It seems that some people are determined to go wrong in spite of all the efforts made by those who love them to get them to do right. This is a time of restlessness on account of the presence of deceptive spirits that are always pulling and nagging. The lack of wisdom is shown by people who separate themselves from the right and take up for the wrong. This has been a common occurrence throughout the ages. Strong men have taken the fatal step just at the time to ruin themselves forever. It is a source of grief and regret to me to read of such moves when the evidence is so clear that the wrong has been chosen instead of the right. And when I see the same or similar moves on the part of some in our own day, I fell sorry; but then I only reflect that such has been a practice from the beginning of history.
A story is told of a great and good man who had won the favor and confidence of multitudes. He had healed their sick, opened the eyes of their blind, made their lame to walk, and given them food to eat to their full. They followed Him withersoever He would go. He did them good always, and never failed them, nor did them any harm. He was speaking to them one day with the full intention of doing them good and imparting to them some special information for their benefit. At a point in His discourse when He launched out a little further than usual into the deep things of God, these same followers began to murmur, and refused to accept His doctrine and turned away, apparently in disgust. Read a few verses:
Many therefore of his disciples, when they heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
John 6:60, 66
And these were recognized as disciples of the Lord. They professed to have believed in Him. But they made a fatal mistake when they departed from the best and greatest Friend they ever had. How could they be so heartless and so foolish? But they were just foolish enough to do that very thing. They seemed to forget the good He had done them, and in their frenzy they seemed to make a regular stampede as they departed. It was such a wholesale departure that in a few moments all were gone but the twelve, and He quickly asked if they were going away too. Read again from this strange, historical sketch:
Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
John 6:67, 68
And the tragedy or horror of the whole thing was that they never came back to be with Him anymore. "The graceless wretched," someone could say, "after He had fed them when hungry, healed them when sick, showed them such kindness, pity, and love, and then walk off in that uncourteous manner! How could they be so foolish, and mean besides?" But they went away and never followed Him any more. Those who go away usually go in a similar manner, and never seem to consider the many acts of kindness bestowed upon them by those they leave so abruptly. O foolish people! They are not wise enough to stick to those best able to help them.
I wonder if John is not referring to that great company of goers when he tells of some going away because they did not properly belong to his company. Whether he meant the same ones or not, he tells of some who went away who may be properly referred to as those who go. Read, and get the words as John gives them:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
1 John 2:19
It is somewhat of a puzzle about their going away after Jesus had shown them so many proofs of His ability to do for them that which no other person could ever do. In our way of looking at it, it would be like playing the fool to leave Jesus and never follow Him any more. But it seems they were out of place, and must hurry to get away from the very best Friend in the world. Foolish, to be sure, but it is a prevailing custom for people to play the fool on certain occasions and leave, to their own hurt and eternal destruction. This is a demonstration of the depraved human nature that always acts contrary to the best good of those who go away.
Adam and Eve were driven away from their place because they had transgressed God’s command. Cain was exiled because he had murdered his brother. The children of Israel were dragged away into captivity by other nations because they transgressed God’s laws, and refused to show Him the reverence and respect that they should. Many have been driven away from their homes, business, and friends; but that is different from deliberately going away when there was no occasion for doing so. Those referred to above just went away from Jesus on their own accord, and never followed Him any more. History is silent about what became of them, except that they never returned to follow Him any more. I think this is quite serious.
Then, there is another class that undertakes to undermine other for advantage; and they always meet the fate marked out for those of that class. The proverb is true that Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. This was true with Haman; it was true with Absalom; it has been true with thousands. Haman built a gallows upon which to hang Mordecai, but was finally hang upon it himself. Absalom undertook to usurp the throne from his father David, and met his fate swinging to a limb in the woods. It is true that the fires of retribution always fall upon their victim sooner or later. Such people may go along a while, but sooner or later the vengeance of an offended God will fall upon them. A verse of Scripture may be given here as a warning. And I would rather warn before the calamity falls. Now read from Paul:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that she he also reap."
