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About this issue
b a c k g r o u n d
Whether you’re a subscriber or one who received this copy through the courtesy of a friend you might like to know a little of the back ground of this special issue of T h e K ing ’ s B usiness magazine. This is our Fourth Annual Issue setting forth the claims of the Christian faith. We have found that many of our readers and their friends have a genuine desire for such a special issue of the magazine. We believe tha t we dare not take the Christian faith for granted whether we have embraced it or not. We owe it to ourselves to examine the record firsthand. We believe this special issue will give each of you such a chance. The publisher. T h e K ing ’ s B usiness magazine has been published by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles since 1910. The Institute (made up of four separate schools including a liberal arts college) was founded in 1908 by T. C. Horton and Lyman Stewart. Stewart was also founder and president of the Union Oil Company. The school is non-denomina- tional serving all the great Protestant denominations plus independent churches. The editors. The editors and writers for this issue represent a wide cross section of church backgrounds: Independent, Baptist, Congregational, Episcopal, Brethren, Church of England, Pentecostal, Presbyterian. All the editors and assistants are college trained (Los Angeles State; Univ. of Calif., Berkeley; UCLA; Wheaton; New York Univ.; Northwestern Univ.) and strive to present objective fact as free from personal bias as possible.
The King's Business
^ J r i j m n ô 'M o u o C t r y n i By Phil Kerr
^ testimony (Qod’i
• • • - - yeaU w ithout tni^ony , Gingie an n u ity M ‘ 4907-1958
LOVE FOUND A WAY Words by Avis B. Christiansen Music by Harry Dixon Loes
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I oes writes: “Many of my ideas for songs came from hearing Paul Rader preach. One Sunday night (1915) I heard him preach in the old Moody Church in Chicago on John 3:16. He emphasized the fact that man was steeped in sin, that God had endeav ored to find some way to bring him back to Himself, and that ‘love found a Way’ and ‘that Way was God’s only Son, willing to die on Calvary to bring men back into fellowship with the Father.’ “The phrase ‘love found a Way’ struck me immediately as a good sug gestion for a song. I jotted the pitches on a piece of paper and a few lyric suggestions for the chorus. Later the complete music, with the lyric sug gestions, was sent to Mrs. Avis Bur- geson Christiansen in Chicago. She wrote the stanzas and completed the chorus.” Harry Dixon Loes, a native of Michigan, graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 1915 and entered the evangelistic field. In 1927 he be came musical director of the First Baptist Church in Okmulgee, Okla., a position which he resigned in 1939 to accept an appointment to the music staff of Moody Bible Institute. His well-known c o m p o s it io n s include “Everybody Ought to Love Jesus,” “All Things in Jesus I Find” and “Love Found a Way.” Avis B. Christiansen was bom in Chicago. Her Christian song-writing began one Sunday in 1915 when she heard one of Loes’ songs, “A ll Things in Jesus I Find.” Since that time, in collaboration with Loes and others, she has produced hundreds of hymn- poems, including “It Is Glory Just to Walk With Him,” “Jesus Has Lifted Me,” “Precious Hiding Place” and | “Believe On the Lord Jesus Christ.” WILSON'S DICTIONARY OF BIBLE TYPES By Walter L. Wilson, M.D., D.D. Amazing! Describes 4739 Types under 115/ Headings. Unfolding the meaning of Types in the human and celestial king- doms. A book for all Christians. 519 1 pages ................................................. $6.95 i DUNHAM Publishing Co., Findlay, Ohio j
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• Heart searching ^«messages • Thrilling testi- monies • Outstanding features * Inspiring music
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A publication of the Bible Institute o f Los Angeles, Inc. Louis T. Talbot, Chancellor
Pre-Millennial? Post-Millennial? Are you puzzled? Are you bewil dered? Is your face turned into pale ness at the sight of a world in col lapse? Jeremiah says, “Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?” Jer. 30:6, Are you pre- or are you post-? Do you know the difference? Are you prepared for the hydrogen bomb? Are you ready for mass destruction? Is the smash-up of civilization “just around the corner”? Is there a way out? We think we have the answer; at least we hope it will be the answer to these questions. We want to send you facts on which you may reach yoUr own conclusions. We want also to show you that the crisis hours of the days ahead require an immediate and intensive gospelization of Israel. So, if you will send us one dollar, we will mail you promptly the fol lowing supplies: - if That great scholar, Dr. Frank S. Weston’s tract, “Pre- or Post-Millennialism, Does It Matter?” 2. A copy of our tract, “A To morrow for the Jews.” 3. A copy of “A Modem Mis sionary to an Ancient People.” 4. One year’s subscription to THE CHOSEN PEOPLE, our noted Jewish missionary and Bible-teaching magazine. 5. Dr. Arthur Petrie’s tract, “Of the Jews.” The coupon is below and we shall be grateful if you will fill it out and mail it to us. The American Board of Missions to the Jews is a work to which your prayer fellowship is always welcomed, and a work which will bring to you much personal blessing. Try at once and see for yourself. American Board of Missions to the Jews, Inc., Dept. 8 236 W. 72nd St., New York 23, N.Y. Dear Friends: 1 long for the coming of the Prince o f Peace. Herein I enclose $1.00; send me your package, i olso joyfully en close $..................... as my fellowship with you - in your world-wide Gospel ministry to Israel.
