An Army with Banners
The man who is right with God will not be wrong with anything that is good.—Billy Sunday.
THE oldest problem of the Christian Church, and the
latest problem of democracy, is how to reach the
great mass of the people. Frequently the charge is made that the Church merely skims the surface of society, and that the great uncaring masses of the people lie untouched beneath it. Commonly, a revival reaches only a short distance outside the circumference of church circles. The wonder and greatness of the Billy Sunday campaigns consist in the fact that they reach to the uttermost rim of a community, to its greatest height and its lowest depth. There can be no question that he stirs a city as not even the fiercest political campaign stirs it. Sunday touches life on all levels, bringing his message to bear upon the society woman in her parlor and the humblest day laborer in the trench.
This does not come to pass by any mere chance. Organized activity achieves it. The method which produces the greatest results is what is called the Delegation Idea, whereby detachments of persons from various trades, callings and organizations and coinmunities attend in a body upon the services of the Sunday Tabernacle.
By prearrangement, seats are reserved every night for these visiting delegations. Sometimes there will be as many as a dozen delegations present in one evening. As the campaign progresses towards its conclusion real difficulty is experienced in finding open dates for all the delegations that apply. At the outset, Mr. Sunday's assistants have to "work up" these delegations. Later, the delegations themselves besiege the workers.
In variety the delegations range from a regiment of Boy Scouts to a post of old soldiers; from the miners of a specified colliery to the bankers of the city; from the telephone girls to the members of a woman's club; from an athletic club to a Bible class.
Not only the community in which the meetings are being held furnish these delegations, but the surrounding territory is drawn upon. It is by no means an unknown thing for a single delegation, numbering a thousand or fifteen hundred men, to come a distance of fifteen or twentyfive^miles to attend a Sunday Tabernacle service. Almost every evening there are lines of special cars waiting for these deputations who have come from afar, with their banners and their badges and their bands, all bent upon hearing and being heard at the Tabernacle.
The crowd spirit is appealed to by this method. The every-day instinct of loyalty to one's craft or crowd is aroused. Each delegation feels its own identity and solidarity, and wants to make as good a showing as possible. There is considerable wholesome emulation among the delegations representing the same craft or community. Of course, the work of making ready the delegation furnishes a topic for what is literally "shop talk" among working men; and naturally each group zealously watches the effect of its appearance upon the great congregation. Delegations get a very good idea of what their neighbors think of them by the amount of applause with which they are greeted. Thus when the whole force of a daily newspaper, appears in the Tabernacle 'its readers cheer vociferously. Every delegation goes equipped with its own battle cry, and prepared to make as favorable a showing as possible.
All this is wholesome for the community life. It fosters loyalty in the varied groups that go/to make up our society. Any shop is the better for its workers, led by their heads of departments and by their employers, having gone in a solid phalanx to a Tabernacle meeting. Every incident of that experience becomes an unfailing source of conversation for long days and weeks to follow.
On LOt: Bihthplace Of Billy Sunday At Ames, Iowa , ,ght: Standing In Front Of House In Which He Was Born Is Billy Sunday' With Aunt Rosetta Simmons, Who Was With His Motheb At His Birth,
And His Brother, H E (ed) Sunday.
The Tabernacle At Scranton, Pennsylvania, Typical Of The Auditoriums That Are Erected Wherever
Campaigns Are Conducted. To Deaden Sound The Floor Is Covered With Sawdust, Whence The
Name "sawdust Trail " To Prevent The Possibility Of A Panic, No Board Is Fastened
With More Than Two Nails, And There Is A Door At The End Of Every Aisle.
Naturally, too, each delegation, delighted with the showing it has made at the Tabernacle, and with the part it has borne in the meeting, becomes one more group of partisans for the Billy Sunday campaign. Men who would not go alone to the Tabernacle, cannot in loyalty well refuse to stand by their own crowd. So it comes to pass that the delegation idea penetrates every level and every section of the community. A shrewder scheme for reaching the last man could scarcely be devised. Thousands who are impervious to religious appeals quickly respond to the request that they stand by their shop-mates and associates.
Participation in the meetings makes the people themselves feel the importance of their own part. They are not merely a crowd coming to be talked at; they share in the meetings. The newspapers comment upon them even as upon the sermon. All are uplifted by the glow of geniality and camaraderie which pervades the Tabernacle. For the songs and slogans and banners of the delegations greatly help to swell the interest of the meetings.
