From the Pulpit of a Holiness Preacher
An email newsletter ministry of Richard D. Swift, publishing the sermons of Rev. Reed A Swift (1899-1973), a holiness preacher.
[Editor's Note- The following sermon was preached in the Free Methodist Churches of Yale, Ball, Buel, Michigan Circuit (1929-1932); Elmer, Michigan; and Glendale, Clifornia (1934-March'35).
[This is a serious sermon, a warning to those in the churches he was preaching at. Readers, the same things that graced churches, homes, and Christians in 1929 (referring to last month's sermon) are the same things neccessary in the 21st century. The same kind of holiness preached in 1929, is the same kind of holiness neccessary in the 21st century and the same kind of holiness neccessary to make it into heaven. We are living in much more modern days now than when my grandfather preached this sermon. Unfortunately, the days are more wicked, compromise with the world is more prominent, and the love of many has waxed even colder. At the end of this sermon, I am inserting exerpts from Auntie Coon's "Early Free Methodists" and B.T. Robert's "Pungent Truths"-"#140 Dress Should be Plain".
[Readers, I'm not doing this out of mere enjoyment, although I do enjoy my grandfather's sermons. I'm not doing this out of historical nostalgia or curiosity, although there are things of historical value in these sermon notes, written on the backs of old letters and advertisements, and dates and places attached to each sermon. No, I'm doing this out of a passion! The Holy Spirit has placed this burden on me to type, ever so slowly and clumsily, these hard to read, hand written sermons out and send them to friends and relatives. If one soul is changed by something stated in these, it will be eternally worth it all!]
If the Righteous Scarcely Be Saved
Text- IPeter 4:18 "If the Righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
Now as Christ has suffered in the flesh, so will everyone that renounces sin and forsakes the ways of sin. For those who live in sin are hailed by the world as a good fellow. But, as soon as we renounce the ways of sin, as those mentioned in verse 3 [lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries], we become a reproach to those who continue in sin, and right then, the wicked will persecute as it says in verse 4. Some would even be glad to put you to death or have you put to death if you forsake sin and renounce it and become a rebuke to it in their lives. For instance, in the case of John the Baptist, when he revealedHerod's sin to him. Herod had him bound and put in prison and would have killed him, but he was afraid of the people. Why was all this done? Because John revealed Herod's sin to him and told him it was not lawful for him to have his brother Phillip's wife. And later, when on Herod's birthday, the
daughter of Herodias danced well, Herod promised her anything. Herodias instructed her to ask for John's head, and Herod had John beheaded in prison, just for the sake of a silly, good for nothing dancing girl. Oh say, that spirit is in the hearts of men and women today. And if you uncover sin and carnality in their lives, look out for your life! Yes, you will lose your friendship with lots of professors [of holiness] if you uncover and reveal carnality in their lives. Now, I don't say that you are compelled to bear this reproach and suffering. You can be like a jelly-fish and never be a rebuke to sin, but you cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ and not suffer persecution or not be evil spoken of. Please bear that in mind. Even your presence will be a rebuke to sin, and because you are clean and contend for holiness and freedom from sin, many will speak evil of you (v.4).
But why should we fear what man may do to us? He can only destroy th body, but rather fear God who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Another reason why we should be willing to suffer with Christ here is found in verse 7- "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." There is no time to waste in entering into the revellings of the wicked. We must be diligent, working out our own salvation and winning others, because the days are evil, and the end of all things is at hand.
Therefore, think it not strange if they call you a "flat tire" or "covered wagon" or "horse and buggy" or "1492" or "you'll have to wear leggings now because you go to the Free Methodist Church". No, you don't need think it strange or feel bad, but get blessed and rejoice, and shout for joy, "inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings" -verse 13,14. Glory be to God! Peter says, "Happy are ye." Praise God! "For the Spirit of Glory and of God resteth upon you." "On their part, He is evil spoken of." They are not hurting you, but it is the Christ and Spirit of God which they are speaking evil of. For, on your part, God is glorified in you. He is exalted in your bearing reproach for Him. Hallelujah!
