IN APRIL, 1927, GOD...
Maurice M Johnson
"Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenlies in Christ." Christ said, "My peace I give unto thee." "Let not your heart be troubled" with the peace that passeth understanding. Now, how, how can we have peace when we're in the midst of ? and ever more frightening prospects of world war, annihilation, as well as frustration, turmoil, sadness, grieved, selfish, pursuing sensuous pleasures, all around us? Well, because we can know that everything is right between us and God, the God before whom all things are open and naked, the God with whom we have to do.
Ohh, do you know what it means to "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him." And then have the blessed confidence that "He will direct thy paths," as we read in Proverbs 3:5 and 6?
In 1927, April, April of 1927, God in His infinite mercy and loving wisdom sent a man from Oakland down to where I was living at the time in Glendale here in California. And that man called to my attention, he wasn't a clergyman in the ecclesiastical church that so-and-so started, had never been into anybody's formal Bible Institute or college or seminary for training into the ministry, but after he was saved he professed to study the Word of God. Of course, God sent him to study under other Bible teachers. But the outstanding thing about his ministry to me was that he taught what I had never heard from any of the big Fundamentalists in my life, nor had I been taught it at Moody Bible Institute, who taught that the walk of the believer today could be just exactly like the walk of Paul. Not that we are apostles, but the ? says, "Mark those which walk as ye have me for an example", "Follow me as I follow Christ", that we could and should today "endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" by our, by our W-A-L-K. And that it was a sin, that was an awful sin, to not be gathering together with Christ and that God isn't the author of confusion.
I was a "Fundamentalist" so-called. I quit the Fundamentalists. My religious reputation became but safe, but not my spiritual. I wouldn't trade these last 36 years for any position that could be offered anybody today in the realm of internationally famous "evangelism" so-called or Bible teacher or a big pastor. Ten thousand times, "No". Not that I have been all I should have been. I haven't been one day all I should have been. I'm not satisfied with me but 11m satisfied with Christ and the position He's given us in the church which is His body.
Oh, my beloved Christian brethren, let's walk by faith. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." "The just shall live by faith." We who walk by faith as Christians and not by sight. Recently I've given some of the experiences that I've had over these last thirty ... how many years? 36 years outside of everything that a hypocrite can join. Just a saved sinner. Just a fellow member in the church which is Christ's body with all other saved sinners. I'm not building any fence to separate me from you my brother or sister in Christ. Are you?
I was a member at that time with what is called the Fundamentalists. I was glad to be sanctified with the Fundamentalists. I had been given the position of the Vice President of the Southern California Premillennial and Prophetic Association, that meets, and I suppose still does, once a month in the Bible Institute building at Sixth and Hope Street downtown Los Angeles.
I have been given the cordial invitation and invited to preach, and did preach in the Church of the Open Door... and to be assistant pastor, in the Church of the Open Door when they had their own radio station named the Bible Institute. And I preached one Sunday morning at that place.
And I had many little other what you may say to some of my friends was a flattering invitation. Thank God! I didn't have a clear, good conscience when I accepted any of those jobs that would have been so flattering tome that they probably would have blinded me to truths that I heard and accepted under the teaching of this man now departed this life. He came my way, April, 1927.
I heard him preach for the first time I have ever heard anybody in my life so far as I know that 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 does not mean a passage that they that have many verses to be memorized and to quote saying that I wanted the system to apply to doctrines that I had already accepted, but that they were passages that mean just exactly what they say. And oh-h how far reaching and how comprehensive and efficient those passages are. Let me quote them, 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine," or teaching, "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17.
That man, not a clergyman, a converted ... ? , he'd been a mechanic, foreman, wheelwright, employed in a big lumberyard in the area in Oakland, but after his salvation for the first four years he sat at the feet of the late H.A. Ironside while brother Ironside was still maintaining a little degree of separation from institutionalized churchanity. He was with the so-called, "Exclusive Plymouth Brethren". But he didn't go about as a "Doctor" in those days, but was what called Ironside or brother Ironside. ? ? he was the pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, he begin to use the title "Doctor" and finding the man who'd write his biography, styled him humbly as "The Archbishop of Fundamentalism".
Be that as it may, the man who God sent my way, ? ? ? ? in Glendale, would call out a person, and conduct a Bible study and preaching, I say every night without one exception, seven nights a week for over three months. He would call our attention firstly to the fact that there's Eve. I have heard before and read about them but I had never regarded them as being pregnant with doctrine, with reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness for me. I had not listed them as among the fundamentals in a Fundamentalist doctrine except as in and part of the Bible. But here's some of the ? particular things he did with them.
