No mistaking his meaning, for he is speaking with reference to Lazarus. Peter and John “preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 4:2). If through Christ, it is embraced in Redemption. “Christ bath abolished death and both brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim.1:10).
The seat of self-consciousness, or personal identity, is in the soul, yet the body is an integral and essential part of the constitution of man. God doubtlessly designed in the creation of man the blending of the two great elements of His universe, the spiritual and material, into one creature. This is clear from the very facts of the case; the creation of pure spirits, the creation of simple matter, and the creation of the dual nature of man, compounded of both. Man appears to be the central link, uniting the spiritual and material, in the grand chain of life and existence, sweeping from the throne of God down through every rank and order of beings, by regular gradations to the passive sod upon which we walk. This being true, it follows naturally that the body is an as essential part of man’s constitution as is his soul-that he would not be man without a body. If this conclusion be true again it follows, if man is redeemed, the plan affecting such work must include the body as well as the soul, or man is but half redeemed, and the plan is but half a plan.
Again, God’s whole system, spiritual and material, embracing His government of both, is a unity-a well-balanced, symmetrical, magnificent unity. The creation of a bifold being, possessing in unity in his constitution the two prime elements of God’s grand system, appears to be necessary to the unity of the whole. Now such a creature was man, for he is both spiritual and material. Such being his nature, it is presumptive that as a compound, God intended he should be immortal. In fact, such is the teaching of the Scriptures. Now sin entered the world, a foreign element in the Divine system, and being a violation of law, the basis of all order, naturally produced disorganization and death. It naturally destroyed the compound nature of man by separating his soul and body. Man was destroyed; the design of God was thwarted; and His system lost its unity–results not obviated by the salvation of every disembodied soul in heaven.
Such were the effects of sin, and the nature of God, and the nature of things required that it should be expunged out of His entire system. He could have destroyed sin by the destruction of everything which it had effected. He could have hurled His unbalanced system into nihilism. He had the power to do both, and His nature would have justified the action. But He of His own free will and grace chose to establish a redemptive and compensatory dispensation, according to the laws of His system itself, extending its provisions throughout the entire system, and touching with its restoring power everything which sin had touched-restoring man, establishing and perfecting His original designs, and readjusting the disturbed relations of universal being-He chose to establish a redemptive and compensatory dispensation constituting within itself a complete remedy for the evils of sin.
A dispensation countervailing the influences of sin; one which would neutralize its poison and destroy the mephitic exhalations in man’s moral atmosphere; one which would track with angel wing and purifying power the paths of its corruption, and extract the cancerous fibres of the deadly phagedena from the system and government of God, and cast it, its author, and children into Topher, and wall it up and arch it over, to rankle in its own corruption in eternal isolation.
Now I ask you, is man restored to his original position as man, is the apparent design of God in man’s creation maintained, and the unity of His system restored, if the body, one of the essentials of man’s constitution, one of the essentials of God’s original design, one of the essentials to the unity of His system, is never to be raised from the dead and united with the soul? No; Christ Must save man in all the elements of which man’s is compounded, or His mission is a failure. The objector is driven to the alternative of impeaching the remedial character and perfection of the atonement, or contradicting the Bible and the philosophy of the case, deny that death came by sin. Which choose ye?
Christ himself taught by words and actions that the resurrection of the body was included in the great work of which he was the subject. There was a pleasant little family in the town of Bethany, nearly two miles from Jerusalem, which Jesus loved-two sisters, and one brother-Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. In Jesus’ absence Lazarus died, and was buried in a cave, and covered with a stone. Jesus heard of it, and he and his disciples started for the scene of mourning, and arrived at Bethany four days after the burial. Before he entered the town, Martha heard of his coming and went to meet him: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” “Thy brother shall rise again.” “I know he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” says Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life,” says Christ.
Martha runs and tells Mary, for many Jews were, present, “The Master is come and calleth for thee.” Mary rose up hastily and ran to meet him, and fell down at his feet: “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” Mary wept, the Jews who had followed her wept, and “Jesus wept.” “Where have ye laid him?” “Come and see.” They went to the cave: “Take ye away the stone,” and Jesus prayed: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me; and I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Then Jesus cried with a voice, which one day will pour its trumpet thunders throughout the vast charnel-house of the dead and bid us all live, “Lazarus, come forth,”-and the pulse of immortality began its vibrations in the grave, and the sheeted dead came forth alive. That one dead man arose, is presumptive that all dead men shall be raised; that Jesus raised him from the dead during his redemptive mission on earth, is conclusive that the resurrection is embraced in the work of redemption; and that Death heard and obeyed Him once, argues that he will hear and obey Him again. This conclusion is clear from the fact that when Jesus was completing Redemption’s plan the graves were opened, and as he completed it by his resurrection, “many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves.” And as his resurrection was necessary to complete the work of redemption he came to perform, and did complete it; so by a parity of reason our resurrection is necessary to complete the work with reference to us; and will complete it.
Glorious hope!– a remedy as universal as the disease. Our bodies may be dead for centuries. The Erica heather of Scotland, or the cactus of South America, may bloom .over our graves; the chilly mists of the North may sheet our tombstones in eternal ice, or the encroachments of the Southern desert may bury them in sand ; marts of trade may be built over our resting-places, and the busy whirl of the world’s commerce may ring over our sleeping dust; the ploughboy may sing his merry song, and dance upon our long-lost graves; corals may incrust our bones in solid rock and rear up continents upon them; or the wings of the tempest may fan our dust all around the world, yet the resurrection trump will find us, and we shall live again.
The inspired penmen so understood it. Acting and living under the influence of this doctrine, they lose all terror of death. Hear how they term it: “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” “Stephen fell asleep.” “Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” How appropriate! How expressive! for them who sleep shall awake. Death is not annihilation, but simply a change. It is sleep. To the energies of the laboring, sleep is rest and recuperation. Death is rest to the good man from all his toils, where he gathers new vigor for an eternity of action. Pageantries of golden dreams pass before the mind of the sleeper; the beauties of Heaven flash with more beaming splendor before the enraptured vision of the disembodied spirits. The overpowering joys of the better world will so soften the tread of cycles, and deaden the grating thunders of revolving ages, that the resurrection will take the sainted spirit with surprise.
The promised and kingly triumphs of our Lord Jesus Christ are proofs of this doctrine, “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; 0 death, I will be thy plague: 0 grave, I will be thy destruction.” Jesus announced Himself as the Saviour and King of the world. If He is our Saviour, he must save us from sin and its results. Death is the result of sin, and if He delivers us not from its’ power, the whole is a failure–He is not our Saviour, the One promised us by the prophets, and the One the necessities of the case demanded.
If he is our King, and His kingdom is to be supreme, universal, and absolute according to promise, He must rule over us, over his enemies, and over ours. Death is His enemy, and our enemy, and if He conquer not it, again the whole is a failure-He is not our King-our preaching is vain and your faith is vain.
Death and the grave are our foes. Death’s ghastly and shadowy form rises to Heaven and, throws its awful shadow upon all our hopes. The grave darkly gapes at our feet every step of life’s journey. But Christ our federal representative is conqueror. He was taken down from the cross a bloody corpse, and borne off to the grave. Hell exulted. Death waved his black banner in triumph. The light of immortality leaped up in one exhilarating flash, then sank to a waning spark; sighs ran along amid the bones of the patriarchs, and a wail of woe rang in the sepulchers of the dead. Had He never left Death’s dreary domain, the grave would have devoured all the race, and retained them. in its horrid jaws forever. The scepter of Death would have been universal, and He King without a rival. No ray of light would ever have broken into the arcana of the lonely tomb to tell of coming day. No welcome voice would ever have rung along its damp and dismal galleries, and pealed in joyful echoes amid its mouldy arches to break the eternal slumber of its sleepers.