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AUGUST, in the year of our Saviour Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-Eight
Vol. 49, No. 8
Dedicated to the spiritual development of the Christian home
A r t i c l e s FOR MEN ONLY ........................................................................................... 7 THE NEW BIRTH — Samuel M . Shoemaker ........................................ 8 A MATTER OF THE W IL L— Richard C. Halverson ..... ................. 13 HIS PERSON—-Ray C. Stedman .............................................................. 14 COME — Oswald Chambers ............ .......................................................... 15 THREE FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNTS OF LIVING CHRISTIANITY: 1. Colonel Alice V. Herron ................................................................ 16 2. Rafer Johnson .................................................................................... 18 3. Yasuko Nishimura ................................................... 20 POEM — Song for Saturday Night ........................................................... 23 FIND ME! — Eugenia Price .......................................................................... 25 THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF AGNOSTICISM — Leith Samuel ................ 26 MIDNIGHT ............... .. ................................................................................ 39 THE CONFUSED COUSIN — Dale G. Foster, M .D ................................. 40 F e a t u r e s HYMNS YOU LOVE — Phil Kerr .............................................................. 4 UNDER THE PARSONAGE ROOF — Althea S. M ille r.......................... 6 JR. KING'S BUSINESS ROUND-UP — Higgins Is My Name — Fred Cowell ........................................... 22 — Bible Puzzle ........................................... -........................................... 24 SCIENCE AND THE BIBLE — Bolton Davidheiser ................................. 36 BOOK REVIEWS — Arnold D. Ehlert ....................................................... 37
The seashore has long been a place for relaxation and meditation. The silhouetted swimmers, the long sweep of sparkling surf and the dark, wet sand give this photo universal appeal. Taken just before sunset in Southern California. Photo by Haines
S. H. SUTHERLAND: editor MARY PAGE: copy editor
LLOYD HAM ILL: managing editor EARNESTINE RITTER: editorial assist. J. RUSSELL ALLDER: business manager
JANE M. CLARK: circulation manager
NORMAN B. ROHRER: editorial-odvertising coordinator editorial board Bolton Davidheiser, Arnold D. Ehlert, Charles L. Feinberg, James O. Henry, Martha S. Hooker, Chester J. Podgett, Oran H. Smith, Gerald B. Stanton.
