The Campbell Morgan Memorial Bible Lectureship, No.
Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London,
[Reproduced by permission]
This fifteenth annual Campbell Morgan Bible Lectureship, delivered in this year, which marks the Centennial of the birth of George Campbell Morgan on December 9, 1863 at Tetbury, Gloucestershire, it will be pardoned if I speak a few words of a personal nature. It was in the summer of last year 1962 that I heard from Mr. Arthur E. Marsh, who was Secretary of the Board of Governors of the Lectureship and who in the early winter of last year was called into the Heavenly Home. It was with very sincere joy, though with sincere humility, that I accepted the invitation to be the Lecturer in the year of our Lord, 1963. It was with humility, if not hesitation, that I accepted the invitation, because having read all the former fourteen Lectures, I can say with personal conviction 'I am the least of my brethren'. I did accept, however, with joy because Dr. Campbell Morgan was the father of my flesh, but also, and more so, under the power of the Holy Spirit, the father of my spiritual life. My congregations in five Churches in the United States, and in other Churches and Conferences in the United States, and in England have heard me say many, many times 'As my father and teacher said or wrote'. For two years I travelled with him studying under his direct supervision for the Christian Ministry, and doing his secretarial work. In 1935 in company with Mother, Dad and their beloved Physician and Friend, Dr. Margery Blackie, I toured England with him, visiting all the Churches where he had served as minister, Stone, Rugeley, Birmingham and London. It was during that unforgettable pilgrimage we visited the house where he was born in Tetbury, Gloucestershire - a house marked by a plaque, calling attention to the fact that it was the birthplace of G. Campbell Morgan. It will be forty years ago this coming December 20, 1963 that my Dad was the Preacher of the Sermon at my own Ordination to the Christian Ministry by the Fort Wayne Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, which took place on a cold wintry night in Albion, Indiana. A great moment in my own spiritual life when I felt the Presence of our Lord speaking within my heart through the words of the Preacher was at Winona Lake, Indiana at the Summer Bible Conference there as
Dr. Campbell Morgan preached on 'Jesus stood before the Governor'. The Preacher affirmed that in reality it was Pilate who was standing before the Lord Jesus, and for me, that evening I knew that I had stood in the Presence of the Living Christ, in one of those moments of the glory of the Coming of the Lord. I recommitted my life and strength to Him, Who had saved me, from that day forward by His grace to be His servant in proclaiming His salvation to others, as He would lead me. It was here in this very Pulpit that my Father and Teacher first heard his youngest son as a Preacher of the Word. What my Dad said to me in the Vestry I shall always keep in my heart, and, some of you who were present that evening, may recall his words to the assembled Congregation that Lord's day in 1934.
It will be of much interest to the Congregation who worships here in Westminster Chapel to know that the first time Dr. Campbell Morgan ever heard your Minister, Dr. Lloyd-Jones preach, was in the summer of 1937. Dr. and Mrs. Campbell Morgan were visiting us in Philadelphia. I remarked to my father that a Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones of Wales was preaching in one of the Presbyterian Churches on a Wednesday evening. My Dad instantly exclaimed 'we must hear this man'. So it was he did hear him and at the conclusion of the Sermon and Service Dr. Campbell Morgan said to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones among other things, 'I wish in the Providence of God I could persuade you to come with me at Westminster Chapel, London, England', needless to add, you and many, many others know the outcome of that first meeting.
So, my beloved Friends, to be invited and to accept the invitation to deliver this Lecture in the Centennial Year of the birth of G. Campbell Morgan is a high privilege, and a holy joy. Moreover, I must also say that I could not and cannot speak in this way of my Father and Teacher without also declaring my heart's continual thanksgiving to God for Mother, who was for over fifty years my Father's true help-mate. I plead guilty to being the boy who, when asked, playfully who was the greatest preacher in the Morgan Clan, spoke up heartily and looking straight at my Dad said 'Mother'! Since preaching the Word is not only in words but in deeds, then Annie Morgan was a 'living epistle'. In all her faith, her hope and her love she was through the years, 'The Little Mother.'
