Scripture Research - Vol. 5 - No. 7
Volume 5 Number 7CONTENTS Page
I. The Religion Myth …………… 1
By Lyman A Wendt
II. For His Name’s Sake ……….. 18
By Sir Robert AndersonScripture Research, Inc. P.O. Box 51716 Riverside, CA 92517
THE RELIGION MYTH
By: Lyman A. Wendt
To say that the religions of Buddha and Confucius are myths, would cause no consternation. Many will be surprised, startled, and some even object that the religion of Christendom is a myth.
In a previous issue of Scripture Research it was stated that the "Satan of Christendom is a myth." No attempt was made to prove that either The Lord Jesus or Satan was unreal. That was not the purpose of the former article. It was rather to show that the concept which Christendom generally has concerning our Lord Jesus and Satan is not that which is presented in The Bible. Having stated this, hopefully, the following text will prove that the religion of Christendom, generally called Christianity, is not that of The Bible, but is rather a very subtle, a clever— and diabolical perversion of it.
Please note that it is not suggested that Christianity is not real—nor right. Further, the suggestion is not that religion in its genuine meaning is improper, but only the great RELIGIOUS SYSTEM called CHRISTENDOM, is not of God.
In a message of this nature it is very important to DEFINE TERMS. Recently, in the Christian Medical Society Journal, dated January/February 1956, a college professor was approached by several students at the end of his class lecture in Logic. One of them said, "We are grateful for what you said today, sir, but we wish you had said it two weeks ago." "What do you mean?" responded the professor. A student replied, "Well, the other night several of us fellows got into a bull session. About three in the morning we were getting quite wound up and desperate in our argument with one another when suddenly we discovered that we were using different words to describe exactly the same idea and we discovered that we were in complete agreement. If we had thought to define our terms as you suggested to us today, we wouldn’t have lost all that sleep.
Certainly a clear definition of terms is very possible and important. In fact, it is very common to have a pastor say something resulting in some of the people in the audience...
misinterpreting him because they are not at unity with the pastor in their meaning of words. It is possible to have two different words for the same idea or concept. It is also possible to have two different ideas from the same word.
A word is a symbol--a medium, a linguistic sign--used to convey thoughts to one another. If a symbol or linguistic sign is used, and a person has not the faintest idea what is being said, what good is the symbol or sign?
As an example, what is meant when the term "religion" is used? No doubt, twenty five to thirty different definitions or attempted definitions of this word can be found in an audience of about two or three hundred people. Listed below are several definitions from various writers:
Religion is to know God and to imitate Him. (Seneca)
Religion is morality. (Kant)
Religion is the love of God founded on the knowledge of His perfection. (Spinoza)
Religion is a feeling for what is above. (the German poet, Goethe)
Pursuing a definition of this word could continue indefinitely, never arriving at a definitive statement. Someone has said, "Religion is man’s belief in a being mightier than himself." Hence, it is difficult to arrive at unanimity in defining this word. It seems that no one has given a satisfactory definition of religion. For the sake of this text, perhaps the last quotation should be the basis upon which this study proceeds, i.e., "MAN’S BELIEF IN A BEING MIGHTIER THAN HIMSELF." Succinctly, this presentation will be concerned with "The Religion of Christendom." Therefore, "Religion will be defined as man’s belief in a being mightier than himself." With this foundational premise stated, we now will proceed.
Several things must be said about religion, or, as we have chosen to define it, man’s belief that there is a being mightier than himself.
First, religion is UNIVERSAL. It is everywhere.
Religion is found in all parts of the world. Dr. Livingstone said,
"There was no need to begin to tell the most degraded people of South Africa of the existence of God. It was universally admitted by them." A scientist once said, "No human being has ever been found who did not possess some form of religion."
However, it must be stated that this is confined to the human family only. You will not find religion being practiced (that we know of) in the animal kingdom. You can teach an ape to put on clothes, but you can never teach him to worship. No animal has ever been known or seen to do anything that remotely resembles ack-nowledging God. On the other hand, the statement was made that "religion is confined to the human race." In addition, it is not found in that creation which is above man. It is true that the angels worship, but there is no indication whatsoever of their observing or following religion as it is defined in a former paragraph.
Secondly, not only is it UNIVERSAL, but, apart from the records to be found in The Bible, its ORIGIN IS A MYSTERY. No one has ever, no matter how careful their investigation, arrived at the slightest explanation of where religion came from apart from the revelation which is found in The Word of God.
Thirdly, it is NOT A NEW INVENTION. It is as old as the human family. From the very first discovery of records of the human family, there are records of religion.
A few illustrations of just how religious the world is/are in order as found in the Book of Acts, chapter 17. A very familiar portion of The Word of God recalls the instance where the Apostle Paul was addressing a number of Greek philosophers on Mars Hill. Please note the following passage:
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars Hill, and said, "Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious."
This verse is an unfortunate translation. Actually, what Paul said was:
I observe that you are very religious (the literal meaning) for as I passed by and beheld your devotion (i.e., the object of your worship), I found one altar with this inscription, "To the unknown God."
There were hundreds and hundreds of inscriptions to deities and acknowledgments of gods, but there was one that was marked to the unknown God. Now that alone—that little expression—was a mute testimony to the emptiness of the heart. They had 30,000 (or so someone has said) gods, but they acknowledged freely that they still didn’t have the One God! So they erected an altar to Him, the One they didn’t know, the unknowable, the unknown God.
Paul now says:
Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, HIM declare I unto you.
He then entered into that great dissertation which is fascinating, interesting and very profitable, filled with truth and wonderful meaning. The point is that the world is full of RELIGION ! There is not a place on earth where there is not some evidence of religion.
Consider the word "Christendom." Could a definition of the word "Christendom" be achieved? The word itself ought to connote an idea, i.e., Christ-en-dom: all religions which follow CHRIST are said to be found in Christendom—or any religion which relates its belief in some way to Jesus Christ. That appears to be rather simple! However, it isn’t. Perhaps from that definition, a common ground of understanding is achieved.
Since the loss of the five missionary martyrs in Ecuador in 1955 -1956, it has been interesting to learn that the Auca Indians are a very religious people. In the book, The River Ran East, a very fascinating volume written by the explorer Leonard Clark, he states that "there are three tribes of people that are called the wildest men on earth—the Aucas, Jivaros and the Campas." He further relates that among most of the missionaries he found at the headwaters of the Amazon
River, "an alteration in Christian Doctrine was made to dovetail with the Indian mystical beliefs." Imagine fitting the Christian religion into the circumstances of heathen religions! Mr. Clark continues to tell of missionary priests taking the little children of the Campa Indians and selling them into slavery. It is no wonder that the Aucas murdered the five missionaries. They probably thought they were protecting their families.
The following is a quotation from Mr. Clark’s book:
In the center of the Sutziki mission slave camp was an enormous thatched idol-house of bamboo. Here, on the altar, Christ was worshipped in the anthropomorphic form of a gigantic wooden image carved in the semblance of a Camp Brujo (witch doctor). The idol’s shoulders were covered with a sacred boa constrictor snakeskin cape, its loins girded with a grass skirt. A parrot feather headdress stood erect on its head, a band of cactus encased the brow, a skull necklace was strung about its neck, snake amulets encircled the anklets and arms. The fanged face (for the teeth were pointed like the witch doctor’s) was painted terrifyingly with mystic symbols. The idol was crucified on its cross by giant pegs of black chonta from which blood dripped in partly dried clots—Christ’s name being PAWA (literally, "The Man of Gold"). This horrendous image was carved of the almost unknown ivory wood… (pages 51 and 52, The Rivers Ran East).
