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because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17: 30). Jesus said unto Paul, “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26: 16). Paul, speaking of this vision to Agrippa, adds, “Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26: 19).
The first duty of every messenger of God to men is to call them to repentance. This same message is to be delivered in the palaces or the slums; in the churches and in the highways. This must be first. The giving of food, washing and clothing the poor, and giving them ethical culture, may follow, as the fruits of the Gospel, but must not be put before it.
"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?" (Ezek. 33: 11).
Baptism, confirmation, taking the communion, joining the church, do not regenerate, or make children of God. They who depend on these things, as was the case with the rulers and teachers in the church in the days of Christ, not only cannot enter into the kingdom of God, but do not see it; do not know what the kingdom of God is. Talking with Nicodemus, a ruler in the church, " Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born anew (from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3: 3). In all ages the great danger has been, having false teachers and rulers in the church, deceiving the people by putting their traditions in the place of the Scriptures and leading their followers into idolatry. Jeremiah writes of the church in his day, “From the least even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace" (Jer. 6: 13). John the Baptist said to the leaders of the church in his day, who had come to his baptism, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (Matt. 3: 7; Mark 3: 7, 8).
In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew we have an account of the rulers of the church in the days when Christ was on the earth. Jesus warns the people against them and their teachings. He charges these rulers with "binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne on men's shoulders;" "doing all their work to be seen of men,” “making broad their phylacteries and enlarging the borders of their garments ; ” “loving the uppermost rooms of feasts and the chief seats in the Synagogue, and greetings in the market, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” He tells the people, "call no man father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is is heaven.” He then denounces the most fearful woes against those rulers and teachers. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows houses, and for a pretence make long prayer; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of hell than yourselves.”
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell" (Matt. 23)?
The descriptions of the church in the days of Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Christ, are applicable to the largest portion of the church at the present time. What is needed is another John the Baptist to call the churches to repentance, and “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1: 16, 17).
The Bible teaches us that being born in a church, or being baptized, or being zealous and a strict observer of all the rules of the church, or even being as Cornelius was, “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed always" (Acts 10: 27) are none, or all of them, sufficient to save men. We are told a certain man called Simon, believed and was baptized. Yet he was afterwards told by Peter, "I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8: 9, 13, 23). Being zealous in church services or ordinances, and reading the Scriptures cannot save men. The Ethiopian eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship; and while returning, was reading Isaiah. It was necessary to send an angel to Philip, directing him to go and explain the Scripture to him. Philip did so, and began at the same Scripture and preached unto him Jesus. The eunuch believed, was baptized, and went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8: 26). In his case, his going to Jerusalem and worshipping there, was not enough; his studying the Scriptures was not enough; his belief in his church was not enough; a special miracle must be done to make him know Christ; that he
might be saved. The case of Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, shows, that being devout, fearing God, giving alms and praying to God always, is not enough
to save a man, without the knowledge of Christ, • and believing Him. It required two miracles
to save him. An angel of God came to him and told him to send for Peter and he would tell him what to do. Special visions appeared to Peter, and the voice of the Spirit directed him to go with the messengers sent by Cornelius. He went, and preached Christ unto him; and the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word; and they were baptized. Peter in relating the occurence, adds, “The angel told Cornelius that Peter shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts II: 14). This teaches us that, being devout, and one that feared God with all his house, and giving much alms, and praying to God always, is not sufficient for salvation. It was necessary to hear the Gospel, to be saved. His prayers were heard, and God sent Peter to preach Christ to him; and the Holy Ghost was given, and he was saved. Living a moral life cannot save a man. One came running and kneeled to Christ asking, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus referred him to the commandments; quoting the last six speaking of our duty towards men. He answered, “ All these have I observed from my youth.” Then "Jesus beholding him, loved him, and said unto