Last time I preached about the church and the world, and most of you have heard me talk about the church enough to know what my concept of it is. I believe just what the Bible says. The churches are located somewhere in this world where you can find them. I have never tried to adjust myself to that universal invisible thing that everybody talks about. I have decided to leave the universal church to the One who runs the universe. I will try to get into the local situation and do the best I can here. That has been the purpose of my life. I do not see how you can adjust yourself to both of them and do very effective work. So that is the church as I understand it.
In the message that I have preached so far, I have showed the distinction between the church and the wor ld, discussing the world from the Bible viewpoint as a whole failure, a complete failure, as far as its present condition is concerned. Since sin has entered into the world, the Lord has purposed to clean the thing up and destroy it, get it out of the way and plant here again a new kind of world. I said anything that you hold on to that is of this world, you will lose because it is going to pass away. There is no chance in the world of you winning, you might as well face the facts. Now you can partake of that which is of this world to the extent that it will make you a better servant of the Lord. It is alright to buy groceries and eat, though not as much as I did for dinner, but to eat anyway. It is alright to have clothes, and to have some social life, the mixing of people in the normal intercourse of life. There are certain things that are alright, except they are temporary, just as your body is temporary and everything that deals with it. Your family is temporary, and your relationships are all temporary. Nothing will sustain after this life of these things. There are certain things you must have, but only that which is to make you a better servant of the Lord, and to better serve the purposes God has had in you while you are here. That is all He wants you to partake of. He tells you that it will not last, that your body will not last and you will not last, and nothing you have will last, and none of your relationships will last. So He is not deceiving you, but because it will not last and because nothing is permanent here, He is going to remodel this whole business and set up a new world. This is how He cleans that up.
Now the church is the other institution, and I want to put emphasis on that this time. It is the other institution, and there are only two, the church and the world. They have nothing in common as far as their ultimate purposes are concerned. They are in conflict. The world in its ethically bad sense especially, not just the temporary things we have to have along the way, but the world in its set up is what we are thinking of. Now that is in conflict with the church in every particular. As the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways above your ways. Now this is easy to see, too, these are simple facts. You are looking at things on this earth, and in a very short time on this earth, a seventy-five year span maybe. Centuries have gone by, maybe centuries are coming, but you are in here just a little way, and you raise up and get a glimpse of the world, and down you go. That is the way we are all going. We not only do not have the viewpoint needed to see things as they are, but we do not have the time to see them. If man lived to be 1,000 years old, he would not have very much sense.
Now I do not know whether you have ever thought about these foolish things or not, but we are space minded. We are not fooling around up the holler or across the hill anymore. We are out in space, and you know that it is a mighty little world you are sitting in here. It is not very big compared to the rest of those things out there. Consequently, looking at things from this position, from this earth, you are not going to get much of a glimpse of it. Did you ever think of what the world looks like to an ant? He crawls across one of those cakes you set out on a picnic, and he thinks he crossed the Rocky Mountains. But it is all in the matter of viewpoint, is it not? There is truth in that. Now if that is the way things look between you and an ant, what do you think it looks like between you and God? You can understand what He means when He says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways above your ways." You have not the viewpoint. The only way you can get the viewpoint is through God's eyes. What he says about things in His Word is the only place it is recorded that we can find what it is like. That is the only message we have from God. The man who does not see things through God's eyes does not see them in their right proportion.
