Director of The Jack Miller Project and Teacher at New Life Vicenza.
PhD NAMS at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2019
Research: Cheer Up! A Biographical Study of the Life and Ministry of C. John "Jack" Miller: A Twentieth Century Pioneer of Grace
MDiv at Covenant Theological Seminary, 2001
The pastor functioning as a servant and brother knows that work is the operative word for his calling: the pastor is a working model for his people. Like Epaphroditus he may be called to labor in self-giving right to the door of death (Phil 2:28–30), to study diligently as a scribe of the kingdom (Matt 13:32; 2 Tim 2:15), and to agonize in prayer for men (Col 2:1–3; 4:12–13).
On a daily basis, this means that self-indulgence must be put to death in the pastor. Self-indulgence represents a special and continuing temptation to the pastor because his time is largely in his own hands. It takes the form of physical laziness and sluggishness of spirit, which readily fosters fear. Personal timidity and physical exhaustion often seem to issue from the poisoned conscience of the slothful man.
It works like this: the pastor neglects his calling in the community, grows weary of study and finds his preaching and teaching a burden. He also thinks he needs more sleep. And his fear of people grows.
Other sins soon spin out of his disobedient life. Legalistic penance, wheel-spinning, the aggressive pushing of secondary causes in the church, the neglect of matters of first importance—he indulges in it all.
To be rid of this burden of self-indulgence, go to Christ, the perfect Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1–2). By faith hand the sins over to Him. Be specific as you confess your transgressions, and then trust in His forgiveness. He promises it (1 John 1:8–10).
If this does not bring fundamental help, ask your elders to pray for you, acknowledging your tendency to self-indulgence. At the same time, ask the Lord to search out your hearts for related sins, such as daydreaming and fantasizing.
What you may learn is that the pride that keeps you is the fundamental cause of your laziness. You may have been too proud to let the Lord search you and root out your pet sins, whatever they were.
But be comforted. The Holy Spirit will help you (Psa 139:23–24). Christ will write the Father’s laws and love on your heart (Ezek 36:24–25). And remember, repentance is normal for the believer, his way of responding to Christ and drawing near to the Father (Luke 15:20–24).
Sincere and swift repentance of sinful habits and attitudes can transform the ministry of the most discouraged, ineffectual pastor. Imagine for a moment a young minister who arrives at his study late, already feeling guilty because he has not begun the day in earnest prayer. Usually, the despair produced by habitual sins like these causes him to fritter away his entire time. But today he faces his sins head on. He begins his time by looking to Christ for help. He labors in prayer until he has experienced His cleansing and then seeks God’s wisdom in preparing his Sunday sermon (James 1:5–8).
This time, his preparation does not consist solely of an exegesis of the passage and the writing of the sermon text. Instead, the pastor relates his calling as servant and brother to his preaching. He makes a list of several people who concern him, people he suspects may be unconverted or believers with special needs. He then takes time to pray for them.
Afterwards, he returns to the shaping of the sermon in view of the needs of the men and women for whom he has just prayed. He gives up his academic vocabulary and the elements of bookish didacticism as he thinks of their souls. Illustrations come to mind as he mentally reasons from Scripture with these lost and straying sheep. With eyes of faith he sees them—and he will have their souls for God!
By the time he leaves his study, he cannot wait until Sunday to preach. That afternoon, he calls on these people to minister to them in their homes. He is becoming a man who preaches the Word in season and out, and his pulpit and his study are fused into a continuum: in the study he drinks of the gospel as a thirsty sinner, and in the pulpit he pours forth the overflow to other sinners like himself (John 7:37–39).
The pastor is on his way to becoming, like Paul, a model for witness to his people. He begins by seeking the knowledge of Christ from Scripture, a knowledge which so fills him with the love of God that old sins and habits are displaced by a new fulness. Though lazy and filled with fears, he brought forth both failings to Christ, seeking the strengthening of his faith.
This is the key: strengthening the Christian leader by faith. “The just shall live by faith” must include the pastor’s whole life, for it is this that enables him to concentrate his energies, define goals, repent of sins and honestly face up to his own limitations. It is this that makes him a fruit-bearing disciple, eager to have answers to prayer through his own preaching, to have lives come under the power of the gospel.
He is not content with a vague concept of “edification”—he prays for his hearers to be brought to a full knowledge of the Father and the Son (John 17:3). And by dealing with his own sins of pride, fear, laziness and lust, he is able to make the message powerfully concrete.
The pastor whom God has made a model for witness is one whose character is inseparably intertwined with his faith in the gospel message. If he did not have confidence in its power to change him, the awareness of his own sins would crush his ministry. But as he leaves his idols to serve Christ, he discovers that the message purifies his heart through faith, and liberates him from all his guilty fears (2 Cor 3:16–18; 1 Thess 1:9–10; John 3:1–3). He is a man set free to serve a living God.
C. John “Jack” Miller, Evangelism & Your Church, 58–61.
I wish to affirm that faith alone is the exclusive means for the believer’s continuance in justification. In the divine act of initial justification, faith alone obtains God’s once-and-for-all pardon and free acceptance. The same is true for justification as an ongoing manifestation in the life of the believer. My sins that are daily confessed are pardoned through faith without any addition of works.
There is a clear biblical rationale for this continued preeminence of faith in receiving forgiveness throughout your life. There is an inseparable connection between Christ alone and faith alone. Faith alone is just my way of taking nothing from myself and all from Christ. The ground or procuring cause of forgiveness is always and only the priestly sacrifice of Christ, and faith is always and only the sole means or instrumental cause for claiming His blood and righteousness for our acquittal before the throne of the Highest.
Your own conscience as a Christian readily confirms this conclusion. When you daily confess your sins, do you remind God of your course of covenantal obedience as a cause of acquittal? I think not. You claim in all humility the blood of Christ as your sole hope. In the presence of the Most High you deny that your good works could give you an interest in His favor. You acknowledge that apart from the justifying work of Christ your best efforts are filled with evil. In doing this, you act by faith alone — which is simply to say you look away from yourself to Christ alone.
Compelling Scriptural support for this attitude is found in Philippians 3. Paul is here speaking as a Christian man, not as someone coming to Christ for the first time. His choice of language is intriguing, almost paradoxical. You might almost sum up verses 4 through 11 as Paul portrays himself as laboring intensively not to rest in his own labors. According to him, everything that he had by way of gain from his law-keeping has gone overboard, tossed over by the Apostle’s own hands (v. 7). That is the past. But Paul did not see his struggle with Judaism and the way of law-keeping as a mere phase of his past. Instead, he sees the works-righteousness of Judaism as, in the words of G. C. Berkouwer, “a symptom of the threat to grace inherent in man’s sinful self-importance.” As such, then, the struggle against law-works goes on in Paul’s ongoing life as a man of God. In vs. 8 the battle against works is in the present. Paul says: “Yes, what is more, I certainly do count all things to be sheer loss because of the all-surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I suffer the loss of all these things, and I am still counting them refuse, in order that I may gain Christ” (William Hendriksen’s translation). Knowing the deceitful way of man’s arrogant heart, Paul makes it the first order of business in the present (and the future too) not to run after anything but “the righteousness from God which depends on faith” (v. 9 RSV). In this matter of justification paradoxically he labors not to have “a righteousness of my own” (v. 9). The idea is that Paul does not trust himself. He gives all his attention to making sure that he may not be drawn away by “man’s sinful self-importance” to build a record of achievement sufficient to earn a stake in his justification.
The matter can be made even clearer by looking at Paul’s citation of the examples of Abraham and David in Romans 4:1-8. It seems certain that both men were believers and already justified by grace at this time. The citation of Genesis 15:6 in vs. 3 indicates that Abraham had been a believer for some years, and the quotation from Ps. 32 of David’s experience is unquestionably the statement of faith of a man already a believer and therefore already a justified person.
Now considering that Paul is speaking to believers, note the direction of Paul’s reasoning. He argues that Abraham was acquitted through faith altogether apart from works done by him. Verse 2 introduces the subject: “For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not toward God” (ARV). Verse 5 then draws the conclusion: “and to the one who does not work but trusts in Him who justifies the ungodly, His faith is credited to Him for righteousness.” The opposition between faith and works here is obvious. This faith-works dichotomy is found in the life of the believer whenever justification (pardon of sins and acceptance with God) is in view.
The same line of thought is applied by Paul to David with equal vigor. He writes: “So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness without works” (vs. 6). This “without works” is the same as saying nothing from man but all from God. Or to state the issue more precisely, Paul is teaching that even the noblest believing men — Abraham and David — cannot rely upon their good works for their justification. Whenever the specific concern is the acquittal of sinners against the charge of sin, the only condition is that of faith.
My purpose, then, is to affirm that always in justification understood as remission of sins we must see works and faith as in opposition. I am persuaded that this is the Reformed way. Among the continental Reformed, of the seventeenth century, Ludovicus Crocius (1636) states flatly: “So not only are those works excluded from the act of justification, which are emitted before faith and conversion, but also those which proceed from faith (my italics). Gulielmus Bucanus (1609) is so zealous to exclude all works from justification that he concludes: “As regards justification faith is purely a passive thing, bringing nothing of ours to conciliate God, but receiving from Christ what we lack (my italics).
Francisco’s Burmannus (1699) sums it all up this: “Indeed faith is so opposed to works in this matter that it even excludes itself if it is considered as a work. Although regarded by itself it is a work, in justification it is not regarded after this manner but purely as an instrumental work” (my italics).
In the British tradition, Anthony Burgess, prominent member of the Westminster Assembly, states: “That distinction of faith justifying … which is lively and working, but not AS lively and working; is not trifling …” He adds: “Neither is this justification by faith alone, excluding the conditionality of works to be applied to our justification at first only, but as continued; so that from first to last, we are justified all along by faith …” (my italics). He concludes: “… The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, not faith to works” (Rom 1:17).
Speaking for the Independents, John Owen also writes:
“Some say that, on our part, the continuation of this state of our justification depends on the condition of good works; that is, that they are of the same consideration and use with faith itself herein. In our justification, itself there is, they will grant, somewhat peculiar unto faith; but as to the continuation of our justification, faith and works have the same influence unto it; yea, some seem to ascribe it distinctly unto works in an especial manner, with this only proviso, that they be done in faith. For my part I cannot understand that the continuance of our justification hath any other dependencies than hath our justification itself. As faith alone is required unto the one, so faith alone is required unto the other, although its operations and effects in the discharge of its duty and office in justification and the confutation of it, are diverse …”
But James Buchanan, successor to Thomas Chalmers in the chair of divinity at New College in Edinburgh, is even stronger in maintaining that in the relationship to justification works and faith are opposed. He is of the view that the pride even of believing man is sufficient to turn the fruits of the Spirit into law works. He reasons that “the same works” can be described from two standpoints. From the standpoint of the “fruits of sanctification,” they are “an odor of a sweet smell, holy, acceptable to God,” but from the standpoint of the ground of our justification, or as forming any part of our TITLE to that inheritance, they are to be utterly rejected, and treated as ‘dung’ and ‘filthy rags’ with reference to that end.”
Perhaps better than anyone else Calvin puts it all together. Speaking in the Institutes of the opposition between faith and works, he says that it is necessary to reject the position of even “the sounder Schoolmen.” They grant that “the beginning of justification” consists in the sinner’s being “freely delivered from condemnation.” On this point “there is no controversy between us.” Where we differ is that these “sounder Schoolmen” teach that “the regenerate man … being once reconciled to God by means of Christ … is afterwards deemed righteous by his good works and is accepted in consideration of them.”
By contrast, Calvin says that throughout our lives “We must hold fast” our trust in Christ, not in our works. To prove his point, he turns to Romans 4 and its citation of Abraham and David. He reasons along lines that I have already expressed in this work. Concerning Abraham, Calvin writes:
“Abraham had long served God with a pure heart and performed that obedience of the Law which a mortal man is able to perform: yet his righteousness still consisted in faith. Hence, we infer, according to the reasoning of Paul, that it was not of works. In like manner, when the prophet says, ‘The just shall live by his faith’ (Hab. ii. 4), he is not speaking of the wicked and profane, whom the Lord justifies by converting them to the faith: his discourse is directed to believers, and life is promised to them by faith.”
In the same context, Calvin also says of the citation of Psalm 32:1-2 by Paul in Romans 4:7-8:
“It is certain that David is not speaking of the ungodly, but of believers such as himself was, because he was giving utterance to the feelings of his own mind. Therefore, we must have this blessedness not only once, but must hold it fast during our whole lives (my italics). Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days but is declared to be perpetual in the church (2 Cor. v. 18). Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death — vix., ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, but ‘by grace’ are ye saved,’ ‘not of works, lest any man should boast’” (Eph. 2:8-9).
After spending several more pages explaining why the better Schoolmen are mistaken, Calvin drives the final nail. In the continuance of justification, these theologians talk about the “partial righteousness” of the believer and the gift of “accepting grace” which makes up for its incompleteness. As far as Calvin is concerned this is stuff and nonsense. They forget that the law of God always demands absolute righteousness of the believer as well as the unbeliever, “the only righteousness acknowledged in heaven being the perfect righteousness of the law.” For this reason even the best works of the believer have no place as a cause or condition of our justification. At this point Calvin’s writing exhibits unusual energy and intensity of conviction. He wishes to allow no loophole for works. He seizes the language most familiar to the Schoolmen — that of Aristotle’s four causes. Concerning the efficient cause, we can find nothing of works here. This can only be “the mercy and free love of the heavenly Father toward us.” The material cause cannot be works but Christ and His righteousness. The final cause “is the demonstration of the divine righteousness and the praise of His goodness.” No works here. And the instrumental cause? That can never be works “but faith.” The nail has gone home. Now nothing is loose. Faith guarantees that it is of grace in the Christian life. It is clear why Calvin in the Institutes puts justification by faith in the section dealing with the Christian life. He wants “the saints” to know that for grace to be all in all for them “the blessing of justification is possessed by faith alone.”