The dying Christian might turn his eyes and look out of the window of his chamber upon the sunshine, the old familiar jar landscape skirting his home, and lift his withered arm and point his livid and chilled finger, and say, “Farewell forever.” He might gaze with hollow and dimming eye upon the faces of loved ones, fast receding from his vision, standing around his bed, whose recollections are rapidly paling upon his memory, and say, “Farewell forever.” He might reach out his cold and trembling hand and grasp the hand of her who has traveled by his side from vigorous youth till both are old and gray,-not as the pledge of a coming union for one now breaking, but to feel its pressure for the last time, and to repeat in sepulchral whispers of saddest woe, “My wife, farewell forever.”
But Jesus met Death in Death’s own territory, and permitted Himself to be captured, that He might lead captivity captive. He went with the Pale Monarch to the silent darkness of the tomb, but it was to undermine its strongholds, and kindle the star of resurrection in its murky vaults -to cement the past to the future and pledge Omnipotence for a reunion. He plucked the sting from Death, took his keys, broke his crown, chained the monster to his chariot wheels, and mounted aloft to Heaven a Conqueror. My hearers, the keys of the grave are in higher hands.
If there be no resurrection, Christianity is not adapted to all our wants. It fails to meet the aspirations and desires of our constitutional being, therefore has not all the elements necessary to make us happy. And if it is not grounded upon the wants of universal human nature, it is a failure. Can the best of you look upon your death as an eternal sleep? your grave as an eternal resting-place? can you bid without regret the bodies in which you have tabernacled so long an eternal farewell? Can you bid the bodies of your friends an eternal adieu, without the pangs of the keenest sorrow?
Tell the young wife, widowed by this terrible war, as she rushes with disheveled tresses amid the promiscuous ditches of the battlefield, crammed with mutilated dead, that her husband will never rise, and her heart is saddened for life. Tell the sister, as she gazes upon the shattered body and obliterated features of a brother beloved, that that form and face will never be restored to happy recognition again. Tell the mother, who baptized her boy with blessings and sent him to the bloody “front,” where he fell and was buried, uncoffined, in some unknown grave, with no block, stone, or vine to mark his resting-place, that he never will come to her arms again.
Tell the bereaved-fathers, mothers, widows, children-that there will be no resurrection, and a universal shriek will rend the air and crack the vault of heaven, till God hears and feels, and angels weep. Earth will put on weeds of mourning, and like Rachel of old go down to the judgment weeping for her children.
“With what body do they come?” The same body which dies. I assume the bold Scriptural ground that every essential element of it will be raised though its particles be scattered over earth and sea. Hear the evidence of the mighty Paul, the chiefest of the Apostles: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Cor. 15:42-44). The conclusion is clear: the same body which is sown in corruption, dishonor, and weakness will be raised in incorruption, glory, and power. The same body which is sown a natural body, will be raised a spiritual body. Not a similar body but the same body. Again: “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” “This corruptible” -as strong as words can make it. The Lord “shall change our vile body.” (Phil. 3: 21). “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shalt come forth.” On any other hypothesis there is no resurrection at all.
Is Christ’s body to be the model? The ineffable–brightness of His glory shone above the noonday sun and blinded Saul of Tarsus. Saint John saw Him in the midst of seven golden lamps, “clothed with a garment down to His foot,” girded with “a golden girdle,” His head environed with a radiating aureola, His eyes ablaze with Omniscience, His feet glowing like a furnace, His voice as the sound of many’ waters. The inimitable Prototype of celestial glory and regal magnificence, whose lightest shades defy the painter’s pencil, were the painter an angel. Like Him? 0 God! shall we ever attain to such perfection? me? you? Like Him “Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”
Finally, “How are the dead raised up?” Inquiring humanity asks the question, doubting philosophy asks it, infidelity asks it, Christianity asks it. Paul answers it: “According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” God’s power is pledged for its performance. That Power which made systems, and holds them in awful and perpetual balance. That Power which confounded chaos with order, and laid the foundations of the universe deep down upon nothing, and reared up its columns, towering into empty space, wreathed them with constellations of worlds, and propped against the throne of God. That Power which carpeted creation’s temple with emerald, roofed it with azure, and lit it up with ten thousand suns. That Power Which drives planets along their orbits and hurls the erratic comet to kindle its fires upon the black altars of night where suns never shine. That Power which shakes the earth, shivers its granite, ruptures its strata, overturns its mountains, and up heaves its valleys. That Power which binds lightnings to its chariot and rides upon the tempest. -That Power is pledged to raise me from the dead. Can it do it?
Ah! angels could have philosophically descanted with more apparent reason upon the impossibility of creation before the fiat of God peopled immensity with worlds and intelligences, than you can philosophize against the resurrection of the dead. Are there mysteries ? Are there difficulties? Paul refers them all to the power of God for an ample solution. You see as great wonders every day. Cast a seed in the ground; it enlarges: in a few days the germ sends up a stem and down a root: the radicals imbibe the nutriment, and the stem enlarges and mounts upward as if by magic: soon its long conical blades droop in verdant curves to the earth, and the flower upon its top drops a dust upon the silken flower on its side, and a long ear of golden corn rewards the farmer’s toil-every grain of which possesses the same reproductive power of the first. An acorn bursts, and a deep-rooted, gnarled, and knotted giant, who rears his trunk to ‘heaven, whose mossy limbs and crested foliage nod majestically among the clouds, is the result. Vegetable life and existence are crowded with wonders.
The phenomena of animal life, its causes, productions, nature, maintenance, reproduction, are full of mysteries and difficulties solving and unfolding every hour. Earth, air, and water are replete with mysteries, and instinct with difficulties. Every moment is a seeming eternity of impossibilities; every atom a universe of overwhelming difficulties. For man, who is himself a microcosm of wonders, standing amid a world of wonders, profound and confounding, to present the difficulties involved in the resurrection of the body as an insuperable obstacle to its accomplishment, is at once preposterous. Though your bones may lie bleaching in the bottom of– the sea, or fossilized be deeply imbedded in rock; though your dust may be scattered over continents, transmuted into animals or plants, diffused in the air, diffused in the water, or mingled with clay, God’s power is able to raise you from the dead, and is pledged to do it. That Power sooner or later will be exercised. The last day will come. The sun unwheeled will drag along the jarring heavens and refuse to shine. The stars will hide their
faces, and the moon will roll up in the heavens red as blood, and hang her crimson livery upon the wing of the night. Earth will tremble upon her axis, and huge mountains of woe will drift and lodge upon her heart. A mighty angel with a face like the sun, clothed with clouds, and crowned with a rainbow, and shod with wings of fire, will cleave the heavens in his lightning track, and descending with his right foot upon the troubled sea, and his left foot upon the quaking earth, lift his hand to heaven, and swear by the Judge of the quick and the dead that time shall be no longer. Old Time, the father of centuries and the tomb-builder of generations, will drop his broken scythe and break his glass, careen and fall a giant in ruins.
