by Burnell D. Johnson
"We don't like you, because you do nothing but knock the churches. Stop knocking, and go to getting souls saved. Knocking does no good.""A bishop must be... no striker."
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged."
"Is not My Word like as a fire ? saith the Lord : and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ?" Jer. 23 :29.
"Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend ; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Prov. 27 :5, 6.
"Let the righteous smite me : it shall be a kindness : and let him reprove me : it shall be an excellent oil." Psa. 141 :5.
"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart : thou shalt in anywise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him." Lev. 19 :17.
This "Knocking" question seems to be somewhat tangled. Let's see if we can 't untwist it.
In the first place, what's a knocker ?
The present day meaning of the word is not found in the dictionaries.
A "Knocker" is one who tells you things you don't want to hear.
A certain investment company promised very large profits to investors. Its securities seemed ample, and beyond question, and for some time it had been actually paying large dividends. I heard an old banker say, "Beware of it, you will lose your money !" That banker was a knocker. People said he had a selfish reason for knocking, and laughed at him. The investment company kept on paying big dividends for another year. Then the bottom dropped out, and the investors lost every dollar.
The world is full of knockers, in fact most people knock more or less. Those who don't knock anything else, knock knockers for knocking. They don't believe in knocking, and that is why they knock.
Many, if not most knockers knock because they have a selfish reason for knocking ; jealousy of clashing rival interests provokes much knocking, and some knock because they have acquired the habit, and some because they feel ugly, and some to display their superior knowledge, and some to carry the impression that they are better and more righteous than others. It was for the especial benefit of these latter that Jesus used those very familiar words, that people who are knocked always quote against those who knock them, "Judge not," etc.
Many who do not know or care to know any other Scripture, have this one on their tongue's end, and because they have failed to note its connection, do not know that it applies entirely to themselves, and such as they. It is a precious jewel, which like the swine of which Jesus spoke, they trample under foot, or give away, instead of receiving and profiting by the precious lesson it contains.
Does Jesus here forbid judging ? He does not ! He is simply telling those who condemn others, while they are themselves more guilty, that they are acting the hypocrite ; that before exposing the sins of others they should expose their own. "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye ; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Whoever quotes this Scripture, construing it to forbid rebuke and exposure of sin anywhere is stone blind to the character of sin! People generally seem to regard sin as a treasure which every man has a sacred right to keep among his choice things, secure from molestation, instead of a deadly plague, the common foe of humanity, which all are in duty bound to hunt down,•to pursue and expose.
Neighbors may quarrel and expose each others' evil deeds for spite ; jealous politicians may unmask each other's rascality for selfish reasons. There's plenty of knocking that wounds, but does not heal. It only makes things worse.
The Bible represents sin as a biting fiery serpent. If my neighbor sleeps, while ven omous, deadly serpents coil about him, shall I let him sleep on? Is it his private affair, and none of my business ? All fault-finding and rebuke that is not prompted by love is wicked and injurious. "God is love," and His word is a hammer, and the only use of a hammer is to knock. The very best and hap piest day of my life was when I received such a smashing blow from God's hammer that it broke my very heart. I had fancied myself pretty good, and was so accounted by those who knew me ; but that blow took away all my conceit, and reduced me to a wretched, condemned sinner. I had broken the first and great commandment, which is the root sin of all. I loved the praise of men more than the praise of God, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. The experience at first was not joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yielded the peaceable fruits of righteousness. It subdued my proud heart, and made me willing to accept the free gift of God, eternal life through Jesus Christ, and the peace of God that passeth all understanding, and it gave me joy unspeakable !
It was for knocking the "Churches" that our Lord Himself was rejected, hated and crucified. The various denominations sharply disagreed and divided over other things, but they were in sweet accord in their enmity against Him. For "They" "Perceived" that He had "Spoken against them." Instead of launching His woes against the publicans and sinners, and joining hands with the "Churches" in their efforts to save souls, He aimed all His rebukes at the sacred altars of religion. The chief priests and elders were shocked and scandalized. And as they put Him to death, they believed they were doing God service, and defending religion.
God's Old Testament prophets were knockers, every one. "Truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin." And Israel and Jacob were terribly offended. They preferred to hire their own prophets, who would speak unto them "Smooth things."
Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndale, Luther, Knox, Bunyan, Foxe ; not one of the faithful witnesses of truth would ever have been heard of outside their own generation, but for their knocking ! To these men and others like them, and to their knocking, we owe, under God, not only our religious liberties, but our civil liberties as well. Their sepulchers are liberally whitewashed now by those who furiously object to those who knock as they knocked.
But the knocking of God's true servants is very different from the common kind. Anybody can criticize, and find fault with others but it is all harmful or useless unless it is prompted by love, and its object is to help some one, or unless, while pointing out the evil, it also points to the remedy!
"The world cannot hate you," (his unbelieving brethren), "but Me it hateth because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil." If that had been all, He would have labored in vain, but He also showed the cure for its evils. There was no spite or malice in His fault-finding, but grief and tears and love mingled with His righteous indignation against wrong. As He upbraided Jerusalem, He wept over it, not for what it had done to Him personally, but for what it was doing to itself. "If thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace, but now are they hid from thine eyes !" "How often would I have gathered thy children, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not!" And the very next minute He "Knocked" them, saying, "It is written, My house is the house of prayer ; but ye have made it a den of thieves!" And the more He loved them, the more they hated Him, for there is nothing so offensive to the proud, the sensual, the selfish, the idolatrous as the plain truth about their sin, and there is nothing they need so much! There is no better proof of Christ's divinity than the fact that He loved men enough to tell them the very truth they did not want to hear, and which they must hear and obey, or be lost forever. Every true minister of His is called to the same thankless task, inspired by the same love. This explains those strange words of Paul, "I do not seek to please men, for if I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ." This is what made Jesus "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense ;" "Set for the fall and raising again of many in Israel." But people don't like to fall and be broken. Where are the preachers who do not seek to please men, or whose whole course of training for the ministry was not chiefly to make them pleasing to men?
Don't think for a minute that the Bible ministry delighted in slamming and faultfinding. Not any more than the good surgeon delights in cutting his patients !
"And the Lord said unto me, Behold I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant." Jer. 1 :9, 10.
The good hope cannot be established, till false hopes are destroyed. The house that will stand cannot be built till the ground is cleared, old roots grubbed out, obstructions removed, some digging done, and the foundation laid on the rock.
God's servants fight for truth against lies, and not for their opinions against other people's opinions. Opinions never saved anybody, but God's truth saves. God commissions and endows every one of His ministers with His truth and that truth is backed by His authority, and it purifies and makes men free! "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth." "God hath made us able ministers of the New Testament." "By manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." "Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit."
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, Thou wilt not despise." It takes the Gospel hammer to break hard hearts. God give us men who dare to use it, and know how !
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Written by men of God "outside the camp", whose Bible teaching is not bound by or adulterated with sectarian prejudice and tradition.
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