My purpose, then, is to affirm that always in justification understood as remission of sins we must keep faith and works in opposition. The sole condition for continuing in justification from sins is faith alone. For the Reformed, Calvin says the matter is not negotiable. It is the biblical way, issuing from the vision of the majesty of God. When we lift our eyes to the King on high, our good works always dissolve into nothingness. In awe, we cry: “Enter not into judgment with thy servant” (Psalm 143:2). Concerning the comprehensive salvation of the believer, we insist upon the necessity of good works with all vigor. But in this specific matter of forgiveness and acceptance with God in relationship to Christ’s priestly office, we must hold unwaveringly to faith alone. This must be as true of the believer from the moment he first trusts in Christ to the moment of his death. He is ever in danger of converting the fruits of the Spirit into legal works presented to the Father as a good record warranting acceptance.
Among Christian leaders this temptation is the most common one. Because their position and religious activity, they often stand well in the eyes of men. Then gradually they feel “justified” before public opinion by their performance and attainments. From this human self-evaluation it is but a small step to self-elevation before God. When this happens, the conscience begins to be troubled, and confession of sin becomes oppressive and half-hearted (Lam 1:14). The wheels of life go heavy in the sand, with the result that a great deal of churning about produces very little (Psalm 39:11), work and worship become increasingly mechanical, and the spirit is left restless and unsatisfied even in the midst of intense Christian activity (Heb. 9:14). Day and night the hand of God is heavy upon the believer, and he may experience physical sickness in this state (Psalm 32:3,4).
Once at a pastor’s conference, I met a young man who described himself along these lines. He explained that when he first entered the ministry God put an unusual blessing upon his life and work. Under his guidance, every part of the church life proved to be fruitful. This brought him great joy. But after two years something went wrong, first with himself, then with the congregation. He was mystified. Where did the power of the Spirit go? Why did He [God] withdraw a large measure of the blessing?
The young pastor suggested an answer: pride. To this insight, I added a question: “Do you suppose that somehow you began to offer your good works and accomplishments to God as a basis for your justification?” I explained the matter much as it is set forth in this chapter. To my astonishment, he looked as though he had been cut to the heart by a dagger. In a moment he burst into tears.
After leaving him alone for a couple of hours, I returned to my even greater astonishment and found him with joy unlike anything I had ever seen before in a minister. He had been through deep waters but had landed on the rock of Psalm 32 and Romans 3-4. “Of course,” he explained, in effect, “I was already a Christian. But through my self-righteousness and pride I was leaning heavily on my own record for my relationship with God.” He concluded that this was partly unconscious. He had no idea that he had for all practical purposes abandoned justification by faith alone and mixed in work as part of his hope of acceptance with God.
But does this suggest that there is more than one justification? Are we to conclude that Abraham, David, and our young pastor were justified twice? Not at all. I find no evidence in Scripture for repeated justifications. But the Bible does teach that real pardon does continue to take place after the first and final imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner through the conditionality of faith alone. The initial act of definitive or absolute justification brought into being an unalterable relationship. Further remission of sins is the effect and consequence of that first imputation. Subsequent forgiveness is, then, through faith alone as an application of that initial act of justification. It is not a second and different act of justification.
So further pardon is not a repeated justification. The Scriptures know nothing of the shakiness and doubts that go with the schemes of multiple justifications. At the same time, subsequent pardon is not reduced to a charge by the initial declaration of forgiveness by God. It is all too easy for us to think that justification via imputation is a cold, dead legal issue, settled forever is some remote heavenly courtroom. This caricature is just close enough to the truth to be dangerously misleading. In fact, justification is a final legal pronouncement settled in heaven. But what has happened in much so-called Christian thinking is the acceptance of the devil’s own distortion. “Once-for-all” is bent so as to mean “far-off”, “inert”, and “inapplicable”. Carried a step further, this partly unconscious trend expresses itself in the mental attitude that it is somehow doctrinally unsound to confess sins too heartily and feelingly — or daringly to believe that they have been completely removed by the blood of Christ. At bottom, the idea is: why ask for something you already have as a justified Christian?
Finally, this caricature of justification by faith alone ends up either turning the confession of sins into a meaningless routine or causing confession to God through Christ to cease altogether. After all, the man thinks: Am I not already forgiven? Are not my sins already under the blood?
But such careless presumption is not the way faith. Faith knows that further pardon is no charade. It is actual. When we confess our sins in Jesus’ name by faith alone, we must know that they are truly forgiven for His dear sake alone. The conscience as the courtroom of the soul is really set at rest altogether apart from any other conditionality than faith in Christ. Through such trust the accuser of the brethren is really cast down. What we are now enjoying as believers is the application of that justification to our present struggle against our sins. In this intense warfare it is of the greatest encouragement to know that the blood of a righteous high priest is forever mine and that in the midst of many sins I can daily claim it as my sure hope before the heavenly Father.
Some brothers will be sincerely troubled by this teaching, in many instances because they are distressed by lack of reverence today for God and His laws. They especially are concerned by what they see as downplaying the cost of discipleship in much contemporary evangelism. As a consequence, they want the necessity of obedience to be kept up front in our message. Faith alone, therefore, sounds like easy-believism and salvation without discipleship. Though I share this concern, I am equally concerned that this motivation not lead us to confuse different kinds of necessities. For example, there is a necessity involved in the forgiveness of others, in daily repentance, and in new obedience in general. But this is a different kind of necessity, a different kind of conditionality, from that which we have been speaking. It is a necessity of obedience to Christ’s prophetic and kingly offices, the necessity of evidence establishing the reality of my faith in Him. But the necessity or conditionality in relationship to justification and the continuance in it is of a unique kind. Faith can do something that no other Christian grace can do. It is able to embrace Christ and His forgiving mercy. Humble faith can do that. When the justified person is guilty of sin, when his conscience presses hard upon him bringing him to the edge of despair, then faith can effectively plead Christ’s priestly sacrifice. It brings a fresh cleaning of guilt before God and a renewed experience of His justifying grace. This is both a sweet comfort and a powerful jolt to our pride.
If the church of God and the individual believer are to walk in freedom, then we must keep this distinction clear. Otherwise, we are in danger of blurring the nature of the gospel itself. We do not want to forget that we must exercise repentance and new obedience. But this above all must be remembered: when it comes to the remission of sins, God requires only one thing — faith alone embracing Christ alone.
 Faith and Justification (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 78.
 Cited in Heinrich Heppe’s Reformed Dogmatics: Set Out and Illustrated from the Sources (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), p. 554.
 Anthony Burgess, Original Sin (1659), from unnumbered pages in the postscript. So also John Ball, Treatise of the Covenant of Grace (1645), p. 20, Ball says that faith and works are inseparably joined in the person being redeemed but that in “the matter of justification and salvation in the covenant” they are opposed. I am indebted to Mr. David Lachman for both of these quotations.
 John Owen, Justification by Faith, (Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace Pub. Co., reprint), Ch. V.
 James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification: An Outline of Its History in the Church and of Its Exposition from Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House: reprint 1955), pp. 363–64.
 Institutes of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Company, 1958), BK III, Ch. XIV, Sec. 11.
[00:00:04] Turn in your Bible to Luke 11, beginning to read with verse one,. [00:00:08][3.6]
[00:00:10] One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples. He said to them, When you pray, say father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation. [00:00:35][25.2]
[00:00:37] Then he said to them, Suppose one of you has a friend and he goes to him at midnight and says, Friend, lend me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me and I have nothing to set before him. Then the one inside answers. Don’t bother me. The door is already locked and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything. [00:00:57][20.4]
[00:00:58] I tell you though, he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend. Yet because the man’s persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you ask and it will be given to you seek and you will find. Knock on the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds and to him who knocks the door will be open. [00:01:21][22.4]
[00:01:22] Which of you fathers if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead, or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion. If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? [00:01:41][19.0]
[00:01:42] And then Matthew eighteen. We have these words most striking in verses 19 and 20, Matthew 18, verses 19 and 20. [00:01:57][15.1]
[00:01:58] Again, I tell you, if two of you on Earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name there am I with them. [00:02:12][14.9]
[00:02:13] And then Acts chapter one in verses 13 and 14. This is after the resurrection and ascension of Christ. The disciples have gathered together in the upper room. [00:02:25][11.5]
[00:02:25] When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers. [00:02:49][23.8]
[00:02:51] And then Acts two verse one, apparently still continuing in prayer, we read: when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. [00:03:00][8.8]
[00:03:03] And then turning back with me to Luke, Chapter 11, we come to these words of the disciples addressed to Jesus: Lord, teach us to pray, Lord. Teach us to pray. [00:03:17][14.0]
[00:03:21] Usually we think of this in an individualistic way, Lord teach us … really we translate it, Lord, teach me to pray. But you’ll notice the text does say teach us to pray. And of course, that does mean me and you, but it also means us together. [00:03:36][14.8]
[00:03:37] So we’re going to be talking today about praying together effectively. [00:03:40][3.3]
[00:03:42] And I’d like to begin by just asking what is prayer? [00:03:45][3.2]
[00:03:46] And I think we can say that prayer is talking to God. [00:03:51][4.8]
[00:03:52] We’re going to be seeing what is effective prayer and then how to pray effectively, how to do it together. We need to start off by asking ourselves just what is prayer? [00:04:01][8.3]
[00:04:01] And I think it’s a pretty good definition to say prayer is talking to God and then you might add on the basis of Jesus name. [00:04:09][7.6]
[00:04:10] But that still hasn’t brought us to what effective prayer is. And I believe effective prayer is talking to God about some distinct thing. [00:04:22][11.9]
[00:04:26] Because many times when we try to pray and get through, the reason we don’t get through is we don’t really have anything in particular we’re praying about. [00:04:36][10.6]
[00:04:37] You know, you have a very guilty feeling that somebody here at New Life wants you to get up in the morning and have devotions and you feel you should. But there doesn’t seem to be any strong motivation for it. And it isn’t going to be effective if you do because you don’t have any distinct thing that you want to pray about. It’s all rather vague. [00:04:56][18.6]
[00:04:57] And so it means then that somewhere in effective prayer, it isn’t that you get up in the morning and you get your revolver out and blow out your brains and then you pray, and that effective prayer consists without any mind in action. [00:05:11][14.6]
[00:05:12] No effective prayer must involve the head. Some understanding that you want to get something from God. [00:05:19][6.4]
[00:05:21] All right. It’s talking to God then about some distinct thing, but then it wouldn’t be effective unless what happened? Unless you got an answer. Nobody’s going to keep on praying if he doesn’t get answers. [00:05:33][12.8]
[00:05:36] Well, I know some people who do, I should say, I mean its their whole religion. But most of us are too lazy. I’m not going to keep on praying if I don’t get answers. [00:05:45][9.0]
[00:05:45] So effective praying is talking to God about some particular thing and then getting an answer to that request. It might be deliverance from a temptation or a bad habit, and that can really fuel your desire to pray. You say, well, look, if I got rid of that one or if God got rid of it for me, maybe I’d better try a little more of this. It whets your appetite. [00:06:07][21.9]
[00:06:08] And so effective prayer begins to develop. Or maybe you’re in temptation and you thought, man, I’m going to go down and you couldn’t even think of any noble way to pray. You couldn’t even remember the Lord’s Prayer. And you just cry out, Lord, help me with this temptation. And He did. And you walked away surprised. Oh, dear. You know, this kind of works. I wonder what happened. [00:06:27][19.3]
[00:06:28] And then you may have a tremendous problem dropped in your lap of a health kind of a health kind. Daniel Adams, you see here is a very serious matter. And we all pray and we see an answer. Or we prayed earlier in the year, remember when we had that time, we all prayed for increased income and no one told me if their income diminished. But now that might have happened. I don’t know. But anyway, all kinds of people came forward and said they had more income afterwards. [00:07:02][34.0]
[00:07:04] And, well, that’s effective prayer. It’s something that happened. And we’re told it’s all right to pray that because in the Lord’s Prayer at Lord’s Prayer, it says, pray for your daily bread. And that’s something you need. And so you pray for that. [00:07:17][13.6]
[00:07:18] Well, having said that, it brings us to the question now: How do you pray effectively? What is the way you do it? [00:07:25][7.0]
[00:07:27] And our text has a lot of help for us. And in verse six, it says about prayer, it really begins with these words. “I have nothing.” I have nothing. [00:07:36][9.8]
[00:07:38] You see, if you have a strong sense of your own competence, there’s nothing coming down the road that you can’t deal with, there’s not much reason to pray. [00:07:47][9.1]
Jack Miller: [00:07:49] But when something comes down the road that is too big even for you to deal with, then you say, what do I do now? [00:07:56][7.7]
[00:07:58] I remember when I was about 14, I was a young atheist. I did not believe in God for many years. And my sister, the doctor, says she’s going to die. And what does the young atheist do when his sister is going to die? You know, what a young atheist does? He says, God, I don’t know whether you exist, you probably don’t, but if you do, I’m going to be better if you would make my sister live. Well you know, my sister lived, but I didn’t change. [00:08:32][33.7]
[00:08:33] But the need was there for the first time. And I realized I was not complete in myself. Human adequacy became very inadequate. What can you do? [00:08:43][9.1]
[00:08:45] And so this, I have nothing to set before him. I have nothing. That’s the need side of how to pray. Realizing your needs. [00:08:54][9.1]