The trump of God will then sound. Its resonant thunders will roll through all the lengths and breadths of Death’s vast empire, and its old walls and arches crammed with buried millions will fall in crashing ruins. The dingy king will drop his scepter ringing in fragments upon the damp pavements of the grave, and fly howling from his tottering throne down, down to Erebus. The antiquated dead will start into life from their ashy urns and funeral pyres. Pyramids of granite and crypts of marble will he rent in twain to let the rising bodies come. Mummies will fling off the trappings of centuries, and pour from their vaulted chambers. Inquisitions will rock upon their foundations and revivified dead will stream from their dungeons. Abbeys, cathedrals, grottoes, and caverns will be vocal with life. Wanderers will shake off their winding sheets of sand, and rise from the face of the desert. Human bones will break away from their coral fastenings; mermaids draped in dripping weeds will mourn the evacuation of all their caves; old ocean will heave and swell with teeming millions.
The battlefields of the world: Troy and Thermopylae, Talavera and Marengo, Austerlitz and Waterloo, Marathon and MissoIonghi; the battlefields of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, will reproduce their armies, and crowd the world with revivified legions. Indian maidens will leap from the dust of our streets, and our houses overturning will let their chiefs to Judgment. Abraham will shake off the dust of Machpelah, and arise with Sarah by his side. David will come with harp in hand. The reformer of Geneva and the apostle of Methodism will come side by side.
Our village church yards and family burial grounds will be deserted. All will come: patriarchs, prophets, Jews and Gentiles, Christians and heathens, bond and free, rich and poor-fathers, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives-all from Adam down will come forth. And all the good all around the world all together will hail this redemption’s grand consummation, with one proud anthem, whose choral thunders, rolling along all the paths of space, will shake the universe with its bursting chorus: “0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory”?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to my former association with Dr. John R. Rice and the paper he founded, The Sword of the Lord, for introducing me to the messages of Dr. William Elbert Munsey. Munsey was a popular Methodist minister, born on July 13, 1833 and died October 3, 1877 (44 years). He was converted to Christ at age 17 during a Methodist camp meeting. He taught school and served a number of small churches before his well-prepared and powerful sermons were discovered by greater numbers. His church services were packed and people crowded his meetings two hours before he would speak. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. asked Dr. Rice to publish a book of sermons by Dr. Munsey. That book, Eternal Retribution!, was first published in 1951. In his remarks, Dr. Jones reported that the sermons in this book were taken from a two-volume set (I believe the only books credited to Dr. Munsey) of remarkable sermons. I searched the Internet for the books and found a used book store offering them in their original covers. I purchased them; amazingly at a very low cost. It appears that everything Dr. Jones and Dr. Rice knew about Mr. Munsey was taken from those two volumes. I am happy to own them and pleased to present the sermon you have read on this blog, The Resurrection of the Human Body.
“And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.
“Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.
“And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.
“So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.
“But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.
“And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.
“Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.”
– II Kings 6:1-7
We have either listened to or read many sermons on this text during the past six decades of our ministry for Christ. Somehow, in almost all of them, this young prophet has seemed to come out looking bad. Especially is he criticized for borrowing an axe and losing the head in the water. Perhaps he does deserve some criticism for this; then again, perhaps not!
The young man has our support and sympathy at the very outset because he had “forsaken all” to serve God. Jesus said, in Luke 14:26,27, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
This young man had!He meant business for God!
Like Sau1 of Tarsus, who followed him in service by nearly a thousand years, he had responded to the divine appeal by saying in essence, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:16), and like Isaiah, whom he preceded by less than 200 years, with an enthusiastic “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
The setting of this story is interesting. Although Paul’s command to Timothy was not given until some 950 years later, Elisha was following the philosophy “the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). Call what he had established the forerunner of a Bible institute, a Bible college, a seminary, or anything you please, but Elisha was in the business of training young men to do a job for God.
Bible schools, struggling to get started, have always experienced rough times. We think of the school we attended, as a new Christian, only starting its seventh year at the time we enrolled. It met in a borrowed building (a local church), had no dormitories, offered no cafeteria or meal service of any .kind, and supported a very meager faculty. Some other schools with which we have been associated over the years have been cut from the same cloth. Even Cedarville University, with over 3,000 students, was very small when we first went on the board of trustees.
Elisha’s school was no different, and it had special problems relating to room and board for its students. The problem regarding board is recorded in II Kings 4:38-41. Probably the most common complaint on Christian college campuses relates to meals served in the dining hall. Since it is impossible to mass produce food in the same tasty style as Mother’s home-cooked offerings, the students are never satisfied. Complaints abound that the food is too starchy, that there is not enough variety, often it is too meager a fare – and these are just starters. Yet none had the problem the students at Elisha’s school faced with “death in the pot” (Vs. 40). The entire student body developed an acute case of food poisoning. In fact, it took a miracle from the hand of the man of God to remedy the situation.
Now, the following year, the problem related to the room phase of “room and board.” The opening verse of II Kings 6 tells us the students came to Elisha with their complaint, “Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.” The dorms were overcrowded, and the young men did not have sufficient space to study; perhaps there was not even enough room to sleep comfortably. Jammed in with three, four, five or more to a room, they come to the school president (this was before everyone wanted to be called “chancellor”) and pleaded for something to be done.
The maligned young man of our text was one of the petitioners and, because he has received so much criticism, we would like to call attention to several of his good characteristics. In the first place,
I. HE WAS “FAITHFUL”
He had responded to the appeal for help in the emergency. There was a very definite and a very real need to be met, and he was neither oblivious to the situation nor indifferent to the crisis. He was faithfully responding to his own personal responsibility to help with the solution.
A sense of responsibility is a noble characteristic. How unusual it is in our day to find someone to whom you can turn over a job and not have to worry about it, never giving it a second thought. There is a definite shortage of people like that, individuals who will face a task and stay with it until it is done. If someone were to ask us to sum up the characteristic of our age, we would be tempted to reply: “a loss of the sense of personal responsibility!” It is safe to say that this young man was doing the job he was supposed to do.
We read one time of a grocer who placed a sign above his fruit display: “Apples you can eat in the dark!” He was saying his fruit was of a trustworthy nature and one could eat it with absolute confidence, never fearing worms or other flaws. If it is important to have trust in apples, how much more in individuals! This young man was a trustworthy young man, one who could be counted upon to do the job he was assigned.
That is not always easy. Ever present is a temptation to do something else. Just as the grass seems to always look greener on the other side of the fence, other duties often look more appetizing, and appealing. The pastor thinks it would be great to be an evangelist, and the evangelist thinks it would be ideal if he could only be a pastor. It is hard to stay on the job, to plug away, to ignore all enticements to leave the task unfinished and substitute a more glamorous service.
Did you ever notice that the percentage of those who stay in school and graduate is far, far lower than the number who enrolled as freshmen? Up to 50 percent – and sometimes more – drop out along the way of a four-year tenure. The studies are too difficult, the finances are too limited, an opportunity comes along to make big money doing something else, or perhaps the love-bug has bitten and the student feels he cannot continue his studies because of the pull in his heart toward the marriage altar. The late Bob Jones called these drop-outs “rabbit-chasers,” those who got off the main trail of treeing the possum.
The young prophet of our text was not a rabbit-chaser and he was not going to let a major obstacle like a lost axe head stop him. I like that! His philosophy was of the kind Jesus described in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” He was not looking back.