MANUSCRIPTS — "The King's Business" cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage to manuscripts mailed to us for consideration. Entered as second-class matter November 7, 1938, a t the Post Office o f Los An geles. California, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Acceptance for mailing at special rate of postage provided for in tne Act of February 28, 1925, em bodied in paragraph 4, section 538, P.L. and R., authorized October 1, 1918, and November 13, 1938. Printed in U.S.A. by Church Press, Glendale, California. ADDRESS: The King's Business, 558 S. Hope St., Los Angeles 17, California
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The King's Business
Cooperative Book Publisher (Author invests in 1st edition) Free to WRITERS seeking a book publisher Two fact-filled, illustrated brochures tell how to publish your book, get 40% royalties, na tional advertising, publicity and promotion. Free editorial appraisal. W rite Dept. KB 8 Exposition Press / 386 4th A v .„ n . y . 16 HONG K O N G is the GATEWAY to Asia used by The Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Inc. GOSPEL PREACHING — Emmanual Church holding regular services in English and Chinese in the heart of the colony and the Countryside. MEDICAL MINISTRY — Emmanual Clinic with two doctors and a regular staff of nurses and evangelists, treating over 1,500 monthly. PRINTED PAGE — Biola Book Room, a large evangelical book store in downtown Kowloon distributing Bibles and literature in English and Chinese. YOUTH CENTER — Recently built in the New Territories. Primary and Evening Schools for factory workers and their chil dren. Summer and winter Bible Confer ences. A FOUR FOLD M INISTRY
Under the Parsonage Roof by Althea S. Miller
Y o u r B e s t Y e a r s A re J u s t A h e a d if Moody training is
TRIAL OF FAITH S uddenly Mother was aware that what she was doing in spirit she had seen a little girl do literally *— lying on the floor kicking her feet in anger and screaming in defiance. Outwardly another person could not discern the storm, unless he were particularly close in heart and pre sence. But since nothing is “hid from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,” Mother was acutely aware that Christ knew her heart. She knew her Father understood the weaknesses of the body due to the pressures of much work and what seemed to he unending responsibilities. Yet her inner heart realized she need not, she dare not go to pieces. She must not ignore the fact that rebellion is sin and worry is unbelief in action. Was not the great God of her sal vation putting her through the fire for needed further refinement? Per haps the “fruit of the Spirit,” that gem of many facets (Gal. 5:22, 23) was not maturing because of unfav orable climate or soil. No matter what His reasons, this mother of nine admitted she had no right to question the one who loved her unto death. Now the extra physi cal labor, the shock of Ardyth’s fall which broke every bone in her arm, the extra care arising from such a break, Daddy’s prolonged absence over the summer doing graduate work: all of these fitted into the pic ture as Mother’s heart bowed peni tently asking forgiveness for her re bellious questionings. As is usual in every time of need, the Word swept over Mother’s sore heart in refreshing waves. She has been “begotten . . . unto a lively hope . . . to an inheritance incorruptible . . . , though now for a season, . . . [she is] in heaviness through mani fold temptations” (1 Pet. 1:3,4, 6). Is there a purpose in all this “heav iness,” this grief? Ah, yes. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love . . .” (1 Pet. 1:7,8). How much do I long to love Thee, my Lord? Let it be to any extent which w ill mold me into the image of Thy dear Son.
At Moody Bible Institute, you can choose from eight basic courses to prepare for a life of Christian service: G e n e ra l B ib le P a s to rs M issio n a ry C h r is tia n E d u c a tio n C h r is tia n E d u c a tio n -M u s ic S a c re d M u sic Jew ish M ission s M issio n a ry T e c h n ic a l Moody’s location in the heart of Chicago means abundant opportunity for part- time work and for practical Christian experience. Tuition is free, too, because of the gifts of thousands of God’s people who want you to have MBI training. Because of Moody’s sound academic standards, many colleges and univer sities allow liberal transfer of credit for work taken. Write today for more information about your best years . . . a t Moody Bible Institute. IN TERD EN O M IN A TIO N A L . . . EVANGELICAL Moody B ib le Institute 820 N. LaSalle Street • Chicago 10, Illinois Dr. William Culbertson, president I Dr. S. Maxwell Coder, dean Accredited by Accrediting Association of Bible Institutes and Bible Colleges Dept. K-58-255 | □.Please send me your latest catalog and pictorial booklet, “Life at Moody.”
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A for-men-only feature dealing with basic Christianity/by Lloyd Hamill
Morals & Habits
"This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” Some very honest men I’ve talked to fall into the category of answering life’s important questions for themselves. In fact most people do. There’s nothing unusual or odd about it. And for the most part folks who do this do not mean it to be a slap at God. On the contrary they are only seeking an adequate solution to questions that need answer ing if we are to have peace of mind and heart. But if there is a God this is a dangerous game. In the Bible God gives very definite answers to every important question for this life and the life hereafter. Since He has given the answers why won’t we follow them instead of going our own way? I don’t know. But perhaps here’s a clue. Over and over again I hear wonderful people say: "So and so is a loudly professed Christian and I happen to know how he lives. I don’t care for hypocrisy like that. God knows my heart. I’ve deter mined to follow an honest life that God—who is love—will recognize.” That’s a commendable position. But deathly dangerous. First of all the professed Christian whose life is shoddy isn’t giving you the answers to life’s questions. This person is merely repeating to you what the Bible says. Your quar rel isn’t with some very human, very fallible professed Christian—your quarrel is with God. God didn’t say that man was to work out a good code to be pleasing in His sight. The good men who have tried this eventually must recall God’s judgment: "This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” Here is what God says. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not . . . Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” This from the Gospel of St. John. The issue would seem fairly clear. We can 1) walk by our own light and thereby bring God’s displeasure upon us or 2) we can follow Jesus Christ who emphatically claimed to be the light of the world and thereby be freely accepted by God. You and only you can make the choice. You and only you will be affected by that choice. END.
