History Revisited

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Psa. 105:13-14 π Psa. 105:15; 2nd π Jer. 6:14-15 π Jer. 23:16-17 π Ezek. 34:2-6 π Ezek. 34:11 π Ezek. 34:16 π Ezek. 34:23 π Mt. 6:24 π Mt. 13:22 π Mt. 19:23-24 π Mt. 24:4-5 π Mt. 24:5 π Mt. 24:11 π Mt. 24:24-25 π Mk. 4:19 π Mk. 10:23-25 π Mk. 12:43-44 π Lk. 6:24 π Lk. 8:14 π Lk. 11:47-48 π Lk. 12:16-21 π Lk. 16:19-31 π Lk. 18:24-25 π Lk. 19:2 π Lk. 19:8-10 π Lk. 21:1-4 π Jn. 14:6 π 1 Cor. 10:31 π 1 Cor. 14:29 π 2 Cor. 4:2 π Gal. 5:13 π Phlp. 4:11-13 π Col. 3:1-2 π 1 Ths. 5:21 π 2 Ths. 2:9-10 π 2 Ths. 2:10 π 1 Tim. 1:3 π 1 Tim. 2:5 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 1 Tim. 4:11 π 1 Tim. 6:2 π 1 Tim. 6:3-21 π 1 Tim. 6:5 π 1 Tim. 6:9-10 π 1 Tim. 6:17-19 π 2 Tim. 3:1-9 π Tit. 1:7-9 π Tit. 2:6-8 π Heb. 5:3 π Heb. 5:9-11 π Jas. 1:9-11 π Jas. 2:2-9 π Jas. 5:1-6 π 1 Pet. 2:5 π 1 Pet. 2:9 π 1 Jn. 2:27 π 1 Jn. 4:1

An Old Lesson

Do you recall the old adage that "those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to relive them"? In my readings, I ran across an enlightening piece of knowledge written some years ago by a learned teacher of the Word.

The office of curate (any minister who has the care of souls) is ordained of God; few do it well and many full evil, therefore test we their defaults, with God's help.

They are more busy about worldly goods than virtues and good keeping of men's souls. For he that can best get riches of this world together, and have a great household, and worldly array, is held to be a worthy man of holy church, though he know not the best point of the gospel. Such a one is praised and borne up by the bishops and their offices. But the curate that gives himself to study holy writ and teach his parishioners to save their souls, and live in meekness, penance, and busy labor about spiritual things, and cares not about worldly respect and riches, is held to be a fool, and destroyer of holy church. He is despised and persecuted by high priests and prelates and their offices, and is hated by other curates. This makes many to be negligent in their spiritual cures, and to give themselves to occupations and business about worldly goods. These negligent curates think but little, how dearly Christ bought man's soul with His precious blood and death, and how hard a reckoning He shall make at doomsday for those souls. They would seem to be out of Christian faith - for they make not themselves ready to come thither, and to answer how they came into their benefices, and how they lived and taught, and spent poor men's goods. For if they had such a faith in their minds, they would begin a better life, and continue therein.

Except for the archaic language contained in the above passage, one would believe the writer spoke of modern-day America with a view towards the majority of so-called Christian "churches" (including fundamental and charismatic Protestant evangelical, orthodox and reformed Catholic, and ecumenical/non-denominational hybrids) and the so-called Christian television frauds who defame Christianity. However the writer of the above passage was none other than John Wycliffe, noted theologian and Bible translator of the 14th century. Half a century later, in Czechoslovakia, a teacher named John Huss studied Wycliffe's writings and found himself at odds with the established Roman Catholic Church and was burned at the stake for daring to speak against their excesses. It was a little more than a century later when Wycliffe and Huss's "heretical" teachings would be often unknowingly embraced by many such as Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Huldreich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox and many others who embraced the truth of Christ Jesus as is found in the Bible.