I feel exceedingly sorry for some who have gone away from us. They may sail along smoothly for a while, but the storm that will overturn their barque will overtake them sooner or later. Indeed, God never forgets. It is not in me to rejoice over the downfall of others, but rather, I am saddened when calamities come upon others for their follies and wrong doings. Really, it is more dangerous for people to even speak wrong or evil against God’s trusted children than may be believed or realized by many. And when they do evil against one or more, they had just as well expect the day of retribution to overtake them.
A story is told of a young man taking his old gray-haired father over the hill to the poorhouse. On top of the hill was a rock by the side of the road. After the team had pulled the wagon to the top of the hill, they were halted for a rest. While they rested, the old father got out of the wagon and sat on the rock. Presently his son noticed that he was weeping. The son spoke to him and tried to console him, when the old gentleman sobbed out these doleful words: "Son, I am not weeping over my lot so much as I am weeping over what is going to befall you. Many years ago I took my old father to the poorhouse, and when we arrived at this very spot I stopped my team for a rest, just as you have done today. My father got out of the wagon and sat on this very same rock and wept because I, so heartless, was taking him off to the poorhouse because he was old and in my way at the home. And now it is my turn to weep; but not for myself, because I am only reaping what I sowed. But I am weeping for you, because the same or a worse retribution will fall upon you when you become old and no one wants you about their place. Son, it is sure to come, because it is written in God’s Book that whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."
Those who go away now, go at a dangerous time, and to their own peril. People have formed a habit of going from one church to another, and they seem to think they can do the same thing and leave the Church of God. But I would have them to know that leaving the Church of God is not like leaving other churches. This is God’s sacred institution and cannot be played with just anyway. I have been endeavoring to teach this truth for years, but it seems that it has been impossible to get all the people to see it up to the present time. But more are seeing it all the time. Just recently I was told by one that had about decided to leave us that the only thing that halted the fatal step was a spirit of fear that fell so heavily over the entire being that a decision to remain was hastily reached. And that one is today happily joined, and apparently fastened to, the Church to stay.
Then, there are others that went away who have seen their mistake and begged to return, and while we were giving them consideration, and before the proper steps could be taken, something come up that robbed them of that blessedness of making a glorious and safe return. And there are still others wanting to come back – let me see if I can count some of them – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight – and I have heard of others who have expressed their regret for going away and would love to get back if they only knew how to make the first move in that direction.
I have given many favorable consideration – in fact, all that have undertaken it – but just how much reaping will have to do before they strike the fire they once had, I don’t know. But in the Church is where all true sheep belong, and we are busy now hunting them up and trying to help them back. So I will gladly extend a helping hand to all who will make the effort. In fact, we will run out to meet the prodigals when we see them coming a long ways off. We want them to come, and, in fact, we will go after them if they will give us half a chance, and let us know where they are so we can find them. We are always ready to forgive, but we always want them to be sure and stay when they come back.
Deceivings of every kind are galloping through the land to entice and draw people into their poisonous coils to destroy their usefulness. There are many ways for people to go that seem to be right (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25), but there is just one way right and safe. People are trifling with God and their souls, and multitudes are flirting with death. We must warn them; and just what we are going to do shortly to bring in the true sheep is not to be made known just yet, but plans are already being laid to do something that will startle the world. And those who are so foolish as to leave us now are surely going to miss something that they will regret. Now is rather the time for many to return to safety and to help us stage the last days’ campaign. But all who return, and all who come, will be required to promise loyalty to God and to His Church, and to those who are over them in the Lord.