All this is wholesome, democratic and typically American. This good-natured crowd does not become unreal or artificial simply because it is facing the fundamental verities of the human soul.
Outspokenness in loyalty, a characteristic of Sunday converts, expresses itself through many channels. Taught by the delegation idea, as well as by the sermon, the importance of standing up to be counted, the friends and converts of the evangelist are always ready for the great parade which usually is held toward the close of the campaign. The simple basis for this street demonstration is found in the old Scripture, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." The idea of the Roman imperial triumph survives in the Billy Sunday parade. It is a testimony to the multitudes of the loyalty of Christians to the Gospel.
Beyond all question, a tremendous impression is made upon a city by the thousands of marching men whom the evangelist first leads and then reviews. A street parade i
a visualization of the forces of the Church in a community. Many a man of the street, who might be unmoved by many arguments, however powerful, cannot escape the impression of the might of the massed multitudes of men who march through the streets, thousands strong. Some twenty thousand men were in the Sunday parade at Scranton. Nobody who witnessed them, be he never so heedless a scoffer, could again speak slightingly of the Church. Religion loses whatever traits of femininity it may have possessed, before the Sunday campaign is over.
Those most practical of men, the politicians, are quick to take cognizance of this new power that has arisen in the community's life. They know that every one of these men not only has a vote, but is a center of influence for the things in which he believes.
The heartening effect of such a great demonstration as this upon the obscure, lonely and discouraged saints is beyond calculation.
The great hosts of the Billy Sunday campaign are returning to first principles by taking religion out into the highways and making it talked about, even as the Founder of the Church created a commotion in the highways of Capernaum and Jerusalem. These marching men are a sermon one or two miles long. The impression made upon youth is not to be registered by any means in the possession of men. Every Christian the world around must be grateful to this evangelist and his associates for giving the sort of demonstration, which cannot be misunderstood by the world at large, of the virility and the immensity of the hosts of heaven on earth.
Many of the utterances of Billy Sunday are attuned to this note of valiant witness-bearing for Christ.
Samson didn't realize that the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him; he walked out and shook himself as aforetime; he weighed as much; he was as strong physically; his mind was as active, but although he possessed all that, there was one thing that was necessary to make him as he had been: "He wist not that the Spirit of the Lord had left him."
A man may have a fine physique; he may have strength; he may have greatness; he may have a beautiful home; and a church may be magnificent and faultless in its equipment; the preacher may be able to reason; the choir may rival the angels in music; but if you have not the Spirit of the Lord you are, as Paul says, as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, and the church is merely four walls with a roof over it.
Nothing in the world can be substituted for the Spirit of God; no wealth, culture nor anything in the world. By power we do not mean numbers; there never has been a time when there were more members in the Church than today; yet we haven't kept progress in the number of members in the Church with the increased number of people in the nation. Our nation has grown to over 90,000,000 of people, but we are not correspondingly keeping pace with the number of church members. God's Church has not increased correspondingly in power as it has in numbers; while increasing in numbers it has not increased in spiritual power. I am giving you facts, not fancies. We are not dealing with theories. I am not saying anything against the Church; you never had a man come into this community who would fight harder for the Church of God Almighty than I would. I am talking about her sins and the things that sap her powei"—and by power I do not mean numbers. If you had an army of 100,000 and increased it another 100,000 it ought to be doubled in power.
Derelicts in the Church
In the Church of God today you know there are a lot of people who are nothing but derelicts and nothing but driftwood.
By power I do not mean wealth. We are the richest people on the earth; nineteen-twentieths of all the wealth or all the money in the United States today is in the hands of professing Christians, Catholic and Protestant. That ought to mean that it is in God's hands; but it doesn't. They are robbing God. I was in a church in Iowa that had three members who were worth $200,000 each and they paid their preacher the measly salary of $600 a year, and I will be hornswaggled if they did not owe him $400 then. If I ever skinned any old fellows I did those old stingy coots. A man who doesn't pay to the church is as big a swindler as a man who doesn't pay his grocery bill and he is dead-beating his way to hell. You let somebody else pay your bills, you old dead-beat. God hasn't any more use today for a dead-beat in the church than he has for the man who doesn't pay his grocery bill—not a bit!