Wycliffe, even though while alive was hated by the established church, is now looked upon as one of the many uncompromising heroes of church history. This is a situation somewhat mindful of Jesus speaking to the hypocrites of His day: "Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs." ( Lk. 11:47-48; top )

But as soon as I or anyone else begins to speak against the false teachers, false shepherds and false prophets of our day and age, we will be branded as divisive, unkind, and unloving. And amazingly enough, this is the first point that Wycliffe brings up in this quote from his writing, "How the Office of Curates is Ordained of God." [1] One of Wycliffe's purposes in this writing was to "test their defaults with the help of God." But when we turn to expose the sinful and errant practices of the "pastors" and teachers of the "church" today, we are labeled divisive and unloving and condemned as unaccepting and judgmental. And when one considers the extreme remedy which was required to overcome the carnal practices of the Romish Church of the Middle Ages - namely the Reformation which led in part to our vast number of denominations and sects, decades of senseless, bloody persecutions, and even horrible wars - one begins to wonder what will be required to overcome the similar abuses and heresies of our modern, American false teachers who pollute the airwaves and feed God's precious flock with used pigslop. Will the correction of the excesses of today's American "church" require the complete and utter destruction of our culture and society?

Don't Touch God's Anointed

Undoubtedly, some supporter of these false teachers and shepherds who happens to read this will undoubtedly throw down the gauntlet of "don't touch God's anointed." Pardon me for being overly blunt, but that only displays the superstitious and ignorant approach this one takes to studying Scripture. One of the most basic rules of studying Scripture is to let the Bible itself control the way a passage is understood. When, for example, Psa. 105:15; top says: "Touch not My anointed, and do My prophets no harm" (KJV), we must look to the rest of the Bible to see who "God's anointed" are. We cannot look to any modern man's interpretation as to who these people might be.

When we do turn to Scripture for an answer, using an exhaustive concordance to find out what the Bible is really saying, we find that in the Old Testament the "anointed" of God was used to refer to the Messiah or Messianic prince (Jesus Christ in the New Testament), to the king of Israel, to the high priest of Israel, to the foreign invader Cyrus, and to the patriarchs as anointed kings. No prophet or Levite was ever referred to as God's "anointed," no matter how dynamic, forceful or effective his message was. The closest one can possibly compare these modern-day "church" leaders, these self-proclaimed "anointed of God," is to the position of high priest of Israel - a position rendered obsolete by the work of Christ, by the way. But they certainly are not the Messiah, nor kings of Israel, nor Cyrus, nor the patriarchs. But even comparing them to the high priest breaks down in light of such passages as 1 Pet. 2:5 , 9; top which says that we are all priests. This further breaks down in light of Heb. 5:3; top which says that high priests are required to offer for sins. The office of high priest was fulfilled in Christ ( Heb. 5:9-11; top ) and we have no need of any other mediator between God and man. ( 1 Tim. 2:5; top ) There is no Scriptural basis for anyone to consider himself a recipient of God's special anointing so that he can claim some higher position than the rest. This is backed up by 1 Jn. 2:27; top which states "the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him." All who have been born again into God's Spirit are the "anointed" of God, not just a few special leaders or teachers. (Also see Psa. 105:13-14; top where the the people are said to be God's anointed!)

In addition, there is a misconstruing of what is meant by "touch" (KJV) that is pointed to in the second half of Psa. 105:15; top when it speaks of doing no "harm" to the prophets. While argument can be made that it means to merely touch, as in make physical contact, the word often carries with it the connotation of doing physical harm as when David refused to kill King Saul to become king. To say that this word means that we are not to challenge the biblical validity of the teachings and practices of someone who claims to be "God's anointed" is exceedingly naive and ignorant of all legitimate scholarly and spiritual methods of studying God's holy writings.

Perhaps, if one were to take the primary application of "God's anointed," which refers to Jesus Christ the Messiah, and use the passage to point out the danger of doing damage to His glory and reputation by preaching and teaching false doctrines, heresies, and outright blasphemies, one would come closer to the secondary concept embodied in the warning of "Touch not My Anointed." But the primary concept is still an injunction not to do physical harm to Israel's Messiah, kings, high priest, patriarchs or the people.

