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Cast Not Away Your Confidence
„Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” (Heb. 10:35)
Confidence lies at the foundation of all progress, both material and spiritual. Whatever undermines confidence to that extent injures the matter with which it is associated. Whatever builds and establishes confidence correspondingly is helpful to the thing with which it is connected. We have just seen an illustration of this in the world’s financial affairs. A manifestation of weakness in an unsuspected financial matter caused a spasm which is even yet being felt throughout the world. There has not at any time been real ground for suspicion of the insolvency of the great majority of the banks but irregularities in a few have cast a shadow of doubt upon the many, so that had it not been for the extreme measures taken by the various Clearing House Associations whereby the banks supported each other and refused to pay out the cash except in small quantities, the result would have been such a wreck of the financial confidence as was never before witnessed in the world’s history. The difficulty was a temporary casting away of confidence—a spasm of fear and doubt.
To our understanding the Scriptures clearly teach that just before us looms the most terrible trouble which this world has ever witnessed. The Prophet Daniel describes it as “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” (Daniel 12:1) Our Lord Jesus described it in almost the same words with a little addition, saying, “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be (afterward).” (Matt. 24:2 1) That time of trouble is coming along the very lines of our topic—lack of confidence, casting away of confidence. Describing it, the Scriptures show this, saying there was no “peace to him that went out or came in, because of the affliction; for I set all men, every one against his neighbor.” (Zech. 8:10) Thus in symbol the Lord pictures the selfishness and fear and lack of confidence which will bring upon the world the awful shock of anarchy. We merely mention this incidentally, however, as illustrating the value, the importance of confidence, as related to peace, prosperity and happiness in general. Adhering to the thought of our text, we wish to consider our subject from the standpoint of the church, her interests, her peace, her prosperity—individually and collectively.
THE HAVOC WROUGHT BY WORLDLY WISDOM
The church of Christ has departed from the divine standard and methods, and the result has been the undermining of Christian faith as respects God and the Bible as His revelation. We are not of those who despise education, but we are of those who appreciate the fact that there is one wisdom which cometh from above and another wisdom which is “earthly, sensual, devilish.” We are of those who recognize the Apostle’s words when he says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14) We are of those who hold that educating a man for the pulpit can never make him a proper minster of the truth—that something more than this is necessary. We hold that only such as have received the anointing of the holy Spirit are either authorized or qualified to be ministers and expositors of the truth. We hold that no amount of laying on of hands, conferring of holy orders and ordinations of men are effective, or could qualify any one for the ministry of God’s truth; that the Lord’s anointing is essential.
Looking back to the early church we find the example of our Lord and His Apostles to be in full accord with what we have just set forth. The selection of the Apostles was not made from the colleges of that time, although one of the Apostles, St. Paul, was probably a graduate of the school of Gamaliel, who was not only a talented, but an educated man. Paul was not chosen however, on account of his education, but on account of his heart. Similarly the other apostles were none of them educated, learned men. Indeed, we read concerning two of the most prominent, and that after they had received the anointing of the holy Spirit, that the people “perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men.” (Acts 4:13) We do not claim, however, that they were chosen on account of their ignorance and lack of learning, though we do believe that if they had had more learning the probabilities are that they would have been proportionately less ready for the Lord and His message, and less suitable, since they were to be His chosen vessels for the distribution of that message.
Here has been the great mistake in the nominal church, dating back for centuries—the supposition that worldly education could make a preacher of the truth. We extend the matter further and assert that religious education in a theological seminary would not of itself make a proper minister of the Word of God; that a prerequisite to that service is the anointing of the holy Spirit and its enlightenment of the mind and of the heart. This view and wrong course have resulted in filling theological seminaries and religious pulpits with men who, while educated in the wisdom of this world and to some extent along theological lines, are not competent to be preachers of the Gospel of Christ, because not begotten again of the holy Spirit. Of course there are noble exceptions; nor are we judging the others except by their own testimonies from time to time as they may be known to the public. So far as we know, there are very few ministers who even profess to have made a full consecration of their lives to the Lord and to be begotten of His holy Spirit. So far as we are aware, very many, if not a majority, regard their ministry as a profession, chosen more after the manner that a physician chooses his, and rarely as in the Apostles’ cases, because they felt, “Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16)—rarely because the beauty and importance of their message is, in their esteem, so high, so great, so all-important.