Mother was a wonderful hearer of the Word as Dad proclaimed the Word, as I can testify, having sat by her side many an hour (and I did say 'hour') right in that pew to my right from this great Pulpit. She ever followed with uplifted and radiant face the 'Breaking of the Bread of Life'. Indeed, I, with my brothers and sisters, have often heard her say to Dad when the family returned home and were seated around
the table 'You fed our souls today'. Thus, I gladly affirm this evening, 1 have a goodly heritage.'
One further word must be spoken in this very personal introduction, and it is one of thankfulness to God for the life and steadfast service of Arthur E. Marsh, who was a member of Campbell Morgan's family rircie for over fifty years, and who in his own strong, yet quiet way, ministered here at Westminster in the Name of the Christ Who also ame not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
Surely it is appropriate for me to break out in the words of the glorious hymn:
'For all the saints who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia! Alleluia!'
THE WORD OF GOD THROUGH THE WORDS OF MEN
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF THE WORD AND WORDS
The Word of God; this phrase is a declaration and description of the Truth revealed by God; that is to say, God makes known Himself and His will with the effect and result being, the Word of God. But the Word of God also has reference to the Person of the Son of God, the second Person of the Triune God. This aspect of the meaning of the Word of God comes into full focus in the opening sentences of the Gospel according to John where it is written 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.'
The Bible everywhere and at all times assumes and affirms the fact of God. The Bible never argues for this assertion. At the first page of the Book of Beginnings it announces with august authority 'In the beginning God', and then it proceeds to reveal the act and acts of the eternal living God. 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'
The Divine Library is the glorious unfolding of the Power and Love of God as through history, prophecy and Psalms His creative acts are recorded; and above all, and running through all, there is disclosed a Divine plan of Redemption for lost man. Always the Word of God is the revealed Truth concerning the way of salvation and in turn this revelation postulates and pronounces the abject lostness and dire need of humanity apart from the regenerating act of God in providing the way of salvation.
The Word of God from beginning to end is proclaiming to all the world the way of Redemption, the rescuing of the perishing, the restoring of the broken relationships between a Holy and loving God and the unholy and unlovely sinner. This is the blessed Gospel within that verse known as the Golden Text of the Bible, 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.'
Thus to the Church, which is the body of Christ, is committed the Sacred Oracles of God in order that the people of God saved by His Son, their Saviour, should make known to others, who know not the Word of God, all its good tidings of the love of God and all its solemn warnings about their utter lostness and their need of being born again by the power of God's Holy Spirit into the family of God. This is what Dr. Campbell Morgan had in mind when he counselled 'Every Church should be a Bible School'. A fellowship of the redeemed who grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by reading, learning, marking, and inwardly digesting His Word, and furthermore, should be the agents and instruments of heralding the
Word of God to those who are without His truth and teaching for this life and for the life to come.
What we are saying presents the Biblical view of the Word of God and of the world in which we live. We say this being cognizant of the modern secularized view of society.
'In the Bible, God is presented as behind and in history with the ultimate course determined by His sovereign will; but, for modern man, biological evolution, with its corresponding parallels in other areas of human development, seems sufficient to explain all that has ever happened. The Bible view is that God speaks to man; but present-day Western man insists that whatever is recorded of such communication is only man's re-interpretation of certain physical and psychological events. The Bible presents God as making man in His image; but contemporary man insists that man has made God in his image, psychologically as a parent substitute or a prop for failure, or philosophically as an excuse for ignorance or a sentimental label for the unknown.
'The Bible describes creation as pointing to God; but men today think that things only point to themselves. From the Biblical point of view, man's moral troubles stem from his positive rebellion against God, and his rehabilitation can be accomplished only as he submits radically to the will of God. Most modern thinkers take the view that man's moral difficulties stem from his finite, weak character, which can be improved only through enlightenment and training. In the Bible the most important question for man is God; but many temporary philosophers regard the question as irrelevant. The Bible views the future as in the hands of God, with certain decisive events still to be unfolded in Messiahship and judgment; while the view of most modern thinkers is that from a physical standpoint, the earth is ultimately doomed to the deep freeze entropy, but that meanwhile man will go on evolving, unless he obliterates himself through his own folly.'
This is a penetrating analysis of the mental climate in which we proclaim the abiding and living Truths of the Word of God.