The Burden of Proof

If one were to accept, for argument's sake, that "pastors" and teachers, whether in their "churches" or on television, are truly "God's anointed," perhaps using a loose comparison to their being like Cyrus a tool in God's hands, what basis do we use to determine whether they are truly called of God, speaking from His Spirit, and speaking accurately for God or not? Do we take their word for it? If so, we must admit characters like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Sun Myung Moon, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, and a whole host of other obvious cult leaders, for they too claimed to be "God's anointed." Even today's "pastors" claim to have special anointing (i.e. "I am the anointed one" - see Mt. 24:5; top ) in order to hold their office. Obviously we need another standard than self-proclamation.

How about genuine, bonafide miracles? That's surely a foolproof method of determining whether a man or woman is truly speaking for God and not in any way misrepresenting Him! Sorry. The Bible clearly warns that "the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." ( 2 Ths. 2:9-10; top ) Jesus clearly warned us to "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand." ( Mt. 24:4-5 , 11 , 24-25; top ) So we cannot look to the mere presence of genuine signs and wonders to confirm the validity of their calling from the One True God.

Often many of these so-called "anointed of God" will claim to come under the influence of the "Holy Spirit" and speak words of prophecy, many times saying things that are in direct conflict with the Word of God. [2] If we are not to "touch God's anointed" in any manner whatsoever, please explain the command that we find in 1 Cor. 14:29; top , which says, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." What are we to judge? The style with which the prophet speaks? Do we raise cards with numbers from 1 to 10 to rate their "performance"? No! We judge the content of their prophecy by measuring it against the already revealed, inerrant Word of God! Not only is this idea of not "touching God's anointed" totally false, we are actually commanded to test all things and all spirits and to hold fast only to that which is good. ( 1 Ths. 5:21 ; 1 Jn. 4:1; top )

The Scriptures

We must look to the Bible for the standards by which these men and women claiming God's special anointing are to be evaluated. Paul wrote that "a bishop" (any elder entrusted with the care and spiritual feeding of a portion of God's flock) "must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict." ( Tit. 1:7-9; top ) Holding fast the faithful word and teaching sound doctrine is part of the job description. One who ignores this integral part of the position needs to step down until he is truly qualified to be an undershepherd in charge of a portion of God's people.

Paul also commands Titus to exhort the younger men, in their doctrine to show "integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned" ( Tit. 2:6-8; top ) If the younger men were required to have purity of doctrine, how much more so must these "anointed of God" have purity of doctrine! To ignore so basic a requirement is to ignore God's truth. Such a one is not qualified to lead God's people and ought to be forced to step away from any positions of leadership.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that "we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." ( 2 Cor. 4:2; top ) A preacher or teacher of God's Word is to put away all deceitful handling of God's Word - and be open to evaluation by every man's conscience! We must put away the superstitious nonsense that says we cannot evaluate teachings and teachers on the basis of what the Bible says. If we would be an "Ephesians" church, walking in spiritual victory over sin, self, Satan and the world, we cannot afford to be making ignorant, carnal, "Corinthians" mistakes.

Paul commanded Timothy to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" ( 1 Tim. 1:3; top ) and then goes on to discuss many practical aspects of corporate life. However, his letter becomes sobering when he writes, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." ( 1 Tim. 4:1; top ) From that point on, his letter speaks of specific practices and Timothy is twice commanded to include "these things" in his teachings. ( 1 Tim. 4:11 ; 6:2; top ) Paul concludes his letter to Timothy by warning:

"If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge - by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen. ( 1 Tim. 6:3-21 ; also see 2 Tim. 3:1-9; top )

In this warning, we find that Timothy was commanded to withdraw himself from false teachers who refused to come to the knowledge of the truth. (v. 5; top ) A similar command was also given to Jeremiah, who prophesied warnings of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the impending captivity of the Israelites. In Jeremiah's day, there were many false prophets whom God described as having "...also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace." God continued His denunciation of these false prophets: "'Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time I punish them, They shall be cast down,' says the Lord." ( Jer. 6:14-15; top ) God later commands Jeremiah: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The Lord has said, "You shall have peace"'; And to everyone who walks according to the imagination of his own heart, 'No evil shall come upon you.'" ( Jer. 23:16-17; top ) Jeremiah, as was Timothy, was told not to even listen to the false prophets because they would make him and those who heeded the true message from the Lord worthless, or as another version puts it, it would "ruin" them.

