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Sunday Evening Sermon February 22, 1970
"How to Be Unknown"
By Dr. Jack Hyles
"After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his
evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priest of the high
places." I Kings 13:33a
All of us know Christians who got off to a good start
in the work of the Lord, but who, suddenly, without explanation, have
drifted away and have not continued in the work of the Lord. Now, here is
one reason. I want five minutes of complete attention, for this story is a
very unusual one and one that most of us do not know.
Jeroboam was a wicked king. Nothing good, in my
opinion, could be said about Jeroboam. A man of God came from Judah, his
name is not given. Hence, the title of the message, "How To Be Unknown." The
man of God comes from Judah, and he prophesied against Jeroboam and the
wickedness of his kingdom. Jeroboam was raising his hands at the altar when,
suddenly, the prophet began speaking to the altar. He says something like:
"Oh altar, you are going to see on you the bones of the priests. Wicked men
will be killed and slain on you, and you will be the object of God's wrath."
When that took place, Jeroboam pulled his hand back
and said, "Lay hold on that man of God!" Here was a prophet. A man who
wasn't afraid to stand against the king. Jeroboam said, "Lay hold on that
man of God!" And when he pulled his hand back, it withered. The Bible says
his hand was dried up. The man of God saw that Jeroboam's hand had been
dried up. The altar was torn in two. After it was all over, the man of God
spoke and Jeroboam's hand that was dried up and withered was restored to
Jeroboam, realizing this was a true man of God,
realizing that God had withered his hand and had cured his hand at the word
of this man of God, said: "Say, I want you to go home with me. I want to
honor you. I want to give you something. You're a man of God." And the man
of God said, "No, if you gave me half your kingdom, I would not go home with
you; for God has spoken to me and God has told me not to turn right or left,
not to eat bread nor drink water, until my job is done. I'll not go home
Fame began to spread about this man of God. This man
that would buck the king. This man that could speak and the king's hand
would wither. This man that could speak again and the king's hand be
restored to normalcy and health. Who was he? We don't know. He is just
called the man of God.
Down in Bethel there was an old prophet who heard
about this man of God. His sons came home and told him what this man of God
had done. This old prophet saddled his animals and got some clothing and
took a journey. He came where the young man of God was and said, "Look, I
want you to come home with me. I want to feed you and honor you." The man of
God said, "No, I can't do that. God has spoken to me. I am not to turn to
the right or the left until my job is finished. I'm not to ea bread nor
drink water. I'm sorry. I cannot come home with you."
The Bible says the old prophet said something that was
a lie. He said, "I, too, am a prophet." Now that was true, but here's the
lie. He said, "An angel of God came to me and that angel of God told me to
tell you to come to my house and eat bread and drink water with me." "Well,"
said the man of God, "put her there." (That's a Hebrew expression, by the
way. You won't find it in the English language.) He said, "Put her there.
You're a prophet. Wonderful! I'll come home."
So the man of God turned to the right, turned to the
left, broke the commandment of God and followed the old prophet back to
Bethel. There they are together and they drank water together. And while
they were there, God revealed to the old prophet that he had done wrongly.
He had caused the man of God to leave the perfect will of God for his life.
After the meal was finished, the man of God went back and found a lion in
his path. The lion slew him and that's the end of the story about the man of
Now, hear me. His name is never given. The name of the
old prophet is never given anywhere in the Bible as far as we know. "How to
be unknown." Now listen carefully. Here's the story. The story is simple and
yet profound. Here is a man of God who stood against the king and revival
was started under this man of God. But because he wanted something extra,
other than what God had given him, he finds himself slain by a lion and his
ministry nipped in the bud.
Now, how sad. There are three lessons I want to give
you. The man of God made three mistakes. Listen carefully. In the first
place, he wanted too much good. Now here is a mistake that many Christians
make. He wanted too much good. Let me read for you I Kings 13:18. "He said
unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the
word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he
may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him."
He wanted too much good. Now listen. Of course, when a
person is saved, the temptations of the old life will come back to haunt
him. But many a person has won the victory over the temptations of the old
life to find the temptations of the new life have tripped them. I don't mean
the fact that he doesn't do good, but he does too much good.