One who is faithful in his ordinary tasks will be rewarded by God with greater responsibilities. We cannot help but wonder if this young man were not the prophet Elisha selected to anoint Jehu as king over Israel to succeed the wicked Jehoram (II Kings 9:1-10). Or perhaps he was the Jahaziel upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came to assure Jehoshaphat and Judah of victory over the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir in II Chronicles 20. That, you may recall, was the famous battle won by singing praise to Jehovah! Or he may have been the Jehu who faced Jehoshaphat with the stinging rebuke for his alliance with the wicked Ahab.
A German youth, Ulrich Henn, was confined to an American prisoner-of-war stockade in Italy. He spent his spare time carving items out of scrap ammunition boxes. A third of a century later he was selected to prepare four full-sized models from which the huge bronze doors of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. would be cast. Great feats evolve from faithfulness to small beginnings.
Another thing which commends this young prophet to us is,
II. HE WAS “RESPONSIBLE!”
He was concerned about the axe. We fear that many, standing along the water’s edge and watching the axe head disappear beneath the surface, might have exulted inwardly, “Thank God, that wasn’t my axe head!”
Not this young man! He was concerned even though it was not his, since it was in his care. No doubt he recalled what the Law said about such an incident. The Lord God Jehovah had told Moses to write in Exodus 22:14, “if a man borrow aught of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.”
It is interesting that the young prophet took full responsibility for the loss. He did not offer any alibi or excuse such as others might today. He didn’t say, “The axe was no good when I got it,” “The head was loose to begin with,” “I didn’t want to cut down a tree that close to the water, but my foreman ordered me to do it,” etc., etc. No, he accepted full responsibility.
This is not usual in our day. Employers, supervisors, foremen and others over workers will tell you how hard it is to get people to acknowledge responsibility. “I didn’t do it,” “It wasn’t me,” “I don’t know anything about it,” are the most common, most popular phrases in our places of business in 2006. Any intelligent boss will realize he has a jewel on his hands when a worker says frankly, “That was my mistake. I am to blame.”
Not only did the student accept full responsibility, he determined to do something about the loss. He immediately launched an effort to get the axe head restored, although the situation must have looked absolutely hopeless to him at the time. He had an attitude to make it right, no matter what it took. Looking back, we are compelled to salute him for his spirit.
Another commendable characteristic lies in the fact,
II. HE WAS “RESPONSIBLE!”
Reread the account in II Kings 6, and you will note that he followed Elisha’s instructions to the minutest detail. He did everything Elisha told him to do.
When Elisha inquired, “Where fell it?” the inspired writer says, (“he showed him the place” (Vs. 6).
When Elisha commanded, “Take it up to thee,” we are told that the young man instantly “put out his hand, and took it” (Vs.7).
In thinking about it, doesn’t it seem reasonable that he might have questioned Elisha’s instructions, observing, “This sounds pretty silly to me”? Yet if he had any doubt at all about what Elisha ordered, the record does not even hint it. He was completely obedient.
The young seminarian’s dedication is also seen in verse 3, immediately after Elisha had given permission to construct the new dormitory. It tells us, “And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.” Whether our hero is the one who actually made the request of Elisha is immaterial. All of them wanted Elisha to go with them!
Like these young prophets, we had better want our Master with us in our work for Him. Our insistence ought to be the same as that of Moses to Jehovah, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). How foolish to go without God!
As the Savior told His disciples: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4, 5).
Nothing! That is what we can do without Him.
Conversely, there is nothing we cannot do with Him.
David Livingstone caught that truth and, in the heart of the dark continent of Africa, he wrote in his Journal the positive conviction: “If He be with me, I can do anything, anything, anything!”
The next nice thing we wish to observe about our young prophet is,
IV. HE WAS “INTELLIGENT!”
There is a wisdom that comes with “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). One who has been born into the family of God has a secret source of intelligence not available to the unconverted. Paul told the Corinthian believers “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), and he explained to young Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7}.
Part of the young man’s intelligence was seen in the fact that he stopped trying to cut the beam without the head on his axe. He did not flail away at the partly felled tree with the axe handle.
Do you suggest no one would be foolish? Then remember that, spiritually speaking, the axe head is a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit for service in a believer’s life. Yet many a child of God continues to try to do a job for God without the power of the Spirit of God upon him. In a manner of speaking, he continues to flail away with his axe handle, with the cutting edge of the axe head missing.
Another evidence of the young prophet’s intelligence is seen in the fact that he knew where to go for help in trouble. He did not turn to a fellow student or an immediate supervisor. No, no! He went immediately to Elisha and requested his help.
Note also that he was not of the “Oh, what will I do now?” crowd. He knew what to do, and he knew where to go.
Do you know where to go when you lose your cutting edge in service? Or do you think that attending a service seminar conducted by some popular speaker will unveil to you some new secret of success, some short-cut to triumph in your ministry?
While we do not object to conferences, seminars and “how-to-do-it” workshops, the proper answer to failure in service lies in a new enduement of Holy Spirit power in the life.
A final compliment we wish to pay this young man lies in the fact,
V. HE WAS “DEVOTED!”
There is no question about it; he was sold out to God! In the language of Galatians 2:20, he had been crucified, and the life he now lived was not his own.
The late Arno C. Gaebelein told of seeing a sign in a cleaning shop which said:
“I live to dye, I dye to live
The more I dye, the more I live
The more I live, the more I dye.”
While it is “die” and not “dye” with the child of God, the thought sums up an important truth in the Christian worker’s life and ministry.
The captain on whose ship James Calvert sailed to the Fiji Islands to begin a missionary ministry, knowing of the cannibalism practiced there, sought to dissuade him by saying, “You wil1 risk your life and the lives of those with you if you attempt a ministry among such savages.”
But Calvert simply responded, “We died before we came here.”
Ah, that is it! One who is going to be a success in the service of Jesus Christ will have to die before he begins his work.
The young prophet had that kind of philosophy, that type of attitude. One thing often overlooked by his critics is that he borrowed the axe to be able to help in the Lord’s work. How easy it would have been for him to have excused himself, saying, “I’d really like to help you fellows, but I don’t have an axe!” Can’t you just hear today’s crowd jumping at the chance to use such an ideal excuse?
Not this fellow! He wanted to be right in the thick of the service of the Lord, doing his part to further the work and program of his God.
His devotion is also seen in the fact that he was obviously a man of faith. He expected Elisha could and would do something. There does not seem to have been the slightest question in his mind but what he would have immediate help from Elisha.
In this sense he was like the centurion who sent the appeal to Jesus at Capernaum regarding his beloved servant, about to die with a terminal illness. Through friends he confessed he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his house – in fact, his sense of unworthiness was the reason he did not approach Jesus personally – but his declaration of faith was tremendous. He acknowledged it was not even necessary for Jesus to be present in order for the servant to be healed, suggesting that He merely “say in a word,” and it would take place. Then he said, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it” (Luke 7:8).
Our young prophet approached Elisha in exactly the same spirit. And this is the spirit in which all of us should approach our Master when things go wrong in our service for Him. He is the One who can help, and He is the One who is willing!
The question with which we wish to sum up this study will have more meaning, perhaps, if you are one of those who have criticized the young man of our text in days gone by, but it should carry weight even if you have not. The question is this: Are you as sold out to God and His work as this young man was? Now that you have seen him in a new light, such a question should carry a stronger impact.
