Editorial

Rocks or Resurrections?

Lets stop picking up stones and start picking up people.

J.R. Spangler is editor of Ministry.

Stones were tightly clutched by dead-in-sin Pharisees and scribes. Some hands were empty, but eyes fastened to brains ready for murderous action had spotted rocks lying here and there in the dust. These "twice dead" (Jude 12) sons of Satan, like wild waves of the sea, stormed around Christ and the condemned. This was the scene when the woman caught in adultery was dragged into the presence of Jesus. The situation was tense. Adultery was involved. Lost humanity becomes interested and excited when sex is the focal point. Hollywood would go bankrupt with out a carnal focus.

A Human Guinea Pig

The plot involved a whole brood of preachers and religious leaders. The full ugliness of this episode takes shape when we realize that here was a premeditated and executed plan for the dual purpose of stoning both Jesus and the woman. Secretly the accusers may have hoped that a mob-violence spree would result in their death. This thought jolts our senses two ways. First, why kill the Creator and Sustainer of life? Second, we are horrified by the fact that the woman was merely a pawn, a human guinea pig, used as one ingredient in an explosive experiment for destroying the Lord. The imagination of a person with any sensitivity left in his conscience nearly explodes when he witnesses not only the ultimate goal but the recipe followed to achieve that goal. This story offers proof of "man's inhumanity to man!

Ants and Washbowls

There was no concern for the woman's soul or feelings. One of those leaders with a rock in his fist had seduced the woman. The exploitation of their victim was of no more consequence than stepping on an ant. Their conniving actions resembled dirty rings around a washbowl. What a contrast between these men and the Saviour! The first noticeable difference was that Christ was totally unconcerned about Himself or the rebellious crowd. This was unique. Most men, ministers included, put into a similar situation immediately think and act in harmony with laws of self-preservation. It would be a battle for survival. But to the amazement of all, Christ thinks of one thing only the trembling adulteress bowed before Him.

Secret Passwords

The second noticeable difference is the striking way He defeated His murderous Cover Picture Pastor Wesley Amundsen has a small stone mounted on a wooden base (see cover picture) on his office bookcase. This striking visual aid was designed and presented to him by a woman whom he knew in the early days of her Christian experience. Somewhere along the way she had stumbled and her unjust accusers "stoned" her out of their presence. But she had been made whole again, and this "stone" was to be to her and to others who might read the inscription a reminder, "Let him who is with out sin cast a stone." Seeing the stone and hearing the story inspired Elder J. R. Spangler to write this article, "Rocks or Resurrections?" opponents. No accusing finger. No flam ing words of justice. No appeal for mercy. No defense for the woman or selfl Just a silent scrawling of vivid words in the dust. Secret passwords that unlocked hidden re cesses of filthy souls. The eyes of the mob read every word, every phrase. Counte nances changed from gleeful hate to terror as their dirty characters were hung out on the clothesline of public inspection. Then Jesus stood erect. He gave permission for the execution to take place, but on condi tion! "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8: 7). Stooping down the second time, He continued flashing the exposing search light of truth on His enemies.

False Perfectionism

Fades In a few moments that particular Tem ple court corner was deserted. Every per fectionist in the crowd decided he was im perfect and suddenly remembered a previ ous appointment. Christ's strong protest against sin exhibited by tracing them in the dirt had its effect not only upon the ac cusers but also upon the accused. Further more, she thought she heard her own death sentence when the Lord said, ". . . let him first cast a stone . . ." When she dared glance around, her accusers were §>ne! She was left alone in the presence of ne who knew no sin! She was now under the convicting power of Christ's righteous ness. At first this was a terrifying experi ence. Sinfulness in the presence of sinlessness Imperfection before perfection. Im purity next to absolute purity. Sin is sin, but more horrible and awful in the pres ence of One who was a total foreigner to sin. Anyone under the least conviction of the Holy Spirit knows the feelings of hor ror when his character is compared with the character of our Lord.

Miracle of Miracles

Breathlessly she awaits judgment from this divine Person. But to her astonish ment Christ didn't excuse or accuse her! He resurrected her! Hope and help were hers as the Lord of power said the life-giv ing words of forgiveness and re-creation. "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." This command was the begin ning of eternal life for a woman who a short time before was counted among the dregs of humanity. A woman who was dead in sin now felt the resurrection power of Jesus uplifting her to a new life of beauty and obedience. This miracle of con version towers like a Mt. Everest above any healing miracle Christ performed. We would much rather see a withered and blighted life made whole than a lame limb physically restored.

"He Restoreth My Soul"

With grateful emotion she threw herself before the Lord with a heart bursting with love and repentance. The Lord shared with her His future resurrection experi ence. Just as the stone was to be hurled from His tomb by powerful angels, so the Lord caused those stones to be dropped from the hands of Satan's agents who clamored for her life. Just as the Lord was to be delivered from His rocky cell of death, so the Lord emancipated this woman from both her accusers and her own guilty conscience a prison as strong as a tomb. She was free, free from God's condemnation, free from self-condemna tion, free from her spiritual malady. With the psalmist she could triumphantly declare, "He restoreth my soul"!

