King's Business - 1970-11


Dean o f Adm issions 1 3 8 0 0 Biota Avenue La M irada , California 9 0 6 3 8 w a Christ-Centered Education a


DECEMBER, 1970 / Vol. 61 / No. 11 Established 1910 Dedicated to the spiritual development of the Christian home THE .KING’S BUSINESS LA MIRADA, CALIFORNIA 90638 THE KING’S BUSINESS Magazine is a publication of BIOLA SCHOOLS and COLLEGES, INC. Louis T. Talbot, Chancellor, J. Richard Chase, President. The Foolishness o f God / Vonce Hovner 8 The Man We Forget a t Christmas / Gordon Chilvers 11 God's Trees / Helen Frazee-Bower 13 Consider the MK's How They Grow / Mrs. Keilih Austin 15 What Christmas Should Mean to the Jew / Charles L. Feinberg 18 A Muslim Sheikh Finds Christ / Fred D. Acord 20 Have Faith in God / J. Hudson Taylor 24 Is Peaceful Co-Existence Working? / A. Reid Jepson 25 The Four Great Essentials / Reuben A. Torrey 30 Clean Living in a Polluted World / Roy B. Zuck 36 Spoiled Brats / Don W. Hillis 44 Child Discipline— A Scriptural View / David Keller 48 ARTICLES:

Tragedy o f

TODAY’ S MINISTRY N A document put out by the National Council of Churches in May 1970 dealt with the subject, “ Who Will Interpret the Ministry to the Campus?” It was a report of a consultation between theologi­ cal seminary administrators and campus ministers. It appears that each is inclined to blame the other for the continuing decline in theological seminary enrollment, and the resulting decrease in the number of young men who are entering the ministry. Th campus pastors reproached the seminary administrators for not being more actively engaged in recruiting students for their seminaries. On the other hand, the seminary administrators criticized the college pastors for failing to co-operate with them when they did go to a campus in an attempt to enlist students for theological study. Student pastors charged the seminary administrators with teaching in a cloistered atmosphere and not relating their curricula to today’s needs. As a result, they declared that students were not being challenged suf- flenctly to go into the ministry. The administrators condemned the college pastors for occupying themselves with everything except try­ ing to influence young men to enter the ministry. So they argued back and forth, each blaming the other for the lamentable situation of an ever-diminishing student body in today’s seminaries. The most tragic phase of this entire discussion, however, lies in the fact that throughout this whole document there is not one reference to the vital purpose of the ministry, namely, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord is not once mentioned, at least according to the rather detailed report of the meetings. The Gospel ministry was referred to frequently as “ a job” or “ a career.” Never once was it spoken of in the Scriptural language as "a calling of God.” It used to be that a Christian young man went into the ministry when he felt compelled to give his life to proclaim the Gospel on a full-time basis. He said in his heart and often gave expression with his voice to the phrase employed by the Apostle Paul: “ Woe is unto me, I preach not the gospel!” That was what formerly motivated young men to enter the ministry. Now they are encouraged to look upon it as merely another profession or career. Small wonder then that fewer and fewer young men are training for the ministry if it is just another job. An appreciable amount of discussion was carried on in connec­ tion with the problem of the radical students on the university cam­ puses. Admittedly, they are in the minority, but they are by far the most vocal. The campus ministers admitted that their ministry was often shaped to respond to the radical student. They acknowledged further that many campus ministers were either neglecting or even “ turning o ff” the traditional church-oriented student. Then followed this most interesting observation: “ As a result, many of these students are ending up in more conservative campus groups.” It is quite evident that these students are the ones who attend the more conservative theological seminary throughout the


Message from the Editor / Samuel H. Sutherland

3 Cults Critique / Betty Bruechert 6 Dr. Talbot's Question Box / Louis T. Talbot 22 Over a Cup o f Coffee / Joyce Landorf 23 Book Highlights and Reviews 34 Christian Workers' Clinic / Ray Syrstad 40 Talking it Over / Clyde M. Narramore 47

Editor: S. H. SUTHERLAND Managing Editor: BILL EHMANN Art Director: JOHN OZMON Copy Editor: BETTY BRUECHERT Circulation Manager: LOUISE POND Treasurer: PAUL SCHWEPKER Subscription Rates: THE KING'S BUSINESS is pub­ lished monthly with the exception o f July/ August issue which is combined. U.S., its posses­ sions, and Canada, $3.00 one year; $1.50 six months, 30 cents, single copy. Clubs o f three or more at special rates. Add 90 cents extra for Canadian and Foreign subscriptions. Allow one month for a change of address to become effec­ tive. Please send both old and new address. Remittances should be made by bankdraft. ex­ press, or post office money order payable to THE KING'S BUSINESS. Advertising: For informa­ tion address the Advertising Manager, THE KING'S BUSINESS, 13800 Biola Ave., La Mirada, California 90638. Manuscripts: THE KING'S BUSI­ NESS cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to manuscripts mailed to us for consid­ eration. Second class postage paid in La Mirada, California. Printed in U.S.A. by Church Press, Glendale, California.