Total commitment! This is what the young prophet had, and it is what you and I need as well. The late Robert G. Lee told of Napoleon’s march on Moscow when the Russians set fire to their own city to keep “the little general” and his troops from capturing it. Finding it necessary to go back to France, he instructed his trusted general, Marshall Ney, to command a rear guard. It was the duty of Ney and his men to keep the Russians from Napoleon’s main army until he could get those men safely back to Paris.
His men were totally dedicated to Ney, and they courageously battled the Russians, holding them back as they too retreated. While the Russians were undoubtedly conditioned to the cold nights of that country, they were especially hard on Ney and his men.
So dedicated were his troops to him, that one morning following an unusually cold night, the general awakened to discover he had been covered with two overcoats. When he left his tent, he found, at the door, two soldiers standing stiff and erect, frozen dead .They were the ones who had donated their overcoats to keep their leader warm.
Lee said, “And when they made improvised bridges, some of the men plunged into the icy cold waters and held up the parapets while the rear guard went over. As Marshall Ney went over, he pinned the cross of the Legion of Honor of France on the breasts of the dead men as they stood frozen in the icy water.”
Months later in Paris, a worn, bent and aged officer walked into Napoleon’s headquarters. Some of the officers looked up from their card game, and one jumped to his feet shouting, “It’s Marshall Ney!”
The others immediately rose and saluted, questioning, “Where is the rear guard?”
Ney squared his shoulders, Lee said, and firmly announced, “Sirs, I am the rear guard.”
He alone was left! All the others had given their lives in protecting Napoleon and the main part of the army, allowing them to get safely back to France. Yet the men in Ney’s rear guard did not consider themselves heroic. No, they were simply doing their duty and manifesting allegiance to their earthly leader.
Should we offer any less to our heavenly Leader? We ought to be as sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ as the rear guard was to Napoleon and the young prophet was to Elisha. In fact, our commitment should be even greater!
Perhaps we should ask one other question in the light of our text: Have you lost YOUR axe head”? Are you trying to serve God with the cutting edge of your ministry missing?
Christ is the A and the Z of the Christian ministry. A sermon that has no Christ is a dead failure. The minister who devotes his pulpit to anything but Christ is an imposter. Whatever great themes we may discuss, Christ must be the beginning and Christ the end. From His hand we get our commission at first, and to that same hand we at last surrender it. Though the colleges may give you a diploma, and Presbytery lay their hands on your head, if Christ send you not forth, you go on a fool’s errand; and though the schools reject you as incompetent, if the, Lord God tells you to preach, you have a right to go, and there is at least one pulpit in the land where your right to proclaim the Gospel is acknowledged. A sermon devoted to metaphysics is a stack of dry corn-stalks after the corn has been ripped out with the husking-peg. A sermon given up to sentimental and flowery speech is as a nosegay flung to a drowning sailor. A sermon devoted to moral essay is a basket of chips to help on the great burning. What the world wants now is to be told in the most flatfooted way of Jesus Christ, who comes to save men from eternal damnation. Christ the Light, Christ the Sacrifice, Christ the Rock, Christ the Star, Christ the Balm, Christ the Guide. If a minister should live one thousand years, and preach ten sermons each day, those subjects would not be exhausted. Do you find men tempted? Tell them of Christ the Shield. Or troubled? Tell them of Christ the Comfort. Or guilty? Tell them of Christ the Pardon. Or dying? Tell them of Christ the Life. Scores of ministers, yielding to the demands of the age for elegant rhetoric, and soft speech, and flattering terms, have surrendered their pulpits to the devil, “horse, foot, and dragoon.” May Christ be the burden of our talk; Christ the inspiration of our prayers; Christ the theme of our songs; Christ now, and Christ forever. In that stern hour when we feel that we shall never preach again, and we have ascended for the last time the pulpit, all but Christ will be nothing. Philosophy nothing; denominations nothing; conferences nothing; assemblies nothing; ourselves nothing, but CHRIST EVERYTHING!
Some facts about Dr. T DeWitt Talmage
Reverend Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (7 January1832 – 12 April1902) was an AmericanPresbyterian preacher, clergyman and divine. One of the most prominent religious leaders in the United States during the mid-to late 19th century, equaled as a pulpit orator perhaps only by Henry Ward Beecher, he was also a well-known reformer in New York City and was often involved in crusades against vice and crime during the 1860s and 70s.
During the last years of his life, Dr. Talmage ceased preaching and devoted himself to editing, writing, and lecturing. At different periods he was editor of the Christian at Work (1873–76), New York; the Advance (1877–79), Chicago; Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine (1879–89), New York; and the Christian Herald (1890-1902), New York. For years his sermons were published regularly in more than 3,000 journals, reaching, it is said, 25,000,000 readers.
–From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Sermon of Great Importance by this much read man of God.
Mending the Bible By T. DeWitt Talmage
“. . . “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 . . .” Rev. 22:19
You see it is a very risky business, this changing of the Holy Scriptures. A pulpit in New York has recently set forth the idea that the Scriptures ought to be expurgated (strained, distilled, purified), that portions of them are unfit to be read, and the inspiration of much of the Bible has been denied. Among other striking statements are these: 1. The book of Genesis is a tradition of creation, a successive layer of traditions thought out centuries before. 2. Moses’ mistakes about creation were the mistakes of his age. 3. That there are many systems of theology in the New Testament. 4. That Paul had all the notions of the rabbinical schools of his time. 5. That Job winds up his epilogue in genuine fairy-tale style. 6. That Revelation is a long array of misshapen progeny in the apocalyptic writings, tracing themselves back to Daniel. 7. That Revelation comes To a madman, or leaves him mad. 8. That what he calls the abominable lewdness of some things in the Old Testament is not fit to be read. 9. That it is an abominable misuse of the Bible to suppose the prophecies really foretell future events. 10. That the book of Daniel is not in the right place. 11. That Solomon’s Songs are not in the right place, and he seems to applaud the idea of someone who said that the book of Solomon’s Songs ought not to be in anyone’s hands under thirty years of age. 14. He intimates that he does not believe that Samson slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. 15. That the whole Bible has been improperly chopped up into chapters and verses. He does not believe the beginning of the Bible, and he does not believe the close of it, nor anything between as fully inspired of God, and he thinks the Book ought to be expurgated, and there are those who re-echo the same sentiment.
THE HYPOCRISY OF MINISTERS ATTACKING THE BIBLE!
Now, I believe in the largest liberty of discussion, and there are halls and opera houses and academies of music where the Bible and Christianity may be assaulted without interruption; but when a minister of the Gospel surrenders the faith of any denomination, his first plain, honest duty is to get out of it. What would you think of the clerk in a dry-goods store or a factory or a baking-house, who should go to criticizing the books of the firm and denouncing the behavior of the firm, still taking the salary of that firm and the support of that firm, and doing all his denunciation of the books of the firm under its cover? Certainly, a minister of the Gospel ought to be as honest with his denomination as a dry-goods clerk is honest with his employers. The heinousness of finding fault with the Bible at this time by a Christian minister is most evident. In our day the Bible is assailed by scurrility, by misrepresentation, by infidel scientist, by all the vice of earth and all the venom of perdition, and at this particular time ministers of religion fall into line of criticism of the Word of God. Why, it makes me think of a ship in a September equinox, the waves dashing to the top of the smokestack, and the hatches fastened down and many prophesying the foundering of the steamer, and at that time some of the crew with axes and saws go down into the hold of the ship and try to saw off some of the planks and pry out some of the timbers because the timber did not come from the right forest! It does not seem commendable business for the crew to be helping the winds and storms outside with their axes and saws inside. Now this old Gospel ship, (what with the roaring of earth and Hell around the stem and stern, and mutiny on deck,) is having a very rough voyage, but I have noticed that not one of the timbers has started, and the Captain says He will see it through. And I have noticed that keelson and counter-timber knee are built out of Lebanon cedar, and she is going to weather the gale, but no credit to those who make mutiny on deck. When I see ministers of religion in this particular day finding fault with the Scriptures, it makes me think of a fortress terrifically bombarded, and the men on the ramparts, instead of swabbing out and loading the guns and helping fetch up the ammunition from the magazine, are trying with crowbars to pry out from the wall certain blocks of stone, because they did not come form the right quarry. Oh, men of the ramparts, better fight back and fight down the common enemy, instead of trying to make breaches in the wall.