[00:08:56] When I was in North Carolina recently with Rose Marie. And I we went down there for a conference and we were trying to enlist people both for missions and also material support for some of our missionaries. But even more than that, we’re trying to help them to learn to pray, that each church might be a missionary power. And while we were there, so much blessing came from them to us. It was really exciting. And one of the young men who’s there is a doctor and he’s a graduate of Jenkintown High School in nineteen seventy four. And so he’s very much interested in becoming a missionary. And so he was telling us how he became a Christian. He told us all about life in Jenkintown. It was interesting how many people we knew together and so on. And it was like Old Home Week. But he said when he got out of medical school, at first it went well. Then he got in the third year and he began to discover his own inadequacies. He had a struggle with some close relationship that went sour and he felt guilty over it and he felt he did the wrong thing to the other person. And he said, how do I get rid of that? I’m adequate. And he was really troubled by that. And then he said, I began as I went into my third year, I began to get more time in the hospital. I began to see more people. And he says, I have a kind of integrity in me and I don’t lie to patients. And when I think they’re dying, I can’t stand there and say, well, just take this pill and you’re going to be all right. And he said, I didn’t know what to tell them. And he said some of them were terribly frightened and I had nothing to say. And he said I had this one patient who was really frightened and she was afraid she was going to have a stroke and maybe die. And he says, I couldn’t tell her that she might not have a stroke and die because I thought she was going to have a stroke and die. So he just felt completely inadequate and his brother in law had been witnessing to him. So he got down on his knees, this proud young doctor, and he cried out, Jesus, show yourself to me, God, show me Jesus. I don’t know anything. [00:10:59][123.5]
[00:11:03] As he walked into that room the next day, and when he walks into the room, he goes over to the bed, he still doesn’t know anything. And the woman is so frightened, she’s a little lady down from the Appalachians. And she asked them the questions again. I’m going to have a stroke. I’m going to die. And he says, look, and he says are you a Christian? [00:11:24][20.7]
[00:11:26] And I looked up at him, you know. I hadn’t heard anything like from him before. And he says he didn’t know where it all came from. But he said, but if you’re a Christian, you must believe that God has a plan over your life. And it must be a good plan. And if it’s a good plan, you don’t need to be afraid. Are you Christian? [00:11:42][15.4]
[00:11:43] She looked at him and she became a Christian at that point, and he says the funny thing was she changed completely right in front of me. And instead of being a person who’s frightened, that her very fears are so great they might kill her, she became a woman of faith. And I’ve never seen fear in her since. And he said I was astonished at the effect of my words on that woman and the fact I saw nothing but faith. And the next time I said, you know, I guess I believe this too don’t I. And she walked out of the room and he says, I became a Christian in there, too. Out of his own words. [00:12:16][32.4]
[00:12:16] And God heard his prayer, the night before, born out of this sense of I don’t have any resources, I’ve got no bread, I don’t know how to do it. And he prayed. And, you know, if you had told him, boy, you really know how to pray effectively, he would have said, I don’t know a thing. Because you see, effectiveness comes when you don’t know a thing. [00:12:34][18.0]
[00:12:36] I remember that when I first became a Christian, it was so wonderful. You remember that time when you first became a Christian. And finally I decided, you know, I really am a chaotic person. I was a student and I would often stay up till three o’clock in the morning and I never hit the sack before 3:00 and my morning classes got visited occasionally by me, not too often. And I had that in my background and I decided, boy, I got to change this. [00:13:06][29.8]
[00:13:06] So I organized, reorganized my life over a period of about six months to a year and begin to show up even at eight o’clock classes. And it was difficult. But then finally I got myself reorganized and I began to get up at six o’clock every morning and pray for an hour. [00:13:20][13.2]
[00:13:20] And was I really adequate? My life was so adequate and I was so satisfied with my six to seven o’clock devotions. I went around exhorting other people to have six to seven devotions, you know. [00:13:30][9.9]
[00:13:30] And then I got married. And we got married and suddenly I discovered Rose Marie wasn’t really red hot about that hour from six to seven. In fact, she said, sometimes your smile at six is a little hard to bear. [00:13:45][14.8]
[00:13:48] So anyway, and then she got pregnant and she had morning sickness every morning from six to seven. So I spent the devotion period bringing tea and toast and trying to provide her a pan if she needed it, whatever. [00:14:05][17.5]
[00:14:06] And so it was in this I became very inadequate. And I thought, I’m losing knowing how to pray. But then it dawned on me somewhere along the line eventually that it isn’t six to seven that teaches you to pray. It’s the morning sins that teaches you to pray. It’s a wife you can’t cope with that teaches you to pray, a husband you can’t cope with that teaches you to pray. [00:14:31][24.5]
[00:14:31] It’s much more basic. It becomes effective when you know you don’t have any clue how to put anything together. And yet you believe maybe out there somewhere, God knows how to put it together. [00:14:43][11.8]
[00:14:44] Are you catching what goes into prayer? And the thing the Lord convicted me. They asked me to speak down there at North Carolina on repentance and missions, repentance and outreach. And I ask myself, Lord, Lord, I don’t want to go down there unrepentant and tell everybody about repentance. That would make me sick at my stomach. And I’m sure God would be nauseated by it too. [00:15:07][23.5]
[00:15:08] And I said, God is there anything about me that you have problems with this morning. Turned out I have quite a few things I discovered, and one of them was looking squarely at how much I lean on human adequacy, my own or somebody else’s, how much I lean on human resources, how much I lean on that which is visible, and then I just asked, God forgive me, I want to lean on you. [00:15:33][24.7]
[00:15:34] And that’s where it is. You don’t lean on yourself or your strength. The whole idea of praying is you’ve got nothing. The man comes at midnight, the knock is there, and he has to say to his friend, I have nothing. And of course, he has nothing. And it’s the insistent realization of that in his heart that keeps him knocking until he gets an answer. [00:15:55][21.5]
[00:15:56] And then the other side of praying is this. And that’s found in verse thirteen. And it says there is a promise and the promise is if you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? [00:16:14][17.7]
[00:16:16] Now, God sometimes exaggerates. Isn’t that true? Its true, the Bible overstates stuff, way, overstates stuff, right? Do you believe the Bible does that? Now, I want to know, do you believe the Bible exaggerates? A lot? And that you appropriately have to cut it down to reality? Right. [00:16:44][28.1]
[00:16:47] Because the picture here isn’t the way most of us pray. It doesn’t seem to be what most of us believe. It says that God has a heart for those who are needy, those who have no bread. He’s ready to give the bread of the Holy Spirit on an ongoing basis. [00:17:02][15.1]
[00:17:03] Notice the language of the text. He says here that, verse nine: Ask, seek and knock. And then he says, you’re going to receive, you’re going to have, the door will be open. And the verbs there are in the present tense, ongoing action. And therefore it means you keep up doing it. And every day, in effect, you ask for the Holy Spirit and the Father is committed to giving him to you. And the central substance of your life, the bread, you see, the combination. He moves down talking about bread, eggs, fish, the substance of life, necessary for life. And then he just moves in and drops that substance language and uses the true substance language of the Holy Spirit. [00:17:45][42.4]
[00:17:47] And he says, I promise to give you every day the Holy Spirit when you ask for him. When was the last time you asked for the Holy Spirit? [00:17:54][7.4]
[00:17:57] Obviously, you cut this one down. You either ignored it or you thought it was an overstatement. God couldn’t love me that much to give me his very life in his Son on a cross and then from that Son and the ascended Son to pour forth on me at my conversion, my rebirth—at the rebirth and conversion he gives me the Spirit—but then daily to give me more of his strength, more of his wisdom, more of his joy, more of the thanksgiving, more of his power, more of his peace, more of his calmness. [00:18:29][32.5]
[00:18:32] I have nothing, but then I have a full cupboard coming to me whenever I ask and believe and claim the promise, do you see? [00:18:43][10.4]
[00:18:43] And so that’s effective prayer. But now the question comes, how do we pray effectively together? [00:18:48][5.0]
[00:18:50] And here we find what we need to see is that prayer, we often think of it too subjectively, too defensively. What can I pray and have God help me with so I can get out of my next scrape? You know, I got myself in this beautiful, tangled mess. I blew it this morning with my husband, with my children. I was obnoxious on the telephone. It was a great beginning for the day. And I need Lord, get me out of this. Help me get it all straight. [00:19:27][37.0]
[00:19:28] Or something is wrong in your studies or your work. You’re in danger of getting fired. Or you might make a major mistake and then you pray through that and you say, boy, I really got the Holy Spirit’s blessing, and you didn’t really. You only got a crumb and you said I had a whole loaf. [00:19:48][20.0]
[00:19:50] Because the point of the passage is that the abundance of the Father’s gift John 7:37-39 says: if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, he that believes in me, according as the scripture has said from within him shall flow rivers of living water. Enough for yourself and enough to overflow to other people. Abundance. [00:20:17][27.8]
[00:20:19] When Jesus talks to the woman at the well that he says, you know, young lady, if you got to know the truth, you’d sure have a great trickle of water running in you. You’d be able to get out of all your scrapes. You will be able to straighten it out with those husbands. You know, you got a little problem there, five of them. The last fellow your not married to. A little problem. But we will give you a trickle. Jesus doesn’t say that. He says will give you a spring, an artesian well inside of you. [00:20:49][29.6]
[00:20:49] And, you know, when she believed that she even forgot about all her problems and ran back telling people about Jesus. There’s a man out there who told me everything I ever did. [00:20:58][8.8]
[00:21:00] And she came with a Christ consciousness, which is the primary work of the Holy Spirit. To make you aware of the glory of Christ, the wonder of the Father’s love. Those are the things that matter. And to love others in that miraculous way, with the intensity with which you love yourself. To live in the monotony of life, where things are the same, where the same dull things must go on and on, and to live there with a kindliness, a tenderness and a patience that says, that advertises, that the Spirit is working in your life, that you are a supernatural person in very ordinary circumstances. [00:21:43][43.0]
[00:21:45] And that’s what prayer is all about and how does that come? [00:21:49][3.8]
[00:21:50] Well, we have to have recognition that there is additional power conferred upon the church officially when we come to pray together. [00:22:00][10.5]
[00:22:01] We see all of these marvelous answers to prayer. And we’re told in Matthew 18, it’s this very simple. If we want to go beyond where we are, it can’t be simply individualistic. If you just pray by yourself at some point, it’s going to start to dry up. It will, because that’s not God’s normal. [00:22:22][20.8]
[00:22:23] Truly effective prayer finds its life in praying with other Christians. [00:22:29][5.7]
[00:22:30] Notice this promise in Matthew, 18, verse 19. Again, I tell you, if two of you on Earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name there Am I with them. [00:22:44][13.9]
[00:22:45] Now have you ever gone to a prayer meeting where the attendance was really down and everybody was demoralized. And some dear saint prayed something like this? God, this isn’t much tonight. And we’re all kind of discouraged. But we remember that promise where you said that we’re two or three are gathered together in your name, there you would be in our midst. And it goes on and on. And the spirits in this group and everybody is down. I mean, you almost crawl out of the place when that prayers finished. And you feel like you’re whistling as you walk by the graveyard. That everything is dead and you’re scared and nothing is going to matter. And so you just kind of pray this as a kind of a pious gesture. That, you know, isn’t it too bad we’re all discouraged tonight and attendance is so bad. [00:23:29][44.2]
[00:23:31] And that prayer promise has been so ruined by the Christian church in our time. And I don’t want you to pray it that way. That’s wicked. That’s not the purpose of that. This is a disciplinary context about a wandering sheep and about going after that wandering sheep and the authority of the church and bringing that one back to God. And if that person refuses to repent, then the excommunication really is a thing before God. [00:23:57][25.9]
[00:23:58] And this prayer context here, then, is one of great authority. It’s of the authority of the highest sort. And so the promise when you come into the new covenant is that we will be praying because the Spirit is going to bring us together to pray. That is his ministry. He’s going to take our inadequacies individually and as a body. And he’s going to bring us together. And when we come together, he has promised that he will be there and he will be working. [00:24:24][26.4]
[00:24:25] And you see here the close identity of Jesus and the Spirit. I’m going to be there. The Spirit is going to be there. Same thing. Because Jesus, in his triumph, earned the Spirit for us. [00:24:35][10.3]
[00:24:36] And so the promise is that when we agree, when we have one mind on anything, the Father bends his ear, reaches forth his hand and moves. And the greatest hindrance to this is not claiming. [00:24:57][20.5]
[00:24:59] You see, now we begin to see that effective prayer moves into the dimension of authority. That God has made every one of us a priest and a king and a prophet in this world. We bear authority. And if we do not exercise it collectively, we insult the God of the promises. [00:25:17][18.0]
[00:25:20] And not to come together and pray with other Christians is to hinder, to stifle, and to risk the whole ministry of the Spirit in the church and in your own life. [00:25:34][14.2]
[00:25:36] And when you come to the norm in the New Testament in the Book of Acts, when you turn there to Chapter one versus 13 and 14, those apostles who could not pray before together, who fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, we find here in verse 13 of Acts one, they go upstairs and the group is listed and then the women are there and we we discover the word is used in the Greek. [00:26:03][27.4]
[00:26:04] You know, people object around here sometimes to say in the Greek, but I don’t know any other way to say it. The Greek says they had one mind, one accord. [00:26:12][8.1]
[00:26:15] And it means that they were all of one mind. And because they were of one mind, they got what they asked for. And what did they get? A little small thing. What happened afterwards? They kept on praying constantly in prayer. What happened? A little thing called Pentecost. How would you Like that for an answer to prayer? [00:26:34][19.3]
[00:26:40] And when we read, was Pentecost enough, well, when they had finished Pentecost, they had these terrible struggles and great victories and we read in Acts 4, verse twenty three, the same word is used. And when they get before God and they say, they announced to God, they are there with one accord, they are there in agreement and they’re asking for a new filling of the Holy Spirit. [00:27:01][20.6]
[00:27:03] And in our tradition, some people have been so afraid of being branded Pentecostal that they felt the safest thing to do was to avoid any contact with the Holy Spirit. [00:27:11][7.6]
