RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
Perhaps some of us wondered what the day would bring. This was the morning which had been decided upon on the part of Robert Ginther and Arthur Stadem for the taking of a hunting trip by plane They were going to pursue a sport and a past-time engaged in by men almost since th beginning of time. These were, however modern hunters quite unlike those of ancient medieval days--even different as far as method is concerned from those of grandfathers an even fathers today.
They set out to bag the wily fox and the elusive coyote by aeroplane. was no initial venture. Men and perhaps women too have been following this new up-to-date method in keeping with our scientific age-for not a few years. This latest an seemingly most exciting and thrilling way of pursuing the wild game was not new either to Ginther or Stadem.
When the sad news of the tragedy reached our ears it seemed impossible and unbelievable. We, with you the bereaved were left stunned and shocked. It seemed as though the day was suddenly gone and the shades--the dark shades of starless night had enveloped us. Well I know that you, who were thus so heavily bereaved began to grope for light. Many of us began seeking with you.
Thanks to God we knew where to look. We began to look into the face of God-into the face of a loving God--into the face of a loving Saviour--for it was our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who revealed God to us.
In the Gospel of John 1:18 we read: "No man hath at any time seen God. He who is in the bosom of the Father, the only begotten-He hath revealed Him." And where does Jesus stand revealed or declared? In the Word of God, that precious Book which is our priceless heritage. By the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit we there clearly have seen and see, have looked into and look into the face of Jesus. And what do we see? A face full of compassion and sympathy and love. We hear Him as He speaks: Listen, to the wonderful words as I read them from Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to them who love God."
We are not fatalists- we do not believe in any monster or in any heartless, cruel God who has previously determined and decided upon everything for us with no possibility of alteration or change. Maybe some of you have pictured God to be such a monster with a heart as cold as the Spitsbergen Ice and as cruel as that of the notorious Nero and wors. Even entertaining such a thought is the grossest kind of insult to God.
As we continue to look into the face of Jesus, as we look into his Word, we see that there is nothing that occurs or takes place in this world except by his permissible Will. We are told that God is not far from any of us. The Eternal, Almighty, All-knowing God is close by. We are constantly observed by his all-seeing eye. Thus when Paul preached to the heathen on Mars Hill in ancient Athens, he proclaimed that he had come as an Ambassador of the most high and living God. This God whose message I also bring, is the true God of Heaven, "the One and Only God in whom we live and move and have our being" Acts 17:28. By the personal pronoun "We", he referred to all men both Christian and pagan or Non-Christian.
Jesus has further revealed that the Father knows each and every one of us personally and that so well, that he can tellhow many hairs there are left on my head and how many on yours. Because He has counted them and that is more than we know. It would be a physical impossibility for any of us to count the hairs on our own head or on the head of another.
Jesus has also disclosed that God marks and notes the sparrow's fall. He tells us that not a sparrow falleth to the earth except by the Father's Will. Think of that! Since a single sparrow cannot fall to the ground except it be by the permissible will of God, is there anyone here who dares challenge the assertion and statement that Robert Ginther and Arthur Stadem would not have fallen to the ground and to their death in that plane last Thursday morning if it had not been by the permissible Will of God? Were they not much more than many sparrows?
Through His servant James, the Lord speaks to us saying: "Go to now, ye who say, We will go into this city to buy and to sell- you must also say If the Lord wilt". James 4:13. In other words, the Lord says always when you make plans make them contingent on my will. Truly it is always well to bear in mind that man proposes but God disposes.
In our text the question is asked: "Is there any evil in the city except that the Lord has done it?" In other words, Is there any accident any tragedy, any hurt except that the Lord God has something to do with it? Stating it otherwise in the Light of the Scripture, "is there any evil that happens and takes place accept by the permissible will of God?" Is there an evil in a city except that the Lord hath done it? Surely the terminology is correct.
This tragedy which brought us together here and similar happenings are all evils. When God made this wonderful world and put us humans into it, he never intended it should be this way. These things are all accidental. They have all come as the fruits of sin.
Sin is accidental in the history of our race. God made us without sin and that in his very own image. With the entrance of sin into our original holy world came sickness, suffering, tragedy and death. Every human discomfort, every disrupted plan and inconvenience, every tragedy, every heartache, every tear, every pain from the greatest to the smallest is all the terrible and awful fruitage of sin.
The Lord rightly calls it evil. However, the lord directs the evil in this world, even the sins and crimes of wicked men so that his purposes are served, so that His Divine plans are executed. The History of Joseph gives us a wonderful and striking illustration of this truth. To his startled brethren who stood before him in awe and wonderment there in the Prime-minister's office in mighty Egyptland, Joseph said: "Ye meant it to the evil-that is, when they heartlessly and cruelly sold him into slavery (Egyptian), but God meant it to the good. (Genesis 50:20)
To his disciples Jesus has said: "Ye are in the world but ye are not of the world." John 15:19. Thus, as we read in Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good to those who love the lord." I wish you to note the words "all things". No tragedy, no evil is exempted. There is no exception.
It is but natural that in connection with this tragedy of last Thursday morning, the question of fool hardiness should enter in. The question of whether it was right to expose oneself to danger and risk such as that involved here.
Well we know and now see-as far as our human reason and understanding goes, that it would have been much better if that plane trip had not been made. But is it not that way always after the accident, after the tragedy has taken place? Many have been and many are engaged around the country in such hunting by plane, and that successfully without mishap. I say, using the words of Jesus as He spoke them-- though in another connection, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
Have we not all unnecessarily risked and jeopardized our lives. How about the uncalled-for trips on the highways last year, pleasure trips-trips to see sports or to take part. If it had not been for God's mercy and grace and providence, for his patience and long suffering, for his care and preservation and will, you and I would have been among those some thirty-four thousand who died in 1946, as a result of highway accidents.