country. It is significant that these more conservative theological seminaries have student bodies that are either growing or at least maintaining their enrollment. At the same time, the liberal seminaries are bemoaning the fact that their enrollment is declining. Another disturbing fact, from the viewpoint of the seminary ad­ ministrators, was that the seminary student bodies “ were becoming more radical and more concerned with social change” than hereto­ fore. Some felt that this was true because campus ministers encour­ aged this type of student more than others to enroll. All were greatly concerned about how this radical type of student would fit into the organized church as it now exists, when he finishes his seminary training. Indeed, these leaders ought to be alarmed! As usual, the most obvious cause of the whole dilemma has been overlooked. These radical students have not been taught the Gospel of the grace of God. They have not learned anything concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have not been in­ structed in regard to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in human hearts and lives. They have not been enlightened about any of the great foundation truths of the Bible. They have been indoctrinated in a sort of philosophical theology, which is not relevant to the drastic spiritual needs of the world today. When these young men graduate from the seminary, they are as radical as they were as undergraduates. In their ignorance of the Word of God, they go into churches and disrupt them because their message is altogether unhelpful, unsatis­ fying, and unrealted to human hearts and lives. They try to get their members involved in parades, demonstrations, moratoriums, confron­ tations, protests. Eventually the congregations become totally repelled with this sort of nonsense. The ministers for their part become com­ pletely frustrated in their efforts to change society overnight. As a result, often the ministers quit in disgust and the members, disillu­ sioned and disturbed, become divided and the church of Christ suf­ fers irreparable harm. Young people lose all confidence in the church and wander in darkness. All of this comes about because the campus minister directs his appeal more and more to the radical element in the university. When they enroll in the seminary, they are not taught anything very differ­ ent from that which they learned at the university. It is a sorry spec­ tacle indeed. In the meantime, the more “ conservative campus groups,” which the campus ministers lament, go on their way, leading souls to Christ, and seeing their young people built up in our most holy faith. Their own confidence in the Word of God is strengthened and their con­ victions regarding its truths are deepened. Their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ becomes total. They go on to the conservative seminaries as dedicated Christian young men prepared to go out into the world to serve their risen Lord to the very best of their abilities. One would think that these liberal campus ministers and the liberal theological seminarians would realize sooner or later that both their message and their methods are wrong. Evidently that is too much to hope for. The most tragic fact of all is that so much of the money of the people who are involved in denominational churches goes to support these campus ministers and the theological seminaries which are turning out this totally unsatisfactory and unacceptable breed of min­ isters. It would be wonderful if God’s people would stop pouring money into these liberalistic channels which are producing nothing whatever of eternal value and instead would give to those Christian colleges like Biota which are dedicated to the training of young people in these great doctrines of the Word of God and the true church of Jesus Christ. THE KING’S BUSINESS


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O u r Lord p rophesied , “ Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Within our own day, how many false prophets have ris­ en; and oh, how many are deceived! Paul predicted, “ I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disci­ ples after them. Therefore watch.” My own observation is that these “ grievous wolves,” alone and in packs, are not sparing even the most favored flocks. Undershep- herds, in these “ perilous times,” will do well to note the Apostle's warning, “ Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.” It is as important in these days as in Paul’s— in fact, it is increasingly important— to ex- pose the many types of false teach­ ing, that on every hand, abound more and more. We are called upon to contend earnestly for the Faith once for all delivered to the saints,” while we hold the truth in love. The Faith means the whole body of revealed truth, and to contend for ALL of God’s truth, necessitates some neg­ ative teaching. The choice is not left with us. This does not imply harsh treat­ ment of those entrapped by error — quite the opposite. If it be ob­ jected that exposure of error neces­ sitates unkind reflection upon oth­ ers who do not see as we do, our answer is, it has always been the duty of every loyal servant of Christ to warn against any teaching that would make Him less precious, or cast reflection' upon His finished redemptive work and the all-suffi­ ciency of His present service as our great High Priest and Advocate.


