I Want My Church Back!

C. D. Brooks 
Speaker Emeritus, Breath of Life 

A veteran preacher calls on us to preach and live the Adventist message.

[Editor’s Note: The following is transcribed and edited from a talk given to Seventh-day Adventist ministers.]

In the writings of Ellen G. White, that inside information which God sent just to us, the Lord’s servant draws a line over here against this extreme, and then she draws a line over there against that extreme. I’ve been doing this for years. But notice, she leaves a broad swath down the middle. I can walk here and you can walk there, and we’re still within the safety zone. We don’t have to think alike. We don’t have to wear a uniform. You can be you and I can be me, but let’s stay in the safety zone; we’re better off near the middle of the road, avoiding the perilous ditches on both sides of the Christian pathway.

We are now facing an unusual time in which those on the inside of our church are questioning our distinctive teachings and doctrines more than those who despise us. Many of us are walking away from the mandate that God gave to us.

A brilliant professional friend of mine called me long distance. In an almost desperate tone, he said, "Charles, I want my church back!" Then with anguish in his voice, he said, "I don’t know if I can ever get it back!"

Preach Our Message!


My dear fellow workers, I want to tell you today, that one of the powerful keys to success and power in our churches and our pulpits and in our evangelism is resolute faithfulness to the word of God, and to the message God has given to us to preach!

We must preach our message. All of it! There are forces that seem to be dismantling what was so laboriously put together under the indispensable aid of the Holy Ghost. There is a picture of erudition which we carelessly call scholarship, but which is more scholasticism. Ellen White says it’s as certain that we have the truth as that God lives. She spoke of a platform of truth. She knew that we’d always be gathering sources and resources, but she said, "Don’t get off the platform." The Holy Spirit is not one to foster confusion, and He does not divide the saints. He may bring separation from the mixed multitude, but not from the saints.

Awesome Prophecy. Amongst us there are those who appear to be tired of our message, bored with it. There is a swelling cry for something different, unique. Some are saying, "We want a modern message designed for young people." That doesn’t go along with the awesome prophecy of Malachi 4, for when the Elijah message comes, just before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the Bible says the hearts of the fathers and the children will be turned together. We are not to be divided by age and generation.

The media use the term simulcast, meaning that they are broadcasting in English and Spanish and other languages at the same time. But to us the gospel is coming down from glory simulcast. I’ve preached to little children and they’ve come up and said, "I enjoyed your sermon." And I thought it was too heavy for them.

My beloved fellow workers, loose liberalism does not accomplish what we think it will accomplish. George Whital, writing in Washingtonian Magazine, says, "The churches that make the greatest doctrinal and moral demands on their members" (he mentions the evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants) "are growing. Their churches are booming. In contrast," he says, "the churches that have a hard time telling you why you ought to be a Christian, the churches of the old main line, like the Episcopalians, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, and the United Church of Christ, have been hemorrhaging congregants since the mid-’60s. It is vanilla Protestantism that is dying." And then he says, "Theological friendliness, avant-garde worship, and political correctness are a prescription for ecclesiastical catastrophe. Millions are leaving because they have no good reason to stay."

No Discipline, No Care


A blond girl came into my office at one of our colleges where I was preaching and burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably. When I asked her problem, she said, "Pastor, my parents don’t love me."

I said, "How can you say that? They are sacrificing to keep you here and you are dressed very well. They’ve taken good care of you. Why do you say that?"

She said, "Because they don’t care what I do."

Young and old need the discipline of the Word of God. When people feel like they can do what they please, then the church loses its premium value. They figure we don’t care. But "feel-goodism" is pervading our congregations, creeping in, and our churches and our schools are floundering. Our church income is being depleted. We had our biggest budget crisis this year.

The devil is playing every device he can. I’m going to do a little tongue in cheek, don’t get angry with me. The devil is pleading, "Culture! And pluralism! And scholarship!" He impresses many of us to try to modernize God by humanizing Him. God already answered that one. He said, "I am the Lord, I change not! I am the same yesterday, and today, and forever!" (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8).

