Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 11, 1964
NUMBER 6, PAGE 4,10b

"Laid Hold Upon"


"Endeavoring To Keep The Unity Of The Spirit"

One of the most obvious and inescapable facts in the life of every faithful disciple of that first century of our era was the sense of having been "captured?' Paul puts it beautifully and concisely in Philippians 3:12. "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if so be that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus:' The essence of Christianity is not simply in bridling some riotous passion, or in enjoying the forgiveness that God extends; it goes far beyond that. There fills every heart a sort of holy compulsion, and all pervading, overwhelming feeling that one's life is no longer his own to live as he would; but that one has been "bought with a price;' he has been laid hold upon, and has become a bondservant of Christ.

The gospel of the New Testament is a gospel of completeness and finality. There is nothing experimental or temporary or tentative about it. Listen to the ultimate and unqualified finality with which Christ presses his claim:

"I am the Way; no man cometh unto the Father but by me."

"I am the Truth; every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."

"I am the Life; I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly."

"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned."

This struck a responsive chord in the hearts of those first disciples. Here was something solid, enduring, eternal! A man could give his life to this sort of speaking; here, indeed, was something that "laid hold" upon a man, shaking him from the lethargy and selfishness of a sinful life, bringing him up short, making him understand the true values. Because these first Christians were caught up in the beauty of this total commitment, they were able to change the whole course of civilization by the radiance of their living — and the exultant glory of their dying. They had been captured, enslaved, seized upon by something infinitely greater than any reward this life could offer, greater than any punishment this life could inflict. Eternity had opened up before them.

And how did they respond? Read these uncompromising words from the first witnesses — words not only of inspired truth, but words from the very heart of deepest conviction and certainty. There was no equivocation in their testimony, no faltering, halting, stammering "if", or "perhaps," or "it would seem to be the case":

"And in none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved."

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."

"Repent ye and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

"I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day."

The Cross of Christ is the most powerful spiritual force that the human race has ever experienced. Its power is both centripetal and centrifugal — centripetal in that it draws and attracts the heart inward toward Christ with an irresistible magnetism, centrifugal in that, once fully won to Christ, that same heart is driven outward into the world with a zeal, a passion, a compulsion that accepts no barrier and laughs at death. Truly, the follower of Christ is "a man possessed"; he has been laid hold on. The life he lives is not his own!

What has happened to that sort of compulsion in our day? Where is the man who feels it with the same intensity and fervor these early disciples knew? Where, in fact, is the man who even feels the ardor and fire of our own immediate predecessors in the gospel, those spiritual giants of yesteryear who braved the dangers of the lonely frontier to bring the saving gospel of Christ to souls that were lost in sin? What has happened to our modern sense of dedication? Oh, there are some to be sure; there are some few consecrated men and women who are willing to pay the price of discipleship in a great many towns and communities in our own nation. And there are a pitiable few who are still willing to accept the challenge of Africa or Asia or the islands of the sea. But they are few indeed!

Two things are absolute prerequisites if the Truth of the gospel is to be made effective among modern men; a conviction concerning one's own personal salvation, and a compulsion to bring others into that same relationship with Christ which you enjoy. The man with "conviction" and "compulsion" is a man whose life is not his own; he is a man who has "been laid hold on."

With ever increasing concern we sense that this is the need of the hour. The fight for the simplicity of the gospel must be continued not only on the polemic platform, and in unyielding opposition to every device and design of men which would corrupt it; but, perhaps with even greater emphasis, we must stress the necessity for that deep sense of dedication and total commitment. This journal for many years has been prominent in the fight against institutionalism and the insidious inroads of a modernistic "social gospel" philosophy. We intend that that battle shall continue with unflagging zeal. But at the same time we would hope to encourage in every way possible, and with increasing affirmation, that personal purity of life, that compulsive, compelling, overwhelming desire to reach others with the gospel which characterized those early Christians. There is a vast difference between our "laying hold on Christ" for our own salvation and "being laid hold on" by Christ for the salvation of others! Unless we understand the meaning of the latter, and experience it, we will have neither benefit nor blessing from the former.