■ hat rather worn-out saying about a stupid question de serving a stupid answer took on added meaning for me one day last week. My wife and I just recently had our first child (boy) and we decided my life insurance needed to be increased somewhat. We called Carleton Anderson, a friend of ours from the Los Angeles Mission Covenant Church, and he sent out one of his insurance salesmen. We picked out a policy that suited our needs and the salesman made an appointment for my physical examination. At the doctor’s office I was handed an 8 54 by 14-inch questionnaire crammed with what one would expect. Or almost with what one would expect. One question really gave me a chuckle. The question went like this: "Are your habits and morals moderate?” I did a fast double-take. Frankly I have no idea why a question so obviously unrealistic should be included on a medical questionnaire by the 12th largest insurance company in America. To say that a question like that is rather subjective is putting it as mild as an ad writer’s claims for certain cigarettes. Since all the questions had to be answered I wrote: "That depends on who is the judge.” What are moderate habits and morals? Whose standard are we using? It’s immoderate to some folks to drink a single cup of coffee. It’s at this very point that many people have trouble with the Christian faith. This life and the hereafter bring some very real questions before each of us. Who am 1? Why am I here? Where am 1 going? Is each man to answer these and other important life questions by his own standards? Or by his neighbor’s? I don’t think so. If we were to do this our answer would be as invalid as any answer given to our insurance question. It’s a little galling for a man’s ego to take, but actually there are some questions in life for which his own answers—however honest—are not valid. In the overall scheme of life it would have been pretty stupid for me to have answered "yes” or "no” to that question on the insurance form. I’m hardly the one that sets the standard for habits and morals. In the Old Testament of the Bible God had something to say about a situation like this. He said (as recorded in Isaiah, chapter 50): "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” The picture here is that man, instead of coming to God for light on the basic question of life, has built his own fire. Man is writing his own answers. And it would seem that God takes a rather dim view of man’s initiative is this field:
The King's Business
By Samuel M. Shoemaker
HOW TO BECOMI
TTow does a person get started on a genuine Chris- ^ -Mian experience? We have seen enough of people for whom religion is just tradition or just ceremony. We have been too long like that ourselves. How can we move out of that into spiritual reality? If we can get the question of “how” answered for people, we shall have them halfway in it already. The first thing is to come in touch with religion where it is vital, where power is being generated and released. One of the reasons why religion has been a strong factor in Yale University is that for many years there has been a place called the Yale Hope Mission, where needy men get converted. Something happens. In some churches it seems as if no th in g ever happens. If it did, somebody would stand up and try to quiet it down. What chance has God got in a place like that? But go to an Alcoholics Anony mous meeting, or join my friend Ralston Young, Red Cap 42, in Grand Central Station, New York, when he is having one of his noon meetings in an empty car on Track 13, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fri days, and you will see religion at work, religion as power and joy and adventure. The second thing is to acknowledge your own need. You can’t just walk into the 15th story of a building: you have to remember you are on ground level and need to climb up. If you think you are pretty good as you are, then you will stay as you are. If you are dissatisfied with yourself—not with other people, nor with life and the world, but with your self—you run a chance of getting somewhere. In proportion to your sense of conscious need you will seek an adequate answer. Christ is adequate all right, but He never can do much for the self-satisfied. If you come by a good old red-hot conviction of sin, it will do you more good than all the little soft religious reading you will ever get out of some of the comfortable counsel that comes in promised booklets offered over the radio. We need a gospel that speaks to our condition. We are sinners, as men have always been—hot fiction sinners, not pro forma sinners, but real sinners, away from God, estranged from Him by our own disobe dience and rebellion. Ask yourself how much of your deep, inner, invisible private life is taken up with sex, with ego-satisfaction or the pursuit of sheer physical comfort. When have you helped anyone find Christ?
