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One Fold and One Shepherd PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Fisher   

The Gospel Messenger—June 1902
 
These are the very words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He not only prayed that His people might be one, but in John x. 16 says, "There shall be one fold and one Shepherd.”

Now, it appears to me that this teaches that there is a certainty about this oneness, and that God’s true church will remain one until time shall end.

This specially shows that God’s true church is a unit. It is one. The different organizations on earth to-day are not Christ’s church. They differ from the one fold and from each other.

Jesus did not originate but one institution on earth. The Son of God, who is the only King in Zion, es­tablished His kingdom as the work of the God of heaven. They are to have no other gods before them and hence no other institutions among them. All other institutions, forms, services, altars, sacrifices, offerings and doctrines are not to be tolerated in Israel, but rather, ‘‘Ye shall throw down their altars;’’ ‘‘Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the nations ye shall possess served their gods, upon the’ high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree;’’ ‘‘And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; Ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.” Deut. xii 2, 3.

Now this is what I greatly desire to do: I wish to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good. I know that idolatry is evil, and I want to cultivate an abhorrence for it.

What is idolatry?

First. To worship an idol—anything but God—to reverence and adore and use that which God has commanded us to abstain from. Seeking pleasure in disobedience is idolatry; Having set forms, ceremo­nies, rites, altars, &c., not taught in the Scriptures, but opposed by the Scriptures.

Now as God’s elect people of old often fell into this sin, it is highly probable that they yet often do so. But as God’s righteous wrath burned against it with vengeance then, even so it is at this present day. And as the Lord’s prophets found this as their most heinous crime, and rebuked it first of all; so the true ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ will do today, and will not seek the applause of the popular side like Ahab’s prophets always did.

These Ahab prophets are thicker than the true prophets of the Lord, and you can find them on every hand. They are prophets of idolatry, and do not care to exalt the awful perfections of Jehovah, but rather emphasize the works of men, and do not lay very much stress on God’s institution—the church —but exalt the institutions of men. They generally confine their doctrine to the line of some noted human leader. See these principles as they were manifested in Ahab’s false prophets. They desired to know if they should go to RamothGilead to fight the Syrians, and the 400 false prophets said “Go up.” They somehow all agreed. Zedekiah made him iron horns, and said, “Thus shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou hast consumed them.”

But he lied. Yet the others all agreed with him. Sometimes a man has an idea or a hobby and denounces all who do not agree with him. May be he threatens and scares at people, and many that are fearful, weak and ready to faint, accept this leader’s words, and he proclaims himself largely in the ma­jority. People learn to imitate him--until 400, or more, all agree to the same report. If you then agree to their peculiar notions you will have to play the hypocrite. My dear brethren in the Lord, all this is wrong. I rather think it is a species of Baal wor­ship. Now we should not do that way.

When I go among a people preaching the blessed gospel of redeeming grace, and I find the brethren all running to their preacher to see if he endorses every word I preach, and all apparently having no views of their own until some leader tells them just how it is, and then for me to be popular and accepta­ble among them, want me to use their little expres­sions on every prominent point of doctrine, I then see that I must resist the temptation to act the hypo­crite, by imitating some boss.

The false prophets of Baal had no real opinions of their own, they accepted the popular view and chimed in with the imitating spirit of hypocrisy and par­tiality, just to be with the crowd and said, ‘‘Yes, go up, Ahab, you shall prevail.’’ They were idolaters. Truth was worth nothing to them: they liked being on the big side and avoiding persecution.

God’s people are a free people. They are to stand last in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free. A preacher ought not to be hobbled and intimidated in his preaching. A Congressman is not to be called in question for his speech in the House, and this is to prevent his being intimidated from ex­pressing his honest convictions for the good of the government. So God’s ministers in a higher and better sense are to fearlessly express their sincere and honest convictions on all questions pertaining to the good of the Lord’s house, without being tempted or intimidated by a court of false prophets, and not at­tempting to imitate sonic erratic dictator.

Oh that we might, like Micaiah of old, though we have to oppose and even denounce the most promi­nent ones, and even differ from all who are near us tell the whole truth and show them that, “Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these thy, (Ahab’s) prophets, and the Lord bath spoken evil concerning thee.” I Kings xxii. 25.

