THE CHRISTIAN AND HOW HE IS MADE
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
Spurious conversions are one of the most dangerous stratagems
of Hell. No surer foothold for rejecting
Christ can be given to the world than what looks like proof that all
conversions are unreal. An aged and
experienced correspondent (Mr. Thomas
A. Purcell of Brighton) writes to us:‑ “None of
the 2,000 so-called converts of the Foursquare Gospel campaign in our town,
some years ago, have ever been found in any of our Churches. It is a fact that can easily be proved by all
who care to inquire that the residue left, after all the excitement is over, is
only the people who have been drawn out of the other churches. The Foursquare Churches at Eastbourne,
A NEW CREATION
Perhaps the definition of a Christian is nowhere more drastic or complete than in one utterance of Paul (2 Cor. 5: 17):- “If any man is in Christ, he is A NEW CREATION” - both in the act and as a product: “the old things are passed away; behold!” - mark something out - distancing the creation of a world – “they are become new.” Regeneration is a new creation; that is, it is a change both organic and functional, whereby the engine works by a new power, and all the old functions, reversed to an opposite direction, expand to the fulness of their inherent power. In both births, natural and spiritual, that which is born comes into a being which it had not before: man redeemed reaches what God meant in man created: sin was the fountain of the old life, holiness is the spring of the new: a child no more of this world, the man is re-born a child of eternity.
Now how is this enormous revolution produced, and how is a Christian made? To learn the answer is to solve many problems. Is a Christian made by holy water? or by a high ethical standard? or by excessive zeal for good works? or by a kindly and lovable character? or by loveliness of life? or by a surge of emotion? or by holding up a hand at a meeting? or by following his ideals? or by sheer terror in an accident or in the dying hour? If we can learn what creates a Christian we shall know what identifies a Christian when made, and so ascertain the exact watershed between the Church and the world.
THE WORD THE INSTRUMENT
This stupendous question the Apostle James answers simply and pregnantly:- “Of his own will he brought us forth” - brought us to the birth - “BY THE WORD OF TRUTH” (Jas. 1: 18). God begets, but the instrument of regeneration is the Word. Before the Bible was a book it was a voice, and before it was a voice it was God: through the Word God reaches the soul, and so the Word (the Apostle says) is the vehicle of the new birth. We are regenerated. As God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life so by the ‘God-breathed’ Scriptures (2 Tim. 3: 16) He regenerates. And the Apostle’s phrase is very remarkable: he does not say, He begat us by the words of Scripture, which might imply that conversion is impossible apart from a concrete Scripture quotation; but, “He begat us by the word of truth,” that is, the Scripture truth expressed either in God’s words or man’s: it is the truth in the Word that regenerates. God’s thought may be otherwise expressed, but so long as it is the same thought - unaltered, full-blooded - it has the same effect - life. “If I put a cup of wine to my lips,” says Luther, “I drink the wine without swallowing the cup.” “In Christ Jesus,” Paul says (1 Cor. 4: 15), “I begat you THROUGH THE GOSPEL.”
A LIVING WORD
Another Apostle has brought out vividly the life, and therefore the life-producing power, that resides in the Word. “Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which LIVETH” (1 Pet. 1: 23). The Spirit implants the incorruptible seed, but the indispensable junction between God and the soul is the truth* and the truth itself is alive. One phrase of Scripture can, in a moment, create in a dead soul deathless life, because the moment the man grasps the truth, God regenerates him through that truth. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth,” our Lord says (John 6: 63): but, moreover, “the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, AND ARE LIFE” - they are, and therefore they impart, spiritual life. Extraordinary powers are thus lodged in the Holy Scriptures. “The word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4: 12). So the new birth is caused by the lodging of truth in the mind; certain facts, seen by the spirit of a man, are so startling, so revolutionary, as to change his whole outlook; and, as our Lord says (Luke 2), seed-thoughts, which are the words of God, enter, out of which spring the harvest of a new and golden life. Therefore our Saviour makes acceptance of Scripture a criterion of regeneration. “He that is of God” - that is, born again – “heareth the words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8: 47)**
* “The word of God is not the begetting principle itself, but only that by which the principle works: as it were the coccus or grain which is the involucrum and vehicle of the mysterious germinating power” - (Dean Alford).