We built this world out of institutionalism which sets it up around us and we are nervous because of it. I remember when we used to play baseball by the old school house. Jump across the fence as soon as they said "Recess," grab the bat and choose up. Hang on with that little finger until you get to see who was going to choose. Then we would choose up and play ball until the bell rang, and the teams were torn all to pieces. Everybody forgot about it. Next time around we had to choose up again. That was a fore-runner to baseball. That was our athletics. But now they have built an institution out of that and it is world-wide. It is big, and it is not a thing which we control, but the thing controls us. Every institution in this world is on that order. It is just like standing in Wall Street yonder and looking up at those buildings around you. They are so big and high and out of proportion that you do not know what you look like in the thing. Man has built institutions so high around him, out of a distorted mind, that he is lost in his own world. You know what distorted means: You go by one of those mirrors at Coney Island or somewhere, it will spread you out, then you move over you are slender, then you are this way and that way. Well, that is what we call distortion. Now it is out of that kind of a mind that man has built this world. It is distorted, there is nothing synchronous, nothing balanced in it, everything is out of proportion. Every institution man has built is like that, and he is jittery and nervous because of it. It will make you that way, will it not? Because of the very world man has built, he is jittery and nervous because of his own world, and he is looking for a remedy for it. They bring on the psychiatrist and the psychologist and the scientist. They get all lined up and say, "Now brother, this is the remedy for your nerves and your headaches and your troubles that have been caused by the world you have built," except those fellows are the same kind of fellows, and their remedies came out of the same kind of minds. They are as distorted as those they try to help. We are really in a fix, are we not? We are lost. Just what the Bible says, exactly. Lost.
We do not believe it is as bad as God says it is and we do not believe that God's way of fixing it is the right way, and we are trying to substitute other ways and other ideas, and we are lost in our own world. Therefore, there is nothing right about it. Not a thing. I do not care how noble they are, there is not a one of them right. The only thing that is right is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ when it is under the power of the Holy Spirit. Everything else has to pass away. That puts us in a box, does it not? Now brethren, that sounds big. You can say "Amen" to it, and realize it is high stuff, only when you get back down here to running one of those churches, you get down off the high mountain into the valley again, do you not? You say, "Well, after all, this thing is a Godly institution, it is of the Lord, etc., and we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit." But, I declare, we do not act like it. The pastor gets to trying to corral his membership, and get them all in there, and get them to working in the Spirit of the Lord, and he begins to wonder if the thing is of the world or of the Lord. He has reason to wonder about it.
We have shown now the distinction between the world and the church. God drew a ring around His church and He put it in business to do one thing. That is to draw the attention of this world to God and His ways, His way of life, and to show them that they are wrong about everything. God only is right, and they must repent and come to God to be saved. That is the message of the church. The church does not have any business in all these clubs and institutions of this world, trying to run the world, because they are going to pass away. I want you to know, brother, there will not be any meeting of the Grand So-and-So in heaven. I do not care how much their ritual says it, it will not be. Every last one of those institutions, no matter how good they are, nor how noble their purpose, nor how moral they are and how looked-up-to in this world they are, they are everyone going to miss out. There will be no enrollment there, no signet rings, no white aprons, or what have you. They will all pass away just like everything else. You just as well should face it, the people who are going to get there are going to be a redeemed people and a regenerated people, born of God and God-like. There is not going to be anyone else there.
God planted that institution right down here in this old world, and says, "Now here is what you are to do: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God." Through this imperfect institution called the church, He is going to show the ways of God, and endeavor to turn the whole mind of man from the way he is going, back to the contrary way, the God way. Brethren, that is a task that we cannot perform without God's help. We cannot do it with earthly maneuvers, with earthly efficiency. I am trying to show you that the thing is so much bigger, and so much more serious, than we ever have thought that we must prostrate ourselves before God when we come to realize it. To get a man to turn from his own blind ways to the ways of God in a world that has taught and educated and cultured him in its ways, his nature being in accord with the thing he has built, and all of him fitting into it like a glove; to get him to turn completely to God's way means he has to die and be resurrected. It is not anything short of a complete revolution of life. There is nothing you can do by adding to or fixing up or revamping. There has to be a complete death and resurrection.