Relevant. I hear a lot about, "Oh, we need someone now to make Scripture relevant!" Fellow workers, I wouldn’t talk like this to just anybody. I am glad I can speak to my fellow workers. If God said it, it’s relevant! It’s our extraneous ideas about what He says that are irrelevant!

Paul said, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit" (Col 2:8). The preaching of the Word, even with love and tact and diplomacy, will inevitably cause confrontation with our sinful, carnal natures. We are not called to make the Word popular, but to preach it with power! I’m one of those transition preachers, a connecting link between the old and the new. Those old war-horses, they preached it straight.

George Peters, Frank Peterson, W.W. Fordham, J. H. Wagner, J. H. Lawrence, P. M. Rowe—they stood up for the right. They placed the burden on the Holy Ghost. The message poured out of them. These men made and built Black Seventh-day Adventism.

In 1946 a skinny preacher came to my hometown. I had never heard anyone like him. There was one thing I knew when I looked at that preacher, he believed everything he preached! And he made me believe it.

These are the men to emulate.

You know that our laymen today are too caught up and preoccupied to study, and they get little substance from the pulpit. Wait, wait, wait, and let me say something else. I’ve got two libraries, one at my home and one at the General Conference. They are rather extensive, and I like to read the hardbacks and the softbacks. But when I sit at my desk in my study, the bookshelves immediately behind my chair have the Spirit of Prophecy, several versions of the Bible, and the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. When I get ready to read the other books, I’ve got to get up out of my chair and walk over to get them. But after I get through the books from Review and Herald and all the good stuff from our publishing house out in Idaho, then all this other becomes simply a skeleton on which I can hang the meat of Seventh-day Adventism. Verily my people can be fed. We’ve got to confront our people for their sake. If you pamper them, you’re not helping them. We’ve got to dare to guide them.

Guide. Some of what they’re doing is because they don’t know any better. We’ve got to guide them concerning where they ought to go, what they ought to do, what they ought to wear, what they ought to think. And we ought to do it with the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy.

When we talk to our people it’s not a purely human-to-human encounter. There is a Person called the Holy Ghost. It’s our privilege to have Him standing by us and moving out there in the congregation. He will take a difficult truth and apply it to the heart. You think I didn’t have to give up things I liked? I’d rather save one person with the truth and with the Holy Ghost than comfort ten thousand in their self-deception. We fail our people when we water down and compromise and undermine and repudiate the message that God has given us to bear—and to live!

Emboldened to Defy


Not only that, we embolden them to defy our standards. We embolden them to follow their own whims and offend fellow church members and even their parents. Many of them have chips on their shoulders. They are so self-confident they dare you to say anything.

A young woman who had always been friendly came to church loaded down with jewelry. When I approached her, ready to speak, she wouldn’t even look at me. She avoided me. She couldn’t be friendly as usual. No wonder our churches are turning cold! It’s because our members remain guilt-ridden and insecure and not sure of what they really stand for. They hear about easy divorce, about moral falls even in the ministry, Sabbaths on the golf course, or on the bicycle trail, or at the beach, theater-going, attacks on Ellen G. White. What’s happening amongst us?

Responsibility. Ellen White says, "Of all the sins that God will punish, none are more grievous in His sight than those that encourage others to do evil" (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 323). And of all the groups of people on the topside of the earth, none has such an awesome responsibility resting upon it, as well as privilege, as the Seventh-day Adventist ministry.

When I was a boy we saw our pastor once every five weeks. Today nearly every Sabbath there is a preacher and still our members wonder, "What’s happening to us? Is the Holy Ghost still with us?" Many who feel a lack of the Spirit are trying to compensate with a shaking, rocking, rollicking religion. They want to feel good. But that good feeling will replace their faith and it will be wiped out in a crisis.

Temporary Fix. The Bible says, "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa 57:21). Many of our people who love the truth but don’t know what to love are getting caught up in the subjective, ecstatic experience, and the 11 o’clock service is like cocaine, a temporary fix. Before the sun sets they are right back to where they were, unhappy, critical, not doing so well. "And what do I want now?" says the devil. "A loud, thumping, bumping religion," I hear him say. "It will cause me great delight to make the old saints uncomfortable." And so we are being divided.