Now here's a fellow who was faithful to God. He was a
man of God. He was true to God. He stood up against the king and led
revival. Now this wasn't a fellow who said, "Come with me. I run a tavern
down here in Bethel. Come down and get drunk." No, this was not a temptation
like that. This fellow didn't come and say, "Look, I've got a red light
district down here. I want you to come and meet a wicked woman." He didn't
say that. He didn't say, "I'm a dope pusher and I want to sell you some
marijuana." He didn't say, "I've got a dirty joke to tell you." He didn't
say, "I want you to come and lay out of church." He said, "I also am a
prophet and I want you to com with me for an angel has spoken to me."
This is a man of God. Here's a man who says, "I'm a
prophet, too. I've got problems, too, and I know your problems. I know your
burden. Come down and talk to me; I'll help you." You see, this man was
tempted not by evil but by too much good.
Now listen. When you get saved you can't do everything
good that's offered for you to do. Young people, you have to choose what
good you do. You have to decide. You can do so much good that you become
perplexed and confused in the work of the Lord; and in so doing, you become
a failure like this fellow did. This fellow wanted too much good.
Secondly, a lot of people stumble and fall because
they want too much Bible. They want too much Bible! Look. Did not God tell
this young man of God what to do? Yes, he did. What happened? It is exactly
this. He wanted to listen to more than the word of God that was given to
him. He wanted something else. He wanted too much Bible. Now in the first
place, let's get down to you. Do you know after a person is saved, he can
get to the place that he wants more Bible than he is ready to take. Here's
what will happen. Somebody will knock on your door one day with a little
record player. They'll be offering a Twentieth Century Bible Course. They'll
say to you, "I'd like to play a record for you or show you some slides or a
film. I'd like to give you a non-denominational Bible course." And you'll
say, "Boy, I want to learn the Bible. I'm saved now and I get just enough
Bible Sunday morning and Sunday night and Wednesday night from my pastor;
but boy, I just want to get in the Bible and study the Bible." And that's
why, often times, a zealous new convert is an easy prey for a cult. Now hear
Unconverted people do not want the things of the
Spirit. Unconverted people do not want the things of God. Here's a person
that comes down the aisle of an evangelistic church like this and gets born
again. When he does get born again, the Holy Spirit comes in him to live.
Suddenly he wants the Bible. But here's what happens; he wants more Bible
than for what he's ready. So he enrolls in some Bible course, and a cult
parasites off of the soul-winning churches. You see, nobody joins a cult
unless they have a desire for the Word of God. The cults parasite off the
churches that go out and get people saved. You know, that's from where the
tongues crowd comes. People that go to Baptist churches oftentimes and get
born again want more than for what they are ready. They want something deep,
something never seen before. They want some revelations that just came in
from out in left field. They want an angel to fly over. They want to tingle.
They want to see something written in the sky. All you need, my friend, is
the Word of God when you get saved. That's all you need.
Here's a fellow. If this fellow had done what God
said, he would not have gotten into any trouble. But somebody said, "An
angel spoke to me." Hear me and hear me well. Are you a Christian? All
right. Between these two covers, there is all you need. You don't need
anything else. There is enough for your spiritual diet. I'll go a step
further than that. You will get enough for your diet here at First Baptist
Church without having to go outside and feed at somebody else's trough or
from Herbert W. Armstrong or some Seventh Day Adventist or Jehovah Witness'
Here's a tragic thing. In many churches, there is so
little Bible taught and so little Bible preached, that people, if they get
any Bible at all, have to go out to some cult where they at least do read
the Bible. Herbert W. Armstrong at least reads the Bible. He doesn't
understand it, but he reads it. He has his Bible courses for people who want
the Bible but don't get it at our Baptist churches. God pity us.
I picked up the newspaper last Friday; and I started
to preach from the newspaper tonight, but I was preaching this sermon on
stay in the Bible, and I thought I had better not. I picked up the Friday
newspaper; and do you know some time if you want to see what's wrong with
our churches you just read what's going on in our churches. Here's one
church having a review of this book; here's one church having a spiritual
ballet. I don't know how the fellow does it, but a spiritual ballet. Here's
a church having a drama on Sunday evening.