This strange, perverted and hideous religion would be called Christian because it was identified with Jesus Christ! The pagan religion of the Jivaros is a part of Christendom!!
Religion has become for many people an interesting lifetime study. The history of religion is an inexhaustible study. The librarians know that much of the religious literature is not available for circulation. It would have been better if many of the books that...
are currently available had never been published. Another very religious book that should not have been published is This Believing World, written by the Jewish rabbi, Lewis Browne. The Christian Century—a religious magazine with its nation-wide circulation—in recommending the ten most religious books to the Christian public, listed this one by Rabbi Brown (i.e., This Believing World). The book begins with a chapter titled, "How it All Began." This magazine states that "this book is one of the 10 best religious books that has ever been written." The book begins like this:
In the beginning there was fear, and fear was in the heart of man, and fear controlled man—everything around primitive man inspired him with fear. And he, poor gibbering half-ape, nursing his wounds in some drafty cave, could only tremble with fear. He did not know that much of the evil which befell him was accidental. He had the conception, this poor half-ape, that all things in nature bore him malice for he had not yet discovered that some things are inanimate—all objects, sticks, stones, storms, and all else he looked upon as animate. He gradually found out that fighting back the enemy object was of no avail. If a boulder crashed down on him it was no use hitting the boulder. Then the idea took hold of him that if he addressed these inanimate objects with words, this might help. He thought that words might avail—strange syllables uttered in groans accom- panied by beatings of tom-toms. He also tried wild dances or luck charms. He felt some spells would work. He believed that the things which haunted him could be appeased. He found that he had to have faith in himself, so man began as a half-ape to develop religion. But long before man thought of religion proper he tried to control the powers of the universe by magic….
At this point, Rabbi Browne described how man finally discovered that there was a difference between friendly spirits and evil spirits, and that he could probably influence the evil spirits to be
his friends—to win them over to his side. Men began to make fetishes to them. Browne then surmises that these fetishes became the sacred profession, and that the professional holy man--the priest--originated as a result of this idea. Idol worship then followed.
The author then tells about his conception of the origin of sacrifice: the idols were smeared with blood or oil in the hope that some good spirit would come and lick the bait and perhaps remain, etc. The idol then needed a shelter, so the worshippers built a hut for it. This was the first church. Finally, the great gods came into existence, including Jehovah, the tribal god of the Hebrews, etc.
Dear Christian, THAT IS A BOOK RECOMMENDED AS ONE OF THE TEN BEST RELIGIOUS BOOKS BY THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY, POSSIBLY THE GREATEST RELIGIOUS PUBLI- CATION IN THE U.S. TODAY!!
Hundreds of thousands of books have been written on the subject of religion. Some of them, as illustrated by this book, would have been better NOT to have been written. In contrast to that, there are some excellent books which treat the subject of "religion" from the Biblical standpoint. One such book is Arno C. Gaebelin’s booklet, Christianity or Religion. It is brief, but it is one of the finest expositions that has ever been written on the subject. Further, it would be a wonderful book for young people to read if they would find the time. Dr. S. H. Kellog has also written a book entitled The Genesis and Growth of Religion. It is excellent!
A comment or two is in order to address such things as the forms, the developments, and the branches of religion.
Consider animism. Animism is the religion that gives a soul to inanimate objects. It is the most primitive form of religion. Missionaries have related to us the way natives will worship a certain shaped tree, etc. They believe that the inanimate object possesses the soul (Ed. Note: Hebrew: Nephesh = soul. Soul is something that breathes. Trees breath. Nothing possesses soul. It is either soul or it not a soul.).
Very close to animism is the religion of fetishism, which sets aside
a certain place or a certain object as the dwelling place of a spirit. It can be seen how one of our great religious systems today has incorporated into their system of worship shrines and relics which are, in actuality, fetishism and which come from a heathen religion.
There is polytheism, the worship of many gods, and pantheism, from which Christian Science and most metaphysical religions come (their belief system embraces the concept that the universe itself is God, denying the reality of a personal God). In the former article (i.e. "The Myths About Satan" ), it was shown that Satan is the author of these religions. Satan is not irreligious! Satan is very religious; hence, it is possible to trace the origin of these various religions to this being himself.
Along with all of these religions with their branches of philosophy and cults, and the occult (occult has to do with the sight—it means conceal; the occult is that which is mysterious—that which is not seen—that which is hidden) is another great religion which has not been mentioned. It is the religion of Christianity. It is a real religion! However, based upon Biblical standards, the religion of Christendom is a myth—it is not to be found in The Bible. Or perhaps it should be stated that, when found in the Bible, IT IS UTTERLY CONDEMNED!!
First of all, let it be stated that it is classed as a religion (see The Handbook of Comparative Religions). In this work, Christianity is classed along with the other great religions of the world. This is unfortunate! Many current readers have thought that these articles were wonderful. Obviously, it depends upon your outlook: if your outlook is that of the liberal mindset of the world—it is indeed wonderful. If your outlook is the true faith of The Word of God, it is terrible!
Perhaps the most exhaustive thing that has been written on the subject of religion in many years is A Guide To The Religions Of America. This work was taken from the celebrated series of articles by Look magazine. It provides nineteen quite distinguished articles explaining the belief systems of many of the faiths—Baptists, Catholics, Christian Scientists, Congregationalists, etc. It also gives the distinctive points of each one of these great denominational or religious systems and as a great deal of information—some of it...
quite revealing. Much of the information has been republished in Christian magazines. The book reveals that only a small percent (4% ?) of the young men who are in the seminaries today believe the Bible is the infallible, the inspired Word of God! What does this predict in terms of significance? What are the preachers of the next decade going to be? Thank God there are a few seminaries in this country—three or four—which have a clear-cut testimony, and at least some degree of dispensational and Biblical truth.
Question: Why is this religion called Christian, in view of the fact that it is considered along with all of the other great religions (as seen in the book on the religion of the Campa Indians)? The case is also true for the religion of the Aucas, Jivaros, and many other of our native tribes. Why, then, is it called Christian? Answer: It claims to follow, in one way or another, Jesus Christ. The great characteristic of Christendom—that strange perversion which God’s Word utterly condemns, the basic teaching of which is to follow Christ—is that, then, unbiblical? The answer is an unequivocal YES (and this article definitely shows the impossibility of following Christ).
JESUS CHRIST IS GOD!! He is Holy, He is Perfect! No human being can even begin to walk as He walked. An example is not needed!! Humanity needs a savior! Mankind has been given The Savior. God, in His marvelous, infinite wisdom, has provided this same mankind with one of the persons of The God-head Himself to indwell us. This results in a system not characterized with a legalistic system of "do’s" and "don’t’s." The believer is, henceforth, motivated by the indwelling person of God Himself, The Holy Spirit.