The word of God speaks for itself through the words of our Lord Himself Who cried 'heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall not pass away'. In the words of Christ's Apostles the essential truth is heralded as witness the writings of the Apostle Paul, 'And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God' (Ephesians 6. 17). Also in the writings of the Apostle Peter 'For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you' (1 Peter 1. 24, 25). And again in
the writings of the Apostle John, 'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands handled, of the Word of Life . . . This is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all' (1 John 1. 1 and 5).
Also there is the prologue to the Gospel according to John in which the Logos is the central theme. The Word of God and The Word are linked together. Here I should like to quote my oldest son and Campbell Morgan's grandson, The Rev. Richard Lyon Morgan, Professor of Bible and Chaplain at Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina, in a striking article entitled 'Fulfilment in the Fourth Gospel'. In relation to The Logos, he writes, 'One of the battle grounds of Johannine scholarship is the Logos of the Prologue (1. 1-18). The popular tendency is to find Hellenistic roots for this concept, either minimizing or ignoring the Old Testament. Yet, here again, the Jewish foundation of the Gospel is most evident. There can be little doubt that the Hebrew concept of the word as deed plays a major role in understanding the meaning of the Logos. In Old Testament history and prophecy, the dabar, Yahweh always meant Yahweh's activity in creation, revelation and redemption. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made..." (Psalm 33. 6). When God spoke, He did something. So Jesus is God's final Word to man, a word not merely spoken through the lips of the prophets, or written in the Torah, but a Word which became flesh and dwelt among us. The eighth chapter of Proverbs stands midway between Genesis 1 and John 1 in an interpretation of the Logos. In this strategic chapter wisdom is assigned the same role of agency as creation (Proverbs 8. 30) as is the Logos of the Prologue (John 1. 10). This idea of the eternal wisdom is applied to the final revelation of God in Jesus Christ, Who is the 'master workman' of creation, forever shining in men's hearts with the light of the glory of the knowledge of God'. The Johannine Logos, therefore has its roots deep in the Old Testament and cannot be understood without its heritage of faith in God's revelation of old time.
The Principle of the Word is clearly set forth by the Apostle Paul, 'Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope' (Romans 15. 4). The Most Rev. F. Donald Coggan, Archbishop of York, President of the United Bible Societies, commenting on this text, narrates this story. 'Two men were sitting working in Africa recently. One was a white man engaged in translating the Bible. The other was an African, called in by the white man to check the translation. The African was unfamiliar with much of the Bible, and so the white man would stop him from time to time to make quite
sure that the translation was clear. Suddenly, the African said, "This Book is not like other books. When a man reads this Book, he hears someone speaking to him in his heart".'
In words you will well recall, which are a part of the Coronation Service of the British Sovereign, 'This Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is Wisdom; this is the Royal Law; these are the lively oracles of God.'
II. THE PROCESSES OF COMMUNICATING THE WORD
THE WORDS OF MEN
The history of the translation of the Word of God into the words of men is too long to enter into in this Lecture, and it is quite well known by Bible students. It is a record of remarkable dedication of the servants of the Lord and of hard toil to convey in intelligible language the Truth of God's Word.
When we consider the Word of God in the English language there is the history which we may know, but it is good to recall briefly. In the seventh century a recluse living a monastic life by the name of Caedmon, paraphrased from the Vulgate into the English, the books of Genesis and Exodus and the Gospels. These were followed by paraphrasing of the Psalms by two men by the names of Ealdhem and Guthlac.
In the tenth century portions of the Scriptures were translated over into the English by the great churchman Bede. Also in the tenth century, Alfred, King of England, translated the Ten Commandments into English and incorporated them into the law system of the kingdom.
In the fourteenth century the Psalms were translated by William Shoreham; but more important in this century, the whole of the Bible was given in the English by Wycliff.
In the sixteenth century we have no less than seven translations of the Bible and in each case the latter of the translations was a revision of the former one. The most important one was Tyndale's and for this reason, Tyndale had some manuscripts at his disposal which none of the previous translators had possessed. These were both Greek and Hebrew manuscripts which had been unearthed. The rest of the names of the translators in the sixteenth century are as follows: Coverdale, Matthews and Taverness. Then followed the Great Bible, The Geneva Version and what was known as The Bishop's Bible.
