PT Forsyth died in 1921. Ever since I was introduced to his writings a little over 2 years ago, I have been constantly amazed at how prophetic his words were. He spoke to a generation of Christians that, evidently, were not much different from the current generation even though we are separated by a hundred years or more.
I make no profession to be a Forsyth expert. At this point, I am barely a student. I am a reader of Forsyth for now, but he continues to shape and challenge my ideas of God and Scripture and the Church. Consider this:
The preacher preaches to the divinest purpose only when his lips are touched with the red coal from the altar of the thrice holy in the innermost place. We must rise beyond social righteousness and universal justice to the holiness of an infinite God. What we on earth call righteousness among men, the saints in heaven call holiness in Him.
Have our churches lost that seal? Are we producing reform, social or theological, faster than we are producing faith? Have we become more liberal than sure? Then we are putting all our religious capital into the extension of our business, and carrying nothing to reserve or insurance. We are mortgaging and starving the future. We are not seeking first the Kingdom of God and His holiness, but only carrying on, with very expensive and noisy machinery, a ‘kingdom-of-God-industry.’ We are merely running the kingdom; and we are running it without the cross–with the cross perhaps on our sign, but not in our centre. We have the old trade mark, but what does that matter in a dry and thirsty land where no water is, if the artesian well on our premises is going dry? (The Cruciality of the Cross, 40)
I’ll say this much: There is nothing new under the sun. I wonder if we are reaping what was sown, or if we are sowing now what others will reap. Either way, his words make clear that the Kingdom of God is, in the eyes and hands of man, cheap. We sell it for a pittance, a mere dollar. And where does it start? With Preachers. Until preachers get this into their heads, and get their bodies back to the pulpit to preach the Word of God, the people of God will continue down this dismal, dry, empty road to nothing.
I wonder if it is possible to change course, to sow a new crop? I wonder if it is possible for the church to stop trying to manage the Kingdom of God and start pursuing it again? I wonder if the lament will continue, or if we can break out in praise at the harvest? I wonder if we will starve to death because of the famine of the Word, or if we will be baptized in a fresh outpouring of God’s grace because the Word is proclaimed? I wonder if the church will matter when we who preach now look back on the work that we have left behind?
Soli Deo Gloria!