HIGHER CRITICISM AND EVOLUTIONISM REPROVED
But there is another way by which ministers in general are more and more openly telling their hearers that they have departed from the faith and are no longer ministers of the Word of God. They announce their skepticism respecting the Bible, not in vulgar terms, as did infidelity a century ago, but it is the very same infidelity nevertheless. They announce their belief in the doctrine of the evolution of man from the power forces of animal life, and thus they announce to such as understand them their disbelief in the Scriptural account that Adam was a special creation of God, created in God’s image and likeness. They claim that evolution has brought the intelligence which we have today, and thus they declare their disbelief in the testimony of both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures to the effect that man, when perfect and in harmony with his Creator, fell from the divine favor into sin and degradation, under the sentence of death. This implies a rejection of the testimonies of our Lord Jesus also, for He declared that He came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” whereas the evolution theory teaches that nothing was lost, but that instead man, starting at the bottom of the ladder, has attained to his present condition through evolution. Thus they deny the very foundation of the Gospel, to wit, that the lost man, sentenced to death and degraded by sin, needed a redeemer to pay his penalty for him, and that our Lord Jesus left His heavenly glory and became a man for the suffering of death, and in order that He might redeem all mankind from the original curse of death, and might in due time restore back to harmony with God and to the original perfection as many as will receive the favor—the elect of this Gospel age receiving a still higher blessing through the begetting of the holy Spirit to a new nature, spiritual. They reject the Apostle Paul’s statement on the subject, when he declared that by one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world and death as a result of sin, and thus death passed upon all men because all are sinners. (Rom. 5:12) This, as well as the foregoing Scriptures, fully contradicts the worldly wisdom of the higher critics and evolutionists as they seek gradually to present their anti-Biblical, anti-Christian theories.
The result of this error of relying upon worldly wisdom as the almost sole qualification for ministry in the church is thus bringing about a loss of confidence wherever its influence is felt—world-wide. The Bible, discredited in the minds of Christian people, loses its weight and force, and thus the anchorage of faith and trust is gradually being severed. Many noble and good people are already adrift, and others feel their faith going. These worldlywise teachers declare that the world will be all the better off by reason of its loss of confidence in the Scriptures; that it will learn to fasten itself upon the judgment of the advanced scholars of our day; but they are mistaken. They have nothing to give to the true Christian, nor even to the nominal Christian, which will take the place of that which they have destroyed and are destroying. The result is that already the various denominations are feeling the waning power of Christian influence in their midst, and are held together largely by clerical machinery and zeal, not according to knowledge. In their effort to strengthen their own hands and feeble knees the present program is “a confederacy” (Isa. 8:1), a federation of all the different “orthodox” denominations for mutual support, after the manner of mutual support granted to financial institutions by the Clearing House Associations. But the Lord declares that this confederacy, this federation, is not along the lines of truth, but along false lines, and at the end will mean a great fall of Babylon. (Rev. 18:1)
WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND
Coming now to that smaller class of God’s people in all denominations throughout the world—namely, the Lord’s faithful ones, fully consecrated to him and begotten of His holy Spirit—these have need of admonition and encouragement that their faith fail not, that they cast not away their confidence. We must never lose sight of the fact, frequently brought to our attention throughout the Scriptures, that there are legions of wicked spirits, fallen angels, who, under the captaincy of Satan, the prince of demons, are on the alert to oppose the Lord, the truth, and all who are faithful to Him. They have a double mission—to forward, to encourage, to assist those who are in error and leading others into error, as well as to oppose the light and the children of the light. We cannot doubt their co-operation with higher criticism and evolutionism, and that they have done much to assist in error many who are quite unconscious of the fact, and we may be sure that as the Adversary opposed our Lord and the apostles and all the faithful ones of the Gospel age, he, with his associates, is doubly active today, realizing that he has but a short time and that the fight is a desperate one.