By power I do not mean culture. There never was a time when the people of America were better informed than they are today; they have newspapers, telephones, telegraphs, rural delivery, fast trains. You can leave home and in five days you are in Europe. If something happens in China or Japan tonight you can read it before you go to bed. The islands of the sea are our neighbors.
A stranger once asked: "What is the most powerful and influential church in this town?"
"That big stone Presbyterian church on the hill."
"How many members has it?"
"I don't know, my wife is a member."
"How many Sunday-school members?"
"I don't know; my children go."
"How many go to prayer-meetings?"
"I don't know; I have never been there."
"How many go to communion?"
"I don't know, I never go; my wife goes."
Then the stranger said: "Will you please tell me why you said it was the most powerful and influential church in the community?"
"Yes, sir; it is the only church in the town that has three millionaires in the church." That was why he thought it was a great church. The Church in America would die of dry rot and sink forty-nine fathoms in hell if all members were multimiUionaires and college graduates. That ought not to be a barrier to spiritual power. By power I do not mean influence.
I'd hate to have to walk back nineteen hundred years to Pentecost. There were 120 at Pentecost who saved 3,000 souls.
Some of the most powerful churches I have ever worked with were not the churches that had the largest number or the richest members. Out in a town in Iowa there were three women who used to pray all night every Thursday night, one of them a colored woman. People used to come under her windows at night and listen to her pray. She murdered the king's English five times in every sentence, but oh, she knew God. They had 500 names on their list for prayer and when the meetings closed they had checked off 397 of them. Every Friday I would be called over the telephone or receive a letter or meet those women and they would tell me what assurances God gave them as to who would be saved. I have never met three women that were stronger in faith than those three. That town was Fairfield, Iowa, one of the brightest, cleanest, snappiest little towns I ever went into.
The Meaning of Power
Samson wist not the Spirit of the Lord had departed. So might we have money, so might we have members, so might we have increase in culture; but we have not increased in power. I mean spiritual power; power to bring things to pass by way of reform. What do I mean by power? I have told you what I did not mean.
By power I mean when the power of God comes upon you and enables you to do what you could not do without that power. That comes to you through confidence and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was a time when the Church had more spiritual power than she has today; there never was a time when she had more members than she has n
today; there never was a time when she had more money than she has today; more culture; but there was a time when she had more spiritual power than today.
And when she had more spiritual power she was a separate institution. She was not living for the devil as she is today. And the Church had not become a clearing house for the forces of evil. We are told that at Pentecost tongues of fire came upon the expectant worshipers.
I don't mean this gabby stuff they have got today that they call the things of the spirit; I don't mean that jabbering and froth and foaming at the mouth when you can't understand a word they say. Try the Spirit, whether it be of God, and in all ages when the Church has stood for something she has had power.
So few of us dream of the tremendous power at our command. At the World's Fair at Chicago the door to one of the great buildings was without doorknob or latch, for these were not needed. There was a great mat at the entrance, and as you stepped upon it your weight would cause an electrical connection to be made and the great doors would swing open. I take this old Book and stand upon it, and all the wonders of life and eternity are opened to me. The power of the Holy Spirit is at my command.
Church Needs Great Awakening
Let's quit fiddling with religion and do something to bring the world to Christ. We need a Pentecost today. The Church needs a great awakening. Now, I'll not stand anyone's saying anything against the Church as an institution; but I will rebuke its sins and point out its shortcomings. Nobody who loves the Church can be silent when so much needs to be said. I love the Church. I want to explode that old adage that "Love is blind"; I tell you, love has an eagle's eyes.
Lots of churches are wrong in their financial policy. It is a wrong that the churches have to resort to tricks that would shame the devil in order to filch a quarter out of a fellow's pocket to help pay the preacher's back salary. There is hardly a church in this country that couldn't have abundant funds if the people would only give of their means as they are commanded by God.
Then, too often you put the wrong men in places of authority in the church. You elect some old fellow who would look better in a penitentiary suit, just because he had a "drag" somewhere We must quit putting such men in church offices.
When I was a boy I was taught how to put glass knobs on the feet of a chair and charge the chair with electricity. So long as I didn't touch anything but the chair I was all right, but if I touched the wall or something else I got a shock. The power passed through and from me. As Christians we cannot come into touch with defiling things without suffering a loss of spiritual power. You can't go to the dance and the card party and the cheap-skate show without losing power. Yes, you can do those things and be a church member. But you can be a church member without being a Christian. There's a difference.
