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|'Go to the Ant... Consider Her Ways'
By Leslie Diestelkamp (1911-1995)
in this “bush country” ants are very plentiful and are a real pest. One
morning I got out of bed at 4:20 to go on an early morning appointment
for preaching, and, before I could light a lantern, ants were biting
me. Upon investigation I found that “line ants” had invaded our house.
They form a line about an inch wide, and travel over and under and
around almost any obstacle. There will be millions of them in a line
extending for great distances. On the afore-mentioned morning they had
formed a line around our bed, into the bathroom and around the toilet,
then back into the bedroom with the line even extending up over the bed
on the mosquito net. It was a rather harrowing experience. I hurried
out on my appointment and left my wife in bed, surrounded by the ants.
By the time she got up they had also gone into our son’s room. When
they bite, it hurts, but if you leave them alone and do not step too
near the line, they will not leave the line to bother you.
The lesson Solomon had in mind when he said, “Go to the ant, thou
sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Prov. 6:6), was a lesson in
diligent industry. No doubt, it needs to be observed even in the life
of a Christian who would be fruitful. Jesus said that we are branches
on a vine, and that if we bear no fruit we will be cut off and cast
into the fire (Jn. 15:6). But fruifulness is no accident. If we hope to
be a fruitful branch we need to consider the ways of the ant and
imitate its industry. I have never seen an ant asleep! Always they move
about with vigor and enthusiasm. They seem to be hurrying to a very
important work. The work of a Christian is the most important of all,
yet we are often inclined to linger, to rest from our labors, to plod
along as though time was unimportant.
If most Christians manifested the same attitude toward their secular
work that they do toward their work as Christians they would lose their
jobs quickly! On the other hand, if we would manifest the same
enthusiasm for the Lord’s work as we do for our secular work, we would
preach the gospel to the whole world in this generation! God has not
commanded that we convert the world, but He has asked that we preach
the truth to all people. This we could do if every Christian would
imitate the ant!
If a Christian would consider the ant’s actions and follow them, he
would busily engage himself in study, prayer, benevolence, etc. Too
many Christians can be classified as sluggards just as Solomon
expressed it. They are too lazy even to pray except when someone leads
them in public prayer. (It does take time and diligence to really pray
to God in secret).
They do not really study the word of God and meditate upon it, for it
is easier to allow their thoughts to wander about in the world of
materialism. They do not have the zeal to show compassion for the
unfortunate, for it does take time, energy, money and patience to help
those who cannot help themselves.
To many Christians, worship is a burden, not a real privilege as it
should be, and religious work is a matter of legal procedure and not an
action that proceeds from a heart of love. (Let it be remembered that
all religious work must be in harmony with law—God’s law—and that zeal
must be directed by knowledge of truth. However, some who seem to have
great zeal for truth fail to manifest the same zeal for the work which
that truth demands).
In many cases the zeal that Christians do have is misdirected into
pursuit of material things. Many Christians will spend $30 for a good
Bible for themselves but will only give one dollar for tracts or Bibles
for the lost. They will donate an “extra” twenty dollar bill for a new
rug for the pulpit, but they will only give the unfortunate beggar a
dime. Some churches will spend $400-$500 for support of a preacher for
a meeting within their own building but will send a paltry few dollars
to a preacher in a new field and expect him to work thirty days for it.
Some preachers will hustle vigorously to promote themselves into bigger
and better jobs but have little time or energy to go out and seek the
hard, new places of labor.
Zeal Plus Unity
But the ants have given me another good lesson. Just this morning I saw
a group of them moving a small piece of bread. They were not just
moving it across a floor,but up a perpendicular wall. In order to
accomplish this, many of them worked together. They manifested the same
zeal that always characterizes ants, but they also showed great unity
in action. There were just as many ants around that piece of bread as
could get around it. They all were pushing or pulling it in the same
direction. Up, up, up it went, because they all worked together. I
watched them intently for a few moments and wished so much that
brethren would just imitate them!