The apostle speaks of the Adversary’s influence, saying: “We are not ignorant of his devices,” and again he declares, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood [only] but against spiritual wickedness in high [influential] positions.” (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:12) To realize this which the Scriptures represent as the real situation of affairs will cause the Lord’s people to tremble, in view of what the great Adversary and his subordinates might accomplish to their injury. But we are to remember on the other hand the encouraging words, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31) And the assurance that the Lord will not suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape. (1 Cor. 1:13) Let us, then cast not away our confidence in the Lord and in His Word; let us rather avail ourselves of the great and special blessings and privileges and assistance which the Lord has provided for our special day, that we might understand His Word and be guided by the “spirit of truth,” which is the “spirit of a sound mind.” Rather as we come to a right understanding of God’s Word, these trying conditions which are now confronting us, and which will increase day by day, should have the effect of more firmly establishing our faith in the Lord’s Word, and our faith in the God whose wisdom foretold present and future conditions and their results.
The Apostle calls this epoch upon which we have entered a time of “shaking.” He points out that it will shake not only the symbolical earth, society, but also the symbolical heaven, the Church nominal. He tells us that the result will be that everything shakeable, everything out of proper harmony with the Lord, will be shaken out, so that what will result will be that only that which is in harmony with the Lord shall remain. The merest glance will show us how terrifying will be the shaking and the results, and the lesson speaks to us admonishing that we lay the firmer hold on the hope set before us in the Gospel — upon the anchorage of our faith. Who shall be able to stand? inquires the Apostle, implying that it will not be a question as to who might fall, but the reverse of this; that it shall be only the occasional one that will stand the shaking, the sifting, the testing that is coming—yea, is almost upon us! In Psalm 91, the Lord pictures the trials and difficulties that He will permit to come upon His people in this time. The Adversary will be wroth, and do all in his power to tempt and to try those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. (Rev. 3:10) The Lord’s people of the present time have had special privileges and opportunities for growth in knowledge and in grace, and the test upon them along these lines will be proportionate. We may expect, in common with others, doctrinal tests, and that the Adversary will endeavor to confuse us so to turn our minds aside from the statement of the truth provided us by the Lord for our refreshment and comfort. Evolution, Higher Criticism, Christian Science, New Theology, Universalism and other quirks and twists of supposed human wisdom, which ignore the Word of God, may be brought to our attention with a view to diverting us; and anyway our natural minds are prone enough to speculate and unsound enough to be unreliable.
Those who have received instructions in the school of Christ to any considerable degree of development of heart and head should be so established in the invulnerable teachings of God’s Word that none of these besetments would move them, but those of God’s people who have been overcharged with the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches to the neglect of the Divine Word will find themselves lacking of the armor of truth, and vulnerable to the shafts of error. Remember the Apostle’s words in this connection, “Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day.” (Eph. 6:13) Confidence in God and in His Word will lead into a knowledge of the truth such as are begotten of His Spirit, so that, as the Apostle declares, it will be true of them that although this evil day shall come upon the whole world as a thief and as a snare, and they shall not escape, ye, brethren, will not be in darkness that that day shall overtake you as a thief, because you are not only at heart children of the light, but are walking in the light which God provides, and are therefore not in darkness with the world. 1 Thess. 5:4, 5
THE SECRET PLACE—THE MOST HIGH
Through the Prophet the Lord tells us, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psa. 91:1) He shall be saved. But what is it to thus abide? Is this not a statement of similar import to that of the Apostle. “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him?” (1 John 4:16) This thought should be specially impressed upon all of our hearts, namely, that God is love, and that the development of God’s characteristics in our hearts and characters is our highest possible attainment in the present life. To this every energy of the Christian should be bent. It should ever be kept in mind that all the doctrines, all the instructions of God’s word, all the preaching in His name, all the trials and misapprehensions which come to his people are with a view to their perfecting in love, for “God is love,” and the command is that we should be like unto our Father in heaven. Love is the fulfilling of the law, the mark of perfectness. (Rom. 13:10) Hence, as the Apostle says, if we had all knowledge and could understand all mysteries, and have not love, it would profit us nothing. If we were generous to a fault, so that we could give all our goods to feed the poor and leave ourselves penniless; if it were mere generosity and not love it would profit us nothing, and if we should be so loyal to our convictions that we would go to the stake and give our bodies to be burned, if we have not love, it would profit us nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2-3)
Our thought, then is that the principal test upon the most advanced of the Lord’s people will be along the lines of love. Love for God will test our loyalty to His word and the spirit of that word. Love to the brethren will be tested and tried doubtless in various ways. Love for the world and even for our enemies will doubtless be tested severely. “The Lord your God proveth you to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:3) Now is the time for these very testings. As the Scriptures declare, the Lord will try His people as in a furnace—as silver and gold are tested and purified—not with a view to their destruction in their trouble, but contrariwise, for the elimination of their dross and a demonstration of their purity. It is said that in the old-time method of refining silver the metallurgist kept up the process of purifying until the molten silver was so pure that, like a mirror, it reflected his features. Similarly with us, according to this picture, the Lord would see in us copies of His Dear Son, and anything short of this will not be acceptable to Him, and the more speedily we reach this condition of heart (and so far as possible the flesh) the greater will be our blessing under the Lord’s approval.
