There can be no argument against the fact that good men have championed all of these positions. One who would deny this could be properly labeled a bigot.
We are sometimes forgetful of the unconscious influence of early training and background of teaching in the lives of people. We need but to stop and recall the fact that it is the exceptional individual who has stepped from the beaten paths of his forebears to join the ranks of strangers or to blaze a new trail of his own. We are deeply biased by those delicate impressions of youth especially in the matter of religious training. Not only so but those incipient influences of earliest Christian experience linger long and resolutely. It is certain that comparatively few ever leave the ranks of their early teaching and Christian instruction. It is, also, often a matter of apparent coincidence that many were spiritually awakened and born again under that particular flag beneath which they now march. The great majority of those converted in the holiness ranks still place their allegiance there. The majority of those brought to Christ under the influence of various Bible schools still follow in their wake. Nearly all of those led into the light of saving faith through the literature and conventions of the Victorious Life groups have remained to swell the ranks and accelerate the progress of this school of thought. Is not this ever true, socially, and politically, as well as religiously?
Without question some have, in the sincerity of their heart’s devotion to the Christ whom they love, obtained an experience far superior to that particular theological atmosphere in which they were trained. Through the mercies of God they have, as Dr. A. M. Hills suggests, obtained a better heart experience than their heads would permit them to acknowledge. And though their pens have often labored to sustain a faulty philosophy of sin, their lives have predicated a heart appreciation of purity. Thank God! He deals with men’s hearts. Whenever and wherever He can find an approach to a soul He will cleanse away the stain of sin in spite of a sometimes contrary mental attitude. We do not say it is ever thus. The sad tragedy confronts us the meanwhile that over the country are scores of men who at one time were confronted with the clear light of holiness which they would not accept, and they now walk in darkness, bolstering their apostasy with bitter venom against all that approaches holiness of heart. But there has been a sufficient accumulation of evidence over the years to cause us to rejoice in the infinite discrimination of our God and feel sure that many will shine as the stars in His eternal presence yonder who never labored hand in hand with us here. May God grant us charity and patience where such are due.
Why then this waste of time and energy in controversy and debate, one asks? If good men have championed all of these causes why try to unduly influence and bias a soul in his personal findings? Rather let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind allowing him to formulate his own thinking in this particular. Why not let all find solutions happy to their own hearts and backgrounds of thinking? Why not allow to everyone, unhindered, his own theory? The fact that a few people have obtained the experience without proper theological guidance, is no argument for leaving the rank and file of believers to seek the experience without scriptural signposts to guide them. For experience teaches us that while a few rare souls may have obtained the experience almost unwittingly, countless thousands have been led to seek and find the land of Beulah under the clear and direct teaching of scriptural holiness. We feel therefore it is incumbent upon us to do our best to freely give that which we have so liberally received.
There is but one reply to the queries, and one sufficient. The sin question is paramount Sin is the underlying cause, as we have seen, of every heartache, every sigh, every blighted hope, and every blasted character. When you have effectively and scripturally solved the sin problem you have settled life’s major question as far as the individual is concerned. Sin is the only thing in all the world that will keep men out of heaven, the only thing that disorders the moral and ethical life in this present world.
Let us not be deceived by the siren song of mass evangelism. God has never changed His divine method of winning men. He would still reach the individual heart with transforming grace and power, and only as the multitude of redeemed is accumulated by personal decision and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will the holy cause of redemption move onward. God has never marked any short cut to the redemption of a lost race even in these modern days, nor could He. It must ever be that individual cry of “Lord, I believe.” One startling danger in our evangelism today is the substitution of method and organization for birth pangs and spiritual sacrifice to bring men and women into the kingdom and family of God. “When Zion travaileth she shall bring forth.” In the words of A. Paget Wilkes, “Today is the day of substitutes. At no time more emphatically than now has there been such a fatal tendency to substitute quantity for quality — men for a man — organization for the Holy Spirit — education for the grace of God — money for spiritual power, and so-called salvation by character for redemption through Christ.”
Not only so but also is it a fact repeatedly observed that a proper conception of sin is essential to a happy Christian philosophy. When one has found God’s solution to the sin problem invariably his attitude toward other doctrines and questions finds a ready and easy adjustment. Watch it as closely as you choose. A man with a perverted conception and doctrine of sin has invariably a grotesque misapprehension of most moral and spiritual problems.
There is one acid test that can ever be made of any religious teaching. What is its position relative to sin? When any individual, group, or sect emphasizes any doctrine of the precious Word of God in preference to the sin question, that teacher or group or sect is off center doctrinally. No matter how consistent with divine revelation it may be, or how harmonious with eternal writ, no doctrine may have the right of way over the doctrine of sin. As scriptural and blessed a fact as is bodily healing in the economy of vital faith, yet Jesus did not come primarily to heal. As inspiring and gripping as His imminent return is to those who look for Him, yet even this cannot anticipate an eternal settlement of the sin question. As precious as the sacraments are to the Christian Church, Jesus did not come primarily to give them to us for a heritage. Rather should these become an eloquent testimony that we have individually chosen to forsake sin for His sweet smile and blessing and to await His return from heaven.
Some years past the writer attended a popular and well-known Healing Tabernacle. He went sincerely questioning, desirous of receiving every blessing the heart could find. The simplicity of the service was appreciated, but for one thing there was no satisfactory or adequate explanation. Stretched conspicuously over the spacious platform was a large banner bearing the following inscription, “The Double Cure.” Beneath this was the scriptural quotation, “Who forgiveth all our iniquities and healeth all our diseases.” What a bald perversion of truth! Innocently, we assumed this had been done in the zeal of the hour, but how grossly misleading and disconcerting to the heart battling with inbred sin. What could those words mean which have so long been sung by the Church, “Be of sin the double cure, save from wrath, and make me pure”? Here, I repeat, was a definite perversion of truth. Bodily healing as wonderful as it is through the shed blood of Christ had been given precedence over the cleansing of the human heart from inbred sin — that basic prerequisite for entrance into His eternal presence. Countless numbers have been swept into His eternal embrace out of the pains and agonies of physical suffering, and they are now awaiting the redemption of the body, but never one has ever entered His awful and holy presence with a tainted and unhealed soul. The sin question is the pivotal question. Anything taught or preached which obscures the cruciality of sin becomes an enemy of the cross of Christ.