We’re not supposed to set our churches on fire—that’s the work of the Holy Ghost. What are we supposed to do? We are to be repairers of the breach, restorers of paths to dwell in (Isa 58:12). Culture? That deals with the natural man and it’s not wrong. I’m not trying to make everything wrong. But if that is the natural part of us, the Bible says the natural man cannot receive the things of God, "for they are foolishness unto him" (1 Cor 2:14).

Delusions. Some among us are questioning things that have been worked out by the Holy Ghost in human history and in my life’s history and yours. There will always be some excess baggage. But don’t throw everything away. The Apostle said, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess 5:21). Instead, many are trying to satisfy themselves rather than pray and study. They want to reason things out with unsanctified minds. They’re starting from the wrong position and will never arrive at spiritual fulfillment, but rather at compounded delusions. For spiritual things are spiritually discerned. The Bible says, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2 Cor 4:3).

I said to a congregation one Sabbath, "The gospel is good news, but it’s not just the cross. Thank God for the cross! But the gospel is more than that. The gospel is health reform, that’s good news! The gospel is social reform, that’s good news!"

I was invited to preach for the 65th anniversary of the high school I graduated from some 40 years ago. I walked in there and what a crowd! The head table was longer than this auditorium. I had given word that I couldn’t arrive there until after sunset. They had said, "We understand that. We’ll take care of the preliminaries, and you just come right in." And I did. I sat right in the middle. Those tables were surrounded, many of them, with former classmates. I looked out and they kept waving and winking and carrying on. Finally it would dawn on me . . . Oh, I recognize them—and they looked awful!

Good News. You think I look old! You should have seen them! Our message is good news! I tried to figure it out; I looked back, and I said to myself, I’ve been keeping the Sabbath for 54 years. That’s seven years of Sabbath-keeping, which means I got seven years of rest they never got!

It hurts me today—Some of you heard a rumor that I’m getting ready to retire. It hurts me today to see that amongst us many, rather than kneeling in humility, are standing up like the Pharisee in the narrative of Christ with jaw set and shoulders squared to debate with God, and the pulpit is losing. It’s enough!

Idols. I’m not suggesting that you brow-beat anybody. I don’t do that! Ellen White says rationalism is an idol (see The Great Controversy, p. 193), for it exalts human reason above the Word of God. Many of our beloved people are making dangerous decisions based on how they feel rather than on explicit revelations from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Error is always impinged to this. How sad I feel. They love to talk about theater now and evolution; and even the mark of the beast is getting a dressing down in our own journals. What are we doing?

There is such a thing as "possessionism." I was the first that I know of to start using that word, but I read two psychiatrists who wrote a book about it. In this present, mixed company I cannot tell you what they said concerning the manipulation and the stroking of the physical by the spirits of demons who possess them. You want a thrill? It will come. If that’s where your faith is, it will come. But the Bible says, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom 10:17).

Harold Lee was addressing this condition not long ago when he said, "Neo-Pentecostalism will be the death of Black Adventism." I wrote that down. We Black people are especially vulnerable, because we are such an emotional people. We’ve been here too long. Divided and separated by racism, by advantage, education, money and privilege, we’ve been forced into being reactive, but we’ve come too close to heaven. Don’t let us be cheated now and miss heaven after all we’ve gone through.

Culture Not All Bad


Culture? When I moved to Washington more than 30 years ago I was courted assiduously to join the White church. Now, these are good churches, good people, good pastors. But I was culturally more satisfied in the warmer atmosphere of the Black church. I see nothing wrong with that. But there is something that transcends culture. That something melds us into the family of God, distinguishable, distinctive, even peculiar.

My problem is that culture is becoming our religious experience. This is the reaction of the insecure that are not sure about anything. I want you to know, beloved, today, that I am not and never have been defined by corn rows and kente cloth.

