TEXT FOR PRAYER
Be Good-Ground Hearers
I shall read from “Christ’s Object Lessons,” beginning on page 59 with the second paragraph:
“The good-ground hearer receives the word, ‘not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.’ Only he who receives the Scriptures as the voice of God speaking to himself is a true learner. He trembles at the word; for to him it is a living reality. He opens his understanding and his heart to receive it. Such hearers were Cornelius and his friends, who said to the apostle Peter, ‘Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.’ A knowledge of the truth depends not so much upon strength of intellect as upon pureness of purpose, the simplicity of an earnest faith…. The good-ground hearers, having heard the word, keep it. Satan with all his agencies of evil is not able to catch it away. Merely to hear or to read the word is not enough. He who desires to be profited by the Scriptures must meditate upon the truth that has been presented to him. By earnest attention and prayerful thought he must learn the meaning of the words of truth, and dink deep of the spirit of the holy oracles.”
We need to pray that we be good-ground hearers and true learners; that the Word of God be a living reality in us; that we now give ear to the teaching of the Holy Spirit; that we be not merely hearers of the Word, but doers also.
Psa. 71:17 – “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared Thy wondrous works.”
Here is David’s own testimony of the fact that he had nothing to regret for being in God’s school all his life, that he was anxious to declare God’s Truth. Then, too, we know that the school of God and the schools of man have for many centuries been contemporaneously in competition, and we should now be able to make a fair comparison of the product of one with the product of the other.
We know that the schools of man have produced geniuses in many lines. For instance, men have invented giant planes to lift tons into the air, planes that travel as fast as sound, and at a great height, too. Men have also built mammoth steamships laden with thousands of tons of cargo and passengers, and they cross the oceans in a few days. The schools of man have also produced great orators and competent teachers. Men have done many things, and we give them the credit they deserve. What the schools of man are doing, we well know, but what do we know about the schools of God? Do we know as much about them? If not, why not?
Let us now take a fair survey of the product of the schools of God. I shall start with the school which Enoch, the seventh from Adam, attended. In the school of God he learned some vitally important things. To begin with, Enoch learned to walk with God (Gen. 5:22). Besides, to this very day he holds the championship in aviation: Enoch, you know, took a flight, not 40, 50, or 100 miles up, not at a hundred or a thousand miles per hour, but up to an unspeakable height and at an unspeakable speed. Yes, quickly he reached the throne of God. Have the schools of man produced so great a genius as Enoch?
Like Enoch, Noah, too, learned to walk with his Lord (Gen. 6:22). His boat-building genius is wholly a credit to the school of God. Noah’s boat, you know, was large enough and strong enough to house and carry a pair or more of every living creature on earth, including all necessary provisions for man and beast to last over a year! His boat withstood the hardest storm of rain and wind the world has ever known. Noah’s boat survived not only the longest duration of rain and wind ever known, but even the convulsions of the earth when the fountains of the deep broke forth hurling rocks and mud hundreds and thousands of feet into the air, by which the high rugged mountains of the earth were made. Not only the boat, but every living thing inside of it survived! Noah is still the champion of boat-builders, and the champion of sea-captains, too. The product of the schools of God, you see, is far superior to anything the schools of man have ever been able to yield.
Abraham, you know, matriculated in the school of God when God called him to leave his father’s house and go to a land he had never seen. He took whatever belongings he had, and he also took his nephew in partnership. From the very start they greatly prospered, and their business expanded so rapidly that in order to take care of it they had to spread out and part company.
Abraham took the hilly country after Lot chose the fertile valley adjacent to the markets of Sodom and Gomorrah. There Lot’s family left the school of God and entered the school of man. Abraham though and his household remained in the school of God, learning how to make the hills pay good dividends. Abraham became “very rich,” but Lot very poor. Abraham, you see, in the school of God became the world’s greatest business man in his day. He learned to make something out of nothing. Moreover, he was the world’s greatest general, for you recall that with but a few men he defeated five kings, took their spoils and restored the goods to the rightful owners. All this he did without the loss of a single soldier! Still further he reared the only son that ever willingly submitted to burn on a sacrificial altar for his father’s religion.
Next we shall consider Esau and Jacob, the twin sons of Isaac. Jacob graduated from the school of God, and Esau from the school of man. How do I know? I know this, because if Esau had walked with God he could not have learned to hunt, for God is not a hunter, not interested in killing and destroying the lives He created. Thus, rather than take his training in the school of God, Esau schooled himself in the schools of man. He saw no particular value in religion, and placed no greater value on his birthright than the price of a meal. Jacob, on the other hand, was anxious to walk with God and to buy Esau’s birthright at any price, but got it at a bargain.
And how do I know for certain that Jacob walked with God? I know this because in the end of his first day’s flight from the face of Esau, Jacob rested with God, and there he saw the angels of God walking up and down the ladder which spanned the distance from heaven to earth.
Then, after having spent another twenty years in the school of God, Jacob left Padanaram and started toward home with riches untold, although he had given fourteen years of time and labor out of the twenty years in return for which he received nothing but Laban’s two daughters in marriage. Jacob, you see, in God’s school learned how to turn poverty in to well-paying business. Moreover, he not only made himself rich, but he made his father-in-law rich also. He learned how to work and how to save. But he did not stop then. He continued in the school of God, and when in Egypt, his son Joseph, who was then second to the king, was not ashamed to introduce his father to Pharaoh on the throne. Jacob was a cultured man.
Joseph himself from his youth up was a devout student in the school of God. Finally, he took his post-graduate work in Egypt. When he had obtained sufficient knowledge he became a king, and all Egypt – in fact the whole ancient world – bowed down to him.