** No ‘life-change’ exists, therefore, save through these Scripture truths, and ‘life-changers’ who change by any other means produce no new birth. Reformation (however joyous or lovely) is not regeneration.
A PHYSICAL IMPACT
Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established; and a third Apostle brings out vividly the physical impact which produces the regenerate life.
“Faith,” Paul says (Rom. 10: 17), “cometh by HEARING, and hearing” - the grip the soul has upon the truth – “by the word of God.” The ears of the hearer take in what the speaker is saying, and convey it to the mind; but the natural mind cannot receive it (1 Cor. 2: 14), therefore the Holy Spirit accompanies God’s Word – and He so accompanies no other word - and awakens the understanding, as the Word is heard; and simultaneously He inclines the heart to embrace the truth: when lo, another soul has been born again! “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to SAVE YOUR SOULS” (Jas. 1: 21).*
* The great patriarch Joseph, un-possessed of a single page of Scripture, yet taught throughout life by words of God given through dreams, is (doubtless) a sample of all souls who are saved without a leaf of the Bible, or any printed knowledge of Christ.
But one vital detail remains. It is obvious that not any Scripture saves; for the saving is not magic, but a reasonable proposition accepted by a reasonable soul. Solomon says – “It is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun”: this is truth, but obviously not saving truth. What is the irreducible minimum of accepted truth which creates a Christian? Paul answers once for all, in language so simple, with assurance so divine, that we need never doubt again. “I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, BY WHICH ALSO YE ARE SAVED: how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15: 1). The truth that expresses these facts - the Atonement and Resurrection of the Son of God applied to the conscience, and appropriated by faith, is the truth that regenerates; and all who accept this minimum of truth and prove the acceptance by lip and life - however imperfect their sanctification - are saved, and have a fundamental, God-given right both to recognition as Christians, and to public fellowship in the Church of Christ.
THE GREAT NEGATIVE
So now we reach this revelation’s tremendous negative. If faith in these simple, specific Scriptures
produces salvation, disbelief in them must create damnation; for unbelief
blocks out from entering the soul that by which alone God gives life. Our Lord has summed it up for ever (John 8:
47):- “He that is of God” - that is, a regenerate man – “heareth the
words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF GOD.” Here is the
truth hated of all Modernists, and in
practice disregarded by all Sacerdotalists - salvation by dogma. A creedless Christian is a pure illusion that
has never existed. We can have a creed
without Christ, but we cannot have Christ without a creed.* “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ [Heb. ‘Messiah’] is begotten of God”
(1 John 5: 1): therefore whoso believes it not is not begotten of
God. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is
the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4: 15): therefore all who
confess it not neither dwell in God nor God in them. “For if thou shalt confess with thy
mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from
the dead, thou shalt be saved” (
* Therefore there should be the most careful handling of individuals in the inquiry room to make sure that the Scriptures which vitalize have really been lodged in the heart.
** Thus Dr. H. D. A.
Major’s words express the shocking untruth
of the advanced Modernist:- “Where we find Christian character, conduct and devotion
it is impossible to deny the title of Christian to their possessors. The
religious life of Unitarians reflects the threefold Christian experience of
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The
Christian character is impossible
in any but a Christian: tares closely
resemble wheat, but the grain is different.
Equally shocking is the Bishop of
A most wonderful proof is the world’s test of a Christian drawn solely from its own acute observation. A Roman official thus reported to the Emperor:- “When people are brought before me accused of the crime of being Christians, I ask them: ‘Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?’ If they answer negatively, I release them. If they answer affirmatively, I have them scourged, and ask them the second time. If they answer affirmatively, I have them scourged more severely, and assure them that they have but one more chance for their lives. Then I ask them the same question the third time, and if they answer affirmatively I hurry them away to execution, to make room for the next.”
