Tag Archives: R. A. Torrey

Voice of the Past – R. A. Torrey

THE SECRET OF BLESSEDNESS IN HEART,
BEAUTY IN CHARACTER,
FRUITFULNESS IN SERVICE,
AND PROSPERITY IN EVERYTHING

By R. A. Torrey

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psa_1:1-3.

IN these verses, God speaking through the Psalmist sets before us the secret of blessedness in heart, beauty in character, fruitfulness in service, and prosperity in everything. Are not these the four things that we all desire for ourselves? These verses tell us in the plainest sort of way how we may obtain them. They tell us that if we will not do three things and will do two things, we shall have blessedness in our hearts, beauty in our characters, fruitfulness in our service, and prosperity in whatsoever we do.

I. THE THREE THINGS WE MUST NOT DO.

The three things that we must not do are, First, Walk in the counsel of the ungodly; second, Stand in the way of sinners; third, Sit in the seat of the scornful, i.e., we must come out from the world and be separate in our walk, in our standing and in our sitting. As to our walk, we must not walk in the counsel of the ungodly; we must get our directions as to our walk from God and not from the world. We must not ask what the world does or advises, we must ask what God tells us to do. As to our standing, it must not be in the way of sinners; as to our sitting, or continuous fellowship, it must not be in the seat of the scornful. We will not dwell on these three things that we must not do for the words are so plain as to need no comment; what they need is not so much to be expounded as to be obeyed, and furthermore, if we do the two things which we must do we will be sure not to do the three things which we must not do.

II. THE TWO THINGS WHICH WE MUST DO.

The first of the two things which we must do is “Delight in the law of the Lord.” The Law of the Lord is God’s will as revealed in His Word and these words tell us that it is not enough merely to read God’s Word; indeed, that it is not enough even to earnestly study God’s Word, we must delight in God’s Word. We must have greater joy in the Word of God than in any other book, or in all other books put together. Now doubtless many of us will have to admit that we do not delight in the law of the Lord. Probably we read it, quite likely we study it diligently, but we read it and study it simply because we think it is our duty. As to delighting in it, we do not. If many of you were to reveal the exact facts about yourself, you would have to say, “I would rather read the newspaper than the Word of God. I would rather read the latest novel than the Word of God.” When I was thirteen years of age, I was told that if I read three chapters in the Bible every week-day and five every Sunday, I would read the Bible in a year, and I started out to do it, and I have read the Bible every day of my life from that time to this, but for years I did not delight in it. I read it simply because I thought I ought to, or because I was uneasy if I did not, but as for delighting in it, it was the dullest, stupidest book in the world to me. I would rather have read last year’s almanac than the Bible. And what was true of me then, and remained true for years, is true of many a professed Christian to-day. They may study the Bible every day but simply do it from a sense of duty or because their conscience is uneasy if they do not.

What shall one do if he does not delight in the law of the Lord? The answer is very simple.

(1) First of all, he must be born again. The one who is truly born again will love the Word of God. The Lord Jesus says in Joh_8:47, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: Ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” The little Greek word which is translated “of” in this passage is a very significant word. It really means and should be translated “out of,” i.e., in this connection “born of”; and what Jesus said was that the one that was born of God would have an ear for God’s word, and that the reason that the Jews did not really have an ear for God’s Word was because they were not born of God. One of the clearest proofs that a man is born of God is that he loves, delights in God’s Word. I have seen men and women pass in a moment from an utter distaste for God’s Word to an abounding delight in God’s Word by simply being born again.

“But,” some one will say, “how may I be born again?” God Himself answers the question in a very simple way in Joh_1:12. “But as many as RECEIVED HIM, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” According to these words the way to be born again is by simply receiving Him, receiving the Lord Jesus. The moment any man, woman, or child really receives Jesus to be to themselves all that He offers Himself to be to anyone, to be their Saviour from the guilt of sin by His death upon the cross, to be their Saviour from the power of sin, by His resurrection power (Heb. 7:25) and to be their Lord and Master, to whom they surrender the entire control of their lives (Act_2:36), that moment that man, woman or child is born again and with the new life thus obtained they will get a new love, a love for God and a delight in His Word.

