By Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer
A COMPROMISING MINISTRY
By B. R. Jones
A divine call to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the highest honor that could be conferred upon a human intelligence, and is fraught with grave responsibilities. The eternal interests of the millions of earth's inhabitants depend upon the faithfulness of God's ambassadors.
The compromising preacher is one who does not declare the whole counsel of God, does not preach the full gospel; does not apply that gospel to the hearts of his hearers, and does not conform to it in his own life and character. Continued silence by a minister on questions of moral reformation made clear by the Scriptures, characterizes him as a time-server, a compromiser, a coward. Preachers who profess piety and indorse iniquity are an abomination altogether too common for the good of the Church and the well being of mankind. Too many preachers are controlled by a base, man-pleasing spirit; they offer no rebuke to the tide of worldliness and formality that is sweeping thousands on to endless torment. Evidently they fear to "cry aloud and spare riot" and show the people their sins.
The drift worldward is alarming. The superficial religion of the times may have breadth and polish, but it lacks depth, it lacks enduring qualities. It is as the thin veneering that soon cracks and exposes the untouched roughness beneath.
The spirit of the world is destructive to thorough gospel work, and as preachers become intoxicated with that spirit they are disqualified for the work of God. There is a false charity that allows looseness and worldliness and pride to go unreproved in the churches. The pruning knife is left out of the pulpit, open violation of covenant obligations are winked at and the preacher keeps well supplied with untempered mortar with which he does an endless amount of daubing in the most approved style, while his deluded admirers delight in "Honeyed words, smooth speeches, flowery compliments, hollow courtesies and pretended friendships." A joking, fun-loving, ease-seeking, compromising ministry has never been known to take any chances on presenting unpopular truths from the pulpit. They cry, "peace, peace," when the danger signal should be hoisted, and thus souls are permitted to go quietly down to the pit. What a record to meet in the great day!
Such a condition of things is but the natural result of tolerating a worldly spirit in the church. Aristocracy, pride, passion, idle gossiping, "foolish talking and jesting," which form so conspicuous a part in social circles cannot be indulged in or countenanced by the clergy without serious consequences. If Satan can get a foothold in the form of suppers, parties, entertainments, games, theatrical performances and such like, he will soon wedge his way in until the passion for fun and fashion will have supplanted the desire for class meetings, prayer meetings and other means of grace designed to increase the devotion and spirituality of the church.
At many religious gatherings the very atmosphere seems charged with the spirit of worldliness and compromise. Preachers perch on stilts and convert the pulpit into a stage for putting on airs and enacting dramatic scenes. Mere politeness is passed off for religion, and a compound of scientific discussions and philosophical speculations, flavored with a thin solution of "higher criticism," is substituted for the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a result, multitudes who are in darkness and indifferent to their spiritual interests, will be eternally lost, unless by some means they can be aroused from the stupor that has settled over them as a result of sitting under the preaching of an adulterated gospel. A superficial religion is in too general demand. Pure gospel truth is too searching, too exacting for the times. The ancient cry of a rebellious nation is being reiterated today: "Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits." (Isa. 30 :1).
But where is the remedy? It is an easy matter to detect the weakness and formality of a compromising ministry, but not so easy to apply an effectual remedy. There is a source of life and power and spiritual energy with which the ministry must, through some means be brought in contact. This cannot be realized simply by "greater activity" on church lines; not alone by "increasing the gifts already attained;" not merely by becoming "more enthusiastic" in church work.
1. There must be deep humiliation before the Lord; worldly alliances must be renounced; inconsistent lives must be corrected. Men are needed for the ministry whose whole souls are in the work; men who are willing to make any sacrifices necessary for the upbuilding of the Redeemer's kingdom.
2. Ministers of the apostolic type are needed -- ministers who are clear in the experience of holiness and fear not to preach it, who abide under the anointing and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are ready for the toils and stripes and hardships that such a ministry may involve. The sickly sentimentalism of the modern pulpit is exceedingly wearying to the spiritually enlightened mind. Truth, pure and scriptural, unmixed with human speculations, is the channel through which God operates.
3. The great need of the age is more preachers who keep revival fires burning, who value souls above dollars Or fame, who do not discount the emotional in religion, who "set face of steel" against demoralizing worldly amusements, and keep up the "line fence" between the church and the world. No preacher can afford to give his influence, his tame, labors or means to support any type of religion that does not bear the gospel brand of simplicity and purity. Pious dissemblers, exercised by a resistless ambition for power and promotion, may, for a time, make a show of strength and devotion, may gather their admirers around them, enlist sympathy and support, but their race is usually short, and the counterfeit when exposed is the more contemptible.
4. From want of proper leadership many churches are utterly powerless to grapple with the swelling tide of worldliness by which they are well nigh deluged. The stupidity of the clergy is astounding. Every preacher, whatever denomination he may represent, should be free indeed -- free from sin, free from worldly defilement, free from the love of honor, fame or praise, free to fellow the will of the Lord in all things. Against even "little departures" the ministry must carefully guard.
Brethren in the ministry, if you would confuse the enemy and defeat his schemes, pay no attention to his Satanic suggestions and enticements, but go forward faithfully preaching the full uncompromising gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is an ever-increasing need of such laborers. The ripening harvest demands them, the Lord of the harvest calls for them. Who will respond?