By W.A. Spicer
Very generally, the world over, I think, the relationships in our work illustrate the text: " Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! " Ps. 133:1.
But let us ever plan against friction. Difficulty may arise in personal relationships of workers just because the work is not planned out systematically so that every worker knows his own task and the sphere of his jurisdiction. Hardly anything is more injurious to the worker than friction, and this sometimes arises from two men's mixing into the same task. It is a splendid sight to see a conference president or an institutional leader, or a district leader or church officer, laying out the duties of all so methodically that everybody knows exactly what is expected of him. One thing it is useful to remember: we are to watch the points of contact, where our work touches the work of another. We are to have no personal conflicts with any fellow worker. At no point in the whole organization of the church is anybody set with authority to contend for personal opinion and judgment. " No man liveth unto himself." We are set in associate work. We ourselves, all of us, are under authority. We have counselors to give us counsel in every matter that would lead to our being pressed into personal conflict with any.
These committees or boards of counsel which have been chosen as advisory bodies for all executive officers, are the Lord's own creation to insure that no one mind shall decide things at any point in the work. The arrangement is a rampart of defense for every executive, an assurance of concert of counsel for every worker. Any worker inclined to feel that an executive is arbitrary in his relationships, should know that any matter that involves possible conflict of opinion and judgment is a matter in which the executive is acting under counsel with his committee. There must not be personal friction and personal conflict in the work.
Many years ago in the Mission Board office, I recall that the principle laid down for the guidance of workers in remote mission fields was that no two workers were ever to discuss differences to the point of really sharp conflict of opinion. As soon as ever controversy arose, before there was any chance for personal feelings to arise, it was to be agreed mutually that each party to a difference would set his view down on paper for the mission committee, or bring it by word of mouth, each party strongly and earnestly and yet calmly and in a Christian spirit stating his understanding of the case. Then it is a matter for disinterested and neutral advisers to give the counsel in the fear of God.
If a local committee is too much involved to give impartial consideration, union or division or General advisers are available. That worker has had an unfortunate experience who, in the course of thirty or forty or fifty years, has not been able, generally and resignedly and cheerfully, to accept the earnest counsel of his brethren in any part of the world. The Lord does help committees where all seek to reach the right understanding of a case and unite upon the counsel to be given.
Personally I have never found anywhere on earth a body of associate workers whose counsel I would not rather have than my own in any matter in which any personal interest might influence judgment or where any opinion of mine might lead to conflict with others. Let us plan and pray to keep friction over personal differences or relationships out of the work of God.
Washington, D. C.
Keep the Church Pure
By E.E. Andross
Under the influence of God's Holy Spirit, every great reform movement has enjoyed a period of rapid development. It has won the hearts of the honest, sincere seekers after truth. The archenemy, alarmed at the conquests of truth, rallies his forces, and in addition to the many other cunning, artful devices he employs to paralyze the movement, he has always led some of his emissaries to make a false show of conversion to the truth, in order to get inside the Lord's fortress and betray it. This is one great danger that always confronts the church of God whenever she is viril with life and power. The New Testament church, also the church of the Reformation, suffered greatly from this method of attack. The danger demands constant and vigilant watchfulness.
There is, however, another method employed by the great deceiver, which is perhaps even more subtle and fatal to every period of conquest in the life of the church, and that is the influx of those who may be intellectually but not spiritually converted, or those who may be prompted to seek membership in the church through fear or some other motive than sincere love to God. Although outwardly assenting to the doctrines of the gospel, and outwardly conforming, for a time at least, to the high standard of holiness that the church must ever maintain, yet lacking a change of heart, these individuals bring with them into the sacred precincts of the Lord's family the leaven of unrighteousness, which soon manifests itself in love of the world, its fashions, its customs, its pleasures, its lusts. Except the individual is genuinely converted, and all these evil things completely eradicated from the soul temple, they will in time assert the supremacy, and the church, after sustaining serious loss in prestige, is compelled to eliminate all such worldly elements, or suffer ultimate defeat.
The church is not a reform school or a house of correction. It is the holy family of the redeemed. True, it has not yet attained unto perfection, but with face set as a flint Zionward, it is to " press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:14. Its members are to tread the narrow path that leads to holiness and heaven, and never to be contaminated by the pollutions of this world. Its ranks are to be recruited from those who have died to this world, and entered into a new life in Christ Jesus; who have been born of the Spirit into the household of faith.
When ancient Israel departed from Egypt, a mixed multitude accompanied them. It was this mixed multitude that caused the greatest trouble to Moses and his associates. They were constantly an element of weakness. They left Egypt in company with God's people because they feared the judgments of an offended God, not because they loved the God of mercy and truth.
