Forward and Upward

Articles for inspiration, counsel, and caution.

By W.H. Branson

It has been God's order in all ages of the history of this world that young men should be called to enter the sa­cred work of the ministry, dedicating the vigor of young manhood to His service, and through succeeding years of trial, suffering, and arduous labor, develop the strength of character re­quired in stalwart leaders. Therefore when a young man is set apart to the ministry, let no one feel that the dig­nity of this sacred calling is lowered.

Especially should the young minister be welcomed by those of long experi­ence, and in every way instructed and guarded lest he unconsciously bring re­proach upon the ministry; and he should earnestly endeavor to avoid giv­ing occasion to any to regard lightly his message because of his youth. The counsel of the apostle Paul to a young man has been preserved in the divine Guide Book for the admonition of young ministers:

"Let no one think slightingly of you because you are a young man; but in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, be an example for your fellow Chris­tians to imitate." 1 Tim. 4: 11, 12, Weymouth.

In his speech, the young minister is to set an example which his fellow Christians may safely imitate. Now I do not think that the apostle refers simply to correct grammatical con­struction in speech, or to the exact tone of the voice, although these are essential for study and mastery by the minister, but the admonition involves the importance of having every word that issues from the mouth of the am­bassador for. God be pure and whole­some. It is required of the minister that he maintain the dignity of his office in conversation. He cannot de­scend to the low levels of cheap, friv­olous talk. As a representative of heaven's King, his thoughts and speech must originate on the highlands of purity and holiness. If he would im­press men that the religion of Jesus Christ is worthy of acceptance, he must refrain from jesting, joking, or light and foolish conversation; he cannot deal in subterfuges, or snake mislead­ing statements to deceive; he must re­frain from criticism or faultfinding with his brethren in the ministry or in the church.

The apostle James declares the reli­gion of Christ " is first pure." There­fore, one who endeavors to represent the religion of Christ must give evi­dence of accepting the first principle,—purity,— which is manifest in speech. But purity of speech presupposes pu­rity of heart. It is impossible for a man's speech to be pure if his heart is vile.

I believe that a minister of God, young or old, and in fact every Chris­tian, ought to be as transparent in speech and character as the glass in the window; so that when people see us and listen to our words, they can look straight through appearance and words, and know that there is nothing covered and that we speak in sincerity and truth. People have a perfect right to expect that our lives will back up the things which we utter through speech.

Claremont, South Africa.

What Shall the Preacher Preach?

By I.H. Evans

It was said of Christ, "The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon Me; because Jehovah hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteous­ness, the planting of Jehovah, that He may be glorified." Isa. 61: 1-3, A. R. V.

Of Christ's work the same prophet said:

" Behold, My Servant, whom I up­hold; My chosen, in whom My soul delighteth: I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry, nor lift up His voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. A bruised reed will He not break, and a dimly burning wick will He not quench: He will bring forth justice in truth." Isa. 42: 1-3.

These scriptures clearly set forth what the preacher is to preach,— the kingdom of righteousness as revealed in the life of Christ and in the word of God. The apostle Paul once said, " We preach Christ crucified, . Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." So the man who would preach in the name of his Master must preach Christ, and Him crucified, as revealed in the written word.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul said, " Preach the word." Often men preach almost anything but the word of God. They recite travel stories, picture battle scenes and curious ex­periences, they relate anecdotes, laugh­able and weepable, but they do not preach Christ, they do not present the word of God.

It is the authority of the word that men want to hear and feel.

"The word of God is living, and ac­tive, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the divid­ing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not mani­fest in His sight; but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Heb. 4: 12, 13.

The Lord told Jeremiah what His prophet should preach:

"The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My word, let him speak My word faith­fully. What is the straw to the wheat? saith Jehovah. Is not My word like fire? saith Jehovah; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah, that steal My words every one from his neighbor.

Behold, I am against the prophets, saith Jehovah, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy lying dreams, saith Jehovah, and do tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting: yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; neither do they profit this people at all, saith Jehovah." Jer. 23:28-32.

There is but one thing to preach, and that is, " Preach the word " of God, the living and the written word, in all its fullness. That word will be a fire to melt, a hammer to break in pieces. It will reach the hardest heart, if that heart is reachable. It can melt a heart of stone. It is a fire to fuse and mellow and soften. It is a hammer to break and crush. That word is divine, holy, God-given, and has life and power.

When it is preached in simplicity and in faith, backed up by a life that har­monizes with that word, it becomes mighty, yes, all-powerful. Sinners can resist man with all his acquirements, but that word is mightier than man. " Preach the word." Preach it not as a dead and ancient thing, for that word is " living," and it will bring con­viction to those who hear.

If you want converts, " preach the word." If you hope to save men from sin, " preach the word." If you desire to have God with you, " preach the word." If you seek aid from the Holy Spirit, " preach the word." You have no message but it. If God can use you, He can use you best in preaching the word.

Shanghai, China.

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By W.H. Branson

November 1928

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