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XPOSE ERROR? Every system of teaching can be judged by what it sets forth as to these fundamental truths of the Faith. “ What think ye of Christ?” is still the true test of every creed. The Christ of the Bible is not set forth in any false ism. Each of the cults has its hideous caricature of our lovely Lord. Let us who have been redeemed at the cost of His precious blood, be “ good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” As the battle against the forces of evil waxes ever more hot, we have need for God-given valor. There is constant temptation to compromise. “ Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His re­ proach.” It is always right to stand firmly for what God has revealed concerning His blessed Son’s per­ son and work. The “ father of lies” deals in half-truths, and specializes in most subtle fallacies concerning the Lord Jesus, our sole and suffi­ cient Saviour. Error is like leaven, of which we read, “ A LITTLE leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, ex­ cept that it is more innocent-look­ ing, and therefore more danger­ ous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word, and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died. Exposing error is most unpopu­ lar work, but from every true stand­ point, it is worthwhile. To our Sav­ iour, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To our­ selves, if we consider “ the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it insures fu­ ture reward, a thousand-fold. To souls “ caught in the snare of the fowler” — how many of them God only knows— it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting, kq DECEMBER, 1970

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“ THE FOOLISHNESS “ The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and complaint that we do not relate the ambiguities of the the weakness of God is stronger than men.” New Testament to the complexities of modern living. I Corinthians 1:25 n aui came to Corinth from Athens where he spoke people, trying to make Jesus Christ acceptable to on Mars Hill. Some think he failed in Athens highbrows. The big question is not whether Christ because he used the wrong approach but he did not can be made acceptable to them, but rather how can fail because some believed and a great church was they be made acceptable to Christ. He is not stand- begun and was still going strong in the Fourth Cen- ing, hat in hand, awaiting our verdict about Him. tury after the Corinthian church had long since dis- We are a generation of poor, lost sinners awaiting appeared. One thing is certain: at Corinth Paul set His verdict about us. up a standard we are in danger of forgetting in these If 1 had before me a congregation of unconverted sophisticated times. He declared that the Gospel is college professors, 1would say, “ Your problem is sin. a contradiction to the* wisdom of the natural man. God has done something about that. He loved us and He calls it “ the foolishness of God” and “ the weak- gave His Son to die for us. He raised Him from the ness of God,” terms we never use because they sound dead and that is the Gospel. The only thing you can so strange. We speak of the wisdom of God and of do is to believe it, admit that you are sinners, repent, God Almighty, but who ever thinks in terms of the * trust Christ as Saviour and confess Him as Lord. foolishness and weakness of God? Paul says that God That will solve your problem." If that sounds like over- upsets all our standards by choosing the foolish and simplification, 1 am not interested in arguing about weak and base and despised and things that are not it. There it is; take it or leave it. “ He that believeth to confound the things that are mighty and that the on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not natural man is utterly incapable of understanding is condemned already because he hath not believed spiritual truth. in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” One might as well try to catch sunbeams with a Just because we can split atoms and have reached fish-hook, describe a sunset to a blind man, play the moon does not make the slightest difference in music for a deaf man or discuss nuclear physics with the basic need of the human heart. The answer is a monument in a city park as to discuss the things not found in clever preaching and liberal theology but of God with a man of this world. He is casting pearls in what Paul called “ the foolishness of God.” It is before swine. The unsaved person may be educated, just as relevant as ever in this day of guided missiles prominent, successful but none of that qualifies him and misguided men. This does not mean that scholar- to apprehend spiritual truth. Discussing current ship is unimportant and that we are not to study 9 4 events in the light of the Bible with a man who has the complex problems of today in the light of the not been born again is an exercise in futility. No Bible, but the tendency is to judge the Bible in the dialogue is possible. “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear light of science and human wisdom. Bob Ingersoll heard, neither have entered in the heart of man, the was a noted infidel but it is to his credit that he things which God hath prepared for them that love stayed out of the pulpit. Today there are pulpiteers him.” who believe no more than Ingersoll did but who -<* Evangelical Christianity is blowing a fuse these draw church salaries for preaching infidelity. Inger- days trying to sound intellectual. We are trying to soli had a lecture on “ The Mistakes of Moses.” Some- dress up the foolishness of God in the wisdom of body said he wouldn’t cross the street to hear Inger- 4 man, trying to fortify the weakness of God with the soli on the mistakes of Moses but he would go a long power of man. We have gone off the deep end trying way to hear Moses on the mistakes of Ingersoll! to be profound and have made ourselves ridiculous. We have no easy answers to the issues of our y, 1 remember hearing a young preacher in a coun- day but Jesus Christ is the Answer and by the Holy try church praying that God would deliver his con- Spirit we can meet any issue in the name of our gregation from “ psychological blocks.” 1 imagine Saviour and Lord. The early church did not hold semi- those farmers wondered what ailment that could be! nars on slavery and symposiums on Caesar. They We are talking to people who are not listening met the world of their time with a supernatural pow- about questions nobody is asking. 1 suppose the in- er, not a conference of experts. If Pentecost had tellectuals in the days of the early church could have started with a committee meeting and a panel dis- asked what Peter and John knew about the problems cussion, Christianity would have died at birth. They of living in the Roman Empire. So today we hear the were flaming witnesses, “ open on the Godward side,” 8 THE KING’S BUSINESS But those early Christians turned the world upside down with the simple story of a crucified and risen Lord. Today, we talk over the heads of the common