Brethren, I read the other day about those people in West Virginia in that coal mine, those men dying there. Four hundred and something over yonder in Africa, and tragedies like this airplane crash, things like that. I read these things and my heart is heavy. I would go from here to Africa if I could relieve those men and get them out of there. If I could have done it, I would have done anything in the world. How desperate they are, and what I would have done. And yet, brethren, none of that is as serious as this life and death matter of lost souls that we are talking about. We cannot get that on our minds. We would respond to a world emergency that would take us from one side of the world to another, if we could, but right at our next door we are not concerned about them. I am worried about my lack of concern. I am worried about the fact that I do not understand how serious this is. This thing called the Son of God from Heaven to die on a cross, this thing that we preach about and tell all over, and over; all of it. Brother, that is serious. If it took that to save them, it is serious. If the church has that kind of a job, my, how serious we ought to be. Can you understand why I do not run a hot-coffee stand in our church? I do not know how to get myself into God's service. I do not know how to even get in the state of mind that I ought to be, let alone get other people.
There is the church and the world and we have those two things separated. We said something in the other message about the world in the church. The old devil came along and he could not stop it any other way, so he joined it. That has been his pattern ever since, joining churches. As soon as you start one he will get in if he can get in. He comes right in and if he can, he gets in the pulpit. He is in the pulpit a lot today in many churches. The emphasis for this time is the church in the world. The first thing I will consider is, what is God's objective. What is God's objective? Now if you can understand what God's objective is, you can understand what our objective is because that is what He wants us to do and what He is trying to do.
I raise this question: Is God's objective to save the world? That is what some brethren are doing, are they not? They are trying to save the world. I heard some of my dear Southern Baptist friends the other day say, "We cannot take the world for Christ if we do not do so-and-so and so-and-so." I do not think they are going to do it even if they do so-and-so. But they think if they can get everybody to do so-and-so, that will do it. When they started raising $75,000,000 back yonder in 1917 or along in there somewhere, about when I started to preach at age 18 maybe, I went out and took what their literature said. I said, "Brethren, if we can raise $75,000,000 we can take the world for Christ." Seventy- five million is just a tip now, is it not? That was before Roosevelt came in. We did not know anything about money then. Seventy-five million, and that campaign started in Atlanta, and it was of God. They said it was, and I said it was, too, because they said it was. We ended up with $92,000,000 subscribed, and collected $53,000,000. Somebody played short on that one. Seventy-five million dollars. They sent a boatload of 100 missionaries out during that time, and everybody waved and hollered and screamed and said, "We are going to take the world for Christ," and I thought we about had the world taken. Up there at Mash Fork we were doing pretty well. Not too many people in there to take, anyway. Brethren, I will tell you it is amazing how ignorant you can be. You do not realize how ignorant you can be. I did not know the world was so big and there were so many people in it. And I did not know they were going to act like they did. Here I have been preaching 43 years and seems like they are not impressed.
What is God's objective? Is it to save the world? Somebody says, "Well now, John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' Does not that mean He is trying?" Brother, that is the hardest Scr1pture in the world to get people to see. All that says is that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should be saved and not perish. That does not mean you have to be a hyper-Calvinist to believe that. It just says that Jesus died to keep them that believe in Him from going to hell. That is what it says. In comparison, the rest of them are going to perish. That is Scripture, is it not? And yet you hear people refer to that like that has the whole thing sewed up. "Just preach John 3 :16 and you will get the whole business." That does not have anything to do with it, it is clear out of the line. It is good for what it says. So I do not know whether He is going to try to save the world, or not. Now I know one thing: He is going to destroy it. Like sometimes when you hear people say, "Well, you have to live, do you not?" No, you do not have to live, get that out of your head. But we do have to die, I know that. I am not here to tell you that God is trying to save the whole world, but I will tell you one thing: He is going to destroy it. I know that.
I do not know whether you do these things or not, I reckon you do and I ought not to presume that you are ignorant. Sometimes you find people just do not think about these things. Did you ever trace God's work from Adam on down, and see what is going on? I am sure some of you have not. From Adam to the flood, it does not seem like God is worried about saving anybody much. There is no evangelistic program, there are not any preachers. You find a fellow like Enoch and Peleg and some of those fellows. From Methuselah on down to Noah you have a straight line down through there. But there is Cain and all his civilization out yonder, a big modern civilization before the flood, even had make-up, fingernail polish, all that kind of stuff. Music, they do not tell about that much in the Scripture. Had a wonderful civilization. Farms and agriculture, and cities and all that, and they were all lost as far as God says anything about it. You have a straight line of folks that were in the holy line of God's purpose, but outside of that, there is not anybody saved as far as I know, nor any effort made to save them. All those generations before the flood, we have Noah and his family, eight souls out of it. I do not know how many were saved back there, but as far as the Bible is concerned, you have just a line of people bringing down the holy line. That is all right. They were long lived and jumped from one to another with 6, 7, or 8 hundred years. We do not have many like that.