A similar prophesy was given to Ezekiel regarding the false shepherds of his time:

"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, bu you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was searching for them." ( Ezek. 34:2-6; top )

God goes on to say the He Himself would search for His sheep and seek them out and establish one Shepherd, the Son of David, to care for and feed them. (vs. 11 , 16 , 23; top ) Anyone claiming to be a shepherd of God's flock who does not exhibit the characteristics of Christ is a thief, a robber and a liar. Do not be deceived by him.

Material Wealth

In Paul's pastoral warning to Timothy, we also find stern warnings to those who would seek to be rich in the material possessions of this life. Our culture has become especially enamored of material possessions and, in spite of the numerous warnings of Jesus ( Mt. 6:24 ; 13:22 ; 19:23-24 ; Mk. 4:19 ; 10:23-25 ; 12:43-44 ; Lk. 6:24 ; 8:14 ; 12:16-21 ; 16:19-31 ; 18:24-25 ; 19:2 , 8-10 ; 21:1-4 ), James ( Jas. 1:9-11 ; 2:2-9 ; 5:1-6 ), and Paul ( 1 Tim. 6:9-10 , 17-19; top ), we continue to stockpile earthly treasures in the last days. Simply look around your own home and you can quickly see the vast number of "things" that you don't need but yet are too "precious" or have too much "sentimental value" to give away, discard or sell. This is materialism and it is sin.

This is especially evident when you consider that we in the United States, who represent less than 10% of the world's population, consume approximately 35% of the world's goods. Our annual average personal income is measured in the thousands of dollars while the majority of the world's population survives on less than one thousand dollars per year, many of those less than a hundred dollars per person per year. Our nearest neighbor, Mexico, while growing economically in certain sectors, still experiences rank poverty. And even within our own borders, there are those who are going to bed tonight without any food whatsoever.

Now I am not advocating complete dissolution of all your assets and immediate distribution to the nearest poor, nor am I promoting the "vows of poverty" that so many have taken in the past. But I find it difficult to accept arguments that we are in true obedience to Christ while we have such a hoard and stockpile of goods and our neighbors, whom we are to love as much as Christ loved us, have nothing. The inequality is too great, the need too horrendous, and the command too clear. We must, as the richest nation on earth and in history, get on our faces before holy God and turn from our wicked hoarding of our wealth and prosperity for our own benefit, pleasure and comfort and begin to give our excesses away to those who are in need. God never gave us anything to keep for ourselves - everything is to be given out so that those who have too much will have just enough and those who have too little will also have just enough.

"Enough" is a word that we have abandoned in our quest for top position, top pay, and top recognition. We are no longer content to have our housing needs met, now we must be luxuriantly comfortable and successfully competitive in the latest styles and colors. We are no longer content to adequately feed and clothe our families and have adequate transportation and sustenance, now we must have the best in everything and own many things we have no real need for - which also must be the best that money can buy. We are no longer content to be humble servants of the Most High God, now we must be the richest, the best dressed, the best groomed, the most praised men and women on earth or we are not adequately representing God. Hogwash!