As for myself, I feel like rising up in the strength of Jehovah and grappling with the powerful, galloping deceptions of the day, and wrenching from their cruel grasp every true sheep and lamb that is being carried away. As I deliver this message I think of David making his onslaught on the lion and bear to rescue the lamb. If he could risk his life to grapple with a lion and a bear just to rescue a lamb that has no soul to save, how much more should we muster up courage to grapple with every form of deception to save men and women for whom Christ died. Indeed, we are coming to the front in this game, and now is the time for people to come or be brought, instead of their going away or being driven away. Read some now and get the lesson:
And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but youth, and he a man of war from his youth.
And David said unto Saul, They servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:
And I went out after him… and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
1 Samuel 17:32-36
Now here is the picture of the bravery of David in rescuing a lamb from a lion and a bear. And since he was made strong by the power of God to rescue that lamb and slay the lion, how much more may we expect the power of God to come upon us for service in rescuing men and women for whom Christ died from the determinate rasp of Satan when he undertakes to carry them away from the true way by his subtle deceptions. I feel sometimes like leaping upon him and bearing him down and taking our sheep from him by force, as David took the lamb from the lion. And this because of the many scriptures that are favorable to this method. One of them I shall give. And as I am about to give this quotation from God’s Word as truth that this is one of the ways pointed out by our Book of rules for us to follow, that same victorious feeling comes rushing up in my breast. And such a feeling of determination overwhelms me that I feel God’s approval is surely upon me while I am delivering this message. And I know that souls are worth more than sheep. I can hardly bear for David to outdo us to save a sheep when souls are worth far more than sheep. Now read:
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference" And others save with fear , pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
I can only imagine how David felt as he ran down that shaggy lion, leaped upon him, and snatched the lamb from his mouth. But my imagination may not be far from right. I imagine a thrill of determination overwhelmed him, and he was off and after him, and on him almost before he thought what it meant. I seem to feel myself rushing into the ranks of Satan, grappling with him as I have done several times already and snatched souls out of his cruel embrace as he was swiftly carrying them away. To show that I am not expressing any unscriptural view, read further: Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
1 Timothy 4:16
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ours may not be altogether a literal fight, as was the case with David and the lion, but I regard it as far more important to rescue a soul from the mouth of Satan than to rescue a sheep from the mouth of a lion. Ours is more of a spiritual fight, perhaps, and yet it requires much literal work to deal with the man or woman whom Satan is carrying away by deceptions and his horrible chicanery. It will take much skill on our part, but God can give it to us, and will do it since now is the special time to save or retain all the sheep. Pulling them out of the fire. Snatching them from the devouring mouth of Satan and dragging them out of his traps.
O my soul seems to be on fire now with holy zeal to rescue those who have gone away for any cause. We must rescue all who have not sinned unto death. I refuse to let the devil have them. By the help of the Lord, we must rush into the fight and grab right and left, and pull precious souls out and win them and keep them for Christ and His Church. By the grace of God I want us to wage a terrific warfare against all Satanic devices and deceptions, and show the inhabitants of two worlds that we are the true people of God and determined to practice the Bible in keeping souls saved and in the Church, as well as to get them saved at the first.
Some may go away and never return. Some may have to be excluded from the Church under certain conditions, but ours is a fight to save, and not to lose any unless they have crossed the line that puts them past redemption. Now read a few verses to help us in this part of the message:
If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
1 John 5:16-17
Those who go away will surely go away to their own hurt. But in some cases we must go after them and bring them back, even if they do go away against our wishes. Deceivings are powerful, and I feel we must grapple with them and win back those who have been caught in their poison coils. It is love – that same kind of love that Jesus and Stephen possessed when they prayed for their slayers, that I think has taken possession of this messenger. And not only has it taken hold on me, but many others also, I feel.
And I feel like calling for tens of thousands of high-powered men and women to join our ranks, and help us to save the lost and keep them saved so they can be presented perfect in Christ Jesus along with the rest of us. My soul is a burning flame now, it seems, as I close this message. O help, beloved, help! There is time for but little else now, since our time to work is so short, O I am in a fix I can scarcely explain. God help me, and you , too!