In another message ("The Jesus Myth"), the term Christian is used because it identities itself with Jesus in some way or another. It was shown in that message that the vast multitudes of people know nothing about Jesus Christ except at Christmas time, when they see a picture of His childhood is a little baby on a card. There are literally tens of thousands who know Jesus only as a man who lived here on earth at one time. Their conception of what kind of a man He was varies. Some say a good man, some say a perfect man, some say a sinless man, but very few of them give Him the place that God gives Him in His Word—a resurrected, glorified Man who is the
Head of the Church, which is His Body. Others make Him a martyr, and follow that by saying that we ought to live as He lived, or that we ought to be willing to die as He died—or that we ought to follow His example in giving Himself for the principles for which He stood. That’s the "Jesus myth."
It should be obvious that surrounding the Jesus myth, and the perversion of who HE is, has grown a great religious system called Christianity! This system has many "branches." In the book on religion, page 195, a chart showing the origin of Judaism is found. This is followed by Apostolic Christianity. This is followed by Roman Catholicism—followed by the Reformation, and with it Protestantism with all of its denominational branches, i.e., Lutheranism, Calvinism, English Protestantism, European Independence, etc. These in a nutshell (according to the writers) are the main branches of this great Christendom. As to the members of Protestant denominations, the book is silent.
In addition to the vast numbers of Protestant denominations, there are at least 200 different cults, such as Christian Science, Unity, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons—all of which are considered Christian religions. Also, to that great branch known as Christendom is found the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church with all of their various branches (it must be admitted that there are numerous branches in these two great religious groups). The great criticism of Protestantism is that it is all "splintered" up. So are the Roman and the Greek Orthodox Churches, however not to the extent that is found in Protestantism. Then there are several denominations that deny coming out of the Reformation, for example, the real, genuine Baptists who say that their origin can be aced to John The Baptist. The Disciples of Christ, the Christian Church, and the Camelites also deny that they are derivations of the Reformation. They tie their roots to the "first church"— and claim that they are the first church. So, in addition to all of the denominations which trace their origins out of the Reformation, there are several which, concomitantly, deny coming out of the Reformation (anti-dating it would be their claim).
In the December, 1955, issue of Life magazine, the editors indicate...
that, of all the various religions of the world, Christianity is the "best." Most Christians (all types) no doubt would agree with this assertion.
Another interesting book dealing with "religion" is Christianity and the Non-Christian Religions Compared. It classes Christianity along with the other great religions of the world. It also concludes that it is the best belief system. The question should be asked, Why is it the best? If it is the "best," why does it have so few followers? Further, if it is but one of many religions, granting that it is the "best," what assurance does a person have that someday a so-called minister or prophet might produce or invent something better? Is this nonsensical? No, it isn’t! As an example, E. Stanley Jones has been spending most of his life coaxing people to adopt what he considers something better than Christianity. What is this better belief system?
Jones advocates taking the best teachings from all of the earth’s great religions (this is exactly the same pattern found in the Life magazine article [mentioned above]—trying to get all the religions of the world to cease from fighting each other). This is also the basis for modernism. It is the basis for the ecumenical movement. It is the basis for the World Council of Churches and, further, it is the basis for Reformed Judaism. Even the modernistic reformed Jews of today are perfectly willing to get Rabbinic Judaism and Christians together—and what is so disheartening is that most of the so-called Christians of the world are perfectly willing to embrace this agenda. It is the pattern of "religion"—and it has perverted Christendom!
What are some of the "marks" of this religion of Christendom? Succinctly, one word characterizes it: "confusion." Following is a quotation from The Los Angeles Times:
Everything was certainly mixed up at Garden Grove the other day. Methodists were using Presbyterian hymnals and met in a Seventh-Day Adventist Church to hear Dr. Roy L. Smith (Methodist preacher). They couldn’t meet in their own church. The Christian Scientists were using it for a program scheduled far in advance.
Unfortunately, there are some people who think that is just wonderful spirit of beautiful love for one another. The evangelical Christian should view this as CONFUSION.
Another characteristic word of this Christendom is TRADITION. Perhaps another current newspaper clipping is in order: "Catholic and Protestants to note Ash Wednesday."
Catholics and Protestants the world over will use the ashen symbol of man’s mortality and impress it upon the foreheads of the faithful. Particularly at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral where Cardinal McIntyre will bless the ashes at 9:00 a.m. and then preside at a solemn mass. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and complete abstinence for Catholics. No meat may be eaten.
Where in the Word of God can this observance be found? It cannot be denied that this ritual is religious, but where in the Holy Scriptures is it alluded to?
The Episcopal Churches will also universally mark Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Lent? Where is it found in the Word? Is Lent really religious? It is Christendom, but its source is not found in the Bible. "Tradition" is, then, another one of the great words of modern Christendom.
Another great word is LEGALISM. Perhaps one of the greatest treatises on this subject can be found in one of the two great volumes written by Sir Robert Anderson, one of which is The Silence of God. The other is The Buddha of Christendom. In these two volumes it is very clearly revealed that the basis of the world’s religions and Christendom is one of "works" or "correct behavior" in order to gain acceptance with God. Even among today’s so-called evangelicals there are so very few who understand that salvation is BY GRACE ALONE PLUS NOTHING!! This is not an exagger- ation! The religion of Christendom, almost without exception, is a religion of "works," of "merit," of "behavior."
Adding to the foregoing three words – confusion, tradition and legalism—there is another term which characterizes Christendom. It is the word INCLUSIVISM. In 1955-56, there was an outstanding evangelist who refused to come to a city for meetings until all the pastors joined in a united effort. That may seen wonderful to some, until it is examined in the light of God’s Word. When this is done, it can be found that it is not wonderful and that it is not Scriptural, as well. It is true that people are being saved, but this inclusivist attitude has caused endless confusion. Further, it is building the religions of Christendom today.
Another thing that is promoting the false concept of Christendom was the attitude of a former President, Mr. Eisenhower. In many ways, he may be one of the finest presidents our country has ever had. Yet, our President should have known what it really means to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. In a Life magazine article, this statement is attributed to him:
By the millions we speak prayers, we sing hymns.
NO MATTER WHAT THEIR WORDS MAY BE, THEIR SPIRIT IS THE SAME, for religion nurtures men of faith, men of hope, men of love. Such men are needed in the building of a new world.
This quote points out the fact that he was either ignorant of the truth—or innocent of the truth.
In an interesting statement found in the religion section of Time magazine dated September 26, 1955, the author(s) indicated that America is undergoing a spiritual revival. Following is the quote from the Research Institute: "There will be a great religious revival during the next twenty years. All faiths show an increased enrollment in churches, temples, etc." Is there a religious revival taking place? Yes, there is. It is reflected in many ways. A case in point is our books. There has never been a time in the history of the world when there have been so many religious books as are seen today.
As a point of illustration, consider the best seller, The Robe. This is the wrong kind of religious book, as it gave an unScriptural attribute to the material robe of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible...
does not speak to this issue. Consider the blasphemous book,
Jehovah Blues—the name of a jazz number about which the book was written. This book can be found on the public library shelf.
