He was an amazing preacher. Bob Jones, Sr. thought he was the hope for his generation in the United States of America. He conducted a city-wide meeting in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1947. I listened to a recording of a fabulous sermon that he preached there. But at the end of his life, he was dependent on alcohol and the great ministry he once had vanished. Why did he not continue?
As I write this article, there is on my desk a book entitled Fires from Many Altars. Sixteen different preachers spoke at a national Sword of the Lord conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1976. One of them got off track fighting the government and wound up having his building seized by the IRS because he would not pay taxes. Another apologized to the Pope for having opposed Catholicism. One committed suicide after having severely damaged his testimony. Two of them suffered moral failures. One stopped teaching Creation in the science classrooms of his college for his teachers to be certified to teach in public schools. Why did these once-greatly used men not continue?
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” The Bible defines the world for us in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Someone well said that the lust of the flesh is a consuming desire to do, the lust of the eyes is a consuming desire to have, and the pride of life is a consuming desire to be.
The world is desirable. It appeals to us. Eve saw that the fruit God had forbidden her to eat was “…good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). The world always looks good. But the world is deceitful. The devil never delivers what he advertises. The Bible cautions us about the “deceitfulness of riches” (Mark 4:9). No man, ever having obtained the worldly pleasures that he desires, is satisfied.
Worse yet, the world is destructive. See Adam and Eve as they are cast out of the Garden. Watch David as he weeps at the grave of the child he conceived out of wedlock. Hear the pathos in the description of Esau in Hebrews 12:17, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
The Wisdom of Men
The Bible says in Galatians 5:7, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” Note that the Apostle Paul does not say, “What hindered you?” he says “who hindered you?” I’ve never met an individual who changed from the King James Bible because of reading the Bible. He read human wisdom that caused him to depart from the preserved Word of God. No one ever limited the number of church services they conduct because of something they read in the Scripture. That came from the wisdom of men, not the wisdom of God. I am aware of no passage that would encourage us to model our music after that of the world. No, some man told us that we had to “speak the language” of the culture which included using their music.
The Bible says that false teachers are active. “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). The Bible says in Jude 3, 4, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” There are always those who will be trying, by unscriptural “wisdom,” to draw us away from truth.
The antidote to worldly wisdom is, of course, godly wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). It also says, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). I am often asked by young preachers what books I would recommend they read. While I have some I recommend, I usually encourage them to spend much time reading the Bible. I believe that many good young men have gotten off track because they spent much more time reading books about the Bible than they spent reading the Bible itself.
I am told that the ancient Chinese banking families allowed their children to play with money of all denominations from the time they were extremely young. Having known what true money was, they could always instinctively and instantly recognize that which was counterfeit.
The Bible says in 1 Kings 19:2–3, “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life….” This is almost unbelievable! After standing alone against 850 false prophets, seeing God send fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice, and having a complete victory, Elijah allows himself to become despondent because he worries about what one wicked woman threatened to do to him.
It is important to note that in the Scripture, worry is forbidden. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). When the Bible says careful it does not mean “cautious.” It means, “literally full of care.” We would say, “Don’t worry about anything.”
Worry is also foolish. After all, God has promised to provide for us. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). He has promised to protect us. “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” Psalm 34:7). And He has promised His presence “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). How foolish it is for us to allow worry to keep us from the path of God’s will for our lives!
The Bible says in Matthew 26:31–35, “Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.”
Here is a man who believes he is smarter than the Lord Jesus Christ! He argues with Jesus and tells the Lord Jesus that He is wrong. Peter’s problem was listening to his own mind and following his own will instead of submitting to the Lord Jesus.
He began by rejecting the Word of God. He relied on himself. Note the words “though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Peter was saying here that he was the best Christian in the world! Though every other person would deny the Lord, he would never do so. And, of course, Peter ended up tremendously remorseful. “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). All of us who are guilty of self-will will wind up extremely remorseful.
Over one hundred years ago, Helen Boelster, while still a teenager, was the teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Saginaw, Michigan. By the age of eighteen, convinced that God wanted her to be a missionary to India, she raised $75 a month’s support and purchased a ticket to sail to that distant land. Then her mother died. Her dad asked her to stay home and help him raise her eight siblings. She honored her father, returned her support, and cancelled her ticket. When the next sibling was old enough to take care of the children, Helen married a man named Don Stafford. They had one child, who was crippled. Shortly after that, Mr. Stafford died.
Later, she married a man named Emory Knowlton. Over the years, Helen and Emory gave birth to three boys, all of whom died. On May 14, 1929, she gave birth to twins, a boy she named William and a girl she called Winifred. William lived until July 25 then he died. Helen took her two and a half pound baby Winifred, placed her little body in a satinlined cigar box, and put the cigar box on the altar of the Parr Memorial Baptist Church in Petoskey, Michigan, where she and her husband now resided. “God,” she prayed, “You took my four sons and my husband. I’d like to give you my daughter and may there come from her those that would serve You.”
Winifred grew up to marry a young preacher boy named Don Green who for almost sixty years has pastored the Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan. There are today over thirty of her descendents in the Lord’s work. Despite all the disappointment, discouragement, and difficulty she experienced, she did not waver in her faith or weaken in her determination to serve God. She continued.