Verse 15- "Now don't suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil doer, or as busybody in other men's matters." Just mind your own business and keep your nose out of other people's business. Only have a backbone and glorify Jesus Christ in your life. Hold up Christ where-ever you go and manifest His Spirit at home and abroad and rebuke sin when it is neccessary, then you need not be ashamedif you suffer, for God will get glory out of it. Praise His Holy Name!
Verse 16,17- "For the time has come that judgement must begin at the house of God." There has so much sin of various description entered right into the pales of the church, that the very judgements of God must begin right there. You don't need to go outside the church to bear reproach for Jesus Christ today. Just exalt Christ and specify and rebuke sin in the church, and I tell you, you are going to be evil spoken of. (I might say right here, that is one reason so few wanted to hear Brother Mudge is because he harped on the sins in our congregation that were so manifest, and carnality don't [sic] like it. Isn't that right? Who says Amen?) You rebuke the modern evils and sins that are creeping into our midst today, and carnality is blind and can't see it. And the carnal mind will hold you right up to disdain and reproach.
Some folks who want to dress like the world, the flesh, and the devil dictates, will speak evil of you if you reveal their sin and show them they are on the way to hell if they do such things, for God demands separation from the world in dress as much as in anything else. He demands modesty, and I declare unto you, no grown up woman is modest when she has her knees and chest and more on display to the gaze of red blooded men, wicked or godly. A man has to have sanctified eyes right here in the the Free Methodist Church these days.
It is the same thing with raising children. If you are conscientious in bringing your children up in the fear of God and hold them to a strict line of dicipline, there will be those who donot have divine love for their children but merely human, and are spineless when it comes to disciplining their children, who will speak evil of you and think you are too strict. Well, children should be taught to respect their parents and others and not be impudent and impolite. Then they should be taught to fear God, and respect His House, His Day, and the things of God.
"Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy." This is another thing that will receive severe judgement of God, and that can be found right in our church. Many of our own people will be severely condemned, and perhaps many eternally condemned for not remembering God's Holy Day and keeping it sacred. But on His Day, many of our people are seeking pleasure, going from the House of God and religious services, visiting on His Day. Seeking gain on His Holy Day various ways. Oh friends, will you be guiltless when judgement begins with you as a church member? God says, "Judgement must begin at His House." Where are we going to stand as our influence is spreading out to our neighbors and around the world?
The old fathers and mothers used to testify to what God saved them from: dress, Sabbath desecration, etc. But where are the mothers today who are testifying to plainess of dress and modesty, and preaching the rules of the church, and courtesy to their sons- against whistling jazz to the girls? Where is the father who testifies to how God gave him light on selling milk and doing business, etc, on Sunday? Now, the carnal mind used to think they were throwing clubs and would speak evil of them, but in a short time, received the light and walked in it, and not obeyed merely the Rules of the Discipline but also of God. Where anger used to rule their life, now it is not only controlled but cast out. With the poet, "Anger I no more shall feel, always ever always still." Yes, in the midst of trials and pressure, the old fathers and mothers of Israel kept sweet. Well, pilgrims, if they they could, we can. Praise His Holy Name!
Now if these who are so careful and conscientious scarcely make it thru or can scarcely obtain grace and courage to make it thru; not that God's grace isn't full, and free, and sufficient, but the opposition is so great, and the cares of this life and the decietfulness of riches are so powerful that even the godly can scarcely find time to pray and live godly. Now if they who labor so diligently to endure unto the end can scarcely be saved, where shall the careless, indifferent, and easy going find entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life? The ungodly, backsliders in heart, and sinners will not be able to stand before God at the judgement. they are the devil's property. He has them.
Now, for instance in the words of the text- verse 18: Think of a godly man like David ever failing God. It took all there was of him with all the grace he could obtain to make him an overcomer and bring him back to God. He repented of his evil and was restored to grace and was scarcely saved, you might say, for he had failed God and presumed upon the grace of God, and might have been cut off and eternally banished from the presence of God.