[00:27:13] Now, that’s terrible. Nobody has cornered the Holy Spirit, including ourselves or anyone else. [00:27:19][6.1]
[00:27:20] He’s sovereign and he has given us certain ways of working and certain ways of proceeding. And if we follow those, we’ll see revival. [00:27:27][7.3]
[00:27:29] I believe this is probably the single most important sermon I have ever preached. And it may be for your life, the single most important one, too, because the conclusion follows, will you be committed to corporate prayer? Will you join with other believers in praying together? [00:28:07][38.0]
[00:28:10] Believers began doing that, and eighteen fifty eight there was a prayer meeting in Ontario, another one in Massachusetts and a third in New York City. Six men gathered in New York City in agreement, Concord, that we will pray for revival in America. [00:28:31][21.0]
[00:28:34] Within one year. I cited this once before and I said, I hope I haven’t exaggerated. I said ten thousand people a week were being converted. I was wrong. I went back and checked. And my mind was blown. It was fifty thousand a week. [00:28:49][14.9]
[00:28:52] And all people were doing was praying and giving people the gospel. There’s no Billy Graham around, no Billy Sunday, no Dwight L. Moody. Just praying Christians. Praying for revival, praying for the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, to awaken the conscience of the nation. [00:29:11][19.3]
[00:29:12] Look, our struggle with abortion. It is a terrible one. And we have this whole burden of one of our members was arrested for his part in a sit in demonstration during the week. [00:29:24][11.9]
[00:29:25] But you see, we’re not going to win that struggle unless we have a revival, because what’s the problem is not simply with abortion. It’s a lot of people getting in the wrong bed. If everybody stayed in the right bed there wouldn’t be a problem. If you didn’t have sexual intercourse until you got married, there wouldn’t be a problem. We need a rebirth of some basic concepts in America, namely virginity is a good thing until you’re married. [00:29:52][27.4]
[00:29:54] And where are we going to get that? Are we going to go out there with swords and kill all the people who don’t agree with us? [00:30:00][6.5]
[00:30:01] No, we need a persuasion from heaven. We need to be humbled ourselves and purified ourselves. And therefore, if that’s what we get, then we will have revival. [00:30:10][9.6]
[00:30:12] You see all these Korean churches springing up around here. I say to myself, good night these Koreans are taking over America. Everywhere I look, there’s a Korean sign. Where are they all coming from? Well, the answer is they’re coming out of a prayer meeting. [00:30:24][11.9]
[00:30:25] In Korea there was a revival. They started around 1906 and 1907. They got together and they repented of their sins and they had some early morning prayer meetings, five o’clock up in the mountains. And what do you know? The Korean church exploded. They’re sending out missionaries to Indonesia. They’re sending them out to Taiwan. [00:30:43][17.8]
[00:30:45] What’s going on here? They’re praying. Are you going to stay behind? Are you going to stay behind, are you going to really go along with the Lord? [00:30:56][11.5]
[00:30:57] Well, we have a week of prayer coming up. We’ve been asking God to bring us out a hundred a night. I don’t know how many God’s going to bring out. That’s his prayer meeting, not mine. [00:31:08][10.3]
[00:31:15] David Bryant is going to come here in the spring and talk about the release of the Holy Spirit through prayer. Where will you be in this? [00:31:24][9.2]
[00:31:25] I believe this year, this week of prayer is going to decide whether New Life Church will live or die. It will even decide whether it should live or die. We have no guarantee that we should continue unless we are living up to the light we have. [00:31:45][19.9]
[00:31:47] And if you have the light, and I can give you a lot more text from the Bible about corporate prayer and its power. I can’t do that. We don’t have time. [00:31:53][6.5]
[00:31:54] But we have a desperate need. We need everything. And we need to sue God for the Spirit to change our lives and to change our nation. [00:32:02][7.4]
[00:32:03] And I just tell you, the Lord’s convicted me. I, I feel utterly unworthy to talk about this subject of prayer. And I just think that we ought to just have some prayer. And if you’ve never prayed before, like Perry, our doctor friend, will you pray now and say, Jesus show me yourself, I need you. I’m calling on your name to save me. But let’s just have some time to pray. [00:32:37][33.6]
[00:32:55] Teach us to pray for us to pray, forgive us for a lack of desire to come together. [00:33:04][8.4]
[00:33:12] Thank you our Father that you have called upon your people to do things together. This is in your Word in varioius places. Now give us a heart that is united in seeking your blessing that we might have a share in it and that we would do your will with all our hearts. We pray in Jesus name, our Lord and Savior, Amen. [00:33:33][20.9]
[00:33:46] Lord, the reason we have not is because we ask not. Help us to ask. [00:33:50][3.3]
[00:33:58] Lord we ask that you would fill our hearts with a zeal for prayer. That we will be glad to pray before you knowing that it is prayer according to your promise. [00:34:07][8.9]
[00:34:07] Oh, Lord, here we are, no longer orphans, but your sons and daughters, with the gift of being able to talk with you and see you do things in our lives and the lives of others. And yet Lord we refuse most of the time to even come to you in prayer. Yet Lord we rejoice when we see prayers answered and we see its power. Give us as a congregation to know this power of prayer. to know that things can be changed immediately, to know Lord that we can effect the other side of the world, or even the hearts of a person right next to us to prayer. Lord just bless us with an ability not to listen to our flesh, or to Satan, but to know that the Spirit in our lives works in prayer. Give us a heart to pray more. [00:35:00][52.9]
[00:35:08] Father too I pray that you would give us a vision for praying together as a large group that even those of us that may not pray out loud would be encouraged in their faith with those that do pray. Lord we see a real sense of your Spirit encouraging us all, these people who are committed to pray together. [00:35:26][17.9]
[00:35:30] We thank you, Heavenly Father, that we can come and specifically pray for particular items as your children with you our Father. We particularly pray Father that those all over our nation who will be watching the debates tonight before the presidential elections. We pray, Father, that you would grant to those who watch wisdom that they would know who to vote for in the election. We pray, Father, that that individual candidates would demonstrate where they are and what they stand for, so that the people would be able to judge wisely. We ask this specifically, Father in Jesus name, Amen. [00:36:20][50.4]
[00:36:25] Father in heaven, we now bring before you our prayerlessness. We have not prayed, and then sometimes when we have prayed, we have been vague and wandering. And other times, Lord, we have prayed without faith. And we ask you to forgive us that. We also ask you to forgive us our laziness and sloth. Lord, I have been guilty of just a slothful mind, a slothful body, and I just ask you to change that in me and each one here. And we especially ask you to forgive us for not taking our needs to the Father. That we have often Father rather preferred to worry and fear. We let ourselves be consumed by anxiety and we didn’t claim the bread of the Spirit. And right now in Jesus name, we’re asking you, Father, to send your Spirit upon this gathering. We are agreed on this great point. We want the Holy Spirit to come upon lives. We ask you, Lord, that you would come with mighty convicting power to some who are sitting here who yet are complacent in their sins, and they have hidden agendas even from themselves, and secretly are sold out to their own pleasures, their own comforts, their own honor, their own glory. And we ask your Lord to come. And maybe that’s true of all of us. You know, our hearts. And so come and convict us and then free us and then show us Christ and give us a fresh knowledge of your love. [00:38:08][103.0]
[00:38:09] Lord, I’m praying together, representing this body in the name of Jesus for a knowledge of the wonder of Christ’s love to come upon us, to realize the great sacrifice he made and that that love is unchanging, that it’s unconditional, and that the Spirit is inside of us and living. And he will not be defeated. And though we do not know how to pray, he will teach us. And so we pray that you would give us such a confidence in prayer, such a confidence in the Spirit, such a confidence in Christ, that we would live different lives. Father, we ask it of you. We are so helpless. We are so frustrated left in ourselves. We have nothing. And Lord, we long to see thousands of people streaming to Christ. We long to see this place so jammed at eight thirty that you can’t even get in because God has been speaking. That we have to make more doors and have to have a larger place to meet. God, we can’t do that. And therefore we’re claiming it on the basis of your promise. And then we plead with you for a blessing on our homes. O we are asking you, Lord, to bless us with love in our families. Put in each of us a heart of tenderness and love. O God put sacred holy love in us. And then we pray for our nation. We agree together to ask that there would be a putting away of abortion, divorce, adultery, and there would be a recapturing of your teaching that a person should be a virgin until married. We ask it in Jesus name. Amen. [00:39:44][0.0]of [00:39:44][95.0]
This morning I listened to a Glenn Beck interview with Voddie Baucham.
Using the Old Testament concept of a “remnant,” and quoting Reformed leaders J. Gresham Machen and Abraham Kuyper, these men uncritically presupposed a remnant theology to support their views of the world today.
Since Christians often assume a “remnant theology” to support our views, on this Reformation Day, it is useful to hear why Jack Miller concluded that “we must abandon the idea of a Calvinist remnant” in this age of abundant grace.
[T]hose promises God gives us in Scripture are not an abstraction—instead, practically speaking, “each promise is a hook for pulling our faith into the heavens. There we catch God’s missionary vision of a world filled with His praise.” [Jack Miller] began to diligently chart these promises of God throughout the pages of Scripture.
In his studies that summer [in 1970], Jack saw that the Old Testament prophet Isaiah drew a contrast between two distinct ages: the former age—which Jack himself also referred to as the old age—and the new age, or the last days. Isaiah compared the desert that had been central to the old age with the divine promise of a watered garden that would come in the new age. God promised that in the new age there would be an outpouring of water—which signified his Spirit—on those who were thirsty and that streams of water would flow on the dry ground (see Isa. 35:6–7; 41:17–20). Where there had once been only withering and desolation, he promised a new age of abundant fruitfulness—an age that would even include the Gentiles. Whereas the Lord had left only a very small remnant during the old age (see Isa. 1:9), he promised that in the new age his righteous servant would justify many by the knowledge of God (see Isa. 53:11). After the Lord’s house would be cleansed by a spirit of judgment and burning in Isaiah’s age, his glorious presence would cover the whole of Mount Zion and her assemblies (see Isa. 4:4–5). All the nations would flow to the mountain of the house of the Lord (see Isa. 2:2), and he would make a feast of rich food for all peoples (see Isa. 25:6–8). These Old Testament prophecies applied to the new age that has begun with the coming of the Messiah and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and will continue to the new heavens and new earth.
As he studied these promises, Jack reached several conclusions that radically differed from those that are commonly held by Reformed people.
Many Reformed Christians tend to believe that they live in an era of increasing apostasy and expect only a small number of people to be saved. Under this assumption, an embattled Reformed church construes its primary role as one of defending the truth. One pastor summed it up when he said, “Apostasy has reduced us to a remnant. We should really rejoice that ours is the privilege of purifying and strengthening these few.”
But Jack rejected this assumption: “Today we have the banquet of abundant grace! We must open the eyes of faith to the wonder of God’s saving purpose, reaching out . . . to embrace the nations.” Though a remnant-minded church might view it this way, evangelism could not be secondary; it was, Jack said, “God’s first priority for His Word and His Church.” He concluded, “In the new age, the state of life and power is normal for the church. . . . Rather than only a few people saved during an age of apostasy, Scripture itself characterizes the New Testament as fields white for harvest and the gathering in of large numbers of people.” Jack argued that many will be saved, rather than just a few—that we live in the age of abundant life. In view of what happened at Pentecost, Reformed people must “abandon the idea of a Calvinist remnant.”
Jack next abandoned another misguided notion: the idea that “Arminians are bound to be more successful evangelists” than the Reformed are. He was glad that Arminians took evangelism seriously; nonetheless, he believed that if God’s promises in Scripture are true, then Reformed people should be the greatest evangelists of all. The absolute sovereignty of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ provide believers with the greatest possible motivation and confidence for evangelism.
Finally, Jack questioned a view that was common among Reformed people regarding prayer and evangelism. Calvinists tend to agree that prayer changes the one who is praying. They also agree that prayer is important for missionary work and has been commanded by God. But Jack argued that many Calvinists had the idea that “[because] God is sovereign . . . nothing much is going to happen in prayer”—leaving them unsure how or why prayer was important and thus also leaving them with little motivation to pray.
In contrast, [Jack] concluded that the sovereign Lord had ordained prayer as the means for Christians to activate the fulfillment of God’s missionary promises. He explained,
“Christians . . . have missed the exciting link between prayer and God’s purposes in the world. It is, simply, that prayer starts the promises of God on their way to fulfillment! In prayer, God allows us to lay hold of His purposes as these are expressed in His promises. . . . By claiming God’s promises as we petition Him in prayer, we set God’s work in motion (Luke 10:1–3, Acts 4:23–31). Unbelievable as it may seem, the omnipotent God permits our requests to activate the fulfillment of His mighty promises in history (Rev. 8:1–5). As the laborers pray, He begins to ripen the harvest for reaping (Acts 13:1–4).”
When I pray and do evangelism, I have laid hold of God’s own . . . method [of salvation],” Jack wrote. Therefore, he concluded elsewhere, “we must get down to knee-work.”
Michael A. Graham, Cheer Up! The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller (2020), P & R Publishing, 80-83.
This morning I’ve been meditating on a phrase in Psalm 16:7: “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” What does “The Lord is my portion” really mean?
J. Gresham Machen has said that “God is the most obligated of all beings.” Doesn’t that sound so counterintuitive? In our consumer culture such a statement sounds sinful and offensive.
When I queried my Jack Miller Research Library searching for occurrences of “The Lord is my portion,” I found a section written by Jack in an unpublished essay entitled “Faith versus Magic,” in which he makes a similarly startling statement: “If you could say you owned God, the Lord is my portion, you are the richest person of all.” What?
Take a moment and read what Jack Miller had to say about the power of faith when the Lord is my chosen portion.
“And that brings us to the third thing, that faith has power in it. And in the Bible it’s virtually a synonym—used virtually as a synonym—for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the person who has faith has Jesus Christ. If you have faith—well let me back up a little bit and put it to you in another way. In the Bible we’re told that with God all things are possible—we’ll all agree that the Bible teaches that, I think. Now did you ever think of how strange it is that we are told by Jesus that all things are possible to him that believes. Do you realize how staggering that is?
