Think on These Things

The apostle Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, said “if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). Two people within the same congregation may tell about the same event, and leave very different impressions of what happened.

One is a pessimist. One is an optimist. The one man paints a gloomy picture. The optimist paints a rosy picture. This text that we have used, suggests that a Christian should be an optimist. We need to be careful that we do not carry our optimism too far, but we do need to be optimists.

If we obey the command given here, we shall be optimists. We must have faith that truth shall eventually triumph. Christ reigns until He has put all his enemies under his feet (I Corinthians 15:25). If we are to succeed we must do as Paul did. He forgot the things that were behind and he pressed forward to the things that are ahead. We press on to the mark of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13,14). Let us be assured that He who rides the white horse is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16).

True, we may fall by the wayside. We may fail, but He will not fail. His cause will prevail. We may refuse to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (II Timothy 2:3). There are many preachers today who make me wonder if this command has any part in their thinking. However, my concern along this line will not make me a pessimist. I shall rather think about those who are enduring hardship as good soldiers of Christ Jesus.

God is no respecter of persons. To some people it is no marvel when a preacher in this country refuses to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus, but they are the first to criticize the citizen of another country who does not endure the same hardship. We need to learn the validity of what Peter said by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). If it is wrong for a man overseas to make Christianity a way of gain, then it is wrong here. Why do we expect a different standard from a preacher in a foreign land than we do from preachers here? We sometimes demand more of them, at least in some respects.

Let me give you a concrete example. I was talking to a young man who had been overseas and he mentioned a certain native preacher whom we both knew.

He told me how this native preacher had interpreted for him and another young preacher. Any one would know that it is a harder job to interpret than it is to preach. (Many times I have used two interpreters during a series of meetings.) Yet, this very young man took part in the dismissing of this native preacher for failure to work. Another native preacher was let go who was one of the most diligent men I have ever met. It seems that he had paid too much for one bundle of paper that he bought. We would be enraged in this country if a man of the world dismissed someone for a thing like that. Why do we not protest when a brother in Christ is used that way: Why? Think on these things.

A man who had never been overseas at that time said at a workshop where I was one of the speakers, that things looked different overseas than they do here. I think I have been overseas long enough to assess the value of that statement. I do not believe that is the difference. I think there are restraints here that we do not have overseas. When McHenry was asked why he turned to the Seventh Day Adventists after he went to India, it is reported that his was, “I never did believe in eternal punishment.” In all probability, if he had stayed in the U.S.A. he would have died in the church; that is, to all outside appearances he would have continued as a member of the church. The Lord knoweth them that are His.

Let me assure you that there is no doctrine that looks different to me in India than it looks here. I oppose instrumental music the same there as I do here. I oppose pre-millennialism the same there as I do here. Let me state further that I oppose denominationalism the same there as I do here. A preacher may go overseas and fraternize with the sects in a way that the church would not permit here. Why is this permitted? Is it true that God is no respecter of persons? I do not believe that God has one law in a foreign country, but another law here. Think on these things.

At one time there were many people in this country who believed that a preacher should not receive any regular support. In fact, when I was editor of the Gospel Herald, I had more than one article submitted along this line. This idea has pretty well died down as far as supporting preachers in this country is concerned. It is now considered right to support a preacher if he is a Canadian or an American any place in the world. Let us suppose that a man goes from Canada or the United States to some foreign country to labor. He has a native helper who can do more work in that country than he can. (This is not to disparage the work that is done by the Canadian or the United States citizen.) This helper makes his work possible. The man from America can be paid. He can be paid every month. According to some, that native cannot be paid with funds from overseas. I ask: Where is the golden rule? If this teaching be true then God is a respecter of persons. Think on these things.

A young Indian got acquainted with a church in this country. The church sent him to a Christian school. Then they sent him back to India. He told the congregation that you could not convert the Indian just by preaching. You had to have a project of some kind. The favorite project of the Indian is an orphan home. What has been the result? This Indian obtained seven acres of good agricultural land. There is no orphan home and no one was ever converted to Christ. The young Indian has gone back to his denomination. Tens of thousands of dollars of the Lord's money have been squandered. Should we not expect such a result when neither the preacher nor the congregation believed that the gospel was God's power to save? Think on these things.

Would you accuse me of a pessimistic attitude? I admit that some of what I have said would seem to point that way, but I have not finished. Despite our failures, think of what has happened in the world in this generation. Think of the hundreds of thousands who have obeyed the gospel in the various countries of the world. Think of the host of native preachers who now carry the gospel to their own people. At the end of World War II we probably had no more than 5,000 members of the church who were not in the United States. Today that number would be nearly half a million souls. It is growing daily.

So while we look at our mistakes, we shall not let them overshadow the great work that is being done. We shall accentuate the positive. Yes, I believe with all my heart that He who rides the white horse is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. I believe that He who is with us is greater than he who is against us. The church is growing. It has foes within and without, but it is growing. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all true believers (Romans 1:16).

J. C. Bailey, 1979

Published in The Old Paths Archive