Cled E. Wallace
In a recent series of meetings, I was leading some audiences by easy stages through the book of Acts. Constant reference was made to what it took to make Christians in New Testament times. A crusty old townsman, with the usual amount of party prejudice, tossed a wisecrack: “I’ve heard a lot of these fellows in my time, but this is the wettest one I’ve ever listened to.”
Come to think of it, the book of Acts is a pretty wet book. On the day of Pentecost, convicted sinners cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter’s answer was, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38 ASV).
Ananias told the agonizing Saul to, “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
When the Ethiopian nobleman listened to Philip preach a while, he conceived a compelling desire to be baptized, which carried him down into, and up out of “a certain water” (Acts 8:36-39) which must have been quite a bit wetter than a camel’s track or a crawdad hole. Philip was not exactly a dry preacher himself.
It is not necessary to squeeze the book of Acts, like Gideon did his fleece, (Judg. 6:36-38), to get much more than a bowl full of water. A man’s religion is entirely too avid when it makes the plain teaching of the New Testament sound too wet.
A man who can preach 20 years on the subject of salvation and habitually neglect the mention of baptism must have long ago formed the habit of detouring around the book of Acts. It is an inspired commentary on the Great Commission. In this commission, Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).
Decency And Order
Paul rebuked the Corinthians for confusion and disorder. It was not orderly for two or three or more to be speaking to the same people at the same time. For one to be speaking in tongues while another was prophesying was disorder. “But let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40 ASV).
The old sectarian mourner’s bench was a scene of confusion. The poor seeker after religion, or “what have you,” was subjected to a barrage of singing, praying, exhorting, and back patting, all going on at the same time. A revival of poise and ordinary good judgment broke up such a disorderly procedure. Some plain Bible teaching helped to restore order.
We still have a hang-over of disorder, even among churches of Christ. No preacher would try to preach while a congregation is singing, or while someone is leading a public prayer, or even while some brother is reading aloud a passage of Scripture. But the same preacher will charge up and down the aisles exhorting sinners while the congregation is singing, and not a half dozen people can understand a word that he says. It would have been the same if he were shouting in Russian or Yiddish or just shouting in no known tongue.
Why all this monkey business? If the exhorter has anything worthwhile to say to the people, why not let the singers be silent so all can hear? Why all the confusion? “Oh, but it gets results.” So did the mourner’s bench! If it takes hysterics to get a man into the church, it may possibly take hysterics to keep him from backsliding.