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Lowell Brueckner

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Pepper and Salt 3


Repentance, shallow Christianity, getting the devil mad... that's the language of Vance Havner. Sometime, somewhere, many Christians have gotten the idea that they have to put up with a lot of unchristian ideas and actions. They think its loving to overlook faults that hurt the testimony of the church. They misinterpret the Scripture about "covering a multitude of sins". Vance Havner begins our little lesson in Christian values with the words of Christ, quoting from His word to the Thyatira church...

Is Christ tolerant?

"... thou sufferest that woman Jezebel..." (Rev. 2:20). God judges what we tolerate as well as what we practice. Too often we put up with things we ought to put out.

Turn around, cat!

Billy Sunday used to say, "They tell me I rub the fur the wrong way. I don't, let the cat turn around!" People who complain about straight preaching are usually cats headed the wrong way. People who walk in darkness squint when the light is turned on. The man who walks in the light welcomes more light (Jn. 3:19-21). This explains why some people do not like to come to church. They have photophobia... they are afraid of the light!

Wide, but shallow, ground

In the Parable of the Sower, the Seed, and the Soil, our Savior tells us about shallow hearts. A pastor said recently, "My parish is twenty miles wide and one inch deep!" One wonders whether we can ever have a revival in depth in a shallow generation.

Stirring up the devil

When our Lord cast out the demon from the Gadarene, the hog-owners wanted Him to leave the country because the devil-possessed hogs had drowned. At Ephesus and Philippi, Paul ran into violent opposition because the gospel had broken up the devil's business. I question any religious enterprise that does not arouse the powerf of evil in the community. Any so-called revival that does not disturb the prevailing spirit of the neighborhood is a farce.

Peace without victory

The miseries in the Book of Judges can be traced to the mistakes in the Book of Joshua. Peaceful coexistence and peace without victory, then as now, paved the way for disaster. 

Santuary or mausoleum

The gospel begins with two earthquakes, at Calvary and the open tomb. We are heirs to an earthshaking experience. The only shaking some churches know today is the commotion in the recreational building. If the emphasis on re-creation kept pace with the emphasis on recreation, there might be a shaking in the sanctuary! Some of these mausoleums haven't had a tremor in fifty years.

The problem is sin

What president ever said in his speeches that our real trouble is sin? All other ailments are suggested, and countless remedies are proposed, but what national leader ever names the basic malady? We try to mop the floor while we leave the faucet running. Anybody with his eyes half open and a Bible in hand ought to be able to diagnose our disease. This is not the exclusive prerogative of theologians. All other trouble is due to heart trouble. We are sinners and something must be done about sin. Something has been done by God inChrist but men will not accept the diagnosis and take the treatment. We must do something about sin and the Savior, for the two supreme issues are the sin question and the Son question. 

Vance Havner... sometimes called
the most quoted preacher in America.
You can't live the Christian life!

The first discovery a Christian needs to make is that he cannot of himself live the Christian life, "Christ lives in me..." (Gal.2:20). It has been said that living the Christian life is not so much our responsibility but our response to His ability. Paul did not say, "For me to live is Christ first." It was Christ... period! Christ was first, last, and everything between. Christ is not a way to live, He is our life!

I almost said something!

The art of almost saying something is quite in vogue these days. The speaker gets off to a good start and you feel that he will hit the nail on the head. But no, just before he gets to the point he deftly swerves to one side and makes a neat detour. He almost says it but not quite. He never really goes through to name things. He sounds as though he might do it any minute, and shallow listeners sometimes think he does, but when you have checked over the performance, there are slim pickings.

The art of almost saying something is very clever. It sounds smart and will not offend anybody. It will help the speaker get ahead in this world but this world is not the right world to get ahead in. At the end of the road stands God, and God always says something. His Book does not almost state the case. We need to be saying something these days. Let us hear from men with a double resolve: "I will hear what God the Lord will speak..." (Ps. 85:8); "... what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak" (1 Kgs. 22:14).

Is that verse for our age?

In my early Christian experience I set out to read the Bible, taking the promises at face value, believing the Scriptures as I found them without benefit of footnotes or commentaries. I began with Genesis and was claiming everything for myself when I was informed that those promises were for the Jews! My ardor was dampened but I did not want to lay hold of anything that did not belong to me, so I moved into the New Testament and began to appropriate the blessings of the Sermon on the Mount when again I was interrupted and duly notified that all those things belonged to the Kingdom Age. 

Not wanting to trespass on the Kingdom Age, whatever that was, I started over in the Acts and was daring to claim some if not all the fruits of Pentecost when I was again reminded that the Acts covered a transitional period and that we were not to press those matters too literally! By then, I did not know which promises were mine nor could I stand with confidence on any passage of Scripture lest some divider of the Word might come along like a policeman to order me off private property. In desperation I said, "Lord, I've heard of a man without a country, and I'm becoming a Christian without a Bible. Give me a verse I can claim for my own." He answered with one I have stood upon ever since: "... let God be true, but every man a liar..." (Ro. 3:4)!

How not to convert anyone

Charles G. Finney had a sermon on "How to Preach So As to Convert Nobody." One way to do that, he said, was to preach about sin but never mention any of the sins of the congregation. People are not brought to conviction by generalizing.. we must particularize. The woman at Jacob's well was made aware that Jesus was a Prophet when He said, "Go, call your husband..." (Jn.4:16). F. B. Meyer said, "Nor is it enough to dwell in general denunciation. We must particularize till conscience cries, "You are the man!" This is a lost note in today's preaching. 

Babylon or the New Jerusalem

There are two cities in Revelation... Babylon and the New Jerusalem. Some think they are helping to build the Holy City when they are really preparing Babylon for Antichrist. My civic pride is in no earthly metropolis. It is in "that pearly white city that's soon coming down."


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