In the seventeenth century we have the Rheims translation, which is the Douay, or the Roman Catholic Version. Finally, in the seventeenth century we have the great KING JAMES VERSION, com-
monly called the Authorized Version. This was not the work of one man, but of a committee of men definitely set apart to do this work of translating The Word of God into the words of men.
In the nineteenth century we have the English Revised Version which was a revision of the King James Version. And in the twentieth century the American Revised Version, and in most recent years, the Revised American Standard Version, and within the past years, the English Revised New Testament, to be followed soon by the English Revised Old Testament.
In recent times there have been individual translations of the Bible and the New Testament, Goodspeed, Weymouth, Moffatt, Phillips and Williams.
The Bible is the Word of God for the whole world and so into over 1200 languages and dialects, the Divine Library is now to be found. Indeed, many hundreds of these languages had to be created so that the peoples might have the Word of God in their own speech.
We may well note here that always any revision of the Holy Scriptures has been strongly resisted by many devout people. It is more than interesting to recall that, when first published, the King James Version was bitterly denounced. In fact, a scholar named Hugh Broughton was noted for his violent attacks upon the King James Version. Others denounced it for all kinds of presumed errors. One accusation was that the translation had been distorted to suit the translator's personal views and to cater to King James' predilection of witchcraft. The Pilgrim Fathers would not permit the King James Version to be carried on the Mayflower. They clung tenaciously to the Geneva Bible published some sixty years before. In fact, it was fully seventy-five years before the King James Version can be said to have 'won out' and only then in some considerable measure because of royal sanction and monopoly by the King's printers.
Let it be confessed that one's attachment to a well known Version is perfectly natural and understandable. When we have been brought up hearing an old and well loved translation read from the Pulpit each Lord's day, when we have been accustomed to the flow and sounds of the words from our own private, devotional reading of The Bible, it is a shock, almost, to read some well remembered passage with a different word. Perhaps all of us can sympathize with the dear old saint, who, exclaimed to her Pastor after he had read the Morning Lesson from one of the revised Versions, 'Pastor, I am surprised at you. The King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul, and it ought to be good enough for you.'
The work of the translators is one marked by extreme care and many extraordinary problems, as they bring over into the English language
the words, the idioms, of the Hebrew and the Greek manuscripts. Let me illustrate here from the writings of a dear friend, Dr. Eugene Nida, who is the Executive Secretary in charge of the translations committee of the American Bible Society, of which I have the honour to be a Member of its Board of Managers. Dr. Nida in his monumental book, 'Message and Mission', has this to say about the words and grammar, 'In the first chapter of Mark, for example, the Nestle Greek text has 31 sentences beginning with kai, "and", out of a total of approximately 36 (dependent somewhat upon how one decides to punctuate the Greek text and the values assigned to the raised period, or semicolon, in Greek) if one reproduces all of these "and's" we shall have anything but a good English style, for we insist that anyone who begins almost every sentence with "and" is using childish style. On the other hand, good Greek style required that almost every sentence should begin with a conjunction, and the influence of the Semetic usage of waw, "and", in so many sentences undoubtedly accounts for some of Mark's predilection for Greek kai. However, one should not do violence to Mark's attempt to use good Greek style by reproducing all of these "and's", in English. Accordingly, most modern translators have seen behind the matter of formal grammatical correspondence and have tried to reproduce an equivalent grammatical style, which calls for drastic reductions in these conjunctions. In translating this passage, J. B. Phillips, for one, uses only two initial "and's" while E. V. Rieu employs only three, but both translators use certain other contextually appropriate equivalents, such as "then", "but", "consequently".'
The Bible is the Word of God for the whole world and so the Bible is being translated into over 1,200 languages and dialects of the nations and peoples of the world. Here we have the heroic and marvellous work of missionaries and translators who have gone to a people with no written language, who have caught the significance of words and have created words, and an alphabet and a grammar, until they have put the Bible into that language, The Word of God being put into the words of men. This has been done hundreds of times. One translator once told my father, that he had to do his work among people, who in their spoken language had only three prepositions. Take Paul's letters, and his many prepositions, and see how they can be crowded into three! And another had to translate the Bible into a language of a people in whose mentality there was no concept of relation between cause and effect. Very difficult then to translate for those people Paul's "therefores".
