The Peril Of A Tearless Church
By Morris Chalfant
Early one morning A. B. Simpson was discovered at his devotions, his arms wrapped around a globe of the world, and his tears falling down upon it as he prayed for a lost world:
A hundred thousand souls a day
Are passing one by one away
In Christless guilt and gloom.
O Church of Christ, what wilt thou say
When in the awful judgment day
They charge thee with their doom?
Indispensable to effective evangelism is the inner spiritual drive we call "burden." It’s a soul sensitivity toward the unsaved, an attitude of brokenness, a heart crushed by the plight of the unrepentant.
There is a great need in the Church for a revival of tears. When we become deeply enough burdened for lost men and women until we weep over the needs of men, we will begin to bring them in. Jeremiah expressed a similar sentiment in the familiar passage: "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" (Jer. 9:1).
In the light of the joy there is in Jesus, these may seem to be startling statements. The Bible tells us that, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). The angel’s song was, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10). "And there was great joy in that city," is the record of the emotions resulting from great revival in Samaria (Acts 8:8).
Why then does the church need "a revival of tears"? Why then Jeremiah’s pathetic prayer? It is because the tears precede, and are requisite to, the joy. Burden goes before blessing. Tears anticipate triumph. Groans go before glory. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psa. 30:5).
One of the major causes of our barren churches and our joyless congregations is a tearless ministry. (There can be lightness and frivolity when there is no heavenly joy.) When Zion travailed she brought forth children (Isa. 66:8). Paul served God with many tears in order that Christ might be formed in multitudes of human souls. Until we experience the upsurge of a godly sorrow for souls, we shall labor in vain to bring true revival. We have tried many good things; we have spent ourselves in better organization and sacrificial zeal; but we have not seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for which we had hoped. We need tears!
When Nehemiah was commanded by God to rebuild the walls of the holy city he testified, "And it came to pass…that I sat down and wept" (Neh. 1:4). Why did he weep? Was it because he had caught sight of the corpse-littered streets of the gutted city? Was it because he feared for his own life which was constantly threatened by enemies? No! He saw the awful apostasy of God’s people – people past all caring and hope – and he gave us the clue to revival: "I sat down and wept."
When Alexander Maclaren was called to the pulpit of a great Baptist church in Manchester, England, he sat down with his deacons and said, "Gentlemen, there is one matter to settle before I take this position. Do you want my head or my feet? You can have one or the other, not both. I can run around doing this and that and drinking tea, if you wish me to; but don’t expect me to bring you something that will shake this city." God does not call men into the pulpit to become jacks-of-all-trades to run errands. He calls them to get on their faces before Him. Dr. Maclaren’s deacons got the message; but who gets on his face before God today?
Paul states that he "warned everyone night and day with tears!" (Acts 20:31). He declares again that he was seeking to fill up that which was lacking of the sufferings of Christ. He allowed that he would himself accept hell, if thereby he could win his Jewish nation to God. Moses was willing to be blotted out of God’s Book, rather than to see Israel doomed and damned.
He who weeps frequently with a broken heart, will not soon backslide. He who pours out his tears in prayer and Bible study will never become a fanatic. He who goes with a bleeding heart sowing the precious seed of the Gospel will be sure that he will reap a few souls for God. He who groans with agony of soul for the souls of others will bring forth spiritual children.
Who Is Weeping Today?
Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, tells that when he was a college student he had charge of a man with a gangrenous foot. It was his duty to dress the man’s foot every day. He soon learned that his patient was not a Christian, and had not been in a church for forty years. Such was his hatred of religion that he refused to go inside the church at his wife’s funeral. Young Taylor made up his mind to speak to this man about his soul every time he visited him. The man cursed him, and refused to allow him to pray. The student persisted in presenting Christ until one day he said to himself, "It’s no use," and was leaving the room.
When he reached the door, Hudson turned around and saw the man looking after him as if saying, "Why, are you going away today without speaking to me about Christ?" Then the young man burst into tears, and returning to the bedside, said, "Whether you wish me or not, I must deliver my soul. Will you let me pray with you?" The man assented, began to weep and was converted.
Mr. Taylor says, "God broke my heart, that through me He might break this wicked man’s heart."
Ask now that the Holy Spirit may give you a tender heart, and make your eyes a fountain of tears, that with the sympathy of Christ, you may seek the lost and perishing.