5. A CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE AND THE NATION
Opening the doors of the Temple, however, speaking in terms of our own day, keeping the house of the Lord open for all regular services, is not synonymous with revival, and will not, in itself, lead our nation back to a life of religious fervor. Revival will depend, not upon an open church, but upon what is found within the church, what is heard from the pulpit in the church, the prayers that are offered by those that have gathered together in the house of the Lord.
Thus we read that, when the Temple was opened, those taking part in this religious revival gathered together their brethren and sanctified themselves, and went in, according to the commandment of the king by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord, and the priests went in into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the Temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it to carry abroad to the Brook Kidron (29:15, 16).
Just before the Passover was kept, we read that those who were assembled together in Jerusalem arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem and all the altars for incense took they away and cast them into the Brook Kidron (30:15).
After the Passover vas kept, this purging was still further carried out: Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh: until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities (II Chron. 31:1).
How many things, certainly, the Church needs to be cleansed of today! Every week I walk by a church not far from my study where I see posted a sign reading: Card Party Tonight with Refreshments and Prizes.
Only yesterday the wife of a minister of a Hungarian Presbyterian congregation came into my study to ask me if I would not encourage her husband in his continued refusal to direct the theatricals of the young people of his church. These are not extraordinary cases at all. In every city similar situations can be found thousands of our churches are allowing movies, dancing, card parties, smokers, and, in some cases, I know of, liquor is served at church functions.
Not more than fifty miles from me, a friend of mine attended a church supper, and the waitress said to him him: Will you have coffee, or milk or beer?
But the Church needs cleansing from more than these things. If all of these worldly functions were put out of the Church, even then we would not necessarily have a revival. A deeper cleansing is needed, and that is a cleansing of the pulpit itself. How many thousands of ministers today, and I am not writing in a critical spirit at all, but trying to get at the root of this matter, how many thousands of ministers today are devoting strength, and thought, and the money of their churches, to such foolish things as international peace movements, and cooperative undertakings in which Protestants, Jews and Catholics all are working together for some secular object! Only God knows how many so-called Protestant ministers today are communists, and are, in a subtle way, bringing this foul error into their preaching and inculcating communistic ideas in the hearts of their people.
Yes, the Church needs cleansing also from its blasphemous unbelief! I do not like to provide personal incidents for an article such as this, but they are so vivid in my mind I cannot avoid referring to some of them.
The other day I was asked to announce in my pulpit that, in our country, the Preaching Mission, under the auspices of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, would have a speaker at the county seat, which meeting we were to urge our people to attend. It so happened that the speaker at this particular meeting is the president of a theological seminary in the middle west, and in two of his recent books, which I have looked into rather carefully, he denies the personality of God, he says he would warmly welcome the idea that Jesus was born naturally of a father and mother, that the day of believing in miracles of the Bible is gone, that we are still writing our own bibles, that Tennysons In Memoriam are more inspired than parts of the Bible, and that we cannot believe in the miracles and the actual bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! Until the Church somehow is cleansed of all Satanic teaching, how can we ever expect the Holy Spirit to honor its services and to endue the Church with power for leading our nation back to God? In fact, if one does not believe that He arose from the dead, then all talk of revival is foolishness.
Some things must go before a revival will come. Personally, I believe that a vast part of the Church is hopelessly given over to unbelief of the most terrible kind, and that if God does send a revival, it will be through those parts of the Church that have declared themselves independent of the apostate organizations of Protestantism.
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan once uttered some words that are far more true today than at the hour when they were first spoken:
After the readjustment of the individual life to the claims of God, nothing is needed today in our national life more than the exclusion from the Church of God of all the things that are out of place therein.
Sometimes one could almost wish that our Master would visit us with the whip of small cords; that from the enterprise of his Church those things which are merely temporal, even though they seem high and t noble, might be excluded for a while, that the traffickers in her courts might be exorcised as demons are exorcised; that there might be restored to the Church her ancient sacrifices and her ancient songs, that the line of demarkation between service of the Church and other benevolent, humanitarian service might be more clearly marked instead of less clearly marked; that the Church might become again what she ought to be, Mother Church, her borders open to the wounded and the weary for their healing, the pillar and ground of the truth, that upon which the clear Word of God shall shine and flash for the illumination of the darkness of the age. I am not at all sure that, if operations were commenced, sixteen days would be sufficient to carry out the rubbish that is found within the Church of God today, or to remove those fungus growths, which, fastened upon the life of the Church like parasites, rob her of spiritual power and disable her for the fulfillment of her spiritual functions.