The church of the living God is not a private, self-sustaining, social club. It must invade public privacy, or atrophy.

THE successes or failures of few men were according to plan—human planning, that is. The element of surprise lurks concealed in both. We all have seen a "sure thing" fail and an untried movement crown our heads with un­merited favor. Thus in the field of evange­lism there are no experts. Heaven has de­clared open session on an apostate world, and help is welcome from any quarter. Well-laid plans are essential but not pri­mary. In the field of methodology one man's meat may be another man's poison. In evangelism the census has its value, and so does the complex multiplicity of aids and gadgets. But is it not disturbing to see a col­league assembling equipment, compiling statistics, and, like General McCIellan of Civil War fame, readying himself for the big push that never comes? But one ex­claims: "My file is in order and every quo­tation and news clipping has its place." Very well, but where from here?

And further, would you not rather see a man about his Father's business, improvis­ing, planning the unplanned while he works, than one so buried in charts and graphs that he has as little contact with people as a monk in a monastery? Adequate planning is necessary, but is it not high time that we come to grips with the public, face men with eternal issues, and ask for decisions? Oh, who can tell us where? In halls, in homes, in tents, in churches, on street corners, anywhere we can get a hear­ing. And who can tell us how? There is some wisdom that comes with action, and this is clearly no time for inertia. No one knows your territory better than you. Launch the attack, and the AuthorMiscellaneous of wis­dom will lead the way. How the "big names" do it may be valuable, but may never meet your need. Heaven longs to show you how, but its best demonstrations are on the field of battle.

Young David's conquest of Goliath is a classic example of this. Approaching the wily giant, the young man launched a faith-filled, prayerful attack. What chance had this country boy against an expert in the art of making war? But David proceeded with what he had, and his first effort was success­ful. Perhaps this explains why young men in their thirties are baptizing over one hun­dred souls per year. Some of these men are only recently out of school. Some of them have limited know-how but plenty of naked courage. They advance, and as they do, find themselves in green pastures, beside still waters. Ask such a one how it hap­pened and he can think of no better reason than that "the hand of the Lord was strong upon me" (Eze. 3:14).

Of Mice and Men

"Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel" (1 Sam. 6:5). These were the wise words of the spiritual leaders of the Philistines. The God of heaven had sent mice to plague the heathen in consequence of their rebellion. They had taken the ark of God, and His curse was on the land. The Philistines appealed to the clergy for coun­sel. "Give glory unto the God of Israel," was the fervent chant of priest and diviner. A worthy message, to be sure, but one that did not go far enough, for they added, "Peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods." Ah, worship, adoration, but no reformation! A strangely familiar pattern. The mice destroy because men preach a repentance without disci­pline. Man is saved by a grace that denies him nothing, and may thus enjoy liberty without law. Worship the Miscellaneous God of Israel and He will tolerate your gods. Toothless grace; hell's potion; heaven's shame!

Difficult though it is, the record must be set straight. And who but you will do it? And what is more, you have a free pulpit in which to do it. Grace imposes self-denial. Shout it to the skies! It is not legalism to thunder against transgression. And the only hell-fire sermons that are out of style are graceless ones. The renaissance con­tinues, but what of the reformation? Health reform, dress reform, money, man­ners, and moral reform are standards that must be taught the people. Where there is silence, why is there? Preacher, are you mouse or man? This is the time of the loud cry, not the muted whisper. Bible standards come alive when presented as adjuncts to the saving grace of God. But to preach grace without self-denial is sheer decep­tion. But some object to specifics. To be sure, some men emphasize only one or two of our standards, to the neglect of even weightier matters. But the chief danger to the church lies not with an overbolted door but rather with an open one. A liberalism that states only principles, leaving all ap­plication to the individual conscience, is not Bible-based. "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa. 58:1).

To Find a Way

Wherever there are people there is a way to reach them. It may take considerable do­ing, but do it we must. One man is an op­portunity, and most towns have more than that. But how to break into public con­sciousness is the individual minister's prob­lem. To the man of God Miscellaneous self-existence is not enough. The church of the living God is not a private, self-sustaining, social club. It must invade public privacy, or atrophy. And you, sir, must plan and execute this projection. There are the traditional means that "won't work here," until somebody works them. Tents, halls, and churches of­fer golden opportunities. Radio, newspa­per, and television are excellent outlets. And, of course, the cottage meeting and tract rack, like the poor, are ever with us.

The man who seeks will find a way or make it—as did the young Philadelphia pas­tor who was not voted a budget, and so be­gan a series of meetings under the stars. He baptized thirty-four people as a result of these meetings, held in the churchyard. Or what of the young man in Delaware who pitched a tent in faith without sufficient funds? As he stood beholding his newly pitched tent, an electrician inquired if he had any lighting equipment. "No equip­ment, and no money," answered the evan­gelist. The result? Free electrical fixtures, a good meeting, twenty-five baptisms. And that pastor in Texas who has blazed his own trail. His plan? He holds Saturday night and Sunday night meetings the year round. Beginning at five o'clock Sabbath afternoon, he preaches until six o'clock and makes an appeal. After a brief intermis­sion, he begins a new sermon, ending at seven o'clock and makes another call. Peo­ple are joining the church constantly. This plan is repeated on Sunday night. Good men, baffled, but never defeated, find a way or make one!

A tired warrior ascends Mount Nebo. His has been a full life of faithful ministry. He has earned a rest that at last is his. With eyes undimmed, Moses, minister of God, surveys the broad sweep of the Promised Land, and is satisfied. He has fought a good fight, finished his earthly course, and kept the faith. Gathering his cloak about him, he lies down to restful slumber. Retire­ment earned in the crucible of service, the warrior is at rest. Earthly tasks completed, he sleeps the sleep of death. May not we, his twentieth-century ministerial counterparts, with profit pray, "Let me too die the death of the righteous, as did he." Or is he dead? No, the record reveals contention at his grave, and the great man was caught away. Sometimes, when in the quietness of meditation my mind is caught away, and I think that I hear music, could it be that grand rehearsal of the duet of the ages, the song of Moses and the Lamb?

E. E. C.


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May 1962

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