FIGS FROM THISTLES
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit.
We urge people to join church, go to church, work in the church, tithe, sing in the choir, teach a class, and all too often the Lord is not adding such as are being saved – we are merely adding such as are being enlisted. We have corrupt trees endeavoring to produce good fruit. The church has recruited what God has not regenerated. The springs of their lives have not been reached, the source has not been dealt with. No wonder we coax and beg and entice by means diverse and often doubtful in order to persuade people to do what should be the spontaneous expression of their heart’s love for Christ.
“Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” We do not change the nature of our thorns by tying on the grapes of religious activity. We had better begin to aim at new creatures instead of just nice people. The intake may be smaller and statistics less impressive, but the fruit will be genuine.
BACK TO DOGMA!
The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.
II Timothy 4:3
One of the pet bugaboos of many a deluded soul in the past few years has been dogma. One would think it the unpardonable sin to be dogmatic in the pulpit. Now we are reaping the harvest, because “my humble opinion” has supplanted “Thus saith the Lord.”
When I am sick I want a dogmatic physician who knows what ails me and calls it by its right name. I want my medicine put up by a dogmatic pharmacist. If he got tired of being dogmatic and decided to disregard his formula it might mean my funeral. When I ride the train I want a dogmatic engineer up front who keeps a schedule. When your car needs repairs you want a dogmatic mechanic who knows what the trouble is and can fix it.
Yet in the pulpit, of all places, ministers to whom is entrusted the care of men’s souls throw away their instructions and go by guesswork instead of by God’s Word. We are not peddlers of fable. God has spoken, and when men ask a reason for our hope we ought to have a definite, clear-cut answer.
The Early Church did something because it believed something. We are trying to do what they did without believing what they believed. But without Scriptural doctrine we cannot do our spiritual duty.