Jack Carroll

We are more anxious than ever that God’s children should be rooted and grounded and established in the faith, and that they should be able to give sound and scriptural reasons of the hope that is in them, and for all that they believe as God’s children.  One of the reasons why many of God’s people hesitate to give their testimony and speak to their friends and relations about the things of God is because they are a little bit afraid they might not be able to prove from the Scriptures the statements they might make, and because of this fear they remain silent.  There is no excuse whatever for this, because we, as the people of God, are building upon a sure foundation.  There is absolutely nothing about the truth in Jesus that we need be ashamed of.  Every child of God, and especially the younger children of God, those who will some day fill the places we are now filling, should make a special effort to master what the Scriptures teach about the New Testament church and ministry.

 

I have always had a feeling in my mind that I had to see before I believed, and I rejoice that, from the beginning of my life as a child of God, I recognized the importance of being a diligent student of God’s word and wanted to prove everything I was supposed to believe, and especially the truths I was expected to contend for as the faith once for all delivered unto the saints.  We have been tremendously disappointed in many of our young people that they do not show this diligence, and that they do not witness for Him among their friends and associates as they might, and in this way fit themselves for filling a place in God’s great harvest field later on.  We hope one of the results of this convention will be that all of us, young and old, will be more diligent in our study of God’s word, and will form the habit of mastering those precious truths that have been given to us, so that we will be able to speak intelligently to our friends about the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

 

I believe many of us in this meeting have not ventured to give our testimony, except in Sunday morning meetings or week evening meetings, and the only time we confess Christ is in the presence of God’s people.  Perhaps the root reason for this is that they do not feel very sure of their ground, and that feeling can be attributed to their own lack of diligence in the matter of proving for themselves from the Scriptures that we are building on a foundation that cannot be moved, and that we are in our day contending for the faith that was once for all delivered unto the saints.

 

Sometimes we have a little difficulty when people ask us what we call ourselves.  It is very comforting and assuring to know that the word of God from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of Revelation is on our side, and that we find our way of worship and our way of service clearly defined within the covers of God’s book, and within no other book.  These sixty-six books talk all we need to know about God’s way of salvation and worship and of service.  There is nothing that we need to be ashamed of in connection with the ministry, and there is certainly nothing we need to be ashamed of telling our friends with regard to what we believe about the church.  If this convention is to be of any real value in the extension of the Kingdom of God, it can only be such as we witness for Him by life and lip.

 

If I were to ask you a number of questions about the ministry, how many could turn over to chapter and verse in order to give me the true scriptural way?  Would you be able to tell your friends just exactly the scriptures we necessarily must fulfill if we are to have any place in this ministry?  In talking to our friends we are very vague.  We give answers to their questions which lead them up into the air, and after they have talked to us they are just as wise as they were before.  How good it would be if the younger children of God, as well as the older ones, would spend a little more time in searching the scriptures and getting to see how solid is the foundation we are building on as God’s children.

 

While we can doubt and question every other faith, so-called, and while we recognize that men everywhere are building on sinking, shifting sand, how good it is to be able to look into the faces of men with confidence and with the deep conviction that god Himself has created within us, be able to give a sound and solid reason for the hope that is within us.  I wonder if the parents here are taking any real interest in instructing their children in the way of life.  Do they recognize that they have but a few brief years to sow the seeds in the hearts of their children, which may not ripen perhaps until later in life, but if it is faithfully sown they can have a hope that the seed will ultimately have the same result as in the life of Moses, who at forty years of age refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

 

We have a sort of knowledge of the truth.  We know God’s people are divided into saints and servants.  Sometimes they are called sheep and shepherds; sometimes they are called saints of the Kingdom and the undershepherds are called ambassadors.  That is all fine, but are you clear in your mind with regard to the scriptural distinction between the saints and the servants of God?  If I were to ask you the real New Testament difference between the saints and the servants of God what would you say?  One man answering this question said the difference was that the servants of God sacrificed all and the saints of God used all in the extension of God’s Kingdom.  All that man had – his home, his business, everything was fully consecrated to God, and his greatest delight was to use his home and all he had for the extension of God’s Kingdom in the world.  We got real joy out of his worship and service, far more than those who are half-hearted in their self-denial.

