There really would be nothing so strange about it, if in your mind you put a question mark behind the title above and read it as though it asked, “Who said So?”
This is an expression that is so frequently used that way.
When we want to get out of some unpleasant work; when children do not want to obey the command given; when our flesh rebels at the order directed unto us, we question the authority of the author of that command or order by saying, “Who said so?” In effect it often means, Who is going to make me? And if we can put a question behind the authority of the speaker and so evade the unpleasant task, our flesh rejoices in getting away with it again.
As a question the expression belongs in the class with those of the defiant, “Who do you think that you are to order me around?” or the careless, “So what?” or even Cain’s proud, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It smells of the conceited and rebellious reply of Pharaoh to Moses when he came with God’s word of command to let His people go, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?”
But there is no question mark behind the title above. And we do not want one there, for we are not presenting a question here. We are making a statement which in its entirety is this, “Who said so makes a tremendous difference.” It certainly does. It makes a tremendous difference whether a citizen comes strolling up to tell you that you may not park there, or whether the authorities have said so. It makes a great deal of difference whether the hospital visitor stands at your bedside and tells you that you surely do have cancer, or whether it is your physician who knows your whole case and has examined the tissue. It makes an important difference whether the believer or the unbeliever says that he has had a good time. It makes a vital difference whether the Unitarian or the Trinitarian says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” And it certainly makes an infinite difference whether God speaks and says something or whether Satan does so, either directly or through men.
Why do we write about this difference?
There has been for a long time, and this evil is becoming almost the rule today, a practice to address the covenant youth at their graduation, at their conventions, at their clubs, and the like, with the word of man rather than the Word of God. There is a well-known radio program whose music or choir and organ are superb. But the spoken word always begins with a quotation from some philosopher of the world, some former president of our country, some unbelieving statesman or the like. The word of God is seldom if ever even quoted during that “spoken word.” But the point of approach is always the words of some man in the world. And this is to be found in so many more fundamental circles as well. It is not strange to have the speech begin with, “Emerson said. . .”, or “Lincoln once told . . .”
This we not only deem wrong but also extremely dangerous.
In the world this is all that we can expect. Having put the Bible on the shelf they must depend upon the words of men to preserve a little “culture,” to spur the youth on to conquering the world for man’s sake, to instill a little respect for law and order and the like. But in the church of God and among His covenant seed there is no substitute for the WORD of God.
Oh, that does not mean that we have to be “preachy.” And commencement exercise speakers better beware that they do not come with a sermon. But they must come with the Word of God. They may approach the seed of God’s covenant with nothing else. These children of God must go home with what their God said and be able to go home convinced that, “Thus saith the Lord.” All that which is said, must be that which God says. The Christian youth must hear Christ. And we have no right to approach them at any time with anything but the Word of God in Christ. We owe it to them; but we also have a solemn obligation in regard to them, one that cannot be taken too seriously.
And that at once reminds also of the speeches usually delivered in chapel services in the presence of covenant youth. Tragically enough the best speech is the one with the best jokes; and the success of chapel that morning is gauged by the amount of laughter that could be engendered among the young people. Although these chapel exercises were once instituted and have for their purpose the spiritual edification of the youth, they are turned into hours of entertainment of the flesh. The children then come home to retell the jokes they were taught that morning and have not the faintest idea anymore about what else was said and what the title or topic of the speech delivered was. Any resemblance between chapel in a Christian school and assembly in the public school system is earned rather than avoided. Distinctiveness and the antithetical position are not to be found to any great degree anymore.
This will happen every time when the Word of God is shelved for the word of man. The resemblance between chapel and assembly is not due to the fact that the public school system introduces the Word of God and sees the value of the truth. It is not that the unbeliever sees and is convinced that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Were that the case, we might perhaps find some room for rejoicing and have hope for the future. But it is due to the fact that the Christian school system has found some good in the words of men who have not been born again. The chapel has moved into the assembly room. The assembly room has not been converted into a chapel. The thoughts proclaimed in the assembly are not those of the man who said so in the chapel. The words echoed in the chapel are those of the man who said soin the assembly. Chapel is not anymore, “Thus saith the Lord” but “Let me tell you a little joke that you will also hear in the assembly room of the public school system and a few moral principles that are there advocated.” Is it any wonder then, that, when the students themselves conduct chapel, they go a step further?