Listen, brother, what every church in this area and in
this world needs is to realize we don’t' need any drama. We don't need any
ballet. We just need to return to the old-fashioned teaching of what is
between the covers of God's blessed book. That's what we need.
Did you know that the faster you grow in grace, the
more the cults want you. They love to parasite our best people. A person
walks down the aisle and gets on fire for God and gets a bus route and
starts winning souls. He leads his wife and his children to Christ, and he
leads his neighbors to Christ. He reads the Bible. He loves God. He starts a
family altar. That's the crowd that is easy prey to this kind of a thing.
That leads me to this thing—lop-sided fundamentalists.
You know old prophets like this are everywhere. There are old prophets in
every city in America who do nothing for God except try to get the best
Christians to come off to their little Bible study clubs and quit doing
anything for God. I could call a list of a dozen names tonight of people who
have come to this church. They've been saved. They have grown in grace. They
have become our best people but then some old prophet sitting off somewhere
doing nothing says, "I've got a special revelation from God. Did you know
that I'm a five-point Calvinist?" "Oh, five-point Calvinist. Our pastor
likes John Calvin." "Yea. And did you know that I believe that some are
elected to go to Heaven and some are elected to go to Hell?"
And the doctrine sounds interesting to you, and you've
always wanted to study pre-destination anyway. This old prophet says, "I
have a doctrine Brother Hyles doesn't know about. Brother Hyles is all
right, but he's a little shallow, you know. But I have a doctrine he doesn't
know about, and I'd like to talk to you a little bit about that doctrine."
"If you'll come to my house every Friday night to our little Bible study
club, I'll teach you about that doctrine."
So you come and worship the Bible every Friday night.
You quit your bus route. You quit your soul-winning. You did the same thing
this prophet did, and you'll be an unknown as far as God is concerned
because you wanted too much Bible.
Let me go a step further. There are old prophets all
over the country who say, "Look, this soul-winning is all right. It's a
little shallow. Brother Hyles is a bit shallow. But I am having a prophetic
study in my living room on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Now you come to
my living room." The first thing you do, you find out whether that old
prophet is sitting down or standing up or going. Because if you sit at the
feet of someone who's already sitting, you can be in no place but the
gutter. If he's sitting, and you sit at his feet, you've got to go mighty
low to get there.
Now, here's a fellow who said, "Now, young man, I want
to tell you something. I am a prophet, too. I know something you don't know.
An angel spoke to me and told me to have you come down to my house." And
that did it. Look, I'm not against prophecy but you'll get all the prophecy
you need for your spiritual diet here at First Baptist Church—all you need.
I'm not a great theologian, but I'll tell you what. You'll get all the Bible
study you need here at First Baptist Church.
There is nothing that will destroy a new Christian,
and especially one who's active for God, any more than being led astray. Now
this man was not a wicked man. This is no bookie. This is no man who sells
the bodies of fallen ladies. This is no man who's trying to start a gambling
racket in town. Here's a man who is a prophet. He is sitting down now doing
nothing for God except trying to entice the men of God to come and sit at
his feet and learn something that he knows that they do not yet know. I
think I know hundreds of Christians who have come to churches like this, and
they have gotten enthused. But you see, Brother Hyles just keeps preaching
the same old thing all the time. I just keep preaching right down the line
in the same thing all the time. I don't mean the same sermon but the same
simple gospel. The same simple way to live the Christian life is through
prayer, Bible study, behaving yourself, clean living, dedication,
thankfulness, tithing, loyalty, obedience, faith, spiritfulness. These are
the things that Christians need. This person says, "Now Brother Hyles is
okay. I like Brother Hyles. In fact, Brother Hyles is a fine young man." (I
like that—young man.) The prophet says, "Actually, we have a deeper life
course." "Well, I want to be as good a Christian as I can and I want the
deepest life I can get. I think I'll take it." Before you know it, you have
subscribed yourself to too much Bible study.