He called our attention to the fact that Eve, and Adam not only fell from their God created position, fell from their fellowship with God merely by trying to add to God's perfection, trying to supplement God's sufficient. That's all the devil tempted Eve to do you know was just to supplement God's prescribed diet and so forth. And all that God calls sin in the human family came as a result of Eve's adding to the Word of God, or adding to God's provision for her. The devil saying, "Why you'll not surely die if you eat that forbidden fruit. God doth know that when you eat thereof your eye will be opened and you'll become as gods, knowing good and evil."
Then our attention was called over and over again to God's plan for, given to Noah for the Ark. God told Noah to build the Ark that He was going to send a world judgment in the form of a great flood of water and that only he, that he had found goodness in the eyes of God and that he, and those ? ? ? and that God would save, eight, could be saved. But God told him to build an Ark and God told him exactly how to build that Ark. And this Bible teacher, converted ? Mechanic and ? Bible teacher, called our attention to the fact that God knew the kind of flood He was going to send, God knew the kind of Ark required to withstand the judgment waters that He, God, was going to send. And so God gave the plans to Noah to build precisely the kind of Ark that would successfully withstand the precise judgment God was going to send. "And that by faith, Noah being warned of God, of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark to the saving of his house", "And became heir of the righteousness which is by faith," we read way over in Hebrews the 11th chapter.
Then our attention was called night after night to such things as God calling Abraham ... Moses, "Let them build Me a place there that I may dwell with them," Exodus 25:8. And God said, "Let them do it. But you build according to the pattern showed thee in the mount." And the Word of God ? ? ? Moses, gave him all the plans in the most minute detail for the Tabernacle. It was to be a grey place for a God prison typically, and a meeting place for the infinitely holy God with the law-breaking, fallen, law-breaking, children of Israel; how they could meet with God. God designed it you know with that system of types and shadows all typical we're told way over in the 9th, 8th and 9th and 10th chapters of Hebrews, typical of Jesus Christ Himself and His work.
And our attention was called to our God ? His holy wrath from ? up Nadab and Abihu, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and Uzzah, men of Israel, all but the last one young Levitical priests; in other words, they were Fundamentalists, how young they ? the altar.
God's program, God's revealed will, the Christian's dead physically, and our attention was called over and over again to the fact that 2 Timothy 3:16 and It's only good for four things. It's profitable for doctrine to us today, "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all-l-l good works." And over and over again ? , vibrant, living teaching like that from the Old Testament Scriptures, Hebrew Scriptures, were brought to our attention. All those being connected or rather the connection being called to our attention between all of that and 2 Timothy 3:16-11, Paul's last epistle.
Not only that but in Romans 15:4 we find Paul writing, "Now what things soever were written afore time were written for our learning," know "that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." Then in I Corinthians 10 where Paul mentions the children of Israel being baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, but how after that he wonderful and miraculously ? them from Egyptian slavery, bondage, and death, after that supernatural bearing of God's mighty right arm as the Scripture says repeatedly and delivered out of Egypt though they rebelled over and over and over again. And ... Paul mentions some of those things in I Corinthians 10, and says, "Now all these things happened unto them for types but they're written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world," or literally, "the ends of the ages are come."
Yes, and ? ? Peter in his last epistle, second epistle, 1st chapter, after telling of ... receiving things, that marvelous event, the transfiguration of Christ, and he said, "We haven't followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty when we were with Him in the mountain." And he said, "And we have also a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture came by or was made by the will of man, for holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy Spirit." In other words, Peter says that of course nothing against reading the Bible for ourselves. He doesn't say that we are not to privately read and understand the Bible as a result of private humble reading. He doesn't say anything like that. In fact, the Roman Catholic Duoay translation of the Bible, English translation, there's a better, I think a clearer translation; better in the Duoay Roman Catholic translation of 2 Peter, where we're told, "Understanding this first when you go to the prophetical Scriptures," Peter says, "that you do well to go to them as to a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the daystar arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scriptures was made," the Roman Catholic translation gives it, "that knows by private interpretation for holy men of God spake as they were moved," or literally, "borne along by the Holy Spirit." So of course, Peter, as were, as were all of the Spirit-filled and Spirit-led prophets and apostles and teachers of whom we read in the Bible, command individual believers for ? ? , exhorted, commanded us to read and study the Bible.
Now, what did all this do to me in my relationship as the pastor and humanly speaking the founder of a new Fundamental church? Oh I got a lot of commendation from bigger Fundamentalists. At the opening of our new Tabernacle, ? ? ? pianist, evangelistic pianist and hymn writer, Robert Harkness, came, played the piano, and his wife, called ? ? ? ? , ? ? beautiful solos. The late W.E. Edmonds pastor then of the Glendale Presbyterian Church, in a beautiful building, Edmonds, brother Edmonds was present and gave ? a greeting. And we had a Bible conference with I.R. Dean, the late I.R. Dean of Philadelphia as our guest Bible teacher. Oh we started out officiously.
