Believing What We Believe
Next to the direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart, the profound and sincere belief of the preacher in the integrity of the message he proclaims is doubtless the most potent influence that can be brought to bear upon the hearer. Before it eloquence, scholarship, logic, and other desirable and legitimate accouterments pale into insignificance. Whether one agrees with a person or not, if convinced of his conscientious conviction and honesty of purpose, there is usually wholesome and sympathetic regard for his expressions. But if there is a feeling that his utterances are "professional," or in a sense insincere or disbelieved by their advocate, they make no favorable impression, but rather create a mental revulsion, even if the arguments are seemingly sound and unanswerable.
The quality of sincerity is consequently of profound importance to the ministry of this movement. Better were it not to speak on some matters if not yet clear thereon, than to do so merely because they are held at large. A minister's confidential expressions within the limited circle of friends, or the evidence of his own personal life and attitude, can easily nullify what he says in the pulpit or committee room.
We publicly proclaim belief in the imminent advent of Christ, and properly and necessarily so. Do we talk confidentially and live in secret in harmony with the implications of that belief? Do our habits of expenditure, our investments, our daily conduct, support the belief we profess? There are multitudes among the laity and not a few in the ministry who are stumbling over inconsistencies that cannot be concealed from their view.
Professing belief in the Spirit of prophecy, flagrant disregard of its plain counsels largely neutralizes any profession of confidence in or use of the same by any worker, irrespective of his position, when the facts are known. Likewise with doctrinal or prophetic positions. To preach a position not actually believed personally is sheer hypocrisy. Better far to be silent until a sure basis for conviction is reached. The parrotlike repetition of what others have taught, without personal confidence therein, is neither ethical nor expedient. Happily, such unfortunate experiences are exceptional.
We have reached the hour when the "shaking" long foretold will become increasingly evident. We must individually know our platform, and our personal basis of evidence and confidence thereon. Our laity are watching our ministry more closely than is sometimes sensed. They penetrate beneath the mere outward words to inner beliefs that cannot be concealed, to convictions that are revealed in a dozen varying ways.
The manifest call of the hour is to believe what we believe, to know individually the basis for these beliefs, and to be satisfied by evidence that they will stand every reasonable test. This we know: The foundation of God's final truth standeth sure. The progression of His plan of salvation for this last hour moves forward with undeviating precision. Let us therefore, being so persuaded, plant our feet upon impregnable positions and carry these to all we can reach with all the intensity of conviction that God has implanted within us.
We are on the threshold of the final movements of the remnant church and of the world. He who cannot see this is desperately in need of spiritual eye-salve. Rehearse the evidences. Receive their full cumulative value. Let expressed conviction be buttressed and enforced by a life in harmony therewith. Then will there be a compulsion that cannot be gainsaid.
L. E. F.
Our Dual Responsibility
Special departures from God at different periods in the church's history have called for special reproofs and warnings. But the sole purpose of such admonition has always been to call men back in repentance to the acceptance of our God's eternal good news of salvation. It is well to remember that it is never the warning that saves; it is the return of the soul to God, the personal acceptance of His proffers of salvation.
That is why the gospel in this remnant of time is denominated by Inspiration as "the everlasting gospel." It is "everlasting" because, in the mind and purpose of God, it is unchanged and unchangeable, and because its provisions and results will be eternal in effect. It is now to be proclaimed amid the most unparalleled departure from God in human history. Not only is this true among the godless, with the sweeping atheism of appalling masses, but it actually reaches its apex in the professed Christian church.
In the early centuries the Papacy, in its formative period, turned from light to darkness; but now the churches that protested against that apostasy in the Reformation period have, as a body, turned from God, abandoning His blessed truth for bewildering falsehoods. This must be rebuked. Warning must be given, separation demanded. This we are charged by Heaven to declare. Nevertheless, that which actually saves is the redemptive provision of the changeless gospel. And this we should never forget nor neglect.
We must be faithful in exposing apostasy. We must assuredly announce the hour of God's final judgment, but so announce it that men shall "fear God," and turning from sin, shall personally accept the provisions of His everlasting salvation.
We must not only evangelize heathendom, but we must call responsive Christians out from corporate apostasy, both papal and Protestant. But mere membership in the remnant church will be profitless unless the applicant has personally availed himself of the actual salvation of God in Christ.
The crowning mark in last-day departure from God is, of course, apostasy's dagger thrust at the very heart of the revealed moral standard which defines every principle of relationship between God and man. The divinely appointed insigne of creative and redemptive power has been torn by ruthless hands from the place that God has willed it shall occupy through both time and eternity. This course of the popular Christian churches is the very epitome of defiance, and in its consummation will constitute the outstanding religious rebellion of all time.
But this insigne is likewise the transforming seal of God's implanted character upon the soul, signifying actual rest from sin and changeless loyalty to God, and the righteousness embodied in Christ and expressed in His la*, which must be received if the soul is to live forever with the redeemed. These twin aspects, positive and negative, must be stressed without neglect of either. Thus is there blessed balance between law and grace, Sinai and Calvary. And thus is the relationship of our warning message to the everlasting gospel made clear.
L. E. F.