|Volume 22 Number 3 March 2020||
T. Pierce Brown
Once there was a good doctor. In fact, he was a great doctor. He could cure all sorts of diseases, including leprosy, cancer and AIDS. He even took patients whose heart had stopped beating and who were pronounced dead and brought them back to life. His prescriptions were unorthodox, but effective. He once had a leper to dip seven times in a river and cured him. He made many friends, but some of them were a little skeptical of what they thought were extravagant claims about him. Let us examine the case history of some of those who claimed to be friends. Some of them felt very close to him, and just called him, “Doc.”
Friend No. 1 told people, “He is my personal physician. I would trust him with my life and do anything he told me to do. He has told me on many occasions, “Just trust in me, and I will cure whatever disease you have. In fact, just being with him and following his advice has pretty well kept me from having any disease.” One day, however, he noticed that his skin was unusually yellow, he had some slight headaches, upset stomach, discomfort around his heart and a few other symptoms. He at last sought the doctor’s advice. He was told, “You have a fatal disease, but just trust in me and you will be okay. Take these red, white and blue pills three times a day for your disease, and you will receive all sorts of benefits. You will have a different spirit, your halitosis will be gone, and other wonderful results will be yours.”
Strangely enough, he said to himself and his friends, “Doc told me that if I just trusted in him, I would be okay. So, I am not going to bother to take his pills, for I don’t see what good they could possibly do, and I don’t think I have a fatal disease anyway. I feel better already, and I am just going to trust him and go on with my life.” Many persons would be harsh and critical and say about him, “If he does not have any more sense than that, he deserves what he will get, and will wake up dead some morning soon.” The doctor himself told him, “Why do you call me Doc, and refuse to take my medicine?” However, he soon passed on.
Friend No. 2 had some of the same symptoms and came to the doctor for a cure. He also had called the doctor his personal physician and said that he would trust him with his life. When he heard the doctor say, “Don’t worry about a thing. Just trust in me and I will cure you” and gave him the prescription, he trusted the Doctor. He believed he had the fatal disease but that he would be cured when he followed the Doctor’s orders. He did so, and his disease was cured; his symptoms disappeared.
Friend No. 3 was rather a strange case. He had known the doctor most of his life and felt that he was a close friend, but when he had those symptoms and heard what the doctor had told his other friends, he thought, “I do not really believe I have any fatal disease, but because I do not want to hurt the doctor’s feelings, I will take the prescription anyway. I am not taking them for the disease, nor do I understand nor care how or why they work, nor do I know or care about all the other special things they are supposed to do for me, but I will take them as ordered.” Is there anyone who doubts that he would be cured just as the Friend No. 2 was?
About the only ones who doubt it are those who know that the doctor had revealed in his writings for the Medical Journal that the diseases that responded to his treatment were not merely physical diseases, but could be classified as psychosomatic diseases, which means that the physical symptoms in the body (Gk. “soma”) were a result of a wrong state of mind or soul (Gk. psuche). Therefore, the cure required not only the application of the specified medicine, but a certain frame or change of mind. He had put it this way in his Journal.
I cannot cure those who think they have no need of a physician, but those who know they are sick, and faithfully take my prescription for the cure. They do not need to know all the additional benefits they will derive from properly following my orders, but they do need to know they are sick. Then when they change their minds about the things that made them sick and believe that the medicine I have prescribed is what they need for the cure, they have my promise that they will get well when they take the medicine I prescribe.
A person may say, “I believe in the doctor. He is my personal physician, but I do not believe what he says. I did not even read his journal, and when someone read it to me, I did not understand it. However, I am willing to take his little pills, although I think they are completely unnecessary.” That one has made some tragic mistakes in judgment. Will all such persons die with the fatal disease? I do not know, for I do not know the ultimate results of even a little faith and a willingness to take the medicine the doctor prescribed. Yet, I do know that according to what the doctor wrote in his journal, he makes no promise of a cure just as a result of a sort of mechanical taking of the medicine without some prerequisite beliefs and changes of mind.
In case you wonder if this analysis of the relationship of physical diseases to the state of the mind of an individual has the backing and approval of the medical profession, read the medical literature that deals with that subject. Probably if you just ask any good doctor, he will tell you that at least 90 to 95 percent of the diseases he treats are very closely related to the mind, and that merely taking a certain medicine without the proper frame of mind may not be effective. Of course, I am not writing about those kinds of things. I am writing about the disease of sin, and the cure the Great Physician ordered. Those who think that as long as one goes through the motions of obeying the Gospel without either believing they are lost or that they need to repent of their sins and obey the Lord in order to saved are believing or teaching a dangerous doctrine.
It is dangerous for at least two reasons: 1. One must assume that there is some sort of value in a mere mechanical process of obeying the commands. 2. One must assume that a belief gained after the act validates the act just as much as a belief acquired before the act. That principle would mean that a person could be baptized because he thought God wanted him to, then could repent and believe in Jesus later. The word “evil” would be as good as the word “live” because the order of the letters does not matter. Of course, you know that is not true. The order matters in spiritual things also. Let us teach all persons that the promise of the Great Physician is that those who believe and obey the Gospel will be saved. Whether those who believe and obey a false gospel with the motive to obey God, and in the assumption that they are thereby promised salvation will receive any blessing thereby should be left in the hands of the One who grants those blessings. Anyone whose teaching is such that he gives a false hope on the basis of assumptions and feelings that one is doing the will of God is doing a great disservice to the cause of Christ and the souls of men.
[Editor’s Note: I’m afraid that with some of our brethren baptism has become the sole object or quest irrespective of the motivation used to convince people to get wet. Most of these numbers provide evidence in short order by their absenteeism of the lack of conviction and conversion. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]