*ir Vance Havner

Jesus was born of a peasant woman; spent His life in a tiny Roman province; was not educated in the schools of men; never visited Rome, Athens or Alexandria; died the death of a criminal. It just doesn't make sense to this world. He would-be the despair of a modern reporter! Even His brothers did not understand why He did not get out of the backwoods and into the limelight at Jerusalem (John 7:1-9). He did not manage His publicity very well, they thought; He needed a press-agent! Then He painted a strange picture of the make-up of His kingdom. Not many rich people would get to heaven, He said. Paul expanded the list to include the wise, mighty and noble, the intellectuals, the V.I.P.s, the blue-bloods. He did not say “ not any” are called, but he said, “ Not many." God loves them but they have a hard time getting saved. The old S & N, the Straight and Narrow Way, is hard on pride. There are exceptions, of course, but they only prove the rule. Yet we keep saying today: " I f we had more people of wealth in our church, more college graduates, more influential people, more social status, we could make better headway.” One of our Chris­ tian writers has put it this way: "The well-to-do, upper middle classes, the politic­ ally prominent, the celebrities, are accepting our re­ ligion and parking their expensive cars outside our church doors to the uncontrollable glee of our re­ ligious leaders who seem completely blind to the fact that the vast majority of these new patrons of the Lord of Glory have not altered their moral habits in the slightest or given any evidence of conversion.” The professing church today is rich and increased with goods and has need of nothing. It is ashamed of the scandal, the reproach of the old rugged cross. We are no longer the disinherited. We have moved out on Main Street with the “ in” crowd. We are not p il­ grims and strangers, exiles and aliens. We have set­ tled down in this world and made ourselves at home. Nobody is “ homesick for heaven” these days. What with a split-level house, boats and bonds, social se­ curity and Medicare, who is singing “ In the Sweet By-and-By” ? Paul in Athens was not impressed with Grecian art, culture and philosophy. What concerned him was, “ These people do not know God.” So he preached the Three R’s— Revelation, Resurrection and Repentance. Today, we are admonished to brush up on our art appreciation, familiarize ourselves with the Broad­ way plays and sip ginger ale at the cocktail parties, in order to have dialogue with this age. A recent book on Missions says that the early Christians may have been over-zealous in proclaiming that there was no other name by which we might be saved and that 9

in touch with another world. They met the civiliza­ tion of their day in a head-on collision and ended on top of the situation. They were twice-born people in a world run by once-born people and that presented a problem. It still does. Dr. Phillips writes: "Many Christians talk about the difficulties of the times as though we should have to wait for better ones before the Christian religion can take root. It is heartening to remember that this faith took root and flourished amazingly in conditions that would have killed anything less vital in a matter of weeks.” What turned the world up­ side down was the foolishness of preaching— not the preaching of foolishness— , the preaching of the Gos­ pel, "the foolishness of God.” It is ridiculous to grow panicky and say, “ The church has failed; the Gospel has failed.” The fool­ ishness of God still confounds the wisdom of man when we stop discussing it and start demonstrating it. There are too many experts and too few examples. If the preaching of the cross is to the world fool­ ishness, it follows that the preachers of it will be to the world fools. We need not expect popularity with the scribes and disputers of this world, the princes of this world who crucified the Lord of glory. If we ever have another revival, it will not be brought about by specialists in swivel chairs but will begin among common people. When a man is on trial for his life, we select a jury of twelve ordinary men. I wouldn’t want a jury of lawyers if I were on trial, they’d hang me for certain. Our Lord did not choose twelve rabbis for His apostles; He picked fishermen, tax-gatherers and the like. God has His seven thou­ sand today who have not bowed to Baal and most of them are plain ordinary Christians. The average ordi­ nary man has more sense anyway than the expert. When Castro started out in Cuba, any plain citizen could have told you he was a crook but it took the experts, including some churchmen, a long time to find it out. There is still a reservoir of grass-roots Christians and it is time for a grass-roots revolution. The liberals have failed; the radicals and crackpots and beatniks have had their fling. It is time for the common people, like those who heard Jesus gladly, to rise and demonstrate "the foolishness of God.” The Gospel has never made sense to this world and never will. You cannot fit the message of re­ demption to the wisdom of this age. There are no points of similarity, only points of contrast. The Gos­ pel runs against the grain of this age from start to finish. It springs from a different source, follows a different course and arrives at a different conclusion. God has kept His secrets from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes. DECEMBER, 1970