Let a man or woman honestly answer that, and then go on pretending he or she is not in any need of reformation or redemption! The desperation of our world is the reflection of our desperate inner need. The third thing is to make a definite Christian decision. There are two parts to Christian conversion; there is God’s part, and there is our part. You some times hear it said that “religion is what a man does with his solitude.” But that is not true if he is a Christian: for then religion is not what man does with his solitude, but what God does with man’s self estrangement. He has already made the great move in our direction. He came in Christ. Christ remains His standing invitation to the world. Christ was God’s first move toward us in our es trangement from Him. Whenever anybody finds God and becomes a real Christian most of the work is done from God’s side. No man can redeem him self. No man can make a cross of his own that saves him. The divine initiative comes first. “By grace are ye saved through faith.” That verse says it all. It is grace, not gumption or glands or goodness that saves us. But grace saves “through faith.” Grace is God’s part. Faith is man’s part. What is faith? Well, what is faith in a person? You have faith in a doctor, that when he puts you under an anaesthetic and cuts into your body he will do the wise and right thing. You have faith in a lawyer, that you can commit your case to him and he will handle it wisely and well. Faith is a belief in someone’s integrity and ca pacity. You can trust him. Faith in God is like that. It has intellectual factors in it, but it also has in it a preponderence of loyalty, of confidence, of active trust. Sometimes we think faith is given to some people and not to others, like an ear for music, or a striking personality. Faith is much more like falling in love, which can come to anybody. Faith does not so much de pend on my capacity to give it as on the other per- A bout the A uthor Samuel M. Shoemaker is an Episcopalian who has had a wide min istry as a missionary, pastor and writer. This article is included in "How to Become a C hristian cop yrigh t, 1953, by Harper & Brothers, N .Y., and used by permission.
À CHRISTIAN son’s capacity to arouse it. It is like admiration: I can’t just will to admire someone, but if he or she is admirable, neither can I withhold my admiration. It is just so with faith. It is my belief that nobody can stay around our Lord Jesus Christ very long without coming to believe in Him. The faith is mine, but it is provoked by Him. Faith is my response to Him. We must make a distinction between “faith” and “the faith,” “The faith” is the whole of that body of revealed truth that has come to us in the Christian revelation. Don’t try to start with this—if you do, you will get spiritual indigestion. Start with faith in Christ; and through Christ your mind will be led and widened out into the vast, rich truths that He taught and the Church has taught in His Name. Don’t try at first to understand all the intricacies of the doc trine of the Holy Trinity, or some of the other things in the creed that trouble you.
begin with what you do believe. You believe Jesus was the best man that ever lived. Then you are perfectly safe in trying to live as nearly as possible the way He lived. You hear Him say, “Be ye there fore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” You find that is easy to say, and very hard to do. You hear Jesus say, “Love your enemies,” and “Do good to them that hate you,” and the more you try to do these things, the more impossible do they become. Then one day you run across a verse that throws light on all this. Jesus says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” Your own moral strength is not enough: you need help from Him, help from on high. You need to pray. His help in prayer, His grace through the Bible and the Church, give you a strength you never had before. You find that the heart of the Christian experience is not trying to imitate Christ, but rather it is calling on Him for help. It is not something you do for Him, it is something He does for you. That takes a lot of the self-effort out of it. You see, if we try to do this Christian business in our own strength, one of two things happens: when we succeed, we get puffed up; and when we fail, we get “sunk.” Whereas when we let Christ help us with it, when we succeed, we become grateful; and when we fail, we become penitent. Faith in Christ means that we turn our selves over to Him so that all this can happen. How does anyone turn himself over to Christ? It is not an emotional upheaval, it is a decision of will. We consider our whole selves: sins, talents, hopes, fears, aspirations, potentialities—and we bring them to Christ for forgiveness or redirection. When a man asks a woman to marry him and she accepts him, it is a decision, a life-decision of the most tre mendous importance. It is so with the decision about Christ. We surrender as much of ourselves as we can to as much of Christ as we understand. The chief ele ment here is that of decision and commitment. I am shocked to find how many people in our churches have never anywhere made a decisive Christian com mitment. They oozed into church membership on a conventional kind of basis, but no one has ever ef fectively dealt with them spiritually, or helped them make a Christian decision. Such work cannot be CONTINUED
Begin with faith in Christ Himself. Once you get clear on Him, the rest will come along in its order. The whole faith is important. Many people have one or two doctrines they like and enjoy, but they do not take the whole faith. They are living in a one or two-room cabin when they might be living in a many-roomed palace. By the time some of these people who call themselves “liberal” have got through watering down the faith, there isn’t much left but a vague belief in a deity and a little bundle of moral principles. That is not the Christian religion. The faith of the Christian religion is embodied in the creeds. But you may have to work at those points one at a time, and not be able to take them all at once. You begin with “faith” and move to under standing and accepting “the faith.” We said a moment ago “begin with faith in Christ.” What do we believe about Christ? Well, I for one believe that He was and is God come in the flesh. I believe that everything in God that can mean anything to us human beings was revealed in Him. But I did not always believe that much. Many another Christian that I know could not have begun there—he had to begin where he could. He might only be able to say that he thought Jesus was the best man that ever lived, and he admired his character more than anyone else’s he ever knew and thought He had done more good for the world. All right, start there. Don’t begin with what you don’t believe;
