There are signs all over southwest Florida which read "Please don't feed the pelicans!" One reason is that pelicans are magnificent catchers of fish. If fishermen toss them fish, however, the pelicans stop fishing and wait for their meals to be provided in this easier way. They stand quietly a few yards behind the fishermen, staring with unblinking eyes, looking deceptively, both mournful and comic. It is difficult for a pelican to look too mournful, though, for it is comedic in everything it does.
One wants to laugh while watching the pelicans. They have small, domed heads, huge eyes, 10-inch-long beaks, and a pouch made of great folds of droopy skin. They look something like a modern 13-year-old draped in 30 yards of baggy clothing. Pelicans drop abruptly from the sky with their wings and feet flailing in all directions and smash their 6-foot wingspan into the water with such force that you would think they would break every bone in their body. However, this mirthful, carefree, independent bird is reduced to a pitiful beggar by taking handouts.
Other Bird Brains
We humans should not look down at the comical pelican, for we share their sinful, depraved tendency. Ask yourself, Which do many people admire most—a farmer who works diligently to raise a crop or a gambler who lives by his wits? These opinions reflect original sin. By following this sin nature, many Christians are impoverished. We often refuse to pursue the vocation that God has given to us as our personal road to wealth; instead we want to steal our daily bread by methods that transgress the law of God. We are more intelligent than a bird-brained pelican, so we arrive at our impoverished condition by a more tortured and complex path than the simple-minded bird.
Are We Able to Speak Salvation?
Christians, for example, often believe the modern heresy, called the "Simple Plan of Salvation," in which the sinner can simply repeat the sinner's prayer to be guaranteed entrance into the kingdom of God. When I was a young lad in the Presbyterian church, we used to sing the hymn, "Pass me not, O gentle Savior, hear my humble cry! While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by." The hymn writer understood that Jesus did not have to save us just because we wanted him to save us. The choice is always his and not ours.
The modern false gospel teaches young lads to fear neglecting to exercise their self-righteous glorious power to presume their way into paradise. So the sinner logically reasons that if we can demand salvation and make Christ his servant, why should he work or live a life of obedience to the Bible? On the other hand, under the true plan of salvation taught in the Bible, our works indicate whether salvation is genuine or just an illusion. Under today's false plan of salvation, works indicate nothing except that "everybody's doing it."
Phony Fish for Phony Christians
Much like the ugly, imbecilic pelican, we stand idle, doing nothing. But we are worse than the pelican, for we have deceived ourselves. We think we have a fish in our pouch. Not just an itty bitty fish, but the only fish we will ever need. Even the pelican knows better than that. Fellow pelicans (I mean, Christians), do you have salvation, or do you just think you do? A real salvation can be tested in the here and now by asking yourself this question, "Do I have the power to keep the commandments better and better?" If you don't, that's no fish. It's just an evil illusion that you call salvation. The pelican would never settle for an imaginary fish or a fish that can be eaten only after death.
Salvation The Beginning—Not the Whole Package
Our marvelous ability to manufacture evil illusions doesn't stop with dreaming up an imaginary salvation after we die. For example, it is necessary to illustrate what I mean by the rest of salvation.
The modern Christian thinks of a fire escape to heaven as the total plan of salvation. In other words, he has to wait until after he dies to be certain the plan works. The old-fashioned Protestant gospel, on the other hand, is tested by asking yourself daily if you are escaping from poverty, sickness, and premature death. We should also ask, "Are we successful in delivering our children from the pain of this life that comes from being outside the plan of salvation?"
The gospel of the Protestant work ethic made Christians in northern Europe and the United States the wealthiest in the history of the world. The Bible's genuine plan of salvation is comprehensive. A profession of faith is the beginning of our salvation—not the end. The goal is to have an abundant life and an easy yoke here and now so that we have reason to hope that our entrance into heaven is assured. It is a path that grows brighter and brighter so that we here on earth will not be disappointed when we die. Throughout his writings, R. J. Rushdoony talks about socialism as presenting a false plan of salvation. When I first read that, I was puzzled like others who had not read Rushdoony. Until I did, I looked on salvation as something to be enjoyed only in heaven and that it had no relationship to making one's life on earth more productive, fruitful, and happy on earth.
A Hundredfold Now in This Time!
One day while researching Matthew 6:33, I realized that the verse, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you" is a promise of an abundant life here on earth. Of course, there are other verses with a similar message that I had not previously understood before, such as 3 John, verse 2, "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." Everywhere I looked in the Scriptures after that day, my eyes were opened.
I saw the apostle Paul laboring for a crown (read reward) and the Lord Jesus Christ promising his followers "a hundredfold in this life" (Mk. 10:30). Scholars tell us that the hundredfold means to the hundredth power in this time or that wealth promised "now in this time" to an obedient Christian is beyond calculation. Modern Christians not only are in danger of imagining a false salvation in the great by and by, but they also imagine a false salvation here on earth. We cling stubbornly to our illusions. We would rather stand on the threshold of an abundant life, like a sorrowful, ridiculous bird. It is our plan and not God's that we love and make a lie (Rev. 22:15). Such is the fruit of original sin. If we are saved, our eyes are opened to see how foolish we are to pursue money, love, happiness, or personal fulfillment by any means other than obedience to the commandments. If we are saved, we will enjoy the growing power to obey the covenant. By a swelling hope based on real evidence, we will gain an entrance into heaven when we die.
Only God Can Speak Reality
We cannot speak anything into reality. Only God can speak and reality take place. We are creatures who must work and have our work blessed by our God who can speak, bless our work, and cause our dreams to come true. But if we speak contrary to his calling (vocation) for our life, regardless of how hard we work, our efforts will result in a curse. We will heap up treasure to put in a bag with holes in it (Hag. 1:6). The Lord smiles at us, as we might smile at a spoiled child, having a temper tantrum. The Lord says, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?"(Lk. 12:25). We must ask the Lord to prosper us by the bountiful covenant of the Lord's service. We must forever pray to forsake the fantasy that we can live by our empty words and emptier wits. Psalm 31:23 reads, "God plentifully rewardeth the proud doer." The New Testament adds, "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom. 2:13). The economic rule of the Bible, then, is that those who "do" are reward more than those who merely dream.
God everywhere rewards those who do or who produce things more than those who stand in disobedience waiting for a free fish. The proud doer is rewarded by our God. Therefore, if we are in grace, we will recognize that the majority of modern Christians are dead or dying or are not fruitful. They live in a barren and cursed world of illusion.
Curse or Blessing?
What does this have to do with education? We teachers and parents must teach our children to have the hope of going to heaven based only on the power to obey and work more productively (1 Cor. 15:1-3). If the children cannot develop the work habits and the self-discipline to follow the law of God to become successful, it is because they are cursed and not blessed, lost and not saved. Let's not be as silly as the pelican, or should I say, more silly than the pelican. Our greater mental capacity produces greater foolishness. May God bless us as teachers. May God deliver us from the curse of the false doctrine. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding"(Pr. 9:10). Preach, pray, and lead your children to say, "I am saved," only when they see themselves delivered from today's generation of unproductive Christians. As you love the birds, so love your children. I can help you become a better teacher. Please send for a copy of my book, How to Become a Millionaire in Christian Education.
- Ellsworth McIntyre