those who think they already have the truth do not enter fully into dialogue. I’d like to hear Paul com­ ment on that! There is no dialogue between the foolishness of God and the wisdom of man. Without Jesus Christ a man is blind and dead. A blind man cannot see nor a dead man live until a miracle takes place. Spirit­ ually, that never will happen until the blind and dead believe the foolishness of God and find wisdom, be­ lieve the weakness of God and find strength. Long ago a teacher came to Jesus by night. He knew the Scriptures and was very religious. Jesus said to him, “ You must be born again.” That was something new for Nicodemus. There was no chapter in his book about that. No wonder he asked, “ How can these things be?" Jesus answered, “ Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” In other words, “ Nicodemus, the trouble with you is, you have a well-thought-out system but you can't fit this into your system. Your system must be adjusted to God’s system. You don’t add me to what you already have; you must begin again. God doesn’t come to you on your terms; you come to Him on His terms.” The tendency today is to play up to Nicodemus. It would be considered “ corny” to say to a university professor, “ You must be born again.” We adjust the Gospel to his intelligence and tone down its require­ ments out of respect for his importance. We are for taking him into the church first and explaining later. But our Lord never watered down the way of salva­ tion or marked down the cost of discipleship to suit anybody. We might as well face it: the Gospel does not make sense to the natural man. It is nonsense to him and will be until he accepts it. When God sent His Son to this world, He showed how little He thinks of our culture, philosophy and intellectualism. Even the New Testament Greek is not the classic Greek such as the Corinthians spoke but rather the language of the marketplace. There is nothing elegant about a bruised and beaten man with His beard pulled out. His face covered with spittle and blood, dying between two thieves. That is shocking to fastidious Sunday-morning church-goers who want pleasant little sermonettes guaranteed not to offend anybody. At Christmas, we make the birth of Christ sound like a fairy tale but there is nothing “ Hollywood” about a baby born in a barn to a poor peasant woman. A great Bible teacher said shortly before his death that as he grew older he was more and more con­ vinced that much of our Christmas celebration is a clever device of the devil to hide the true meaning of the birth of our Lord. If you are looking for the real meaning of Christmas, you won’t find it in the tinsel- 10

and-holly, Santa Claus, Rudolph-the-red-nosed-rein- deer commercialized paganism of the season. You will find it in a precious verse (I Tim. 3:16) which may have been a hymn or creed of the early church. I love to quote it for the sheer poetic beauty of it but most of all because it sums up "the foolishness of God” : “ And without controversy great is the mys­ tery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit; Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, I wish somebody would put that on a Christmas card! Compared to that, nuclear physics, for instance, is just kindergarten stuff! We shall spend all eternity marveling at the wonder of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Just because the plan of salva­ tion was not worked out by a conference of Ph.D.’s in a University, doesn’t mean that there is nothing profound about it. The message of the Gospel is so different from anything we would have contrived that the wise-acres and smart-alecks of this world call it nonsense, stupid, silly. Indeed the original word gives us our word “ moron.” The foolishness of God is resented be­ cause it leaves no room for human pride and allows no man to boast for no flesh can glory in God’s presence. Men call it moronic because they don’t know who the real “ moron” is! The facts are these: There is a God in spite of all fools who say in their hearts that He does not exist. He has spoken to us in a God-breathed book. The trouble with man is sin. God came to earth in His Son, put Himself in our place and died for our sins. Jesus Christ came bodily out of the grave. He is not converting the world today but is taking out of it a people, His Church. Civilization will grow worse and worse and end in catastrophe, the victim of its own inventions. Jesus Christ will come back person­ ally to take over when we have demonstrated that we don't know how . . . and that demonstration is in its final stages. Stand in a university and say that and you will still be called a moron! It is foolishness to the world and even to some preachers who are embarrassed to be so out-of-style and out-of-step with “ progress.” We are seeing in this day of anarchy a Satanic DEMON- stration of the Mystery of Lawlessness. It is high time the church gave a demonstration of the Mystery of Godliness, "the foolishness of God.” KB THE KING’S BUSINESS Believed on in the world, Received up into Glory.”