Any lady here in this house will tell you that if you
just east one particular food, it is not good for you. You need a
well-rounded diet. You want Bible so much before you know it you get
unbalanced. Some little group meets in the attic somewhere or in the
basement somewhere. I'm not opposed to that except that they don't get
anybody saved, there's no breath of Heaven, there's no anointing of the Holy
Spirit, there's never the cry of newborn babes in God's family. You, because
you were so zealous to learn more about it all, wanted too much Bible and
were led astray by some prophet sitting down in Bethel. Before you know it,
your life is not doing much for God. You are a lop-sided fundamentalist.
I travel a great deal. I preach a great deal, and I
have some people who live to hear me preach. I'm sure that comes as a great
surprise to many of you, but they love to hear me preach. I see, oftentimes,
the same people at conferences across America. I was in Springfield,
Missouri, and I saw a fellow and his wife there who were in Kansas City when
I was there a few months ago. They were in Dallas when I was there a couple
of years ago. They were in Tennessee when I was there not long ago, and they
were in Chattanooga when I was there last week. They just go from one
conference to another getting fatter and fatter all the time. They never get
anybody saved an never do anything for God. They are just wanting to know
the latest thing the angel said.
Here's a man who had his orders from God. God told him
what to do but he left the will of God and left the plan of God to go down
to the prophet who was sitting down in Bethel and wanted too much Bible. I
call it lop-sided fundamentalist, deeper truth. I am sick up to here of
these so-called deeper life Christians. Almost everywhere I go, somebody
walks up and says, "Do you live the deeper life?" I don't say it but I want
to say, "No, but if you do, I don't want to." I am weary. God has given us a
Bible full of what to do! We don't need to seek anything else other than
what's in the pages of the Bible. So the lop-sided fundamentalist and the
fellow wanted too much Bible.
By the way, let me stop and say this, too. Did you
know that you can fall by the wayside by too much Bible study? You can be a
poor Christian and study your Bible all the time. Too much Bible study is a
danger. I realize that tonight I'm going to make a few folks mad and if I
don't I'll be somewhat disappointed. I know this is true. You college
students understand what I'm saying. If you don't, that's okay, too—but try
to understand me.
I know Christians who have come down the aisle of this
church and gotten converted. They got on fire for God. They started winning
souls. They got a bus route. They got a Sunday School class. They knocked on
doors. They came on Wednesday night, and they said, "Oh I love to hear
Brother Hyles preach the Bible. I just love to hear the Word of God." They
came back on Sunday morning and Sunday night and said, "Boy, that's what I
like!" then one day they decided that they wanted more Bible than they were
getting at the local church. So what did they do? They enrolled in an
evening class and took their soul-winning evening to study more Bible. They
took a correspondence course to study more Bible. What they were doing was
becoming lop-sided in one particular phase of the Christian life.
Here's a fellow who says, "Boy, I sure do like to
eat." He goes from restaurant to restaurant. (We have some folks on the
platform tonight who look like perhaps they have done something like
that—Brother Colsten and Brother Streeter, for example.) I sure like to eat.
He goes to a restaurant at six o'clock in the morning and eats scrambled
eggs and bacon. At seven o'clock he goes to another and he has a tall stack
with sausage. At eight o'clock he goes to another and has waffles with
Canadian bacon. Before noon, it is pizza and hamburgers and steak. "I just
love to feed my body." That's all right.
There is nothing wrong with eating. I practice it
myself quite often. Did you know you can eat and eat and never exercise and
never expend any energy and never do anything good and not be healthy? Did
you know that you could study your Bible, you could come to prayer meeting
on Wednesday night, back to Sunday School on Sunday morning, stay for
preaching and come back on Sunday night, and take an evening course at Moody
and a correspondence course from Bob Jones University, and spend all your
time in the Word of God because you love the Bible? Why sure, any Christian
loves the Bible.
Listen, a Christian who spends all his time in Bible
study and no time in service for God will be as unhealthy as a person who
spends all of his time eating food and no time going to work. The Bible is
food. Food is to be used up in energy and then you eat more food. Here's a
fellow who should have just stayed on the job and not gone down to get too
much study. Now, I'll say this. I hope you'll not think I'm being critical.