You know, we get into the habit of just reading through the Bible and we’re accustomed to these things, and they have a certain rhythm to them, and we just read right on through them. Do you realize, then, what a staggering thing it is to say of a man’s faith, that all things are possible to him that believeth? Now the only One of whom you can say that is One whose name is Omnipotence, the Almighty God. We might just look at that passage for a moment, Mark 9, Jesus has come down from the Mount of Transfiguration, He reproves, in verse 19, His disciples for not being able to deal with the demon world, they cannot oppose it by faith—their faith is too weak—and then the man comes to Jesus and he says to Jesus in verse 22, “If you can do anything have pity on us and help us.” Then in verse 23 Jesus rebukes him, and Jesus said to him, “If you can!” (that is, “What are you talking about?”), “all things are possible to him who believes.” The question isn’t My power, its availability, but the question is whether you believe, because if you believe My infinite power is available to you.
Now you’re a very superficial person, whether you believe it or not, if you don’t reflect on that—the most amazing thing here—that the person who believes comes into possession of that which is God’s. And, of course, that’s why salvation is ours—through faith we’re united to Jesus Christ and everything He has becomes ours and all that we have becomes His. And that’s why we’re so rich; for you know the grace of the Lord Jesus, brethren, that though He was rich for your sakes He became poor that you, through His poverty, might become rich. And so, we can put it this way, if you owned Montgomery County you’d be pretty wealthy; if you owned Pennsylvania you’d be even richer than the DuPont’s. But if you could say you owned God, the Lord is your portion, you’re the richest of all. So to him that has faith, all things are his because he’s in Christ and Christ is in God.
Therefore, when you turn to the Bible, you find that the most astonishing things happen when people believe. Open your Bible just for an experiment, tomorrow morning, and read—start reading Matthew 8 and just go right through for about four or five chapters—and see how much is said about faith, what it does for people. And then, if your spirits are despondent, if you’re down, pick up the 11th chapter of Hebrews and read it, and then when you get excited about it go through chapter 12 and you’ll see what power there is in faith because it lays hold upon God and His grace.
And so, what it is, in faith you surrender yourself and then a mysterious thing happens, you discover you surrender yourself and you get everything. And if you don’t do this you can struggle forever and ever and ever and you try to get rich with your own little handfuls and it all melts away. So there’s this tremendous power in faith and, as I said, it’s virtually a synonym for the Holy Spirit’s working. It’s simply the man-ward side of that divine working by which God draws sinners to Himself by His sovereign mercy.”
It isn’t altogether startling for me to meditate on the reality that God owns me. Of course He does. He created me and He recreated me. But then to meditate upon “The Lord is my chosen portion” in Psalm 16, that God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, unites me to Jesus Christ in such a way that by faith I own God.
Just typing out and saying these words causes something in me to recoil at the seeming arrogance of it.
Upon further prayerful reflection on Psalm 16, I think a lot of my resistance in claiming “The Lord is my chosen portion” has to do more with my own self-centeredness and desires for self-pleasure whereas Christ is so totally other-centered that He receives great pleasure, gladness, and the fullness of joy in glorifying His Father in Heaven and giving Himself away in love to others.
“The Jack Miller Project,” created in 2015, is committed to sharing research on “The Life, Teaching, and Ministry of C. John ‘Jack’ Miller” with the church and the next generation of church leaders.
My doctoral dissertation at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (completed in May 2019) and the biography Cheer Up! (published in December 2020) are the first-fruits of this ongoing work.
Over the next year, I plan to publish an “Interactive Timeline of The Life, Teaching, and Ministry of Jack Miller.” This project has been in process since 2016, a comprehensive timeline that will allow others to append their own stories about and interactions with Jack Miller and his impact on them personally.
In time I also hope to oversee the building of an interactive iOS and Android App based upon “A New Life” booklet, an application through which Jack Miller’s important teaching and ministry on the subjects of praying together and evangelism—the gospel for Christians and non-Christians—and elenctics (leading in repentance) can be shared as well.
Clair Davis, Professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary, referred to Jack Miller as a “Missionary Statesman.” Uniquely, Jack Miller was a theologian, scholar, pastor, missionary, and literary-cultural-critic.
Though Jack’s talk on the important subjects of mental health and violence is thirty-six years old, you will find that much of what Dr. Miller had to say transcends his own time, and remains insightful and practical today.
And if you should take the time to listen to the end, you will hear Jack Miller briefly discuss his views on civil disobedience as well as gun rights and control.
Hope you enjoy!
Blessings, Dr. Michael A. (Mike) Graham,
Director of The Jack Miller Project and Teaching Elder at New Life Vicenza
[00:00:04] When I speak on a topic like “How to keep your mental health in a Violent World,” I guess at the outset I’d like to say that, really I want to be a little more positive than that. Not how just to keep your sanity, but maybe make a positive contribution to solving the problem.
[00:00:28] I think Americans don’t realize the extent to which our society is viewed as violent. I suspect our president doesn’t realize how some of his comments come across in third world countries.
[00:00:44] If you know how many people look at us, I think I can give you an illustration of that. In 1982, we were living in Rubaga, in Kampala, Uganda. And that was a time that there was the first movement of the guerrillas to overthrow the Obote government.
[00:01:06] And it was really a wild time. And you could hear screams at night. Small arms fire, sometimes automatic weapons. And it was enough to make you keep your head down at night, to say the least. And so during this time, I was talking to some of the village chiefs and elders, and I was talking about the criminal elements in our area. And I said, “I really would like to meet some of these people.” And the chief kind of looked at me and said, “Well, he’d be willing to talk to them.”
[00:01:41] So he came back and the answer was pretty negative. So in trying to bring out of him, why were these criminals afraid to meet with me—I feel rather innocuous myself and I don’t think I looked very threatening. But it turned out as best we can discern was that we were Americans and they really were afraid to come into our house.
[00:02:05] And in talking to another Ugandan who knew the neighborhood well, I said “Another thing has interested me. Of all the violence here in the neighborhood, why is no one ever come in and tried to rob us?” And he says, “Oh, you’re Americans.” And I said, “Well, explain that to me.” And he said, “Well, we all know what you’re like. And no, no sane person would come in here after dark.” And I said, “Well, what do you think we might do?” “Well, everybody out there believes you carry guns, and that to come in here would be very dangerous. And even if you didn’t have guns, all it would take is one of you with a panga, and it would be very bad for anybody who came in.”
[00:02:45] So I kind of felt funny for my country. And it dawned on me that their impression of America was through movies. And they had seen all of these shoot-em-up cowboy movies. And they’d seen the detective stuff. And they felt that every American was just, no matter how innocuous he might look, that he carries a revolver somewhere about his person and is prepared to use it on the spot if you cross him.
[00:03:14] So I think sometimes our president speaks into these third world countries. He’s hardly aware. He gets up there and he praises … who’s this Rambo? And people get all kinds of visions about what President Reagan is like and we’re like, and it’s magnified in many, many ways that we’d hardly realize.
[00:03:34] Now, as we come to our topic tonight, I think we don’t want to have misperceptions. I don’t believe that America is as violent as some people think it is, but I do think it is pretty violent.
[00:03:45] So now let’s come to the three things I want to talk about.
[00:03:50] The first is just getting a perception of the facts of the case. You might say, putting it this way, I want to ask first, what’s new in 20th century violence, not only in America, but also throughout the world? Because I really haven’t seen anything in Ugandan violence that I haven’t seen in American violence.
[00:04:13] Now, here, isn’t it odd that we look at the newspapers and we say, Uganda is such a violent country, and you go to Uganda and they say America is such a violent country.
[00:04:24] So what what’s new in the whole world of violence? That’s the first thing I want to talk about.
[00:04:29] And then to go directly to the issues of mental health, personal sanity in a world where violence, we may conclude, is growing.
[00:04:38] And then the third thing, which I hope we get to: Solutions.
[00:04:44] It’s much easier to talk about the problems, its effects, and solutions may be more difficult. But I do believe they’re there, and perhaps not as esoteric and hard to nail down as you may think.
[00:04:59] All I can ask of you on your part, that you try to bring, as much as possible, an open mind to what I say. Naturally, I’m right on everything I say, but you may not perceive that right away. And so if it takes a while to see that, you know, do yourself a favor by listening carefully. And if you think I’m crazy. Well, just bear with me. All right? So you’ll have your chance to have a good shot at me. And my skin is thick. If you think I’m all wrong, you feel free to tell me and we can have good dialog about it.
[00:05:33] So first, what’s new in 20th century violence? What is it that may threaten the mental health and stability of us as individuals and even our families?
[00:05:46] Well, I think one of the things that I, as a person who is older than most of you, would notice is the increasing publicity given to violence in our time. Now, I didn’t grow up with the advantages of TV. We barely had a radio where I grew up. And it was in a place called Oregon. It’s north of California for those of you who don’t know about it.
[00:06:11] And anyway, in that world, we had a certain amount of violence, some real, real violence. But it was not something that was visualized for you all the time. It didn’t come at you from every angle. And so I think what you have then is a widespread reporting.
[00:06:29] Now, newspapers have always given stories of violence, American newspapers especially. But it’s cold print. And when you turn your TV set on and you watch the news at 5:00 o’clock or 6, what you see is it visualized. You see the bodies being carried out on the stretchers after the fire, after the murder and the mayhem, whatever it may be. And you’re kind of right there. And whether you know it or not, emotionally, you’re involved. Isn’t that true?
[00:07:04] Now, it isn’t so that newspaper reporting never involved us emotionally, but there’s something more vivid. And it’s also it’s more widespread in that the reporting of news on the television, there’s just a coverage there that is very, very wide. You have the terrorists on TV. You have the wars and the conflicts around the world being reported on TV. You don’t really watch TV at all if you don’t know a good deal about Beirut. And you don’t watch it very much if you don’t know something about violence in South Africa and so on. And you also know about what happened with the hijacking of the Achille Lauro. We saw saw that close up. We saw a hijacking before. And the terrorists were right there on television, not exactly looking at you eyeball to eyeball because they had hoods on or something, but nonetheless, their presence was felt. And so it’s both intense and widespread, the news reporting.
[00:08:10] Also there is a great deal of discussion of the violence. It’s analyzed for you on television. This is, of course, done in periodicals. It’s done for you in books, and it’s done for you in magazines. But here it has a certain vividness, a certain, almost ubiquitous nature. It’s there, everywhere, through the eye and the ear as you watch television.
[00:08:35] And of course, you can’t minimize the police shows and the detective shows. Now, I’m a great lover of Agatha Christie and all of those people, but somehow it never seemed violent to me. But when you see it on television, Miami Vice is not exactly a quiet world. I mean, in Agatha Christie, the body was always lying there, rather neatly arranged or something. Or if there was a knife, it was something got cleaned up pretty quickly. But Miami Vice or some Hill Street Blues, you see bodies blown all over the place. And the movies the same. You see a great amount of violence in films. Well, it hits you and it hits you.
[00:09:20] And then it’s also true, we get the, what I would call, the constructive films attempting to analyze violence of the 20th century. You have films on the Holocaust, the Nazi Holocaust. You have films on the Holocaust in Uganda. You have films on the Holocaust in Cambodia. And these are brought to us with great vividness. We’re very much aware of how terrible it was in Cambodia, as you see a film like The Killing Fields. And then also there are probably abuses of violence in our time that were there for a good while that have only now become exposed.
[00:10:07] I’m thinking of the family conflicts, the wife beating. And I think that has been growing. And I think child abuse is growing. I think incest has been growing. But I was aware of it at least myself back in 1970. But it’s only come to the fore in a really public way through better reporting of it, better knowledge of it. In the last, what, five or six years? And during that time, there become a heightened interest in it and a better knowledge of it. And it’s another way that the emotions are impressed by a world which looks very, very ugly indeed.
[00:10:51] And then we also have some new trends in the forms that violence is taking, both in the way it’s presented to us, dramatized to us, but also in just the sheer quantity of it.
[00:11:06] For example, it’s come so gradually, but we have a number of cities in America that are really kind of the world murder capitals. It used to be Atlanta. Someone told me it had switched to Detroit, and before that I think it was Newark. And I think New York City has very, very high homicide rates. And I believe Los Angeles does, too. And if you compare this to some countries in Western Europe, say there would be more people killed in a city like Detroit than there would be in a year’s time in Detroit, than there would be in this whole European country for a year’s time … many more. And so what has happened is our cities have become really violent places, and the handguns are not only a little bit available, they’re everywhere in the inner cities. And when people, they buy them to protect themselves against violence from outside, and often what happens, a family quarrel breaks out and somebody runs and gets the handgun from underneath the pillow and settles the argument with one or two shots. And this is certainly an American violence story.
[00:12:29] Now, we also have organized crime becoming more organized. Even a few years ago, a friend of mine who owned a department store in California, he had moved from Manhattan Beach, where he had one department store up to Modesto, California, where he had another. In the meantime, he was a man of some wealth, and he left his home there and he wanted to go back and get some of his furniture. And he sent an aunt in to look over his furniture and see how it was going back in Manhattan Beach. And she came and unlocked the door and went in one evening and she discovered all the furniture and all the household goods were very well organized and classified … by a local gang. They had all this kind of furniture here, silverware here, drapes here, and so on. It was all well worked out. And she called the police and said, “There’s an organized robbery going on at this home.” Now, you’d think they’d have some clout, his being a prominent member of the community? The reply of the police was, “We have so many emergencies going on, don’t fool around with us. We don’t have time for this sort of thing.” And so she quietly locked the door and went out and let the gang come back. And that same evening they removed it all.
[00:13:51] And that’s a bit frightening. It’s maybe not as bad as Clockwork Orange, but it’s certainly heading there where the police themselves have given up in parts of society.
[00:14:02] Now, if you want to say that, “I’m certainly glad that’s in California.” I don’t know whether you saw the CBS special on Ninth and Butler. It’s Ninth and Butler, isn’t it? Ninth and 10th in there, where they reported that on one corner alone in Philadelphia, $11 million worth of cocaine are sold on that corner alone per year.
[00:14:27] I call up a friend who lives in the neighborhood down there, and I said, “Was CBS exaggerating?” And my friend said, “No, I’m sure they underestimated it considerably.”. And the report was that the police arrest people and within 20 minutes some of them were back on the same corner.