 

How many of us are really clear on the conditions that must be fulfilled by those who are to have a part in this ministry?  God’s people demand greater sacrifices from their preachers than any other people in the world.  They insist that their preachers must sacrifice all, and they say they believe in no other kind of preachers but those who sacrifice all for the gospel’s sake.  That is quite right, but suppose you were asked for Scriptures to prove this, could you talk intelligently to your friends about it?  There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in anything that Jesus lived and taught.  Jesus said on one occasion, “If any man is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Father be ashamed.”  We are not so bold in our witnessing for Christ as we ought to be as His people in the world.  It may be that the reason for our silence is our lack of confidence and assurance, wondering if this foundation we are building on is solid and if these things are clearly taught within the pages of God’s own word.  I would to God that your convictions were deepened, and were so deep that you would have no hesitation whatever in telling men exactly what you believe.

 

Sometimes in talking to our friends, we say we don’t believe in a preacher who is preaching for hire and lifting a collection, but when asked what kind of a preacher we do believe in, we find it difficult to explain.  There is nothing to hesitate over in connection with God’s way of taking care of His bond-servants, and if we have been somewhat backward in making clear this thing, it isn’t because we are ashamed of God’s way, but we have hesitated to speak lest some should think we had an unworthy motive in making clear what God’s method really is.

 

Supposing that at the close of this meeting some should come up and say they would like to go forth to preach, what conditions would be put before them?  We would ask them first of all, are you willing to make yourself poor for Jesus’ sake?  Are you willing to become homeless for Jesus’ sake?  Are you willing to recognize the claims of Jesus above the claims of brother or sisters, father or mother?  Are you willing to go forth preaching the Gospel without any guaranteed support, and with no liberty to lift collections or to beg for money?  Are you willing to go anywhere in the world to preach the Gospel?  When a man makes up his mind to go forth he can set no limit, for the commission is “Go ye forth into all the world.”  The last question we would ask, and perhaps the most serious, are you willing not only to go anywhere, but with anybody?

 

In the Kingdom of God a sacrifice is demanded on the part of the servants of the Lord that no other people in the world consider as being part of the teachings of Jesus; and yet when we depart form the simplicity of this plan of Jesus, or weaken on any of these fundamentals, then we depart from the faith.  Do you love these men and women who have made this sacrifice?  Do you look upon it as something that is entirely one-sided?  Or do you recognize the privilege you have of having fellowship with them in living for the furtherance of the Gospel and the extension of God’s Kingdom?

 

The word church occurs 112 times in the New Testament and in the Gospels it occurs three times.  The word Kingdom occurs 116 times.  The word church occurs more frequently in the epistles than it does in the Gospels, and the reason is that the church is God’s chosen instrument for the realization, and manifestation and extension of His Kingdom in this world.  Every individual child of God, every member of His church, is here for one purpose as far as God is concerned, and that is to so walk and order their lives that God’s great Kingdom may be furthered and the coming of His Kingdom hastened.

 

The word church is used in two different senses in the NEW TESTAMENT, it is used of God’s people as a whole, and in a local sense.  In the first chapter of Revelation the church is spoken of under the figure of a golden candle.  The thought that this suggests is that every little group of God’s people, the citizens of His Kingdom who are called out and separated from the world, are to be in their own particular community a light.  “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven.”  Every individual child of God is to be a light giver.  The little groups we speak of as being churches are also supposed to be light givers.  Sometimes I am almost staggered by this thought that the only light God has in the world, His only means of helping and enlightening others, are the individual citizens of His Kingdom, and the little groups that meet together as churches throughout the land.  They are to be as a light to the community.  We have been gladdened by hearing of some of the neighbors of the saints, who after a period of years have been so impressed by seeing the children of God seek in and seek out, year in and year out, meeting together in certain homes, that they have come and asked permission to attend those meetings, with the result that many, after attending three or four Sunday morning meetings have gotten up and said, “Thy God shall be my God; and thy people shall be my people.”