This year there are many National Bible Societies who are members of the United Bible Society - and one of those Societies, the American Bible Society, distributed the Scriptures outside the United States a
total of 17,032,714 copies; an increase of 48.3% over the previous record year. Circulation in the United States amounted to 14,590,751 volumes. The British and Foreign Bible Society has similar and comparable figures, all pointing to the glorious and tremendous ministry of translating, distributing and publishing the Word of God into the words of men. During the past year the Bible Societies produced 65 entirely new Scripture editions in 50 different languages in addition to the vast volume of regular production of existing editions. These new publications included the first of any part of the Bible ever to appear in six languages of The Philippines and Latin America. Time fails to allow us to speak of portions of the Bible, the single copies of the Gospels which are printed and distributed in Hospitals and Homes for Aged; together with New Testaments printed especially for those in military service. A blessed ministry is that of the total of 53,655 Braille volumes and talking books, records for the blind.
whereby the Word of God is made available to those who do not have the light of day. Maybe there is a new meaning to the verse in the Psalms 'The opening of Thy Word giveth light'.
A recent edition of the New Testament is published in a strong paper-back cover and with different colours on the front and back. On the inside are many pictures and photos of the Holy Land as it was in the times of Our Lord and as it is today. There are pictures and drawings of shepherds and farmers and fishermen.
I was reading my copy on a train travelling from Philadelphia to New York where I was to attend our monthly meeting of the Board of the Bible Society. A gentleman seated by my side noticed the colourful magazine, as he thought it was, and suddenly I heard him say, 'Pardon me, but is that an abbreviated edition of "Life" which you are reading?'
In the United States there is a monthly magazine called 'Life' and I could instantly understand the reason of the question. However, this was my opportunity to bear witness to the Word. I turned the book around so he could read the title, 'The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ' and then I said 'No sir, this is not an abbreviated edition of "Life" but this is THE Life'. As we journeyed on to New York, I discovered he was a Christian man and we had the joy of speaking together of our common faith.
The Word of God in the words of men does not necessarily have to be bound in black, though we know that this has been a long custom, born out of a respect for the Book. Yet this colourful change was the means of arresting the attention of another and nothing of spiritual value was taken from the Word of God printed and illustrated in this way.
As we contemplate the process by which The Word of God has been
translated into the words of men and the forms in which The Book of God has been published, we do reaffirm the words of the Apostle Peter 'Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit' (2 Peter 1. 20-21).
With the Bible open in our hands and in our own language we can pray the words of the hymn so often sung at the Westminster Friday night Bible Lecture:
'Break Thou the Bread of Life,
Dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves
Beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page
I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee,
O living Word!
Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord,
To me - to me -
As Thou didst bless the bread
Then shall all bondage cease,
All fetters fall,
And I shall find my peace
My All in All.'
III. THE PRACTICAL DEMONSTRATION OF THE WORD
LIFE AND LIVING
As we consider the wonder and miracle of how the Word of God has been delivered to mankind through the words of men, we now face the all-important truth, that, when The Word has quickened the heart and spirit of man; when the Truth of The Word of God has come home to the inmost being of men through the words of men, then there is a further step and one that follows inevitably, if our conversion, our justification, our sanctification have any virtue and veracity. As the great Apostle Paul states it, 'If any man is in Christ Jesus he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are new'. As the Apostle of love, John, the beloved writes, 'We know that we have passed from death to life, if we love the brethren'. In other words, we
are completely changed and transformed and our very lives will shew forth the faith we profess. One often ponders that critical moment in the trial of our Lord, when John writes that when the Saviour stood before the High Priest, 'The priest asked Jesus of His disciples and of His teachings'. It was in that order that the High Priest put his question to the Lord Jesus. First of His disciples and then of His teaching. In other words, the High Priest proffered the acid test - 'If Thou art the Son of God, if what Thou hast said is true, if Thou art from God, indeed if Thou art the Son of God, then what are the evidences in the lives of Thy disciples? Are they transformed men? Where are they this night as Thou dost stand trial'? What an amazing and penetrating question it was, nay, what a question it still is! The world may well ask the Lord Jesus of His disciples. The Word of God has spoken and we have heard His Word through the words of men, then, what difference is there in our lives? He claimed that His people should be born again of God and therefore, new people. Are we? He affirmed that His people should know the Peace of God and have untroubled hearts and be unafraid. Are we thus calm in our faith and assurance? He declared that He would overthrow the power of the devil and set His people free. 'Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free'. But are we more than conquerors? Are we free from the bondage of Satan and his evil domination? Expositors and preachers have always said that which Paul declared, 'Ye are living epistles read and known of all men'. Here it may be most profitable to think of the Parable of our Lord commonly called the Parable of the Sower, and then the Parable of the Soils, but which can truthfully be called the Parable of the Seed. In His explanation of this Parable to His disciples, our Lord said 'The seed is the Word of God', and a careful study of the entire context will show that our Lord was saying that the Seed is the men and women and boys and girls who have received the Word of God, in whom the Word of God has been planted. But here let Campbell Morgan speak for himself as his exposition is of the Parable, and our Lord's Explanation, as recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 13, verses 3 to 9, and 18 to 23. 'We are concerned with our Lord's explanation of the picture. Notice that the sower is not named. He began bluntly, "Behold, a sower went forth to sow". It was an actual fact, but so far as the teaching is concerned, He did not say Who the sower was who sowed the seed. However, going to the 37th verse, we read this. When the disciples asked Him to explain the parable of the Tares, He said, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man".'