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE COULD DO ANYTHING: A GOD OF MIRACLES
While I oppose this expurgation of the Scriptures, I shall give you my reasons for such opposition. “What!” say some of the theological evolutionists, whose brains have been addled by too long brooding over them by Darwin and Spencer, “you don’t now really believe all the story of the Garden of Eden, do you?” Yes, as much as I believe all the roses that were in my garden last summer. “But,” say they, “you don’t really believe that the sun and moon stood still?” Yes, and if I had strength enough tom create a sun and moon, I could make them stand still, or cause the refraction of the sun’s rays so it would appear to stand still. “But,” they say, “you don’t really believe that the whale swallowed Jonah?” Yes, and if I were stong enough to make a whale, I could have made very easy ingress for the refractory tenant. “But,” say they, ” you don’t really believe that the water was turned into wine?” Yes, just as easily as water now is often turned into wine with a mixture of strychnine and logwood! “But,” say they, “you don’t really believe that Samson slew a thousand with the jawbone of an ass?” Yes, as I think that the man who in this day assults the Bible is wielding the same weapon! There is nothing in the Bible that staggers me. There are many things I do not understand, I do not pretend to understand, never shall in this world understand. But that would be a very poor God who could be fully understood y the human. That would be a very small Infinite that can be measured by the finite. You must not expect to weigh the thunderbolts of Omnipotence in an apothecary’s balances. Starting with the idea that God can do anything., and that He was present at the beginning, and that He is present now, there is nothing in the Holy Scriptures to arouse skepticism in my heart. Here I stand, a fossil of the ages, dug up from the tertiary formation, fallen off the shelf of an antiquarian, a man in the latter part of the glorious nineteenth century, believing in a whole Bible from lid to lid.
THE BIBLE MIRACULOUSLY PRESERVED
I am opposed to the expurgation of the Scriptures in the first place because the Bible in its present shape has been so miraculously preserved. Fifteen hundred years after Herodotus wrote his history, there was only one manuscript copy of it. Twelve hundred years after Plato wrote his book, there was only one manuscript copy of it. God was so carful to have us have the Bible in just the right shape, that we have fifty manuscript copies of the New Testament a thousand years old, and many of them fifteen hundred years old. This Book, handed down from the time of Chirist, or just after the time of Christ, by the hand of such men as Origen in the second century, and Tertullian in the third century – men of different ages who died for their principles. The three best copies of the New Testament in manuscript in the possession of three great churches – the Protestant Church of England, the Greek Church of St. Pertesburg, and the Romish Church of Italy. It is a plain matter of history that Tischendorf went to a convent in the peninsula of Sinai, and was by ropes lifted over the wall into the convent, that being the only mode of admission and that he saw there in the wastebasket for kindling for the fires a manuscript of the holy Scriptures. That night he copied many of the passages of that Bible, but it was not until fifteen years had passed of earnest entreaty and prayer and coaxing and purchase on his part that that copy of the Holy Scriptures was put into the hands of the Emperor of Russia – that one copy so marvelously protected. Do you not know that the catalog of the books of the Old and New Testaments, as we have it, is the same catalog that has been coming on down through the ages? Thirty-nine books of the Old Teatament thousands of years ago. Thirty-nine now. Twenty-seven books of the New Testament, sixteen hundred years ago. Twenty-seven now. Marcion, for wickedness, was turned out of the Church in the second century, and in his assult on the Bible and Christianity, he incidentally gives a catalog of the Books of the Bible – that catalog corresponds exactly with ours – testimony given by the enemy of the Bible and the enemy of Christianity. The catalog now, just like the catalog then. Assulted and spit on and torn to pieces and burned, yet adhering. The Book today, in three hundred languages, confronting four-fifths of the human race in their own tongue,. Three hundred million copiies of it in existence. Does not that look as if this Book had been divinely protected, as if God had guarded it all through t he centuries? Not only have all the attempts to detract from the Book failed, but all the attempts to add to it. Many attempts were made to add the apocryphal books to the Old Testament. The Council of Trent, the Synod of Jerusalem, the bishops of Hippo all decided that the apocryphal books must be added to the Old Testament. “They must stay in,” said those learned men, but they stayed out. There is not an intelligent Christian man that today will put the book of Maccabees or the book of Judith beside the book of Isaiah or Romans. Then a great many said, “We must have books added to the New Testament,” and there were epistles and gospels and apocalypses written and added to the New Testament, but they have all fallen out. You cannot add anything. You cannot subtract anything. Divinely protected book in the present shape. Let no man dare to lay his hands on it with the intention of detracting from the Book or casting out any of these holy pages.
ALL THE BEST CHRISTIANS WANT THE BIBLE SACREDLY KEPT:
INFIDELS WANT IT CHANGED
I am also opposed to this proposed expurgation of the Scriptures for the fact that in proportion as people become self-sacrificing and good and holy and consecrated, they like the Book as it is. I have yet to find a man or a woman distinguished for self-sacrifice, for consecration to God, for holiness of life, who wants the Bible changed. Many of us have inherited family Bibles. Those Bibles were in use twenty, forty, fifty, perhaps a hundred years in the generations. This afternoon when you go home, take down those family Bibles and find out if there are any chapters which have been erased by lead pencil or pen, and if in any margin you can find the words, “This chapter not fit to read.” There has been plenty of opportunity during the last half century privately to expurgate the Bible. Do you know any case of such expurgation? Did not your grandfather give it to your father, and did not your father give it to you? Expurgate the Bible! You might as well go to the old picture galleries in Dresden and in Venice and in Rome and expurgate the old paintings. Perhaps you could find a foot of Michel Angelo’s “Last Judgement” that might be improved. Perhaps you could throw more expression into Raphael’s “Madonna.” Perhaps you could put more pathos into Rubens’ “Descent from the Cross.” Perhaps you could change the crests of the waves in Turner’s “Slave Ship.” Perhaps you might go into the old galleries of sculptures and change the forms and postures of the statues of Phidias and Praxiteles. Such an iconclast would very soon find himself in the penitentiary. But it is worse vandalism when a man purposes to refashion these masterpieces of inspiration and to remodel the moral giants of this gallery of God.
Now let us divide off. Let those people who do not believe the Bible and who are critical of this and that part of it, go clear over to the other side. Let them stand behind the Devil’s guns. There can be no compromise between infidelity and Christianity. Give us the out-and-out opposition of infidelity rather that the work of these hybrid theologians, these mongrel ecclesiatics, these half-and-half evoluted pulpiteers who believe the Bible and don’t believe it, who accept the miracles and do not accept them, who believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures and do not believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures – trimming their belief on one side to suit the skepticism of the world, trimming their belief on the other side to suit the pride of their own heart and feeling that in order to demonstrate their courage they must make the Bible a target, and shoot at God.