I am not advocating that brethren stiffle their consciences to work
with others. It is not my desire to say that we should engage in all
work that all brethren do. For conscience sake I must refrain from that
which is not clearly authorized by truth. However, in every area of
agreement—in all that “is right and cannot be wrong” because it is
taught in the New Testament—we could do well to imitate the unity of
the ants. I think it is safe to say that the ants are not motivated by
love; yet brethren are commanded to love one another, and our
love for the Lord and for the truth should certainly cause us to desire
such unity as will enable us to go forward together in full discharge
of our duties and in fruitful work in the Lord’s service.
This article, which first appeared in
Truth Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 10, dated July, 1960,
was written while the author was preaching in Nigeria, West Africa.
'CUT TO THE HEART'
By Andy Diestelkamp
We have all found ourselves suddenly in the possession of knowledge
that stuns us and forces us to reconsider what we have always thought
about something. It is often an uncomfortable feeling that is sometimes
punctuated with a rush of adrenalin. It is good that we have these
feelings, that we are capable of being “cut to the heart” by truth that
we had not heard before or by applications that we had not considered.
The gospel of the kingdom of heaven, though ultimately good news,
begins with the bad news that we are sinners who need to repent (to
reconsider and change). Those who heard Peter preach on Pentecost after
Jesus’ death were told by witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection “that God
has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Ac.
2:36). Three thousand on that day received this stunning information in
such a way that it moved them to repent and be baptized for the
remission of their sins (vss. 37-41).
Of course, that is not always the response to truth. We don’t know the
number that heard the gospel that Pentecost day, but estimates of how
many would have been in Jerusalem to potentially see and hear the
apostolic witness would make the number that responded positively an
extreme minority out of all who could have.
The application of truth is dangerous business in more ways than one.
Firstly, the applier of truth must be very diligent to correctly handle
it (2 Tim. 2:15) because there is a stricter judgment for those who
presume to teach (Js. 3:1). Secondly, the correct application of truth
does not guarantee its reception and often makes enemies (Gal. 4:16).
When Stephen addressed the Jewish council with bold application, they
too were cut to the heart; but instead of repenting, they resisted and
finally stoned him to death (7:51-60). Indeed, as Stephen and others
soon found out, following Jesus is not a path to popularity but to
persecution. This observation is not made to discourage teaching and
applying the truth. On the contrary, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who
are persecuted for righteousness sake.... Blessed are you when they
revile... and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven...”
Many see the importance of being receptive to truth when it comes to
convincing others of their need to reconsider and change. For example,
we think it important to point out to those who confess Jesus Christ as
Lord that they must “Repent, and ...be baptized...for the remission of
sins.” That truth may stun those who for years have been convinced of
relationship with Jesus. It may cut them to the heart. And even though
more people will resist that truth than will receive it, we preach and
apply it anyway. But are we as receptive when confronted by truth that
challenges what we have believed or practiced as we expect others to
Long time readers of this paper know that I have periodically addressed
the subjects of abortion as well as widely-accepted artificial methods
of birth control that have the potential of acting as abortifacients
(i.e. The Pill). Such subjects arise and require our consideration
because our culture has largely rejected the truth of God’s word to
which we strive to hold fast. In this world we are supposed to live as
“blameless and harmless, children of God without fault” and “shine as
lights” (Phil. 2:15,16). Yet, we are subject to being deceived and
following the ways of the world without giving adequate thought to the
truth and its application to those worldly ways. When someone dares to
question ways in which we may have naively followed the unethical ways
of this world, how do we respond? Are we cut to the heart? Do we ever
consider that maybe we acted without due diligence? Are we willing to
reconsider and change?
