THIS IS MAN'S DAY
"Now to me it is the least trifle that I may be being examined by you or by man's day."-1 Cor. 4:3.
This being man's day, its standards are man's. And man's standards in matters pertaining to God's word are always wrong. For this reason, man's judgment of Paul and his teachings was the least trifle. Paul used the word "examined," instead of judged.
Two things stand out in bold relief, in Paul's teaching along this line, and both are found in close proximity to the passage quoted in the beginning of this editorial.
The first is in 2:14: "Now the soulish man in not receiving that which is of the spirit of God, for it is stupidity to him and he is not able to know it, seeing that it is spiritually examined."
The soulish man is the one who has not the spirit of Christ. His own spirit is in subjection to his soul, which is manifest through the five senses-seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling. Never having been brought in touch with Christ Who is the Truth, he knows not the truth. Neither is he able to know it when it is told him.
The soulish man, therefore, is disqualified when it comes to conducting an examination to determine whether one is teaching the truth. As well might one who is an idiot examine a person who seeks employment as teacher in Harvard University. What God says in His word is spiritually examined, and so long as one has not the spirit of the Christ, he cannot examine it.
I have not used the word "idiot" in an offensive sense. The idiot has no natural mind, and I simply refer to the fact that the soulish man has no spiritual mind. He has as much natural intelligence as he will have after he is brought in touch with Christ. But, having no spiritual mind, he certainly is not qualified to pass on the truthfulness or untruthfulness of any teaching that is based on the word of God. He cannot avoid being thus, and I am not censuring him for it.
The other fact that stands out is stated in 3:1-4: "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to minors in Christ. I give you milk to drink, not solid food, for you were not as yet able, for you are still fleshly. For where there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and walking according to man? For whenever anyone should be saying, 'I, indeed, am of Paul,' yet another, 'I, of Apollos,' is he not fleshly?"
Paul is addressing saints here. He does not deny that they are spiritual. As a matter of fact, all saints are spiritual. But they were also fleshly. Despite the fact that they were spiritual, he had to speak to them as fleshy. They were fleshly, and this dominated their acts and much of their thinking. All they could do was to digest the simplest facts of the evangel, which Paul calls milk. Deeper truths meant nothing to them. They stood ready to reject this deeper teaching.
Why were they fleshly? Because they were sectarian. Some belonged to the Apollos group; others denominated themselves as the Paul group. This rupture had not reached the open opposition of one group to another that is seen in these days, and if such an attitude of their part disqualified them from examining Paul and his teachings, what shall we say of the sectarian saints today?
So the other class that is disqualified, and whose examination is the least trifle, are sectarian saints. They are walking according to man. All denominations are of man. They are based on man's thinking, and this what perpetuates them. Having rejected God's teaching for the creeds of man, it is no wonder they cannot examine the sacred scriptures.
I well remember the day I was "ordained" to preach. A group of preachers formed themselves into a "presbytery" and examined me. Not once did they ask me if I believed the sacred scriptures. They read the creed to me, and asked me if I agreed with it. I did, and said so. After much ceremony they pronounced me an ordained minister with authority to preach and administer the "ordinances." One delivered the "charge," and at the close he handed me the Bible, saying, "teach this." If I had done so that very day in their presence, I would have been excommunicated from the church at the next conference! For even the King James Version teaches as plainly as English words can express it, the salvation of all mankind!
The words of Paul that immediately precede the text are enlightening. "Let a man be thus accounting of us-as deputies of Christ, and stewards of God's secrets. Furthermore here it is being sought in stewards that one be found faithful."
After a score of years God opened my eyes to see things that had been in the scriptures all the time. He did this because He had chosen me to testify-now that the proper era had come-that the Man, Christ Jesus, is the One giving Himself a Ransom for all, (1 Tim. 2:5,6). Immediately the question arose, "Shall I teach it?" I soon saw that my course would be determined by my idea of whose deputy and steward I am. Was I owned by the denomination? If so, I was its deputy. But no! I am a deputy of Christ. I am God's steward. To whom, then should I be faithful?
Here in this business life, we expect a deputy sheriff to be faithful to the man in whose employ he is. If I am Christ's deputy, then He has something for me to do in His stead. If I am God's steward, I am expected to be faithful to Him in my work of dispensing evangelistic food to His household.
When I started out on this course, I was again examined. But it was done by sectarian saints. My examiners were disqualified. They were fleshly. All they could digest was milk. The result of their examination was adverse. I expected it. To me it was the least trifle.
Some saints among them were not sectarian. They approved of my course, and are today some of my most enthusiastic supporters. But the most outstanding support came from those who were in touch with Christ, and had never deadened the experimental effects of it by associating themselves with any sectarian order. They built a arbor in their community, and later, with the help of some who had renounced sectarianism, they erected a tabernacle. This is near the church where I was adversely examined.
In Glennville we have meetings, sponsored by saints who are not sectarian. I have ten other congregations, built up in the same way.
Stewards of God's secrets! Paul could not make some of these secrets known to the Corinthian saints, because they were sectarian. Christendom today is deprived of the teachings of our apostle, not because they are not in the Bible, but because the saints are too sectarian to see them.
If the world and the present day church disapprove of your course, you may be well assured that you are on the right road. For neither is qualified to examine you.
I am thankful to God and to all those who contribute to my support. Those whom I serve in oral ministry are not able to support me, except in part, and several of those whom I serve in my written ministry send donations. Many of the donations are small, but it is the best they can do, and I am thankful for them.