In the days of the apostles, the Lord wrought mightily for His people, and thousands were converted and united with the church. During that period the church was represented under the figure of " a white horse " and its rider: " I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." Rev. 6:2. In the early history of the church the Spirit of the Lord wrought so mightily upon the hearts of the people that the unconverted were afraid to join themselves to the church, and yet we are told, " Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women." Acts 5:14. A little later on the mystery of iniquity began to work; men arose speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves, and in time the church was corrupted.
Today the same dangers confront us. It is our solemn duty to do everything in our power to proclaim to all men the glorious gospel of the blessed God. As far as lies in our power, we must " make disciples of all the nations." Under the mighty influence of the Holy Spirit in the " latter rain," the hearts of multitudes will be stirred by the solemn truths of the third angel's message. But many are moved by a desire to escape the judgments of God rather than by love for Him. The intellect responds, but not the heart, Unless we do our utmost to bring all into heart relation with the Author of truth, and thereby keep out of our ranks this undesirable formal element, we shall find the church is being robbed of much of the power of God, and great perplexity and trouble will follow.
Satan adopts this intellectual assent method, hoping thereby to rob the church of power, and to bring the truth of God into reproach. He cares not how many make profession, if they lack in possession of the spiritual life.
We must build upon a solid foundation. Today the exhortation of Paul to Timothy, " Preach the word," is most appropriate. The free use of the " sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," will be the most effective agency in keeping this undesirable element from our ranks.
The church is represented in the Bible as a great spiritual temple, and the people of God as builders of this temple. Material is to be brought into the temple in order that it may be completed. We are exhorted by the great apostle in these words, " Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. . . . Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." 1 Cor. 3:10-13.
Two kinds of material are brought for this building; one is highly inflammable and will be quickly destroyed, while the other will endure the test of fire. It is our solemn duty to put into the temple only such material as will endure the fiery trials of these last days. The material that we bring to the foundation must be tested by the word of God. If it does not measure up to this test, it should not be in the Lord's temple, for this building is to be composed wholly of gold, silver, and precious stone.
" The Christian who faithfully presents the word of life, leading men and women into the way of holiness and peace, is bringing to the foundation material that will endure, and in the kingdom of God he will be honored as a wise builder."—" The Acts of the Apostles," p. 599.
"If you lower the standard in order to secure popularity and an increase of numbers, and then make this increase a cause of rejoicing, you show great blindness. If numbers were evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for, in this world, his followers are largely in the majority. It is the degree of moral power . . . that is a test of its [the church's] prosperity. It is the virtue, intelligence, and piety of the people composing our churches, not their numbers, that should be a source of joy and thankfulness."—" Testimonies," Vol. V, pp. 31, 32.
Every minister, before administering the ordinance of baptism, should exercise the greatest care in the examination of the candidates, and so far as it is possible to determine, only those who are genuinely converted to God, whose characters have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and whose lives have been brought into harmony with the teachings of God's word, should be baptized. Such a course as this may for a time seem to cause the work to move forward more slowly, but it is the only safe course to follow, and in the end, instead of retarding its progress, will be the means of keeping the church pure. Through a purified, beautified, glorified church God will work with power.
Balboa, Canal Zone.
Music's Chief Mission
By H.A. Miller
I know and feel that we should not follow the world in our music work.
Musicianship is first, with sufficient technical background to speak plainly and well. Technical drill beyond that is a positive waste of time, just as much so as spending valuable time discussing the latest fashions and allowing the soul to go naked. Personally, I prefer to have a wooden dish passed to me, if it has food upon it, than to receive a few devitalized crumbs upon a cut-glass plate beautifully incrusted in gold. Why not be as resolved concerning music as was Paul concerning what he would preach? It is time that we bring only Jesus Christ; and Him crucified, into every department of our work.
Some poor blind-eared souls look at the piano keyboard as a pastureland for the grazing of their animal natures, as expressed in jazz and cheap popular music. Others see only a gymnasium or race track for hair-raising stunts,—the highly technical, designed to call forth such expressions as, " Isn't that wonderful! How can you do it? "
There remain still, some who have not bowed the knee to Baal; and may their number be as much a 'surprise to us as was God's statement to the honored prophet Elijah. These see only a tone garden planted by the Lord, where the beautiful flowers of praise, hope, love, and joy may flourish and spread their delightful perfume to weary hearts, and faithfully point tired souls to the Creator and the re-Creator. Alas! how we follow Him " afar off " when we unknowingly chase after the standards of public recognition set by the world.
Music's chief mission is not to entertain. Her main reason for existing is not as an educational force. She lives for much the same purpose as do the flowers, which have been styled by one " whose heart God had touched," as " wanderers from Eden." Music's chief mission is to attune the heart with the Infinite.
Washington, D. C.