After the flood, Noah and his sons land upon Mount Aarat and get down around the east I reckon, according to the Bible. They carne into the Medo-Persian area, and carne into the land of Babylon, the Tigris and Euphrates valley, and settled there. About ten generations down from Noah you find Abraham and his father Terah in idolatry over there. Then God calls Abraham out. No co-operative program yet, no evangelistic campaign going on, no simultaneous anything. There they are, thousands of thousands and millions of people all over the country. I do not know what God is doing for them, but there is no preaching effort to save those people. He calls Abraham out and he goes over to Haran northwest of Damascus, then following his father's death he moves down to Shechem down near Jerusalem. Stays there a while, then goes down into Egypt and tells a lie about his wife, then comes back up to Shechem again. Then over to Bethel and he stays there a while. He and Lot separate, then he meanders back and forth from Beersheba to Mamre, and all through there. He dies and leaves his offspring, Isaac. Then Isaac's story, and Jacob, and the twelve sons, then down in Egypt 400 years, back up to the promised land with Moses, Joshua and Caleb and all that long story, then the period of the judges. No simultaneous campaign yet, no co-operative program. I am not trying to be funny, I am trying to impress you by comparison. Brethren, the prophets carne along and most of what they preached was doom. Talk about a fellow with a negative complex, they were born with it. All the psychology that I can find in there was, "Boys, God is against you." I do not know what to say about it.
It is ridiculous when you get to thinking about it, how we splurge on things we do not know much about. I know they preached salvation. All this was in the types and shadows, and it always was preached in the seriousness of the prophets messages. But the balance of the message was against Israel. Finally Israel plays out, the kingdom is divided, they go into captivity, and there they live under the Babylonians and Assyrians. Then under the Medes and Persians, then under the Greeks, then the Romans. Four world-governments ruling over them, all that gap of four hundred years during the time between the Testaments, and no evangelistic program yet. No zealous preaching to save men and no command to Israel to go out and save men, but a command to stay separate from them. Brethren, when I get to reading the Bible from that viewpoint, I do not know hardly what to make of it. We are reared on the idea that God is trying, just reaching out with desperation to get everybody He can grasp and save, as if the boat is sinking. There He fooled around for almost 4,000 years and never even got worried about it. Now that is not hardshellism, that is astounding! I am not trying to justify laziness in the preaching of the Gospel. I believe, in the Gospel. I believe that all the people who are going to get saved have to believe the Gospel, but brethren, let me tell you something: that worries me, that section of the Bible does. Then He comes down to the days of the Messiah, and the Jews, the very people He has chosen, are blacked out, blinded. They do not see the thing at all, they cannot even recognize the Christ they have been hollering about all those years. He turns to the Gentiles after He picked up a few Jews, plants the church out here and says, "Now we are going to callout a people for Our Name." I reckon that is what it means, that is what it seems to say; call out a people for His Name. I will not say I am doing everything I can, but reasonably speaking, I am doing everything I can to propagate the Gospel, and to bring everyone under its power and persuasion that I can. I believe in it.