John the Baptist was a true prophet of God yet dressed badly and cheaply. Jesus, in spite of modern false-prophets who teach otherwise, was not fabulously wealthy. Paul learned and taught a concept that modern America would do well to heed: contentment. Be content with what you have. ( Phlp. 4:11-13; top ) Neither seek more nor be ashamed of God's blessings. Simply use money and possessions as tools to glorify God and meet the needs of others. And if you are currently lacking in money or possessions, use that lack as a means to further glorify God. In all that you say and do and have and are, be content and glorify God. ( 1 Cor. 10:31 ; Col. 3:1-2; top )

We often look to our government to meet the needs of those around us. It was never the government's responsibility to meet those needs: it was the responsibility of the people of God! And it is not the government's fault that we now have a sick culture on our hands. The "church" has diverted the bride's face away from the True and Living God and caused her to forsake her first love, her place of honor and respect, and her place of power to change and preserve the beneficial aspects of the culture around her. She has neglected to be obedient to the God who gave her the position she enjoys. Talk about ingratitude and disrespect - much like spitting in the face of your parents when they give you money to go out and enjoy yourself. When will we see the grave nature of our sin against God? After He pours out His final judgments and it is too late to change?

Make It Real, Not Fantasy

We must now look away from the false prophets of greed and self-gratification and find leaders who will rightly divide and live out the whole Word of God. We must avoid those who merely intellectually approach the Bible and give us their "enlightened" views as to what is important. We must look for those who not only teach by word of mouth but who, by example of living, build carefully and methodically upon the true and sure foundation which is Christ. We must look for those who challenge us to be obedient to God's Word and to forsake our sinful, wicked ways. We must not be content to sit under teachers who give out a large percentage of truth mingled with only a small percent of error or lies. We must insist upon purity of doctrine and soundness of example. There is no place in the New Testament for a disciple to be impersonally discipled through lectures. There must be hands-on training given by people who are experienced and well grounded in the things of God.

Let me remind you of the urgency of this need for a love for truth. Jesus said, "I am...the truth..." ( Jn. 14:6; top ) Jesus did not just claim to speak only truth, saying that all He said was truth; He claims to be all that truth is. He is the direct and complete embodiment of all that is truth and reality. If we have no love for truth, as will be manifested in our complacency in demanding true doctrine and true spiritual practice and in our lack of being diligent to practice personal honesty, then we have no true love for Him and we are ripe for the deception that comes upon those who "did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved." ( 2 Ths. 2:10; top )

I pray that as you read this and as you consider the condition of our nation and the American "church," that you weep for our sins. For if you do not weep, your heart is in need of "enlarging" as the Puritans have called it. You have grown cold or lukewarm toward the things of God and are in need of a renewal or of a great re-awakening of your relationship to God. I will find it hard to accept any claims that you are close to God and yet you do not feel how His heart breaks over the sinful and devastated condition of America and especially the American "church."

Another Historical Example

But lest you think this condition has been sudden or that it has never happened before in human history, I want to quote from Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermon from February 6, 1925 which was given in front of the London Literary and Debating Society. His subject matter was "The Tragedy of Modern Wales," but his points of focus, were you to change the names and labels, could easily have been written about modern America. Again we see that those who refuse to learn the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them. Lloyd-Jones' biographer writes:

...[Lloyd-Jones] went on: "The business of preaching is to give us a new prejudice, in fact the only prejudice that counts - the Christian prejudice... If we do not start with the same prejudice, discussion is quite impossible, because virtually we shall be talking different languages. To a man who has the Christian prejudice all other prejudices are worse than useless, they spell damnation; to the man who possesses those other prejudices the Christian prejudice appears to be madness. Lunatics, as you know, generally think that all other people are mad."

The address contains many of the features which were to become common in his later speaking - a unified argument ("Wales is what she is because of the absence of the Christian prejudice"), penetrating analysis and forceful application. He saw six principal signs of his country's degeneration:

1. The tendency to judge a man by his degrees and diplomas rather than by his character. "What degrees," he asked, "had Daniel Rowland, Howell Harris, William Williams, John Elias? [3] Is it not pathetic that the nation which produced such men should be found today worshipping at the altar of degrees? That it should have crept into our chapels is still worse." Education in Wales had replaced real Christianity:

"For a Welshman to quote the Bible in the same spirit as the Englishman quotes Shakespeare is surely blasphemous, and yet it is an exceptionally common practice. If we do not believe the Bible, then let us at least leave it alone altogether and not regard it as a text-book of history or literature.