The Lord reveals to us in his Word that his thoughts are not the same as our thoughts, and that his ways are not the same as our ways but that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways and God's thoughts higher than ours.
Isaiah 55:9. How true that is. We fail to grasp how this could be both the permissible and pleasing will of the Lord. To us it would seem that this present evil world stands in desperate need of such Christian men and citizens as we knew these two departed friends to be. We have none such to spare seemingly either in the nation, the state, or the church. As it seems to us the church needs, and that very badly, men with the insight, interest and zeal for the Lord's work as the lives of these two demonstrated.
We will miss Arthur here at Bryant. He has left a vacant place at Augustana College. I, personally, entertained the expectation that if Arthur had not already received the Lord's call that he would do so eventually, and some day enter the ministry of our church or even perhaps go as a missionary to a foreign land.
Since these men were not to become old in years here on this earth we might well ask: Why didn't the Lord take his preserving arm from around them during the war? Arthur Stadem, as a member of the U.S. Navy during those trying years of the war risked his life on the deep, wide, and dangerous waters of the South Pacific and in the very battle zones. Robert Ginther served his country as a workman in the ship-yards and as I understand, at times was engaged in very hazardous labor.
Why should they be so suddenly, so unexpectedly and thus seemingly so tragically torn away from us the other morning? The answer is with God, in His unsearchable wisdom and love and all-- wise providence. In the words as we read them in John 11:7, Jesus says: "What I do, or have done ye know not now-- I cannot reveal to you now but you shall know later."
Someday we shall know and understand-- "when the fog has been lifted and the mists have rolled away." Until then, lean hard, dear bereaved wife and you other sorrowing friends, lean hard on the Lord and His precious Word and promises.
Listen again to Romans 8:28: "For this we know that all things work together for good to them who love God."
Lean hard on the many Golden Promises of the Lord as found in His holy, unchangeable and wonderful Word. May the many sweet memories which your two loved ones left and especially their testimonies of faith and trust in the Lord and their assurances relative to the home up there with Jesus, be to you as June Roses-most beautiful and fragrant in cold December [Bob Ginther was born in June and died in January; Arthur was born in February--Editors].
There is one thing we are certain of as regards the meaning of this unusual visitation in our midst and it is this: It is a loving warning from God to each and everyone of us that we make haste and put our spiritual house in order so as to be prepared to meet our God. To us Christians it is a mighty exhortation to re-consecration and a more separated life and to do as we are urged by the Lord. Namely, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Phil. 2:12. To daily live close with, walk and talk with God.
Yes, you unconverted friends, who either are living out and out for sin and the world, and you who are vainly endeavoring to serve the world and Jesus, this is a loving call to you from Heaven. It is God's loud trumpet blast of warning. Not only of warning, but also of loving exhortation and invitation.
It is an invitation to eternal security from the righteous wrath of God against sin. It is an exhortation that you repent of your sins. That you turn away from them and trust the full forgiveness and pardon which is offered you through Calvary's sacrifice. You too, may come to the Savior just as you are and with the promise, "He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast away." John 6:37.
He assures you of being accepted and His holy blood, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, will cleanse you from all sin. Looking thus to Jesus in faith and trusting Him. He will make you a new creature in Himself, the old things having passed away and all things having become new.
New light in the understanding, new love in the heart and a new power in the will. You ask the cost of discipleship. Yes, it does cost to become, and be, a real Christian and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it costs still more not to be a Christian. There is nothing more profitable than Christianity, than Godliness. Godliness we read, "is profitable unto all things." I Tim. 4:8. It has promises for the life that now is, and for the life that is to come.
On the other hand the yoke of Satan is heavy and his burden, the burden of sin, is grievous. My non-Christian friend, will you not flee to Christ and at once seek safety in His everlasting arms of love? If not, you continue but to live a life of spiritual slavery to sin and the devil in this world-- you are lost without hope and you face but an eternity of despair and stygian darkness-- yes, you are on your way to a red hell.
How wonderful to know that our departed loved ones were Christians. Have you ever been to a funeral where people were not glad that the deceased was a Christian or felt kind of heavy at heart because of the thought that he was not a believer? At the biers of our beloved dead, at the thought of them, it is but human for us to sorrow, but thanks to God, as Christians, we sorrow not as those who have no hope.
Wonderful and bright is our hope and our blessed assurance. As Christians, we rejoice even in sorrow and separation, as our faith is anchored in the many wonderful and precious golden promises of God's Word. Our Almighty and loving Lord who can find ways when we see none, and everything looks hopeless.
He has promised to be the stay of the widow and the Father of the fatherless. All things are ours in Christ, things present and things to come. All things work together for our good. "Nothing shall separate us ever from the love of Jesus and from each other. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, not principalities, not powers, nor things present, nor things it come."Romans 8:38. "For us to live is Christ and to die is gain! Phil. 1:21. "Whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.
True, the time will come to all of us when we must say, "Good-night". Sometimes circumstances do not always really permit us to say a sweet "good-night" as in this case. Yet we know it is only a little while till daybreak and we will say "Good-morning" over there, where night cometh no more- eternally Home with Jesus. May the Lord graciously grant this unto us all, in Jesus' name, Amen.