The world is religiously "crazy" today! It is the religion of Christendom. It is reflected in our music. Walking down the streets of any city, it is not difficult to observe hard-looking, painted-up, worldly-looking people singing religious words to jazzy tunes. It is seen in our movies. There has never been a decade in the history of the world when there have been so many religious movies made. It is also present in our television programs.
In summary, it appears that Satan has developed a very crafty and successful strategy. He has brought into the minds of people, particularly people in America, the thought that, if a thing is re- ligious, it is good. Highways are lined with those great fostering signs, "Go to church next Sunday." It doesn’t matter where you go. Just go to church! Or another sign recently seen was, "Make a church your church." Regardless of what kind it is! It is religious! It is Christendom!
There are countless illustrations of this mixed-up, hodge-podge Christendom. In a recent bulletin from a fundamental church, printed on YMCA paper advertising the YMCA (It should be pointed out that two years ago a judge in New York handed down the decision that the YMCA was no longer tax exempt because it could no longer be considered a religious organization.) was the following statement:
Throughout our history the church has worked effectively and untiringly to make sure that America’s most priceless possession the Christian religion passes from generation to generation—born of a desire to help young people follow the teachings of Jesus.
This philosophy is also true of our lodges and many of our youth organizations. They may have a quasi relationship to Jesus. There- fore they are Christendom, but they are without authority as found in the Word of God. There are many more illustrations, but time and space limit this presentation.
In a recent pitiful letter from a missionary ministering in Japan, it was revealed that he is having a difficult time trying to bear a clear testimony for The Lord, as the native Japanese pastors and missionaries under a particular missionary board have joined together with the modernists in welcoming an outstanding evan- gelist. I know how it is! Recently one of our young college fellows related that some of his Christian companions have invited a young fellow of another religious faith to come in to have devotional readings with them, and to take part and lead in prayer. The National Council of Churches, in its Festival of Faith in San Francisco some years ago, took quotations from some of the various so-called Sacred Books of the East, the holy books of Buddha, Confucius, etc., and included these quotes in a responsive reading for their great religious "Festival of Faith."
In this religious "hodge-podge" which is called Christianity, if it is not sanctioned by the true interpretation of the Word of God, what should be the true Christian’s attitude toward it? The answer is obvious! It must be rejected!
The Word of God is definitely clear on this issue. Turning to II Corinthians, chapter 6, let God’s Word clearly address this situation: "BE NOT UNEQUALLY YOKED TOGETHER WITH UNBELIEVERS." This text has to do with RELIGION, and in RELIGION, God says not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial? What part hath he that believeth with an infidel? What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the Living God. As God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. (verses 14-16)
As a believer, how are you to act? Note the charge in verses 17 and 18:
WHEREFORE COME OUT FROM AMONG...
THEM and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
God’s Word is clear that there are no "gray areas," that there should be no COMPLICITY with this great RELIGIOUS SYSTEM, CALLED CHRISTENDOM. The believer is to actually REBUKE it and OPPOSE it. In Ephesians 5:11, Paul unabashedly states, "HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of dark- ness"—succinctly and emphatically, "Have NO fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, BUT RATHER REBUKE THEM."
It is an amazing, yet a solemn thing how people excuse themselves in order to DISOBEY GOD. One of the chief arguments or excuses which people use is, "Well, we are interested in getting souls saved. We haven’t time to get mixed up with these separatist issues, etc. We are working to get souls saved." What is wrong with that excuse? They act as if to get souls saved is the chief end of man. But that is not what the Bible says! Actually, the CHIEF CONCERN OF MAN IS TO OBEY GOD.
He, in His marvelous sovereignty, will witness to those who are of the Elect. What matters life or death? What matters popularity or obscurity? WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN.
To the skeptic, you don’t have to believe in Christianity if you don’t want to. However, if you are honest, you ought to be willing to investigate Christianity. Where should Christianity be investigated? The Bible? At least in the New Testament. This is where the revelation of Christ can be found. The believer should not derive his definition of Christianity from magazines, books, perverted songs, and television programs. It should come from the Source, the Sacred Scriptures. BUT YOU MUST NOT CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE!
What can be found in the New Testament? First of all, Christianity refers to a body of historical facts. It has to do with the PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST—His birth, His life, His death, His...
resurrection, His ascension, and His promised return! But Christianity goes farther than that, and requires an interpretation of these facts: Why did He come into the world? And to what did He come? He came to DIE!
It is not just an historical fact that Christ was born in the world. The Word of God also tells us what He did when He died. He was "bearing our sins in His own body on the tree." Further, The Word of God tells us that He arose from the dead, and that He is now living, and that He is going to come back in PERSON!
If a person does not accept these facts, then he/she has no right to be called a Christian (even though that one lives in so-called Christian America). To re-emphasize this issue, no one MUST believe the foregoing facts. Concomitantly, he MUST NOT call himself a Christian if he does not believe them.
After reading these few pages, if you have been challenged by the Holy Spirit, perhaps they will allow you to catch hold of this torch and begin to bear a clear, ringing, straightforward testimony of the LIVING LORD JESUS CHRIST. Step out of the shadows of confusion, compromise and expedience, comfort and ease, and STAND.
Perhaps, if you are a lost sinner, you will accept the challenge to forsake forever this "DO-GOOD RELIGION," this "DO THE BEST YOU CAN CHRISTENDOM," "LOVE EVERYBODY," "ONE WORLD," etc., and view yourself as the Scriptures view you – a hopelessly lost, undone sinner, in need of a SAVIOR (not an example).
Flee to the REFUGE which God has provided, the mighty "cross upon which the Prince of Glory died, and count but loss your richest gain, and pour contempt on all your pride. If this is your desire – forsake your OWN righteousness and TRUST IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE
By: Sir Robert Anderson
"For His Name’s sake."—3 John 7.
"Then they that feared The Lord spake often one to another; and The Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared The Lord, and that thought upon HIS NAME."-- Malachi iii. 16.
"Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him The name which is above every name; that at The name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God The Father."—Philippians ii. 9-11 (R.V.).
"Sanctify in your hearts CHRIST AS LORD; being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear."—1 Peter iii. 15 (R.V.).
"FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE"
One Sunday evening, some years ago, in one of our fashionable London churches, I heard a large congregation singing the hymn:
"Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go."
With the refrain at the end of each stanza:
"O gentle Jesu, be our light."
As I listened to verse after verse, I sought to realize who the "Jesu" was whom these people worshipped. In the course of my reverie, I tried to think of relationships and circumstances which would make it natural and right for men to hold such language in addressing others dear to them. I supposed, for example, some one speaking to his father in this way: "Sweet father, gentle William"; and I saw at once that a parent who could tolerate it must be utterly unworthy of honour or respect. I thought of various other relationships also, and I came to see that such a mode of speaking never could be proper in addressing a person with any claim to superiority. On the other hand it might, sometimes at least, be natural and charming and right for a parent to yearn over a darling child with words like these upon the lips; or for a husband to turn to the woman at his side, and, calling her his sweet gentle wife, to appeal to her to guide and lead him, and help him to be good and loving like herself.