The King's Business
How to Become a Ch ris tian continued
done en masse; it must be done individually. There is a vast leakage in our churches, people joining them after proper instruction but then somehow filtering away, like a stream-losing itself in a marsh. We shake our heads and wonder what is the matter. But the matter is not far to seek: they should, in most cases, have been converted before they were taken in. (I say in most cases, because at times people get con verted after they have come into the church, and we must not try to box the Holy Spirit.) What troubles me is the thousands, yes, tens of thousands, in our churches who have never been converted at all, and who, traveling at their present rate, never will be. People need intense individual attention. We begin the actual Christian experience when we surrender as much of ourselves as we can to as much of Christ as we understand. That is an honest, scientific approach. You do not say you be lieve something you don’t believe. You begin posi tively where you are. You may not know too much about yourself, but you recognize your sin and need, the need to be different, very different, and your in ability to change yourself. Christ may still be only the best that you know. All right—begin there. Make an act of self-surrender. Do this with another if it will help rivet it, and it very likely will. But make it. Gather up your sins and needs, put them together, bring them to Him for forgiveness and help. Commit yourself to Him in an act of dedication. This act centers in the will, not the emotions. Its reality is not to be determined by whether you see any stars or bright lights, or feel a tingle along your spine; you may and you may not—it is not important. What is important is that you let go, let go of your sins and your fears and your, inhibitions. Do not look for emotional proof, look for practical proof by the presence in your life of new power, new integration, new joy, new love for people. Jesus Christ has made the first move toward you. He has made the promises, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open unto me, I will come in . . . That is His promise. You do not need to go out and take Him by the arm and pull Him in. You need only to open the door, wide, and invite Him, and He will come in. That is His promise, and its fulfillment is the experience of millions who now know Him as their Lord and Saviour. Time was when I thought conversion was some thing for the very good or the very bad, and as I wasn’t either, I wasn’t a very good subject for it. I had been brought up in the church, and I do not remember when I was not going into the ministry. Is that conversion? Not necessarily. I thought very good people, like St. Francis, got
converted—or very bad people like St. Augustine in his early days. Present-day saints may have been converted, but I really thought they were probably always like that. And then drunks in the back streets needed it. But why good church-people? I’ll tell you why. The test of a man’s conversion is whether he has enough Christianity to get it over to other people. If he hasn’t, there is something wrong in it. I could not do that. I began lay-reading when I was 17. I used to have a small summer congregation for whom I held serv ices. Two or three men in that group met tragic experiences. Why? Partly because what I gave them was so general. There was no conversion in it. I could not get it across. I was like a Scotch friend of mine who said that while his friends could not make him drunk, he couldn’t make them sober! There was a recurrent pattern of failure—at those services, and working in army camps during the First World War. Individuals were seeking spiritual help and I could not give it to them. Their faces still haunt me. I went out to China to teach in a school in old Peking. Again, men were seeking. I should have failed them in the same way, but out there I met a man who challenged me as to whether I had ever made a full commitment of my life to Jesus Christ. He held me to it till I did it. And the very next day a Chinese businessman made his Christian decision with me. Test yourself by this: Can I get across to other people what I believe about Jesus Christ? If not, what real good am I to them, and what real good am I to Him? There are those who associate conversion with wild religious excitement. They have had enough of that in their time. Some of them seek dignified and formal churches to get away from all that. So far as goes the refusal to be intellectually honest, so far as goes identifying conversion with mere emotional arousal, so far as goes the search for a church which holds to some objective verities and not merely a lot of subjective feelings, this may be well and good. But let us be careful we do not throw out the baby with the bath water. Real religion never runs on worn tracks. Unless it makes a profound difference in life, we may be only playing with the echoes and coun terfeits of it, not the real and original thing. What I should like to see for people in my own church, is a definite spiritual conversion as the Meth odists and Baptists talk about, and then these people helped and trained and brought into the church by the ancient apostolic rite of confirmation. But there is something else I should like to see. Some people have had a definite conversion, something that shook and changed them profoundly. Then they came into the church and all this was cooled off.