For example, did you know it is estimated that there are approximately
a half-million human embryos warehoused in various clinics throughout
this country? I didn’t get that figure from conservative, pro-life,
religious-right sources. Notice this headline from Mother Jones
magazine seven years ago: “Souls On Ice: America’s Embryo Glut and the
Wasted Promise of Stem Cell Research.” The sub-title reads, “How
500,000 frozen embryos are forcing us to rethink life, choice, and
reproductive freedom. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/07/souls-ice-americas-embryo-glut-and-wasted-promise-stem-cell-research).
Many sources (liberal and conservative) have acknowledged the growing
problem created by the common practices of fertility clinics using in
vitro fertilization (IVF). The typical practice of fertilizing more
eggs than are wanted is to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy.
Freezing the left-over embryos enables parents to save time and money
and come back for them when they are ready for more children. Of
course, this explains why there is a glut of unclaimed frozen lives.
Life happens: sickness, divorce, death, or other inconveniences
interfere; minds change. Of course, parents should do the responsible
thing and come pick up their kids, but they don’t. (And some can’t.)
The solutions offered to alleviate the surplus vary from simply
discarding them to using them for research to adopting them. How could
any who believe human life is valuable from conception consider the
first two “solutions” as possibilities?
Of course, a first step would be to stop the practice of fertilizing
more eggs than a mother is presently willing to carry. The problem is
not with the technology of IVF but with the typical practices that
attempt to ensure “success.”
A second step would be to no longer allow the freezing of human life.
The cryogenic process subjects embryonic human life to risk such that
from 20 to 40 percent will not survive the freezing and thawing. (http://www.ivf.net/ivf/embryo-freezing-is-it-safe-o335.html).
Of course, the IVF industry sees little concern with this since it
typically fertilizes more eggs than it needs. However, Christians
should not be so cavalier toward the lives they create.
A third step would be to use the technology of IVF to rescue these
hundreds of thousands of “souls on ice.” Instead of couples using IVF
in a way that contributes to the glut of embryos, they could choose to
adopt those embryonic children who have been orphaned by their naive or
Too much information? Hopefully it is enough to cause Christians to
reconsider and change their approach to infertility in ways that honor
all life created in the image of God. Cut to the heart? If you have
used these freezing methods naively, don’t defensively resist the
truth; repent. Go pick up your children from the clinic and give them
the opportunity to finish their lives. God loves repentance, and “He is
faithful and just to forgive us” (1 Jn. 1:9).
323 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764
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By Al Diestelkamp
The Needless Homosexuality Debate
public statements by famous people have fanned the flames of
controversy over whether the practice of homosexuality is sinful. To
the child of God the issue was settled long ago, but unbelievers
continue to look for reasons to justify various forms of perversion. In
referring to unbelievers, I include many who would claim to be
believers, but who chose to believe only what they want to believe.
The newly-elected unholy father of the Catholic Church issued a
statement which has been interpreted as welcoming homosexuals into
their unholy priesthood. The statement was carefully worded, not
stating a position on whether it would be sinful for such men to act on
In a statement explaining why he signed a bill banning therapy that
tries to change a child’s sexual orientation, Gov. Chris Christie
(R-NJ), who appears to want to be our next president, declared
homosexuality to be “innate” and “not a sin.” This goes directly
against what God has revealed. “Innate” means, “inborn, natural.”
Unlike Gov. Christie, God’s word says it is both “against nature” and
“shameful” (Rom. 1:26-27).
The debate over the cause of homosexu-ality is needless, since whether
one’s “sexual orientation” is determined by genetic makeup, by
environment, or by choice does not change the fact that God has ruled
on what is acceptable behavior. We are not permitted, with our
Creator’s approval, to satisfy our desires (natural or unnatural)
except within the bounds of His guidelines. The Lord is clear in regard
to this matter. He created us “male and female” (Gen. 1:27) and said,
“the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5). In order to avoid sexual
immorality, marriage between one man and one woman was ordained (1 Cor.
7:2),and declared as “honorable” and its bed “undefiled.” All other
sexual relations are described as falling under His judgment (Heb.
