THE STRANGE PREACHER TALKS
“HE doesn’t look much like a ‘Christ killer,’ does he?” whispered one woman to another when, at the appointed hour the next day, Mr. Anderson stood before the passengers in the main parlor.
“Well,” replied her friend, “maybe he isn’t a Jew; but I’ve been told, since leaving San Francisco, that he really doesn’t believe in Christ. He teaches, so I am informed by one of the ministers aboard our vessel, that we are to be saved by keeping the law, rather than by faith in Jesus Christ; and I think that is terrible.”
Mr. Anderson smilingly greeted his fellow travelers, assured them that he assumed no superior wisdom, asked them all to be free to contribute of their best thoughts, and laying Harold Wilson’s marked Bible on the table before him, begged that all join him in asking God’s Spirit to rest upon their interview, and that light might come to all.
What a beautiful, simple prayer he offered! “Our Father who art in heaven,” he began, “we thank Thee to-day for Thy blessed word, which we have met to study. We thank Thee for Jesus, for the great sacrifice He made for us, and that in Him we may find a Friend who is the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely. We are thankful for Thy good Spirit, which convinces us of sin, which teaches us the way of life, which reveals Thee, and gives us power to overcome.
We hope only in Thy mercy. In us there is no good, and we can come only in that Name which Thou hast caused us to love. Look upon Thine own blessed Son, remember His life, behold us in Him, and know that by faith we make Him just now our personal Redeemer. For all Thy goodness, we praise Thee; and we most earnestly dedicate ourselves to Thee. Direct us at this hour in our study, and glorify Thyself in causing us to see a little more fully the truth as it is in Jesus. Amen.”
“My!” exclaimed the woman who had just spoken of his supposedly wrong views. “That doesn’t sound as I expected. Why, he prays like a Christian! Isn’t it strange that one minister should get such a wrong opinion of another?”
“I find,” said Mr. Anderson, at the conclusion of the prayer, “that a number of questions have been written and already passed in, and perhaps I ought to notice these first. Is this agreeable?”
Evidently Mr. Spaulding was somewhat fearful, though without reason, that some scheme had been devised to shut out free, open questioning; and having had it in mind to introduce “a few nuts hard to crack,” he took occasion to suggest that while the written questions were all right, he should like to have the privilege of introducing as least a few queries first.
Mr. Anderson readily agreed, knowing that courtesy is a principle of the golden rule, which he sought always to follow.
Mr. Spaulding was therefore permitted to have a free hand. “Do you believe, brother,” he began, “that Sabbath keeping is one of the ‘works of the law’?”
“Certainly it is.”
Is Sabbath Keeping a Part of Christian Service?
“Do you believe that Sabbath keeping should be regarded as an essential part of our Christian service under the gospel?”
“Very good, brother; and now let me read Paul’s words to the Christians of Galatia, and let us see to what your doctrine leads. Galatians 2:16, 21: ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. . . . I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.’
“Now, brother, if Sabbath keeping is one of the works mentioned, it frustrates the grace of God, and declares that Christ died in vain. That is so, isn’t it?”
“Sabbath keeping,” said Mr. Anderson, “is indeed a work of the law, just as any other good deed is also a work. But no one can ever find salvation by performing good works. Christianity knows no such thing as salvation by works. No one can become righteous by any deed of his, however great or good it may seem to be. This is said over and over again in both Romans and Galatians.
“But doing good in order to be saved, or, as Paul states it, to be justified, or made righteous, is altogether different from doing good when through faith one has been saved.
“Works may never truly precede faith and justification, but they as certainly succeed. This must be true; because before one has through faith found deliverance from sin, it is impossible to do good. The carnal man, with his carnal mind, cannot obey a spiritual law. Romans 8:7. But after sin has been forgiven, and the law of the Lord is written in the heart, then all the works of the law appear as naturally as the leaves appear on the trees. In an unconverted life, the works of the law are only a dead form; in a converted life, they are the living fruits of the Spirit.
“Sabbath keeping, therefore, would be only a useless and senseless theory to a person who is not born again, yet one of the covenant experiences to him who has Jesus in the heart.”
Is Preaching the Sabbath Preaching Christ?
“Mr. Anderson,” said one of the San Francisco ladies, “you don’t believe, then, that people must keep the law as a means of salvation?”