Think of Solomon. He was a man of God and recieved wisdom from God until no wiser than Solomon ever lived. Yet, he made a fool of himself by having so many wives. Three-hundred concubines and seven-hundred wives is about nine-hundred and ninety nine too many wives for any man. Yet, he may have made it thru and had the favor of God in his latter days.
Sampson was a man of God and had the favor of God being a child of promise. Keeping the Nazarite vows, he had power with God. He slew a lion with his bare hands and ate honey out of the carcass later. He slew 1000 Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass and drank water from the jaw bone after the battle to quench his thirst. But, he made a fool of himself by laying his his head in Delilah's lap and telling her his secrets.
Now we see the folly and foolishness of David's sins and of Solomon's life and of Sampson's, but where is the man among us today who's service to God was is as great as David's, Solomon's, or Sampson's and others who were scarcely saved? I hold these men in great reverence for waht they did and for repenting of their evil ways in time to be saved.
An example of the righteous scarcely being saved is also found in the case of Lot and his family. Noah got ready just in time.
Titus, a young brave Roman general besieged the City of Jerusalem with 60,000 trained warriors in April of A.D.70. But the righteous escaped safely from the city as the Roman army was delayed by an Unseen Power. The righteous, being forewarned of God, escaped for their lives, while the wicked remained and were punished. For three and a half years, the siege continued until famine weakened the city and it was taken by Titus. One lady of rank, when starving, took her infant child and cooked it for food. Moses' prophecy in Deuteronomy 27:57, uttered 1500 years before, was fulfilled to the letter. Micah 3:12- "Not one stone shall be left upon another." Thirty eight years after they crucified Christ, their house was left desolate in ruins.
Now, have you that righteousness which Christ imparts, which will give you passport to glory? "Except your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees" and rich young ruler who ran to Jesus, "you shall in no case enter the Kingdom of Heaven." you will perish with the ungodly.
[Excerpts- "When we came out there was not one of us who indulged in light and trifling conversation, joking or jesting, tale-bearing or back-biting, now so common among us. Bias pieces and ruffles, with the fashionable cut of the garment were laid aside, not even a bow found on a hat or bonnet.
Holiness unto the Lord might truthfully have been written upon all we
O, ministers of the entire connection, I beseech you by the mercies of God
that ye AGAIN present your bodies ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable
unto God. For Christ’s sake and for the sake of the people to whom you
minister, instead of some of you, looking at the boy preachers whom God
has anointed, and sitting as critics upon them, get down yourselves,
consecrate clear down through, back to the anointing you once had, until it
can be truly said their ministers are a flame of fire. You can have it, none of you are too sick. There are among you, could God get you in His
hands, Wesleys, Whitefields, and Redfields, but the path they took is the
one you must take, martyrs if need be for the truth’s sake."
- By Auntie Coon- "Early Free Methodists" (I have the entire tract which was found in my grandfather's sermon notes)
"If you consecrate yourself to the Lord to dress plain, as he commands,
then carry it out in all particulars. Do not let the costliness of the material of your dress be a compensation to your pride for the plainness of the style in which it is made. Do not pay more for one piece of cloth, because it looks better, than you would have to for another that would be equally serviceable. Be consistent throughout. If you do not put on gold or pearls, then do not put on any imitation of gold or pearls. Not only avoid evil, but avoid the appearance of evil. If you lay aside your necktie, do not button your collar with a large brass button that looks like gold. If you have abandoned cigars, do not put a dude smoking-cap on your head. If a young lady can not wear a feather on her hat, then she should not bunch up a quantity of ribbon to take its place. If you have renounced the devil, then renounce the devil’s substitutes. If you are a child of God, then dress like a child of God. Formerly hypocrites were described as those who
“steal the livery of Heaven to serve the devil in.” Now the order is reversed, and professed saints steal the livery of the devil to serve God in. Do neither. Stand out in your true colors, an humble saint of God, clothed with humility, perfectly transparent, a living epistle known and read of all men."- From B.T. Robert's "Pungent Truths, Dress Should be Plain" (I have the book)
I gleaned these two exerpts from "Preserving the Past, the DNA of the FMC" by Gerald W. Coates]
Yours for Radical Holiness,
Richard D. Swift