Cracks in the Dam
By H.E. Gerald
“Many Johnstown residents worried about the dam. It seemed to start deteriorating almost from the day it was finished, and it kept springing leaks as the water ate into the earthen fill. The dam was still holding, but it was beginning to leak. One jet of water shot out 30 feet and leaped into the valley below, and water was welling through the foundation stones. The situation was hopeless. The time had come to spread the alarm. The young engineer mounted his horse and galloped toward the village of South Fork, two miles below the great earthen bulwark.
As the wall of the South Fork dam gave way, the entire lake began to move. With a tremendous rush that made the hills shake, 20 million tons of water poured out into the valley. Those who saw it happen knew that there would be no mercy for the townspeople below. The men, women and children who stood in the path of that monstrous wave were about to become the victims of one of the worst natural disasters America has ever known.” (Excerpt from The Johnstown Flood).
All that is required to bring a great dam crashing down is a few small cracks. Once the cracks show up, precautionary measures must be taken immediately to prevent disaster.
Are we now seeing those small cracks in the dam? When the “waters of error” which we resisted in the past are allowed to seep through the “dam of truth” it places the entire Church in jeopardy of a deluge.
Perhaps the most familiar words of David are found in I Samuel 17:29; “Is there not a cause?”. This famous statement speaks of four things: First, it identifies David’s position in life; Second, it reveals David’s character; Third, it explains the reason behind God’s choice of David to be king; Fourth, it declares that there was a cause behind David’s actions.
David did not hazard his life against a lion and a bear for just a few “woolies;” though in the whole scheme of things they had a certain importance. But the “cause” was greater than the “woolies.” He had been given a job by Jesse and that job had to be done well, and if that involved fighting lions and bears, then so be it.
When David was sent to inquire of the welfare of his brothers, he found a higher cause than “bread, cheese and brotherly greetings.” David heard and saw the unclean defying the clean and knew this was an affront to Jehovah God. This battle was not just brawn against brawn, but the “cause” became darkness against light; right against wrong; sin against righteousness. The “cause” demanded that someone stand up, lest the Philistines mock and defeat the people of God.
Is there not a “cause” today? Surely we have not been placed in the ministry only to deliver a little “bread, cheese and brotherly greetings.” God’s cause is greater than that. Granted, delivering bread and cheese and returning home may be easier, but the “cause” is greater than our comfort. There are some voices that are demanding to be answered. There are some cracks showing in the dam. The urgency of the hour calls for a man, a big man, a strong man, a PREACHER MAN! Oratory can’t fill the bill. This untoward generation needs preachers; “preachers of righteousness,” as was Noah. We need a “John” to come preaching in this wilderness. The immorality of this generation points us to the dangerous cracks in the dam. This immorality has seeped into the lives of our people and the time has come that we must hear from bold and fearless men, seasoned ministries both young and aged.
Young preacher look at your generation; V.D., Aids, teenage pregnancies, live-ins, perverted sex, pornography, homosexuality, violence and filth on TV and video, and rampant drug use. Not only is all this happening but society doesn’t even “blush” about it. Does this not tell you that a “song and dance” performance in the pulpit cannot change the life of one person! The day we reduce the delivery of the gospel to a pulpit “song and dance” type of performance is the day that we will lose the war.
When Cyrus defeated Sardis, he set up a deliberate policy: He forbade any Sardian to possess a weapon of war. He ordered them to wear tunics and buskins (actor’s boots instead of sandals). He ordered them to teach their sons lyre playing, singing and dancing, and retail trading. Sardis had been flabby already but the last vestige of spirit was banished from its people and they became a city of degeneration.
The gospel can never be dramatized and change society. Aimee Simple McPhearson tried it. It never worked then, it won’t work now! “A song and dance” routine that you can learn at any dance studio and a dramatization that can be learned from a drama school is not preaching! It is entertainment and entertainment never produces conviction for sins, never causes sinners to run to an altar of repentance, nor cause men to be saved. Paul’s words to Timothy are still correct, “preach the Word.” To the Corinthians, Paul said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” (II Cor. 4:5). In the preaching of the gospel, the cause is greater than the man. Romans 10:14 declares, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” And I Timothy 2:4-7 adds, “Who will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. Whereunto, I am ordained a preacher and an Apostle (I speak the truth in Christ and lie not); a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
Paul declared that he was ordained a preacher because Jesus Christ gave Himself to save sinners. Paul’s call was not “bread, cheese and greetings,” but to be a preacher of the gospel. Young minister, this generation needs bold men, unpurchasable men, men of absolute honesty and integrity, men of verity, convictions and standards. If we are to have results and produce New Testament Christians, we must have New Testament Preaching!
