“Mine answer to them who do examine me” – 1 Corinthians 9:3
Our attention has been called by the biography of the late William Irvine, to the gospel he preached and afterward repudiated. [the “biography” was A Spiritual Fraud by Doug Parker, published in 1954] This man is said to have denounced the hired clergy synagogue system and declared himself to be the anointed of the Lord, claiming no denominational name. He gathered around him a few friends who in an effort to contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints and carry out the N.T. ministry, sold their possessions and went forth into the world, with what they called the Gospel of Jesus.
During the past 55 years, since this movement started, many in many countries have listened, believed and accepted their faith, but there has been a division among them; in fact it is now claimed this Wm. Irvine was sadly lacking morally, mentally and spiritually and as a result was rejected by his own people, went to Jerusalem in exile and died there.
Others who were instrumental in removing him from his place of authority became the leaders of this movement. It is now claimed that some of them deny ever having known him, or that what they preach is anything other than a continuation of that which the apostles preached from the beginning.
Some of us who have embraced this faith and have preached it to others are conscious of the fact that some of our leaders have been a disappointment. Some of them, in order to hold their place as overseers, have used dictatorial methods, and have resorted to purging out their “enemies”. This has resulted in a reaction and retaliation, and accusations have not only been brought against them but against what they teach and what we believe.
There is a possibility of others heading this resentment move so that we will be divided into two definite factions, and how are we to know if that would not be starting right over again to only come eventually to the same sad end. The question for us to answer is: What are we going to do?, and we may as well first take a little review before we decide that. Is there not some way that we can know if we are saved at all or not?
In answering these questions we must resort to what is written, for Jesus often did this, and He said: “It must needs be that the scripture be fulfilled”. He also said: “If any man will be a doer of the word, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or man”. Now, do we know what doctrine we have believed, and does it agree with what is written – or have we just followed cunningly devised fables? If what has been reported is true (that our faith is in men flesh and blood), we may as well conclude that our faith is in vain, and all we have done has gone for nothing.
It is true that God has always used human instrumentality to get people saved, but if we never see past that instrument, we see nothing and we get nothing. We must receive that faith which would cause us to DARE to be a Daniel, a Stephen, a Paul. These stood ALONE, and their faith was not daunted, tho no one stood with them. Daniel said: “There is a God in Heaven”. Stephen said: “I see the heaven opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”. Paul said: “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to His trust”. Let us not forget this: These men whose lives were at stake knew Him in whom they believed and also knew Him whom he had sent. This is life eternal.
What about our friends whom we have known, who have lived and died in this faith; are they lost? Because others who in times past helped them, did since get wrong? If this could be true of those who were doers of the word, then who could be saved? Who has anything to offer us? What is right? What is wrong? If we can’t put our confidence in God and His word, then the ideal life would be to get everything we can here and now, either by hook or by crook.
Man must have faith in something. The Ideological faith in the collectivist idea makes Communists capable of achievement and sacrifices that surpass normal human strength; only faith that is in no way dependent on material events can resist this ideology. This faith, this conviction, must inspire us to risk our very lives for the ultimate values of freedom, personal dignity, the lives of other men, and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. These cannot be abandoned for these are not mere worldly philosophy! We must emphasize spiritual values rather than a high standard of living and the expectation of future well-being.
We cannot but promise those who are out for money and who carry the $ sign in their eye their teaching is as ludicrous as the movie stars’ council is on how to be happily married, or as would be the instruction on how to be beautiful, by a circus clown, or freak. They whose hearts are set on being great may have gifts or talent and ability such as oratory, with nice sounding words and fair speeches, hold large audiences spellbound and get their praises, but they can never hold one true friend, for friendship is built on faith, confidence, trust and loyalty.
True friendship can not be obtained through flattery, nor can it be held through fear, or for favor, or bought for money. It is kin to love, in that it is a mutual thing. To have a friend, I must be a friend. The unnoticed wife and mother who has learned this is of more value to the world than the greatest orator or movie star who ever lived. So the church, as the Bride of Christ, must learn this lesson or all is vain. When we have learned this, then our purpose and prayers touch the heart of God and we are assured of having His favour and know that He will not let us down and in the long run we cannot lose.
We do not know what became of the man whom God used to give Paul his message; that wasn’t the all-important thing; it was the message that Paul never forgot and it was when he heard this message he got his blind eyes open. “God has chosen you, that you may see that Just One, hear the word of His mouth, know His will, and be His witness”. And when Paul was facing martyrdom, testimony was that he had been true to that heavenly vision, that is the thing that will honor God and God will honor.