(2) In the second place, in order to delight in the law of the Lord we must feed upon it. Jeremiah says in Jer_15:16, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them ; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” The reason why many do not delight in the Word of God is because they do not eat it. They read it ; they skim over it, they smell of it, but they do not eat it, and yet they wonder why they do not delight in God’s Word. What would you think if some day some friend came to visit you who had never eaten strawberries, and you should get for him a dish of our wonderful California strawberries. You tell him how delicious they are and set them before him you are called away but in an hour or two you come back and you say to your friend, “How did you like those strawberries?” He replies, “I did not care for them. I have seen many things that I have enjoyed more.” In surprise you say, “What, did not care for them?” “No, they seemed very ordinary to me.” For a moment you are puzzled, and then you say to him, “Did you eat the berries?” “No,” he answers, “I did not eat them. I smelled of them and I have smelled many things that smell better.” Well, that is the way that many, even of professing Christians treat the Word of God. They just smell of it, they skim over a few verses, or many verses, or many chapters, but they do not stop to eat a single verse. They do not chew the words, swallow them and assimilate them. Oh, how different the Word of God becomes when we really eat it. Take for example, the most familiar passage in the Bible, the verse that most of us learned first of all, Psa_23:1, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” It sounds beautiful even when we merely read it, but how sweet it becomes when we stop and ponder it, weigh the meaning of the words, chew each word in it. When we ask ourselves first of all, “Who is my shepherd?” And then stop for a while to meditate upon the fact that it is JEHOVAH who is our Shepherd. Then ask ourselves, “What is Jehovah?” “My Shepherd.” And then stop and think what is involved in being a shepherd and what it means to have Jehovah as our SHEPHERD. Then ask ourselves “Whose shepherd is Jehovah? My Shepherd.” Not merely the Shepherd of men in general but my own Shepherd. A stranger entered a Presbyterian Church one day and was shown to a pew. The congregation rose to read the 23rd Psalm. A young lady sitting next to him, handed him one corner of her Bible as they read. As they read the first verse, he took a pencil out of his pocket and drew a line under the word “My.” When the service was over, the young lady said to him, “Do you mind telling me why you drew the line under the word My?” “Well,” he replied, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I was wondering if He were yours.” Next dwell on the word, “I,” then on the word “shall” with all the certainty that there is in the word then on the word “not” then on the word “want” and ask yourself all that is implied in the statement, “I shall not want.” Ah, the old familiar verse becomes so much sweeter as we eat it, chew and chew it and swallow it and digest it and assimilate it. If we thus eat different portions of the Bible day by day we would soon find a joy in it that we find in no other book. The only word that would express our relation to the book would be “DELIGHT.” The second of the two things that we must do is “meditate in the law of the Lord day and night.” These words tell us how to study the Word and when to study it.

(1) First, How to study it. “MEDITATE” therein. We live in a day in which meditation is largely a lost art. It is largely a lost art in all our study. We send our children to school, they are not allowed to think; they are simply crammed and crammed we cram them with physiology, biology, psychology and all the rest of the ologies ; until they themselves become mere ape-ologies for real thinkers. We try to see how many branches we can cover in a few years and how much of each branch we can cram in. A child in the Grammar School grade has twelve studies; a child of thirteen will be set to writing a criticism on Tennyson’s “In Memoriam.” This is a good way to develop conceited fools, but it is no way to develop thinkers. Set a child of thirteen to criticizing Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” and by the time she is eighteen she will be criticizing the Word of God itself. But cram, cram, cram, is the word of the hour in modern education. If our children studied fewer subjects and really studied and mastered those they did study, they would know more and be of more use in the world. But it is in Bible study especially that meditation is a lost art. We try to see how many chapters we can study in a single day. We get up a chart that covers the whole plan of the ages and all of God’s dealing with men, angels and devils, from the eternity back of us to the eternity before us and expect to master it in thirty minutes or an hour. This is an excellent plan for making ourselves think that we are very wise; it is a miserable plan for getting the real nourishment out of the Word and the real honey out of the rock. We should not so much say, “I will read so many chapters in a day,” as “I will spend so much time each day in really studying and feeding upon the Book.” Sometimes we will give to a single verse, or a single word, that will arrest our attention, all the time we put into Bible study that day. There is no greater enemy to successful study than hurry, and this is especially true of Bible study. One night I was teaching a Bible class in Minneapolis. A travelling man from New York, a very active member of St. George’s Episcopal Church, dropped into my class. He had to take the train for the Far West soon after the class and I walked down to the station with him. As we walked he said to me, “Tell me in a word how to study my Bible.” That is a pretty large contract to put into a single word, How to study the Bible, and I replied, “If I must put it into one word, that one word would be Thoughtfully. Think on what you study; look right at it, weigh it, weigh every word, turn it over and over and over meditate upon it.”

But the words of the Psalmist tell us not merely how to study the Word but when to study it, “DAY AND NIGHT.” Many people are asking, “Must I study the Bible fifteen minutes every day, or a half hour a day or two hours a day?” “Day and night,” replies the Psalmist. This, of course, does not mean that we should be sitting with an open Bible before us every moment of the day and night. But it does mean that having had some regular time for Bible study, that after that time for Bible study is over we should carry away in our mind and heart what we have studied and meditate upon it as we go about our business, our household duties, or whatsoever we have to do. Oh, how much lighter and pleasanter the drudgery of life becomes if we go about it with the Word of God in mind and heart, meditating thereon in the midst of our wearing toil. I know of nothing else that will keep one in such perfect peace and abounding joy in these days of war and gloom and agony as meditating on the Word of God day and night.