I thank God for Bible study groups. I'm thankful for some of them because
many churches don't preach enough Bible and, if it were not for Bible study
groups, a lot of Christians would never learn any Bible. I'm not opposed to
them. I'll tell you what you can do. You can get enrolled in an evening
Bible study class. I'm thinking right now of a preacher who got enrolled in
an evening Bible study class and it ruined him. The class literally ruined
him! I was talking about him a while ago. He got to where he was always
looking for demons. They studied demons one time under one of these sitting
Bible teachers. You say, "Brother Hyles, you must be criticizing Dr.
So-and-So. If he is sitting doing nothing but teaching, and doing nothing
for God and not winning souls and not trying to get something done for God,
then I am criticizing! He has no right to teach, unless he is using what he
These little sitting prophets may be young prophets,
young or old. Sometimes they are ladies. "God has given me the gift of
teaching." Well, I wouldn't give you a dime for your teaching if you're not
winning souls for Christ and unless you are using what God has given you.
This preacher heard about a Bible teacher; and, by the way, the fellow was a
good Bible teacher. He was wrong on a few things. In fact, he was wrong on
everything on which he and I disagreed. I recall that very distinctly!
He went to this Bible study, and the fellow was
teaching a course on demons. Every time a little baby would cry in church,
this preacher would say, "Demon possessed." I can see him now. He'd say,
"Oh, demons." He'd look on the pews. "There they go now." That just sort of
always didn't effect me very much. But, what did he do? He just kept eating
and kept eating and kept eating; and before you knew it, he had drifted off
because he thought that the sum total of the Christian life was just feeding
and feeding and feeding and feeding.
Don't misunderstand me. If you'll come to this church
for one year. And I've said this. If you'll come to this church for one
year, and you'll be here in Sunday School and stay for preaching, come back
on Sunday night, come back on Wednesday night, you will know more Bible at
the end of the year than you'd ever dream you'd know in your life.
Take tonight, for example. I've taught you a story
tonight that most theologians don’t even know. You've learned tonight a
story about a man of God who came to Jeroboam and was tempted to go down to
Bethel to an old prophet's house and have the will of God and hear what an
angel was supposed to have told him. Now you've learned that tonight. Now
you multiply that by 156 and you'll learn some Bible in a year's time. I'll
say this much—I say it with all my heart—if you will get in an old-fashioned
church like this, you will get the proper balance of service, stewardship,
worship, soul-winning, prayer, bible Study, and you will grow to become a
good Christian. If you decide you're going to eat at somebody else's trough
and just eat all the time, always feeding on the Word, feeding on the Word,
feeding on the Word, it is not all the Christian life. I'm not minimizing
feeding on the Word. You are supposed to use that energy in service for the
Lord Jesus Christ.
Thirdly. Not only can you want too much good and want
too much Bible, but you can also want too much service. You can serve God
too much. What? You can serve God too much. I think this man wanted to serve
God too much. Did you know when a person gets converted—and listen carefully
to this—when a person gets converted and begins to grow in grace and serve
the Lord, then the non-church parasites begin to nibble at him. Young
Christians, please hear me now. As you become a great Christian for God as
you grow in grace, what will happen is this. People outside the church will
see that you have good prospects, and they will come and try to get you to
belong to their organization. Here's what I mean.
I know a man who was saved in this church and
baptized. He became a great soul-winner. Most of you wouldn't know his name.
I doubt if any of you would. He came to our church. He was an outstanding
man. He wore good clothes. He had a beautiful overcoat. I used to covet it.
He was a good-looking fellow. I used to covet that, too. He was a nice,
impressive fellow. He lived over in the south Chicago area. Word got around
that this fellow is really a great Christian. He is one of the finest
members at First Baptist. What happened?
It wasn't long until the Gideons wanted him to be on
their board. He got on the Gideon board. Now there's nothing wrong with the
Gideons, but did you know too much of good is also bad? What happened? The
rescue mission over in a certain area decided they wanted him on their
board. Well, he was a man of some education and of some means, and he was
certainly a talented man and a born leader. Well, it wasn't long until the
Christian Businessmen's Committee said, "Look, why don't you get on our
board?" Now, what happened? The man served God too much. Did you know that
you can't run the Christian Business Men's Committee, the Gideons, the First
Baptist Church, and the Rescue Mission by yourself? Somebody else is going
to have to help you along that line. What happened is this. He quit his soul
winning. Before you knew it, he was going to board meetings at night instead
of coming to prayer meeting on Wednesday night. Before you know it, he got
to be a big shot, and he outgrew the church and nobody ever has outgrown the
church of the Lord Jesus Christ! Nobody! There is no organization in the
world as vital as the church! Don't think for a single minute that you can
outgrow the church and get into something bigger and get promoted. The next
step you have of promotion when you leave the church is to Heaven.