[00:14:47] Now, that’s awesome. And that’s Philadelphia. I mean, it’s obviously, it’s organized, it’s pervasive and it’s strong. That’s a new feature in American life. Now, I don’t mean there’s never been gangs. You had the mafias of the twenties and even during the First World War. There was an Irish mafia. There was a Jewish mafia, Italian mafias and so on. And they were pretty bad. But I think we find that they are pervasive today and they are much more able to penetrate legitimate society.
[00:15:17] But then we have another thing in our time and something that’s grown up so gradually, and its taken over almost imperceptibly until it’s become a monster, and we haven’t really recognized its existence. It’s what you might call ideological violence.
[00:15:36] Do you know what I mean by that? Well, you have it … There was a book written called The Mind of the Assassin. I forget the name of the author, but it’s about the assassin who killed Trotsky in Mexico City, what was it 36 or 37.
[00:15:53] Anyway, he killed him for philosophical reasons, because he was a different kind of Marxist. And we have a great deal of that in our century. It’s multiplied and multiplied. Both Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, speaking from the platform of the 19th century, as they looked into our century, they said, “Even though now is a time of really remarkable world peace, we predict that the 20th century is going to be filled with wars.”.
[00:16:20] And they were right. And no one believed them. They all thought they were madmen, but they weren’t. Ideological violence.
[00:16:29] And if you have seen the problems with MOVE? It may not be a very clear ideology, but I certainly have a great deal of sympathy for the mayor of Philadelphia, not because I think they handled things well, I don’t think they handled things particularly well at all. But I don’t think the typical American city administration is really prepared for people who, for ideological reasons, are really ready to sacrifice their own lives. I think it’s hard for us to believe even that people like that exist, and perhaps we don’t even take them very seriously. We just say, “Well, you know, there’s some kooks around” and get on with our business. But we have terrorist groups of all kinds in this world. We have right wingers, we have left wing ones. And we recently saw what happened in Rome and Venice and then, of course, on the Achille Lauro. And it’s really tragic.
[00:17:23] And this ideological violence is so much around us. I just came back from Ireland. Well, when I. I just came from Kenya and I landed in the Amsterdam airport, and a friend at the embassy wanted to show me the embassy. And when I got to the embassy, I lost all taste for looking at the embassy. Here it was, all these barricades out there, and then there was a Dutch police van there to prevent somebody driving a big truck with explosives into it. And I suddenly felt looking, I think, I don’t want to look like an American. And I very carefully straightened my English looking hat and said to my friend, “As soon as we can leave here, the better. I’m not the kind of hero that wants to get shot down just because he’s an American.”. There was, of course, a rumor that the embassy was going to be attacked, and that dawned on me that “Here we are right here.” And I just didn’t feel that it was any great patriotic act for me to stay there.
[00:18:24] And then when I went to Dublin and came back a week later, I walked into the airport in Amsterdam, and when I walked in, the whole place was covered with smoke. And, you know, you try to act cool and all that. And when you walk up to the people in charge, you don’t want to act like your a little American scared to death. But I said, “Where did all the smoke cover from?” And they said, “Oh, just some action group letting off a stink bomb.” And so I thought, “Oh, the modern world.”
[00:18:56] And so they are ideological reasons, people with a cause, and they bring violence almost, you might call it, righteous violence of a very murderous sort.
[00:19:08] And you have it also with attacks on abortion clinics. The feeling is that abortion clinics are wrong and therefore they should be destroyed. Or I would even carry it a step further and say, perhaps we ought to consider whether abortion itself isn’t a form of violence which is unique to our century.
[00:19:29] But however you think of that, the issue is really that it’s increasing and there’s more and more of it, the taking of life.
[00:19:37] Then there’s another kind of violence which has always been around but has greatly multiplied in our time. And it’s what I would call thrill violence.
[00:19:48] I’m a reader of detective stories, and I read the first detective story ever outside maybe of Graham Greene recently, in which the author actually depicted murder as done as a thrill. And I think that’s very modern. Very modern. And when you look at rock video—now, I don’t, but I’ve just seen quick flashes of it on TV for teenagers—and you’ll find there’s is kind of mocked and joked about but it’s very violent.
[00:20:19] And then with it you have teenage suicide. That there has been a kind of a wave of popularity of teenage suicide and where you have actually teenagers saying it’s neat. Now that’s something new. And when you have waves of them doing it, it’s just something that has become epidemic. It’s a new world.
[00:20:43] Then you also have people who like Charles Manson, who obviously murder for a kind of a kick out of it. You have the serial killers of women and children that have appeared in our time. It’s enough to get you to be scared to death by all of these changes. And you have also in our own congregation, one of our young men, his father, Paul Kent, was killed a few years ago by a man who I think did it just for a thrill. He had taken his credit cards. He had his car. He had very little money on him. And he simply shot him. And why did he do it? Well, you might have various justifications that he maybe wanted to eliminate the witness and all the rest. But the truth of the matter is, I think the man did it out of that very terrible motive of just living for the kicks of it.
[00:21:39] And then also there is in our time a what you might call revenge violence, uh, violent heroes who are kind of comic book figures, not in the sense they’re funny, but that they, they have comic book backgrounds. And I’m thinking of Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. Death Wish, Charles Bronson. Clint Eastwood, of course, Dirty Harry and all the rest. Now, I’ve not seen all of these things, by the way. I’m a great reader of books. Well, I’ve seen enough of them. And the the picture you get is simply a very violent people getting even. And of course, you have Rambo and Commando and now Miami Vice. And if you go around the high school today, what do you suppose you see? Now, I have not seen Rambo yet. I couldn’t quite get myself to do that. But what do you see? I saw some of the advertising. How’s he dressed? He’s got this cut off shirt or jacket and his massive arms are hanging out. Right? And he’s all ready for action. You’re in a high school today, you’ll see guys walking around dressed like that. Your going to see more of them, I think. And it’s getting younger and it’s getting younger. It’s a bit scary.
[00:22:55] And now, I think there’s another thing that’s unique in our time, and this kind of brings us to the heart of this, this analysis.
[00:23:05] And it’s the sense of powerlessness that people have when it comes to facing up to violence—that most people, at first, they get indignant, they say, “Somebody ought to do something about that. How much can we take?” And then they sink back and are left with this feeling of impotence.
[00:23:25] Now, I want to show you that this is part of the violence picture, because I do believe that violence can only thrive where it’s tolerated.
[00:23:38] That’s one of the main points I want to make tonight. Violence can only thrive where it’s tolerated, where it’s gradually accepted, if not as normal, at least as average and typical.
[00:23:51] That once you accept that Ninth and Buttler can have, Ninth and Butler can have $11 million worth of coke sold there for a year, then you’ve done yourself in. I really believe that. And I think there’s the crux of the problem.
[00:24:12] If you look at what happened with the MOVE problem, what was wrong with the administration’s handling of it? Well, it didn’t take a commission to point out the obvious thing, that if you let a group like that fortify themselves in a house and turn it into a heavily armored bunker, you’re in for problems. They were simply, the city government was simply intimidated by those people. Isn’t that true? They felt powerless in the face of the ideological motivation of these really pretty threatening people.
[00:24:44] And it seems to me that when we begin to face this … We have the death of a local doctor when I was in Kenya, I received these newspaper reports or mailed to me and a hideous crime. And people are momentarily indignant and they say this shouldn’t be and then nothing is done. It just is allowed to lie (back) people feel there’s not much you can do about it and they just lie back. And then the next one occurs. There’s a momentary indignation, somebody ought to do something about it. Nothing is done, and then it’s repeated.
[00:25:21] Now what it means is simply this. Let me give you an illustration which will show you how we have changed in America and how we’re continuing to change, moving into A Clockwork Orange World and out of the world of our past, our heritage.
[00:25:35] For instance, when Alexis de Tocqueville was here in our country in 1829, he did all his research for his two volume work, Democracy in America. And he has a comment in there that is quite illuminating. He says, “Crime cannot flourish in America because every American is a self-appointed officer of the law. And if somebody commits a crime, the whole community takes out after him and very shortly he’s apprehended.”.
[00:26:09] Would Alexis de Tocqueville write that today? No. But what we do today when a crime is committed, is buy another lock for the door. And we withdraw. And the reason this is now bound to get worse, and what complicates it, is the continuing spread of the use of drugs.
[00:26:37] I believe, if my memory doesn’t fail me, that the drug business in the United States, I mean, the illegal drug business now moves $200 billion a year. Is that right? Is that figure right? I think it’s very close. And there now are 5 million heavy cocaine users in the United States. 1 million of them are in the New York area.
[00:27:02] Now, if that continues, violence must mount, heroin users, etc.. Wherever there’s hard drug usage, there’s bound to be the increase of violence. And what’s happening? These drugs are going down to younger and younger ages. And the longer people use these drugs, the more likely they are to become strongly hooked and become violent. And so I hate to tell you, unless we do something, we’re headed to a state in which violence is going to be found on every hand, and people will be buying double locks on their doors and putting up these metal bars to support the door, even in cities like Jenkintown and Glenside, if it just keeps on going. And my hope is that that will not happen. But I’m afraid if we go on to the present rate, that that could happen.
[00:27:53] Now, the issues of mental health.
[00:27:56] Well, the first one I want to talk about under the issues of mental health is in spite of how bad things are, that what’s happening is the creation in our time of a climate of fear. And that’s the worst way to handle violence.
[00:28:13] Whenever I’ve been with my wife in an area, in a ghetto, or in Uganda, or some other place, one of the things I’ve always tried to teach her is never show fear. I said, “No matter how chicken you are on the inside,” and I said, “Believe me, inside my knees may be just beating together” … “Never show it. Always act like you own the world.”.
[00:28:34] And I’ve had people come towards me. I knew they were intending to rob me and I went over and gave them a good, strong exhortation.
[00:28:45] And so, always act like you own the world and maybe you will end up owning it. But if we let them intimidate us, and what’s happening, you see television and newspapers and all the rest are reporting so much of it. As bad as it is, and I’m not trying to underestimate it. I think it’s very dangerous. It’s very bad. But as bad as it is, it’s not as pervasive as they make it look.
[00:29:13] And the danger to your mental health and mine is that we’ll be so preoccupied with things that are threatening, we will not see the opportunity to do something about it.
[00:29:25] Are you with me on that? Do you see what I’m saying? The line of reasoning. You don’t have to agree with it. Just, you know, that it registered.
[00:29:33] Alright, now that’s the first point on the issue of mental health—that we have to be careful that we don’t develop media-paranoia in which we think violence is so strong and so all powerful, there’s nothing you can do to resist it, or there’s nobody else that wants to resist it. Isn’t that quite important that you’re not falling into that?
[00:29:55] Now, I know of an example of a woman who seems to me revealed this media paranoia. She’d seen all these things on television, movies and so on, and somebody robbed her house. It wasn’t a very bad robbery, but it was a robbery. When it’s your house, it’s a bad robbery, I guess. And what did she do? Well, she bought a lot of extra locks and put in a burglar alarm system, and then she decided, well, that wasn’t enough. So she had a high chain fence built around her house, and then she bought a big dog, and then she put a lock on the chain fence and wondered why her friends never visited anymore.
[00:30:31] And that illustrates the kind of thing I’m talking about. There are problems out there. There are dangers out there, and they’re quite threatening in some ways, but they’re not threatening in that particular way … To get locked in and making our own life a kind of a mental prison. It is simply no constructive way to handle it.
[00:30:52] And then also, I think the one of the problems, especially for children, I think the sheer amount of violence they’re seeing on television, reading about in comic books and in other ways, is giving them a false picture of the world. That these things are leading them to think of the world as more violent than it really is. Or you might even say their perceptions are being distorted severely enough by what they’re seeing, by what they’re hearing, that they begin to view the world in a kinky way as though the world is violent and it can only have violent solutions to its problems.
[00:31:32] And I think that is very serious for the mental welfare of children in our country. And they tend to oversimplify the conflict between good and evil. If you’ve got if you’ve got some evil person out there, then what you need is great strength, or you get a gun, and you simply shoot down all the violent people and you solve the violent people by killing them all off, or the problem of violent people. You you deal with it the way the Queen of Hearts did in Alice in Wonderland. Isn’t it, “Off of their heads?” Well, that is a kind of approach as communicated to our children.
[00:32:10] Then with it is that, I don’t believe you’re a mentally healthy person unless you have some moral absolutes.
[00:32:22] Now, you may really want to challenge that one, but I think you’ve got them, whether you admit it or not. And I think they can be a very powerful thing in society if you’re willing to say that, “I have thought through the issues and I believe some things are right and some things are wrong, and I’m going to stand up for what I believe is right. And I’m going to stand, I believe some things are evil.”.
[00:32:46] And if you hold that, then I think you’re moving in the direction of mental health. But I think what is happening in our culture, the Ten Commandments have been taken out of the public school system, and sometimes I suspect they’ve even been taken out of our churches. And so there’s no sense of here’s the line and cross it and you’re a transgressor. And so what we get is a kind of a fog.
[00:33:13] And if you talk with people about mental, with mental problems, who feel loss of identity or perhaps loss of perception of reality, one of the things that’s lacking is there’s nothing they really can nail down. Everything is vague and confused. It’s as though they were kind of like a ship in a fog that had no compass and no way of guiding itself.
[00:33:37] And if you don’t have any moral absolutes, like thou shalt not kill or thou shall not commit adultery, and if you don’t stand for them, then you just sort of go back and forth. And what it does is it overloads your conscience. I believe man was made in God’s image and as an image of God, He has a consciousness of right and wrong, and it is constantly blunted by things you you refuse to evaluate or to take stands on. Then you’re going to become less of a mature person.
[00:34:10] And now the other thing, which really flows out of that, is that there’s also a loss of indignation.
[00:34:18] Now, I’ve practically said that in talking about the way violence was taking over. But people really don’t know how to get indignant anymore. And I remember when pornography first began to come into the drugstores, and I went into the first drug store where I saw it all up there on display. And I went over to the druggist and said, “Whoa, over here. What’s this?” You know. But today. Would I do that? I’d spend all my time going into the 7-Eleven. Or Pointing people out. Now, maybe I should. But you lose, you see, your sense of things, certain things are wrong, certain things are right. The edges are worn down.