I was having a discussion with a well-known Black Adventist minister about African-Americans escaping from the plantation syndrome. He said to me, "These people say they are Americans, but they ain’t. They say they are Africans, but they ain’t. They are kind of lost people."

Adopted. Well, let me tell you. A long time ago I was adopted. There is a Seventh-day Adventist culture, and I was born into this Adventist culture by adoption, which is a legal compact. By contrast, my daddy and mother adopted a boy before I was born; I never saw him. As he grew older he got into trouble with the law and spent time in jail. Finally he said, "I want to leave this family." Remember, he was adopted. No person born of Brooks blood in my large family has ever spent a night in jail. What’s the difference? He was adopted. He came in from another nature. The rest of us were born with Brooks blood. So I have been adopted but I have been born again! Adoption makes me His, new blood makes me like Him. There is a commonality of the blood.

Our Culture. I’m proud of our culture. I’m proud to be a Black man. I want you all to know that I mean that. I am glad I am a Black man. I always have been. The African said that kente cloth was made in Ghanaian villages. It was worn by the Ashanti royalty, the kings and princes of that country. It was very expensive, too expensive to be available to ordinary people. There are plenty of cultural things to be proud of from that part of the world. The first president of that country was named Kwame Nkrumah. Kwame means born on the Sabbath, Saturday. And if you get C. E. Bradford’s book [Sabbath Roots: the African Connection, a Biblical Perspective (Silver Spring, Md.: General Conference Ministerial Association, 1999)], you’ll understand that Sabbath-keeping is intrinsic in our culture. But remember that the Bible tells us what’s important in dress. It tells us in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. I want to make this clear, because we have a bunch of smart alecks now saying, "You don’t have a Bible base!"

Oh yes, I do! Where have you been?

Ornaments. And even if I didn’t find it explicitly I got it indirectly from the Spirit of Prophecy, which is biblical. If it’s not, we ought to throw it away! In time of danger and crisis and judgment God required His people to take their jewelry off. When Jacob was trying to get home, they had to stop and bury something (see Gen 35:2-4). When they worshiped the golden calf, God was about to move with vengeance and wrath. Moses stood between Him and the people. God didn’t say, "What they’re doing is all right." No, indeed. He told the people to take off their jewelry. "Take it off," He said, "that I may know what to do unto you." Then, the Bible says, they "stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb" (see Ex 33:5, 6). Since 1844 we’re in the judgment, and the Bible says those that don’t afflict themselves will be cut off.

I loved it when you could look at a young lady and know she was an Adventist. I got invited to a camp meeting. I went into a town and didn’t know where to go. My wife said, "Honey, stop and phone." Then it dawned on me that no one answers the phone at a campground on the Sabbath, at least they used to not answer it. I was desperate. I looked at a car easing by and I saw some women, their faces clean. They looked like something. I pulled my car into that lane and followed them. My wife said, "Honey, what are you doing?"

I said, "I’m following those people!"

"You know who they are?"

"No! I just know how they look!"

And I ended up at my destination.

I’m saying with my friend, "I want my church back."

Praising the Devil?


Every year at Hampton Institute there is a convention of great preachers from all over this country, and many of our ministers go. I am told that this year, when one of those men got up to preach, he said to that congregation (not Adventist), "In our music, we’ve got to be careful that we are not praising the devil instead of God."

Ellen White says that Satan dialogues with his imps. They discuss their plans together. His craftiness, he knows, will not fly unless he can first discount the Spirit of Prophecy. So he raised up a West Coast preacher, who called the Lord’s servant a plagiarist and a liar. Then he raised up a teacher and his kind to buy it. Black preachers threw away their red books in green trash cans at a time when they needed them most. But I believe in the Spirit of Prophecy. Now I’m going to read to you what Ellen White says:

Selected Messages, book 2, p. 36: "The Lord—"


[Audience:] "The Lord."

"The Lord has shown me." Now the criticism has been that everything is not inspired when she says, "The Lord showed me." All right, I’m reading it again:

"The Lord has shown me what would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit."

In the very next line she says, "The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise."

