Introduction Of Marshall Keeble
Athens Clay Pullias
Some years ago it was my privilege to visit the world famous Tuskegee Institute, at Tuskegee, Alabama, which was established for Negroes a long time ago-I don't know just how long ago-and which has rendered a great service to them. While there, I have always been happy that I had the privilege of seeing a former slave who had become a great and distinguished scientist, a man world renowned for his achievements with the sweet potato and the peanut. I think he made everything from face powder to plastic out of both of them -- a great boon to the southern farmer. Of course, I refer to the late George Washington Carver. At the time I saw him he was a very old man. He was dressed as you might expect a fellow to be dressed who was going to mow the grass or plow a field. There was about his face a spirit of humility which, I am sure, was carried over into his everyday actions, and I have often remembered the moment we look at him. We didn't get to talk to him. Be did not receive any visitors because he would be too much interrupted, but we could go and look through the glass, He couldn't see you but you saw him. I have often reflected upon the great contributions he made to the poor people of the south by his scientific discoveries, of the distinctions that he has won in the field of science, and then I always think of another Negro man who has done infinitely more on higher ground. He has been a member of the Church of our, Lord for fifty-five years a preacher of the gospel for fifty years, and has preached across this nation. He has personally baptized more than 25,000 people. Through his efforts over two hundred congregations among our colored brethren have been established. He has baptized over two hundred men who are now preaching the gospel, and has started perhaps that many more on the road to preaching. He serves as the president of the Nashville Christian Institute with which I have the honor to be connected. For many years we have had him here at this hour on the last day of our lectures for two reasons: First, because of the great service that be has rendered, the great lessons that he can bring and always does bring, and because of the goodness of the man himself. But behind that, in our thinking, there has always been another purpose, and that is to keep before the rest of us the needs and the opportunities for service among the members of the Negro race. You and I have an obligation to them, and I believe the presence of Brother Keeble here at these meetings each year helps to remind us of that great field of opportunity and responsibility in the work that we are trying to do and are doing at the Nashville Christian Institute. it is a part of our effort to discharge responsibility. We have asked you over and over again to not forget David Lipscomb College in your contributions, but I want to say very sincerely that our interest is not merely in this college, if it were it would be most unworthy. Our interest is in the cause of Christian education-the cause of training young people. With that I hope you will remember to help the Nashville Christian Institute. It has needs that are urgent and, many, And I want to add this: If for any reason in the world you can't find it in your heart to help David Lipscomb College or the Nashville Christian Institute, try to help the cause of Christian education somewhere, because it is a cause of the very first importance to our young people. Any one of us must be interested, not primarily in our immediate situation, but primarily and basically in the general cause of righteousness. So for all these reasons we've had and we have Brother Keeble here this afternoon. Now we used to assign him a subject every time, but it didn't do any good and so we quit. He started wherever we started him, but we went wherever he wanted to go, and so we decided just to hand him the reign and let him talk. I count it an honor to have him among my personal friends. We are all happy to have him here this afternoon, Brother Marshall Keeble.
I want to thank you Bro. Pullias for morose fines inspiring, encouraging words. I don't know what we would do if we didn't have somebody to give us a word of encouragement, somebody to speak a word of uplift in our struggles in this life. It is true that in the Church of Christ we don't believe in too much praise.
We are afraid it might excite the individual-make him think more of himself than he really is. For that reason, men who are worthy, suffer immensely in the Church of Christ. I wish that we had the courage to tell men like Bro. Pullias and the faculty of this institution and the Board of Directors--I wish we had the words to tell them how much we appreciate then and what we think of the great work they are doing. But you know some day we will tell them, or tell somebody, but it will be when they are dead and we will be sure that they are. Bro. David Lipscomb, the man that means so much, whose name goes with this college wherever it goes--He now is receiving congratulations and praise as never before. That man would have appreciated them if he had gotten them while he lived. That is the trouble in the Church of Christ today among my people. I can speak about them because I know them. They want to be sure that you're dead, then they can speak highly of your labor. And the average man today has that kind of disposition and it keeps down the man that would pull us all to success. I don't know of a man that I appreciate more than I do Bro. Athens Clay Pullias. I don't know of a man that I appreciate more than I do Bro. Collins, Bro. Baxter--great and noble men they are. Bro. Moore who is now connected with this school has been a great blessing to the Nashville Christian Institute. This school, I contend and tell everybody, is the first David Lipscomb and Nashville Christian Institute is the second David Lipscomb. We are guided by the men that run and guide this school, and it can hardly be guided wrong with godly men like them guiding our institution. I am always glad to tell people about the men that are connected with our Board of Directors because of the fact it gives the school prestige and a standing and a rating that nothing in the world would do but that. I am glad to always tell people who they are that are interested in helping to put this school where someday we hope to have it go. I can hardly make a speech, and I don't dare, without mentioning Bro. A.M. Burton. I never do make one, anywhere, I may be criticized and I may be pointed at with a finger of scorn, but I cannot be ungrateful. I cannot be unthankful. I cannot help but tell people about that which was so much to me before I ever become connected with the Nashville Christian Institute. Forty years he sent me all over this country, and if anybody is responsible for the conversions and for the work I've tried to do, any one man, it is Bro. A.M. Burton. He sent me all over this country at his own expense a number of years, and then tell me that I would stand up on an occasion like this and be so ungrateful that I wouldn't mention it. I would mention it if it was my last breath. And these other men that are working with him in connection with the great work he is now doing--I don't know, he has told me that he don't know what he would do without the cooperation of Bro. Pullias. Bro. Pullias might not know that he said that. I done let that out! My wife said, "If you don't want nothing out, don't tell my husband." And so I mention that.
