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THE MEN IN GIDEON’S ARMY!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A lesson taught at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, January 31, 2021

Hymn Sung Before the Lesson: “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken”
       (by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).

“And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judges 7:2; p. 295 Scofield).


There were too many men with Gideon. Most of them had to be weeded out, or they would think, “Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judges 7:2b).

First, those who were fearful and afraid had to go away. Verse 3 says, “Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early” (Judges 7:3; p. 295). Twenty-two thousand men left – as the fearful people left us.

Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

Socrates, the heathen stoic, could die saying, “No harm can come to a good man, in this world or the next.” If he could say that as a pagan, why should I tremble?... Someone may ask, “Do you fear that you will die of cancer?” Maybe so, but it will have to hurry up, or I’ll die of old age first… A man who dies of cancer in the will of God is not injured; he’s just dead… Nothing can harm you if you are in the will of God… So a good man is free from fear (Success and the Christian, pp. 82, 83).

Here is a list of men and women who did great things for God because they did not give in to their fears.

1. Jim Elliot

2. William Tyndale

3. John Bunyan

4. Gladys Aylward

5. Richard Wurmbrand

6. John Wesley

7. St. Patrick

8. Corrie ten Boom

9. Perpetua

10. Martin Luther

11. Adoniram Judson

12. Mary Slessor

13. William Booth

14. Harriet Tubman

15. John Newton

16. Fanny Crosby

17. Spurgeon

18. Augustine

19. Hudson Taylor

20. Cyprian

21. “Louie” Zamperini

22. Bonhoeffer

23. Wycliffe

24. John Knox

25. John Huss

26. Simon Peter

27. Paul the Apostle

28. Lincoln

29. Moses

30. Sabina Wurmbrand

31. John Paul II

32. Samuel

33. John the Baptist

34. Andrew Murray

35. James the Apostle

Here are 35 men and women who were willing to give up their lives for God. Not one of these saints could be motivated by the so-called “preaching” of the new-evangelicals.

What about the men who went back from Gideon’s Army? The men who went back because they were afraid had a Judas-like belief in God.

But the 35 men and women whose names I read were different. Faith like they had cannot be learned in any Bible class or seminary. Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

Most of us are acquainted with churches that teach the Bible to their children…and never produce in them a living Christianity nor a real godliness. Their members show no evidence of having passed from death unto life (The Root of the Righteous, p. 35).

These churches could never produce martyrs like Perpetua or Felicity!

Today’s Sunday School students (and parents) would be too fearful and afraid to be part of Gideon’s Army!

Gideon’s Army had enemies. Their foes were unconverted and demonized, Galatians 5:19-21 (p. 1247). The Bible says,

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

But that’s not all. Those who were concerned with the things of this life could not be used by Gideon. Turn to Judges 7:4-6 (p. 295). The Bible says,

“And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water” (Judges 7:4-6).

None of these men were afraid to obey God. They were a fine army. But most of them were not sold out. They stuck their heads in the water.

Only a few of them were willing to “watch and pray.” The rest were not willing to be fanatics for the Lord. The Bible says,

“And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you…let all the other people go every man unto his place” (Judges 7:7; p. 295).

Dr. Cagan believed that we were united to be like Pastor Wurmbrand. So Dr. Cagan came to us to help me and be a disciple of the Lord. Dr. Cagan lost his first wife because of his commitment. She thought he was a fool and a fanatic – so she left him and divorced him, and “A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” (I Corinthians 7:15; p. 1217). But Dr. Cagan trudged on alone.

His second wife was no better. She too did not want a fanatic for a husband. So she turned her two sons against him – and one became an atheist and the other left in rebellion. But Dr. Cagan trudged on alone.

Here are the characteristics of Waldrip and Kreighton. They are given by Dr. Roy Branson in his great book, Church Split:

1. They are egotists.

2. They are selfish.

3. They will not admit it when they are wrong.

4. They are hungry for personal recognition and glory.

5. They are insubordinate.

They will not admit that the pastor is the leader of the church (Hebrews 13:7, 17).

“The pastor will still be blamed if things go wrong” (quotations from Dr. Roy Branson in his book, Church Split, pp. 28, 29).

It is clear from the 5 points above that the leaders in church splits are unconverted men, unsaved men! (See Galatians 5:19-21: Stand and turn to that passage, p. 1247).

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

“Hatred, variance, wrath, strife, seditions, envyings – they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” You may be seated.

By the time I learned that Waldrip and Chan were trying to split and destroy our church, I was too weak and sick to stop them. So these unconverted men took out 50 of our people.

Was it a tragedy? Not really. God Himself took out 50 of our people to cleanse our church from those who were too carnal to help us anyway. Dr. Timothy Lin said, “How can we consecrate ourselves to be holy then? First we must separate ourselves from unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). Then we must perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).”

This principle is given again and again in the Bible. A good illustration of it is given by God in the inspired Scriptures, in the 7th chapter of the Book of Judges (p. 295). Turn to it. Look at Judges 7:2. Stand as I read it.

“And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judges 7:2).

In verses 3-6, we read that God tested the people. Thousands of them were afraid and left. At last Gideon was left with a handful of men to fight Satan and God’s enemies.

Thus we trust Dr. Cagan. He did not let any of this stop him from being a disciple. Thus, I would trust Dr. Cagan with my life! And so should you! His younger son called him a fool, a fanatic. But God says Dr. Cagan is a true disciple of the Lord! He would never desert us like Chan did! He would never desert us like Abel Prudhomme did! Other than Pastor Wurmbrand and my wife, Dr. Cagan is the greatest Christian I have ever known! God thinks that too!

I remember the day when I gave up being a Southern Baptist preacher. Dr. Green said to me, “If you go on defending the Bible, you will never get a Southern Baptist church to pastor.” And I said to him, “If that’s what it costs, I don’t want one.”

Dr. A. W. Tozer gave this story, “Ask a young graduate, ‘Bob, why are you here?’ Bob said, ‘I want to get married, I like to make money, and I like to travel.’ ‘But Bob, these are superficial things. You will do them and then you will get old and die. What is the bigger purpose of your life?’ Bob said, ‘I don’t know whether I have any purpose in life.’

This is the condition of young people in the world today. From universities to coal mines, young people do not know why they are here!” (A. W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man, p. 27).

The only men that learned God’s purpose for their lives were the third group of soldiers. They were not afraid. But they had one more quality – they were completely sold out to the will of God. That is the message of Gideon’s Army. And that is why this story is in the Bible.

Dr. John R. Rice said that the Apostle John “looked into the eyes of Jesus, and loved him… I promised to follow Him till I die. I cannot give Him up. I will go with Him anywhere He says” (What It Costs to Be a Good Christian, p. 99).

Let us stand and sing our hymn. It was Dr. Rice’s favorite hymn.

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow Thee;
     Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish every fond ambition, All I’ve sought, and hoped, and known;<
     Yet how rich is my condition, God and Heaven are still my own!

Let the world despise and leave me, They have left my Saviour, too;
     Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like man, untrue;
And, while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
     Foes may hate, and friends may shun me; Show Thy face, and all is bright.

Man may trouble and distress me, ’Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
     Life with trials hard may press me; Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
O ’tis not in grief to harm me, While Thy love is left to me;
     O ’twere not in joy to charm me, Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Haste thee on from grace to glory, Armed by faith, and winged by prayer;
     Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, Swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
     Hope shall change to glad fruition, Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
(“Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken” by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847).