Gospel Music. Wait a minute! I like gospel music! I probably like it more than many sitting out here. And I can prove it. For 35 of the last 37 years I have gone every November to Germantown, Ohio, a Mecca of gospel music. Twenty-eight of those trips were over the Thanksgiving weekend, giving up my family holiday to be inspired by those people. Our precious Eleanor Wright, the late Eleanor Wright, wrote much of it. They were message songs. They rebuked sin! They encouraged the discouraged. That’s one reason she did not die a millionaire, because she stayed faithful to this message!

A little more from Selected Messages: "A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing" (ibid.). Gospel music should be a blessing.

But you all know it is out of hand.

I don’t believe the drum is a bigger sinner than the trumpet or the psaltery or the harp. It’s what we do with it! So Satan had a huddle, and he said to his imps, "Let’s develop ‘crossover.’"

Why would a saint want to crossover?

"Let’s develop crossover!" said the devil. "Let’s blend some of ours with some of theirs. Let’s start off with a balance, and then let’s gradually move off center. Then let’s talk about Christian jazz and religious gospel rock. They are contradictions of terms, you see. Let’s get them moving and grooving like our crowd in our places when they are getting down. Then, let’s pull out all the stops." That’s what the devil says.

You all believe I tell the truth? I love gospel music. You know what? "Power in the Blood" is a gospel song. So are "Standing on the Promises," "Love Lifted Me," and "I’m on the Battlefield for My Lord." Eleanor Wright wrote "Naaman" the weekend after I preached it in Cincinnati, Ohio. And when my father-in-law died she wrote one for our family called "I Don’t Plan to Stay Here." There’s a stanza in there that says:

If you miss me, don’t dismay,

I might have to rest in a mound of clay,

But when I hear that trumpet sound

I’m coming up out of that cold, cold ground!

’Cause I don’t plan to stay here, children.

Pray. Today the intonations are pulsing with sensuality and sexuality. When they talk about loving Jesus they say it in a most sensual and sexual way.

But ladies and gentlemen, do we expect Satan to be candid, or subtle? Do we expect him to be honest, or a master deceiver? The other day I was listening to the Morgan State Choir when a young lady took a solo on a spiritual: "Old Satan wears a clubfoot shoe. / If you don’t mind, he’ll slip it on you."

Bypassing Our Judgment


One scholar from Australia said that music is one force that does not have to pass through the judgment hall of the brain before it affects us. There’s an organ at the base of the brain to which music appeals directly. He said that you don’t even have to think to start moving. That’s how Muzak became so successful. It was background music. Folk didn’t even know they were listening to it. It just soothed them. Now they’re doing it with light rock. And music is gone. We ought to know Satan would take advantage of a thing like this to captivate and enchant us.

Great Music. We were once known as masters and purveyors of good music of various kinds. I grew up in a small church where we didn’t hear the great anthems. When I came to Oakwood I had never heard the Messiah. One day, going to the dairy where I worked at 3 a.m., I heard music over in the chapel. The lights were on. Then when I came back I heard thump, thump, thump. Dr. Dyes was beating out the time with a staff. I said to somebody, "What’s going on over there?"

They said, "They’re getting ready for the Messiah."

I admit I didn’t know what it was, but I said, "Oh, yes!"

On the night it was presented, I felt like the top of my head would blow off. When they got to the Hallelujah Chorus I didn’t need a royal example to get me to my feet as the choir sang, "He shall reign forever and ever and ever and ever and ever! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

We were known for that music, classical and dignified, warm and moving and simple. But Ellen White said, "The line of demarcation is [becoming] indistinct" (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 316). Satan starts out small. No one comes to sudden ruin. It takes time to corrupt the soul. Gradually the devil perverts. One departure from principle begins the journey.

I want my church back!

Movies and Smokes


Who do we think we’re dealing with? He’s called the wily foe. He’s no friend of ours. These coffin nails called cigarettes he names "Salem" ("Peace"!), "Cool," "True," "Joy."

Who do we think we’re dealing with when he names the poison of alcohol "Southern Comfort"? God says a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. (I’ve got to hasten and please forgive me!)