 

God’s eternal purpose was that every little group should feel the tremendous responsibility that rests upon them, not only as individuals, but as a groups, that they are God’s only witnesses in their community.  If this thought took root in our minds, it would cause us to walk more carefully in the future.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if every child of God realized, I am expected to be a light, and if every little group lived in such hearty fellowship with Him and with each other that as a result those people, to who may have been looking on perhaps for years would say, “I would like to come in among those people, too.”  The heartiest people we know are those who are most interested in witnessing for Christ and seeking to win others to be members of His body.

 

The church in the home and the preacher without a home are vital.  We cannot depart from either of them.  I have rejoiced ten thousand times in the wonderful wisdom of God in connection with the gathering together of His people on the first day of the week.  What a terrible calamity it would be if we as the servants of god had to be continually occupied with building synagogues, but our eyes have been opened to see that the building of synagogues and the hiring of preachers belongs to Babylon.  When we hire preachers, we, too, have become associated with part of that Babylonish system which will ultimately be destroyed.  It is very wonderful that God has so planned it that instead of amassing substance, His people can meet together and His work be carried on without the very things other religious people of the world claim to be absolutely essential to worship and serve Him.

 

You might ask, “Where are the scriptures that teach us so simply and clearly that God’s people in New Testament days met together to worship God in the homes, and only in the homes of His own people?"  That would be a revelation to your friends to know that there is absolutely no record in the NEW TESTAMENT of the early Christians investing a dollar in real estate, and yet today billions of dollars are invested in every country in the world, by so-called Christians, for what they claim to be the worship and service of God.

 

It is a very wonderful thing that Jesus instituted the breaking of bread on the night of the Passover feast.  That is always a very comforting thing to me.  I wonder if you really value the simplicity of Jesus and the church in the Home.  When you leave your own home to meet in the home of another where two or three are gathered together in the Lord’s name, you should look upon that as one of the greatest privileges you can have as God’s child today; and as you walk or drive there it is a testimony to your friends which may perhaps some day result in their becoming interested in and wanting to have a part in this thing also with you.

 

Do you who have the church in your home look upon this as a privilege?  We would not like to have a church in any home where this was looked upon as and irksome thing, or a hard things, or where those in the home looked upon it as meaning a lot of extra work.  If we thought any had nay of those thoughts in their minds, we immediately take the church from your home and place it in another that would be more worthy.  On that Day on the other side some of your sweetest memories will be the fact that you had fellowship with Priscilla and Aquila, and others who at great inconvenience welcomed God’s people under their roof, to sing His praise and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

 

I wonder if there are any who have formed the habit of being absent from the meeting on the first day of the week, forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.  That was written to saints who were suffering a great deal of reproach.  They were feeling that this was entirely too much, and little by little they began to absent themselves from the meetings.  The writer to the Hebrews had a great fear that some of them might first go altogether and fall down and go over to the enemy, and that they would fight in their ranks against their ranks against their former friends.  What would you think a reasonable excuse for a child of God being absent from the meeting?  It might be easy for you to make an excuse, but it might be more difficult to give a reason.  This is an appointment which we don’t make with one another.  It is an appointment we make with God, and He has said that wherever two or three are gathered together in His name He will be there in their midst.  Those who feel a desire to honor and please Him, and submit to His rules, will be in their right place on the first day of the week.