What you can do outside the church you can do better
inside the church. I am talking about an old-fashioned, Bible-preaching
church. What happened about the fellow? He got to serving God too much. He
got to serving God too much. Where is he now? He is out of service. He no
longer is on the board of the rescue mission; no longer is he on the board
of the Gideons; no longer is he on the board of the Christian Businessmen's
Committee. And no longer is he even coming to this church or anybody else's
church. Why? He wanted to serve God too much. That's a great danger.
This man of God had been called to go to Jeroboam and
cry against his sins and lead revival. Jeroboam said, "I've got a reward to
give you." The man of God said, "If you give me half your kingdom, I
wouldn't go home with you." Now wicked Jeroboam couldn't get him, but the
prophet did. The old prophet did. The old prophet said, "I'm a prophet, too.
An angel came and told me something different."
Could I say this? When the Lord delivers any new
revelations from Heaven, would you believe me now? I have told the Lord when
he does, I have a standing order for the first communication on it. That
means you won't have to go to any old prophet and get it on a Thursday night
or a Friday night Bible group. I asked the Lord to put me on His regular
mailing list. When any new communications or excathedra speeches come out,
the Lord is going to send me a copy of it, and I'll tell you. You don't have
to trot anywhere else. The honest truth is, the Bible is the complete
revelation of God to man. In the covers of this Book, you'll find all you
need for the Christian life. I'll say this much. If you will build your life
around a church like this one, eventually you'll be stronger, more mature,
and more productive than you could be in any other way in this world. This
fellow wanted too much service.
Organizations that are not a part of the church have
to operate from the church. Could I say a word about my friend John Rice?
Now, nobody doubts what I think about John Rice. Did you know The Sword of
the Lord would go out of business if it weren't for good soul-winning
churches? Do you know where he gets his subscriptions? He gets them from the
people that godly pastors win to Christ across the country.
Now, what am I saying? I don't know what I'm saying!
I'm saying that the old general practitioner, the New Testament church, is
the answer. There are people here tonight who have outgrown this church. You
went off in the tongues movement. You went off to the predestination
movement. You went off the five-point Calvinist, limited atonement movement,
Christ only died for a few people. He died just for the elect. You found
some little study group somewhere that would take you off and tell you that
an angel came and told them something Brother Hyles doesn't know. You
thought, "Well, Brother Hyles is all right. I've outgrown him. I've learned
all I can learn from him now. I've gone as far as he can take me. I'll go
off somewhere else." So you leave. Okay, go ahead.
However, you came back a few years later, didn't you?
What did you find when you came back? You found the First Baptist Church
doing business just like she did when you left, didn't you? The church was
still on the main track, still teaching the bible on Wednesday night, and
getting sinners saved Sunday morning. The church was preaching fire to
Christians on Sunday night and having altar calls, and bus ministry, and
soul-winning, and knocking on doors, and trying to get folks right with God.
You found the First Baptist Church right where she was when you left, didn't
you? Of course, do you know why? The old general practitioner just keeps
right on doing the whole job.
Don't go off on some little flighty, fly-by-night deal
that says she knows more than the church does. Let me give you an example
here. Did you know that you can start to grow in grace and before you know
it you want something else, something else, something else? Did you know you
can even get called to preach, or think you're called to preach, just
because you want something more? You don't need something more. You need
more of the same thing you're getting now: more Bible, more prayer, more
soul wining, more well-rounded diet, more church attendance, more
faithfulness to God's house, more preaching of the Word of God, more
teaching of the Bible on Wednesday night, more evangelism and soul winning
on Sunday morning, more of what you're getting now. Let me see if I can tell
you what I mean.