III. THE RESULT.

And now what will be the result of our separating from the world in our walk, in our standing, in our sitting and of our delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating thereon day and night?

1. First of all, we will have blessedness in heart. “Blessed is the man,” says our text that “walketh not/etc. The Hebrew word translated “blessed” is a very peculiar word in the Hebrew. It is not a participle at all, but a noun and a noun in the plural. Literally translated it would be “blessednesses of the man,” i. e., how manifold and varied is the blessedness and happiness of the man that does not do these three things and does do these two things. This world knows no joy so varied, so full, so manifold, so wonderful as the joy that comes to the one who is separated from the world and who meditates on the Word. I know all about the joy that comes from reading good literature; I have been a passionate devourer of books from early childhood. When I was a boy. I would get a book and hide away in some corner and devour it until my mother would come and say, “Oh, Archie, why don’t you take your gun and go out hunting?”

But all the joy that I have found in the study of the best literature, in the study of science, in the study of philosophy, can never for a moment compare to the joy that I have found in meditating on the Word of God. So sweet has that joy become that oftentimes I am tempted to say that I will read no book but the Bible. I remember one night the first winter I was in Chicago. I had been very busy that day, answering my correspondence, and teaching in the Bible Institute in the morning, studying in the afternoon, and preaching that night. I got to my house late, after 11 o’clock, pretty thoroughly tired. I sat down for a little while to find rest in Bible study before I went to bed. I was reading the Bible through in course and had reached the last book in the Bible. In those days I did not care as much for that book as for other books sometimes I had even been tempted to wish that the book was not in the Bible, but as that was where I was in my reading the Bible in course, I began reading the 11th chapter of the book. When I reached the 15th verse, The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever, such joy swept into my soul as I took in the meaning of the words that I do you know what I did? Of course you do. I shouted aloud. I was not brought up to shout in meeting. I was brought up in the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches. I never heard anyone say “Amen” except where it came in the regular place in the service until after I was in the ministry, and the first time a man said “Amen” when I was preaching it so upset me that I nearly lost the thread of my discourse. I cannot shout to this day in public, but, oh, when alone with God and His Book sometimes such a joy sweeps into the soul that nothing but a shout will give relief.

2. Second, we shall have beauty of character, “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” What is more beautiful than a well-watered tree in full leaf, the maples and the oaks and the beeches in the East, our palms and pepper trees and umbrella trees here in the West? Well, the one who refrains from doing the three things mentioned above and does the two things mentioned will be just like that tree in full leaf. His character will be full of beauty. If we had time, I could show you from the Word of God how every grace of character is the result of Bible study. The Psalmist says in Psa_119:9, “Where withal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” In the 11th verse he says, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Nothing else has the power to keep a man from sinning and nothing else has the power to adorn a man with all possible graces of character that the study of the Word of God has.

3. Third, we shall have fruitfulness in service. “Bringeth forth his fruit in his season.” Do we not all long to be fruitful Christians? So many of us are fruitless. The great secret of being fruitful is intelligent study of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul in writing to Timothy in 2Ti_3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The Revised Version says, “complete, furnished completely unto every good work.” How? Through what the Apostle has just said, through the study of the inspired Word of God. A man may study everything else in the world, psychology, philosophy, pedagogy, and even theology, but if he does not study the Word of God he is not fitted for real work for God. He will have no measure of success in winning souls. But a man may be quite ignorant of other branches of knowledge but if he really studies and understands his Bible, he will have all the knowledge one needs to be a fruitful Christian and an efficient winner of souls.

4. Fourth. There will be one other result of not doing the three things and doing the two things, and that is prosperity in everything: “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Are we not all seeking for prosperity ? There is no other way to get it than the way laid down in our text, but this road to prosperity is safe and sure. No one ever walked it without becoming prosperous in whatsoever he did. This, of course, does not mean necessarily that he will have what the world calls prosperity. He may not become a rich man, but he will have real prosperity in everything he undertakes. Some years ago I preached in Chicago a sermon on “The Power of the Word of God,” or “The Advantages of Bible Study.” I had in my congregation that morning a young man who was leading a rather defeated life. He was a Christian, but not a very effective Christian. He was a married man with a small family of children and was getting $12.50 a week. His work required him to get up at two or three o clock in the morning to go on the market to buy for the house for which he worked. As he listened to the sermon that morning he made up his mind that instead of getting up at two o clock or three o clock in the morning, he would get up at one or two o clock in the morning in order that he might have a solid hour for Bible study before going to his work. He came on in his Christian experience by leaps and bounds and he came on in his business relations too. “Within a year he went into business for himself. The first year he made $5,000 in his business, the next year I have been told that he made $10,000, and some one has told me that the next year he made $15,000, and he has gone on advancing from that day until this; but that is not the best of it, he came on in his Christian character and in his efficiency in Christian service. He is to-day one of the most used laymen in Chicago, identified with and a leader in every aggressive movement that is taken up by the Christians of the city, a tower of strength in his own church, a generous giver to the work of Christ at home and abroad, with three sons and one daughter following in his steps. “Whatsoever he doeth prospers.”

