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Charging  A Battery That Has A Dead Cell
Dennis Reed


More than forty years ago, I shared in the Lord’s work with a faithful gospel preacher in Birmingham, Alabama, who was the only preacher among our black brethren in that area who truly stood firm for the Truth and preached it with all boldness.  Brother James Ashhurst, now deceased, was one of the finest men that I have ever had the opportunity to work with in my efforts to preach the gospel.  Brethren Frank Smith and Bob Crawley, both now deceased, had the same confidence in this brother and diligently worked to help him in every way that they could to carry the gospel to the black people who made up almost half of the population of Birmingham during those difficult years of the 60’s.

Brother Ashhurst was telling me one day about a brother whom he was trying to strengthen through teaching and said to me, “brother Reed, helping this brother is like trying to charge a battery which has a dead cell – you can charge it, and charge it, and charge it, and it will still be dead!”  I thought then, and think even more today that our lack of effectiveness in providing strength, soundness, and knowledge to a great many of our brethren is being hampered tremendously by our having to try so hard to charge a battery which has a dead cell!

We have often heard that one of the most difficult tasks in life is trying to help someone who doesn’t believe that he needs any help or else he is just totally satisfied with what he is now doing and doesn’t want to be helped!  So we are therefore confronted with the task of getting brethren to recognize the tremendous dangers which threaten their faith, and to provide them with the teaching, exhortation, and strength to encounter the enemy – but we find ourselves charging and charging, and charging, and then ultimately having to realize that our lack of success is simply because we are working with a “dead cell” – a mind or heart which is not at all willing to receive the needed instruction!

There are so many brethren who just refuse to listen, and they refuse to open their eyes so that they can see!  There are so many who don’t even have the desire to examine any kind of spiritual issue.  There are so many who are being deceived and beguiled with smooth and fair speech!  There are so many who believe the falsehood being spread by the “union in perversity” brethren that “it just doesn’t matter what you believe, teach or practice – you can still remain in full fellowship with God and with your brethren!”  There are so many who want the kind of preaching which entertains them and tells them how really great and faithful they are!  We are really living in a generation where it seems that many of our brethren prefer to hear “smooth things” and “deceits” (Isaiah 30:9-10).

Yes, brother Ashhurst was right on target, “you can charge it, and charge it, and charge it, and it will still be dead!”  When a person wants so badly to follow his or her own selfish desires, and when one so greatly desires to believe and practice what pleases and satisfies his own personal whims in religion, it becomes very obvious that you have a battery which is definitely going to resist a “charge” (Matthew 13:10-16).  When you want to have fellowship with sinful doctrines and practices and still be justified in what you desire to do – then you have become as dead and useless to the Lord as any of our neighbors out there in the denominational world who are of that same persuasion!  And besides all of that, you may well have developed a whole vocabulary of derogatory names and remarks that you can make about those who would dare to question what you are teaching, practicing, or fellowshipping!  Those who refuse to come to the light will never receive the Truth (John 3:19-21) (1 John 1:5-7) (Ephesians 5: 6-14).

Yes, it is extremely difficult to drill through hardened material. We may well be trying to break through concrete walls, or we may well be plowing in rocky soil.  It is becoming more and more evident that we are diligently trying to charge some batteries which have dead cells!

But make no mistake, we are still totally confident that the gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16-17).  And we are absolutely resolved to never “grow weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9) (2 Thessalonians 3:13).  But, brethren, we must be straightforward and candid about the problem which we are finding more prevalent with every passing day.  Jesus described it in these words as he quotes from the prophet Isaiah, For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

We cannot just throw away precious souls as we would a battery with a dead cell, so we must therefore look at the sober alternatives involved.  Sometimes it may be as the Lord taught the disciples, “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, as ye go forth out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet”  (Matthew 10:14).  Or it may be necessary to turn in another direction, “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was constrained by the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook out his raiment and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles...” (Acts 18:5-11).  Whatever the circumstances we encounter, we must continue to seek those who are “noble” enough to search the scriptures, “Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so”  (Acts 17:11).

I shall never forget the beloved brother who said to me, “you can charge it, and charge it, and charge it, and it will still be dead!”  Brethren, are you and I reacting to God’s Truth as if we were like a battery with a dead cell?  Are we in need of spiritual “eyesalve” to anoint our eyes so that we can see (Revelation 3:18)?  Shall we be like Israel of old and have our hearts so hardened that we will not believe (Acts 28:17-31)?  Shall we be so arrogant and so certain that we have complete vision that we are unable to see ourselves as we really are (John 9:39-41)?  Could it be that we are so selfish and enamored with ourselves that we are blind to the hypocrisy in our own lives (Romans 2:17-24)?

Please be soberly reminded, brethren, our willful blindness and hardness of heart  will cause us to lose our soul if we don’t “awaken” before it is eternally too late! “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

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