We Christians too often substitute prayer for getting in the game. Prayer is good: but when used as a substitute for obedience, it is naught but a blatant hypocrisy, a despicable Pharisaism. We need as many meetings for action as for prayer—perhaps more. Every orthodox prayer-meeting is opened by God saying to His people, “Go work today; pray that laborers be sent into My vineyard.” It is continued by the Christian’s response, “I go, Lord, whithersoever Thou sendest me, that Thy Name may be hallowed everywhere, that Thy Kingdom may come speedily, that Thy Will may be done on earth as in heaven.” But if the meeting ends in nobody going anywhere, it had better never have been held at all. Like faith, prayer without works is dead. That is why many PRAYER MEETINGS might well be styled “much cry, yet little wool.” Zerubbabel didn’t only hold prayer meetings; he went and cut down trees, and started to build. Hence God said, “From this day will I bless you.” (Haggai 2:19)
Report says that someone has re-discovered the secret of the old masters. Cannot we Christians re-discover, and put into practice, that secret of our Great Master and His former pupils—heroism? He and they saved not themselves; “they loved not their lives unto the death,” (Revelation 12:11) and so kept on saving them by losing them for Christ’s sake.
We are frittering away time and money in a multiplicity of conventions, conferences, and retreats, when the real need is to go straight and full steam into battle, with the signal for “close action” flying.
The “Vox Humana” plays too important a part in our Christian organs and organizations today. The music, whoever plays, is bound to be thin when the tops of “Instant Obedience” and “Fiery Valor” are missing or unused, and without them to play the “Lost Chord” of Heroism is an impossibility.
“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” (John 2:5) Do what? Not put treacle and spice into the soft holy vessels inside the house, but pour the Water of Life into those empty stone ones outside. Cana’s marriage feast would have ended in shame had the wine run short. Christ’s marriage feast begins only when the wine is sufficient—a blend from “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Revelation 5:9) The supply is assured, as soon as the water is poured out as Christ directed, “unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The mischief today is the reluctance of the servants to do the outside work. They all want to serve indoors, wear smart clothes, listen to the conversation, and make a terrible lot of themselves in the butler’s pantry.
Let us make a real start now—at once. For years, like Mr. Winkle1, we’ve declared we were just about to begin, and then never began at all.
[Charles Dickens; The Pickwick Papers]
We must divorce Chocolate and Disobedience, and marry Faith and Heroism.
“Who shall begin the battle?” asked the king. “Thou,” replied the prophet. And when the king and the young princes led the way, though the odds against them were terrific, they won with ridiculous ease (1 Kings 20:13-21). So, too, the Apostles led in the war of God to the uttermost parts of the earth. Likewise in the Crusades, the kings and princes led; then why not today in the crusade of Christ to evangelize the world?
God’s summons today is to the young men and woman who call themselves by the name of Christ. “New wine,” said Christ, “must be put into new bottles.” (Mark 2:22; Luke 5:38) Those superfluously-labelled and patched-up old-fashioned ones are as hopeless as the New Theology. They can’t be moved lest they burst with pride and spill the wine in the wrong place.
Listen: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions [of faith], and your old men shall dream dreams [of valorous obedience]: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath… And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:17-21) But how can they call on Him of whom they have not even heard? (Romans 10:14) Must you stay, young man? Can’t you go, young woman, and tell them? Verily we are in the last—the Laodicean stage—that of the Lukewarm Church.
Will you be to Christ the partner of His throne or a vomit-inducing emetic (Revelation 3:15-21)? A Militant or a Chocolate Christian? Will you fear or will you fight? Shall your brethren go to war and shall you sit here? When He comes, shall He find faith on the earth?
A thousand times you have admitted Christ’s
“Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.”*
Wilt thou be a miser and withhold what honor demands of thee? Wilt thou give like Ananias and Sapphira, who, pretending to give all, gave only part? (Acts 5:1-11). Possessing and enjoying the vineyard, wilt thou, like the husbandman, refuse the agreed rent? (Matthew 21:33-46).
Wilt thou fear death, or devil, or men? And wilt thou not fear shame? Some shall rise “to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)
Shall we refuse to emulate the heroes of old, or shall we accomplish the double fulfillment of those glorious words?—
“All these men of war… came with a perfect heart… to make [Jesus] king over all [the world].” (1 Chronicles 12:38) They were all “mighty men of valour for the war!” (1 Chronicles 12:25) “The least was over an hundred, and the greatest over a thousand!” (1 Chronicles 12:14) “They were not of double heart!” (1 Chronicles 12:33) Their faces “were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains” (1 Chronicles 12:8) to do their Lord’s commands! “Ye sought for [Jesus] in times past to be king over you: now then do it.” (2 Samuel 3:17-18)
Shall we not reply: “Thine are we, [Jesus], and on thy side.” (1 Chronicles 12:18) God do so to me, and more also, if as God has sworn unto Him, I do not even so to Jesus—to translate the kingdom from the house of Satan, and set up the throne of Jesus Christ over all the world (2 Samuel 3:9-10).
Come, then, let us restore the “lost chord” of Christianity—heroism—to the world, and the crown of the world to Christ. Christ Himself asks thee, “Wilt thou be a Malingerer or a Militant?”
To your knees, man, and to your Bible! Decide at once! Don’t hedge! Time flies! Cease your insults to God, quit consulting flesh and blood. Stop your lame, lying, and cowardly excuses.
Enlist! Here are your papers and oath of allegiance. Strike out one and sign the other in the presence of God and the recording angel. Note God’s endorsements underneath.
To live is Christ.
To die is gain.
I’ll be a militant.
A man of God.
A gambler for Christ.
Sign here: ____________________
Chocolate my name.
Tepidity my temperature.
A malingerer I.
A child of men.
Sign here: ____________________
God’s promises are sure in either case:
“Lo, I am with you alway.” (Matthew 28:20)
“I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)
Baptize us with the Holy Spirit, and with fire;
Cure us of all this dread plague of Sleeping Sickness,
this crazy talking in our sleep,
that even as we unceasingly pray,
Thy Name may be hallowed everywhere;
Thy Kingdom come speedily;
Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen and Amen!