The following article was first published in the April 23, 1921 edition of the Church of God Evangel. F. J. Lee served as General Overseer of the Church of God (1923-1928) and president of Lee University (1922-1923). It is presented here to demonstrate that Pentecostal leaders have always understood the need for a trained ministry.
The above was used for a subject at our latest convention, and was presented by Brother Morris. While meditating upon this subject, an impression came to me to write an article on the same thought.
Jesus, in the sixteenth chapter of Mark, commanded the disciples to “go.” In Acts 1:4 we see that He said “wait.” Wait, then, will be the central thought of the subject. They were to wait for the Holy Ghost but other things were implied. Now I don’t want to be misunderstood. I would not throw a check on the ministry or the progress of the gospel, but my desire is for a more efficient ministry.
I am anxious that the words spoken by our ministers have their desired effect. A brother said to me few days ago, “I had never paid any attention to holiness or the Church of God, until I heard a certain brother preach.” This man was a man of intelligence and is today in the Church of God. He had heard some who were supposed to be ministers of the Word but they didn’t appeal to him. They could shout and talk in tongues a great deal, but as [far as] being able to reason with the man and convince him, they could not do it. So he was not convinced until he came in touch with a man that was applying himself to searching the Scripture and not only searching the Scripture, but getting other knowledge as well; also he was applying wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge are two different things. I have seen some that seem to have knowledge but not much wisdom. So by a thorough knowledge of this subject and the application of wisdom, that minister convinced the man and gained him and his wife for the Church of God. And they through their good standing and influence are having a great bearing on the people of their town.
It is said that Paul reasoned with Felix and Felix trembled. If Paul had only jumped around a few times and said, “Glory to God,” “Amen,” etc., Felix would have been disgusted. The Word said he reasoned with him. Reason, in this sense, means to discuss by arguments; in other words, to make things so plain by words that the thought takes hold of the reason or faculty of the other person.
Paul wrote to Titus stating that a bishop should hold fast the faithful Word as he had been taught that he might be able to convince the gainsayers. He states further, that their mouths must be stopped, Titus 1:9-11. How did he say to do it? By the Word of God. Now don’t understand that I object to manifestation, never, but be able to show by the Word the why and the wherefore of certain things, and be sure and let “wisdom” play her part.
After the fire had touched Isaiah’s lips and his iniquity cleansed; he heard a voice saying, “Who will go for us?” “Go for us,” undoubtedly means the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Isaiah cried out immediately, “Here am I, send me,” the margin says “behold me.” Thousands, after getting their iniquity cleansed, have heard the voice saying, “Who will go for us?” They jump up at once saying, “I will go,” “I want to preach.” I wonder if they say first with Isaiah, “Behold me.” God wants people to go, but I’m sure He wants to behold them well before they go, so they may go to the “calling whereunto He hath called them.”
The Lord said to pray that more laborers might be sent into the field. I am sure they are needed and I want more to go, but here is the serious thing about it, I’m afraid many go too soon, before the Lord beholds them.
First, Isaiah heard the voice. Second, he manifested a willingness to go. Third, the Lord beheld him. Fourth, He said to go. My honest conviction is that many go too soon. At one place, Jesus said to go not out in haste. Go ye, but wait.
I know some who are begging for ministerial credentials, and I am persuaded that those very parties are the ones who should wait. If you haven’t ability enough (though you have zeal to attract the attention of those in authority, enough to get them to send you forth), surely there is something lacking, maybe not in spirit but in ability and wisdom. It may be that you need to take a course at the Bible Training School.
I am convinced more and more that our ministers need to be up to date. We are living in an enlightened age. It has been said of some that they could be used to a good advantage in a “back woods” place, having reference perhaps to people that are illiterate. Now I want to say, the time is coming and perhaps is at the door, when there will be no back woods illiteracy, for school buildings are being placed in reach of every child and the compulsory school law is being enforced. Can we not plainly see that the illiterate preacher will soon be no longer in demand? Let us keep up.
We have some precious young people who have been sent forth for the ministry who could have a bright future of usefulness for the cause if they would only apply themselves, that they may be qualified.
Paul says that the servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle, apt to teach. Apt to teach means to be capable of teaching. Many are not capable of teaching so that is why Paul says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Study! Study! Beloved brethren, we can’t afford to be in ignorance any longer. Not only do we need to study the Bible but other books as well. How can you give the meaning of a Scripture lesson if you don’t know the meaning of words? I have heard some of the most ridiculous explanations made just because the party didn’t know the meaning of words. Now, dear brethren, there isn’t any need of having the Scriptures slashed in any such way when the world is full of books. Consult an unabridged dictionary for the pronunciation of words and their meaning. You haven’t any excuse for jumping at a conclusion or taking for granted so and so is right when there is a way of finding out. Go ye, but wait.
You say, Doesn’t the Lord say, Open your mouth and I will fill it? Yes, but the application is not to be placed where you have placed it. This has reference to opening the mouth to the Lord in prayer and he will supply your need, answer your prayer, (fill it).
Brother, don’t think that I am personating anyone or even have anyone on my mind while I am doing this writing.
Have you ever thought that the public will notice the ridiculous things before they notice the good and substantial things? It is like this; many times while we are trying to hold up the doctrine of holiness, they will see some backslidden person and hold them up rather than see holiness.
Again, here is something else the public will notice first. If you, as a young minister having launched out before the public, insist and persist in using ridiculous ungrammatical expressions, will the public not see this first? Such words as “sot,” gwine,” “atter,” “yander.” The public will hold up these expressions and say “Is this a fair representation of the Church of God?”
After the Lord beheld Isaiah, He said, “Go,” and in the same breath He said, “Tell,” and “Make.” We not only need to be able to tell something but to make the people move one way or the other.
One other thing I will mention that hurts and many times causes a good discourse to fall to the ground. This is what seems to be “fill in” words. For instance, the man will say a good word of two of a substantial order and then throw in a by word or a word used to pass to the other substantial word. Here is what I mean; I will give a little testimony for an illustration.
I am glad to be here tonight, “thank God,” I still have the victory, “praise the Lord.” “Amen.” I want to do all the good I can, “praise the Lord,” “thank God,” “Amen.” I’m saved and sanctified, “Amen” “Hallelujah.” I’m on my way to heaven, “Glory to God.” I want to get sinners saved, “glory to God.” I know they are going to hell, “Thank God.” Oh! Oh! I didn’t mean to say that.” No, you didn’t, but you have gotten in to this involuntary tendency or habit and you say it in the wrong place and don’t notice it.
Brethren, I believe in praising the Lord, but get your thought before the people and if it takes hold of them and causes them to rejoice, then you stop a while and praise the Lord with them. Wisdom, thou art a jewel. “Wisdom is the principal thing.” Prov. 4:7. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without,” Col 4:5. Why? Because we want to gain them. Be natural in your expression: don’t form any habit that will attract special attention.
This I have written with a hope of stirring up our minds that we may study and better equip ourselves for the ministry, that we may do more efficient services.