whole life, for it touched his char­ acter, his future and his happiness. What puzzled him was its unex­ pectedness. What he knew of Mary indicated that she was a pure maiden and not the sort of person to be guilty of that kind of sin. Yet, what was he to believe? The facts seemed to shatter all his settled opinions and hopes. Joseph had to act and act quick­ ly. As a godly man, he could not continue with the betrothal. To marry a girl who had committed a sex offense was to dishonor the law of God, an act that was repul­ sive to Joseph. Two courses of action were open to Joseph. When a man suspected his betrothed wife of infidelity, he could follow legal procedure by go­ ing to a magistrate and laying his accusation before him. The magis­ trate would then examine the girl. If she were guilty of the offense, he would order her to be put to death. This course could bring Mary into public disgrace, Joseph knew. While he could exercise his legal rights, the law did not compel him to follow this procedure. Another course was possible. He could put her away privately by giving her a bill of divorce (Deut. 24:1). In it, he could specify the cause for di­ vorce as mildly as possible, or he could omit the reason altogether. This would keep the matter as quiet as possible. For, says Lenski, “ let­ ters of divorce were both private and legal, needing no publication before a court.” After much painful deliberation, Joseph came to a decision. He had already pledged to Mary a deep affection and loyalty that only death could break, for he loved her dear­ ly. And, being a kind man, he de­ cided not to make the full disclo­ sure that the law permitted. In­ stead, he would dissolve the mar­ riage contract without exposing her to unnecessary shame and infamy or even death. Then, the betrothal at an end, Mary could go back to her home and parents. True, it would leave Mary and her child in disgrace, but a high-principled-man could do no less. 11


W hen we think of Christmas we easily forget one of the most prominent characters in the origi­ nal scene. We rightly make Christ promi­ nent at that first Christmas. Then quite rightly we remember Mary, the next important figure. We con­ sider the angels who announced the birth of Christ and the shep­ herds who received their message. We think of the wise men who came some time after Jesus' birth and the star which guided them to the house. We also think of the cattle who could have been there. We have a place for an inn-keeper and even his wife though the Bible knows neither; and the local situa­ tion does not require their pres­ ence. Ye we scarcely mention one of the Christmas heroes, Joseph. Joseph is easily overlooked be­ cause he did nothing that was glamorous. His name would not have appeared in today’s press headlines. Further, he never said anything that shook his nation, or even his own village. Nor did he say anything that God reckoned worthy of preservation for posterity, for no word of his is recorded for us in the Bible. Even so, Joseph’s life is worthy of our careful attention. He was a carpenter by trade and a descen­ dant of the illustrious King David though he was a poor man then. Yet neither of these facts makes him outstanding. Joseph had to face a situation so difficult that few men of his day or ours would have equalled him in courage. True, he needed wisdom DECEMBER, 1970

to be given in an unusual way be­ fore he could solve his problem. Yet he acted magnificently when he discovered the facts. Joseph was asked to believe a story that shocked him. He was betrothed to a girl named Mary, likely 14 or 15 years old at the time. Betrothal had far more seri­ ous consequences for a Jew than an engagement to marry has for us today. Betrothal was a step towards marriage that had full legal signifi­ cance. It included a ceremony that took place before witnesses, “ em­ bodying the marriage vows. No fu r­ ther promise followed. In later times it was ratified in writing” (R. C. H. Lenski). After the betrothal, a woman was treated as if she had been actually married. “ The union could not Ipe dissolved, except by regular di­ vorce; breach of faithfulness was regarded as adultery; and the prop­ erty of the woman became virtual­ ly that of her betrothed, unless he had expressly renounced it ” (Al­ fred Edersheim). When Joseph was betrothed to Mary, he had the rights and respon­ sibilities of a husband. He was re­ ferred to as “ her husband," and she was referred to as “ thy wife." The marriage took place usually a year after the betrothal, an inter­ val referred to as the time “ before they came together.” It was at this time a strange report came to Joseph’s ears. He lea rned th a t Mary, his espoused wife, was pregnant. That was serious. It suggested moral laxity. This situation affected his