There is one thing that encourages me very much and that is that the Lord made out to manage the universe before they were born, and will probably be able to make out to manage the universe a little while after they are dead. While I demand that the antagonists of the Bible and the critics of the Bible go clear over where they belong, on the Devil’s side, I ask all the friends of this good Book to come out openly and aboveboard in behalf of it. That Book, which was the best inheritance you ever received from your ancestry, and which will be the best legacy you will leave to your children when you bid them goodby as you cross the ferry to the Golden City.
Think of all the wonderful doctrines of Scripture that are so meaningful to you and to the Christian churches. Long before we memorize the verses and recite them to others we tend to sing them from the great hymns of our faith. Songs & Hymns is here to remind you of the importance of singing in our worship and praise to God. We owe a debt to the hymn writers who have carefully captured the weighty doctrines of the Bible and translated them into easy to sing lyrics. We shall not attempt to name all the great songs and hymns that have impacted our lives–the list would be too long, but here we post a few to whet your spiritual appetite for song and verse. I have added several other favorites to this short list. By the way, here is a site where you can review many, many more hymns and songs: http://my.homewithgod.com/heavenlymidis/hymns.html
Do you love the doctrine of the cross? Then reflect on the hymn of William Cowper–There is a Fountain. Here is a song so filled with doctrine you will find it difficult to exhaust its deep meanings. How about George Bennard’s The Old Rugged Cross?What Christian has not wept as that message in song penetrated their heart? Another is Isaac Watts’ At the Cross. What about the resurrection? Surely Robert Lowry’s Christ Arose! has made many saints of old shout praises unto the Lord.
Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!
I love that song. Why don’t you see if you can sing it right now. Go ahead–you know it. Oh, the joy singing to God these blessed songs of our faith. Here’s another song filled and overflowing with doctrine–One Day. This hymn was written by a famous preacher, pastor-evangelist–J. Wilburn Chapman. He greatly influenced Billy Sunday. Look at his words and count the doctrines:
One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my Example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He’s coming – O glorious day!
One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!
One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down over His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved One bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!
Let us not forget the works of an old slave trader, John Newton. His life story is colorful, sad and eventful. Look him up and learn of his story. However, we shall refer to a bit of his creativity, Amazing Grace. We all recognize this remarkable hymn by the opening line of the song, but do you know the original title? Faith’s Review and Expectation. For one, I am glad the title changed to the one we know and love.
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.
‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
bright shinning as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s Praise
than when we first begun!
Here’s another hymn that has challenged Christians down through the long years. Am I a Soldier of The Cross? written by Isaac Watts. He didn’t stop there. Who has not enjoyed singing and hearing sung, Joy to the World and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross? These and some 700 others were penned by this prolific hymn master.
Am I a Soldier of The Cross?
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith’s discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through skies,
The glory shall be Thine.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful? Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer!Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised, Thou wilt all our burdens bear.
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded, there will be no need for prayer. Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Joseph Scriven was an unusal man who loved his Lord. Devoutly religious, he gave freely of what money he had, even giving his own clothig and services to those poorer than himself who needed them. His fiancée drowned in 1845, the night before they were to be married. The grief-stricken young man moved to Canada. There he again fell in love, was due to be married and the young woman suddenly fell ill of pneumonia and died. He then devoted the rest of his life to helping others. After spending the evening with others, he disappeared one night and his body was found in the water nearby.
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Most good hymn books have a good selection of songs written by Fanny Crosby (Did you know her middle name was Jane?).She lost her eyesight shortly after birth because of a health accident.She was a life-long Methodist and wrote over 8,000 songs.One of her great hymns is: Blessed Assurance
Solid Rock (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less) By Edward Mote
Edward Mote: Did you ever hear of him? You probably have joined in on one of his lovely songs, “My Hope Is Built.” Also known as “Solid Rock.” Rev. Mote was born in January 21, 1797 and died November 13, 1874–77 fruitful years. His early years were spent in the cabinetry business. Later in life he became a Baptist pastor and served 26 Years at Horsham, Sussex. He was a popular pastor and so well-loved that his congregation offered him the title to the church building. Listen to what he said to that offer: “I do not want the chapel, I only want the pulpit; and when I cease to preach Christ, then turn me out of that.” Interesting thing about this song, My Hope is Built–the day he wrote the first few lines to the song he ran into a friend who told him his wife was gravely ill. The friend asked that he visit her and see if he could prayerfully cheer her. Rev. Mote and the friend went immediately to her bedside. The friend said it is my custom to sing a song, read some from God’s Word and then engage in prayer. When the friend looked for his hymn book he couldn’t locate it. Rev. Mote said, “I have just penned the words to a new song and I have it in my pocket. We could sing it. And they did. The man’s wife enjoyed the new song so well that the friend asked him to leave a copy. Since the song was not complet, Mote returned home and completed the last two verses and then gave a copy to the friend. So this song–the very first time it was sung–blessed the soul of a woman who was at death’s door (or I should say, Heaven’s door). The song has blessed many saints since. (Note: I was in church yesterday, Sunday, June 7, 2009. Our music leader led the church in singing this great hymn). Here are the words.
Solid Rock (My Hope is Built)
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
There’s a great feast day coming. Many believe that time is so very near. We can only hope and pray it so. Right now–today–Jesus through the Holy Spirit and the preaching of His Word is calling out men and women to come to Him. Have you answered that call? Don’t delay. Today is the day of salvation.
Come and Dine
Jesus has a table spread
Where the saints of God are fed.
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”
With His manna He doth feed,
And supplies our ev’ry need;
O ’tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time!
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”
The disciples came to land,
Thus obeying Christ’s command,
For the Master called to them, “O come and dine;”
There they found their hearts’ desire,
Bread and fish upon the fire;
Thus He satisfies the hungry ev’ry time.
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”
Soon the Lamb will take His bride,
To be ever at His side,
All the host of heaven will assembled be;
O ’twill be a glorious sight,
All the saints in spotless white;
And with Jesus they will feast eternally.
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”
Come and Dine Words and Music by C. B. Widmeyer Scripture: “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God.” –Luke 14:15
Rock of Ages
Words by Augustus M. Toplady
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Dr. Robert L. Sumner, Editor of The Biblical Evangelist wrote the following introduction to Dr. Wemp’s message when he published it in his paper. “We are running an important message by one of our columnists, C. Sumner Wemp, on a controversial subject misunderstood by many, many people, saved and unsaved alike. We think you will find it helpful. When Dr. E. Schuyler English printed it in Our Hope magazine over a half-century ago, he told our brother it was the best explanation he had ever heard on the matter, adding, “You should write more.” Well, bless his heart, he has, but this may have been one of his most helpful pieces of penmanship over all the years of his blessed, fruitful ministry.”
The Sin Unto Death!
By Dr. C. Sumner Wemp
10005 Chimney Hill Lane, , TX75243
What is it to sin unto death? Can you, as a Christian, commit such a sin? These are heart-searching questions which may be answered for you in this message.
WAIT! Are you about to sin unto death? Do you know what it means to sin unto death? Since there seems to be much difference of opinion and misunderstanding about this subject, there is a deep need for a definite answer to the question. We trust that, by God’s grace, this will be the answer to help you.