“No, madam; Jesus Christ alone, by our faith, cleanses and saves, and puts Himself within the heart. However, as soon as we have received Him into the life, there are immediately fulfilled in us all the glorious things that the law ordains. See Romans 8:3, 4. Thus faith establishes the law in our hearts as the law of our life. Romans 3:31.”
“Well, Mr. Anderson, I want to acknowledge that that is a very beautiful truth. I see it plainly,” said the lady. “But may I ask if you really find the Sabbath a blessing — that is, the seventh-day Sabbath? You probably know we have been taught that it is Jewish, a matter of bondage, a yoke which no one can wear with pleasure.”
“This reminds me,” said Mr. Anderson, “of one of the questions I have in hand here. It reads: ‘Why do you not preach Christ instead of so much Sabbath? Is not the preaching of Christ the all-important thing?’ Perhaps I may answer the two questions together.
“I wonder if we actually understand the expressions ‘preaching the Sabbath’ and ‘preaching Christ.’ What is the Sabbath? Who is Christ?
“To determine the character of the Sabbath, it is necessary to look back to the beginnings of time, to those days before sin came. There we find God’s perfect plan. There we see what should have been always, and what will be when the reign of sin is ended.
“The story is that God’s work was completed, and all was ‘very good.’
‘The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.’ Then God rested. ‘He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.’ Genesis 2:2. In the Paradise home, that home resplendent with the glories of the better world, the great Author of life kept Sabbath with the two beautiful beings who were to have dominion over the earth. And while His created beings kept Sabbath, the heavenly chorus ‘sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ Job 38:7. Surely that first Sabbath must have been a delightsome day, and its service glorious beyond description.”
“But, my brother,” interrupted the Rev. Mr. Spaulding, “you would not have this people believe that God was tired, would you?”
“No, Brother Spaulding; and I was intending to cover the point you have made. Let me do so now.
“The Sabbath was not originated nor given to man because of weariness on the part of either God or man. Of the Creator, it is written that he ‘fainteth not, neither is weary’ (Isaiah 40:28); and man, who was ‘in His image,’ knew nothing of physical deterioration and decay until after the seeds of sin had been sown. If sin had never entered the world, there would have been no such thing as tired nerves or tired muscles, no breaking down of the tissues of life, no sickness, no death. Therefore, as the Sabbath was given before the fall, its great and primary purpose was not that man should merely cease from his regular employment, but that he should enjoy the same ‘rest’ the Maker of the world Himself enjoyed.
“Keep this in mind, dear friends, for it is vital to an understanding of the whole matter. He who sees in Sabbath keeping nothing more than the laying aside of his secular labor for a certain twenty-four hours, and the enjoyment of the privileges of rest, change, and churchgoing, has not yet found the secret of the Sabbath as it was given to mankind.
“As we have just read, He who made heaven and earth never wearies. He is the great I AM, the Self-existent One, who inhabits eternity, with whom years are not. Yet we read that He rested. More than this, the Word tells us that ‘He rested, and was refreshed.’ Exodus 31:17. His was the rest of a divine joy in beholding the perfection of His wonderful handiwork, and in receiving from His earth children the love and adoration that sprang from their quick-pulsing and worshipful hearts. It was the rest of communion, of reciprocal affection, of heart understanding. And I believe that I have often found, in my Sabbath keeping, a little fragment of the restful joy and the joyful rest of that first Eden day when God rested and worshipped with man. It is this beautiful experience that I wish you all to know.”
There were some who dared to say “Amen,” and many present found their heart strangely stirred by the minister’s words.
No Missing Links
“But let me continue,” he said.
“That the blessedness of that first Sabbath might be perpetuated, that its experiences might be multiplied and known eternally by all who should live upon earth, God arranged that each succeeding Sabbath should be a repetition of the first. The record is, ‘God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it’ — a statement which carries in it the very fullness of divine purpose, divine power, divine presence and wisdom.
“Please note, first, that the scripture speaks of the seventh day; second, that it declares this day is ‘sanctified’ — that is, set apart or appointed to holy or sacred use. It is the seventh day, not a seventh part of time, that is brought to view.”