* * *
JESUS AND THE JEW
By JACOB SILVERMAN
I was shocked when I first beheld the title of Rabbi Trattner’s As a Jew Sees Jesus. It had never occurred to me that a Jew - not to mention a Rabbi - would dare to write down his impression of this famous person. As 1 looked at the title I began to meditate: “Why shouldn’t a Jew, and especially a Rabbi, who understands the very emotions of his people write down what he thinks of a man who has so markedly influenced the trend of historical events? Why, then, had I been so shocked when I first beheld the title? What is there in my past that could possibly explain my peculiar reaction?”
My first contact with the name of Jesus was a most dreadful one. I was about nine years old. One day on my way home from school I suddenly found myself surrounded by a band of young Italians all shouting. I was terror stricken. I knew I was in for a beating, but the reason I did not know. After they had thrashed me, they threw me upon the ground with my face up. One of them drew out a small iron cross, placed it before my face, and demanded that I kiss it. I really did not know the true symbolic meaning of the Cross at that time, and I refused to comply simply because my young mind pictured the demand as some means of doing me further injury. With my refusal came a new outburst of kicks, punches, and shouts.
I dared not tell my mother of the occurrence for fear of frightening her. A few days later, as I was thinking over the entire matter trying to find some reason for the beating, my mind suddenly burst forth with “Give it to him, fellows! He’s one of the dirty Jews who killed Jesus!” I started. “One of the dirty Jews who killed Jesus! dirty Jews who killed Jesus! - killed Jesus!” I became frantic. What had they meant? What right had they to say that I was one off the dirty Jews who killed Jesus? Jesus? Who was this Jesus? I was sure I had never heard of this person before.
That day I asked my Hebrew teacher to explain to me who Jesus was. Upon hearing the name, he arose, shaking, and commanded me never to mention that name in his presence again. (Poor soul, his wife and children had been stabbed to death before his very eyes by a band of drunken Christians.)
That same night I asked my father to tell me who Jesus
was. His answer was, “Silence, my son! I
never want that name to issue from your mouth again!” He then began to speak. He spoke as if he were in a trance. He spoke not of the life of Jesus, but of
some years back, in a little town in
Under the circumstances the name Jesus could not have been very pleasing to my ears; but, mark you, it was only the name. I had no knowledge of the man himself, nor, I am led to believe, had my father. I was simply taught to loathe a sound, a name - Jesus, just as my father loathed the name for its connection with that scene of horror. As a result of these various persecutions which have been related from generation to generation in the homes of the Jews, the name Jesus and everything connected with the name, including the man in all His dynamic and admirable personality, have become a repulsive force to the Jewish people. It is not that Jewish people loathe the Man for what He did while He lived - for that would require a knowledge of the man’s life, and, I am sure, a large number of my people know very little about His life. But it is the result of his having lived, the force which he had unknowingly aroused, the wave of destruction which has come down through the ages, casting horror upon a people - it is that which has made that people dread what they believed to be the key to their sufferings.
Even to-day we read of pogroms and uprisings against Jews in various parts of the world - Jews who wish to live peacefully, but cannot; Jews whose very souls try to protest, but dare not. Is it any wonder that Jesus does not hold an esteemed position in the Jewish religion, a position which rightfully is His?
‑ The Missionary Review of the World.
* * *
AN EGYPTIAN AND CHRIST
By MARCUS ABD-EL-MASIH
My father married five wives. My mother is from the south of
My first doctrine of Islam I got through my parents, mostly
from my mother, whom I questioned about the difference between Mohammedanism
and Christianity. This is what she said:
“Christians worship a prophet named Jesus. They call Him their God. We worship the only God, Who created heaven
and earth. Also we follow the prophet
Mohammed, who is the seal of the prophets and the best.” She told me that all Christians will perish,
but all Moslems will enter
I used to go out to play. When a boy got angry with another he insulted him with these words: “You are the son of a Christian!” When a Christian funeral passes, every Moslem who sees it lifts up his eyes to heaven and says:- “God, make me to live a Moslem and die a Moslem, and save me from the torments of hell,” and our teachers bade us shout as loud as we could till it had passed by. The reason for this was that they were afraid lest we should lose our faith through hearing what the people said in the funeral procession. At holiday times, during feasts, the teachers bade us say a kind of petition in the streets, invoking a blessing on Moslems and a curse on Christians.