Joseph became the world’s greatest economist and banker, too. Never since his day has anyone done as much: he managed to buy all his country’s surplus grain for seven years, and in seven years more gathered all the people’s money and their land – both cash and mortgages he deposited in Pharaoh’s bank. Besides this he saved the world from starvation. You show me such products as these from the schools of man, and I will show you that rain does not drop down from the skies.
Then there was Moses. From his youth up to his forties he went both to the school of God and the school of Pharaoh. With this dual education he felt strong and capable enough to free the Hebrew nation from Pharaoh’s brickyards. He started out by killing an Egyptian, and then he fled the country. God, nevertheless, was not through with him. He took him to Mount Horeb and there He made him tend sheep. There while keeping sheep to make a living and to pay his tuition he was unlearning Pharaoh’s education, and there in the school of God, he learned how to become the world’s greatest emancipator-general, author, ruler, educator, lawmaker and prophet.
True, the schools of man have trained great minds, and have produced great generals such as Eisenhower and McArthur, for whom the United States and Great Britain built massive boats, giant guns and other great armaments, recruited great armies and navies. After many months of such preparation, in which millions of people participated, Eisenhower crossed the English Channel against the German super-war-machine and McArthur returned to the Philippines and occupied Japan at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of casualties. Wonderful accomplishment, indeed! But Moses, without gun, without plane, without boat, and without anyone at home to build and send supplies, freed Israel, led them safely across the Red Sea, and sank the entire Egyptian army. He did all this without a gun or arrow, without ship or plane at the cost of neither man nor beast. He had no casualty! Where among the products of the schools of man do you find the equal to this?
The schools of man have produced great orators, too, but John the Baptist while still in his youth, by his oratory attracted all the cities and the countrysides of Judah, notwithstanding that many had to walk to get there, and all, poor and rich alike had to sit on the bare ground for hours. Multitudes went out in the desert to hear him in the open field. And the Apostles, though mere fishermen, in a little over three years in the school of Christ became the greatest preachers the world has ever known. They only of all the preachers ever since hold the record for converting three thousand souls from Judaism to Christianity with but one sermon!
Time would fail me to speak of others – of Joshua and of Caleb, of Daniel and the three Hebrews, of Samson, of David, of the prophets, and of many others even as far down as our day. It is a fact, though, that what the school of God can produce, the school of man cannot equal.
In the school of God the student is guaranteed to become the best in whatever line he undertakes. And my advice to you is that whether you be grass, or tree, so to speak, choose to be the best of its kind. Such you can be if you will to do so, for there are no failures in the school of God. You can become the best herdsman or the best king, the best teacher or the best preacher, the best banker, or the best of whatever it be.
It is of interest, too, to note that both the school of God and the school of man have textbooks. One has the books of men, which need be renewed year by year, the other has the book of God on which no one has yet been able to improve. The latter is the first and best; there has never been the like and never will be.
The school of God does not teach only from its textbook, not merely in the school-room, it teaches the practical as well as the theoretical. The practical, of course, most men dislike, and some would not take practical training even for a gift. Let us take Joseph for example. When he finished the class-room work he was initiated into the practical. His training was perhaps most trying because his vocation was to be not only one of the greatest but unique as well. Besides, his curriculum included the learning of a strange language and love for his enemies. He was to learn by experience that if one serves God faithfully, then whatever befalls him in life he is to know that it is but a gift from God, and that he is to make the best of it.
First he was sold by his own brethren, and re-sold by slave traders. He could have made himself sick with grief and fear. Had he thus succumbed to his emotions, the traders would have dropped him somewhere along the road to Egypt, for they would have known that a sick man would only be an expense to them, that they could not sell him for anything to anybody. Joseph, though, behaved himself very well, knowing that God knew all about his circumstances. The Ishmaelites, too, saw that they had not invested in an ordinary slave. They realized that he could be sold for a high price to someone who had the money. Thus it was that they took him to Potiphar, Egypt’s rich man. There Joseph learned how to take orders, how to take care of other people’s goods, and also how to shun lewd women.
After he graduated from Potiphar’s house he took a course behind prison bars. There among the dreamers he learned to interpret dreams. At this point of his training he was equipped to rule Egypt and to feed the world.
The schools of man do not offer courses of this kind, but neither do they develop benefactors, kings, bankers and business men such as Joseph.
These are some of the things which we ought to know if we ourselves are ever to graduate from the school of God. Moreover, we ought to know where we are receiving our training, for it is possible that we might be in the school of self while we presumptuously think we are in the school of God.
How can we know for sure in what school we are getting our training? – To be in the school of God we must walk with God. And how can we know that we are walking with God? – I am sure that if we go to places where God would not go, and if we work where God would not work, then rather than walking with God and learning from Him, we would be walking with the Devil and receiving training from him.
How can we know that the work we are doing is the work God would have us do? – It is certain that God would not build instruments to kill regardless of the pay; that He would not work at something that the Devil works at; neither would He go into partnership with one who is not walking with God.
The question naturally arises, should we work for men or should we work for God to make a living? If God has a work for you to do, then you cannot go to work for men and yet expect to receive God’s approval. But if God has not something for you in His workshop, so to speak, it is obvious that He would have something for you in someone else’s unobjectionable shop.
The students in the school of God study from principle and with but a single aim to advance the Kingdom of God, while the students in the school of man study from an monetary viewpoint, to help no one in particular but themselves, which we as Christians cannot afford to do if we expect to become all God would have us to be. Any clear thinker, who is looking at things from God’s viewpoint, would not be anything other than a product from the school of God.