Now I am not saying that if anyone will begin to study the Bible an hour a day he will spring from $12.50 a week to $5,000 a year, but I am saying, and what is better, God’s Word says it, he will have real prosperity in everything he undertakes. Do you want blessedness in your heart, beauty in your character, fruitfulness in your service, and prosperity in everything you do, then stop walking in the counsel of the ungodly, stop standing in the way of sinners, stop sitting in the seat of the scornful and begin to delight in the law of the Lord and meditate therein day and night.

 

 

“True Christian Union and the Devil’s Counterfeit” by R. A. Torrey…A Voice From The Past

Our Heavenly Father, I come to You, in humble submission with an open heart, and a heart that You have given me to share with others what You have shown me.  Father, I pray in the blessed name of Your, Son, Jesus Christ, that You will use this as You desire to accomplish that which is pleasing to You, and that will give You the honor, and the glory that are Yours always and forevermore.  I pray that You use this to strengthen those who are Yours, that You will use it light a fire of desire within their soul that will never be quenched and create a burning need in their souls to spread Your Word, the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world starving and gone mad with a need for the Bread of Life, and Streams of Living Water, and that You will use this to give notice to those who like ravenous wolves  are among us trying to divert and pervert,  and prevent us from finding the Light shown in Your, Son, Jesus.  Put them on notice that we will know them by their fruit, and that You will deal with them and their father, the father of lies and deception shortly.  In Jesus name, I pray, amen. 

My subject this morning is TRUE CHRISTIAN UNION AND THE DEVIL’S COUNTERFEIT. I have seven texts:

The first is Eph_4:1-3, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ”

The second is Joh_17:20-21, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.”

This third is Gal_3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”‘

The fourth is Amo_3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

The fifth is 2Co_6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And 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 beat people. 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 ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

The sixth is 2Ch_25:5-8, “Moreover Amaziah gathered Judah together, and made them captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, according to the houses of their fathers, throughout all Judah and Benjamin: and he numbered them from twenty years old and above, and found them three hundred thousand choice men, able to go forth to war, that could handle spear and shield. He hired also an hundred thousand mighty men of valour out of Israel for an hundred talents of silver. But there came a man of God to him, saying, O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the LORD is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim.”

The seventh is 2Jn_1:9-11, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

True Christian unity is one of the greatest, one of the grandest, one of the most glorious, one of the divinest, one of the most beneficent things on earth. It is the life of God the Father and the Son reproduced in the Church. It greatly delights the heart of God. It is one of the things that our Lord Jesus Himself most emphasized in His high priestly prayer the night before His crucifixion. The devil’s counterfeit of true Christian unity is one of the most abominable and pernicious things on earth. The Bible is full of warnings against it; indeed some of Its most solemn warnings are against the devil’s cunning counterfeit of that unity which God so greatly desires and for which our Lord Jesus so earnestly prayed and which lie laid down His life to make possible. It has always been the devil’s subtle policy to counterfeit God’s work and God’s methods. For God’s true Christ, Christ Jesus, the devil would substitute his Antichrist, who is yet to come; for God’s way of salvation through the atoning blood, resulting in those who accept Him who shed His blood as their atoning Saviour being transformed into His own perfect likeness, the devil would substitute “salvation by character,” a character achieved by our own will and our own moral effort; for God’s revelation of the truth in the written Word, the Bible, and in the Incarnate Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, the devil would substitute a revelation by man-made philosophy and man-made science. And for the true Christian unity that God works out in the body of true believers, the invisible church, in the ways we shall this morning consider, the devil would substitute a unity worked out by all kinds of compromises and cunning devices of men.

Some of the passages from God’s Word which I have just read set forth in a very clear and unmistakable way both the beautiful character and the imperative need of true Christian unity. Other passages from God’s Word which I have just read expose the awful wickedness and ruinous results of the devil’s counterfeit of God’s true Christian unity.