What the Koran teaches bothered me much. There a stumbling-block my way to Christianity. (1) The denial of the Crucifixion; (2) the denial of the deity of Christ; (3) the denial of the Trinity. There are other things:- About Abraham, in Surah, the Family of Imran, “Abraham was neither Jew nor Christian; but he was sound in the faith, a Moslem and not of those who add gods to God.” Abraham and Jacob bequeath Islam to their posterity. Surah of the Cow (v. 126, 127): “And this to his children did Abraham bequeath, and Jacob also, saying: ‘0, my children! truly God has chosen a religion for you; so die not unless ye be also Moslems.’” The teaching is also that the disciples professed themselves Moslems. The Family of Imran (v. 45): “And when, Jesus perceived unbelief on their part, He said, ‘Who are my helpers with God?’ The Apostles said, ‘We will be God’s, helpers! We believe in God, and bear thou witness that we are Moslems.’”
I was a lover of religion.
I began to perform my Moslem prayers - five times a day - when I was
seven years old. Also I fasted some days
of Ramadham when I was about nine. When
I entered a Christian school I refused to read the Bible, though my father told
me not to be afraid of reading it. I
wanted to leave school, but the teacher would not consent. So I used to sit on the last bench and close
my ears lest I should hear any word of the singing or prayers. There were two other Moslems at the school. We agreed together against all the Christian
boys. We made a fight, which we called ‘a religious war,’ in which some Christian boys joined
us because of fear) and Moslem boys whom we called for this purpose. Then I moved to
One day I decided to hear the rest of the prayers, which I did. The pastor read the 5th chapter of St. Matthew. I do not remember the month, but it was in 1905. I was about thirteen years old then. I looked up that chapter and compared it with the teaching of the Koran. I contrasted v. 39, “Resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,” with “Whoever offereth violence, offer ye like violence to him.” And also v. 44, “Love your enemies,” etc., with “Kill them wherever you find them,” and “Kill all the unbelievers.” I noticed the great difference between the two, and began to read the Bible, but in secret. I felt my guilt before God, and conviction of sin. I could neither sleep nor work at school. I could not ask anybody lest mu father should hear. My body grew weaker and weaker. What happened after that? I threw the Bible from my hand and uttered these words: “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Apostle of God. O God, make me to live a Moslem and die a Moslem. Thou art the Omnipotent.”
I began to read the Koran and pray the Moslem prayers that I might find relief, but I grew worse. I dared then to ask a Moslem friend, “How could I be saved from my sins?” He replied, “Have you become a Christian? Take care, lest these infidels lead you astray from the right way.” On hearing this I kept quiet for a long time.
Again, I asked another, who did not know my father, the same
question. He gave me the same answer,
and added, “What sins do you commit?” I told him.
He said, “These are nothing.” Then he brought a book of traditions which
Moslems esteem very highly, and showed me a passage from it which says, “It is revealed to Abu Zarr that he said, ‘I came to the
prophet Mohammed, who had on a white garment, and was sleeping. When he felt me he awoke and said, ‘Whosoever
says, there is no God but God, and dies, will enter
Then I went and told him that I was still unsatisfied and could not rest, as no change had taken place in by life. He inquired what I meant by that. I told him I had sin. He was very astonished, and said, “Nobody can stop sinning, save the prophets. Only say what I told you about before, and God will forgive all your sins.” But I said, “I want to get rid of my habits, which cause me weariness and trouble. I want to have rest, as there is a connection between sin and weariness of soul.” He became very angry, and asked me to leave, and said, “You are a Christian, you are an infidel, leave me at once, lest you should convert me to become an infidel like yourself.” I explained to him how I was a Moslem like himself, and I wanted only to know the doctrines of my religion. After he was quieted, I asked him whether he was sure of eternal life or not. At that moment his wrath kindled, and he said, “How often have I told you to leave me and never come to me again?”
After a long discussion, his reply was that nobody could be sure of eternal life, as the Tradition says, “When God created man, He took some grains of dust in His right hand, threw them behind His back, and said, ‘You are appointed for Paradise, and I do not care.’ Then he threw them behind his back and said, ‘you are appointed to Hell, and I do not care.’ Then God looked into Hell and said, ‘Are you full?’ Hell answered, ‘I can hold some more.’” What a great difference between this and John 3: 16 – “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” I thanked my friend, and left him. I said, “What is the use of religion which will neither save me from my sins in this world nor give me the assurance of eternal life in the world to come?”