"The great struggle in Wales today is the struggle between Education and Religion. If ever a nation was intoxicated with the idea of education, surely we are at the present time. The ironical fact is that we cannot somehow differentiate between culture, and knowledge. The true business of education is to give culture and the only culture that is worth considering is the culture possessed by Christian men and women. Has Wales more of this culture than she used to have in the days before education became so general? I am afraid the answer is definitely in the negative. What has become of those discussions that used to take place in the workshops of the blacksmith and the shoe-maker? They are represented today by the futile arguments as to whether the Bolton Wednesdays beat the Chelsea Saturdays in their latest football match.

"We worship today any man who knows many facts and we despise the man who knows the only thing that is really worth knowing. Because he does not know geometry and algebra, and because he has never heard of Bernard Shaw, he is considered to be narrow and old-fashioned; the truth is that he understands the magic of the sun and the stars in a way that a mere scientist can never hope to do...

"What education cannot teach us, death will demonstrate to us. How will all our learning and all our knowledge avail us then? Oh that we may be sobered before it is too late!"

2. The enthronement of financial success as the ultimate goal in life and the love of position and power which is its constant concomitant. "One of the first remarks you hear these days almost about any man or, at least, one of the first questions asked is, 'Is he doing well?' which, being interpreted means, as you well know, 'Is he making money?' The respect which we pay to wealthy men, and the almost slavish adoration with which we regard their success, is sure proof of our worship of wealth. I am not at all sure but that we even excel the Jews in this respect - given a little more time we shall soon out-distance them."

The same attitude showed itself, he argued, in the way the "Successful" London Welshman is received back home when he returns in his new clothes and motor car, soon to be given a seat in the diaconate of the chapel. In Wales herself, bankers in towns and villages were particularly to be blamed, he believed, for changing attitudes:

"They form a little society of their own and regard all those who work for their living with disdain... One of the greatest glories of the Wales of the past was that we knew of no such things as class distinction. We were all one because we worshiped the same God. The so-called country squires were generally Englishmen. But since the advent of bankers a spurious aristocracy has arisen whose definition of a gentleman is one who wears formal trousers or plus fours. There is one other attribute of these self-styled gentlemen which I had almost forgotten. According to them you are not one of the elite if you believe in Sabbath observance - the Continental Sunday will soon be a notable feature in Welsh life."

After enlarging on the wider theme of the pursuit of money, he went on:

"Of course, the fallacy which underlies all these things is a very old one - it is that, if you are wealthy, you are happy. Quite by accident, it has been my lot to be able to study a large number of wealthy men at close quarters. [4] The conclusion at which I have arrived concerning them has been that they are intensely miserable people, their misery being exceeded only by those who worship wealth and have it not."

3. The proneness of the Welsh press to blazon forth "the smallest achievements." "We are all 'brilliant,' at least so the Welsh newspapers say. The form of the paragraphs is well-known to you and read somewhat as follows: 'His numerous friends will be delighted to hear of the success of Mr. Johnny Jones in passing the entrance examination into the London and Wales bank. This brilliant young man, etc., etc.' - then follows an almost complete genealogical table of the prodigy."

Some of the London Welsh, in particular, he blamed for this attitude - the type of man who thinks he is a gentleman because he smokes a cigar and belongs to one of the fashionable clubs "where men eat and drink like beasts" and try to "hang around the coat-tails" of the so-called great. "For myself," he declared, "I have no hesitation whatsoever in stating that some of the most intelligent and cultured men whom I have had the privilege of meeting have been farmers in Cardiganshire (Wales). You will often hear the club-men speak of a friend in these terms, 'He drinks his whiskey like a gentleman'! Nature's gentlemen walk with God." The cult of free-masonry, with its idea of status, received the same castigation: "Why is it that we avoid the one thing that will give us real status - the status that belongs to those who are brothers of the Prince of princes? Surely this is a real tragedy!"