To be sure they might reply and say, “Why, then (if God put the lying spirit there) doth He yet find fault, for who hath resisted His will?’’ But I would answer like Paul and say, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?’’

Micaiah was God’s humble prophet, and he was denounced for his faithful testimony, and smitten and ordered back to prison, because he did not imi­tate the other prophets, and could not speak the words that would please the overbearing King. I fear today that the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets that are emphasizing what Ahab and human power can accomplish instead of preaching the power and shining perfections of the eternal God.

Away with the idolatry that man of his power can do all the commandments of God. Dear old Elder Win. Mitchell emphasized this point once in an ar­ticle headed, “Whence Cometh Obedience?’’ and showed that it was from the Spirit of the Lord. But if we use gentleness and moderation and cultivate kindness, and would not imitate those idolatrous false prophets who told Ahab of his ability to go up, and smote with harshness God’s poor and afflicted prophet, how much better it would be!

What I mean to say now is this, that the union and agreement reached by hypocrisy and mutation of leaders who have a fleshly axe to grind is not the oneness that I plead for, but on the other hand it is idolatry and is of the false side of Israel. I do earnestly entreat all the Old Baptists to hear me on this point. I feel it deer down hr my very heart and soul to say with a trumpet voice, that we must not throttle each other, try to scare each other, nor hire each other to our sides, but knowing the terror of one ever-living God of the whole earth, let us persuade men. I am for unity, but not of the Baal kind. Four hundred of them were a perfect unit, but it was in idolatry and false doctrine and practice. We are certainly imitating the Baal side when we try to in­timidate a dear minister to get him to preach to please us, and when we speak harshly of him because he can’t see every point as we do. Gentleness and love are the weightier matters. Harshness and bitter denunciation come from the Baal side as sure as the true God of Abraham reigns in Israel to-day. An overbearing spirit that thinketh evil and will not hear with his brethren is not charity. The Baal prophets were not willing for Elijah to remain in the land. They kept poor old Micaiah in prison and fed him on the bread and water of affliction.

So I fear that in bitterly opposing and denouncing each other we are acting like the Baal prophets and Ahab did, and that if the real truth is fully known, those who are doing it have a few fat idols about, and these are the things they are working to uphold. Watch out, precious brethren, if we would pull out the mote out of our brother’s eyes, Oh! let us then be certain to get all the trash out of our own eyes first. If we do not, we are hypocrites, says Jesus. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of Thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Matt. vii.7.

Suppose a case. Here is a man who has worked hard on his twenty-acre patch of corn all the year. He has plowed it, hoed out the weeds, grass and burrs, &c. Just as he is plowing it the last time, a gad-about townsman rides up and says, “Say, if I were you, I would throw that crop all away. I would tear down the fence and plow up every stalk of torn in that field.”

“But why would you do that?’ says the farmer.

“Oh, don’t you see yonder, you have some weeds in it? There is a bunch of grass and there are some burrs, and for my part I would rather have no corn at all than to have it raised in a field where grass and such like grow.”

‘‘But my friend, look here. This is all the crop I have, and if I lose this I have none. And it’s true I dislike burrs and grass and have been proving that by hard work, killing and cutting out all I well could, and now because I have just left a little bit, you want me to lose my entire crop. How is your garden that you were raising near your house in town?” says the farmer.

“Oh well, I have just let it go. It had so many weeds and Johnson grass in it I threw it out,” says the townsman.

‘‘Well, then, it is a plain case,’’ says the farmer that I am succeeding in my line better than yourself, for I have some corn nearly matured, and I believe if I do not quit (faint) I shall gather a reasonably good crop in due season. So good morning, I must be at my work.”

Now, dear brethren, here it is. We are to work out our own salvation (crop) with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do. Therefore let us cut out the weeds by the way, dig down the burrs of sin and idolatry that lurk in our flesh. Let us break down the idol altars of false doctrine by preaching the pure and holy gospel truth. Let us cut down the weeds of strife, wrath, anger, malice, fornication, adultery, emulation, sedition, heresy, murder, envy which often would grow to man­ifestation to the injury of the crop. They need cut­ting out lest they manifest themselves to the injury of the crop, and thus we fail to gather the increase.