Here, then, was the problem solved. Mariolatry, under its own name, Protestantism forbids; so the Protestant cloaks it under a more subtle guise, by degrading The Lord and Saviour to the level of the Virgin Mary of the Roman Catholic. The errors of every false religion have generally their source in human nature; and the same perverted instinct which leads men to worship the traditional
Mary, has led them also to set up the idol of a "Sweet, gentle Jesus" in the place of Him who is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
Strength delights to lean on weakness, just as truly as weakness leans on strength. The strongest man, in the hour of his triumph, may be led by a gentle woman or a loving child. This is an homage paid to qualities of a wholly different order from those he boasts in. It does not wound his pride; it does not hurt his self-respect. So the proud self-satisfied heart of the natural man desires a God possessed of qualities he delights to lean on here--a gentle loving creature whose moral excellence he can acknowledge without offending his own self-esteem. If it be Mary, her womanhood is enough. But if it be "Jesus," He must be pre-eminently gifted with womanly qualities; it is His "gentleness and sweetness" that must be insisted on.
Every man has within him by nature instinctive desires to be better than he is. The object of these desires is his God. The god of a so-called atheist is himself become as good as he thinks he ought to be. The god of a nominal Christian is his own ideal, raised and improved upon by what he has learned from the Scriptures. But there is this in common to all unconverted men, that between them and their god there is no absolute break, no inseparable barrier. Their efforts, therefore, to seek Him and to do his will are pleasing to their self-love, flattering to their pride. Their very leaning upon them is a token of their own independence. On the other hand, the first step towards true conversion is to learn that the living God is righteous and holy, whom an unrighteous and unholy sinner can never approach. Man’s religion comes to a dead-lock at once. There is no longer room for pride. The language of the heart is, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee, wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." How natural and right in the presence of a holy, holy, holy God!
But, some one will say, this is God out of Christ. I answer, there is no God out of Christ. There is but one God; and of The Son it is written, "This is the true God and eternal life." Our God is a consuming fire," who must be served with reverence and godly fear: "Unto The Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." But what of The Father? "He that hath seen Me hath seen The Father," is His word. He is "the brightness of His glory, and the...
express image of His person." But, are here not The Father and TheSon? Yes, truly; and how distinct they are; witness Gethsemane and Calvary! We have The Father, The Son, and The Spirit; but we have one God. If we seek God we must look to Him who was "God manifest in the flesh." "This is eternal life that they might know Thee the only true God, Even Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
Whether then we have to do with the Father, The Son or The Spirit, we have to do with a thrice-holy God, who cannot behold iniquity; "a jealous God, even a consuming fire." Need I pause here to tell how this God has become a Saviour—how The Son took on Him the form of a servant, and was obedient even unto death, so that now, in virtue of that sacrifice, the sinner can stand before this holy and righteous God, and be at peace? My purpose is rather to warn men against supposing that there is any mediator to screen them from this God of holiness and majesty. There is a Mediator, truly, but His work is not to shield the sinner from God, nor to hide God from the sinner; but to bring the sinner unto the presence of God, and to present him there "holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in His sight."
I would say to the Christian, beware of setting up an idol "Jesus" whom you may approach, though you judge yourself unfit to come near to God. Your fitness depends, not on yourself, but on Him who died the just for the unjust, to this very end, that He might bring you to God. Tell Him, if you will, that you are unworthy of the bread you eat, or of the roof that covers you; but never doubt the power of that mighty Name, nor distrust the value of that precious blood—never question your title to the place which that name and that blood have given you, if indeed you are His own. Beware of a false peace, which depends on having a false Christ, less holy and therefore less terrible than God. And when in hymn-singing, or in prayer, you hear mawkish irreverent words addressed to such a "Jesus," let your heart turn away to thoughts of Him who sits upon the throne, with the rainbow round about; and the lightning and thundering; and the living creatures that cease not day and night to proclaim Him "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty"; and the elders who cast their golden crowns before Him, as they ascribe to Him glory and honour and power; and the chorus of ten thousand times ten thousand voices, echoed back by the whole creation of God
"The Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true; and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols"— I John v. 20,2l.
It is possible, then, that the "Jesus" of Christendom may be but an idol of human imagination. Men count upon a Saviour who will plead for them at the great judgment-throne, and who in pity and compassion will shelter them from the wrath of God. But the only God the world will ever know is the crucified Jew of Calvary! He is Himself the great and dreadful God before whom they must appear in judgment. It is the "wrath of The Lamb" they must endure. In this day of grace He is a Saviour. Amid the wonders and terrors of the eternal throne, where He is set down in power and majesty and glory, He is a Saviour; and, to the lost sinner who but looks to Him, that throne is a throne of grace. But soon the day of grace will end, and then the Saviour will Himself become Judge. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God." He it is who will sit upon the awful judgement throne, for "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto The Son."
And in the light of this great truth, we read the solemn words: "I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (1).
1. Let Christians beware, lest by their want of reverence they lull the unconverted around them into a false peace, which one true thought about our mighty Lord would save them from.
I charge it upon the Christianity of the Reformation, and still more definitely upon the Christianity of today, that prevailing habits of speech about our Saviour and Lord are derived, not from the sacred page, nor from the example of the early saints, but from the apostate Church which practically denies His Lordship, and in great measure His Messiahship too. The four Gospels will be searched in vain to find a single instance where, in the days of His humiliation, His own disciples addressed Him or spoke of Him as Christians do so habitually today.
Turn, for example, to the closing chapters of St. John. There, as elsewhere in the Gospels, He is mentioned in the narrative by His personal name, for it is God who has written the story of His life; but never once is He spoken of thus by the disciples. lament was, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." Master was the word which rose at once to her lips when He declared Himself to her. That she had seen The Lord was her testimony to the disciples. "My Lord and my God" was the cry of Thomas, when doubts gave place to true thought about our mighty Lord would save them from. faith. So also was it "when He showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias." "That disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter"—not "it is Jesus," as so many would say to-day, but "it is The Lord."
"Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well," was His word to them; and is not this enough for any heart that cares for Him? And most of all in days like these, when there are many antichrists, and Romanism and infidelity in their most subtle forms combine to deny His glory, does it not become those who know Him ever to proclaim Him LORD, and by reverent words to make their speech a constant protest against the irreverence that abounds on every side?
"The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement unto The Son, that all men should honour The Son, even as they honour The Father. He that honoureth not The Son, honoureth not The Father which hath sent Him."
If Christians ever named their Lord with the realisation that He was listening, they would never fail to manifest this consciousness, not as the result of effort or training, but naturally and of course.
With the world He is no more than a religious institution whose name represents the solemnities of their faith, for "Jesus Christ" is the Mahomet of Christendom. With the Christian He ought ever to be a present living Lord. But is it so? "There am I in the midst" is His promise to those who are gathered in His name; and if this presence were a reality with those who claim it, no word would be uttered in preaching, prayer, or praise, that would be out of place if all eyes were opened to behold Him. To faith the unseen is a reality, and the appearance of The Lord standing "in the midst," instead of creating confusion or fear, should be but the fulfilment of His people’s hopes. But is it too much to say, that in many a congregation His manifested presence would be as great a shock to the worshippers as was the sight of a dragoon in the conventicles of the Covenanters!
"No man hath seen God at any time; The Only Begotten Son, which is in the bosom of The Father, He hath declared Him." John i. 18.