And I formed a constitution and by-laws, I thought, in a very humble manner. But I now know that it was primarily fleshly humility and not spiritual. ? ? I thought, "Well now, with all the Bible teaching I had at Moody Bible Institute and then the years that I attended and participated as a song leader and soloist in Fundamentalist Bible conferences in many states," I sat with a good little while with the late Lewis Sperry Chafer in Bible Conferences. I was the song leader and soloist and he the Bible teacher. I had a good many experiences of outstanding Bible teachers back there a few years ago, several years ago.
But in all those Bible conferences as, at Moody Bible Institute, I never heard a thing about local church government, exactly what is God's program for the local church. But I could give Bible expositions on what are called the "fundamentals" of the faith, I was stupidly ignorant and inexcusably ignorant of what the Word of God teaches about the local church, on how to behave in the church of the living God as we read in I Timothy the 3rd chapter.
So, what did we do when we started this new Fundamentalist organization. I said, "Well, now I certainly have every reason to believe that I know as much as the eminent Dr R.A. Torrey, up to a ? ? before, pastor of the Church of the Open Door, founder of that ? Bible Institute in the main, and I certainly think I know as much about local church organization and government as those who framed the Moody Church constitution and by-laws, and they have a few other churches, one in Chicago and the First Baptist in Ft Worth because my father thought that the late J. Frank Norris, eminent Fundamentalist, fighting Fundamentalist of Ft Worth, Baptist, was one of the ablest Bible teachers and expository preachers he ever heard.
So anyway, I got the constitution and by-laws from the First Baptist Church of Ft Worth, the constitution and by-laws of the North Shore Congregational Church where brother J.C. O'Hair was pastoring, and the constitution and by-laws of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, and of the Church of the Open Door, Los Angeles. And I took those four documents down in my desk in my study. And I would go over a little paragraph, one of each of them and which ever I thought was the best wording, maybe I would take one ... one whole paragraph out of one and another one I'd take another paragraph out of another one and so forth. All the while, I thought I was showing humility. Actually, I wasn't even showing fleshly humility because I was giving judgment on all four of those and failing. But I thought I was quite humble.
So, we got our constitution and by-laws all cooked up. And we thought we should have at least seven elders because seven is a perfect number and ... you know. However, we didn't have a single member that we knew that qualified according to I Timothy and Titus about elders. But we were not familiar, I wasn't, with those qualifications. I had never heard anybody say that an elder, I mean and stand by it, in his w-a-l-k, that an elder must be, m-u-s-t, an elder must be so-and-so. I heard things like this, "Why ... how wonderful it would be if all elders were" this and so-on. So we elected, we elected seven elders. And then we had two trustees because we had the rulership but we had owned, owned necessarily as a corporation we had to incorporate. We did. And the Maranatha Tabernacle Corporation, non-profit and so forth. So we had some trustees.
But before we were a year old, or about a year later ? ? , I was preaching everything that I knew so far as I could recall. And naturally I had grown some. And I preached some things that some of our new members didn't like. And oh-h-h, what a mess began to be apparent.
Well, it was about that time that God sent this man our way. That brought to our attention night after night after night for weeks in this series the teaching of the Word of God about, not only about the "fundamentals" so-called that I had spoken of and so forth, but the w-a-l-k, the walk of the believer. And that Timothy was commanded by Paul, 2 Timothy 2, we read there, "Timothy, the things that thou hast learned among many witnesses the same commit thou to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." And I begin to aspire as I never had in my life before to be. one of those faithful men.
Of course, I did not see and therefore embrace all of the truth that I was exposed to immediately. It took us some time before we could see clearly and therefore did see clearly, I and those brethren with me, before we could see clearly just what disposition God wanted us to make about the little white elephant Tabernacle we had. God saw our plight. That very few ... I don't know whether it was any of the ? so ended, never go on with that man-made organization and be clear before God.
So anyway, I think about as soon as we could, in the light of our growth, which might be that I could have grown faster in the things of God, probably could have. But anyway, we receded with it, our religious property, the name, the organization, but of course we lost a good many of our original charter members. But my dear friend, separation unto Christ never, never means separation from anybody that is walking in Christ the Lord. I have never, so far as I know so help me God, I have never, never had any thought, any desire whatsoever to go back into any phase, form, degree, state of organized, institutionalized, sectarianism.
Nothing no more do I need, God said, "My people shall be satisfied with My goodness." I'm satisfied with the Lord Jesus Christ, not only as my savior from the guilt and penalty of sin, I'm satisfied with the Lord Jesus Christ not only as the one who's going to come back in the clouds and catch you all believers away clothing us with immortal bodies to be with Him for ever and ever, but I'm satisfied with the Lord Jesus Christ as head of His church, "head over all-l-l things to the church which is His Body". And I'm one with you, my blood-bought born again brother in Christ. ? ? that are holy for Christ's sake that you may know too of the things better, inseparably better to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
I'd like to hear from you. This is enough to write: my name,
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