 

You should not come too early to the meeting, but if you come early don’t spend the time in useless gossip.  It would be much better to take your place in the meeting room, and read and meditate, and seek to have your spirit brought into the condition where you will enjoy God’s fellowship.  Many a meeting is absolutely ruined by too much talking before the meeting begins, and sometimes by too much visiting after the meeting is over.  I don’t say you shouldn’t have a little friendly word with each other, but don’t waste time in useless conversation.

 

I have said more than once that if some of us attended your meetings for five or six times, we would be able to memorize your prayers, for you pray the same prayer all the time.  Each one of God’s children should form the habit of praying briefly, if they want to pray in Sunday morning meeting.  We don’t care how long you pray in private, but in public your prayers should be short.  It isn’t necessary to pray all around the world, and for everybody in it. Do that in the secret place, but in fellowship meeting remember you are expected to pray to edification.  Two or three phrases from your heart that all your brethren could say a hearty ‘amen’ to would result in everyone being edified and blest.  We like parents to bring their children to the Sunday morning meeting, but we don’t like those children to be wearied unnecessarily by the long prayers of God’s people.  If there are number in the meeting it would be well to arrange to have two periods of prayer, one at the beginning and the other at the close of the meeting, so that all would have an opportunity to take part.  Make a fresh start and let your prayers be brief and fresh next Sunday.

 

Sometimes if we went to your meetings for five or six Sundays we might be able to memorize not only your prayers, but your testimony also.  Don’t say the same thing every Sunday morning.  Be fresh in your testimony and don’t preach too long.  Very often a meeting is absolutely ruined by someone deliberately and want only take time that belongs to another and using it.  An average meeting should not take up more than one hour or an hour and a quarter.  I have been in meetings where other workers took part and the meeting was over an hour and a quarter.  The kind of testimony that goes on forever will not help or edify anyone.

 

If there is anything that is calculated to hinder others and hinder the extension of God’s Kingdom, it is for any of you, as God’s children, when a stranger comes into your midst to whet your sword and go for that man or woman and hack him to pieces.  That is what some of you do.  Many and many a person has been hurt and wounded and caused to say, “I will never go back to that meeting again,” by the spirit manifested toward them, and the way in which they were needlessly attacked by those who should have recognized they were responsible for speaking to the edification of the saints.  What is the right and proper course for saints to take when strangers are present?  It is to conduct your meeting as if they were not there.  Speak to edification, pass on those thoughts God has put in your hearts and minds, without any particular reference or applying what you may say to any person present.  If you do that, those who come into your midst will go out to confess that God is in your meetings of a truth.  I believe the older workers are responsible where any transgress along the lines I am speaking, for talking personally with that person and asking him never again when a stranger comes into a church meeting to make it unpleasant for him.  But to forget about his presence and endeavor to speak whatever of edification God has given to him as a member of His Church.

 

It would be a mistake for all who have the privilege of having the meeting in their home to assume that they were necessarily elders in the NEW TESTAMENT meaning of the word.  Some are elders, and some who now lead meetings may some day be considered elders of the church, but it would wrong for all who give out the hymns to consider that they are elders.

 

We gave you four words last year to guide you in connection with your purchases during the year – economy, simplicity, modesty, and neatness.  What the scripture teaches about the dress question is covered by these four words, and we will have no complaint if the daughters of Zion give evidence that in all their purchases during the year they do it as unto the Lord, remembering that if they are to have a testimony of value it will be well for them to be guided by these four words.  We don’t want to make rules or laws for God’s children that would bring them into unnecessary bondage.  We believe we can safely trust our sisters in Christ in this matter, which is such a serious matter, as far as they are concerned, if they will be guided by these four words.  If they do this, it will result in their having a testimony for God that will be of value.

 

We would like our sisters here to look upon the sister workers as a safe guide in this matter.  We don’t like to see any wearing stockings so closely like having no stockings on at all, and we feel perfectly sure that when you buy your next pair, if you remember these few words, especially the word modesty, you will be more careful not only with regard to material, but also with regard to color.