Christ came, not to supplant The God of Abraham and of Israel, but to reveal Him as He had never been known before; and, gathering together the scattered children, to make That God our God, so that we might take into our lips the words in which His people praised Him in the old time, and sing that "God has become our salvation"; that "The Eternal God is our refuge"; that "our help is in the name of The Lord that made heaven and earth."
But just as the heathen set up different gods to represent conflicting interests and passions, so Christendom has separated The Father from The Son, and made the one a great and terrible God, and the other an inferior Deity of gentleness and love. And if mankind has erred thus, it is because the tendency is natural to the human heart; and, in our day, Romanism on the one hand, and Revivalism on the other, have done much to leaven true Christians with the evil (1). In truth, the baneful influence I deprecate is eating the heart out of Christianity, and substituting an enervating sentimentalism for the "mystery of godliness."
"Christianity made easy" is characteristic of this age. It is impossible to have too high a conception of the grace and love of God, or to exaggerate the freeness of the gospel, if only God be kept before the soul. But too often God is lost sight of altogether. The stupendous mysteries of our faith are lowered till they come within reach of the natural mind, and can be grasped apart from any work of The Holy Spirit at all. And without ever the conscience being aroused, the heart won, or the soul brought into the presence of God, the sinner is introduced as it were into comradeship with this conventional "Jesus," and his conversion is forthwith proclaimed.
1. Revivalism, I say, for my words refer to the human element by which the blessed and mighty revival God is working, is being marred.
The gospel is no longer the power of God, declaring, not only His love and grace, but His righteousness and wrath, and mastering the whole being of the sinner whom it saves. It is no longer the astounding climax of all that God has revealed to man, incredible except to faith. It becomes a mere corollary of Divine benevolence. The facts of the death of Christ are so stated that forgiveness for the sinner is shown to be a logical consequence. The appalling guilt and doom of sin, and the righteousness and holiness of God, are well-nigh forgotten; and even Divine love, and the sacrifice of the Sin-bearer, are stated but incidentally as premises of the syllogism from which pardon for the sinner is to be deduced.
Where is the weight upon men’s souls of the guilt of the blood of The Son of God? Where the self-abasement that becomes His holy presence? Where the mastered conscience and the broken heart? Not that salvation is made too free, for that it cannot be—it is for the blaspheming persecutor on his rounds, and for the adulteress taken in the act (2)--but that God is set aside and dishonored. What wonder then if the fear of God is dying out! What wonder if, under such influences, the children of Christians should so often be a reproach, and that among Christians generally, presumptuousness, self-will, and contempt for authority—marks of the last perilous days (3)--are so fast developing themselves!
It is ours to enjoy a higher and truer and fuller knowledge of God than His people could possibly attain to before He was revealed in flesh. But let any one compare the Psalms of David with a modern hymn-book, and mark the marvelous declension there has been in spiritual power and worship. The apprehension of God with those whose worship found expression in the Psalms is as much beyond the popular Christianity of the day, as the Christianity of the New Testament transcends the religion of the Psalms. In fact, GOD is disappearing from our Christianity altogether. Some of His gentler attributes have been separated from Himself and impersonated under the sacred name of "Jesus"; and the representation is so partial and imperfect that it is practically false. It not The Lord Jesus of Holy Scripture, but the Jesus of Romish...
2. 1 Tim. i. 13; John viii, 1-11
3. 2 Pet. ii. 10
manuals, an object of sentiment rather than of faith.
True, the beloved disciple leaned upon His breast at supper; and though that place, and the relationship which it betokened, in a sense pertained to the time when He was known as He is known no longer, far be it from me to question that there is a kindred place of nearness now. But who of us will claim it? Even of the eleven, thus singled out from all of the rest to be with Him, there was but one who held it, then. And when they sought to know the traitor, and the reverent awe in which they held their Lord restrained the question, it was to him they turned to ask it, and into his ear alone the sign was whispered by which Judas Iscariot would declare himself (4).
Methinks if we but knew some saint to-day who held this place of nearness to our Lord, we would seek him out at times, that he might ask petitions for us, and catch the answering whisper which duller ears might miss. And if hymns like those I comment on, and words and phrases and modes of speech which seem to betoken mawkish, sentiment or undue familiarity towards Him who is our Lord, are but the natural outflow of hearts that have gained this wondrous place of privilege and blessing, it is not for me to censure them; though I can not fail to mark in contrast the reverent speech of John, and to wonder how the same grace could produce results so strangely different to-day. He it is who has left to the church the record, "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead." "Whose shoes I am not worth to bear," was the humble testimony of the greatest prophet ever born of woman (5). Some among us, perchance, would claim to be more worthy than the Baptist! But what about the thousands who sing these hymns? "Not worthy to bear His shoes!" Why they would doubtless grasp His hand, and greet Him as one greets a comrade; they would call Him their "Dear Jesus," and, it may be, kiss Him; one of His disciples did kiss Him once, but it was not "the disciple whom He loved."
But why do I write thus? For I know well how many there are of...
4. John xiii, 24-28.
5. Matt. iii, 11.
those who thus offend, who need but to be recalled to truer thoughts about their Lord, as witness the love they bear Him and the devoted lives they live for Him. Could they but reach His presence now, no mawkish or familiar words would pass their lips to grieve Him, no undue freedom would call for a rebuke. His love has conquered fear, and their hearts would bound to Him unchecked; but it would not be to hail Him as an equal, or to claim His arms’ embrace, but rather to fall in adoration at His feet, and there weep out their gratitude.
"Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended ?
…. What is His name, and what is His Son’s name if thou canst tell ?"—Prov. xxx. 4.
In our popular literature there is obviously no guide known but euphony, in using the names and titles of The Lord; but in their use in Scripture there is a mine of most important teaching. The reason why one is used rather than another does not always lie upon the surface, but in no case will euphony , or "style," or mere chance, account for it. A treatise on this subject would fill a volume. Here I can but touch on it in the briefest way.
"Jesus" is the personal name of the Virgin’s son, once born in Bethlehem, and declared to be The Son of God. "Christ" and "Lord" are His official titles (1). He was known to the world as "Jesus of Nazareth"; and, doubtless, had one of the multitude been sent to fetch a beast to carry Him, or to bespeak a guest-chamber for the Passover, His word would have been that Jesus of Nazareth required it. Not so His own disciples, who would even in the mention of His name declare themselves: "The Master saith"; "The Lord hath need of it." In the narrative of the gospels He is generally spoken of by his personal name, because it is God who has written the story of His life. This, indeed, is one of the incidental proofs of The Divine authorship of the New Testament. But throughout the four gospels there is not recorded a single instance in which His disciples named Him thus, with familiarity and freedom common among Christians now.
In the testimony to Israel, the emphasis naturally rested on His Messiahship. In this testimony to the world, prominence was given to His Lordship. The Apostle Paul’s "custom" in dealing with the Jews was to prove from the Scriptures that "it behoved the Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead," and then to declare that "this Jesus whom, said he, I proclaim unto you, is The Christ" (2).
1. Acts ii, 36.
2. Acts xvii. 2-3 (R.V.).
"We preach Christ Jesus as Lord," was his description of his ministry among the Gentiles (3). His Messiahship as linked with promise was the characteristic truth for the Jew: His Lordship, as linked with grace, for the Gentile.
