One Plus God
by R.G. LEE (1886-1974) This message sets forth the truth of one plus God. Gideon’s sword plus God’s sword. Gideon plus God. One—plus God. What an army! “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
“And say, the sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” —Judges 7:18
“And they cried, the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.” —Judges 7:20
Without going into any exposition of this chapter of the book of Judges, without going into any detailed description or prolonged meditation upon the striking events set forth therein, I say these verses set forth the truth of one plus God. Gideon’s sword plus God’s sword. Gideon plus God. One—plus God. What an army! Just another way of saying, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
We acknowledge and emphasize
I. The Value of One
Dreadfully dark the days of the World War I. Then there were cold dawns on desolate seas with icy whitecaps racing like mad before cold winds, ships sunk by torpedoes, men swimming for a while with only a merciless periscope as the only eye to pity.
There the harsh rumble of “dead weapons” their rims muddied with blood, carrying boys away whose last call was for mother.
There were air raiders dropping “hell-and-hustle” bombs on the earth where, in vermin-infested dugouts, men sweated blood as their glands burst—and they tried to recall the name of the sweetheart or the names of their children back home.
There were men who smothered in gas masks, their throats hot like an oven, their lungs cooked like bacon in a skillet, mumbling through dry lips the prayers their mothers taught them to pray.
There were rivers that ran red with human blood…there were whole hillsides that seemed to be made up of ghastly red and horribly broken fragments, men and mules and mud churned into a devil’s batter.
There were faces left blank—like a house without windows; ears that went deaf—like flesh petrified; limbs severed—like trees blasted under lightning’s whip; bodies blown to bits and scattered over the earth—like offal.
There were valleys turned into graveyards that look now like a forest of white crosses, where sleep the war’s murdered souls.
During that pentecost of suffering and agony that swept over the world, I picked up a newspaper. One brief paragraph of war news read: “Quick advance made in surprise attack made by American troops. Great battle won—only one man lost!”
Just one man lost—only one. But that one was of much value to a little woman over yonder in a cottage home—her children, three little ones, tugging at her skirts, looking up wonderingly into her face, as she read a cablegram to which no answer was expected. That “quick advance,” when only one man was killed, took the sun out of the sky of her life. The “great battle won” now left her heart as desolate as a winter’s hearth without flame. The death of “only one man” took all the music from her heart, leaving her weeping for him who was not! She would hear his voice only in her dreams and the children would listen in vain for his returning footsteps.
And now think of things of lesser value than a man—and we can still emphasize the value of one—just one. One link in a chain means much in a chain whether it be short or long, small or great. One brick in a wall is of value, whether the wall be high or low. One shingle in a roof is of great value, even though it takes many shingles to make a roof. One letter is essential to a complete alphabet, and no alphabet can function adequately without all the letters. One note counts on a sheet of music; one key on an organ is indispensable. The bride or groom waits at the altar for one and only one. And if that beloved one does not appear, their joy will turn to bitterness!
Now—to further consideration of the value one.
Was it not by one vote that Aaron Burr missed being President of the United States? Was it not by one vote that President Andrew Johnson missed impeachment? Was it not but one vote that gave Texas to the United States, and thus caused war with Mexico? Was it not just one vote that made California a part of the union, and thus turned the tide of immigration westward? Was it not by one vote in a self-governing, independent, democratic Baptist Church, in a conference assembled, that the great Jonathan Edwards was sent from his pastorate into a “backwoods ministry?”
It was one man—John Pym, that saved England’s liberties in a national crisis. One man—John Knox, rescued Scotland from her ecclesiastical and political enemies. And the disgrace of the lack of proper nursing ministry was reformed, not by a group or a club, but by one woman—Florence Nightengale.
Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. Simon Peter was just one. But there came a day when Peter became many. For he preached on the Day of Pentecost and three thousand passed from death to life. Henry Kimball, a Sunday School teacher, led Dwight L. Moody to Jesus. He was just one at that time. But he was to take one continent in one hand and another continent in the other hand and bring them both toward God.
And a man about whom we know little, led to Christ one Charles Spurgeon, who would preach to thousands. Spurgeon was one man—but plus God, he was many!
Dwight Moody—plus one. John Knox—plus one. Florence Nightengale—plus one.
II. The Power of One Plus God Is Illustrated In the Bible.
There is Noah—refusing to accept the position of the world as final. The one who saw with a sorrowful heart the dread scenes of moral corruption, he carried a heart heavy with a degenerate race. He lived in a day when “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5 Noah was eager for righteousness in a world eager for wickedness. He was but one man—preaching judgment to a crooked and perverse generation. Noah was but one man—one man with God!