The words unity, brotherhood, love and cooperation are very much in evidence in these great days in which we are living. These words set forth eminently Christian ideas. But these words are today among the most abused and most frequently misused words in the English language. Everywhere one goes throughout the United States, in England, Scotland, Honolulu, Japan, Korea or China, the one word that is written large and forever drummed into our ears is “Union,” “Union,” “Union.”   But the union many are seeking to achieve and to foster is as far from the unity for which our Lord Jesus prayed and which He taught and which was emphasized by Paul and by John, as night is from day, as darkness is from light and as damning error is from saving truth and as the great enemy of God and Man, the devil or Satan, is from our glorious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

TRUE CHRISTIAN UNITY

What are the marks of true Christian unity, the unity for which our Lord Jesus so earnestly prayed, so insistently and constantly taught and which John and Paul and other inspired men so strongly emphasized?

In the first place, true Christian unity is a “unity of the Spirit,” that is, a unity which the Holy Spirit dwelling in and controlling the hearts of regenerated men, women and children brings to pass.  This is clear from our first text, Eph_4:1-3-“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  True Christian unity is not a unity of man’s making but of God’s making.  It is not a unity that results from a mob of men and women of heterogenous characters and ambitions and beliefs getting together to cooperate to bring about some result in which they are all more or less interested.  It is a unity, as the context clearly tells us, of men and women who have one Lord, the Lord Jesus; and one faith, faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (Joh_20:31; 1Jn_5:1, 1Jn_5:5); and one baptism, the baptism in the Holy Spirit; and who are thus brought into one body, the real, living, invisible church, the Bride of Jesus Christ (see Eph_4:3-6), a unity, as we have said, which the Holy Spirit Himself brings to pass in those in whom He comes to dwell because they have received and confessed Jesus as their Saviour and their Lord and with the whole heart they believed on Him.

I need hardly say that the union that the Federation of Churches at home and Union Universities on the foreign field are seeking to promote does not bear the faintest resemblance to this true Christian union.

In the second place, true Christian union or unity is a union that results from prayer. This is very clearly evident from our Lord’s own wonderful prayer recorded in Joh_17:20-23 -“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word … that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”  The unity that our Lord desired for all those who should believe in Him throughout all coming generations was a unity that should be the outcome of His own prayers and the prayers of those who are at one with Him and, therefore, had fellowship with Him in His intercessory work. The unity that Jesus Christ prayed for and taught and that John and Paul emphasized was not a unity that men get up by their cunning contrivances and conscienceless compromises, but a unity that God sends down in answer to the fervent and believing prayer of His own dear Son whom He always hears and of those who are at one with Him through living faith in Him. It is the unity that comes in answer to believing prayer offered in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is not the unity that results from getting together a lot of shrewd ecclesiastical politicians to devise some way to keep men who believe something definite and worthwhile from voicing their convictions, as was done for example at the much-lauded Edinburg Missionary Conference by one of the most astute ecclesiastical politicians of the century and as the steering committee of the huge missionary conference to be held in Shanghai next spring are now trying to do.
While I was in Shanghai awaiting the departure of my steamer for this country, the various commissions preparing for this proposed conference of five hundred missionaries and five hundred native Chinese Christians were in session. The most important committee in many ways is the Committee on the Church’s Message. This was assigned to five Chinese Christians, which looked promising; for taken as a whole, the Chinese converts today seem to be more soundly orthodox than the missionary body as a whole. But on this committee of five were appointed the two most notoriously radical modernists that there are among the Chinese “Christian” leaders, one man whose position was not altogether known and two men of the undoubted conservatives. These two men are in a hopeless minority, and it is doubtful whether they have the strength and decision to stand for their convictions. The evident object was to present as the Message of the Church a message upon which both those who believe only in the “social gospel” and those who believe in the real Gospel, the Gospel of a crucified and risen Saviour as set forth in the Word of God, could unite.

In the third place, true Christian union is a union in Christ Jesus. This is clear from Gal_3:28 -“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Please mark well the words, “in Christ Jesus. “”Ye are all one in Christ Jesus. “This is true Christian union, and it is the only true Christian union, union “in Christ Jesus.”  There can be no Christian union except “in Christ Jesus.”  Many today, when they speak of Christian union, emphasize the word union; the Bible emphasizes the word Christian-“in Christ Jesus.”  There can be no true union between those who are “in Christ Jesus” and those who are not “in Christ Jesus.”  To attempt such a union is to aim at begetting a monster, a monstrosity.

It was union in Himself that our Lord Jesus prayed for so earnestly.  His words are plain: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.  And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”  Oh, how frequently those who are trying to forge a false unity quote our Lord’s prayer, and how carelessly they read and quote His words, making no attempt to mark exactly for what He prayed! There is no hint here of prayer on our Lord’s part for a union between those who really are in Him (and in whom He is) and those who are not in Him (and in whom He is not).  Not for one moment would our Lord pray for such a monstrous thing.  Indeed, in His prayer for union, He is very careful to say and very emphatic in saying it: “I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine” (v. 9). Why will people who profess to be Bible students and especially students of the words of our Lord Jesus persist in ripping the words of our Lord out of their context and shutting their eyes to their plain meaning and putting upon them a construction which it is as clear as day He never intended they should bear?