The whole thing seems to have changed. Brethren, do not think God does not use means and methods, He does. He planted a church in Jerusalem and a preacher got up there and preached the Gospel and men cried out under the conviction of the Spirit. There was exhortation and conversation between the congregation and the preacher when they said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" And he told them what to do and then with many other words did he exhort them and say, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." As long as he can do that I can do that, I can persuade men to be saved. That has nothing to do with the sovereignty of God. The fact that God uses you and me, to reach lost men has nothing to do with the sovereignty of God. That is His sovereignty, that is the way He is sovereign. It does not matter whether you sing two verses of the invitation, or three verses, or four songs of the invitation. If you want to use an invitation or whatever, the Scripture does not tell you what to do. It leaves you to judge under the Spirit the situation, and you are to persuade men. It is when you go to abusing the thing God does not like it, and He puts the wrecking crew in action. It is the silly things that are not right. I have seen men saved after a song of invitation has been sung through, and they have had prayer, and then sing another song, and then a verse, then later than that. Somebody has been saved then.
There are a whole lot of questions that you cannot answer. Regardless of how dogmatic you are about things, if God has elected a man to salvation a million years ago or a thousand years or whenever it was He chose him, why did not He save him when he was 10 years old instead of when he is 60? There are just a lot of things we do not know. Most of us act like that fellow in Job who seemed to know all about the ways of God. We are experts on how God works. Just as sure as a fellow starts out that way, he will get tripped out somewhere because God does not work that way every time. He works that way once, then He works some other way. He saved my brother while he was out plowing corn in the field in Kentucky, and he saved me while I was down there at what they call a mourners bench; although we would not call it a mourners bench. I was down there praying for the Lord to save me, let me through a little darkness into the light. I got through, and though the holiness brethren could have said I "prayed through," I prayed and I got through, but I did not pray through. The Lord just chooses, He does as He wants to, but brethren, He uses means. He uses the means of your body and your testimony and He uses whatever means He wants to. Just as soon as you think you have Him strapped down and categorized and fixed up until you think you know exactly how He does it, He will turn around and do it some way you never thought about, and leave you sitting there flat.
What are we going to do in this day now that we have come to? Here is the problem. We have been all over the history and I have given you a glimpse of things that you know about, but what are we going to do in this time? We are building churches, are we not? Building churches. We are in the "success" era. The man who gets the most is a success. Well, I am not saying that is wrong, but I bring out now the problem: Is that the right way? Well now, the Scriptures justify numbers. On the day of Pentecost there were 3,000 saved, and then they say again, the Word of God prospered there and many were added, and a multitude were added, etc. Many believed, etc. There is not anything wrong with that, is there? That is good numbers, and the Bible seems to show that the success of the gospel is interpreted in how many people came. There is some basis for that, but that is not the only thing. Everyone of those fellows were kicked out of this world, including the Lord Himself. They did not go down as the great popular evangelists of this day do. So you have contradictory things there, do you not? You can go on down through the ages and the people that we call ancestors, and the people we like to claim kin to back through the ages, were the people who were kicked out the back door. The popular crowd which formed the Roman Catholic church and its satellites we do not like to claim kin to. We want a more rugged background, and that is the boys who did not register. We think that is it, and yet we turn right around when the morning comes that our congregation pops up there to about 50 or 60 more than we had last winter, and we say, "Boy, this was a great day, was it not?" Feel better and preach better and everything. Numbers count, do they not? Do not think they do not count with me, too. Two weeks ago, that cold, snowy day, we had 70 in our congregation. Biggest congregation we ever had. We usually have 65. We talked about it. Makes you feel better. You cannot help it to save your life. I would like to have a bigger congregation. How about you? I would like to have a bigger church. I hope I do have.
Well, now that brings on some more things. We have to advertise, we have to work, we have to organize. People sit around saying, "What are you all doing?" "Just going to a meeting." Well that is alright for a little crowd, but when you get a big crowd there, they do not want to put up with that. "I like to do something. What do you want me to do?" "Well, go out there and visit and witness to somebody." "Well, now..." "Come to prayer meeting Wednesday." "Well, you know, we..." This, that, and the other excuse. "Well, what about becoming president of the certain organization?" "Oh, that would suit me just fine. I would be glad to. I want to do something." If you can make enough institutional recognitions, give everybody a place to do something so they can feel they have had a part of this big thing and they are helping out, well, then you are on the road to success. Consequently, we have patterned after the world, and we have a big, organized, business thing. Brethren, including Baptists, religion today is big business. How much money have you raised and how many people do you have? That is it. That is the test of the Rotary Club; that is the test of every corporation in this country, that is the test of every business institution there is. How many people can you engage in the thing and how much money can you report. What power do you have socially, and what recognition do you get? Now, if that is the way to build a church, that is the world's way of building things. And if those two things go together, then where is the crucifixion that we talk about? I know a girl who graduated from a college down in Texas. She is a lost girl, and a sort of an unbeliever in many ways. She said, "The thing that worries me is, that the Christians are the most popular people on the campus." We think that is good, do we not? Here is a lost girl who is worried that the Christian boys and girls are the most popular people on campus. We are all mixed up, are we not, brethren? I told you I would just raise questions, I would not answer them. We are mixed up, are we not?