Homosexual acts are only one category among many that fall within the
definition of fornication (“sexual immorality” in most modern
translations). Heterosexual men and women who seek fulfillment of their
lusts outside of God-authorized marriage are also among those that “God
will judge.” Indeed, God does not show partiality when judging our
conduct (1 Pet. 1:17).
Just as there are many unmarried men and women with desires toward the
opposite sex who must control their urges in order to maintain purity,
so must those who are inclined toward homosexuality. So, whatever one’s
sexual inclination, if one chooses not to marry (or for any reason
cannot marry), celibacy is the answer.
When Jesus’ disciples reacted negatively to His teaching about divorce,
concluding, “it is better not to marry” (Matt. 19:10), Jesus
acknowledged that not all would accept His teaching (v.11). He offered
two examples of forced celibacy (those born without the ability or
inclination to marry,and those surgically rendered eunuchs). Then He
said that there are also those who have “made themselves eunuchs for
the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (v.12). In this third category He
includes those who choose celibacy in order to advance the kingdom
(like the apostle Paul) or because they prefer to go to heaven.
The world doesn’t think it fair that some may be forced into a life of
celibacy by circumstances beyond their control. Granted, it is a
burden, but one that is not limited to those who are homosexually
inclined. It is also shared by the person who cannot find a suitable
mate; the widow or widower, the married person whose spouse is no
longer physically able to satisfy sexual desires, and the
unscripturally divorced person—just to name a few.
Societal pressures to accept homosexual behavior as “normal,” and “not
a sin” is increasing. I am particularly disturbed by governmental
legislation that prohibits parents from seeking therapy for children
who are homosexually inclined. Besides this being an intrusion into
parental authority, what is to prevent them from expanding that ban to
the adult population? Then it would be only a step away from
legislating against preaching that calls for repentance. Already, some
are trying to categorize this as “hate speech.” In reality, any call to
repentance is “love speech” because without it people will perish (Lk.
260 N. Aspen Drive, Cortland, Illinois 60112
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Poles, Shoulders and Authority
By Steve Fontenot
After the tabernacle had been constructed at Mt.
Sinai and the children of Israel were preparing to depart, God gave
instructions for its transportation. After Aaron and his sons had
prepared the holy objects and furnishings of the sanctuary, “...the
sons of Kohath shall come to carry them...” (Num. 4:15).
Is this statement generic or specific? Is the authority it gives generic or specific?
The statement specifies who is to carry the ark: “the sons of Kohath.”
It does not specify how they are to carry it. The statement is generic
(including any way of carrying it), but the authority as to how to
carry it is specific; that is, more specific than can be understood
from this statement alone.
“Authority” (the right to rule) resides with God. Commands, statements,
what people did, and inferences are all to be considered in arriving at
what God authorized. Harmonizing these and the contexts in which they
are found enables one to arrive at what he has “authority” (right to
act) to believe or practice.
The reason the authority as to how the ark was to be carried is more
specific than the statement alone in Numbers 4:15 is because of
additional statements that must be considered.
In Exodus 25:14, Moses was commanded to put “poles into the rings on
the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.” In Numbers 7, when
six carts donated by Israel were distributed among the three Levitical
divisions, Gershon received two and Merari received four, but the
Kohathites received none, “because theirs was the service of the holy
objects, which they carried on their shoulders.” (v.9)
So, considering these additional facts, we conclude that while the
statement to “carry” the ark was generic, what God authorized was more
specific, i.e. the Kohathites were to carry it on their shoulders by
means of the poles inserted in its rings. Note: God did not give
generic authority to carry the ark in any fashion in Numbers 4:15,
though the statement to “carry” it is generic. We cannot conclude what
is “authorized” until we have gathered all the pertinent facts,
interpreted them in the light of their context, and harmonized them.
Did God expect them to understand this? Read 1 Chronicles 13 and 1
Chronicles 15:1-15, (esp. 15:13-15). Indeed He did! “Perezuzza!”