Movies—if you say anything about them, you’re old fashioned! I don’t mind that opprobrium. Call me old if you want, God is older than I am. And when God tells us something, He gets it right the first time! He doesn’t have to edit or adjust.

"Oh, preacher, you can’t stop it." I know that. I’m not saying you can, but we shouldn’t promote it!

My Experience. I used to sneak off to the movies. Finally one of my buddies and I didn’t know what else to do, and he took me to hear that skinny preacher, Earl Cleveland. Within two weeks something happened, thank the Lord God.

One Sabbath I walked out of that man’s meeting. The sun was going down, and my buddy and I headed to the Carolina Theater. But nobody made me feel comfortable about it. My own conscience wouldn’t let me feel comfortable about it. We walked about seven blocks discussing what we heard in that man’s tent. The theater was across the street. The red light stopped us and I started thinking. All of a sudden the light turned green and he started off and I stayed. He turned around and said, "What’s wrong with you?"

I said, "I’m not going."

He said, "What do you mean, you’re not going?"

I said, "You know. The things you’re learning. I can’t go, for I know them already."

He said, "If you don’t go, I don’t go."

That was 47 years ago. Today that man is a deacon in the Adventist church. His wife and daughters are officers in the church. Suppose I hadn’t stopped?

Our Truth Is Still the Truth


We serve a timeless God, and time, as we know it, is about to experience a cataclysmic collision with eternity. We are about to enter His realm of time and space. When we do, the truth will still be the truth. Sabbath will still be Sabbath, because truth never dies.

Though ages come and go,

Though mountains wear away and seas retire,

Destruction lays earth’s mighty golden cities low,

And empire states and dynasties expire.

But caught and handed onward to the wise,

Truth never dies.

No Change. Fifty-four years ago I joined this church. I’ve been somewhat educated, illuminated, experienced. I’m getting ready to retire. But I want to tell you, nothing’s changed. We’ve matured, and we’ve been enlightened. People are meaner, more immoral. But nothing’s changed. God’s law is still a transcript of His character. It’s too high for us, so He gave us a ladder called grace that we might climb up.

The sanctuary is still in heaven. It isn’t going anywhere just because some say it doesn’t really exist. Judgment is still going on. God still hates pride. Men are still born in sin. Men must be born again. Dead folk are still dead. Christ is still our only Savior. None but the righteous shall see God. We’ve got to be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. We’ve got to be covered with His righteousness alone. He still sends the Holy Ghost. And He is still seeking the lost. He is still saving sinners. And it is possible to delight ourselves in the Lord and the truth. Our message is still valid. And if we stand around waiting for our truth to change, we’re exactly like the Protestants who want the Sabbath to change. Jack Sequeira said, "If you believe in the Redeemer, you’ve got to start looking more redeemed."

"Morehouse Man." Through the agency of my friend, Walt Pearson, I was privileged to join others to be honored at Morehouse College. I arrived there, and I saw what I don’t see on the average worldly campus. We walked outside and up to the president’s dining room, and I saw it again, a certain dignity. I said to some of those who belonged there, "What is this thing I notice, and why? This, this thing that is almost imperceptible and yet is here?" We were told that when a man applies to Morehouse and is being accepted, he starts getting their propaganda.

"You are now a Morehouse man. You can’t just dress any kind of way."

"You’re a Morehouse man. You can’t carry on and get loud and ugly."

"You’re a Morehouse man. You’ve got to stay under control."

"You’re a Morehouse man."

And I thought, "Oh my, Oh my! I’m an Oakwood man."

Let me conclude with the Spirit of Prophecy: The Great Controversy, page 461, if you want to read it. I have these little dots in there because I can’t read all of it. The "terror of appearing, in their guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. . . . ‘Who shall deliver me?’ . . . [T]hey saw that nothing but the merits of Christ could suffice to atone." They "brought forth fruit," "not to fashion themselves after their former lusts, but by the faith of the Son of God to follow in His steps, to reflect His character, and to purify themselves even as He is pure. The things they once hated they now loved, and the things they once loved they hated. . . . The vain and supercilious became serious and unobtrusive. The profane became reverent. . . . The vain fashions of the world were laid aside."