[00:35:05] Now, I remember we started a church over in Logan, and it’s sort of in the Fern Rock, near the Logan area. And while we were there, there were a great number of murders that occurred. They were happening weekly. And so we did some things. We just fronted it in the community. We went around and we made up some pamphlets. And basically, “God denounces murder.” Very plain. We saw that every body and every home in the whole area got one. We talked to people. We did many things with them. Would you believe it stopped, because we were indignant? Nobody tried it before. But it worked.
[00:35:51] And you see, you only have mental health as you see yourself really hating violence. Now, that doesn’t mean that you hate people. There’s a difference, you know?
[00:36:03] Now, the other thing, of course, that comes out of this, seems to me, the way that a person loses touch with reality as he kind of lets the world drift by; he doesn’t take stands; he doesn’t believe anything can be done, or only it’s not safe, I’m threatened by it. If he doesn’t take a stand, he becomes hopeless. And as he looks at the violent person, if he would even try to deal with that violent person, he would be speaking from his fear to that other person’s fear.
[00:36:36] Because I have worked with a lot of violent people. Some of them are murderers. And the thing that struck me is not only are these people loaded down with guilt, but they’re also very fearful. Many times, murderers are not only self-righteous and loaded down with guilt, but they’re fearful people. And you can’t speak from your fear and your hopelessness into that person’s hopelessness. And what I see under the surface of so much American optimism is a sense of despair. There’s really nothing can be done. Even if I lift up a little banner here, it really wouldn’t matter that much. And I think that kind of deep frustration is something that should be wrestled with, faced up to and asked, is this really the way to go?
[00:37:21] Well, now we come to solutions.
[00:37:25] And I’d like to give you some thoughts about children and violence. First of all, there have been some psychological studies done about children and violence. And those studies reveal clearly that if children watch a lot of violence on TV, it will affect them. It’ll affect them in any number of ways, which I don’t have time to go into, but it certainly will affect them.
[00:37:47] But it’s also been found there. There’s some very simple ways to help children that have a fairly good family relationship with their parents out of that problem. And one thing psychologists have done is a very simple thing. They have the child has been watching a lot of TV and the child has become disoriented or violent. They simply have the child sit down and write an essay, maybe about a page on the TV programs they have seen. And then they are asked to say whether they think these programs deal with reality. They just force that question on the child. Are you seeing a real world in all this violence you’re viewing on television?
[00:38:34] And they have found that through those discussions and the child is working on it, thinking it through, that it’s surprising that in about an hour or two a child can be pulled out of most of it. That’s very encouraging to me. But it’s been done again and again. It isn’t just a casual experiment. It was done systematically.
[00:38:53] Well, now, if that’s so, then I think we ought to agree that it would also be wise for more and more parents to help children discuss the programs they see with a view to getting them to say, Is this real? Is this the way the life is or is this the way it should be? Is there something wrong here? And then, of course, it wouldn’t hurt in many cases for you and the child to agree to turn it off. Right. And an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That you ought to find some positive programs for children.
[00:39:29] And I think people could work in their neighborhoods, talk it over with neighbors. What are your children watching on TV? What do you think about the violence in the world today? And you could become a little crusader for getting people to think through issues of maybe controlling the television set so it does not condition our children in the direction of violence.
[00:39:51] Okay. Now, I’d also say this. If you’re a normal person living in this world of violence, you’re going to have some fears. If you are not afraid of anything, you really ought to be institutionalized. You’re certainly not safe. And if you’re not afraid of some of the violent people in our time, you’re really nuts. Because there are some people out there that really warrant your fear. And so fear in itself is not unhealthy if it’s facing reality.
[00:40:25] Now, the thing to do, if you’re afraid of people and some of the violent ones out there, don’t suppress those fears. That is not dealing with what the Bible calls walking in the light. If you’re afraid you’ve got a lot of fears, bring them out and talk them over with a good friend and see which ones are real and which ones are unreal. To what extent are you developing a kind of a paranoia about violence and life?
[00:40:52] Now, this is going to sound very un-American, but bear with it and its probably wrong anyway. But did you notice that life is 100% mortal anyway? Did you ever notice that, that life is 100% mortal? Quoting a friend of mine, you know it’s 100% fatal. We all die sometime. Did you ever think about the possibility that you are going to die?
[00:41:25] Now, for me, I didn’t think this up myself, my daughter did. She’s married to a Baptist pastor in North Philadelphia, not far from Ninth and Butler. And she has her three children there, has foster children, too. And we’ve talked about it. And she said to me, well, you ought to consider the fact, or we have, that when we go into this area, some of us might die or some of us might be hurt or injured in some terrible way. But we accept it. We say it could happen and we look at it and we face it and we forget about it.
[00:42:02] And it’s the same thing with you and your death. Someday you’re going to die. And therefore, if you never look at it, if you never face up to it, then it can become a kind of a paralyzing thing. But if you say, “Yes, I’m going to die sometime,” but like Shakespeare, “I’m not going to be a coward. Cowards die. What? Thousand times? How many? What is it? Right. “The valiant never taste of death but once.” Right. Thank you, Irma. That was a good correction. I almost butchered Shakespeare here. Somebody would have taken back my Ph.D. if I had finished that quote the way I was going through it. Well, so much for imperfection.
[00:42:44] But the thing I want you to see is, if you’re going to die anyway, you might as well live with some courage in the meantime. Right. Does that make any sense to anybody? I know it’s not American. We’re opposed to death. And I think we outlawed it in the Constitution somewhere. Isn’t that right? It is forbidden for Americans to die. We never die. Europeans tell me you don’t die. You just disappear here.
[00:43:14] Well, anyway, whether that is, I’m teasing a bit here. But look, if you only have one life to lead, why don’t you make it count? And why don’t you say, “Yes, I’m going to die anyway, so I’m not going to be afraid of people who are violent or evil. I’m going to stand up to them.” Now. It means you take reasonable precautions. But once you’ve accepted the possibility of your own death, then you really are, kind of like, you have a kind of an immortality. Its going to happen to you anyway.
[00:43:45] I remember one time my wife … it was really funny. We were in Kampala and a guerrilla sympathizer had fled into our yard. My son in law, Bob Heppi, was supposed to put up the gate, but you know how it is. He’s more scholarly than he is carpentry oriented. And he hadn’t put it up. This guy goes into the yard and the soldiers come in pursuing him. They’ve got these heavy weapons. Right in front of our door. They’re booming right there, you know. And we all huddle inside of the house and a little hallway. And while we’re doing that, it even scared Bob, who used to be a violent fellow in his own way. I’ve never seen him scared. He was afraid for Gillian, their daughter, and he and Karen, and we were covering their bodies.
[00:44:32] And so somebody had to go to the door and explain to these soldiers that we were peaceful people. And so when I got to the door, I had all these visions of they’re shooting through that glass door. I tried to think of alternative ways of doing this, but there didn’t seem to be any. And I realized at that moment I’m a coward. I’m brave, except in the face of danger.
[00:44:56] And so I got to the door, and pulled the curtain back, and there was great big a [Ugandan] soldier looking at me eyeball to eyeball. And I laughed and he laughed too. And he says, “Oh, Father, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were in there. We’re looking for bandits.”.
[00:45:12] And so I closed the door and I turned around and here, Karen and Rose Marie Karen’s my daughter. Rose Marie is my wife. They had been crying a minute before, and I guess I thought I was going to get some kind of congratulation. And I had saved us and that sort of stuff. And, Rose Marie looked at me in the eye, those blue eyes, German blue eyes blazing, and there was no tears left. And she said, “Jack, you said in your sermon yesterday in the church we were to invite the soldiers into tea and tell them about Christ, and you didn’t do it.” And Karen looks at me, tears are still pretty well in her eyes, and she says, “Yes, Dad, you didn’t do it.” Our hero melted. And I said, “Well, you didn’t hear the whole sermon. Didn’t you hear that proviso. Providing it is appropriate.” And I didn’t think it was appropriate. And they just stood there and shook their heads. And so I crawled back into the hallway and I said, “Alright, the next group that comes through.”.
[00:46:23] The next group that came through, we plunged out the door and met them. And if you ever come to New Life, you know, I’m a long preacher. You know, I like to preach a good sermon. I believe that sermonettes make Christiantettes. And so I like to see real Christians made. But even be that as it may, I preached the shortest sermon on record. There was gunfire all around the place, and I explained to them the purpose of Christ coming into the world. Call them to repentance. And they were so startled, all these soldiers and police, they thought this guy dropped out of out of this spaceship somewhere. Anyway, without their getting time to think. I gathered them into a circle and we all held hands. Rose Marie and Karen and Bob and I and the soldiers and police. And we had a prayer meeting. And we just got so fed up with the violence that we all, we just plunged out there, and we gave them some good, strong exhortation: “Don’t shoot any innocent people” and all the rest. And they were so shocked that they promised from the bottom of their hearts that we won’t shoot any more innocent people. And they went away so dumbfounded that we came out there. And of course, I gave Rose Marie and Karen the credit for driving me out there.
[00:47:58] But that’s the way we ought to be, really, isn’t it? Like those two lionesses, my wife and my daughter. And I really think women in America could make a great difference in this whole matter. I really think they’re part of the solution. If women would stand up and make us men have a little more backbone … Hah?
[00:48:18] But is there anything else that we can do by way of solution? And I do believe this has happened again and again in America. If you study the history of our country, you’ll find that we’ve had periods of violence. Here in Philadelphia in the 1790s, there was a great deterioration of our country, and there was not only the breaking out of disease, malaria, yellow fever, but there was a great deal of violence, drunkenness. Actually, churches were attacked by mobs. Pulpit bibles were ripped out. It was really bad.
[00:48:49] And, you know, people started doing? They started to pray. Small groups began to form, to pray for our country. And as they prayed for our country, the country began to change.
[00:49:04] But something mysterious happened. And it leads us to a deeper question: Is there something, an evil that’s more than just human? Is it possible that there are kingdoms that are invisible, clashing in all the things that are happening, that organized crime has behind it a higher organization of satanic powers? That our own fears may have behind them, darker inspirations?
[00:49:40] And so when we pray and we pray, we are calling upon the One who has made the universe to change not only the others, but also to change us. Because one of the things we have to face is that not only is there evil out there, but maybe some of it is in me. Did you ever think of that?
[00:50:06] And the reason I’m so afraid of it and the reason I’m intimidated by it, maybe something in me vibrates in it too much. I may not have killed anyone, but I’m reminded the story of the man who had been married 60 years. And a reporter asked him, “Did you ever want to divorce your wife?” And he says, “No, I never thought of divorce, but I certainly thought of murder several times.”.
[00:50:30] Well, you know, every one of us commits his little murders. Isn’t that true? And there’s some deeper things that need to be dealt with. And they can only be dealt with by facing our God.
[00:50:42] And then it seems to me that there needs to be something more done. And I think that’s a very practical thing. And it’s overcoming evil with good.
[00:50:56] How can you do that? Well, in 1971, I go around making flaming speeches like this, and then I go home and I say to myself, “Do I really believe that?” And so in 1971, I was speaking down at a Presbyterian church nearby here. And I got home. I said, “Am I a hypocrite or not? If I really believe what I said?
[00:51:16] I had said that, “Tthe message of Christ can change anyone, no matter how bad.” And the pastor was sitting right there and it really woke him up. And he stood up and he says, “Jack, you can’t mean that?”.
[00:51:30] Really got everybody’s attention. What a discussion we had. People divided up back and forth. I said, “Yes, I believe Christ can change anyone.”.
[00:51:37] And then I went home and I said to myself, “Do you really believe that?” And my wife and I decided that night to commit ourselves to it. And we opened our home then to all kinds of people, including violent ones. And we started taking them into our lives. And we took violent people from state mental institutions. We took, we worked with people who had committed crimes of various kinds. Wasn’t long before we had a murderer visiting with us and so on?
[00:52:09] And it became a very exciting life. And I won’t tell you all about it, but it’s amazing the changes that came into many of these lives. And even those that were not changed in a spiritual way, they were changed in many of their attitudes towards society. But what they found for the first time was that somebody loved them.
[00:52:32] One girl we took in: she had been a chick with the warlock motorcycle gang. By the way, it was a little sticky. We put her on the third floor and we had another girl up there who had been a chick for the pagan motorcycle gang. And all these sparks were coming down. We didn’t know what was going on. We found out soon.
[00:52:54] But anyway, after that girl was there for a while, to show you the demonic side of some of these things, she heard me making a talk like this one night and she came up afterwards and said, “I need to say something to you.” I said, “I’m listening.” She said, “I have been planning to murder you and Mrs. Miller.”.
[00:53:14] Really gets your attention. She had all my attention. A little palpitation, too. And I looked her in the eyes, I prayed, and I said, and “I want you to know this: no matter what happens, I forgive you.”.
[00:53:33] And she was stunned. If I’d taken a two-by-four and hit her across the head, it wouldn’t have hurt her more. And so I said, “Let’s go over here to this bench and sit down.” And she was staggering. And I said, “I want to tell you about a Christ who died for people like you and me. There’s murder in my heart, too. But if you trust your life to Him, and you turn away from this sin, he’ll change you. He’ll make you into a new person.”And having said that to her, we prayed together and Christ changed her. Amazing.
[00:54:11] And so it isn’t just a human battle. It’s really that we ought to take our courage in our hands and recognize there’s a message about this Jesus who died on the cross for good people like us. Maybe I’m not so good, but good people like you, and bad people, in middle people, and he takes away their sins. And through faith in him, they have a new life. And in this way, you don’t need to be afraid of anyone. Because even if they killed you, they just give you a quick door in the heaven.
[00:54:45] And so I want to say, “Join the battle. It’s a lot of fun.” Why sit there like a sitting duck and get shot by the world. Let’s go get em. I believe in fighting. Good old American way.
[00:55:03] But you’ve got to have the tools to fight and you have to have a spiritual foundation. And I have just explained that to you. Thanks much. You’re good listeners.