already g o s s ip ing abou t Mary; would he not soon be included in their gossip? How could he live down their slander? The Pharisees once made a statement that hints that they suspected all was not usual about Jesus' birth. They said to Him: “ We be not born of forni­ cation; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41). Joseph’s position was the more difficult because he could not dis­ cuss the matter with anyone but Mary. He alone knew what he had been told. If he should attempt to discuss it with either friends or relatives, who was likely to believe him? Again, Mary could hear the gos­ sip and know in her heart that she was morally blameless, for she knew the facts. She knew she had not been guilty of sexual sin. True, the villagers were not likely to be­ lieve her story, yet in her heart she knew she was right; that was con­ solation enough. When she had gone to visit her cousin Elizabeth, she had received the greeting which confirmed her beliefs. By the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth had said: “ Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). Joseph must rely on the words of the angel. He could not know the facts in the way Mary did. Yet in his doubts he had one sure source of assurance, the Word of God. He could turn to the Old Testament and read the words of Isaiah (7:14): “ Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” or “ God with us.” By reading and be­ lie v in g God 's re ve la tio n , he strengthened his faith and starved his doubts. Profound doubt gave way to pro­ found belief. Joseph believed God and His Word. He gave his belief a practical expression. He did “ as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.” That was the wedding. The decisive step in the marriage ceremony was the bringing of the bride to his own home by the bride­ groom. On the day fixed for the

wedding the groom went with his companions to get his wife. There could be feasting for some days. But there was no religious cere­ mony and no vows of any sort were made then. This feasting was a Jewish custom rather than a law which God had given to Israel. Joseph was then able to give to Mary all the care and attention she needed. Not only did the marriage mean that Jesus was born in wed­ lock but also that Joseph was pres­ ent to provide for the necessities of life for the Child and to take care of Him. Certainly Joseph has a vital mes­ sage for us today. Joseph was not the only man to have doubts. To some people, be­ lief comes fairly easily; their na­ ture and temperament are favorable to it. To others, like Joseph, doubts can be strong. God never blames a man for hon­ est doubts, for there is no sin there. He knows how we differ from one another. He will always help the sincere man. He does not expect us to believe without evidence and will always give all that is reasonably necessary for a man to be satisfied. Yet He does expect us to sift all available evidence carefully. For doubt that is sincere can always pass beyond itself to triumphant faith. Doubts are best resolved by fac­ ing them honestly. This means get­ ting to the foundation of our basic assurances of God and asking our­ selves what we really believe. Then we add certainties here and there as we can. All the time we trust God and believe what He says in His Word. In this way we can begin to build a satisfying faith. While we remain loyal to the Lord and live according to the light we have, no doubt need paralyze us. No problem is too deep-seated for God to lift us out of it and make us men of faith and conviction. As He shows us the answer, we accept it and go forward. When we thus handle our doubts honestly and carefully, seeking ear­ nestly for light, these doubts can be stepping stones to profound faith. KB THE KING'S BUSINESS

Before he could put his decision in to e ffe c t, God in te rvened . Joseph’s plan was natural, from a man in his position, but it was not what God wanted. So, while Joseph was sleeping one night, God sent an angel to him with a message. During Joseph's dream, he heard the angel say: “ Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:20-21). Here was the answer to Joseph’s dilemma. He had learned what he wanted to know from the only One who could tell him with certainty. Joseph’s fears were quelled. Mary was just as pure as he had believed her to be. Joseph certainly deserved this explanation for his position seemed equivocal. If Mary's child were the Son of God, then Joseph had a right to know. He needed the God who brought about the conception to assure him that the Holy Spirit, and not sin, was responsible for Mary's condition. Yet, the course still had prob­ lems. Could Joseph build a life­ long marriage on a dream which lasted only a few moments, in which he received a brief message from the angel? Could he be sure he. had not made a mistake? Joseph needed reassurance here, for he was not only asked to believe a strange story, but one that was unique. History had never known such a birth as this! Joseph was given a command: "Take Mary to thy home as thy wife." What did it mean for Joseph to obey this command? First, he would have to accept as true what was declared to him in a dream. Further, if Joseph took Mary to his home for the consummation of the marriage, would not people think that he was paternally re­ sponsible for the child? Certainly there were people around him who were likely to take a keen interest in the events of his and Mary's life. The villagers of Nazareth were 12




TREES b y Helen Frazee-Bower


F ar away on a hillside grew a forest of trees: little ones and big ones, old ones and young ones, tall ones and short ones— all grew together. When the summer days came, they laughed in the warm sun­ light, and found life good; when the spring rains splashed on their shining leaves, they laughed too, for the rain was cool and silver and lovely; when the first autumn days caused their leaves to turn to red and gold, they rejoiced in the gorgeous display of color; and when winter wrapped a blanket of snow about their bare limbs, they found life more beauti­ ful than ever, in the white, glistening stillness. The trees were very happy with life just as it was on the hillside, but sometimes, too, they spoke of changes that would come. They talked of the things they would like to do and be when they grew up— just as chil­ dren do. One little tree said, “ You know, I should like to be a baby’s cradle. I have seen people come into this forest. Sometimes they come carrying babies in their arms. I think a baby is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. When I am older, I should like to be made into a bed for a baby.” Then a second tree spoke: “ That would not please me at all. I want to be something more important than that. I think I should like to be a great ship and cross many waters. I should like to be large and DECEMBER, 1970