The speaker then turned, in the fourth and fifth places, to the evidence of national degeneration in the making of public appointments and in the misuse of hymnody. The sanctity of worship, he believed, was disappearing: "Hymn-singing is to us what a glass of beer is to the Englishman." Instead of being for God's praise, singing had become an expression of mere sentimentality: "Is it not time that we sang less and began to think more seriously about life?"

The sixth sign of degeneration he drew from the state of the pulpit, as he had done a year before, but now his words are fuller and stronger:

"A nation given wholly to worldly success cannot possibly produce a great pulpit. Preaching today - again please note the glorious exceptions - has become a profession which is often taken up because of the glut in the other professions. I have already referred to the method adopted in the choice of ministers and we are reaping what we have sown. It is not at all surprising that many of our chapels are half-empty, for it is almost impossible to determine what some of our preachers believe. Another great abomination is the advent of the preacher-politician, that moral-mule who is so much in evidence these days. The harm done to Welsh public life by these monstrosities is incalculable. Their very appearance in public is a jeer at Christianity. Is it surprising that the things I have already mentioned are so flagrant with all these Judases so much in evidence? We get endless sermons on psychology, but amazingly few on Christianity. Our preachers are afraid to preach on the doctrine of Atonement and on predestination. The great cardinal principles of our belief are scarcely ever mentioned, indeed there is a movement on foot to amend them so as to bring them up- to-date. How on earth can you talk of bringing these eternal truths up to date? They are not only up-to-date, they are and will be ahead of the times to all eternity."

The address finally concluded:

"We think that we are on the high road of progress and that our future is assured; little do we realize that we are merely treading on the edge of the bottomless pit of destruction and damnation. I cannot prove this to you - you can either see it or you cannot, but the future will show. I find it very difficult to be patient. What is our duty at the present time, what are we to do in the face of the catastrophe that threatens to overwhelm us at any moment? What Wales needs above everything else at the present time is men, men, men; not educated snobs, not bloated plutocrats, not conceited agnostics, but men, real men, 'men with vision and the faculty divine'; men who can say, without an apology, with Wordsworth:

'And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts.' [5]

"I am optimistic, I believe that the day is coming when Wales will once more be in the van of the Christian crusade. I feel that our past is a guarantee of our future. Our condition today is remarkably like that of a ship trying to set out to sea. We are rowing as hard as we can, trying our best to get away from our native land. But the sea is angry and we are being tossed and buffeted by the waves. At first it seemed to be rather pleasant, but now there are ominous signs of our approaching ship-wreck. I often wish that I could not see those billows, they frighten me. But when I look back towards the land I see there those great peaks pointing towards Heaven, secure in their solidarity and unshaken by the tempests. Those great peaks are the Methodist Fathers - let us return to them and nestle in their strength. Let us look at them more frequently. If we but did so we should soon return to them, for we should begin to feel that in our present position it is with us as it was with him who sang:

'I am a stranger here
My native land is far away!'" [6]

We, especially of the North American continent, have fallen away from having "the Christian prejudice" toward all of life. Many no longer even know or care what the Christian view or position regarding many modern-day issues might be - though it is indeed true that more than a "Christian prejudice" is required. We need that moment by moment walk of the entirety of our lives with the Holy Spirit. But instead, we are a society that worships diplomas, degrees, wealth, status, knowledge and appearance - all of which are mere illusions. Diplomas and degrees without wisdom and skill is an all too common occurrence and itself makes a mockery of the whole paper-chasing system. Wealth without compassion and wisdom are most often the combination we see as the very few possess vast wealth and the vast majority possess very little and many indeed starve in great want. Status and appearance is the fuel of the Hollywood syndrome which lures many an unwary soul into the trappings of Vanity Fair. Our worship of the One True God has fallen largely into disuse or is abused as many exercise their "freedom" to worship God, whatever "God" they choose, in any manner they choose, thus using Christian liberty as an excuse to gratify their flesh. (see Gal. 5:13; top ) Our pulpits put out such trash and nonsense as pleases the audience and no regard is given to absolute truths, which many believe to be an extinct species anyhow.

