Beware, Ye Tinkers!

Like us, it could seem that Paul in his humanity, too, had to defeat the occasional demons of doubt. Thankfully, his efforts to encourage himself in the Lord inspired him to write words that have given encouragement to the saints of all ages since.

In his ruminations, Paul was made aware of the uselessness, folly, and sheer futility of all his suffering—in his own eyes, and the eyes of others—if there were no hereafter. Thus, with determinate effort he squarely tackled the subject, “If the dead rise not!” Thus began a torrent of reasoned words, poured from his very heart and soul, defending, explaining, and defending the exclusive Christian doctrine of the resurrection.

We can be thankful that it was the most articulate apostle, Paul, who declared, “I am set for the defense of the gospel!” As ministers of the Lord, we too, must tackle the insidious temptations of doubt, and boldly declare our position—it’s not only good and proper for our own subconscious minds to hear our mouths consciously confess truth publicly, but it steels the resolve of the saints, and sends shivers down Satan’s spine! We must never fear truth: the louder and more clearly it’s declared, the safer saints become. That which saints hear from the pulpit should never be altered in private counsel. Pastors invite unnecessary counseling sessions if saints feel they may out-debate the issue one-on-one, in private.

As has been noted on this forum, even among ourselves there seems to be a dearth of preaching the good news of Jesus’ soon return, the absolute horror of being left behind, and the preaching of a an eternal hereafter; heaven and hell in general.

We must resist the ever-present temptation, which some have already fallen prey to, to so design, organize and plan our services and pastoral preaching, that by consulting the preaching schedule, we may say, “it’s the season to preach about the rapture,” or “it’s now time to preach separation from the world,” or even just good old human relations, which carnal promotional speakers are paid well to do for many business corporations. When such is the case, I’m confident the Lord would frequently love to trash our human plans and human reasoning, to reach this, or that one lamb, who’s struggling to keep his head above the waters of doubt and temptation. It would be His will and good pleasure to reach for that one—but rigorously sticking to planned programs, we may defeat God’s purpose. We must constantly remind ourselves that seldom do the same people attend any given service, and that God alone knows the makeup and needs of those present. Let us never be afraid to trust the impulse of the Spirit—His sudden, strong and unreflective urge, or desire to act!

Many years ago, T.F. Tenney, who’s become the eminent ambassador-at-large and chief apologist for the Oneness Movement, taught a Bible class that has remained deeply embedded in my heart. He quoted the Methodist church historian, William Warren Sweet, who charted the decline of the once spiritually aggressive Methodist Church. I vividly recall the numerical order of the disturbing decline: First, there was unprecedented, uninhibited revival (called the Great Awakening). It was accompanied by deep repentance, spirited singing, shouting, and anointed preaching with an emphasis on separation from the world (holiness). Sadly, that was to be followed by Organization, then Education (Bible schools), a Professional Ministry, and finally, Stagnation. The Methodist campgrounds that were once hallowed ground, had by then become summer resorts, where dignified members camped in tents and RVs, and lolled in the sunshine by the swimming pools. Brother Tenny did a magnificent job of instilling the fear in my young heart that it could happen to us! That it is happening is unarguable. Perhaps we are at the threshold of stagnation, as we’ve already come to embrace a more educated and professional ministry…whose trust is in their intuition more than the leading of the Spirit. Let me again emphasize: don’t be afraid to trust God’s leading!

God still leads His dear children along, but can be stymied by the human tendencies to regulate, and tinker with His purpose, all the while leaning on their own understanding.

Which reminds me of an ancient clock-maker’s warning to me, “Leave the clock repair to the masters. There are untold numbers of good, long-lasting, grandfather clocks presently ‘stopped, never to run again,’ that would still be faithfully dealing out the time-of-day, but for the inquisitive minds and hands of inexperienced tinkerers.”

The eight-foot-tall clock that C.W. Shew sold me in 1975, still stands in yon corner, and it’s telling me it’s 2:18 A.M.

Good Night –DEH

Leave a Reply