The loss of confidence which we have already referred to as the coming bane of the entire social fabric which will wreck society in anarchy and set every man’s hand against his neighbor and his brother, and give no peace to him that goeth out or to him that cometh in, will, we believe, begin with the house of God, with the church. This is clearly the indication of the Apostle, “Judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be?” (1 Pet. 4:17) There is a house of God nominal, the professing millions, and the house of God actual, the consecrated ones, much fewer in number. Our supposition is that this test will come first to the latter class, and then proceed to the others, ultimately culminating in anarchy. We must never lose sight of the arch enemy who is opposed to the Lord, and all those who are His; and we should credit to him the instigation of the evils which would prove such temptations to brotherly love that many will fall. The Apostle says, “We are not ignorant of his devices.” What are they? The Apostle explains that they are insidious, like leaven, spreading themselves, corrupting in their influence, injurious, roots of bitterness which, getting mixed with the food of the Lord’s family, many might thereby be defiled, poisoned. Our enemy is a master at this poisoning of the human mind. He knows our frailties, and will be sure to take all the advantage possible.
The Apostle tells us that the tongue, a little member of the body, is one of the most dangerous, both for ourselves and for others. He says, “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” Jas. 3:9) He proceeds to say that the tongue setteth on fire the course of nature. (Jas. 3:6) Ah, there it is! The fire of that day, which shall try every man’s work; the fire that already is enkindling all over the world is set on fire by the tongue. Evil speaking, slanders, backbitings, these are the matches which enkindle the flame, and once started poor fallen humanity is almost helpless before it. It brings anger, malice, envy, hatred, strife, and these things the Apostle tells us are works of the flesh and of the devil. (Gal. 5:19; 1 John 3:8) It will be through these agencies largely that the angry nations of the world will be brought to the melting point. As the Apostle symbolically expresses it, the symbolical heavens, the church, shall be on fire, and the elements of society shall melt with the fervency of the heat, the strife, the friction and the earth (society) shall melt. 2 Pet. 3:10
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED
But someone was saying, how could it be possible for those who are the Lord’s people, and who have received of His holy Spirit, and who have brushed out the old leaven of malice, hatred, strife, to be tempted along such lines? How could those who have renounced sin and all its meanness, and who have entered the school of Christ and been taught by Him, and been cultivating in their hearts the spirit of love and practicing the same to the extent of their ability—how could these be overtaken in a fault by some work of the flesh and the devil as has been suggested as a temptation? Alas! dear friends, we indeed have the treasure of the new nature, but, as the apostle declares, we have it in earthen vessels, and those earthen vessels have all the weaknesses and blemishes which they originally had before we became children of God; and all of those blemishes, frailties, would very soon open up and admit to our minds and conduct the selfishness, bitterness, anger, etc., which are of the world. If in any degree the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love, of devotion to Him and to the service of His truth departs from our hearts, the adversary evidently has it in his power to bring great pressure upon all of these earthen vessels from the outside, and we need correspondingly a great pressure and weight of love on the inside to withstand the pressure of the world, the flesh and the adversary. The Lord has promised grace sufficient. It is sufficient if we apply for it and use it, but not otherwise.
