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Selling Out

One day, Paris Reidhead (1919-1992), the late missionary to the Sudan-Ethiopia border, preached arguably one of the most influential sermons of this century. His topic? Ten shekels and a shirt.

In the book of Judges, a man sells his priestly assistance to a man named Micah for the price of ten shekels and a shirt. In a sense, the man became Micah's personal priest. What was formerly service to God became a service of man.

Reidhead makes the case that most professing American Christians are like this priest: serving themselves while pretending to serve God. He also addresses Humanism (the belief that the purpose of life is man-centered) and its invasion of Western Christianity. Today, his words still serve as a striking reminder of the only way a culture can be changed: through the acceptance of Truth.

In 1850, the church divided into two groups. The one group was the liberals, who accepted the philosophy of the humanism and tried to find some relevance by saying something like this to their generation:

"...We don't know there's a heaven. We don't know there's a hell. But we do know this--that you've got to live for 70 years! We know there's a great deal of benefit from poetry, from high thoughts and noble aspirations. Therefore it's important for you to come to church on Sunday, so…we can give you some little adages and axioms and rules to live by. We can't say anything about what's going to happen when you die, but we'll tell you this, if you'll come every week and pay and help and stay with us…we'll make you happier while you're alive.

And so this became the essence of liberalism. It has simply nothing more than to try and put a little sugar in the bitter coffee of their journey and sweeten it up for a time….

There's another group of people that have taken humbridge with the liberals, this group are my people, the fundamentalists….. The fundamentalists, along the same line, are now tuning in along this same wavelength of humanism, until we find something like this:

"Accept Jesus so you can go to heaven! You don't want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning hell when there is a beautiful heaven up there! Now come to Jesus so you can go to heaven!"

Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches that's crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion and it is an utter and total contrast with Christianity….I'm afraid that it's become so subtle that it goes everywhere. What is it? In essence it's this: That this philosophical postulate that the end of all being (1) is the happiness of man, has been sort of covered over with evangelical terms and Biblical doctrine until God reigns in heaven for the happiness of man, Jesus Christ was incarnate for the happiness of man, all the angels exist…Everything is for the happiness of man!

And I submit to you that this is unchristian. Didn't God intend to make man happy? Yes. But as a by-product and not a prime-product.

If you'll ask me why I went to Africa, I'll tell you I went primarily to improve on the justice of God. I didn't think it was right for anybody to go to Hell without a chance to be saved, so I went to give poor sinners a chance to go to heaven. Now I haven't put it in so many words, but if you'll analyze what I just told you, do you know what it is? Humanism. That I was simply using the provisions of Jesus Christ as a means to improve upon human conditions of suffering and misery.

And when I went to Africa, I discovered that they weren't “poor, ignorant, little heathen running around in the woods” looking for someone to tell them how to go to heaven. That they were monsters of iniquity. They were living in utter and total defiance of far more knowledge of God than I ever dreamed they had! They deserved Hell because they utterly refused to walk in the light of their conscious and the light of the Law written upon their heart, and the testimony of nature, and the truth they knew.

...But it was there in Africa that God began to tear through the overlay of this humanism. And it was that day in my bedroom with the door locked that I wrestled with God. For here was I, coming to grips with the fact that the people I thought were ignorant and wanted to know how to go to heaven and were saying "Someone come and teach us,” actually didn't want to take time to talk with me or anybody else. They had no interest in the Bible and no interest in Christ, and they loved their sin and wanted to continue in it. And I was to that place at that time where I felt the whole thing was a sham and a mockery, and I had been sold a bill of goods! And I wanted to come home.

There alone in my bedroom as I faced God honestly with what my heart felt, it seemed to me I heard Him say, "Yes, will not the Judge of all the earth do right? The heathen are lost. And they're going to go to Hell, not because they haven't heard the gospel. They're going to go to Hell because they are sinners who love their sin. And because they deserve Hell. But, I didn't send you out there for them. I didn't send you out there for their sakes."

And I heard as clearly as I've ever heard, though it wasn't with physical voice but it was the echo of truth of the ages finding its' way into an open heart. I heard God say to my heart that day something like this: "I didn't send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen. I sent you to Africa for My sake. They deserved Hell. But I love them! And I endured the agonies of Hell for them. I didn’t send you out there for them! I sent you out there for Me! Do I not deserve the reward of my suffering? Don’t I deserve those for whom I died?”

