Is Playing Ball Conforming to the World?

Paul says (Romans 12:2), “Be not conformed to this world,” and John says (1 John 2:15): “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Now, I am well aware that there is a line of distinction between the world and disciples of Christ; but just where, in all cases, I do not know. For instance, there is here in Midway a baseball club, and they meet Saturday evenings to play. I do not belong to the club, though I have played a few times, and I find it excellent to develop one’s muscles. For no other purpose would I participate. It has its evil associations; but they play here in town, so there is very little ungentlemanly behavior. Now, do I cross the bounds of a Christian life when I share the sport with them? Am I “conformed to this world” in so doing?

 

We were never in a baseball club, and know but little about them, but suppose the right or the wrong would depend largely upon the sort of people that compose them and the manner in which they are carried on. If decent, well-behaved young men that are most of their time confined to indoor work, as clerks, get together occasionally and in a gentlemanly manner, so that nothing improper shall be said or done while the game is going on, we do not see that there would be any more harm in that than in the jovial running on, extravagant talking and laughing, and slang style that is usually indulged in by young people when they are together. But where wicked, profane, and obscene young men get together in such plays, we think Christians should keep out of them; and not only out of such plays with young men of that character, but Christians ought as far as possible to keep out of the society of such men at all times, except to endeavor to teach and influence them to better things. Just simply as a matter of pastime, Christians should not associate with such people. Their own morals will be corrupted by such association. Every child of God should be striving every day not only to grow better himself, but to make others better, to exert an influence over all around for good. But there is a lack among the members of the church in these matters when with the wicked, the vulgar, and the rude. Instead of exerting an influence over them for good, they are too apt to partake with them in their wild ways, rather than so act as to win others from their folly. We think whether a young man who is a member of the church should play in a baseball club, or others of a similar character, or not, should depend upon his own character as much almost as theirs. If he can go among them and improve them by his association with them, he might without impropriety go among them, and might even, do good in so doing.

But if a Christian is disposed to love wild company him­self and to fall into the habits of the low and vicious, then for his own sake he had better stay entirely away from evil influences. A Christian should be careful never to go into any societies unless he can either receive good from them or impart good to them. If no good is to result either way, then make that a reason for staying away. Nothing is more blighting to a Christian’s character than evil associ­ation, unless he has strength enough in himself, derived from God’s divine appointments, to overcome the evil. If he is weak enough for the worldly influence to overcome him, he had better always keep away from them. Before a young Christian goes into a baseball club, or any other social club, he should consider first whether he be able to resist any bad influence any association with them might bring upon him and come out unscathed. In the next place, he should consider whether he is able to exert any good in­fluence upon them that will have any tendency to elevate them and turn their attention in any wise to the religion of Christ or not. If he decides that the character of those persons is such that they are beyond the reach of good in­fluences, he should keep away from them.

Elisha G. Sewell

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

What is meant by saying: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you?” (Matt. 7:7.) Who is he talking to? Also please explain verse 11 and Acts 2:41.

It seems to me three plainer sentences cannot be found in the Bible. They mean exactly what they say, meaning always, as Christ so often declares, that we shall ask according to God’s will, seek where he has directed, and knock at his appointed door, and the blessings asked, sought, and knocked for shall be obtained. There is nothing mysterious or singular or difficult to understand that we can see. This is laid down as a general principle. Many specific directions involving this same principle, with the modifications, are presented in the Bible. “If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” (I John 4:14.) “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.” (James 4:3.) “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.” (Luke 13:24f) These show that the asking, seeking, knocking must be done according to the will of God, else they cannot meet the promise. Verse 11 cannot be made plainer. It says God is more ready to give good things to his children than we are to ours. Acts 2:41 says those who received the words spoken by Peter were baptized as he directed, and three thousand were added to them (the disciples).

The Antichrist – Who Is He?

Brethren Lipscomb and Sewell: If it would not intrude on your patience, I would like for you to give me some light on the subject of antichrist. 1 John 2:22 says: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” But as I never heard any person say he did not be­lieve in Christ, I am at a loss to ascertain who the liar is. “So that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thess. 2:4). “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11f).

The word antichrist means against Christ, opposed to him. A man that in any way opposes Christ is an anti­christ. Denying that Christ is divine, denying the existence of such a being, is one way of opposing him. But there are people all over the land that do deny Christ, that utterly refuse to believe on him. Then many who are the pretended friends of Christ are in their teaching and practice opposed to him and are among the very worst enemies he has. They pervert and hide the truth and put the doctrines and commandments of men in the front. Whenever you see any of these things, you see antichrist.

The power spoken of in 2 Thessalonians is the great apostasy from the truth that is foretold in many places in the Bible. It is the “mystery, Babylon the great,” spoken of in Revelation. It is generally understood that Roman Catholicism is the largest development of the man of sin known in our land; but any movement among religious people in the way of creed making or councils, or any other thing that sets aside the word of God, is that much of the man of sin. Any man that says the word of God is insufficient and puts something else in its place exalts himself above God, and his wisdom is greater than the wisdom of God.

When men resist the plain truth of God, will not receive and act upon it, God then sends strong delusion upon such, that they may believe a lie and be damned, because they would not receive the truth in the love of it that they might be saved. But these delusions are only sent to those that will not receive the truth. Those who are satisfied with the plain truth of the word of God can always learn enough of it to be saved by it, and such need not be uneasy. But when men see the truth and then will not receive it, they are in danger of the delusion spoken of.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Spirit of the Antichrist

Please explain, through the Gospel Advocate, 1 John 4:2-3.

This scripture seems to recognize that there is a spirit peculiar to every system of teaching. A class of teachers had arisen in the church, claiming to be inspired or sent of God, who denied that Christ had come in the flesh. He says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us.” It is probable that these teachers exhibited some ability to work wonders, as evil spirits in the days of the Savior possessed such power. John’s letters were written to warn against these false teachers who were guided by these spirits. He urged them to try the spirits. Paul to the Corinthians, warning against the same class, said: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual [inspired], let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” This is a command to test those claiming inspiration by the word of God. This shows that obedience to the word of God even in the days of the apostles was regarded as a higher evidence of acceptance with God than the power to prophesy or do wonders. John tells them that those denying in his day that Christ had come in the flesh were of antichrist. Antichrist was to come “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” These spirits which worked wonders were all to be tested — proved by the word of God — and one who did not conform to the word of God, even though he should work wonders and signs, was to be rejected. Conforming to the word of God is the only test of acceptance with God. Then the spirit in those persons led them to confess that Christ had come in the flesh. To do this was to recognize him by obeying him as Christ the Lord. “No man can call Jesus Lord, save by the Holy Ghost.” The spirit that prompted others to deny that he was come in the flesh was of antichrist. Antichrist was a spiritual power, but a wicked spirit. These verses recognize there were many spirits gone out into the world. These spirits worked wonders. All were to be tried by the word of God. Only those who acknowledged that Christ had come in the flesh, which is the same as to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, were of God. All who denied this, which was a denial that Christ is the Son of God, were of antichrist.