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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 7

Mrs. Wiseman (after the meeting)—As the sermon was being preached tonight, how often I wished you were there to hear it!

Mr. Wiseman—I went over and had a short talk with our pastor. I tell you he’s a level-headed man. He said those preachers ought to be stoned out of the country and I fully agreed with him.

Mrs. W.—Yes, I’ve read in the the Bible of some religious professors stoning the ministers of Christ, and it seems that such a class of people still exist. But we care not for these things. Oh, James, I must tell you—I am saved! Tonight my sins were washed away. I have peace with God. I have a heaven in my heart. I never, never thought such happiness could be enjoyed by a mortal being. Oh, how wonderful! I’m God’s child! Won’t you come and get saved?

Mr. W.—Our pastor said tonight that one of the most objectionable and harmful things about these people is that they will not acknowledge any one as being saved but themselves. I tell you, I was converted forty years ago.

Mrs. W.—The preacher’s subject tonight was, “Christians Live in a Heavenly Place.” His text was Ephesians 2:6: “And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” In the preceding verses the apostle speaks of the time when they were dead in their sins. They lived as the world lives; they fulfilled the desires of the flesh and mind. But their sins were forgiven; they were made alive; they were saved by grace; and now they sit in a heavenly place.

I have that experience. I’ve been a cold, formal professor for years, living in sin, loving the world, loving the flesh and fulfilling its desires, but, thank God! I’m saved.

Mr. W.—And now have you become so good you can’t sin any more?

Mrs. W.—Jesus who saves me is able to keep me. I could sin, but I put my trust in Him who is mighty to keep. I couldn’t sin and live in a heavenly place. Wherever heaven is, there is holiness; and as long as I live in a heavenly place, I shall necessarily live a holy life.

Mr. W.—No one can live a holy life in this world; I know too much about that. Our pastor said tonight that he had been intimately acquainted with the most devoted and God-fearing men, and that they all admitted they sinned more or less.

Mrs. W.—Though this may be true in the lives of many men who desire to live right, yet it is not the true Bible way. You’ll admit that when one becomes a Christian he is raised up to a heavenly plane.

Mr. W.—Yes, indeed; I was just as happy, when I was converted forty years ago, as you are tonight. I loved communion with God; nothing could disturb my peace. But we can’t always retain that joy and favor. We must attend to the duties of life and mingle with the world; and, as an inevitable result, we will sin more or less and have more or less care and worry. We can’t always keep that sweet peace in our souls. I know something about it. You’ll find in six months’ time you’ll be living just as you have been.

Mrs. W.—If I do, I’ll not profess to be a Christian. I believe Jesus will keep me to the end. The preacher talked tonight about the Christian life being a heavenly life, consequently a holy, sinless life. He read Titus 2:12, which says we are to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. He also read Luke 1:75, which says we should serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life—not only six months but all the days of our life. That is what I expect to do. I expect to serve my God in holiness all the days of my life.

Mr. W.—But Jesus himself said there is none good but one, and that is God. When people get to be better than Jesus Himself, they are too good for me. Those preachers of yours will never read such texts as these. They just skip about here and there and select such texts as suit them and prove what they want to prove and thus deceive the people.

Mrs. W.—You remember you said to judge not, lest we be judged? You have not heard these ministers. He did read and explain that text tonight. If you will turn to Matthew 19:16-17, you will find it.

Mr. W.—Yes, I know where it is, all right; my pastor and I were reading it tonight.

Mrs. W.—This is the explanation the preacher gave: three times the instance of this young man’s visit is given—in Matthew 19:16-17; Mark 10:17-22; and Luke 18:18-23. You’ll more readily understand this text when I read Matthew 19:17 from the Revised Version—“Why asketh thou me concerning that which is good?”RV The young man recognized that Christ was good. The instruction under which this man was brought up taught that goodness was the result of doing works of the law. He wished to know what he might do to obtain eternal life. Christ was a new teacher among them, and the zealous young man, like Nicodemus, was evidently ready to admit that Christ was “a teacher sent from God.” Christ pointed to God as the only source of goodness and of eternal life. The Jewish religion consisted of good works, but even under the law goodness did not come by works only; neither now may we become righteous by our own good works alone. God only is good. Without him we’re vile and sinful. In such a condition we can’t gain his favor, because an evil tree can’t bring forth good fruit. We must come to God and confess our sinfulness, lay ourselves at his feet perfectly helpless and unworthy. Through the worthy name of Jesus he’ll forgive our sins, cleanse them away, and come into the heart. When we have God dwelling in our hearts, we have his goodness in us. Then we’re good—not of ourselves, but we have God’s goodness in us. That’s what Jesus meant. None are good of themselves, but we can be good in God’s goodness. Isn’t that very plain?

Mr. W.—Oh, they can explain everything to their notion, but it doesn’t change my opinion any. I have a right to my opinion. “As a man believes, so he shall be saved,” the Bible says.

Mrs. W.—Where does the Bible say any such thing as that?

Mr. W.—I can’t tell you just where; I’m not supposed to know where every text is, but it’s in the Bible. You know we’ve always heard that.

Mrs. W.—I’m afraid, dear, we’ve heard some things that were not true. I’m sure there is no such text in the Bible. But this is what the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”* () Nowhere does it say, “As you believe, so shall you be saved.” The Bible says also, “They shall believe a lie” and “be damned.”* (2 Thessalonians 2:11) We should be careful what we believe.

Mr. W.—Well, the Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”* (1 John 1:8) That is a text they can’t get around.

Mrs. W.—That is one of the texts I said we would get these ministers to explain when they come. The minister read and explained that text to us tonight. I can’t make it as plain and simple as he did, but I’ll bring them home to dinner with me some day, and they can explain it to you.

Mr. W.—Bring them to dinner! Don’t you do such a thing. This house is mine, and they shan’t set their feet in it. If you’re going to go with them, you can go, but don’t you bring them here if you want to avoid trouble.

Mrs. W.—I don’t mean to give you any offense, James. Of course, I won’t bring them if you don’t wish them to come. They won’t go where they’re not wanted.

Mr. W.—They won’t come here, then. I have no dinner for any such peace-disturbers. They go about tearing down churches and turning things upside down, and I want them to stay away from me.

Mrs. W.—Very well, dear; I will explain the text as best I can, and I think I remember his teaching quite clearly. Let us open our Bibles to the first chapter of 1 John. In the first verse of this chapter he is talking about Jesus. He calls him the “Word of life.” He had both seen and heard this “Word of life,” and now he says, “[Him] declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” There were many people in those days who believed in God, but did not believe in Jesus as the Son of God. They could not have fellowship with John unless they had fellowship with Jesus and walked in the light. If they would walk in the light, that is, if they would accept Christ, then the blood of Christ would cleanse them from all sin. Sins were no longer forgiven through faith in the blood of animals. And now the eighth verse—“If we say we have no sin”—those who have not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. They may believe in God and say they have fellowship with him; but if they have not accepted the “Word of life”—Jesus, the light of the world—they’re walking in darkness and are not cleansed from sin: and if they—those who have not believed on Jesus—say they have no sin, they are yet in their sin, and they deceive themselves. In verse nine he says to them, “If we confess our sins he [Jesus] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In Christ there is freedom from sin. I found it tonight.

Mr. W.—Well, I know I’m a Christian. I admit I do things I ought not, but we all do that. No man lives who doesn’t. But I must retire. Good night.

Mrs. W.—I’m glad we can, by the help of God live in this world just as we ought to live. Husband, let us live as we ought. Jesus will help us. Good night.