Think of Abraham. In him the genius of the Hebrew race is summarized. He was a man of great sacrifice, the father of a great multitude. God said to him, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Gen. 12:3-4
Consider Jacob, with a dream of Bethel and wrestling at Penial with an angel. Eventually emancipated from individual ambition, he lived to become a universal benefactor, the suplanting power in him giving place to an uplifting power. It was his dying whisper that reached across the centuries and linked itself with the song of God’s angels in Bethlehem. All that is recorded of him can be summarized with “Jacob—plus God!
And think of Moses. As he kept his flock on the backside of the desert, who could know that—with God—this same Moses would pen the Law that would set forth the moral element that would point to the future sacrifice of Christ on the cross? By Moses—plus God, a nation would be born in a night, and brought out that it might be brought in.
Forget not Job, of whom God Himself would say, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:8 Job would lose his home, family and wealth but never relinquish his grip on his faith, exclaiming, “…the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
And then there is David, the great king who pointed to the greatest of all Kings; Elijah and Elisha, ministering to a disobedient nation; Jeremiah, the weeping prophet; And Paul, who met Christ on the road to Damascus, and would spend his life as “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” Rom. 1:1
In all these cases, it was one man plus God—the human plus the divine—men and women plus God. “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.”
III. The Power For Achievement of One Plus God Is Recorded In History.
Take Gutenberg and his printing press. Coming at a moment when the world has something worth printing, it took the world by storm. Tearing down the curtain that intervened between the common people and the kingdom of heaven, it made the serf the intellectual equal of the priest. In King Alfred’s day, not one in a thousand could read or write. But Guttenberg profoundly aroused civilization when he invented the printing press, thereby enabling the human race to educate itself. He made the newspaper the university of the common people. Most importantly, he gave the Bible to the people in their own vernacular—and they rose to freedom and enlightenment from serfdom and darkness of the ages.
I think of Savonarola, the Dominican monk, who preached in Florence before King Lorenzo surrounded by his satellites, clowns, poets, scholars and painted harlots. His message, like a curse, fell on Italy. After hearing Savonarola, the people gathered in penitential tears, shaking a nation to its core. Savonarola arrayed himself against the aristocracies enthroned in Italy—the aristocracy of the King, the aristocracy of the priests, the aristocracy of the noble class. Then they throttled him with a chain and burned his body to ashes. But they could not roll back God’s chariot wheels by kindling their human bonfire. For God reached sown from the sky, took those scarred ashes, and flung them all over Europe, And wherever they fell, the earth shook.
And there is Martin Luther. So vital is his life, so vivid its presence and influence, that it is with difficulty we realize that he was born 450 years ago. Somebody said that Columbus discovered a new world, Copernicus, new heavens, and Luther a new God—a God gracious for the sake of the work of Christ. However judged, however much despised, a colossal figure in the human race is Luther—a superlative mind and a superlative spirit. But it was Luther plus God—not Luther himself. Again a case of “the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”
And how could we leave out mention of John Bunyan who wrote the book which, in English literature, stands next to the Bible? England kept John Bunyan in jail for twelve years. But, in jail, Bunyan, who would not settle down in despondency and gloom and complaining, picked up a pen. And from that pen, dripping Scriptural truths, came the immortal allegory. And that book crawled out from beneath the bars of that jail and traveled more highways and walked more bypaths and knocked at more doors than any book the world has ever known—except the Bible. It was Bunyan—plus God!
And what shall I say more? Nothing—except to ask a few questions and make a statement or so. Do you know that God calls you to be one? Do you hear? Will you hear? Will you answer? Will you give him your bits or your best?
Where is our gratitude if we live as though there had been no Galilean ministry?—no Jerusalem sorrows?—no Calvary wounds? Living in the heart of a land that owes everything to him, what response make we to his call? Or shall we respond honorably and sacrificially to His marching orders?
Shall the cross be an ornament or a reality in our lives? Shall it be leftovers or all. Cowardice pr courageous conquest? Shall it be chasing butterflies of pleasure or going into a wilderness to recover lost sheep? Shall it be following the world that cheats us or the Christ who enriches us? Shall we fail to acknowledge “the power of the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon?” Of one man plus God? God forbid!
(This message was edited for berevity and clarity.)
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