I serve on many boards. I am on so many college
boards, I couldn't even begin to tell you how many. My secretary and I don't
know how many boards on which I serve. I never go to a board meeting. I've
been on the board of Norfolk Bible College for about twelve years. (I don't
even know where the Norfolk Bible College is located. I think it's in Los
Angeles or somewhere.) I know it's in Norfolk, Virginia; that's all I know.
I know the president. I have confidence in him. He wrote me and said could
you be on my board. I said, "Sure." I've never been to a meeting. He sends
me an annual report, a financial report. I use it for scratch paper. I'm on
the Board of Bob Jones University and have been since 1959. I've attended
one board meeting and that was because they were giving me an honorary
doctor's degree and I figured I ought to go the board meeting after I got my
degree. As I walked in and they said, "All in favor," and I said, "I." Why?
I have confidence in Bob Jones, Jr., you see. I'm on the pastoral advisory
board at Tennessee Temple University, and I have not been to one board
meeting. I have not read the minutes or hours. Do you know that I could keep
myself so wrapped up doing good things until I forget to do the things that
God has called me to do.
Here's my temptation. My temptation is that I want to
live about four lives. If I knew that reincarnation were right, I'd be the
happiest fellow in this house tonight because I've got a lot of things I
want to do. I want to spend one life just running a bunch of demonstrations
across the country for good. I'd like to spend one whole life holding all
the demonstrations and gathering millions of people across the country, and
I think I could. I'd go from place to place just having demonstrations about
Gathering law-abiding, decent citizens, who respect
authority and respect law and order, is what I'd like to do. Now hold it. I
know I got three letters last week from people that said, "You should do
that. You ought to do it." No, that's the problem. There's nothing the devil
would rather get me to do than start a bunch of demonstrations and quit
winning souls and building a church like First Baptist Church. You see,
that's what I am talking about. I know people in this house, if they would
get as concerned about lost people going to Hell as about political pet
projects, they would be a whiz for God. But, you see, the devil is not going
to use an alcoholic or a prostitute to bother you. He's going to use
Did you know there are so many things I'd like to do.
I'd like to fight communism with one of my lives. I have an idea that the
devil in Hell would be tickled to death if he could get me to fight
communism and have me quit stressing soul-winning churches across America.
You see, serving God too much is a danger.
I know people, and I suspect we have some folks here
tonight, who have come to this church, gotten saved, fallen in love with the
church, Christ, and the preacher and everybody else in the church. It's a
big church. After awhile you say, "Do you know what? I just believe I could
do more good in a smaller church. I just believe I could do more good."
That's not the issue.
In the first place, you don't come to a church to do
good. You come to a church to get good done to you so you can go out during
the week and do good. The sermon you're getting tonight is for you. You
didn't come tonight so you could serve God. You came tonight to get your
battery charged, and get your tank filled so you can go out and serve God
all week. That's the place to serve God—out in the field.
A fellow came to this church. I suspect he's here
tonight. (I'm going to be preaching with my eyes shut for a few minutes.) He
came to this church. He got right with God. Perhaps he got saved. He became
a tremendous Christian. I recall one year in a big contest, he brought over
300 visitors to our Sunday School He is a great fellow.
He came to me one day and said, "Pastor, all we good
Christians are here huddled up at First Baptist Church." He said, "There are
little churches out here that need help. I feel like I ought to go to a
little church where I am more needed." Did you ever hear that? He wanted to
go where he was more needed. What happened? He went to that little church,
but what he didn't stop to realize was that he was getting spiritual food
here at First Baptist Church that was vital and necessary to his Christian
service. He didn't know what made him a good Christian. He went to this
little church. What happened? His home broke up. He went into sin and
dropped out of church completely.
One day he decided to get right with God. He came back
home to First Baptist Church and got right with God. Now he is coming all
the time. He is one of the finest members we have in the church. What
happened to him? He grew in grace. He got the idea he was God's answer to
save America or some little church somewhere. No, listen. I am going to give
you a little advice here in a few minutes.