I began to read the Bible again, and asked God to guide me to the true religion. Through reading the Bible and prayer I found the Saviour, Who saved me from my sins and gave me rest. This was why I became a Christian. I have proved that Jesus can save the sinner, and He only saved me and gave me rest. This is the proof of proofs.
When I began to attend meetings, and my father heard, my family persecuted me. At last they prevented me from going to
school. I stayed at home. Some
of them declared that they would not pray the Friday prayer unless they should first
kill and bury me. I was saved from
that, as my parents thought I had better leave for
* * *
THE HORDES OF ROSH
The denunciation of Rosh is one of the
For this startling forecast, so purely miraculous, is
unmistakable. “Behold I am against thee, 0 Gog, prince* of Rosh,
Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezek. 38: 3).
* “When freed from the domination of the Mongols, and up to the end of the fifteenth century, the Russian rulers called themselves veliki kniaz, grand prince. It is certainly remarkable that three times in these two chapters Gog is called prince and not king. The word used comes from the root nasa, to raise up, i.e., one exalted by the people, and not necessarily an hereditary chief” (Bendor Samuel).
Tubal is less sure. The
best authorities give it as either Tobolsk - the strategic centre of the
Asiatic Soviets, to which the doomed Tsar was sent as the first stage on his
pilgrimage to death; or else
Extraordinary confirmation is lent to Ezekiel’s grouping of
nations by the other nations named in the vast coalition -
* “The three root letters in Gomer are reproduced, indeed they form the radicals in Germania: the designation given to the Germans by the Jews in Ashkenaz; but as Ashkenaz was the son of Gomer, it would form another patronymic of the same people as Judah and Israel are patronymics of the same nation” (Bendor Samuel).
** Togarmah is the name the Jews give to
There is here an extraordinary absence of Israel’s old enemies
- Moab, Syria, Egypt, Javan (or Greece), and Babylon some (like Edom) have
passed from the stage of history while others (like Egypt) have no part in the
invasion: it is the great Slav hordes, with their allied Soviets, who pour down
“from the uttermost parts of the north”.
A Daniel puts it:- “The king of the north shall come against the king
of the south like a whirlwind” - that is, as sudden as the Great War: “he shall
enter into the glorious land” (Dan. 11: 40).
The emphasis laid upon cavalry “all of them riding
upon horses” (Ezek. 38: 15) - reveals the Cossacks, the most
numerous cavalry in the world. Even in
his day Jerome speaks of the
Scythian tribes in the
The accumulating hordes are enormous. “The Soviet Union,”
says Mr. Elias Tobenkin, the Russian
Correspondent of the
Such ominous alliances are already in the birth. A treaty between
So the drama opens, Enormous hordes,
like locusts, settle upon the mountains of
A spiritual fact of acute interest lies embedded in the drama. The whole prophecy is linked sharply to the period of the Second Advent. It is ‘the latter years’ (38: 8) - the Vulgate translates, as the Hebrew is literally, ‘the last of the years’: it is ‘the latter days’ (ver. 16), or epoch of the Messiah. But it is most remarkable that this prophecy is immediately preceded by the most detailed description of the coming descent of the Holy Ghost ever given - the Valley of Dry Bones: as God pours wrath on the Gentiles, He pours His Spirit on Israel; and (in Joel) no sooner has Jehovah said, “I will remove far off from you the northern army,” than He says,- “I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT upon ALL FLESH” (Joel 2: 20, 28). So before the mighty drama on the mountains of Israel, the descent of the Holy Ghost, swaying nations and regenerating multitudes, has occurred; for Jehovah says, - “Neither will I hide my face any more from them. For I have poured out my Spirit upon the House of Israel” (39: 29). The fury rising into the nostrils of Jehovah is simultaneous, or nearly so, with the second descent of the Spirit; and as we watch the mustering of the Red hordes, we know, with quivering hearts, that every hour draws us nearer to the immense downpour of the Holy Ghost.