I read in the Bible that Lot first pitched his tents near Sodom. Next I read that Lot moved right into Sodom, and lived there for twenty years. He lost his power there, too. When God warned him to get out of the city he went and told his sons and daughters, but they wouldn't heed him. He had lost his power over them. He warned his sons-inlaw, but they wouldn't heed him. He even lost power over his own wife, for he told her not to look back as they fled, and she rubbered.
If you have lost spiritual power it is because you have disobeyed some clear command of God. Maybe you're stingy. God requires tithes. He commands you to give one tenth of your income to him, and maybe you don't do it. It may be your temper. It may be that you have neglected to read the Bible and haven't prayed as you should.
The Church is a failure because she is compromising with the men that sit in the seats and own saloons whom she never rebukes; she is compromising with the men who rent their property for disorderly houses, and whom she never rebukes. They are living off the products of shame and if they buy food and clothes for their wives and children from such money, they, too, are living off this product of shame. We have lost our power because we have compromised.
When I played base ball I used to attend every theater in the country. Since I was converted I have not darkened a theater's door, except to preach the Gospel. We've lost our power because we've lost our faith.
Our leading members are leaders in nothing but card parties and society; they are not leaders in spiritual things. A man comes to me and says, "Mrs. So-and-So is one of my leading members."
I ask: "Does she get to prayer-meetings?"
"Does she visit the sick?"
"Does she put her arms around some poor sinner and try to save her for Christ?" "No."
And I find she is a leader in nothing but society, card parties, dances and bridge-whist clubs. I don't call that kind a leading woman in the church; she is the devil's bell-wether. That is true. I tell you people what I call your leading woman: She is the one who gets down on her knees and prays; she is the one that can wrap her arms around a sinner and lead her to Christ; that is a leading church member. You have it doped out wrong.
Did Martin Luther trim his sails to the breeze of his day? If he had, you would never have had a Reformation. I will tell you why we have lost our power; I have told you what I don't mean by power.
We have lost our power because we have failed to insist on the separation of the Church from the world. The Church is a separate body of men and women; we are to be in the world, but not of the world. She is all right in the world, all wrong when the world is in her, and the trouble with the Church today is that she has sprung a leak. The flood tides of the world have been swept in until even her pews are engulfed, yes, even the choir loft is almost submerged. We have become but a third-rate amusement bureau. The world has got to see a clean-cut line of demarkation between the Church and the world. So I believe.
If there's anything the Church of God needs it's to climb the stairs and get in an upper room.
Jome out from the things of the world. When you hand out a pickle and a bunch of celery for the cause of good, then will my Father not be glorified; nor'will he be glorified when you sell oyster soup at twenty-five cents a dish, when one lone oyster chases around the dish to find his brother. It doesn't require much power to do that, for two dollars would hire a girl to dish up ice-cream. That does not get you spiritual power.
There is deep heart hungering in the Church today for the old-time Pentecostal power.
Now, I do not know that the Spirit will ever come to us as he came to Pentecost, for you must remember that he came to usher in the new dispensation, or the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. It is true he was present in the Old Testament. He was in Abraham and Moses.
You'll have power when there is nothing questionable in your life.
You'll have power when you testify in a more positive manner.
Do as the disciples did, believe and receive the Holy Spirit by waiting. The Holy Spirit is ours. He is the promise of Jesus from the Father as a gift to the prayers of the Son. God can no more fill you with the Spirit if you are not right, willing and waiting to receive Him, than he can send the sunshine into your house if you have the blinds and shutters all closed. You can pray till you are black in the face and bald-headed, but you're wasting your time unless you agree with God. There can be no wedding unless two parties are agreed. If the girl says "No," that ends it. Don't think you are walking with God just because your name is on a church record. Walk in the path of righteousness even if it leads to a coffin and the graveyard.
Jesus gave his disciples power to perform miracles. That same power can be delegated to you and me today. He always spoke of the Holy Spirit in the future. He was not there. He didn't have to be. They had Jesus, but the Church needs him today. It needs a baptism of the Holy Ghost. There are no substitutes. You can organize, prepare, hire the best singers and preachers in the uerse, but you'll get no power. No matter what Scriptural knowledge he may have, no matter if he prays so that it reaches the stars, no matter if his sermons sway the congregation with their word pictures, no matter if the singers warble faultlessly and to beat the band—the preacher and the singers will produce no more effect than the beating of a drum or the running of a music box. The preacher who murders the king's English four times to every sentence and has the Holy Ghost will get the revival.