We believe that Ananias was a man of honor, but God may use the most wicked men to obtain praise and honor to His name from others. At one time speaking through a dumb ass, He forbade the madness of the prophet, but neither the dumb ass nor the prophet will get any reward for speaking the word of God, though God uses it for good.
Our faith in God can be like the flag of our country; when fighting the enemy the soldiers prize that flag, to take it down means surrender—it means “I give up”. Whether it is up or down makes the difference between freedom or slavery. When men go down who were upholding the flag, others step up to take their place. So it is with men going out to the world with the gospel of Jesus; the gospel is never lost if they go down.
There is no indispensable man: God can get along very well without any of us. When I listened to the gospel, I saw that God had a plan of salvation for the sinner, a plan of worship for the Christian and a plan of service for the preacher, and it made no difference as far as right and wrong were concerned whether or not the sinner, worshipper OR PREACHER knew and did it.
I saw Jesus as the pattern and example and I knew that one example was worth a thousand arguments. I knew that I was a sinner and I knew that I should do what I could to be saved. Thru repentance, I received forgiveness, and with forgiveness came salvation which was proved by love begotten in me, for righteousness and truth—and a hate for iniquity and lies.
If those men who preached to me turned out bad and became enemies of the Truth, should I just look at them and say I have been fooled? — or should I be obedient to what I have come to see and know? It was disheartening when Benedict Arnold betrayed his country to the enemy, but the other soldiers did not lay down their arms of war and pull down the flag and give up, and they won the war without him.
They were fighting a cause that was far more important than the whole American Army and the fact had to be pointed out to them by such a man as Patrick Henry, whose words are still on the tongue of every schoolboy: “Give me liberty or give me death”, but with us, as with soldiers of war, there are always two choices and only one we can make. It is voluntary all along the way, and all we have to do to fail is nothing, just NOTHING. In eternity we will be rewarded or punished for what we have done or not done. We do not judge man’s patriotism by what he says but by what he does. So our faith in God is not judged by what we say but by what we do.
The hypocrite is the one who says but does not do. In Jesus’ day, men told Him they were Abraham’s children and (Moses’ Disciples. His reply was if they were Abraham’s children they would do as Abraham did, and if they were Moses’ Disciples) they would have believed in Him, a man like Moses, but Moses, the man in whom they “trusted” would be the one who would condemn them because they were living contrary to Moses.
We are living in days that try men’s souls, and we have among us God’s Best people and the Devil’s worst people. Everyone is known by the fruit he brings forth; we do not gather grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles, and whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. These are both laws of God and laws of nature which cannot be disregarded, and if we contribute to the delinquency of those who bear bad fruit and then complain about it, then it is like having a beam in our own eye and trying to take the mote out of theirs, and we are actually more guilty than they.
We know that the Lord established this New Test. Ministry and that it is the same ministry for the Jew and the Gentile. It is true that according to Mat. 10, Jesus sent His disciples to the Jews and He said: “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” It is also true that after His resurrection according to Mat. 28, they were sent to ALL nations and told to teach all and to observe all things that He had taught them, and this they actually did as recorded in Acts. The ministry was not changed.
These men were men who hazarded their lives for the Gospel’s sake and suffered the loss of all things. Like their master, they rode in another man’s boat, or on another man’s beast, slept in another man’s bed, ate at another man’s table. These are some of the things that made the New Test. Ministry contemptible to some men, and none of us like to hear people say that we are beggars, spongers and crazy men. So the natural tendency would be to make preaching more honorable in the sight of men and have a car, a home and things of one’s own as the other people do. Many would encourage us to do this and are ashamed of us when we don’t do it, then blame us if we get into trouble by doing it. Why was Jesus so particular about this? Did He just want to make it hard for His disciples? No, it was not that;
He wanted to see qualities worked into them that had been worked into Him by the same experience; He was perfected thru suffering, and these were the men who were eventually to be exalted, and it was necessary for them to prove they could be trusted even when the going was hard.
The story of the life of Joseph makes that very clear. Before he was exalted in Egypt, he was sold by his brethren to be a slave in Egypt. He was lied about, put in a dungeon and became a servant to criminals. Those years in Egypt were the years that prepared him for exaltation. If he had not known that, he might have later got puffed up and given up His Faith in God.
We have seen some among us who were given a little “place” and it soon went to their heads and often we have seen people who could be trusted as a farmer, merchant or laborer, who, when they were elected to some public office could no longer be trusted because pressure was brought to bear upon them that they had never known before. Of course there always have been people who would never learn no matter how they were taught, or who taught them, and there is nothing like the gospel to bring out what is in people.
