William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
“On a Sunday morning sidewalk, I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.. ‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday ; That makes a body feel alone. And there’s nothing short a’ dying; That’s half as lonesome as the sound; Of the sleeping city sidewalk; And Sunday morning coming down.”
So goes the mournful lyrics of the late country singer Johnny Cash as he depicted the feelings of a worldly, sinner faced with the loneliness and conviction of “Sunday morning coming down.” It is a well known feeling by too many in our world today, but why?
His lyrics explain that part of it is a terrible hangover from the night before. Another part is the accompanying messy, unkempt lifestyle of dirty clothes and house. Another is the complete absence of the nightlife, and scattering to their own corners of misery those who shared those false senses of a good time. Still another is seeing the joy of a small child playing, and a father swinging his little girl; reminiscent of clean, decent, good-times long gone. Still another is the smell of someone frying chicken, a smell of home, but not his home. Then there was the worshipful sounds of songs coming from a nearby church, then far away a church bell ringing, all bringing back gut-wrenching memories of a good life lost somewhere in the den and noise of sin. Truly, to someone in that situation, Sunday morning in its worshipful quietness was dreaded. How different it is for an obedient child of God who so looks forward to the joy of worship and fellowship with God’s wonderful people.
However, I fear there is yet another class of people dealing with Sunday morning in quite a different, but wrongful way. These are the nominal Christians who live in a breakneck world of speed, activities, and responsibilities. They see Sunday morning as a day of selfishness: to rest, to recreate; to do what they could not get done in the week. Seems there is little compunction or remorse in that absence of joy about what God expects and looks for in one’s manner of life. The mention of church brings conviction, but it is quickly passed off in the determination that what they want to do is right. How then will they mourn and cry when their opportunity to go to church is gone, and knowing they must soon stand face to face with their Creator? What will they hear in head and heart about “Sunday morning coming down?”
William Andrew Dillard
BAPTISM AND THE NOAHIC FLOOD
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” I Peter 3:18-21
From earliest Sunday School Days, most Christians are enthralled with the story of Noah and the Flood. But, its implications extend to the church age with underscored import to modern day saints. Some attempt to deny the denotations and connotations of the verses of scripture at hand; others do their best to explain them away as meaningless. Still others make them to mean much more than they are intended to mean. So what might one rightly infer from them? Noah was a righteous man. Accordingly, he and his family found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He was blessed to build the Ark., and he is listed as one of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. When the sloosh ways of heaven were opened, the fountains of the deep surfaced, and rains came for forty days and nights, water bore up the Ark to the saving of their lives. However, the same water that bore up the Ark to the saving of their lives also caused the death of all others who drew the breath of life.
Now consider the parallel. Let it be understood that there is only ONE THING in the entire universe that is purgatory of sin: the blood of the Son of God. Yet, many of the people who drown in the flood were spiritually saved, but disobedient people. So it is the obedience of life that is under consideration in the figure. It is through obedience that a good consciousness toward God is created. Baptism is the first step of obedience for every saved person. Additionally, it is in that good consciousness toward God that His will is advanced in and through men. The obedience in water baptism brings a good conscience toward God, but the same water refused leaves one devoid of that good conscience. The difference is symbolized as gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble at the fiery Judgment Seat of Christ as shown in I Corinthians 3:9-15. So, it may be spoken of as the saving of one’s life to the glory of God, and to one’s personal reward. Therein is the figure spoken of in the verses under consideration.
Remember this the next time you hear some immature Baptist say, “Baptism is not important.” It is important, so much so that it is likened unto the difference between those in the Ark and those outside it.
“Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, but you couldn’t do business with that madman. The times called not for a Chamberlain, but a Churchill. It was compromise or confrontation, and compromise, as always, did not work. Confrontation is an ugly word in religious circles today. We are developing diplomats, not prophets. We are on Carmel and there can be no summit conference with the priests of Baal. It is Baal or Jehovah, and in the showdown, the God that answereth by fire let Him be God.” –Vance Havner