In the fourth place, true Christian union is a union in the Truth, a union between those who believe the great fundamentals of the Christian faith, and between these alone.  This our Lord Himself clearly indicates in His prayer.  In the words immediately preceding His prayer for oneness or union He says, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth.  As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (Joh_17:17-19). John, who alone records this prayer of our Lord for union, says in his second epistle in Joh_17:9-11, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.

He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.  ” This is the strongest possible prohibition on God’s part of all union with any man or company of men who do not accept absolutely the authority of the teaching of Christ, who do not abide in His teaching, that is, those who throw the words of Christ overboard on any point (for example, rejecting the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and the inerrancy of the whole Old Testament and the historicity of the story of the Flood and of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, all of which our Lord explicitly taught) because some German infidel who claims to be a great scholar teaches differently.  Union with those who do not abide in the teaching of Christ, who reject His absolute authority at any point but go onward to something different that they claim is better, is not Christian union.  It has not the faintest resemblance to TRUE CHRISTIAN UNION.  There can be no union pleasing to the God who is the Author of this Book or pleasing to Jesus Christ, between those who believe the great fundamentals of our faith and those who question any one of them.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THESE FUNDAMENTALS?

The first of all of these fundamentals is the absolute deity of Jesus Christ, His full equality in nature and attributes with the Father, the doctrine that He is a Being to be believed in, honored and worshipped even as God the Father is believed in, honored and worshipped (Joh_14:1 ff.; Joh_5:1-23).  There can be no true Christian unity between us who believe this and those who deny or question it.

The second fundamental is the absolute, final and infallible authority of the Bible.  Jesus taught this in a most expressive, most emphatic and most uncompromising way, and those who question it are of those whom John describes as going onward and abiding not in the teaching of Christ and with whom He forbids in the sternest way any form of union, any fellowship whatever.

Previous to the annual meeting of the Bible Union of China at Kuling, a very prominent missionary, who is supposed to be orthodox, said to my son that the point of division between missionaries should not be upon the authority of the Bible but upon the Cross of Christ, and he went on to tell him how the most notoriously bitter opponent of the Bible Union Movement in China was clear on the Cross of Christ, and that is where the line of division should be drawn. Now, when one carefully considers it, this is utter nonsense.  To try to get those who believe in the absolute, final and infallible authority of the Bible to unite and cooperate with those who deny the absolute, final and infallible authority of the Bible, just because they happen to be clear on the Cross of Christ (if indeed they be clear on the Cross of Christ, as the doctrine of the Cross is taught in the bible) is as foolish as it would have been in the late way to get those who believed in the aims of the Allies to fight in the same regiments with those who were devoted to the damnable schemes of the Kaiser. Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot cooperate with the followers of the Antichrist, even though the Antichrist claims to be, as he always does claim to be, the real Christ.

And whether he knows it or not, everyone who denies the true deity of the Lord Jesus is a follower of, and aider and abetter of, the Antichrist.  What does God say in 1Jn_2:22-23? “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.  Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.”  And whosoever denies the absolute, final and infallible authority of this Book, the Bible, is also on the side of the Antichrist, and he is a more useful ally to the Antichrist and to the devil if he is in the church than if he were out of it.  Will I unite to fight with him because he is a charming man in many ways and teaches some very beautiful things?  Not 1. If I do, I will bring upon myself the stern condemnation of God as set forth by Him in 2Jn_1:9-11 : “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

The third great fundamental is the substitutionary character of the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  Anyone who denies this great saving doctrine of the substitutionary character of the death of Christ, that Christ Himself bore our sins in His own body on the cross (1Pe_2:24; 2Co_5:21), is a follower of the Antichrist.

This doctrine of the perfect atonement made by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary is the doctrine that the devil hates and that the devilish pride of the natural heart hates above almost any other doctrine.  A man, some of whose devotional books have had a large sale and who is in great demand at many so-called Bible conferences, is reported on apparently good authority, the authority of one who sat in his classroom within a year or two and took down in black and white what he said, as saying,  “The doctrine of the blood atonement is nauseating to me.”  Shall I cooperate with him because he is a delightful man and seems to teach many things that I believe?  Never.  It was on the question of atoning blood that there was the first great separation, a separation that God Himself brought to pass, between the one whom God accepted and the one whom God rejected, between Abel and Cain (Gen_4:3-5).

Again, anyone who denies the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ from the dead is a follower of the Antichrist.  If he is right in his decision that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was simply a spiritual resurrection, then according to God’s own Word our preaching is vain and our faith also is vain (1Co_15:13-14).  Can I cooperate with one who denies this great fundamental of the Christian faith, the actual, literal resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ from the dead?  Not unless I am an utterly blinded fool.

