“By their fruits ye shall know them.”
No man plucking an apple off the tree will conclude—if he be in his right mind—that this must indeed be an orange tree, for it bears apples.
By their fruits ye shall know all the trees of the field. But “By their fruits ye shall know them” Jesus also said in regard to men and their works. Ye shall know whether they are children of God or children of the devil by their works which are the fruit.
Man has fruits too!
On another occasion Jesus said “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man,” Matthew 15:11. And James says “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man and able also to bridle the whole body . . . the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison,” James 3:2, 8.
Our speech is fruit. And it is fruit that reveals much. It manifests whether the fear of the Lord is in our hearts or not.
We are not concerned in this writing with the speech that manifests fear of the hydrogen and cobalt bombs, of another world war or of disaster and destruction. There is plenty of speech made today that exactly manifests such a fear. At the present moment all the speech about the hope of a passing of the cold war is nothing more than speech that manifests fear of it growing into a shooting war. Men speak of peace when there is no peace. And their speech reveals a fear, a terrifying fear of a worldwide catastrophe. But at this moment we wish to write on speech that manifests the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of all wisdom. The principle of all wisdom is not in a fear of men and a fear that rules out the existence and divinity of God! Speech that manifests His fear, that acknowledges Him as the sovereign God that He is claims our attention at this time.
Speech is a wonderful gift. It is one of those abilities which we take for granted until we lose it temporarily or else seem to be in danger of losing it.
By means of speech we are able to convey to the hearts and minds of others what is in our own hearts and minds. By our speech we are able to teach others. By our speech we are able to confess our faith and sing God’s praises. By our speech we can hand down from generation to generation the truth which we have learned. But by our speech we can also hand down to coming generations our sin and unbelief.
The infidel reveals himself by his speech. So does the heretic reveal his departure from the truth by his speech. By their fruits (speech) ye shall know them!
The child of God manifests his faith by his speech. The covenant parent transmits to the mind of his child the faith he has in God. The Christian school teacher imparts to the child the truth that is embraced by the hearts and minds of the believers. By their speech ye shall know them.
God spoke in times past through the prophets in sundry places and in diverse manners and then brought it all to a glorious climax when He spoke also through His Son. By His speech He revealed to us His own eternal thoughts of salvation in the blood and Spirit of His Son. By His speech to us He conveyed to our sanctified and regenerated hearts and minds our place in His kingdom.
By His speech we know Him.
But a practical question continues to present itself: Does our speech manifest fear in Him? And it must be stated immediately that much of the speech uttered today by those who have their names enrolled upon the “books” of the various churches throughout the world leaves one wondering about the sharp line of distinction between church and world, between believer and unbeliever. Often an antithesis in speech is hard to detect. Often there is synthesis of speech; and the antithesis is not evident until in the inner closet confession is made of an evil tongue and a prayer arises “Let the words of my mouth . . . be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” By that fruit they are known to be children of God: But as James says about the tongue “therewith bless we God and therewith curse we men who are made after the similitude of God . . . My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” James 3:9, 10.
By their speech ye shall know them. Indeed, but much of the speech uttered by those who confess to be children of God manifests the same unbelief that the ungodly display.
What is worse, those who claim and by that claim seem to manifest themselves as children of God to be the citizens of His kingdom utter the speech of unbelief so easily and so thoughtlessly. We, therefore, thought it profitable to call attention to a few of these in this and following articles.
Not at all uncommon is it to hear those who agree with you when you state that Scripture condemns all gambling themselves say things which manifest that same lack of the fear of the Lord and a gambling spirit. In fact these expressions of a gambling spirit are so loosely used and freely employed without thought given to their significance that it is not even strange or an unheard of thing to hear one who agrees with the statement in the form for the administration of holy communion as used in our churches that “we also according to the command of the apostle Paul, admonish all those who are defiled with the following sins to keep themselves from the table of the Lord, and declare to them that they have no part in the kingdom of Christ; such as all idolaters, . . . . robbers,gamesters, (italic ours) . . . and all who lead offensive lives;” it is not an unheard of thing to hear people who agree to that in the very next breath say to you “Sure, but I’ll bet that you will have a hard time proving that one is an idolater, a gamester and robber.” Or else in reply to your statement that the Church should surely insist on such a strict keeping of the sacrament: “I agree, but I’ll bet you that many who worship idols, gamble and steal do partake without the knowledge of the church that they walk in these sins.”