A fellow grows and grows in grace and then he says, "I
want a big job. I want to be a deacon." And what happens! He wants something
that's not for him. I am thinking about a man now that ran for deacon one
year. He wanted to be a deacon. He didn't get it. He ran the next year. He
didn't get it. He ran the next year. He didn't get it. Then he called me on
the phone and he said, "I just feel led to work in another field." Don't you
see? He wanted to serve too much. He wanted to grow too fast and serve too
Now the question comes, "What should I do?" All right,
let me give you four or five statements here and just fifteen or twenty
minutes about each one. In the first place, don't sit at the feet of
sinners. Don't learn your Bible from folks who aren't producing. Don't eat
at the table of a lady who only cooks and never cleans house. Mrs. Barr,
suppose that you became a good cook. (I mean, you are a good cook already.)
Let's suppose that you say, "Boy, I'm going to be the best chef or chefess
in town." You get all the menus and you learn how to cook, and you become
the greatest cook. So you say, "My gift is just cooking and feeding. I just
feed my family." You don't make the beds. You don't wash the clothes. You
don't wash the dishes. You just cook. Oh, but you prepare the best food in
all the world. Now, I'll be honest with you. I'd like to eat at a place
where they have a clean restaurant as well as a place where they have good
food. I want a well-rounded cook. I want a place where they have a clean
restaurant, where they have clean restrooms, where they have friendly
waitresses, where they have a good atmosphere, where they have nice
comfortable cushioned seats, and also where they have good food.
I want a church. I don't want to go sit at the feet of
some fellow whose feet stink, and his breath is bad, and he needs a shave
and a haircut, and he sits in the corner somewhere with a notebook all the
time learning more about the seven dispensations and the toes on the beast.
When I go to learn the Bible, I want a good group like this to sing before I
learn the Bible. Ii want the ushers to walk down the aisle with a plate on
their arm. I want to feel like not only do you get good food here, but
they're well-rounded here also. When I grow up and be like them, I'll be a
I want to go where there's something going
on—something moving. Don't you get your Bible at the feet of a sinner!
Here's this old prophet. He said, "I'm retired. I'm an old prophet in
Bethel, and I'm retired. An angel talked to me. Come on down where I am."
That's where the young man made his mistake. In the first place, a preacher
hasn't got any business retiring. I'll tell you what, when I get about 62 or
65, the first deacon that talks to me about retiring is going to find out
that I have a lot of kick left. I don't plan to ever quit preaching. The
first thing I want to do when I get to Heaven is I want to preach to Jacob,
the sissy, soup-cooking, effeminate fellow. I hate a man who is cooking soup
while his brother is out hunting. Anybody who wouldn't go hunting with his
brother and would stay home and cook chili is not for me, and I am going to
get at him. I am going to preach. I am not going to retire.
Look. You get your Bible from a place that's moving
for God! Where people are being saved, and homes are made right, and lives
are transformed and drunkards are made sober and harlots are made pure, and
young folks are having their lives changed, and folks are going out in the
ministry. There's something moving for God: that's where you get your Bible,
and that's where you get your spiritual food.
Number two. Don't outgrow soul-winning. I was in
Omaha, Nebraska, preaching a few days ago and after I finished my sermon,
four or five preachers walked up to me. One fellow said, "I used to be like
you are, and then I learned about the deeper life." You college students
think you're so hot. You go from one charismatic conference to another. A
world is going to hell, and you won't even join a local church in Chicago
while you're in college! You're not worth the powder it would take to blow
you up! That's what's wrong with this nations now. Everybody wants deeper,
deeper, deeper, deeper. Go down deep, stay down long, come up dry. Most of
you drowned years ago.
The preacher said to me, "I used to be a soul-winner
until I went down deeper." I told him, "You could learn from Priscilla and
Aquilla." He said, "I'd like to be your Aquilla." I looked at him and I
said, "You act more like a Priscilla." I said, "Leave me alone! I'm in no
mood for somebody to stand up and say to me he's gone deeper or higher or
father than soul winning!" You are sitting in the deepest church in this
area tonight. You quote me on that. Don't you come to me and talk to me
about a church deeper than this church.
Christ died for the souls of men. God gave His Son
that men might be saved. Calvary took place that men might be saved. The
empty tomb was there because of the need that men might be saved. God gave
His Son for sinners to be saved. You'll never get any deeper than
Let us pray.
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