The Church today needs power. It has plenty of wealth, culture and numbers. There is no substitute for the Holy Spirit and you cannot have power without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is ours by the promise of Christ. To receive him we must give up all sin and walk in the path of righteousness even if it carries us to our graves or across the seas as a missionary. Give up everything the Lord forbids even if it is as important to you as your hand or your eye.
You have by this act of coming forward publicly acknowledged your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. No one could possibly be more rejoiced that you have done this, or be more anxious for you to succeed and get the most joy out of the Christian life, than I. Therefore, I ask you to read carefully this little tract. Paste it in your Bible and read it frequently.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A
"A Christian is any man, woman or child who comes to God as a lost sinner, accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, surrenders to Him as their Lord and Master, confesses Him as such before the world, and strives to please Him in everything day by day."
Have you come to God realizing that you are a lost sinner? Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour; that is, do you believe with all your heart that God laid all your iniquity on Him? (Isa. 53:5-6) and that He bore the penalty of your sins (I Peter 2:24), and that your sins are forgiven because Jesus died in your stead?
Have you surrendered to Him as your Lord and Master? That is, are you willing to do His will even when it conflicts with your desire?
Have you confessed to Him as your Saviour and Master before the world?
Is it your purpose to strive to please Him in everything day by day?
If you can sincerely answer "YES" to the foregoing questions, then you may know on the authority of God's Word that you are NOW a child of God (John 1:12), that you have NOW eternal life (John 3:30); that is to say, if you have done your part (i. e., believe that Christ died in your place, and receive Him as your Saviour and Master) God has done HIS part and imparted to you His own nature (TT Peter 1:4).
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HOW TO MAKE A SUCCESS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Now that you are a child of God your growth depends upon yourself.
It is impossible for you to become a useful Christian unless you are willing to do the things which are absolutely essential to your spiritual growth. To this end the following suggestions will be found to be of vital importance:
1. STUDY THE BIBLE: Set aside at least fifteen min
utes a day for Bible Study. Let God talk to you fifteen minutes a day through His Word. Talk to God fifteen minutes a day in prayer. Talk for God fifteen minutes a day.
"As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby."—I Peter 2:2.
The word of God is food for the soul.
Commit to memory one verse of Scripture each day.
Join a Bible class. (Psa. 119:11.)
2. PRAY MUCH: Praying is talking to God. Talk to
Him about everything—your perplexities, joys, sorrows,
sins, mistakes, friends, enemies.
"Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Phil. 4:fi.
3. WIN SOMEONE FOR CHRIST: For spiritual growth
you need not only food (Bible study) but exercise. Work for Christ. The only work Christ ever set for Christians is to win others.
"Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15.
"When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."—Ezek. 3:18
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4. SHUN EVIL COMPANIONS: Avoid bad people, bad
books, bad thoughts. Read the First Psalm.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath light with darkness—what part hath he that believeth with an infidel—wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord."—II Cor. 6:14-17.
Try to win the wicked for God, but do not choose them for your companions.
5. JOIN SOME CHURCH: Be faithful in your attend
ance at the Sabbath and mid-week services.
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is."—Heb. 10:25.
Co-operate with your pastor. God has appointed I lie pastor to be a shepherd over the church and you should give him due reverence and seelc to assist him in his plans for the welfare of the churchl
6. GIVE TO THE SUPPORT OF THE LORD'S WORK:
Give as the Lord hath prospered you.—I Cor. 16:2
"Give not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver."—I Cor. 9:7.
7. DO NOT BECOME DISCOURAGED: Expect tempta
tions, discouragement and persecution; the Christian life is warfare.
"Yea and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."—II Tim. 3:12. The eternal God is thy refuge. We have the promises that all things, even strange and hard unaccountable obstacles, work together for our good. Many of God's brightest saints were once as weak as you are, passed through dark tunnels and the hottest fire, and yet their lives were enriched by their experiences, and the world made better because of their having lived in it.
Read often the following passages of Scripture: Romans 8:18; James 1:12; I Corinthians 10:13.
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