Let patience cut out haste, let love overcome and weed out hatred; let virtue plow up lust, kindness do away with wrath, and so on and on, until the final harvest shall come. We will not utterly kill out every weed (sin), for we cannot live perfect, but by the kind providence of the sunshine and rain of God’s grace we may overcome evil with good to the extent that we may raise a reasonable crop and at last hear the “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.’’

Let no man deceive you, then, and cause you to lose that which you have wrought. Hold fast that which thou hast. God has blessed your church and work in years gone by. Hold fast; He will come and will not tarry, and will give every man according to his works. Therefore, cast not away your confidence which hath great recompense of reward. Let no man cause you to throw away your church and life work, and lose all the crop because forsooth you have not been perfect and have often been made to weep over your own imperfections, and look back to where you have left some weeds (mistakes and sins).

But these weeds cannot utterly destroy the crop. The dear Lord saw your motive, and while it is true the weeds are worth nothing, and hinder to some ex­tent, yet they will not prevent the harvest and a final and full blessing (reward to you).

The harvest is drawing nigh. Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Therefore let us hold fast to that which is good.

For one church or Association to cut off a whole church or several churches as in hopeless disorder for some wrong they have done, is like tearing down the fence and plowing up a crop because a few burrs and weeds are found in it. Such is human folly.

It is true that a field by continual neglect, may grow up in weeds all over, but such a thing never oc­curred in a moment. Therefore let us be patient and see what the Lord will do.

Finally, I plead for a oneness on reasonable grounds. Not on the idea that our human judgment is a unit on all points. No, indeed. But in accepting the one spirit, one body, one calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. That we are a unit on the vital points—love, kindness, the plan of salvation, wholly by grace. That Jesus built and authorized one and only one organization on earth to direct us away from idolatry unto the only accepta­ble and gospel service, and that all other organized or co-operative institutions are human and of men, and promote idolatry. Christ’s church is a lovely and beautiful woman, without any handmaids.

The church of the Son of God is a single house, without side chambers and back rooms.

The dear old church of the Lord Jesus is a single mountain in the valley, and higher, grander and more sublime and majestic than all human built hills of man s wisdom; and God’s holy presence, without thunder, smoke or earthquake, dwells in this holy hill of Zion.

In this institution of lovely simplicity, adapted to the ignorant and wise, to the rich and poor, to great and small, the wonderful doctrine of God’s Almighty Supremacy over all things is manifest. There God is seen as great and awful, and there we have no other gods before us. There we are to declare Jesus—His blood and righteousness—as the hope of poor sinners. We are to preach His authority and commands to the inquiring, exhorting them to good works and to faithful living in the vineyard of the Lord.

Thus the Lord’s people are to be saved by preaching, and brought to oneness in the church, and live on a common equal footing, and the Good Shepherd thus reigns o’er them, and they ‘‘Are fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with ban­ners.” For it is surely here that our text is fulfilled, ‘‘One Fold and One Shepherd.’’ J. H. F.


P. S.—As some one might misunderstand my refer­ence to the lying spirit put in Ahab’s prophets, I will say that I think it was like hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and was a strong delusion, as Paul says, “God shall send them strong delusions to believe a lie,” because they have pleasure in unrighteousness,” &c.

God permitted the lying spirit to do what he (the spirit) wanted to do, and allowed it as a chastisement to Ahab as God had previously decreed, and Elijah had prophesied of Ahab. So this was God’s chosen way to punish Ahab for all his wickedness, to turn him in with the lying spirits, and thus God has often dealt with His own nation when they continually per­secute His chosen, as Saul did David, as Ahab did Elijah and Micaiah, and as Judas did Christ. I think it is the most wicked thing on earth to persecute and try to injure, through misrepresentation, a poor cast down, humble and afflicted servant of the Most High. How mysterious is the way that God often punishes those who do it! How glad I would be to see all such disappear from among us, and that brethren, who may write or talk over differences, might do so kindly and frankly.

J. H. F.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 November 2006 )
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