Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 12, 1962

From A Preacher's Notebook

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

A Sad Paradox

A few days ago, as I sat in a courtroom in another state, I saw a young man with a strong body, intelligent countenance, literally blooming with youth and vitality stand before a judge to be sentenced to 10 years in the penitentiary of that state. This was to me a most sad and impressive experience. It raised many questions in my mind. Where were the father and mother of this boy? Only a grandmother came with him. Were the parents dead? Were they divorced? Were they busy somewhere making a living or having a good time? So many parents these days immerse themselves in the making of money. Others bury themselves in bitter wrangling with one another. Others rush madly from one pleasure to another. And their children, born of their original love for one another and one of the basic, divine reasons for the marriage state, step by step make their way toward disgrace and ruin. Sad paradox it is that such parents make so frenzied a search for life's happiness and ignore one of the surest means of its attainment.

It is said that the scholar, Castell, author of a famous lexicon, so devoted himself to the study of Oriental languages that he totally forgot his own. Some preachers so immerse themselves in the work of saving others that they lose their own families.

Then, there are those who so dedicate themselves to the preservation of God's truth inviolate, who make such a tremendous battle against the forces of error and the foes of truth, that they neglect to cultivate in their own lives a practical application of the very truth they fight so valiantly to save. In recent years, it has shocked, grieved, and frightened me to see a large number or men literally sacrifice themselves in an all-out battle for truth only to fall into the clutches of sin and error in their personal lives. This is a sad paradox, indeed!

A church of New Testament times was quite evidently the victim of this paradox in human behavior. The church at Ephesus had "worked, labored, and persevered." She had evinced a laudable aversion to evil and opposed false teachers. Yet, in the process, she had "left her first love." She had "fallen" and at the time John addressed a letter to her from Patmos was in danger of "having her candlestick removed." (Rev. 2:1-5)

Then, of course, there is the tendency among churches these days to promote gigantic enterprises looking to the evangelization of the world and the alleviation of the needs of the poor and distressed of the human race and allow the spirituality of the average member of the church to reach an all-time low. There Is also the tendency to spend vests sums, expend immeasurable energy, and dispense reams of printed material in the field of teaching methods while the level of real, Bible knowledge among members of the church continues to plummet.

Like the scholar Castell, we are becoming skilled in other languages while forgetting our own. There is an

old adage to the effect that we "aim at the forest and miss the trees."

Another significant example of this sad paradox is in the realm of unity. Brethren have been preaching for more than a hundred years the grave necessity of unity in religion. They have insisted on the "Bible and the Bible alone" as the only acceptable basis for such unity while at the same time permitting innovation after innovation to grow up in their own practice for which they do not have a "thus saith the Lord."

Conservative brethren these days need to beware of falling into the grave error of "saving the church" while losing the souls of those who constitute that body.

Building For Eternity

Augustus Caesar complimented a builder in ancient Rome saying, "You cheer my heart, who build as if Rome would be eternal." Men need to recognize the fact that as they live in this world, they are building, in many cases, that which will be eternal. Such recognition will greatly affect the character of their lives. The spiritual character that men develop in this life will be theirs throughout eternity. How can men, therefore, who delight in this life only in that which satisfies the sensual appetites of their physical bodies expect to inherit the joys of a spiritual heaven in eternity. Even if they were permitted to enter that holy place, their lack of preparation for the enjoyment of its delights would render it a place of endless boredom and misery to them. The child of God who finds no joy and manifests little interest in the spiritual exercises of the body of Christ in this life, but confesses his unfitness for the eternal habitation of the redeemed.

"Keep Thy Foot"

"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools..." (Ecclesiastes 5:1)

The word "keep" is used here in the sense of "guard." Of course, Solomon referred to the Jewish temple when he spoke of "the house of God." Yet, in the gospel dispensation, "the house of God" is said to be "the church of the living God." (1 Tim. 3:15) It is yet in order to "keep" ones feet when he "goes to the house of God."

Some people seem to think that they may do in the church that which seems good to them, that which they feel will honor God and promote His cause. If they are sincere and zealous, it is not important to them that what they do be authorized by Heaven. It is against such presumption that our text warns. Such service is "the sacrifice of fools." Jesus characterizes as "foolish" the man who hears and does not do the word of God. (Matt. 7:21-27)

In the church, of which body Christ is head (Col 1:18), we need to be "more ready to hear." Peter was admonished on the Mount of Transfiguration concerning Christ, "Hear ye him!" (Matt. 17:5) He, in turn, reiterated this inspired counsel to a great audience in Solomon's porch of the temple in Jerusalem after the establishment of the church. He said, "For Moses truly said unto your fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:22, 23)

Too many people in the church in our day are carried away by a desire to accomplish "great things " They fail to guard their feet when they go to the house of God. Let us remember that the church is God's house. (1 Cor. 3:9; 1 Tim. 3:15) Of it, Christ is the head, not only of it, but "of all things to it." (Eph. 1:22, 23) We need, therefore, to be "more ready to hear" His voice rather than to offer a sacrifice based on our own wisdom and uninspired judgment lest our sacrifice be a "sacrifice of fools." Let our maxim continue to be "a thus saith the Lord for every act of work or worship in the church of the living God."

Reputation And Notoriety

It is said that Philip, King of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, a virtuous and worthy monarch, was killed by one of his attendants who labored under the delusion that "the killing of an illustrious person would result in a transfer of that person's glory to himself." It is true that, by killing King Philip, the attendant immortalized his name, yet not in the hall of fame as he supposed, but in the gallery of rogues. It seems that some people had rather be Infamous than unknown. On the other hand, it seems more likely that they simply confuse reputation or fame for notoriety. We have met persons whose only claim to fame was their zeal in seeking to destroy, by malicious slander, the influence of some good and reputable man. Slander is therefore, not only an indication of an evil heart and a venomous tongue, but a confession of conscious inferiority. It is small wonder that the Wise Man said, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh; but envy the rottenness of the bones." (Proverbs 14:30)

Jack H. Kirby, 1908 Brooke Lane, Brownwood, Texas. Hoyt H. Houchen was with the Hwy. 84 church in Brownwood; Texas, in a meeting March 5-11. His lessons were superb. This church began meeting December 4, 1961. Attendance was excellent throughout, fifty were present for our largest crowd. Sound gospel preachers from Lometa, San Saba, and Brady encouraged and assisted us in this endeavor. One family was added to our number and others indicated interest in the things we stand for. Bryan Vinson and Robert C Welch are tentatively booked for meetings this summer. When in our area, worship with us.