Undoubtedly the Lord continually protects His people from the adversary’s power, otherwise we might be overwhelmed. Who is sufficient for these things? Although the Scriptures intimate that in this great testing in the end of this gospel age the Lord will permit Satan to have special power against His people, that would deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. It does not signify a lack of divine interest in and attention to His people that this trouble time will be upon them, but merely that the day having come for the harvesting, the testing, the separating of the wheat from the tares and from the chaff, that work is now in progress. The elect will be kept, but not others. The Lord knoweth them that are His and will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with every trial provide a way of escape, succor. (2 Tim. 2:19; 1 Cor. 10:13) But all except the elect, and those are very few, we may expect the elect, not being similarly safeguarded, will stumble, not, we trust, for their eternal destruction, but for a manifestation, and incidentally as a great lesson not only to themselves, but to the world and to angels, a lesson which will demonstrate the wisdom of the divine plan and word and loving rules, and the unwisdom of any and everything else.
The Scriptures do not point out directly how the testings will come. Indeed, we may assume that they will come in some manner not expected, and that they may be very severe, crucial tests of our love and loyalty. Our text, however, suggests the clue not only to the world’s trouble, but to all these special testings of this “evil” day—a casting away of confidence. The unruly member, the tongue, which will set on fire the course of nature, will undoubtedly in many instances be exercised in what may be thought by its owner a comparatively innocent manner—through insinuations and hints mixed with love. The sweetness of love covers considerable of the bitterness of slander. This is Satan’s artifice. He may mix with it a little of conscientiousness and duty, and make it more acceptable to the giver than to the receiver. As surely, however, as the poison is in it, it will work and increase, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” —confidence is destroyed, love goes with confidence and extends from one person to another, and so the poisoned mind has no confidence in God, in the Scriptures, in the brethren or in anything.
What is the safeguard of the Lord’s people in this evil day? In what manner will the Lord keep His own, “The very elect” that the enemy may touch them not? We reply that their safety lies in (1) keeping their hearts in the love of God (Jude 21), which means also keeping them in the love with all the dear brethren, the members of Christ, and with all mankind in a sympathetic sense—yea, with their enemies also. (2) Additionally, these must remember the Word of the Lord and show the love for Him as He directed, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” His command is, “A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you” (John 14:15; 13:34)— with such a love as would lay down life for the brethren. “We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16) But even with good resolutions and good intentions along this line, we would still be in danger unless we observe to the full the Lord’s direction as to how love should deal with the brethren if in our judgment they have committed any fault. This law of procedure is pointedly stated in Matt. 18:15-17.
That law should be understood in the smallest details and followed without any modifications. Its design is to bar out the adversary from an opportunity to work on our hearts, upon our own weaknesses, upon our own flesh, and to avoid bringing similar temptations upon others. It is remarkable how few of the Lord’s people seem to understand the importance of this rule and the blessings that would come from its observance. Let us be more particular hereafter, and when the Lord says, “If thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him of his fault between thee and him alone,” let that be our rule with no deviation. To have a desire to tell of the weaknesses or faults of another is an intimation of lovelessness on our own part; for, on the contrary, we should be glad to lay down life itself in the service of any brother, and to do anything we could to shield him or her from anything real or fancied which might reflect to his or her discredit. We should be careful not even to hint an evil which another might take up and, by evil surmising, use injuriously as respects himself or another.
Cast not away your confidence, then, in God, in His Word, in the rules and methods which He has laid upon us in that Word. Cast not away your confidence in the brotherhood of Christ, nor in the world of mankind in general. We believe that even in those on the most degraded plane there is something left of the divine characteristics which sympathizes with truth and righteousness, and that by and by when in the Lord’s providence, under the millennial kingdom reign of Christ, Satan bound and evil influences in restraint, it will be as easy to do right as to do wrong, then doubtless many will be on the side of right who now oppose it because of their inherited weaknesses and unfavorable influences of present environment. Present responsibility, however, is less with them; it is chiefly with the Lord’s consecrated people who have received of His Spirit of begetting and adoption into the divine family as joint-heirs with Jesus in His coming kingdom. Now is especially their hour of temptation. We fain would reach them with this word of caution and comfort. Our text says that the confidence maintained will bring a great recompense of reward. The severer the trial that is endured faithfully, the grander we may suppose will be the reward to the faithful.