THE CROSS AND METHODS
A FRIEND OF THIS WRITER SAYS,
"A pioneer, but now retired missionary, to a land where mission work has
very largely developed on the 'educate the heathen and hope to win them
in the process' plan, told the writer that, in the early days of that work,
his mission had discussed the question whether it would preach the gospel
despite all hindrances, or whether it would build up schools, and try to
win the rising generation and through the students won to Christ seek to
evangelize the nation. The latter course was decided upon." Said
this man, "I know today, too late, that we failed and, as a result, the
gospel has been bound in that land. The other plan would have brought
persecution, perhaps even blood-shed; but that would have cleared the air
and the gospel would now have been free!"
This account sets before
us at once the great fact that the Cross must be central in our methods
as well as in our message. It is perilously easy to be
orthodox as to our message and to deny the Cross in our methods.
In our imaginations we would stand again with a hot, dusty missionary at
the grave of a fallen hero and say: "Of all plans ensuring success the
most certain is Christ's own-becoming a corn of wheat and
falling into the ground and dying." And we would pray afresh as never
before: Lord, give it to us to be so identified with the great Corn of
Wheat, that in our very method of presenting Christ, as well as in our
message about Christ, we shall set Him forth crucified before the people's
To the Corinthians, Paul
says, "We preach not our-selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." Tremendous
in-deed is the task of the preacher and witness for Christ. As an
old Scotch theologian said, "No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself
at the same time." No man can give at once the impression that he himself
is clever and Christ mighty to save. Our supreme task is to press
upon men the claims of Christ of a whole-hearted surrender and obedience.
To do so, we must create an issue, shut men up to a conclusion. They
must face life and death, heaven and hell. Their response must be
yes or no-now. We must cut from their feet a kind of no-man's-land
The Captain of our salvation
prefaced His "Go ye" with His "All authority hath been given unto me in
heaven and on earth." The gospel may seem to have lost this power.
The solution lies, however, in our be-ing consciously commissioned by the
pierced hand. As ambassadors, we must know our authority. Our
gospel has ceased to grip men's souls because we use the language of compromise.
The Spirit of Christ can anoint only the utterly uncompromising man.
An old soldier once said, "I do not want people who come to me under certain
reservations. In battle you want soldiers who fear nothing."
In enumerating his mighty
incentives to an unquenchable zeal, the great apostle named two.
He said: "Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men ... the
love of Christ constraineth us." This is the apostolic, the scriptural,
the divine order. Paul was moved by terror and by a tearful
tenderness to save perishing men. Today we need this order reestablished.
Our preaching is too lovely. It merely scratches the surface of this
unafraid generation. In the face of conditions, "as it was in the
days of Noe," men have ceased to fear. Noah was "moved with fear"
to pro-vi 'de an escape for himself and family. After many years
of census-taking in connection with our students of the first year, we
have discovered that of all the motives which move men to be saved, "fear"
alone claims sixty to seventy-five per cent. Others are moved by
desire for peace, joy, rest, deliverance, etc. Between five and ten
per cent are moved by love. However, this past term we learned that
not one in that class of over one hundred had been moved by love
to be saved. Sixty-six per cent, had been saved through fear.
Let all who seek to win souls be instructed from God's Word and from facts
rather than from twentieth century sentiment.
In another connection Paul
referred to "speaking the truth in love." Here is the same divine order,
Our first duty is not to speak lovely or to speak in love, but to speak
the truth. How? "In love." The devil would have us reverse
the order. In this same connection we forget that we are first
to love the Lord our God, before we love our neighbors. If we
love our God, we shall then speak the truth to others; and in keeping with
the second commandment, we shall speak to them "in love." Let us not offend
our God for a sup-posed love of our neighbors.