And it reversed it all and changed it all…and I wasn't any longer working for Micah and tens shekels and a shirt. (2) But I was serving a living God! I was there not for the sake of the heathen. I was there for the Savior that endured the agonies of Hell for me, who didn't deserve it! But He deserved them. Because He died for them.

Do you see? ….Christianity says, "The end of all being is the glory of God." Humanism says, "The end of all being is the happiness of man."

….What about you? Why did you repent? I'd like to see some people repent on Biblical terms again.… This is the difference between twentieth century preaching and the preaching of John Wesley.

Wesley was a preacher of righteousness that exalted the holiness of God. When he would stand there with the two to three hour sermons that he was accustomed to deliver in the open air and he would exalt the holiness of God, and the law of God, and the righteousness of God…and the justice of His wrath and His anger. Then he would turn to sinners and tell them of the enormity of their crimes and their open rebellion and their treason…and the power of God would so descend upon the company, that on one occasion it is reliably reported that when the people dispersed there were 1,800 people lying on the ground, utterly unconscious because they had a revelation of the holiness of God. And in the light of that they'd seen the enormity of their sins, God had so penetrated their minds and hearts that they had fallen to the ground.

It wasn't only in Wesley's day. It was also in America. New Haven, Connecticut. Yale. A man by the name of John Wesley Redfield had continuous ministry for three years in and around New Haven…The policemen were accustomed during those days, if they saw someone lying on the ground, to go up and smell his breath, because if he had alcohol on his breath they'd lock him up. But if he didn't he had “Redfield's disease.”

And all you needed to do if anyone had Redfield's disease was just take him into a quiet place and leave him until he came to, because if they were drunkards, they'd stop drinking, and if they were cruel, they'd stop being cruel, and if they were immoral, they gave up their immorality. If they were thieves, they returned what they had. For as they had seen the holiness of God, and seen the enormity of their sin, the Spirit of God had driven them down into unconsciousness because of the weight of their guilt! And somehow in the overspreading of the power of God, sinners repented of their sin and came savingly to Christ. But there was a difference [with this kind of philosophy]! It wasn't trying to convince a “good man” that he was in trouble with a “bad God!” But that it was to convince bad men that they had deserved the wrath and anger of a good God….

[There was] an island in the West Indies where an atheist British owner had 2,000 to 3,000 slaves. And the owner had said, "No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If he's ship wrecked we'll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but he's never going to talk to any of us about God. I'm through with all that nonsense." Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa brought to an island in the Atlantic and there to live and die without hearing of Christ.

Two young Moravians heard about it. They sold themselves to the British planter and used the money they received from their sale (for he paid no more than he would for any slave) to pay their passage out to his island….[They were] in their early twenties. Never to return again--for this wasn't a four year term. They sold themselves into life time slavery. Simply that as slaves, they could be Christians where these others [slaves] were.

The families were there weeping, for they knew they would never see them again. And they wondered why they were going and questioned the wisdom of it. As the gap widened and the housings had been cast off and were being curled up there on the pier, and the young boys saw the widening gap, one lad with his arm linked through the arm of his fellow, raised his hand and shouted across the gap the last words that were heard from them. They were these: "May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!" This became the call of Moravian missions. And this is the only reason for being: That the Lamb that was slain may receive the reward of His suffering.

--An excerpt from “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” a sermon given by Paris Reidhead

(1) "End of all being,” meaning the “purpose of man’s creation”

(2) A reference to Judges 17

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Wow, girl, that was deep and good "food for thought." I will need to ponder that for a while.....

This is fascinating! The Moravians had courage -- there was no turning back for them, but they did it anyway -- for the glory of God. Wow. Man centered witnessing has become so prevalent that I think it is easy to slip into that kind of thinking if we are not constantly focusing our attention on witnessing for God's glory -- not just man's benefit.

I'm not a girl, but is it ok if I comment? Wow, what a story about the Moravians. Today, mainstream Christianity requires so little personal sacrifice. Thanks for your posting...and the whole blog. You are doing a great work.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for showing us such men who have given everything for You. Tho it may break a parent's heart to see their children leaving forever never to be seen again to serve You, please grant us a balm to endure this most noble of sacrifices--serving You unto death.

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