Revival Coming


Today there are many accessions to the truth. Oh, please, get what I’m saying. I do evangelism. Brethren and sisters, we are not in competition with one another. When you run a church meeting and baptize sixty, you’ve done what some eight-week campaigns under a tent do when they baptize two hundred. We’re not in competition. Let us glory when the Lord does it.

But listen—today "there are large accessions to the churches; nevertheless" the new members show no "corresponding increase of real spiritual life" (ibid., p. 463). Many who join are not more willing to deny self and take up their cross than before their baptism. Our religion becomes a sport of infidels and skeptics. Oh, I’m gonna say it! If I ever hear a man bragging about how many he baptizes, I worry about him.

But I tell you something, and I mean it with all my heart. If you don’t like what I say, at least give me credit for being honest and sincere. When I work as hard as I do to run an effort, I want somebody to stay at least until after the snow falls. Don’t let me hear that you baptized 250 and nobody can find them. When Earl Cleveland and Bill Scales and George Rainey and Eric Ward and all those, along with many pastors who have not made it their specialty—when they do it, the church is enlarged and the folk know what they believe.

Primitive Godliness. The Great Controversy, pages 463, 464: "Picnics, church theatricals, . . . personal display, have banished thoughts of God. . . . Notwithstanding—" You see, there is a second statement here. (I’m glad there’s a second one; the first one took us negative, and this one takes us positive.) "Notwithstanding . . . there will be . . . a revival of primitive godliness"! Did you get it? Not neo-Pentecostalism, but such "primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times"!

Now page 464 again: "Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world . . . [with] an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false. . . . Yet none need be deceived" if they rely on God’s word.

Let’s go to page 474: "Every sinful gratification tends to benumb the faculties and deaden the mental and spiritual perceptions, and the word or the Spirit of God can make but a feeble impression upon the heart."

Suppose you had a baby boy, and as he began to grow up he only wanted to eat cake every day three times a day for the rest of his life. Would you comply?

You and I, my fellow workers, are God’s called facilitators to a purer, more powerful Christian life and to a finished work. The only reason why God needs us in the church at all is that we might become witnesses to those on the outside. The truth makes a difference, and we will not arrest their attention until we are peculiar. The power that we walk and talk about is in the Word.

In the Word! Whose side are you on?

I want my church back!

In the Safety Zone. You don’t have to be just like me. But let’s walk in here, in the safety zone.

Over in Chicago there was an old man, an elegant old man. He wore sport coats like a young guy, drove a yellow Cadillac, brought his beautiful wife (they were both old but she was beautiful) to my meetings every night. He never said a word, just listened and went home. Finally we got down to the decision time and he walked up by himself and said, "I need to talk to you."

I said, "Well, let’s go aside."

We did.

He said to me, "Now I want to know from you what I should do about a problem I have."

I said, "Well, what is your problem, sir?"

He said, "In my bar in my basement I have a lot of good liquor. I want to know what to do with it. Shall I sell it? Shall I give it away? What shall I do?" He turned and stared at me.

I said, "My dear brother, you have a misapprehension. There is no such thing as good liquor. What you probably mean is it’s expensive. Now, suppose you gave it away or sold it, and the person that received it went out driving drunk and killed a bunch of people or shot his wife. Do you know you’d bear the responsibility? The book of Habakkuk says, "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink" (Hab 2:15).

He said, "Then what shall I do?"

I said, "I have a suggestion. Make your bathroom a temple and the toilet stool an altar. Bring that expensive liquor up from your basement and set it on the back of the toilet. Then kneel down and in an act of commitment give yourself anew to the Lord and pour that liquor out of the bottle with prayer."

He looked at me sternly and said, "If you had told me anything else, I was going to walk out of here." Today, 21 years later, his wife sleeps in Jesus and he is still in the Truth.

Truth Wins. Brethren, this truth will win souls. You don’t need to play games and fool people. This truth, with its dignity and power, this truth attended by the Holy Ghost will win souls of the best kind.

I want my church back!