Here is what we are told in I John 5:16: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”
The “any man” of this verse must surely be a Christian, for only a Christian can pray for others and their sins. The whole context, speaking as it does of prayer, certainly suggests this strongly. It is also consistent with the rest of the book to understand “man” as referring to a Christian, as in 3:3, “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”
Dr. A. Plummer points out that “see” is in the aorist tense in the Greek and contains the idea of seeing on any particular occasion. He further states: “The case is one in which the sinner is seen in the very act.” The verse in question certainly suggests, in the opening sentences, that one would recognize the act of sin as being not unto death. From this we must gather that the people to whom John wrote were familiar with the fact that there was sin unto death, and that they knew what it was. Much has been said to the effect that, in the Greek, there is no article “a,” that thus this is not a particular sin. However, the context must determine whether this is a particular sin or not, and it seems to me to indicate that it is.
From the tense of the verb, “sin,” we learn that the person committing it is continuing in this sin. It does not mean, however, that the person is under the control of it, as a habit. There are many outward sinful habits which Christians have for which they do not die. While the person here commits this sin more than once, this does not seem be the reason it is “unto death.” The nature of the sin seems to be the cause for death. If it were because of the number of times the sin was committed, then the emphasis would be on the quantity and not on the quality of the itself.
We must notice, too, that the person committing this particular sin is called a “brother,” which limits it to a Christian. This is pretty well accepted by most, but some do say he is merely a professing Christian. John addresses the people throughout this epistle as a family group in Christ, and “brother,” which is used several times, is Iimited to a truly born again person. He must be a Christian if the “any man” is a Christian, unless “brother” be limited just to the blood relationship. This surely is not the meaning here.
This” death” is physical death, for a Christian can never die spiritually (John 11 :25, 26). If the passage were speaking of spiritual death, then any sin would bring that and not just some particular one; “for the wages of sin (any sin) is death.” That a Christian can meet physical death prematurely is shown from I Corinthians 11 :30, where God says that some Christians are” asleep” because of the wrong manner of partaking the Lord’s Supper. Another case of death for a particular sin is that of Ananias and Sapphira, recorded in Acts 5. Surely most of us have seen each of these sins committed at one time or another, and yet the people who sin thus are still living. This suggests that the Lord did something special in each of these cases or, at least, that these sins in themselves are not “unto death.”
Perhaps what happened in each of the cases cited led to sin unto death.
One last thought, before we discuss the sin itself. The main subject of this passage is prayer. God is limiting prayer to asking “according to His will,” as verse 14 tells us. It is a matter of spiritual discernment to pray according to His will. It is our duty to discover what His will is, and to pray wisely about each matter. There are many things for which we should pray, and many for which we should not pray. The Bible tells us so. We know, according to I Peter 3:7, that some prayers are hindered because of a wrong relationship between the husband and wife. Some prayers are wasted because we “ask amiss to consume it upon our lusts” (Jas. 4:3). Because of sin in our hearts, God does not hear us, says the Psalmist. Here God is giving us more of His will so that we will know how to pray. We are not commanded to pray for the sin unto death, yet we are not told not to pray for it.
Just what is the sin unto death? The Bible answers for us. Proverbs 15: 10 says: “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way; and he that hateth reproof shall die.” Lost people do not go to hell for hating reproof, but for unbelief (John 3 :18, Rom. 4 :3). The death, then, must be physical and not spiritual. This correction and reproof are God’s and not man’s, for ours can be faulty. It is true that the unsaved man, who rebels at conviction by the Holy Spirit and refuses Christ, will die spiritually, but this is not what our passage is describing. God does not try to correct or reform the unsaved. They need new birth, and that is God’s aim for them.
Now God does try to correct His own children. The Bible and human experience are full of examples of this. How often someone points out how the unsaved “get away” with so many things, but the saved man is chastened by the Lord! The unsaved will surely reap the consequences of sin and suffer terribly, but this is different from the correction of the Lord. The person described here not only finds correction grievous, but hates reproof. Dr. A. R. Fausset makes this striking comment: “From regarding ‘correction’ as ‘grievous’ at first, he comes at last to positive and inveterate hatred of it.” Surely a child of God is expected to be more submissive to God than this.
Suppose we examine several New Testament passages which substantiate this view. First, take Hebrews 12:5-7,9: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?.. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
God says: “Despise not [regard not lightly, R.V.] the chastening of the Lord”; for “we gave our earthly fathers reverence,” and shall we not much more give God, our Lord, reverence “and live?” How many times have you read this verse and not noticed the last two words: “and live”? We know this refers to physical life, for those addressed already have spiritual life. Must we not conclude, then, that not to give reverence to God for His correction would bring physical death? What wickedness, to be more in subjection to our earthly fathers than our heavenly Father! If we adjusted our lives to please our earthly fathers, we certainly should adjust them for our Lord. Could it not be that many parents do not teach their children obedience, and have succumbed to the modern psychology of “sparing the rod” (and “hating” their children by so doing), thus preparing them to hate reproof when it does come?
This business of Christian obedience is a serious thing. When we realize that we are “the light of the world,” we can see why God will do all that He can to correct us, so that our light might shine brightly and not lead lost people into “outer darkness.” Perhaps we need to emphasize in our preaching: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus. ..” He is Lord and we need to surrender to Him.
We can be grieved at the correction until we come to hate the Lord’s reproof, and then it is the sin unto death. How helpful it would be to realize that God chastens” for our profit” and not as our earthly fathers, “after their own pleasure” (vs. 10)! God says that chastening “yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby” (vs. 11). Oh, that God’s children would only yield to the Lord and His purifying ways!
There is another passage, James 5 :19, 20, which coincides with this truth: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Here again we must notice that the” brethren” and “sinner” are saved people. “Convert” does not essential1y mean to get saved; it means to turn about or to change. A Christian can be converted every day, in the sense of turning from sin each day. “Convert” means simply to turn from sins now being committed here.
Observe that the one converted will be saved from death. Again, this must be physical death, for when we receive eternal life we cannot die spiritually because of the nature of the life we get from God. It is God’s kind of life that never dies. It is of vital importance, then, that Christians, in deep humility, do all possible to convert the erring brother lest he, being weak, while being chastened should come to hate the correction of the Lord. This is a very serious thing and should be looked into carefully by every Christian. Today we take too lightly our responsibility toward our brethren. Instead of trying to convert them, we often condemn them. Much preaching could be done here, but we will trust the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about this matter.
Final1y, may we look at one more verse, James 1:15? “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” This is true in both the spiritual and physical realm. It is true that the end for the unsaved is death or hell, but it can also be true that the end of the saved person’s sin can result in physical death. How drastic and solemn is the word “finished”! Thank God, sin need not see such a “finish” in our lives, nor in the lives of lost people of today. Are you not glad that today is the day of salvation for the lost? Today can also be the day that any who errs from the truth may be converted from the error of his way.
There is good news, too, that a Christian can have a safeguard against ever getting to the point of hating reproof. I Corinthians 11:31, 32 says: “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” It is important that a Christian should deal with his sins honestly, admitting that they are sin, confessing them to the Lord, turning from them, and having them cleansed by the blood of Christ. The liberty we have in Christ is not a license to sin. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1, 2). There will be no loss of fellowship and no need for chastening to the Christian who is faithful in this matter. Let it be plainly understood that we are not to “to regard lightly” the chastening of the Lord. It can become sin unto death, even to you.