We too have gotten in a boat and have rowed out onto a stormy sea of relativism and existentialism. We have left behind the solid ground of Bible-based morality and the high ground of true spirituality based on an obedient new life in Christ. We have forsaken the mountains of historical truth such as has been recorded by such as Polycarp, Ignatius, John Chrysostom, Tertulian, Origen, Athenasius, Augustine, John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Philip Melanchthon, Menno Simons, Balthasar Hubmeier, Jonathan Edwards, John Bunyan, Cotton Mather, George Whitefield, John Wesley, C.H. Spurgeon, A.B. Simpson, Dwight Moody, Watchman Nee, C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Billy Graham, Jim Elliot, A.W. Tozer, Francis Schaeffer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Keith Green, Andrew Murray, J.I. Packer, Chuck Colson, and many, many others who have remained true to the faith (though each and all do have their own errors as well) as it was given once for all saints and for all times by Paul, John, Peter, James, Luke, Matthew, Mark and Jude in the New Testament. And the fact that few readers will recognize more than one or two of these names, let alone have ever read anything written by these men, is a large reason we are in such distress.

Lord, just as Your disciples were on a ship on the Galilean Sea, and the tempest grew fierce and shipwreck was imminent, so too we find ourselves adrift on a sea of moral uncertainty. And we cry out to You, just as did Your disciples, "Master, do You not care that we drown?" But unlike Your disciples, we know that You are the Master of the storm. And we also know that You do protect and watch over Your children. But we still cry out in desperation, knowing that You alone are our hope for rescue, "Master, will You not keep us from drowning?"

Father, we confess to You our sins of forsaking the solid spiritual ground of Your Word, Your Spirit, Your commands. We confess to You our sin of turning to the tossing sea for answers instead of climbing to higher ground and trusting our souls and our lives to the saving grace that is only found in Christ Jesus. We confess to You our nearly total ignorance of the high calling that You have for our lives and our total neglect of thinking high and holy thoughts of You and of heavenly things. Please come and rescue us from the mess we have made of our lives. Please do not allow us to get any further from Your ways and drown in our own confusion and sinfulness. Please draw us back to Your high and safe ground.

And Lord we do not mean nor dare to call into question Your ways nor do we seek to slander or speak malevolently against any of Your true servants and prophets. We seek only to be counted worthy to be given a deep love for absolute truth that will set us apart from those who are to experience Your judgments and wrath. We ask to be counted worthy to be set before the Son of Man on judgment day and not to face the Great White Throne Judgment to find that our names are not in the Lamb's Book of Life. Father, we trust You. We look only to You as our source and our comfort in these, the last of the last days. We know that in Your divine purpose, many will follow the deception and fall away from Your grace. We ask only that we be kept in the hollow of Your hand and protected from all deceptions that come to deceive even Your elect. Amen.

[1] Great Voices of the Reformation: An Anthology, Fosdick, H.E., ed., Random House, 1952, 12. back

[2] For a more detailed and documented source of many such "words of prophecy" and other heresies and blasphemies by modern television Faith teachers, see Hank Hannegraaff's expose of these excesses in his book, Christianity in Crisis, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 1993. And though there is some doubt about which of his assistants actually wrote the book, there is source documentation in the appendixes so that you don't have to take their word for anything. Also don't forget that Hannegraaff himself is part of an equally counterfeit "revival" - the intellectual version of "Christianity" where knowledge is substituted for spiritual obedience. back

[3] Men used mightily by God in tremendous revivals in Wales. back

[4] Martyn Lloyd Jones, before becoming a preacher and pastor, was a well-respected doctor of medicine at one of the largest London hospitals working as a junior associate to one of the most widely sought after physicians in all of England. Lloyd-Jones was the attending physician of many a wealthy man of England and his statement here is no idle boast. back

[5] 'Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey.' back

[6] Wm. Williams back

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