Through the “crack in the dam” the charismatic attitude has seeped in and swept whole assemblies away. Jude 4 says, “There are certain men crept in unawares.” Not only have these men “crept in,” but their doctrines have also “crept in.” According to Strong’s, “crept in” means; to settle in alongside or lodge stealthily. The charismatic spirit has crept in and settled in our midst and made us to feel as if “holiness” is a dirty word. Holiness is not a matter of opinion or option. We did not inherit our holiness from the 19th Century Methodist or Baptist. Holiness came from God! Standards do not hold us down, but rather standards are like the string on a kite, they hold us up!
We understand at least two things by I Peter 1:16 (“Be ye holy, for I am holy.”); First, Holiness came from God and second, holiness is a law or commandment. Peter is quoting directly from Leviticus 11. So holiness is not just a word, it is a condition or state of being.
Holiness says; black is black; white is white; and that gray is not almost white. Holiness also declares that loud is loud and far out styles do not reflect Christian living, whether it is hair or dress on men or women. And the Word of the Lord does give us instruction in all these areas. Referring again to I Peter 1:14-15, “Be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” Wuest defines “conversation” as; “the translation of a Greek word meaning behavior.” A holy life is to be reflected in the whole life, inward and outward. “Behavior” takes in speech, attitude, spirit, dress, character, etc. What we wear reflects our spiritual life. The Christian is not to over up their character as Christians by outwardly assuming a masquerade costume patterned after their former worldly garments.
Society’s pattern of dress is constantly changing. It continues to get more bazaar with time, however, the Lord, thru His word gave instructions on how we are to dress. In I Timothy 2:8-9, the word “holy” in this instance is not hagios (holy) in the sense of being set apart for God, but hosios (holy), which is grouped with dikaios (righteous) for purpose of discrimination. The holiness here is not of position but rather of experience of life. That is Paul’s instruction for men. Holiness of life– this will include how we dress. Apparel is dealt with by Paul in I Timothy 2:9-10. The Greek word for “adorn” is kosmos meaning, “to arrange, put in order.” Wuest says, “the noun form is kosmos meaning an harmonious arrangement.” The apparel must be:
(1) Put in order– not bazaar and far out.
(2) Harmonious arrangement– in harmony with and consistent to what we are as a child of God.
At a Jewish wedding, there were two people that were called the “friends” of the bridegroom. One represented the bridegroom and one represented the bride. They had many duties. They acted as liaisons between the bride and the bridegroom. They carried the invitations to the guest. But they had one particular responsibility, that of guaranteeing the chastity of the bride. In II Cor. 11:2, Paul says that
it is his responsibility to guarantee the chastity of the bride, and do all he can to keep the Corinthian Church pure and a fit bride for Jesus Christ.
This is the “cause,” and this is our job as ministers of the gospel. We must have something to say and it must be a message from the Word of God dealing with subjects of the New Birth, righteousness and purity both outward and inward. We, nor those whom the Lord has placed in our charge, can afford for us to become what Plutarch said of the rhetoricians of Greece; “They made their voices sweet with musical cadences and modulations of tone and echoed resonances.” They thought not of what they were saying, but how they were saying it. Their thoughts might well be poisonous, but as long as they were enveloped in “honeyed” words was all that mattered. We may be skilled in presentation and failing in substance. The substance of our preaching must be greater than the modulated tones of our oratory. It is time to preach with a passion coupled with purity. Note Matthew 7:22-23, Jesus said, these men had impressive credentials– they prophesied in His name, they cast out devils in His name, they did many wonderful works in His name. And those are impressive credentials. We have seen men who had less than that get a great following. But Jesus said, these men lacked one essential ingredient in their life and without it everything else was negated. THEY LACKED PURITY OF LIFE! Jesus said they were “workers of iniquity.”
The Goliaths of this generation are screaming their defiant cries at the Apostolic Church. To them we have become an anachronism. Our elaborate worship and the splendor of our buildings, the wealth of our giving and the size of our congregations do not prove reality. The reality is going to be proven in the preaching of the Apostolic Message and seeing it effectively change lives.
A career diplomat made this statement at the height of the Tehran Hostage Crisis, “We just couldn’t believe that those people would take religion so seriously.” The idea that anyone would hold strongly to religious convictions leaves secular minds bewildered and confused. “Bread, cheese and greetings” may look and sound good but this day demands:That we take the “cause” seriously. That we hold “strongly” to our religious convictions. God grant that it be so!