Commands, statements, what people did, and inferences are indicators of
authority. They are given to us so we can understand God’s will, what
He wants us to believe or do, what He has “authorized.” Do not confuse
the indicators of authority with the authority itself.
18542 Crestline Rd., Humble, Texas 77396
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HOW DO YOU READ IT?
By Keith Barclay
I would like to take a moment to ask
you when you last felt awestruck by a given biblical text? When you
read in the Old Testament of God using Moses to part the sea and then
using that same sea to destroy Pharaoh’s army, what type of response
does it elicit? Reading of Jesus’ transfiguration on the high mountain:
what is your initial reaction?
Do you think God intended the reaction to His written revelation to be
so markedly different from those who were eyewitnesses to the events
At least in one respect God clearly tells us He intends for the written
revelation to produce in us (readers) what it produced in them
(eyewitnesses): faith. John’s gospel was written for this purpose. The
seven (eight, if you include the resurrection) miracles John writes
about are intended to produce faith in us, just as those miracles had
been intended to produce faith in those who witnessed them.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which
are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing
you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:30-31 - ESV).
John 2:23 and 11:45 illustrate that the miracles Jesus performed
resulted in belief. The miracles also brought about a number of other
reactions that I am afraid we miss when we read. We read of people who
“marveled” (Matt. 8:27; 9:33); individuals who are in “awe” (Lk. 5:26);
and folks who are “amazed” (Lk. 2:12). It has been my experience that
we (people I have been associated with over the last 40 years as a
believer) have difficulty being moved in these ways as we read about
what Jesus did or God has done as They moved and worked in the lives of
people. We have tended (myself included) to read academically. Our
intellect is affected, and it should be, but we stop short of being
awed—of marveling at what we have read.
Amazement is not a common word in our vocabulary, especially when it
comes to our study of Scripture; yet that is the reaction of those who
encountered Jesus in the flesh. Why should I get a pass when it comes
to my reaction to the Son of God?
The fact that I can even use that phrase “Son of God” in any
relationship to myself or us as a people should produce wonder! When
you add to this the things we read about Him doing and saying, how can
we walk away from our reading, pick up the sports page, or the remote,
and be more impacted by the events of the day or the entertainment
world than we are by the deeds of a great God who makes it clear He is
transcendent (Isa. 55:8-9)? We are called by a God Who cannot be
exaggerated! Does this not suggest we ought to spend time marveling in
His greatness, being awed by His power, and finding His love to be
awesome? Do we “Stand Amazed In The Presence” of Jesus?
I am thankful, regardless of how late it has come in my life, that I
have come to realize how important it is to recognize what an awesome
God we serve. I spend time every day, if I do not allow life to crowd
it out, considering just how incredibly wondrous our God is by reading
texts which convey such things. The Psalms are full of such writings as
are the gospels. Even the histories of ancient Israel offer moments of
great wonder and awe. Read them. Put yourself into the story. Assume
the role of one of the individuals in the story. Maybe you are the one
writing the story. When I read in this way it has a significant impact
upon me that reading the text to simply answer a question does not.
These moments increase my faith. They produce reverence and respect.
Prayers are prayed with more fervency. I hope my life reflects such
encounters by heartfelt obedience. Above all, I believe it aids me in
sharing my God and Savior more readily with others. It places upon me a
sense of urgency to tell others of this awesome, marvelous God Who
cannot be exaggerated.
2415 Grey Fox Trail, Bloomington, Illinois 61705
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A Sleepy Church
Someone has illustrated the danger of a sleeping church by representing
Satan as offering a prize to the demon who should do the most harm to
the kingdom of God. One sank a ship with 500 Christians aboard—but all
went straight to heaven. One aroused a terrible persecution—the result
was shining martyr crowns, and the blood of the martyrs the seed of the
church. But the prize was given to the one who, by the enchantment of
prosperity and the soothing song of worldliness, put a church to sleep.
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