Not but that these truths were united in the testimony, whether to Jew or to Gentile; but that the emphasis was wholly different. They "that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," is one of the God-given titles of His people (4). To invoke that name is salvation; for the confession of His Lordship is linked with belief in His resurrection (5). "No man can say Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit" (6). Any lips, of course, can frame the words, but to speak them from the heart is proof of life from God.
"Jesus," I repeat, is His personal name: "Christ" gives prominence to the fact of His resurrection from the dead, and "Lord" reminds us of His ascension and His glory. If we open, for example, the First Epistle to the Corinthians, we find St. Paul writing as "an apostle of Jesus Christ," to "them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus," and the salutation is from The Lord Jesus Christ (7). His office as apostle was to bear witness that The Man, Jesus, was The Christ, and, therefore, it is on the personal name that the emphasis falls. But the saints are said to be "in Christ Jesus," or "in Christ." And the salutation comes from Him as glorified at the right hand of God. And so is it invariably, with the one exception of Revelation i. 5, in keeping with the special dispensational character of the Apocalypse.
3. 2 Cor. iv, 5 (R.V.).
4. 1 Cor. I, 2 (R.V.)
5. Rom. x, 9, 13.
6. 1 Cor. xii, (R.V.).
7. The whole chapter deserves careful study in this respect. Six times in the ten verses we have "the Lord Jesus Christ." And note "in Christ Jesus" in verse 4 (R.V.) and "Christ" in verses 6, 13, 17, 23. There is a difference too, between in Inspired Epistles and the record of the Apostle’s use of the name in his verbal utterances. See, e.g., Acts xx. 19, 21,24, 35. In Acts xix. 13, the Exorcist Jews say, "We adjure you by Jesus"; but the inspired writer speaks of "at he name of the Lord Jesus."
Such expressions as "saints in Jesus," "accepted in Jesus," "brethren in Jesus," "sleeping in Jesus," though sadly common among Christians, are wholly unknown to Scripture and utterly unintelligent. Some few passages in our Authorized Version that seem to warrant them, are either wrong readings. The Revisers are a safer guide in both respects, though not an unerring one, as their maintaining in as the rendering for dia in 1 Thessalonians iv. 14 gives proof.
The personal name brings The Lord before us in some aspect in which He is apart from us: "Christ," on the other hand, is used when His relationships with us are in question. For instance, "the body of Jesus" would mean His human body; "the body of Christ" His mystical body. And so also with the types. If, for example, our redemption be in question, it is "the blood of Christ" that is spoken of. But if, on the other hand, the Atonement be treated of, not in that aspect of it in which we are identified with Christ, but as the blood-shedding by which a people already redeemed, as Israel was in the wilderness, are fitted to approach as worshippers a holy God, it is "the blood of Jesus" with which we have to do.
The Epistle to the Romans deals with the guilt of sin; the Epistle to the Hebrews with its defilement. Romans unfolds how the condemned sinner can be justified, and take his place in the family of God; Hebrews, how the defiled can be sanctified, and fitted to worship in the holiest. Romans, therefore, tell us of "the blood of Christ"; Hebrews, of "the blood of Jesus." In Romans the latter expression is never used; in Hebrews "the blood of Christ" is mentioned only in the reference to redemption in chapter ix.
As Hebrews treats of sanctification with a view to worship, so the First Epistle of John deals with it in relation to sustained communion and the Father’s house; and here also we find "the blood of Jesus" (8). So also in I Peter i. 2, we read of the "sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," the allusion being to "the blood of the covenant," by which the redeemed people were sanctified (9). But in the 19th verse...
8. 1 John I. 7 (R.V.).
9. Ex. xxiv. 8. See "The Gospel and its Ministry." Sixth ed. P. 176.
of this same chapter, when the Passover is referred to, it is "the blood of Christ" that is spoken of. "The blood of Jesus" is mentioned no-where else in the Epistles. In Ephesians we are said to be "made nigh by the blood of Christ." In I Corinthians x. 16, we have "the communion of the blood of Christ." In chapter xi. we have "the blood of The Lord," in Colossians i. 20, "the blood of His cross"; expressions full of meaning , but I will not now digress to speak of them.
The teaching of the High Priesthood affords another striking example of the use of the name "Jesus," as presenting The Lord in His individual character, and not as one with His people. "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus" (10). So also when He is spoken of as Forerunner in the race of dependent obedience (11). This, again, explains the meaning of 2 Corinthians iv. 10. It is commonly taken to inculcate our manifesting the life we possess in Christ but it is "the life of Jesus" the text speaks of. The Apostle desired to have ever before him the death of his Lord, so that he might live according to the example of His life. This will explain also the only passage in Ephesians in which He is mentioned as Jesus. "Taught by Christ," we read, "as the truth is in Jesus"; that is , we find in the Lord’s life down here the pattern of the practical working out of the truth He teaches us. Romans viii. 11, affords another striking illustration of the significance attaching to His personal name and His official title.
"In the name of Jesus" is a common formula in prayer. What a lifting up of heart it gives to apprehend that our access is in the name, not of the lowly and despised Nazarene, but of that same Jesus as enthroned in power and glory—in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ! Such, too, is our warrant for coming together as Christians: not the name of Jesus as a password or a shibboleth, but the name of our mighty Lord, to whom all power in heaven and earth are given. This is our authority for gathering together in a world where He is denied, as it ought to be the sanction for every act of our lives. (Compare Matt. xviii. 20; I Cor. V. 4; and Col. iii. 17.)
10. Heb. iii. 1 (R.V.)
11. Heb. xii. 2.
One word more. Had "Leaves from our journal in the Highlands" been published anonymously , the Queen’s authorship of the book would have been betrayed by the mode in which the members of the royal house are spoken of. In like manner the use of the sacred names is one of the many indications of the Divine authorship of the New Testament. They must have a strangely inadequate conception of what inspiration means who urge that the language of the God-breathed Scriptures should in this respect be imitated in the colloquial language of the home, or even in the more formal discourse of the pulpit. Between the inspired word of God and the most worthy and solemn of mere human utterances an unmeasured distance lies.
I will not further refer to the opening chapters of the Acts, nor to the Revelation, for that would involve our considering the distinctive dispensational character of those books. But I trust I have said enough to excite interest in the subject, and to afford a clew to the pursuit of it. No one who receives the Scriptures as Divine will turn from the study as hypercritical. The difference between the simplest work of nature and the highest achievement of art is not greater than that which separates the "oracles of God" from the words of man. In presence of what is divine no minuteness of examination can be excessive. And as in the sphere of nature the cultured observer lives in a world of wonders which common men know nothing of, so is it also in the spiritual sphere. But in our day the prayer of the 119th Psalm is almost forgotten. "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."
Though not in keeping with "the spirit of the age," this is entirely in keeping with the spirit of those who have searched most deeply the unfathomable depths of Holy Writ. I am reminded of the words with which Dean Alford, in ending his Commentary on the New Testament, commended to God the great work of eighteen years of his life. "I do so," he declared, "with a sense of utter weakness before the power of His word, and inability to sound the depths even of its simplest sentence. May He spare the hand which has been put forward to touch His ark."