Beginning as potential disciples with fire in then- hearts, they get turned into church members who just go to church and pay their subscriptions and work on a committee or two, and that is all they do. That is not all the early church did, and if it had been, you and I would not be thinking of becoming Christians today. Somebody said you mustn’t put a live chick under a dead hen. It bothers me how many Christians begin by being alive, and then get cooled down, not by losing all contact with religious life, but by being exposed to such an anemic form of it that it makes r V_^>oncerning the divinity of Jesus, C. S. Lewis puts the issues in simple, epigrammatic form. "I am trying,” he says, "to prevent anyone from saying the silly thing that people often say about Him: 'I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That’s the one thing we mustn’t say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He’d be either a lunatic I— on a level with a man who says he’s a poached egg — or else he’d be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him for a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But don’t let us come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us.” —Quoted by Samuel M. Shoemaker in "How to Become a Christian,’’ Harper & Brothers. little difference to themselves or others. There is just not much religion behind those blank, lackluster eyes, that necessity to be dragged to church, that grudging gift of perhaps one-half of one per cent of their income. Let us seek conversion, till we find it. There is grave spiritual danger in not asking whether one has ever been converted, or in not pur suing conversion until it takes place. The danger is that this Icdssez fcdre and procrastination will give such hostages to compromise, and so accustom us to the state of not being converted, that our souls will never spread their wings and rise above the half measures and actual defeats of our unconverted state. Many of us think that conversion is a process that is going on: we come to find that the process has not so much as ever started. We are like people sitting
in a railway station, and because there are shouts of stations and times of trains leaving, we think we must be on one of them going somewhere, when actually we are just sitting about in the waiting room. It has never begun at all. How about the matter of gradualness and sudden ness in conversion? Those who want conversion to be gradual compare it to growth. I would like to remind them that growth begins suddenly. It begins when the seed goes in the ground and begins both to die and to live in a new way, at the same time. There is the long period of gradual growth, but that does not take place except it be initiated somewhere. Our birth into the new life is like our birth into natural life. There is the long period of growth within the body of the mother: but conception is sudden, and birth is sudden. The idea that you are not converted, and ought to be, may come to you in a flash. It may germinate in your mind till it comes later to actual rebirth. Many people cover up their spiritual powerless ness, their unsurrendered, unconverted condition, by saying they love the quiet, steady nurture of the Episcopal church; it isn’t always taking them to a fire, or questioning whether they are converted or not. Yes, unhappily that is often true. And that is part of what keeps the Episcopal church, rich beyond al most all others in so many ways, from being the kind of spiritual force in the world that it ought to be. If anyone can speak of our communion, it is the late Archbishop William Temple. And this is what he has to say about conversion: “At first or last there must be a sharp break, a conversion or new birth or else there must be a series of conversions, but there is need for real discontinuity. Often indeed a particular con version takes a long time and is effective through a gradual process; yet even then its completion takes place at a moment, and though the transition effected in that moment may be very small yet it is in its essential nature abrupt.” If you ask what is that moment, I say unhesita tingly it is the moment of self-surrender. When we want God’s way more than our own, when we open ourselves to His divine invasion, He comes in, and the transaction is completed. William James said, “The crisis of self-surrender has always been and must always be regarded as the vital turning-point of the religious life.” What does a true conversion involve? Four things, I should say. First, a break with conscious sin, as far as we can be aware of it. Nearly every one of us knows one or two or five besetting sins that dog us always. There is perhaps a resentment that must be given up. Or there is a wrong relation that must be cleaned up. Or there is a personal plan for our lives which we have never
The King's Business
How to Become a C h ris tian continued
