Address – R.W. Schlosser, President of Elizabethtown College
I was interested in listening to some of the things about the men who made your Church in the past and as I listened to the names of those, some of whom I heard about and one or two whom I may have seen on my evangelistic work here, I was made to think of the principles and fundamentals upon which they built and as I was asked to take this place that Brother Roop was to occupy, I first thought of a scripture in the 6th chapter of the Book of Hebrews. (Heb. 6:1-6).
You will notice in the words that I have read that the urge these was that those who have accepted Christ press on unto perfection. I think it was well said here this afternoon that we should not regard our fathers as hitching-posts, but to look upon them as guide-posts; and this afternoon I want to call your attention just for a few minutes to some of these fundamentals upon which our fathers built and made possible the Church of our day.
You notice the writer, here in the Scripture I have read, urges them to go on unto perfection, unto spiritual maturity, and if you will read on you will notice the warning against falling away from the faith if they do not press on unto perfection. I think it is absolutely necessary that the Church of Jesus Christ in the first place built upon the eternal foundations that cannot be shaken and having started to build there to grow in the direction of the goals without which the Church shall perish in spite of her foundations.
Now you will notice the writer says that they were built upon principles and the first one he mentions is repentance and I am sure Brethren, that if we think back of the teachings of the ministry 25 or 50 years ago, repentance was one of the fundamental things they preached and there is nothing like building a Church in 1884 unless that Church is built upon the doctrine that has in it the fundamental idea of repentance of sins. To be conscious of the fact that we are sinners, to be conscious of the fact that there is something unclean that needs to be taken out of our lives, was one of the outstanding things that I can remember preached by our older Brethren.
Mention was made here of Elder S. R. Zug, the first Elder of this congregation, and as I can recall him, I have heard him preach many sermons, His sermons were directed to the fact that man needs a Savior, that man is born in sin, that man has shortcomings of which he needs to repent if he wants to move on unto perfection. Not only is it necessary that men and women repent, but you will notice the writer says further, we arc in a day when there is a great deal of tendency to trust in that which our eyes can see, our hands handle and ears hear; a tendency to depend upon the things that are tangible, the things that are temporal. If the Church is to build in the future there will still be need of exercising implicit faith in the Word of God. Whatever our older Brethren may have doubted, there is one thing they did not doubt and that was the faith that the Bible is the Word of God and upon that they built, in that they trusted and had their hope of eternal life. We need to believe these things we cannot see, trust where we cannot see, walk according to the teachings of the Word, whether we understand it fully or not. In fact, it is impossible in my judgment, to think of a time when men will conceive and understand all that is found in the Word of God. If man were able to do that, he would be God himself; so there will never be a time when we need not exercise faith.
You will notice further here that he encourages them to go on from the first principle to baptism. Now baptism had a very important place in the preaching of these fathers of the past, about whom you speak here this afternoon, and I want to say that if the Church is to continue in the future and build upon the eternal foundation; if men have repented of their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, believe in the Bible as the Word of God, they need to be baptized that they may have the assurance of the forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of the inception of the gift of the Holy Ghost in their lives.
There is too much dependence in our day upon the mere intellectual things; too much these days on how you feel about it, how I feel about it. Brethren, I think the intellect has its place, the feelings have their place. I would have you know this afternoon that the Church of Jesus Christ must be directed by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost is willing to lead every human heart. He is attempting to lead every human being, but just as we can shut light out of a house, so we can shut the Spirit out of our lives; but when the Spirit abides in our hearts it is like the light in the house that shines out. So may we catch the truth this afternoon, whether we are Sunday School teachers, in the ministry or the laity, that we should remember this fundamental, that we need to be baptized unto the remission of our sins, that we may have the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Then you will notice further down, the emphasis this writer places on the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands constitutes one of the fundamentals of the Church, I wonder why, Dear Brethren and Sisters and friends, the laying on of hands, referred to in this 6th chapter here, is a teaching, a symbolical teaching to these sleeping Hebrew Brethren, telling them that when men and women enter upon the work of the Lord, whether in official capacity or not, there was the laying on of hands, symbolizing the fact that they were to be guided by the Holy Ghost and not to go forth in their own strength. That’s the meaning of it and I think, if you read the New Testament carefully, you will find that in the New Testament that when the deacons were selected they laid hands on them that they might have the Holy Ghost in their lives. So you see, the thought is that there in the case of deacons, or in the case of ministers, or of the evangelists, that when they were sent out they had the laying on of hands of the Presbytery; thus the thought was conveyed to these early Christian Brethren that the Holy Spirit is the fundamental thing in the life of every Christian worker.