"The Life of Jesus" is a fitting title to a book written by an unbeliever. But such a use of the sacred name ought to be impossible with Christians. Many there are, however, who see no wrong in it(1).
Many there are who, though they hope to join one day in the song of the redeemed in glory, "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?" think it becoming here and now to use the name of their Divine Lord as a brand to help the sale of their literary wares—that Name in which every knee in the universe of God shall bow. For the title of a book is primarily but a trade mark for trade purposes. With what amazement and grief the beloved disciple would hear the name of his Lord and Master thus shouted through the warehouse of the publisher, and called across the counter of the book-shop!
No profanity is intended by those who thus offend, but how grievous the profanity their thoughtlessness gives rise to! That name which ought to solemnise and gladden us in life, and fill us with strength and joy in the hour of death, is thus—like the blood of the atonement—"accounted common"; and poor ignorant souls who know nothing of its power to bless and save are trained to hear it, and to utter it, with no thought save of the book store which is the scene of their daily toil.
"Sweetest note in angel’s song,
Sweetest sound on mortal tongue,
Sweetest anthem ever known!"
Yes, this is the theory of it. "Hallowed be Thy Name" is the prayer of our lips, but in practice that name is thus hackneyed and...
1. Some, indeed, who do this would not name an apostle save with the prefix of Saint. Here, for example , are two volumes by the same author; one is entitled "The Life of St. Paul"; the other, "The other , "the Life of Jesus Christ." Here again, is another, not by and infidel like Renan, but by a Christian pastor entitled "Scenes from the Life of Jesus." And the list might be added to indefinitely,
degraded till men come to connect it with the jingle of the coin upon the counter. These words are meant as an appeal: may they be used to increase the number of those who "think upon His Name."
Books for the young are a special grief. The idea is too common that in addressing little children upon any subject whatsoever it is necessary to come down to what the cynical would describe as "drivelling"; and in the religious sphere especially this influence prevails. God is kept in the background to check or scare them when they are what is called "naughty," and the second person of the Trinity is represented as a gentle, loving Being who will befriend them when they are what is called "good." But it is taken for granted that children will be repelled by truth such as moulded the character and shaped the early life of Samuel and David, and John the Baptist and Timothy.
Was there ever such a blunder! What is dignified and solemn, and even what is mysterious, has attractions for the young. For them no "goody" book that ever was written is so fascinating as Bunyan’s "Pilgrim’s Progress." And in their case what is mawkish or familiar is more pernicious even than with persons of more mature years. We are enjoined to "sanctify Christ in our hearts as Lord," and it is in early infancy that the habit can most easily be formed.
A sermon lies before me, lately published by one whose name and position invite attention to his words. The text is Hebrews ii.11, and in the midst of much that is true and worthy, the preacher urges his hearers to practice the habit of addressing The Lord and speaking of Him as brother. But surely the same grace which leads Him to call us "brethren," will teach us, if, indeed, it have due influence on our hearts, to call Him Lord. Mark the language of His message to His disciples after the resurrection: "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend"—not "unto our Father and our God," but "unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." In the very words which tell them of the nearness of the bond which binds them to Him, He is careful to remind them of the distance which every...
true heart rejoices to recognise between the disciple and his Lord (2).
But at this point the preacher’s appeal is not to the Bible—for, both in the spirit of it and in the letter, the Bible is utterly opposed to such teaching–but to the hymn-book. He quotes Dr. Watts:
"He is my Friend and Brother, too,
Divinely kind, divinely true."
and John Newton:
"O my Saviour, Shield and Sun,
Shepherd, Brother, Husband, Friend."
To criticize our popular hymns is a delicate task. But, in truth, the compilers of our hymn-books have much to answer for. Here, however, we must discriminate. About the old writers there is generally a reverence of spirit which goes far to conceal the sentimentalism and familiarity which sometimes characterizes their language. Not so is it with much that emanates from more recent sources.
What can be said for words like these?
"Come, take thy stand beneath the Cross,
So may the blood from out His side
Fall gently on thee, drop by drop.
Jesus, our love, is crucified."
Here in a single stanza we have the mawkish irreverence of the love song combined with revolting materialism of "the religion of the shambles." Hymns, of which this is a type, are an outrage upon Christianity, and a reproach upon any church which tolerates them. "Jesus, our love!" I denounce the sickening profanity of such words. And let no one dare to appeal to the "Song of Songs" to justify them. The sacred language given us to express the ecstacy of a soul in the...
2. John xx. 17. St. James was His Brother in every sense, yet he it is who alone of all writers of the New Testament never names Him but as Lord.
enjoyment of the deepest spiritual fellowship with God must not be thus parodied and degrade.
"A good hymn," says Lord Selborne in the preface to his Book of Praise, "should have simplicity, freshness, and reality of feeling; a consistent elevation of tone, and a rhythm easy and harmonious, but not jingling or trivial. Its language may be homely, but should not be slovenly or mean. Affection or visible artifice is worse than excess of homeliness; a hymn is easily spoiled by a single falsetto note. Nor will the most exemplary soundness of doctrine atone for doggrel, or redeem from failure a prosaic didactic style."
How apt these words are! It is a mystery how Christians who join week by week in the magnificent praise of the Te Deum, can tolerate the wretched stuff so often put into their lips when the Prayer-book gives place to the Hymn-book in the Sunday service. And it is inexcusable, too; for our English hymnology is rich enough to permit of our rejecting even what is doubtful.
In many cases, moreover, the very poetry of the hymn would gain by increased reverence of tone, as, for instance, in the substitution of "Lord Jesus" for "O Jesus" or "My Jesus." If "My Jesus has done all things well," betokens familiarity that His presence would rebuke, we cannot be gainers by tolerating it. And I plead that His presence would be the test. The hymn would suffer nothing by rendering it, "My Saviour has done all things well." So again, "Stand up, stand up for Jesus," might give place to "Stand up for Christ our Saviour." And so with many more.
Some would feel a pang at parting with such as the following:
"Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love or'shadowed,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! ‘tis the voice of angels,
Borne in a song to me,
Over the fields of glory,
Over the jasper sea."
But the question with us should be, not what we like, but what we ought to like. I deprecate such hymns. "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear." How much of this hymn is the merest sentiment? We have heard a diviner voice than that of angels; and "jasper sea" conveys no meaning to us. As we read the God-given words in which His people praised Him in the old time, the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ enables us to join in their nobler and worthier song with a fuller appreciation of its meaning, and a more intelligent faith than theirs.
And if any should answer that theirs was but "the song of Moses," whereas we have "the song of The Lamb," I would remind them of how they who have "gotten the victory," and "stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God," "sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of The Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty, just and true are Thy ways, Thou Eternal King; who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?" (3)
In the spirit of these words, and of the truth pleaded for in these pages, may I venture to suggest a substitute for the popular stanza I have criticized:
Safe in Jehovah’s keeping.
Led by His glorious arm,
God is Himself my refuge,
A present help from harm.
Fears may at times distress me,
Griefs may my soul annoy;
God is my strength and portion.
God my exceeding joy.
3. Rev. xv. 2-4. The Revisers have adopted the reading ton aionon; but with strange pedantry, they have translated the words, "King of the ages," instead of following their own rendering of the same word in I Tim. I, 17.
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