Communists a year. Do you think your kind of reli gion is enough to stand up against that? The Christians in a free world have got a tremendous job of per suading to do, if we are going to keep the world free. Visiting one of our great eastern universities some months ago, I met a young freshman, blue-eyed, healthy, but going through a bad patch because his girl had just thrown him over. I told him I was very sympathetic, but I believed if he could turn his disap pointment over to God and surrender it, God might be able to help him find the meaning of it, and help him to use it in understanding other people in trouble. He wanted to do this, and we had some prayer about it together. Next day he was in again, looking like a different person. He had really surrendered his sorrow and loss, and God had given him peace. Listen to this letter from him: “I wish I could put down in writing everything that is in my heart, but that is sort of impossible. Consequently you will have to read a little into what I say. Ever since that wonderful day when we were together, my life has become a sort of a picture that is constantly unfolding to me. Now I can see where I am, and, I think, where I am going. I am really and seriously thinking of becoming a min ister. Whereas before I had too many interests in a life’s work, now there is just one. The more I think about it, the more it seems to fit in with what I want and feel. Perhaps this can show you how deep this wonderful thing has gone with me. Going to church now really means something. It is hard to see how I remained cold to it in the past. The same thing has applied to the Bible. Every night when I read a little out of it, it gives me a feeling of grasping something concrete as well as spiritual. Tonight I started reading The Greatest Story Every Told. God brought this book to me which I can really understand and appre ciate. At last the answers to my questions about Jesus are beginning to come. With each page I realize more and more what a tremendous story of strength and good surrounds Him. This is truly the start of my Christian education. . . . I feel a great benevolence toward the people around me, a desire to share with them what I have found. Several times within the last few weeks I have had very gratifying talks with others on what has happened to me. It was amazing to see the old fumbling, reticent person I used to be, talking freely and saying what he meant. Words won’t convey how grateful I am.” He is a student in one of the most corrosively irre ligious universities on this continent. The education he was getting did not help him to meet life. His Christian conversion did. The conversion happened in connection with the thing that huinanly meant most to him, namely, the loss of his fiancee. God came to him right at the point of his need. He always does.
been willing to submit to God. Or there is some lie we are living or repeating. Or there is some kind of self-importance which brings everything back to its relation to us. Someone once said we take hold of God by the handle of our sins. When we let Him come in fully, He takes over those unyielded areas where self has reigned before. A young fellow was converted not long ago. The conversion revolved around letting God have the problem of his nerves, his fears about support for the future (he had practically no human means of support), and his relation to girls. They were spe cific, concrete. He handed them to God as you would pay out three one-dollar bills to a man to whom you owed them. Because the conversion was concrete, it meant something, and it stuck. Second, a provision for adequate time to be given to God daily. When a child is bom, it needs nourish ment at once and from then on. You will need at least 20 minutes to half an hour in the morning. The mind is fresher then, and a good period of prayer with God before the day begins insures a different kind of day. You will need a Bible, and some plan by which to read it. You will need some great devotional books to help you and some great experimental books about prayer, like John Baillie’s Diary of Private Prayer. But you will have to learn to say your own prayers, too, for no book covers everything in your daily life and all that needs praying for. Third, fellowship with other Christians. You are bom into a human family, and you are bom again into a spiritual family. That family is the Church. A member of a family who never stays home, and only occasionally sends a small check, is not much of a family;member. You need the sustenance of the family food and the family caring and the family responsibility. Many think they can break off a piece of faith and continue it by themselves: but they have not yet learned what Christianity is. There is no such thing as Christianity apart from the life of the Church. The spiritual life of people who try to do it all by themselves is as unnatural as a plant that grows up somewhere under a porch, or in a cellar: it is spindly and yellow and misshapen because it has not grown in the sun, as healthy plants grow. Fourth, we must begin giving away what we have, or we shall lose it. One of the first impulses after we hear a good story is to find someone to tell it to. And one of the first impulses after we have had a real Christian experience is to want to impart it to others. These people who say that their religion is too per sonal to talk about seem to me to have so little of it they haven’t got much to talk about. Falling in love is very personal, too, but did you ever see a youngster in love who didn’t want to tell you about his or her beloved? Communists make a hundred million more
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