Now we are up against the proposition of engaging the minds of the people. We call it "capturing their imagination" I think. Somebody was telling me this week about gadgets, gimmicks they use in church to get folk to come. In capturing their imagination they give them an apple or something. Anyway, it does not matter. Let us have a number's game of some kind. Bingo, or what have you. Get something that will capture their imagination, that is the idea. And our Southern Baptist Sunday School board pays men to work by the hour, to capture the imagination, that is what they are doing. Brethren, they are succeeding. If you want to measure religion in terms of success, go to the Southern Baptist Convention. They are successful. They are about to take the north, I understand. Is that the norm? These brethren at Pentecost and following that, they were filled with the Spirit and that is one of the things that seems to be absent with most Christians who I know. Filled with the Spirit. I can find official boards and all kind of committees and executive committees and associational committees and convention committees, and all that. I can find everything -- presidents and secretaries and enlistment men and heads of this and heads of that and everything else. All kinds of departments, but this magic filling of the Spirit has been missing somehow. And this conviction, this strong conviction that makes a man different, where is it?
I was in a hardware store this week and I had been talking to this fellow. I was building a baptistry and I wanted to get a water heater. I talked to him about it and what could we work out. He said, I "Well brother, you have come to the right man." He had been saying some words that I would not say anywhere, curse words, some pretty black, big, double syllables and some one syllable, just in his ordinary conversation. He said, "You have come to the right fellow. Why, I am supposed to know all about that." He said, "I am on the baptizing committee down at Emmanuel Baptist Church. It is my business to instruct the candidates how to act when they go into the baptistry and how to be baptized, you know. I see to the baptistry and everything. Yes, I know all about it." I said, "Well brother, you sound like somebody that ought to be baptized." He said, "What do you mean? What do you mean?" After standing there cussing for half an hour, he asked me what did I mean. Now he is one of the headmen in that church, and brethren, that is not an isolated case. That is just common. Now we have to face this. Is that the way to build a church? Take those men of influence and power in the world and their associates, bring in the boy scouts and the girl scouts, link up with all the clubs and get the influence spread. Is that the way to build it?
I am not saying what is the way to build it, I am having a problem myself. When I take the other viewpoint and do not have all those worldly things, then the people shy away like I was something queer and they do not come around. I have to have some of them, I cannot just shut the door to everybody, you have to have a few of those things, a few of them. Now, how many? That is what I want to know. I will let you have your way and grant that you have to have a few of them, but what I am after is how much and how many of them does it take to do the job? Now, you are up against that problem, are you not? You know if you go back to the thing that you read about in the Acts of the Apostles, then you are going to shut the door to most of the people that come to your church. They are not going to like it. They are not going to feel welcome, feel at home. Why, we had the biggest stir in the world down in our little church because we have a practice when anybody comes down to join the church, we do not receive them at that time. We talk it over with them. Just recognize their desire and say, "Alright, we will see," and after that we have a session with them and talk it over. We want them to know whether they want to join the church or not. They do not know whether they do until they find out what kind of folks we are, you know. After we tell them what we are like, they might not want to come in. They would be dissatisfied in there and we do not like to exclude them. So we talk it over and get both sides. "Now, do you see what we are like?" You know, folks look at us as if to say, "Why, boy, that is the queerest set in the world!" One woman came in and because we did not just receive her right off, she was in a mess, I did not want her in the church and nobody else did. She did not have any business in there, but she wanted to come in. She said, "You have to go to the court of appeals before you can get in that church." Alright, what are we going to do? I read the Bible and I go back there and say, "Well, now, those boys were just depending on one thing. Those churches in the New Testament, especially in the beginning at Jerusalem, they did not act like any of the churches we have today. They did not care whether the world pleased them or if they pleased the world. It was just a one-track mind. They were going to do just what the Lord said and let everybody like it or lump it." Well, brethren, what are we going to do? Can you do that? I cannot practice what I preach. I am having a hard time staying the way it is. And actually, I do not know any preachers that can practice what they preach. I can get up here where I am away from home and tell you about these things, but when I go back home I have the same problems that you have with what you do.