Still again, anyone who denies the virgin birth of our Lord is a follower of the Antichrist.  His virgin birth was one of the chief points of attack by the first great scholarly enemy of our Lord Jesus Christ, Celsus; and most of the enemies of Jesus Christ from that day to this have followed in Celsus’s wake.  Any one who denies the virgin birth of our Lord makes Him out to have been a bastard, at least by implication, as Celsus frankly said in plain words.  Shall I cooperate with anyone who even indirectly casts this appallingly blasphemous implication upon my Lord?  How would you, feel toward anyone who cast such a reflection on your own mother’s virtue and on yourself?  How then do you feel toward the one who casts such an aspersion on the “blessed” mother of our glorious Lord?  I for one burn with indignation toward every dastardly scoundrel that does it.  Will I cooperate with him in Christian work and call it Christian union?  Not for one briefest moment.  Yet even Presbyterians in China send their Chinese candidates for the ministry to Union Theological Seminaries where this infamous doctrine of the denial of the virgin birth of our Lord is openly or secretly held and taught; and if any one dares to protest against such folly and wickedness, he is called hard names and is bitterly accused of introducing division in the forces of Jesus Christ.  Forces of Jesus Christ?  Never.  He is separating the forces of Jesus Christ from the forces of Antichrist, and they ought to be separated.  Has not God Himself said in 2Co_6:14-18, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And 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.  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 ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

Between those who believe what this Book tells us in the plainest possible terms about the virgin birth of our divine Lord and those who deny His virgin birth and thus make Him out by implication at least to have been a bastard, there should be war, and war to the hilt.

Some one of you may say that this is an appeal to sentiment. Yes, it is in part an appeal to holy sentiment, but why not appeal to sentiment if it is holy, sound, Christian sentiment?  Ought we not in our actions as well as our feelings be moved by the sentiment of love to our Lord who died upon the cross for us and a sentiment of intense indignation toward those who cast vile aspersions upon His holy Person and holy name?  We should be more deeply sensitive to our Lord’s honor and good name than to our own.  Those who deny or question the virgin birth of our Lord sometimes do not realize, indeed oftentimes do not realize, what they are doing; but they should be made to realize it, and if they persist in pursuing their monstrous course we ought to bid adieu to them, and we ought to let them know with just what sentiments we regard them.

In the fifth place, true Christian unity is a unity of men and women who believe in Jesus Christ, a union of regenerated men and women. This our Lord Himself clearly indicates in His much quoted prayer.  He says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one” (Joh_17:20-21 a).  That is plain enough, is it not?  Union between those who are united to Christ by living faith and those who are not thus united to Christ is not Christian union.  A union between men and women who have been born again and have thus become children of God, and those who have not been born again and thus remain children of the devil, is not Christian union.  It is the devil’s counterfeit and a mighty poor counterfeit at that; and yet, poor as the counterfeit is, it passes current today as the genuine coin of the kingdom among many who consider themselves very intelligent Christians.  Oh, let us have done with this nonsense and this clamor for something that this Book condemns in no uncertain terms.

THE DEVIL’S COUNTERFEIT

I intended when I began to take up the marks of the devil’s counterfeit of the true Christian union.  But it is not necessary.  The marks of true Christian unity which we have just indicated reveal by contrast the marks of the devil’s counterfeit.  The devil’s counterfeit of true Christian unity is a man-made unity.  It is a mere outward unity; it is a union out of Christ,- it is a union between those who disagree on fundamental doctrines; it is a union between the forces of Christ and Antichrist, it is a union between those who are born again, thus becoming children of God, and those who are unregenerated and, therefore, children of the devil. It is a union of the forces of Christ and the forces of antichrist.

For a true Christian unity let us pray and let us labor and let us make every necessary sacrifice.  As to the devil’s counterfeit of true Christian unity, let us fight it to the last ditch, knowing that it is the devil’s great strategic masterpiece for the defeat of our Lord’s work in the world.  The enemies of Jesus Christ are far less dangerous when openly fighting against us than they are when they claim to be one with us and seek our cooperation in the substitution of any other gospel, the “social gospel” for example, for the saving Gospel of the once crucified, now risen and soon returning Lord.

From the Writings of R.A. Torrey

     If we as christians are to make a difference for our Lord and Savior, we must, and I repeat must, get our act together.  We cannot and will not make a difference in this world for Christ Jesus until He has made a difference in us.  As long as christianity is something that we talk about, and fail to live out, we will continue to be called hypocrites, and be looked upon as the brides carrying lamps in their hands with no oil.  To truly be effective in our christian lives we must be . . . .

Looking To Jesus
by
R. A. Torrey
(1856-1928)

     If we are to run with patience the race that is set before us, we must always keep looking to Jesus (Heb_12:1-3). One of the simplest and yet one of the mightiest secrets of abiding joy and victory is to never lose sight of Jesus.