strong and stately. I should like to be loaded with cargoes of gold and silver and precious jewels.” The Mother Tree grew troubled. “ Pride,” she said, “ is a dangerous thing. I hope your wish will not bring you sorrow.” One little tree stood off by itself, apparently in deep reflection, but he did not speak. “ What would you like to be?” asked the Mother Tree. “ Have you no dreams for the future?” “ No dreams," he answered, “ Except to stand on a hillside and point to God. What could a tree do better than that?” The Mother Tree looked at him fondly. “ What indeed?” she said. Years passed and the trees grew up. One day men came to the forest and cut down the first little tree. “ I wonder whether I shall be made into a baby’s cradle now. I hope so. I have waited so long," he whispered. But the little tree was not made into a cradle. Instead, it was hewn into rough pieces and carelessly put together to form a manger in a stable in Bethlehem. The little tree was heartbroken. “ I do not like this at a ll!" he wailed. "This is not what I planned, to be shoved into this dark cave (for that was what the stable really was) with no one to see me but the cattle.” But God, who loves little trees, 13 * * *


f I


This is better than all my plans.” Out in the forest, on the hillside, ail the trees clapped their hands because their brother, the boat, had known the fulfillment of his dreams. Months again went by and men came once more to the forest to cut down the third little tree, the one who wanted to stand on a hill and point to God. He was unhappy. “ I do not want to go into the valley," he said. “ Why couldn't they leave me alone?” But the woodcutters did not leave him alone. They tore away his branches; they cut into his bark, deeper, deeper, right into his very heart. They sawed him apart and put him together again, in the form of a crude cross. The little tree quivered through all of its being. “ This is terrible,” he whispered. “ They are go­ ing to hang someone on me. I never wanted this to happen to me. I only wanted to point to God. I did not want to take part in a crucifixion. This is awful!” But God, Who loves little trees, said, “ Wait, I will show you something.” And He did. For: One day out­ side Jerusalem, a great multitude gathered. In their midst was Jesus, and beside Him was the cross. “ And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And when they came to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him.” The cross shuddered beneath its weight of agony and shame. Then suddenly a miracle happened. “ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.' ” The little tree that had become a cross heard, floating down from the heavenly places, the echo of a remembered promise: “ Now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up, from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” The cross began to understand. “ This is wonder­ fu l,” he whispered. "I am part of a miracle. Not one tree on the hilltop has been able to point man to God. Only the cross of Calvary can do that.” All the trees on the hillside clapped their hands and thanked God because their brother, the cross, had known fu lfill­ ment. There are no wishes worth having outside of Jesus. He will make of the stable of our heart a manger for the King; He will fill our empty vessels with the cargo of His blessing; and if you take up the cross and follow Him, He will make of you one who will point others to God. KB THE KING’S BUSINESS

whispered, “ Wait, I will show you something.” And He did. For: “ There were in the same country shepherds abid­ ing in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not: for I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shep­ herds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe, lying in a manger.” It was our own little manger. In the stillness of the night God had come down to lay His very own little Baby there. This Baby was the Son of God. The manger quivered with delight. "Oh, this is wonder­ fu l,” he whispered; "In all my dreams as a tree I never thought I'd hold a baby like this. Why, I am part of a miracle!” Out on the hillside, all the trees clapped their hands because their brother, the manger, had seen his wish come true. Years passed by, and again men came to the forest and cut down the second little tree. “ I wonder whether I shall be made into a great vessel now,” this one thought. “ I have waited so long. Now per­ haps I shall do the great things of which I have dreamed.” But the little tree did not do great things. He was made into a tiny fishing boat and fell into the hands of simple Galilean fisherman named Peter. The little boat was most unhappy. One day he stood by the shores of the Sea of Galilee and pondered, as Peter washed his nets. “ To think my life has come to this,” he said, “ Just a fishing boat! Peter is not even a great fisher­ man. He has toiled all night and has taken nothing. It would have been better to have remained in the forest.” But God, who loves little trees, said, “ Wait, I will show you something.” And He did. For out of the crowd came a Person called Jesus Who entered the little boat and taught the people. His words were of such wisdom and beauty and light that the multi­ tude listened with eagerness. He finished speaking and then told Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets again. And, lo, there were so many fish that the net broke! The little boat trembled not so much with the weight of the fish, as the weight of wonder in his heart. “ This is wonderful,” he whispered; “ In all my dreams I never thought to carry a cargo like this. Why, I am part of a miracle. 14

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