recapture of Mansoul. Captain Boanerges, Captain Conviction, and Captain Judgment are all elements of various kinds of preaching that works to the conversion of sinners. There is one last captain that was sent to attack the Ear Gate. He is Captain Execution and his first lieutenant is Mr. Justice. Their uniforms were red and the insignia had a fruitless tree with an ax lying at the root of the tree. His message while very similar to the previous three comes with a matter that is a requirement for all who will be saved—a response by repentance.
‘O town of Mansoul, once famous, but now like the fruitless bough, once the delight of the high ones, but now a den for Diabolus, hearken also to me, and to the words that I shall speak to thee in the name of the great Shaddai. Behold, the axe is laid to the root of the trees: every tree, therefore, that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.
‘Thou, O town of Mansoul, hast hitherto been this fruitless tree; you bear nothing but thorns and briers. Thy evil fruit bespeaks thee not to be a good tree; thy grapes are grapes of gall, thy clusters are bitter. Thou hast rebelled against thy King; and, lo! we, the power and force of Shaddai, are the axe that is laid to thy root. What sayest thou? Wilt thou turn? I say again, tell me, before the first blow is given, wilt thou turn? Our axe must first be laid to thy root before it be laid at thy root; it must first be laid to thy root in a way of threatening, before it is laid at thy root by way of execution; and between these two is required thy repentance, and this is all the time that thou hast. What wilt thou do? Wilt thou turn, or shall I smite? If I fetch my blow, Mansoul, down you go; for I have commission to lay my axe as well as to thy roots, nor will anything but yielding to our King prevent doing of execution. What art thou fit for, O Mansoul, if mercy preventeth not, but to be hewn down, and cast into the fire and burned?
‘O Mansoul, patience and forbearance do not act for ever: a year, or two, or three, they may; but if thou provoke by a three years ’rebellion (and thou hast already done more than this), then what follows but, “Cut it down”? nay, “After that thou shalt cut it down.” And dost thou think that these are but threatenings, or that our King has not power to execute his words? Mansoul, thou wilt find that in the words of our King, when they are by sinners made little or light of, there is not only threatening, but burning coals of fire.
‘Thou hast been a cumber-ground long already, and wilt thou continue so still? Thy sin has brought this army to thy walls, and shall it bring it in judgment to do execution into thy town? Thou hast heard what the captains have said, but as yet thou shuttest thy gates. Speak out, Mansoul; wilt thou do so still, or wilt thou accept of conditions of peace?’
His call first reminds the citizens of Mansoul of their terrible choices to defect. Then he chooses to tell them that they will have to destroy the root of the problem—their rebellion and sin—knowing that what is not taken care of will be cast into the fire. He also encourages them to look at the fruit of their actions—thorns and briars have taken over their land and the grapes that are growing are full of gall and bitterness. Captain Execution also brings up that age-old dilemma that has been with man down through the ages—the danger of delay. He knew that the longer they waited and wallowed in their sin, the more power it would have over them.
Diabolus recognizes this also and sets up a couple of his orators to begin to sway the city. Ill-Pause who encourages the citizens not to get into a big rush at the words they have heard. The other orator Diabolus uses is Incredulity. This devious character tries to elevate their own sense and evidence of morality in their eyes and appears astonished that these four captains could even lodge such a pattern of preaching toward these “good” and “moral” men. He plays up to their sense of pride and wants them to become outraged that anyone would even dare to accuse them on such a level as these four have.
Paul alluded to the fact in Romans 6 that there needs to be a constant mortifying or killing of the “old man” that will attempt to creep up in our lives during times that we are not fully submitted to the Spirit. This is what Captain Execution was getting at when he spoke of the axe that must sever the root of the tree. However there are some things that one needs to understand about repentance.
• Repentance is not just sorrow. There is more than just being sorry you have been caught. Repentance means that you will turn away from the sinful behavior and practice.
• Repentance is not behavior modification. Our change does not involve superficial changes in outward behavior but never operates on the level of the heart. Deep repentance of the heart is what changes behavior not the other way around. If only outward behavior is changed, it will not be long before you will actively begin to practice the sin that once bound you.
• Repentance is not selective. It has to deal with all portions of sin, both outward and public and those that are secret and hidden in the soul. Most of the time when we are selective with our repentance, an issue of pride is involved. The outward man wants to save face and if deep, heart repentance is engaged there may be some embarrassment involved with a loss of face. Pride has to be dealt with for true repentance to occur.
• Repentance does not eliminate the consequences of sin. God can do much in our lives with the work of repentance but the laws of the harvest determine that sometimes the seeds that were planted in the fields of wild oats will grow despite God’s intervention into our lives.
• Repentance needs to be a continual, on-going process. Conversion takes place in an instant but becoming a saint requires a life-time of repentance. If the thought enters your mind that repentance is but a single instance, you will struggle to make it the rest of your life. Repentance ought to be something that is pursued on a daily level.
Even though these particular modes of preaching may seem out-moded, they are still necessary for this generation to see the way.
Thanks for reading. . .