“May I ask, brother,” said Mr. Gregory, “what evidence you have that the first seventh day is now to be identified with Saturday? To my mind, there is much to show that our Sunday is the original seventh day.”
“The evidence, Brother Gregory, is so simple, and withal so complete, that there can scarcely be a mistake. Without question, the fourth commandment calls attention to the seventh day known at the beginning, does it not?”
“I agree with you that far,” said Mr. Gregory.
“Very well; and I presume you will also agree with me in holding that the Sabbath kept by the Saviour was the same as that given at Sinai.”
“Yes, I think so,” was the reply.
“I was sure you would,” said Mr. Anderson; “and now let me call your attention to the statement made in Luke 23:56, that after the crucifixion, the women who had been the most devoted disciples of Christ, kept the Sabbath day ‘according to the commandment.’ “
“Yes; but right there is a missing link. That may have been the ceremonial sabbath of the Passover week rather than the moral Sabbath of the fourth commandment. You see, we must keep track of the week, and make sure that we are keeping in touch with the cycle of seven days, which must continue unbroken from creation until now.”
“That is important, Brother Gregory, and so important that our Lord has given it emphasis. Let me ask a question: Was the Sabbath that the women kept, the day which came just before that other day, called the ‘first day’?”
“Yes, sir, it must have been.”
“Another question: Was not that next day the day of the resurrection?”
“It certainly was.”
“then what ‘first’ day was it? Why, the scripture distinctly states that it was ‘the first day of the week.’ Do you think, friends, there is any missing link in the connections? I do not believe that even Brother Gregory will have any question about it. As you see, there is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, followed by the first day of the week, the week which we all know to be our week of the present time. And so we know that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, which is the Sabbath of creation, is the seventh day of our week, and therefore the day which we are to observe, and in which we shall find blessing. Isn’t that plain?”
There was no dissent. Mr. Anderson had carried his audience with him.
God’s Presence Sanctifies
“But I want you to catch the truth of that word in Genesis, — ‘God blessed the seventh day.’ Proverbs 10:22 states, ‘the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich.’ His blessing is an active principle of righteousness, changing the nature of that upon which it is place. This is illustrated in the life of Jacob. Jacob was wrestling with God to obtain victory over his sin. The divine Presence said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaketh.’ Jacob, almost in despair, cried out, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.’ And then it was that the great healing, helping, transforming power of God came into the poor wrestler’s soul, and the divine benediction was, ‘Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.’ Jacob, the deceiver, had become Israel, the prince. His nature had been renewed by the inflowing of God’s holiness. The blessing of the Lord had made him rich indeed, had made him a holy child of God.
“This reveals the character of the blessing of the Lord. It is the impartation to man of His own life. His own presence.
“And do you remember the story of the burning bush? Exodus 3:1-6. God’s presence was revealed to Moses; and the word came, ‘Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy.’ The presence of God made the very surroundings holy. The same word was spoken to Joshua. Joshua 5:13-15.
“Thus we learn this: God’s blessing is His own presence. His presence sanctifies, or makes holy. His presence imparted to man makes the man holy; His presence manifested in a place makes the place holy. The rest of the story is plain, — His presence, His blessing, in the seventh day makes the seventh day holy.
“When God blessed the seventh day, He simply put His presence into that day for all earth’s history. He did this for man. You know what Jesus said, ‘The Sabbath was made for man.’ And how wonderful, then, was the making! Every seventh day brings His blessed, holy presence. The holy day carries its sanctifying, cleansing, uplifting power into the heart of God’s worshipping ones, and makes them glad in the gift of holiness.
“The Author of the Sabbath was Jesus Christ. Read John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 1:13-16. It is His presence which the seventh day incloses. It is His life of which I partake in Sabbath keeping. And do I not therefore preach Him when I truly preach the Sabbath? Ah, this Sabbath truth is among the grandest of all the grand things brought to view in the word of God!”
“Amen!” called out Harold Wilson, who by special invitation of Captain Mann, was present; and all eyes turned his way.
Captain Mann was visibly affected. He recognized a witnessing voice that was speaking to his soul. It was the voice of truth, which he could not reject.
Mr. Spaulding and Mr. Gregory quietly waited until Mr. Anderson had offered a short prayer, then they passed out of the room.
“Brother Spaulding, what did you think of that?” asked Mr. Gregory when they were alone.