We are next impressed by the fact that there are various conditions of the seed, and various response of the soul. As our Lord
explained His parable, when He referred to the seed, He did so by speaking of persons. These words of explanation are found, beginning at the 19th verse. 'When anyone heareth the word of the Kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in the heart. This is he that was sown by the wayside. Verse 20, "He that was sown upon the rocky places". Verse 22, "And he that was sown among the thorns". Verse 23, "He that was sown upon the good ground".'
'Our Lord is interpreting the Kingdom, and His work in the Kingdom, and He speaks of seed. He employs the masculine pronoun which covers all human souls. The seed then, as viewed at this point, must be considered in that way. There are varied responses by the soil, and those responses depend upon the condition of the seed that is sown in the soil. "He that was sown by the wayside". Mark the emphasis, What about him? Birds came and devoured them. We see a personality and something more, a person as a seed of the Kingdom, falling upon the wayside, but the birds of the air have devoured that which was sown in his heart, that which made him a seed of the Kingdom. Again, "He that was sown upon the rocky places". When this man was sown, the sun is risen and the seed is "scorched". Who is he? Mark the emphasis, "He that heareth the Word, and straightway with joy receiveth it, yet hath he not root in himself". He endures only for a little while; "When tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, straightway he stumbleth". There he also is a seed of no value in the sowing of the word, and to such an one, the soil is cruel and non-productive.'
'Take the next, "He that was sown among the thorns". Again, who is he? He is the one who has heard the Word, but has allowed the care of the present age and the deceitfulness of riches to choke the Word, and so, he, as a seed, with a Kingdom value, becomes unfruitful. Once more, "He that was sown upon the good ground". Who is he? "He that heareth the Word and understandeth it", who bears fruit, and brings forth fruit. To such the soil is good ground, is responsive, productive and constructive.'
'In this narrative taken as our Lord explained it, there may seem to be a difference, a disparity. As a matter of fact, there is no difference or disparity. In the Parable, emphasis is laid upon the soil. In the explanation, the emphasis is laid upon the nature of the seed that falls upon the soil. The seed sown, as we have seen, are men and women.'
Now that is a long quotation from my Father and Teacher, but I do not apologize for its length because it sets before us a very urgent and important truth from the Word of our Lord about the life and living of those who have accepted and believe in The Word. Some
scholars call this the 'in-carnational' word, meaning to say that as Jesus Christ was indeed the Incarnate Word of God, so, in lesser measure, but in the same manner, we are to be indwelt, or dare I say 'incarnated' by the Living Word of God... or again, as Paul described this teaching, 'Living epistles or letters, read and known of all men.'
IV. THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF HEARING
DOING THE WORD
It is axiomatic to every student of the Bible, that unless our appreciation of the Word leads to an appropriation of the Word, then all our professions of belief are null and void. The solemn words with which our Saviour Christ ended what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, and which incidentally, Dr. Campbell Morgan called, 'The Great Ethical Enunciation of our Lord', are forever arresting with a warning and an invitation. 'Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it' (Matthew 7. 24-27).