There is a circular being distributed among our friends entitled “A Spiritual Fraud Exposed” naming a number of workers and stating things which (so is stated) they have done which are wrong and while we do not object to wrongness being exposed, we do object to reflections being made on what is according to scripture, the things that are assuredly believed among us. To do this would be as wrong as those are in whom we are so disappointed. There is no reason for finding fault with God and Christ and what He said and what is written by Inspiration in His book because men made a mess of it.
This letter I am writing is not an attempt to defend anything or anybody who is not of God and for all that we know, those who are named in this circular may indeed by guilty of the things which they are accused. But whether true or not, we do know that somebody is badly wrong and that a house divided against itself cannot stand, and because of this we are ashamed and embarrassed, but this is no proof that God never did speak to them or by them nor that they never had a vision in the beginning.
Many have been called to work in God’s Harvest field who once answered that call and went forth and did well for a while but when they saw what was against them and what was to be done, they folded up like an empty sack and went down, or began looking for a place where they could comfortably look on and give orders to the others still laboring, and so instead of becoming great shepherds (as they might think they are), they have become little dictators of a group.
Could it not be that these men heard God’s call and, after having responded to it and preaching His word to others (when they saw greater cost and were unwilling for it) have become castaways—and that neither they or those who believe in them realize it?
Could it be that thru the years at convention they became experts at hashing and rehashing what they got from Heaven in their early days, while we sat there and swallowed whatever they gave us and called it good?
It might not do us any harm to speculate a little further—could it not be true, as the following leaders’ believers claimed, that God did call Alex Campbell, Pastor Russell, Ballington Booth, Joseph Smith, John Daviow, Amy McPerson, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham and many others, who could have been useful to Him all their lives but because they attracted attention, were honored and obtained many followers who poured out their money to them, they got big in themselves and because they thought they were something God had to spue them out of His mouth.
The older their organizations get, the further their preachers are from what the New Test.’s were and if the preacher is not right, how can he put others right? To put it another way—How can a man lead others over a road he is not traveling?
Whether a religion is right or wrong, its ministry is its foundation. The doctrines and commandments of men must be taught by men or books which men write. They do not get them from the Bible as they claim, therefore every religion must have its own kind of preacher to preach its own particular kind of doctrine.
And because many men of many minds have many creeds of many kinds and the result is Babylon instead of Christiandom. It is not hard for us to see that Babylon is not of God (confusion) but it is hard to see that those in whom we have believed, those in whom we have trusted and have had confidence, have turned aside and have run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.
God has to let them kick us and get right down mean to us before we can catch on! If our faith and hope depended on these men, our case would be pitiful and whatever we have given them is lost. They may have control of the machine that we helped build and may crush us with it but they cannot destroy the Way nor the plan of God with it.
A man may steal another man’s car and run over him with it, but he cannot destroy the highway with it. A thief or a liar when caught will accuse the one who caught him of being the thief or liar so we can only expect such from those who have wronged some when we expose them they will be sure to accuse us of wrongdoing to them.
The prevalent idea today is that everything you do is all right so long as you don’t get caught at it. Or, if you can seem to point out that the end justifies the means. But the faith of Jesus is still upon the earth; we have with us both saints and workers who have been through the mill, who have been tested and tried and are faithful and can be trusted, and we thank God for that. If he gets any of us to Heaven, He will deserve great credit for it and while here, we will have to learn that when Jesus said FEW He did not mean MANY.
There is forgiveness for wrongdoing but no excuses for it. For to excuse sin is to justify sin, and sin justified is not sin. If there was not a righteous man upon the earth today, we still would be left without excuse before God, because of Jesus having lived a righteous life upon the earth. He was tempted in all points such as we are, yet without sin.
We today can see a repetition of what happened to the early church in the New Test. Days; there were both the true and false in the church and we know that those who kept true were the winners, tho many times it may not have seemed that way to them. So, today we are making no mistake when we tighten our hold on that which we have obtained, hold fast our confidence, and let no man take our crowns, when we get to the end of the rope, tie a knot in the end, hang on; if we keep the faith we cannot help but win, but if we lose faith, we lose all.
By Willis Crane, Worker
815 W. Wade St.,
El Reno, Okla.
Note: The writer of this letter, Willie Crane, went forth to serve in God’s harvest field about 40 years ago, still bears this testimony: “A Workman that needeth not to be ashamed”.
Kindly preserve this letter and return at your convenience to
Oliver Elsie Scott
2180 Stevenson Road
White Rock, B.C., Canada