Slay or Save?

Ministers are privileged to share this dy namic news with the world. Of course, to share it with others means we must first experience it ourselves. The religious lead ers during the time of Christ's sojourn on earth rejected this marvelous power. Re jection led to the awful result of seeking to condemn, to kill, to destroy, to ruin those whom they should have led into a resurrection experience. They should have been able to lead sinners from enslavement in sin to the freedom of righteousness in Christ Jesus. But alas, their love of praise, selfishness, and ease led them to actions of destruction. Celestial Court Records Today the world has no lack of selfrighteous, self-sufficient, critical human be ings. Testimony against people far out weighs testimony for people! Heavenly record books are crammed with words, thoughts, and actions against people while plenty of blank pages are still left in the records for positive entries.

The question is, Where are those who hate sin but love the sinner? Where are the ones who are willing to deny them selves a life of ease in order to show men how to be resurrected from their graves of vice and evil? We need no feeble excusing of sin nor lowering of standards. But we do need a converted ministry and laity who know how to slip tender arms around precious beings in error and gently point them to Christ, the only hope for the hope less. We need men who will help and hold rather than harm and hurt. I firmly be lieve that the majority of souls who do any thinking at all about their own spiritual condition feel extremely helpless and alone. It seems so needless to emphasize how deep in the pit of sin they are unless a greater emphasis can be placed upon the resurrection ladder available to them for climbing up out of the mud of death.

Pick Up People Not Stones

There is a blizzard of material sweeping through the mails concerning perfection. Could we imagine a rock in the hand of one who knows the power of Christ's res urrection in his own life? Can one in whom dwells the Spirit of Jesus hurl a stone at a fellow being? If all true Chris tians could be gathered into a gigantic arena and have set before them some poor sinner, and then listen to the challenge, "Those without sin, start throwing stones," not a move would be made. No converted man or woman would stoop to pick up a stone. The entire assemblage would stand there with bowed hearts and empty hands. If any of us who read these words have stones of condemnation, censure of hypoc risy in our hands, let us drop them, and with one hand take hold of the hand of Christ and with the other grasp the hand of the spiritually needy person.

As ministers, let us help our people to stop picking up stones and start picking up people! Let lips stop shouting, "You're a sinner" and start pleading, "Go, and sin no more!" We must never preach a sermon against evil without offering hope to the sinner that a resurrection life can be his. Never condemn a single sin without giving practical instruction on how to over come sin. Never talk against evil unless we are free from evil ourselves and can show others the secret of victory. The finest way to condemn sin is to show how God gives men the power to overcome sinning.

The most effective way to make people hate sin is to proclaim the immediate res urrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we know it ourselves the world will wonder in amazement as they see written across our lives those words of living beauty, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

Let the Modernist Drown

The certainty of a literal resurrection for the dead at Christ's second coming is known by those who live a resurrected life here and now! Those who doubt a coming resurrection are those who violate His com mands in daily living. Those who believe are those who live in harmony with His; will. Those who deny the supernatural! element of the resurrection power avail able for hearts today are the defeated. Let infidels rage and skeptics spue out their sarcasms and doubts. Let the modernist drown in his own self-conceit as he tears the very heart out of God's precious Word by denying the miraculous power of con version. Those who reject the resurrection 1 experience join the ranks of the hopeless and the heartless.

As workers together with God we must help those shackled with habits of indul gence, who are chained to the whipping posts of doubt and unbelief, who are sealed in the tomb of defeat. "Come out! Break loose! Be unfastened by simply hear ing and believing the Word of the Living God" must be our message. Fling into the ears of Satan the life-giving words, I am "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11).

What is our message this Eastertide, fellow preacher? Defeat or victory? Life or death? Sin or righteousness? Doubt or be lief? Rocks or resurrections?

J.R.S.

Notes:

The Desire of Ages, p. 458.

2 Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 584, 585.

3 Education, pp. 276, 277.

4 Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 585.
s Child Guidance, p. 284.

6 The Great Controversy, p. 555.

7 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 91.

8 Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 447.

9 The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1157 (Manuscript 45, 1900).

10 The Desire of Ages, p. 587.

11 The Great Controversy, pp. 572, 573.

12 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 432.

13 Ibid., p. 113.

14 The Great Controversy, p. 522.

15 Medical Ministry, p. 90.

16 W. A. Spicer, The Sfirit of Prophecy in the Advent
Movement, p. 30.

17 Selected Messages, book 1. p. 194.

18 The Desire of 'Ages. p. 738.

19 Life Sketches, p. 196.

 

 


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J.R. Spangler is editor of Ministry.

April 1965

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