The Word of God then is to be heard in the corporate worship of God's people in the House of the Lord. If ever the Pulpit becomes the mere platform for a man's eloquence, or, as a springboard for a man to launch his commentaries on current events; then indeed can be written across that Pulpit 'Ichabod'. - the glory hath departed. Moreover, if the Pulpit becomes the rostrum for the perpetuation of pet theological obsessions with undue emphasis upon one doctrine, while failing to proclaim the whole counsel of God, then indeed the total glory of the Word is under eclipse. The preachers of the Word are to follow in the steps of the great Apostle Paul, who declared to the elders of the Church in Ephesus, in his farewell message to them, 'And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God' (Acts 20. 25-27).
The Word of God, furthermore, for each individual Christian is to be read, pondered, obeyed and loved. The daily devotional, personal opening of The Word, should be a constant joy and delight. A special
hour set apart from the hearing of The Word, as in the morning watch or at eventide, the Sacred Scriptures are read. This does not mean only reading some brief passage selected by someone else, though that may have its useful place. If we are to be attentive and alert to God speaking through His Word, perhaps the last hour of the day, is not the best possible time to read or study His Word. The Rev. Dr. Ralph Sockman of New York once said in my hearing that all too many Christians treat the Bible like bridesmaids treat the wedding cake on the night of the wedding day, that is, they take a bit of it the last thing at night and hope it will work a miracle. Sufficient to observe that bridesmaids know this does not work out in any miraculous way. So for the Christian, the personal experience of hearing The Word must command time and thought in study of the Divine Library, Dr. P. T. Forsythe gave the call when he summoned us to 'An intelligent and affectionate use of the Bible.'
At this point, we can appropriately and fittingly call attention to the value of the Family Altar, when the Father or any member of the family reads a portion of The Word. I bear witness to the blessed fragrance of childhood's memory of Family Prayers. After the singing of a hymn, in which young and old joined heartily, my Father would read a passage, usually a Psalm, from the Bible. Then all kneeling he would lead us to the Throne of Grace. Across the years I can close my eyes and see that circle hearing The Word and kneeling before God our Heavenly Father. In this sense I too can say, 'from a babe thou hast known the Sacred Writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.'
'Finally', as Paul so often exclaimed and may I remind you, or if needs be, inform you, that the Greek word translated 'Finally', does not mean 'lastly' but rather 'Henceforth' or 'From now on'! 'Finally' in this Centennial year of the birth of the Prince of Expositors, a word of heartfelt invitation should be and can be issued to all of us. As a Minister of Christ, may we, with my Brethren in the Christian Ministry, hear and heed the call 'Preach the Word.'
Here we may acknowledge with all sincerity of soul and heartfelt gratitude to God the ministry of the Word from this Pulpit and God's Messenger here for nearly a quarter of a century. Multitudes of you hear Dr. Lloyd-Jones, and great numbers of us read his expositions and proclamations of the Word as they are printed in the Westminster Record.
As officers and members of the churches will you not continue to be hearers and doers of the Word, or if you have lagged or fallen short in this high and holy, and I will say, happy privilege, then from this hour onward, as Abraham Lincoln would say, 'highly resolve' to open
daily God's Word and listen to His Voice as in the power of the Holy Spirit He surely speaks to you.
In this personal experience whether in the House of God or within the inner chamber we shall sing:
'O Word of God Incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky;
We praise Thee for the radiance
That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footsteps,
Shines on from age to age.
The Church from Thee, dear Master,
Received the gift Divine;
And still that light she lifteth
O'er all the earth to shine.
It is the golden casket,
Where gems of truth are stored;
It is the heaven-drawn picture
Of Thee, the Living Word.
It floateth like a banner
Before God's host unfurled;
It shineth like a beacon
Above the darkling world;
It is the chart and compass
That, o'er life's surging sea,
'Mid mists and rocks and quicksands,
Still guides, O Christ, to Thee.
Oh, make Thy Church, dear Saviour,
A lamp of burnished gold,
To bear before the nations
Thy true light, as of old.
Oh, teach Thy wandering pilgrims
By this their path to trace;
Till, clouds and darkness ended,
They see Thee face to face.'