Those are fundamentals on which the early Church was built and with the principles. We ought to have more sermons on these things, I have mentioned here. Our Brethren would sometimes, in the history of the Church, speak rather frequently, perhaps too frequently on these things. I don’t know, perhaps they did, but I am quite sure that some of us would do well to spend a little more than we do for they carry with them things that the writer of the Book of Hebrews terms as fundamental principles. So if you ask me, I am a Fundamentalist. The fundamentals faith, repentance, baptism and laying on of hands.
The resurrection. The resurrection of the body from the dead. Now the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I think, constitutes one of the most fundamental teachings of the early apostles and the reason for it, Brethren, is this, if Christ be not raised from the dead then is your faith vain. If Christ was not raised from the dead then Satan conquered in death and not the Lord Jesus Christ; but the fact that Christ rose from the dead proves to you and me that He was the Son of God with power. And, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, but it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him.” Like Him, like Jesus, who was resurrected from the dead. Yes, the resurrection from the dead, in the early Church, was the fundamental corner-stone on the Christian religion. It proved the deity, the divinity, the fact that Jesus is God; and my friends, we have entirely too much teaching from the pulpit and in class rooms these days to the effect that Christ was merely a normal being, that Christ is merely a Great Teacher, Great Prophet. Christ is a Great Teacher, the greatest teacher the world ever saw, the greatest prophet the world ever saw, but in addition to that He is God and the proof of it is the fact that He rose from the dead. So you see that is a fundamental corner-stone that the Apostolic Church preachers used and I remember our German ministers of Eastern Pennsylvania preached a great deal about it. They used the resurrection frequently. Let us sound the note clearly and firmly in our preaching as our fathers did, as the apostolic fathers did, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came not only to die for men but that He arose from the dead and the tomb was empty and He was on earth, ascended to glory where He, now makes intercession for us. That is the doctrine our fathers preached.
And then you notice also the last one, end of judgment, end of judgment. I think our fathers preached that doctrine more than we do today. They referred to the fact that there is a Judgment Day coming, they referred to the fact more than we do today, that we shall reap what we sow. They referred to the fact that we have to give an account of every idle word we say and every evil deed we do: as, we used to sing in some of those, old hymns in the hymnal which are not in the new one by the way. I am here to say Brethren that as we think back of these forefathers, of the Church, they had a clear definite conviction of these fundamentals about which I spoke and only one who is not clear or disbelieves in any way in these fundamentals of the Book of Hebrews is not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These Brethren had lain the fundamentals but false teaching, came along- and they were in danger of leaving these fundamentals and those who left the teachings of these fundamentals were in danger of slipping away, even to the point he says where it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. So he says to them, if you don’t want to slip away, if you do not want to lose your religion, there is only one way about it and that is to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; and my concluding words this afternoon to you are these that if you and I, in our religious life, in our personal religion, do not desire to slip, we must be learning, we must be growing. Anyone who is not learning any more, not learning anymore of the truth, he has nothing toward which he is moving higher than his present state and such a soul dies spiritually. He says that these very Brethren, by reason of the time, you ought to be teachers but you have need of milk when you ought to be ready to eat meat. You are still babies with your milk bottles and if you don’t watch out you will die, slip away, to the place where you won’t want the Christian Religion any more.
So I wart to encourage you here this afternoon that you think of what the Church has done in the past, what these Brethren have done; they worked hard and faithful, have established congregation after congregation here in this community and here you have built up a congregation running close to a thousand members. A glorious work; but remember that a still greater work is before you as I think we shall hear tonight from our Brother. Remember that there is still a greater thing, that is the development of the spirituality of these 950 members. That is a burden of my heart as I look upon one hundred or two hundred members or students, or what they my be, the desire to see them grow and to reach higher levels of achievement, to be stronger spiritual that they may face the trials and the problems that shall meet them surely as the days go by. May we then this afternoon dedicate ourselves anew to these fundamentals that I mentioned here this afternoon, all of which were favored texts. with our fathers who have passed on. Let us dedicate ourselves anew to live these truths, to learn more about them, to familiarize ourselves with them and to make these truths the rules by which we shall live in the future, then we shall be lights in the world and salt in the earth as God intended us to be.