Profitable Things --Part 11

Profitable Things
Part 11

Alfred P. Gibbs

The beloved author of “Profitable Things,” a frequent contributor to FOOD FOR THE FLOCK, was suddenly called home to be with the Lord on September 9, 1967.

Alfred Perks Gibbs was born in England, October 22, 1890, and as a boy of thirteen moved with his family to South Africa. In 1919 he followed his twin brother Edwin to Chicago, U.S.A.

Since 1920 brother Gibbs has devoted himself fully and unreservedly to the work of the Lord in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, etc. He will long be remembered by the hymns and choruses he composed, and the books, tracts, pamphlets and articles he wrote.

On September 15, at Augusta, Georgia, this brother beloved and faithful minister of Christ was laid to rest. Mr. George Landis, an intimate friend, addressed the large audience at the funeral services, paying tribute to brother Gibbs for what he had meant spiritually in directing him into a fuller knowledge of the ways of the Lord. Mr. Robert Thompson, Houston, Texas, Mr. August Van Ryn, Florida, Mr. William Pell, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and others shared in the services.

Our readers, like ourselves, have suffered a great loss, but in our sorrow our hopes become the brighter for we are nearing the hour of fulfilment when the dead in Christ shall rise first and we which remain shall be caught up together with them. What a bright morning that will be!

To be found educationally deficient at one’s conversion is no disgrace; but to be content to remain in that condition when the means to remedy it has been provided, is inexcusable. God places no premium on ignorance. The penalty of wilful ignorance is deeper, darker and crasser ignorance. One such person was heard to boast: “I am very thankful for my ignorance!” A brother replied: “Well dear brother, you certainly have much to be thankful for!” There is a tendency, on the part of some unthinking people to depreciate “scholarship;” but surely the Lord has given His people brains in order that they may develop and use them for Him! While it is true brains are not everything, most Christians would find it somewhat awkward to get along without them! Regeneration does not rob a person of his intelligence, but enlightens, ennobles and empowers it for the purpose for which it was given — the glory of God and the profit of others.

The reading and study of the Bible is in itself a liberal education. No one’s education is complete without it. Viewed as literature alone, it is unsurpassed. As Maclagan has well said: “It is cast into every form of constructive composition and good writing: history, prophecy, poetry, allegory, emblematic representation, judicious interpretation, literal statement, precept, example, proverbs, disquisition, epistle, sermon and prayer; in short, all the rational shapes of human discourse.”

(2) It should be intelligible, that is, it should be clearly heard and understood by the audience. The Bible puts the matter thus: “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle? So likewaise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air” (1 Cor. 14:8-9). Thus, though the message may be carefully and intelligently prepared, yet if it is not clearly delivered so that all may hear and understand, it has failed in its purpose of profitably edifying the hearers, and might just as well have been spoken into the empty air.

Sometimes an otherwise good message has been entirely lost on an audience because the speaker so mumbled his words that the audience couldn’t possibly understand what the mass of inarticulate words were meant to convey. Still others speak in such a low tone that no one could possibly hear them. Thus, instead of doing the audience a service, this kind of speaker actually does it a great disservice. Some years ago a preacher, guilty of this mumbling type of speaking, had a tape recording made of a sermon he preached. When he listened to the tape he discovered, to his dismay, that even he couldn’t understand what he had said! Every speaker should take particular care in the matter of enunciation and see to it that his words are clearly uttered, correctly pronounced and easily understood by his hearers. The use of a tape recorder would be most beneficial in enabling him to correct any deficiencies he may have in this direction. He should also both invite and welcome any criticism on his expressions, pronunciation, grammer, or any peculiar mannerisms he has which tend to detract from the value of the message he brings.

(3) It should be instructive and informative. Only such ministry is really edifying. Paul’s great aim in his ministry is given us in Ephesians 3:8-9 where we read: “That I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, etc.” A good question for each person to ask himself after he has ministered the Word is: “Did I cause the audience to see, or understand the truth which I sought to present? Did I make it clear? Did I use simple language, with clear distinct enunciation? Was it accompanied by apt illustrations? Was the application pointed and definite?” One thing is certain, if the audience failed to see, then the effort to edify it was unsuccessful and consequently unprofitable.

The use of long words, when simple words would just as well convey the thought, are also to be avoided, for such only serve the purpose of drawing attention to the learning of the speaker instead of the subject of the message. Short declarative sentences are to be preferred to long and involved phraseology. Only those illustrations that really illustrate should be used. All others should be mercilessly scrapped. We have all had to endure those interminable illustrations that required other illustrations to illustrate what had supposedly been already illustrated! The act of writing out one’s sermon is therefore a good discipline, for it demands clear thinking and correct statement, and also develops the ability to use good grammatical language, and this is no mean accomplishment.

(4) It sould be inspirational. That is, through the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, it sould result in the outworking of the truth imparted in the shape of resolution and action. One of the basic laws of pedagogy is stated thus: “There is no true impression without a corresponding expression.” Paul could write to those to whom he had ministered the Word and say: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13).

It must ever be kept in mind that it is the blessed Holy Spirit who alone can use the word ministered to accomplish the purpose for which it is sent forth. He alone can illuminate the mind of the hearers, apply its truth to their hearts and “lead them into all truth,” so that their lives shall be adjusted to the will of God. Therefore the absolute necessity for the person who brings the word, to be living in the energy of an ungrieved, unquenched and unlimited Holy Spirit. The words of Zechariah 4:6 need ever be before the preacher: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord!” While proper preparation is essential, yet apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing can be accomplished for God.

May it be ours to so prepare and present the message God has given us, and be so led and empowered by the Spirit that it will fulfill the purpose for which God intended it, the conviction and conversion of the unsaved, and the profitable edification of the people of God. It will surely be perceived from what has been said, that not the least of these “profitable things” is Spirit-led ministry that will enlighten and edify those who hear. In view of this, may all who rise to speak for God challenge themselves with the question with which we began this section: “What shall I profit you?”