Oh, we do not mean to say that the sayings of the unbeliever may never be quoted. They do so often have such clever ways of saying things. From man we got the expression, “To err is human” and “Honesty is the best policy.” But the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, simply is not in these expressions along with thousands of others. On the surface they seem quite harmless and usable. But exegete them once and place them alongside of “Thus saith the Lord”; and again Who said so makes a tremendous difference. God speaks the truth, the unadulterated truth. Man lies’ or speaks a half truth that is more dangerous than the open, outright lie.
“To err is human?” Well, what do you mean by erring? What does the natural man, who has never been born again, mean by erring? Indeed man does make so many mistakes; and that is why they put erasers on pencils. But is saying all this the same as what God says when He teaches us that we are all conceived and born in sin? Did David in Psalm 5 1:5 simply mean that he did the human thing when he committed adultery and killed Uriah? But be that as it may, does this statement do justice to God’s Word that says thatafter the fall man is TOTALLY DEPRAVED? To err may be human, if you understand that erring correctly, for the human race today. But man was not so created, and therefore the statement in a sense says too much. It can easily lead to the attitude, “Oh, well, that is the way it is, Why fight it; Let’s adapt ourselves to it and be charitable to each other because of it.” Must we teach our children that we can expect a slip now and then by man, rather than to say what God says in Romans 8:7? “Because the carnal (natural) mind is enmity (not now and then displays enmity) against God: for it is not subject (ever) to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Why exchange the watered down “To err is human” for that powerful Word of God? Is it because our carnal mind wants to find a little good yet in man? But again it makes all the difference in the world who said so! GOD said what we quoted in Romans 8:7. And let that be taught to His covenant children, not man’s philosophy.
Once again, you can just hear a commencement speaker address the graduates, “Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘Honesty is the best policy.’ Remember that as you go into the world. Let honesty rule you and you will have success in your business. ‘Crime does not pay.’ Honesty is the thing to seek and to follow. . .” That we are called to be honest by God for the glory of His name soon slips away, because we began with man and his word and found something “worthwhile” to say to youth apart from the Word of God. But is honesty thebest policy? Dishonesty is a good policy, but honesty is the best? And do we follow policies because they are going to bring advantage to our flesh? If that is the principle we want to get across, we can soon come to advocating many violations of God’s principles, because they seem to give us joy and do enrich the flesh. A half-truth is a more subtle and useful tool in the hands of Satan than the outright lie. Let us be sure we teach our covenant youth the whole truth, the pure truth, by letting God’s Word shine on our subject not only by causing it to be the starting point of the speech. Rather than, “Emerson once said . . .” let it be, “In His Word God says . . .”
Therefore also class mottos are so much more beautiful and safe when they are phrases from what God says. And first of all we will have to be convinced that it does make a difference who said so. We will have to believe that the natural mind is always going to have a different point of view and have different morals than the mind of God. The tragedy is that so much of the church world has cast away the doctrine of total depravity, which God says, and exchanged it for a partial depravity, so that they see some good in what the natural mind (“which is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”) produces. Here, undoubtedly, is the explanation of the fact that the seed of the covenant in the churches are being fed what has been produced by the, carnal minds of unregenerated men.
Even the reborn Christian, who still has his flesh, often speaks according to his carnal mind. And therefore we must always be so very sure that what we teach our children, even from the textbooks of these reborn children of God, actually is what God says.
Remember that we often get that other overtone of this matter as well. Parents have the tragic experience that their children begin to take hold of the philosophies of the world and the lies of the false church. And the answer that they get is, “Teacher said so.” “Our pastor said so” “The Dean of our college, the chapel speakers, educated men said so.” And the “said so” of the parent goes into file thirteen!
Who said so does make a tremendous difference. And let those then who have the say in teaching the children of God’s kingdom be sure that they are followers (imitators) of God. Let it be so that when the instructed ask them on what they base their instruction, they are able to say, “God said so.” Then we are safe: And our children are safe. Then we instruct in His fear.