1. First of all, we must keep looking at Jesus as the ground of our acceptance before God. Over and over again, Satan will make an attempt to discourage us by bringing up our sins and failures and thus try to convince us that we are not children of God, or not saved. If he succeeds in getting us to keep looking at and brooding sins, he will soon get us discouraged, and discouragement means failure. But if we will keep looking at what God looks at, the death of Jesus Christ in our place that completely atones for every sin that we ever committed, we will never be discouraged because of the greatest of our sins. We shall see that while our sins are great, very great, indeed they have all been atoned for. Every time Satan brings up one of our sins, we shall see that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from its curse by being made a curse in our place (Gal_3:13). We shall see that while in ourselves we are full of unrighteousness, nevertheless in Christ we are made the righteousness of God, because Christ was made to be sin in our place (2Co_5:21). We will see that every sin that Satan taunts us about has been borne and settled forever (1Pe_2:24; Isa_53:6). We shall always be able to sing,

Jesus paid my debt,
All the debt I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

     If you are this moment troubled about any sin that you have ever committed, either in the past or in the present, just look at Jesus on the cross; believe what God tells you about Him, that this sin which troubles you was laid upon Him (Isa_53:6). Thank God that the sin is all settled, be full of gratitude to Jesus, who bore it in your place, and worry about it no more. It is an act of base ingratitude to God to brood over sins that He in His infinite love has canceled. Keep looking at Christ on the cross and walk always in the sunlight of God’s favor. This favor of God has been purchased for you at great cost. Gratitude demands that you should always believe in it and walk in the light of it.

2. In the second place, we must keep looking at Jesus as our risen Savior, who has all power in heaven and on earth and is able to keep us every day and every hour. Are you tempted to do some wrong at this moment? If you are, remember that Jesus rose from the dead, remember that at this moment He is living at the right hand of God in the glory; remember that He has all power in heaven and on earth, and that, therefore, He can give you victory right now. Believe what God tells you in His Word, that Jesus has power to save you this moment “completely” (Heb_7:25). Believe that He has power to give you victory over that sin that now besets you. Ask Him to give you victory; expect Him to do it. In this way, by looking unto the risen Christ for victory, you may have victory over sin every day, every hour, every moment. “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead” (2Ti_2:8).

     God has called every one of us to a victorious life, and the secret of this victorious life is always looking to the risen Christ for victory. Through looking to Christ crucified we obtain pardon and enjoy peace. Through looking to the risen Christ we obtain present victory over the power of sin. If you have lost sight of the risen Christ and have yielded to temptation, confess your sin and know that it is forgiven because God says so (1Jn_1:9), and look to Jesus, the risen One, again to give you victory now, and keep looking to Him.

3. In the third place, we must keep looking to Jesus as the One whom we should follow in our daily conduct. Our Lord Jesus says to us, His disciples today, as He said to His early disciples, “Follow me.” The whole secret of true Christian conduct can be summed up in these two words “Follow me.” “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1Jn_2:6). One of the commonest causes of failure in Christian life is found in the attempt to follow some good man whom we greatly admire. No man and no woman, no matter how good, can be safely followed. If we follow any man or woman, we are bound to go astray. There has been but one absolutely perfect Man on this earth–the Man Christ Jesus. If we try to follow any other man we are surer to imitate his faults than his excellencies. Look to Jesus and Jesus only as your Guide.

     If at any time you are in any perplexity as to what to do, simply ask the question, What would Jesus do? Ask God by His Holy Spirit to show you what Jesus would do. Study your Bible to find out what Jesus did do, and follow Him. Even though no one else seems to be following Jesus, be sure that you follow Him. Do not spend your time or thought in criticizing others because they do not follow Jesus. See that you follow Him yourself. When you are wasting your time criticizing others for not following Jesus, Jesus is always saying to you, “What is that to you? You must follow me” (Joh_21:22). The question for you is not what following Jesus may involve for other people. The question is, What does following Jesus mean for you?

     This is the really simple life, the life of simply following Jesus. Many perplexing questions will come to you, but the most perplexing question will soon become as clear as day if you determine with all your heart to follow Jesus in everything. Satan will always be ready to whisper to you, “Such and such a good man does it,” but all you need to do is to answer, “It matters not to me what this or that man may do or not do. The only question to me is, What would Jesus do?” There is wonderful freedom in this life of simply following Jesus. This path is straight and plain. But the path of him who tries to shape his conduct by observing the conduct of others is full of twists and turns and pitfalls. Keep looking at Jesus. Follow on trustingly where He leads. This is the path of the righteous, shining ever brighter till the full light of day (Pro_4:18). He is the Light of the world; anyone who follows Him shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life all along the way (Joh_8:12).