Held at Verdugo Pines Bible Camp
Text: “Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act.” – 1 Chronicles 28:10
Theme: Honor their memory…be courageous and act!
David, speaking to his son Solomon in the presence of all the people, says, “Listen, I wanted to build a permanent home for the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem, but the LORD said, ‘No, your son Solomon is the one who will build My house and My courts.’ Solomon, consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act.”
“Be courageous and act.” It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God….” “Be courageous and act.” 1 Chronicles is a book of names…and that simple refrain - be courageous and act - calls to mind like a flood the courage and sacrifice of all the godly men and women of the previous 27 chapters, men who by faith conquered kingdoms, escaped the edge of the sword, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, performed acts of righteousness, and thus took possession of the promises of God.
These were honorable men, mighty men of valor like Jabez, who called on the God of Israel and was granted his request; like the sons of Simeon, who attacked the tents of the Meunites and took their land to pasture their flocks; like the sons of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, who made war with the Hagrites and occupied their tents, crying out to God in the midst of the battle; and women like Sheerah, who built lower and upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah, and settled there. They were men like David and his mighty men, who together gave him strong support in his kingdom, and attained honor by their various exploits – killing a lion inside a pit on a snowy day, defending a plot of ground full of barley against an entire army of Philistines, risking their lives to bring David a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem.
Now David says to his son Solomon in the presence of all the people, some of those mighty men among them, “Honor the memory of those who have gone before! Be courageous and act, for the LORD has chosen you to build His house!”
We too have been chosen to build a house; not a house made with hands, but a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Jesus said, “I will build my church…and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” – Matthew 16:18; and then by His sacrificial death He became its Chief Cornerstone. We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world as those who would participate with Him in the construction of this spiritual house comprised of living stones dug from the quarry of a godless world. As those who are building with Him in this, the second millennium from Christ, we must, like Solomon, consider those who have gone before in the annals of church history, and honor their memory in the way we build.
Think of men like the patriarch Abraham, whose faith was credited to him as righteousness because he did not waiver in unbelief, but grew strong in his faith, giving glory to the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. Think of men like the prophet Elijah, who prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain for 31/2 years…and then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit. Think of men like Stephen, who spoke with such grace and power that even his murderers were unable to cope with the wisdom and Spirit with which he was speaking.
Think of men like Augustine, whose conversion from libertine to saint in 386 A.D. has inspired many since then to life-changing faith in Christ. Think of men like the 16th century reformer John Knox, whose passion for the lost led him to cry out to God, “Give me Scotland, or I die!” Think of men like Dr. Edward Cronin and Edward Wilson, whose convictions led them to leave the Anglican Church of Ireland in early 1825 and start meeting according to the simplicity of New Testament principles - soon attracting the likes of John Nelson Darby, Francis Hutchinson, William J. Stokes, Anthony Norris Groves, and John G. Bellett to what would later be called the Brethren movement. Think of men like George Mueller, whose orphanage in Bristol, England was sustained by his great faith in God’s ability to supply their every need. Think of men like Robert C. Chapman, whom C. H. Spurgeon referred to as “the saintliest man I ever knew.”
Think of men like Watchman Nee, who raised up over 400 local churches in Mainland China before his arrest and imprisonment by the Communists in 1952. Think of men like Brother Bakht Singh, whose 70 years of faithful service led to the establishment of countless indigenous churches in India and abroad. Think of men like T. Ernest Wilson, whose pioneering work among the Chokwe people of Angola inspired many even while he was still alive. Think of men like Colin Tilsley, whose goal of furthering missions through the use of specialized teams was realized when Gospel Literature Outreach was launched in Australia in 1965. Think of men like Jim Elliot, whose martyrdom in Ecuador in 1956 gave life to those inspirational words from his diary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Think of men like J. Boyd Nicholson, Sr., the fiery Canadian Scotsman whose passing in November 2000 was considered by many to be the passing of an era. Think of men like Bill Bush, whose enduring vision for the Southern California assemblies led to the establishment of these very camp facilities back in 1960.
The writer to the Hebrews, after chronicling the great roster of faith in chapter 11, makes an appeal to us similar to that of David to Solomon: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12:1-2
Brethren, with so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside the carnality that is the bane of so many of our assemblies today! Do we not in our assemblies today hold to a form of godliness, while denying its power? And do we not in our assemblies today regard sin with a general sense of apathy that seems to say, “As long as no one knows about it, it’s alright - out of sight, out of mind?” Brethren, are we not, in fact, carnal Christians? The apostle Paul gives the antidote for such carnality when he says in 1 Corinthians 9:23, “I do all things for the sake of the gospel.” When we focus on evangelism in our assemblies and become personally preoccupied with the business of winning souls - when we cultivate a mindset that sees everyone around us as either needing to be saved, or needing to be edified - it’s then that the tendency toward carnality begins to fade away. This was Paul’s answer to the carnal Corinthians – “I do all things for the sake of the gospel.” We need righteous talk, and a holy walk, and a heart that beats in rhythm with His. The heart of God is missions, and “missions, after all, is simply this: every heart with Christ is a missionary, every heart without Christ is a mission field.” We need righteous talk, and a holy walk, and a heart that beats in rhythm with His! We need to take our cue from the Lord Himself, who said, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up!” – Psalm 69:9
Consider now the rich academic tradition and epic missionary zeal that has for years characterized the Brethren movement. Consider the courage and sacrifice of all the godly men and women who by faith brought the movement from where it began to where we are today. Let us honor the memory of those who have gone before! Be courageous and act, for the LORD has chosen us to build His house!
- Stephen T. Kia