Now, the church is in the world. But yet you hear the Lord say, "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord. Touch not the unclean thing." Worldliness in the church, brethren, I do not believe is dancing and card-playing. That is sin, and I have never seen a church member in my life who had any influence who danced and played cards. I do not care what else he does, I never did see one that had any spiritual influence who danced and played cards. But listen, worldliness in the church is the world's methods of doing the Lord's work. That is what worldliness is. And I do not know what to do. I bring the problem before you.
Here is one other thing I want to say. There is a whole lot more I would like to say, but let us just bring the problem before you. We have to make a choice between the way God does it and the way the world does it. One is salvation by works, one is salvation by grace, and one is a combination of grace and works. There are three ways of running the church: One is running it like the Lord says, one is running it like the world says, and the other is a combination of the Lord and the world. That is where we are, are we not? We are trying to keep a little of the world in here and a little of the Lord. That is the way most churches today, even our best ones, are being run. Yet the way the Lord got a crowd was the Holy Spirit working in such a way as to make people wonder at the things of God, and they came to see God in action. But brethren, you are going to be disappointed now because you thought I was going to make a big point. I cannot get Him to act. I never was more devoted in my life than I am now. When I was preaching at the age 18 and 20, the Lord saved people without any effort and without much sense. But He is not doing it now with all the big sermons I have. It seemed to me you could just go down to church, start a meeting and have a revival in two or three nights, they would just roll in down there and the Lord worked. It was not because anybody was smart or anybody we had. We did not even import preachers then. But now you can whoop it up and advertise, and pray, and do everything else, and it does not seem to roll. I am in a bad spot. I have made claims that that is the way to do it, but it will not work. The other fellows are successful in their numbers racket, and I say that is not the real thing. They say, "You are just sour grapes because I don't follow you. You are just trying to make us look like worldly people out here." And it is a real problem, is it not?
Now I brought the problem. I did not answer it, but I brought the problem. The only thing I can say about it is this: It must just be that the Lord is not working now like He used to. When I read the Bible I find long gaps back through the days of the 4,000 years before Christ where He did not work, and I find long gaps since then when He did not work. Modern programs are very modern, very recent. And the great movements that we have in churches today are very recent things. The Waldenses and the Albigenses, those folds passed through a time when there was not much going on. God did not do big things. Brethren, I have just decided that I am not much of an expert on how God works. I will say this: that if God would work like I have seen Him work and like He talks about in the Scripture, you would not have any trouble getting a crowd anywhere and you would not have to feed them hot dogs to come either. They would come to see a miracle, but they are not coming to see anything but a miracle. Satan has just about produced enough miracles in this world to make everybody shockproof already. When they come they are going to come to see something more than you and I can do. It has to be something God does.
So I am thrown back on my face before God and saying, "Lord, all I can do is wait until the pillar of cloud and fire move on." Now that is disappointing, to come to the end of the sermon with that, but that is where I am. Meanwhile, I have found in all of the desolate periods of Bible history, there were some men who stood faithful even though it did not rain. And that is where I stand. God bless you. ===========
[From The Message of Grace, Grace Baptist Church, Fairborn, OH, 1981. This sermon was delivered at Grace Baptist Church in 1960.]
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