I’ll bet you that gambling is wrong!
Can you then not see the wickedness in the thing? I’ll bet that all betting is wrong. I’ll gamble with you that I can prove that all gambling is wrong. And betting is gambling. To state “I’ll bet you” is to gamble. “All such while they continue in such sins,” so reads the form for the administration of the Lord’s Supper, as based on holy writ, “shall abstain from this meat . . .”
In some of our churches that part of the form is read the week before the celebration of the Sacrament. Let all who read these lines examine themselves then according to it and take note of how often in the week between its reading and the celebration the phrase “I’ll, bet you” falls off their lips like water off a duck’s back!
No, you do not specify a sum of money that you will bet. You do not bet your neck (your life). You do not say that if you are wrong the hangman may break your neck land take your life away. You simply say “I’ll bet you” or perhaps “You betcha” and do not expect the man to whom you say that even to expect to collect anything from you should you be proven to be wrong.
But you bet, you gamble nevertheless.
Brought to the consciousness of this evil the child of God will search his soul and find that he really did not even intend to go through with the thing. He said “I’ll bet you.” But if the party to whom he has said it “takes him up” and says to him “put up your money” he would withdraw and say, “I really did not mean to gamble on this thing. I just said that to show you that I am thoroughly convinced of this thing of which I spoke and am sure that I can prove myself to be right.”
You bet. And you gambled nevertheless.
If all we mean is “I am sure that. I am right,” say so! Let your yea be yea and your nay; nay, Jesus said “for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.”
Is it not just as easy to say “I think?” And if that is all that we mean, should we not say it that way? And your children, teach them also to say, “I think” or “I am sure;” but correct them, rebuke them when they say to each other “I’ll bet you” and its partner “you betcha!”
And it is not simply a matter of being just as easy to say “I think” instead of “I’ll bet you.” It is not simply a matter of saying what you mean; that you mean “I am sure” and therefore ought not say “I’ll bet” when you really did not mean and did not intend to bet anyway. It is a matter of the glory of, God. It is a matter of so speaking that the fear of the Lord is manifest also in our speech.
It manifests no reverence, no childlike fear before Him to gamble with the things He has given to us as stewards here below of His goods. Shall we gamble with that which is not our own? Indeed, relatively I have things that are mine and not yours. But only in relation to men and creatures can I say that they are mine. The cattle on a thousand hills belonged to farmers who staked off those hills and called them their farms and their cattle. But God says that the cattle on a thousand hills are His, and when we “sacrifice” any bit of it—give up the use and the material benefit of it—we only “bring” to Him what is already His.
To bet and gamble with the things He has given us to employ in His service is to behave as though He is not God. It is the same as to declare yourself to be God and to claim these things to be yours instead of His; to use as you please and not as He wills.
He who fears God loves Him. And with his tongue he will praise Him. Notice this in Psalm 11:10, “The fear of the. Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have they that do His commandments: His praise (italics ours) endureth forever.” But to gamble, and to bet with His goods does not praise Him. It ignores Him, intellectually and ethically pushes Him outside of His own creation and behaves as though He has nothing to say or to do with that creation.
He who fears God stands in awe and reverence before Him, He sees Him and believes in Him as God. And you may be sure that neither the holy angels before His face in heavenly perfection today nor the saints in the new creation in the perfect fear of the Lord shall bet and gamble with the things in that new creation. There will be no need to emphasize and bolster words with bets. But there will be no desire either to gamble with His goods for selfish pride and self-vindication.
He who walks, in His fear does not walk with a chip on his shoulder and is not ready to bet with you concerning all that he says. He who walks in His fear speaks the truth; and when it is doubted he leaves it to Him whom He fears to judge. But he refuses to gamble and bet with God’s goods to prove himself to be right. He who fears God would rather have others call him a liar than to deny God His glory and praise by his own gambling and betting.
You never meant it like that and that bad?
Then by all means stop this very moment using that gambling expression.
Let your speech manifest His fear.
As you guard your tongue and weigh your words when you are in the presence of some earthly dignitary, speak ALWAYS in His fear. For you are always in His presence.
Yea, even more than you guard your speech before an earthly dignitary, guard it before Him who is God.
“Stand in awe and sin not.”