Audience Question [00:55:28] Women are also affected by what’s to me, they’re constantly being called now more than ever before, “Watch out for strangers. Remember your phone number. Don’t talk to anyone.” They eat their cereal and on the back of the box of the milk carton is the faces of two or three kids who are now missing. What is this doing?
Jack Miller [00:55:56] The question is, what about all the warnings being given to children to watch out for strangers? And you have the warnings in the back of the cereal box and you get these pictures of runaways on television. Descriptions of them. And you’re convinced that these people have all been done in. And as a matter of fact, most of those runaways and televisions or people who disappeared, the children, have been have been kidnaped by a parent. And it’s quite misleading.
[00:56:24] Well, I think children need to be given some proper warnings. I think there’s a place for that. But I think that if you make too much of it, you begin to freeze them up and build a world of fear. And I would have them err a little bit on the side of daring rather than on the side of fear.
[00:56:44] And so, now this may not sound very Christian, and don’t quote me. He’s got it on tape. I would teach children at an early age a little self defense.
[00:57:01] When Karen went to Jenkintown High, a Jenkintown School, this boy followed her home and we received this very obnoxious note from him and we couldn’t figure out why he had sent it. And it turned out she had beaten him up. So militant Christianity. I don’t think we ought to train people into passivity. I don’t want them beating up people. We had to explain to her that we only, we pick people up, at least after we beat them up. So I’m teasing, but you get the picture. We need courage.
[00:57:35] Anyone else? Bill, you’ve got another question.
Audience Question [00:57:43] Dr. Miller, you read Francis Schaffer’s “A Christian manifesto.”
Jack Miller [00:57:47] Sped read it, so I couldn’t really say I read it. Go ahead.
Audience Question [00:57:51] He seems to align himself with a position that is common with Reformers like Zwingli, where, if the government is no longer a godly government, lets say it encourages things like abortion, or at least, the way we have now, is it protects those people who want to kill their babies. Where does a Christian go? Can a Christian take up arms in a situation like that? Or is he always to turn the other cheek?
Jack Miller [00:58:22] What do you do when the state turns outlaw? It’s really what you’re saying.
[00:58:27] Well, the first thing you want to be sure, the state is really turned outlaw and you’re not just turning outlaw.
[00:58:31] And there’s where are you going to draw the line. And I think because of our tendency to be hasty, you know, we get the Charles Bronson, and the Goetz response, Bernard Goetz, and he takes his revolver along and he’s really making himself into the state.
[00:58:48] But I do believe there are situations where the state does turn outlaw, as in Nazi Germany. And I think their position, as a Christian, has a duty to have some kind of resistance to that. And I think he has to take his conscience before God to see what kind. I don’t see the American government yet to that place. There are other avenues.
Audience Question [00:59:10] Dr. Miller, often when I’ve heard you speak, you comment on how Americans are so afraid of pain that we’ve become so pained with such an aversion to pain. Would you see that as another side to the crippling fear of violence that we have? And would you comment on that?
Jack Miller [00:59:28] Well, I interviewed a psychiatrist one time. I spent a couple of days with him, and afterwards I decided he was quite sane. It was a job I had. And he was a psychiatrist who had interviewed a great share of the Korean prisoners of war, of American Korean prisoners of war that had been held either by the North Koreans or the Chinese communist. And his view was that many of these men, those who didn’t come back, many of them died out of fear. He said it was not unusual to have a young American man who, when he hit the the prison camp, go into a catatonic state and within 24 hours be dead. And he says it was simply out of fear of pain.
[01:00:16] And he said many of them thought they were being tortured by them. You know, they sent back all these horror stories about their being tortured. He said, “Well, yes and no. By American standards, they were being tortured. But some of that, he said, was simply they were poorly disciplined soldiers. And Oriental military discipline is so tough that they were just getting standard discipline in Oriental army.” Some of them wouldn’t build latrines and so on, and the Communists were hard on them. Now, he was not a pro-Communist himself. And but he said he thought what had happened, that American young men had been so trained—If you get a headache, you take an aspirin, if you’re going to get a tooth drill, you get novocaine. And that we had so trained ourselves that we take so many prescriptions to avoid pain that when we ran into it of a severe sort, we didn’t know what to do with that.
[01:01:08] And his his point was, which I thought he was such a sane person. I don’t know why I keep saying that about a psychiatrist, but it may reflect some of my views and some of them I’ve met. But anyway, he said, there’s no greater pain than trying to avoid pain. And I think this is one of the things that Americans are so afraid of. We’re afraid of violence because these people are not afraid of pain. And I think we can’t cure the problem if we’re all going to run away. And so you do get hurt. All right. Other people have been hurt. Suppose you get killed. Well, if you do it in the name of God in Christ. So what? You did your part? Does that sound harsh? Doesn’t sound American. But I think it’s right.
[01:01:59] All right. Another question. Yes.
Audience Question [01:02:02] I was thinking about when you spoke about there is sort of the legal violence that’s becoming very acceptable as far as liability and litigation and what people are responsible for, just the tendency of people that are using any kind of professional help or any help or just walking or anything in their life and have done harm, damage. And then they want to get back at that person to get everything they have and to ruin them professionally.
Jack Miller [01:02:32] You really put your finger on something. The question the question is what about the legal obligations? If you reach out to help somebody, for instance, someone has said if the Good Samaritan were alive today, he would be prosecuted for a practicing license without a medicine, medicine without a license.
[01:02:52] And and if you did what even we did fifteen, ten years ago, and taking people into your home, wouldn’t you be in danger today of getting a lawsuit? Well, I feel this way. If you get a great big lawsuit thrown at you, you only have so much money anyway. And if they take that away, in the meantime, you can wrestle with the problem and raise a big protest, what an opportunity. You might even get a little newspaper publicity for standing up for the right. And so I say today, let the Good Samaritan not only take the risk of the robbers and help the wounded man by the side of the road, but also rejoice in the lawsuits, because that might even get you on the Phil Donahue Show. And he really needs help. So. Okay.
Audience Question [01:03:45] Going back to whether or not Christian people should take up arms against the state, the state is going outlaw, the Christian church was formed from the Roman Empire. It wasn’t too much preaching back then and about taking up arms against the Roman Empire. They just. Church groups and forums were in the midst of all the violence, despite, without taking part in it.
Jack Miller [01:04:14] Right. And towards the end, they actually walked right into the arena, the Coliseum, where they were killing the gladiators back and forth, and protested in such a vigorous way that eventually they just killed it. And it was it was really passive.
[01:04:31] And I think the strongest kind of opposition we can give is our moral courage.
[01:04:39] Anyone else. Yes.
Audience Question [01:04:45] We have some friends who are very involved in the National Rifle Association, things like that, the gun lobby. And then there is the constitutional right to bear arms. And yet, the problem with Christians if you analyze our culture, you tend to think that maybe we’ve lost our “Christian basis,” which was the basis for some of those rights. How do you interact as a leader, a public figure to those who say “I have a right to protect my family?” And yet realizing that, you know, we do have the violence and the murders. What’s your response to that?
Jack Miller [01:05:25] I came from a family in Oregon of hunters and trappers. We had a little cattle ranch and we had an arms all over the place. We looked like a military camp, but we were very nonviolent people. The thought of shooting somebody would … But I think that’s an older world, and I think people today there needs to be some pretty strong control, especially of handguns. I think they ought to be licensed. And I think you shouldn’t get a license unless you have been trained in how to use it. And I think very few people ought to get them. And I am strongly opposed to the view that there ought to be indiscriminate availability, especially of handguns. I’m not saying anything about hunters and things like that. But I see no justification whatsoever for saying the constitutional right to bear arms guarantees anybody the right to have a house full of pistols. I just feel very strongly against that, and would be happy to debate anybody who holds that view. I think that it’s terrible the way so many people in our country have pistols. I guess I have some sympathies for the Ugandans who feared that we were very violent.
Audience Question [01:06:53] Dr. Miller, James Dobson, the educator, said about children in particular, has talked a lot about the need for self-worth as being a determining factor in a lot of the violence and also other problems, psychological problems that children have. I know as, in a high school, for example, when I was teaching, kids are very, almost trained to be self-centered in that regard, you are here to get as much as you can. This is your time to just get, get, get. And there’s not much of an emphasis on how to give. I, as a teacher, a kid would throw something on the floor, and sometimes I’d say “Pick it up.” And they’d saw “Well, that’s the janitors job.” You know, things like that. And I wonder how, as parents, how can we give our children a real self-worth and help them avoid some of these problems that often lead to this.
Jack Miller [01:07:51] An excellent question. Could you all hear it? Basically, it was it was a question that goes to the heart of the matter of in a practical way. How do you give children today self-worth?
[01:08:02] And what many people have been telling them, and this is very popular psychology today, that you get self-worth by asserting yourself. Isn’t that true? That you claim what is yours, you get your rights? And I believe this is a lot of the lies behind the ideological violence, and it also lies behind a lot of the thrill violence. That you’re trained to fulfill yourself.
[01:08:31] And what you get when you go down that road is you build a kind of a, you get a kind of a raging kingdom of self, a raging kingdom of self in which people are all out to grab.
[01:08:47] Now, I wouldn’t deny that there’s a place for defending your own dignity, and there are times for insisting on your own rights. But you see, historically that has not been in our tradition. Its been there, but it’s been modified by the believing that God has a more absolute right, that God’s right is greater than man’s right. And so underneath God’s right, we find our rights. But if you make yourself into a kind of a little God, you end up becoming a Rambo, or something else in which you are a destroyer.
[01:09:26] And I think this has a lot to do with the violence and has a lot to do with the drug culture. It means a world of people without brakes. It’s like getting a very high powered car and then removing the brake system. And I think that’s what we have for many people. And it’s one reason I’m deeply disturbed that our schools do not have enough emphasis on the Ten Commandments today. I really believe we need to have the Ten Commandments in every public high school and every private school.
Moderator [01:10:02] We have time for maybe for just one or two. If they are not real lengthy ones. Do we have any takers from people who haven’t had a chance.
Audience Question [01:10:09] I was wondering about Christians bearing arms. Is it wrong like just to call the name Jesus? You know what I mean, instead of having a gun or something, is that being stupid, like not thinking logically. Do you know what I mean?
Jack Miller [01:10:26] Well, the question is, is there an answer to the Christians bearing arms? Suppose you live in a dangerous neighborhood. I think you can do some very practical things if you live in a dangerous neighborhood or one you think is dangerous. Most neighborhoods have patterns to them. If you know what the rules are, you just don’t go out there in North Philadelphia when you see a strange body of teenagers on a corner. You make your route around some other way. But then if you sometimes come to the place where you are confronted by someone who intend you to do harm. Now I know I am a man and it might make a difference, but the thing that I have done is just start talking to them about Jesus. And I think I scared more people than have scared me.
[01:11:20] I used to pick up a lot of hitchhikers. I’ve lost my nerve as I get older, but I used to pick up a lot of hitchhikers and some of them looked very rough. And I always carried a big Bible in my car and I’d always put it over in the seat right where the hitchhiker was going to sit down. So when he got in, he had to pick up the pick up the Bible and move it. And I remember one fellow I picked up that way, and he looked kind of funny. And I said, Well, I introduced myself, he introduced himself, and we started talking. And it was clear that he was so badly frightened that I had really overdone it. And I finally I said to him, “Why wouldn’t you like to come to a Bible study tonight? I’m really quite a nice guy. I don’t bite anyone.” And he says, “Where is it?” And he says, “What is your name again?” He says, “Oh, I’m coming to your Bible study. Somebody’s bringing me.”.
[01:12:13] But anyway, anyway, yeah, I think that sometimes if I think it’s a dangerous situation, I just start praying out loud. Kefa Sempangi, who was an active elder in our congregation across the street. He was an African a Ugandan. He said when Amin’s soldiers came to kill him, they were going to take him away and shoot him. And so he said, “Well, I’m ready to go.” But then he said, “I wonder if you men are ready.” And he says, “I really think I should pray for you before we go.” And he said, “Did I pray!” He says, “I poured my heart out to God for these poor guys.” And he said, “They were so convicted that they both became Christians on the spot and from then on protected him.” And it was through their their work that he got out of the country safely.
[01:13:09] We really need to believe in the power of God to break in. And I do believe that. I’ve even myself gone up to people. This is a little bit off the subject of violence so they can be violent. I knew a military attache a bit in Uganda, a Soviet one. You know, they run arms into Africa a lot like they’re going out of style. And so I met him and I said to him, “How’s your work? Is it exciting?” And he says, “No very routine.” He didn’t like the question too well. And so I said, “Well, my work is really exciting. Come over. We’re getting all these murderers, all these thieves, they’re all turning to God and they’re being changed and they’re finding jobs. And we have real community. Wouldn’t you like to get aboard this?” And he had kind of funny look? And he says, “I’m a communist. I can’t do that.” And so I said, “Oh, well, Jesus saves all kinds of sinners, and he would save you to.” He about died on the spot. Made great conversation, and I’m sure left him with something to think about for the rest of his life. And just to see my love for him, even though I view these people, KGB people, they make my flesh crawl. You know, these are violent people, terrible people. And and yet we got to love them, too, don’t we?
Audience Question [01:14:30] I think that’s a great note to end on.
Jack Miller [01:14:35] So let’s pray for our country, shall we? God our maker. We thank you, though, we’re here tonight from different backgrounds, probably different religions, that we can come before the God who’s made us all. And we can ask him to bless this nation. We can ask him to overcome the evil in it and to change people. We also ask you that you would change us, that you would take fears out of our heart, that we might not be afraid of evil, that indeed, Lord, that you would take evil out of us, that we may ourselves be people of peace and quietness, and that we may win others to the Lord of Peace. We would ask you tonight for our whole nation, that you would revive us, that you turn many who are violent and evil to yourself. We pray, especially, that you would bless families. We think of the coming generations of teenagers and small children. We ask you to be with them, and we pray this in the name of our Redeemer. Amen.