Our School at Nashville Christian Institute has as its Bible teacher Bro. J.W. Brents. We are very proud of Bro. Brents because I don't say it. but others say it, not a better Bible teacher in the brotherhood--safe and sound on the doctrine, nothing taught but the real truth, fundamental, and our boys sit at his feet day by day and girls likewise. No girl, no boy, can graduate at our school unless he can pass in Bible. If he fails in Bible he doesn't get promoted. I don't care what he knows. He has got to make it in Bible. He has got to come by Bro. Brents in order to get his promotion. And then we are proud to tell you that every day we have Chapel, in a broad way of expressing it, so that you and everybody can understand it we have Church every day from 11:15 to 12:00. The little boys and big boys who are studying for the ministry speak every day, some of us older ones following. One day the invitation was extended and twenty--two came forward, two of them teachers and members of the faculty. But somebody might say, "Why did you have them and not members of the Church of Christ, why did you have them teaching? Just because the ones that belong to the Church of Christ wouldn't make the sacrifice and teach for the price that we were giving. Church of Christ people want big salaries. They care nothing about the sacrifice--Salary! People that belong to the denominational world taught for our little salary and are now doing it. We baptized over six of them, members of the faculty.
I was in Dallas, Texas, once making a speech concerning the school and trying to get help for the school, and I said we have six teachers that are not members of the Church of Christ, and I looked out there in the audience and Bro. J.W. Dunn turned just as red as he could turn. I knew he didn't like that statement--A Christian school and the teachers not Christian. How could you have 'em? That was the first thing that came into his mind. I saw him looking right red and I tried to fix it right quick. I said we have baptized all of them and he came up behind and made a talk and told me to hire some morel That's the way its done, but in most instances we get excited before we can learn the good of the thing. That was a good work, I think, and I think everybody in this audience would endorse that, and today our school numbers about 350 daily attendants. We are now graduating our fourth graduating class, and we have these graduates in different colleges all over the country-some seven or eight colleges. We are proud to admit and tell you that we are receiving fine recommendations of the students wherever they are. That goes to tell you that whatever you've done in the way of contributing to this school, your funds, your money is not wasted. We haven't a student yet who has brought reproach upon the school. We are really proud of that record.
Now I don't generally, as Bro. Pullias said, take a subject on this occasion. They are so kind and courteous that they allow me to roam wherever I want to go, and I sometimes tell my boys when they get up to preach, "I don't care where you go, just so you stay in the Bible. Just ramble as much as you please--sixty-six books to ramble in, and that's plenty of books, and they go right on.
I was at Kansas City, Missouri, once holding a meeting and Bro. Hinthon, who runs a private college there, a highly educated man, so far as I understand (my judgment is not to be depended on), but at the same time a great man in my estimation. He gave me his radio broadcast while I was there, and in introducing me, he came to me in the studio and asked me what was my subject today so he could announce it over the radio, over the air. I told him I didn't have one. He says well, he being an educator, he had a great big word that he used. He said, "Are you going to speak promiscuously?" And I said, "Yes, sir," whatsoever that is." So, this afternoon, Bro. Pullias allows me to speak promiscuously. I thought I would take for a subject this evening, "Jesus, Misunderstood," the greatest character that ever lived on this earth, and the greatest character that ever will live. He was the Lamb of God that John the Baptist met at the river Jordan and introduced to the people and said "Behold, The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world." John the Baptist was blessed with the privilege of introducing the greatest character that ever lived on the face of the earth. Then on right after that Jesus congratulates and praises John the Baptist. That is the reason I believe that people that are worthy need praising. The Lamb of God did it. He looked back at John the Baptist and said, "From them that are born of women, none greater than John the Baptist."
Brethren, I tell you right now we have had some great men born of women, but Jesus put John supreme and puts him on top right where he belonged, born of women of the flesh, "but the least in my kingdom, the church, is greater than John." That's congratulation! That's praising a man as far as he can go with him. He went as far as he could go. And I think that our brothers and sisters that need praise and honor and glory--we ought to go as far with them as we can go, but be sure not to go too far. Jesus was misunderstood. His disciples walked right along by his side and couldn't understand that he was talking about a spiritual kingdom, and they were thinking and expecting an earthly kingdom clean up unto the time that he died. Then when he died on the cross they misunderstood him, they thought it was over. They thought it was through. They left him and went fishing. The Lamb of God went down into the heart of the earth, conquered death, hell, and the grave. He arose victorious with all power in heaven and on earth given unto him and he told the apostles to go preach the gospel to every creature: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." But before he gave them that commission, Luke says that he opened their understanding. There they were, a misunderstanding there, misunderstood the Lamb of God. He came out of the grave with all power and had to open the understanding of the apostles before he could send them to the wide world. A lot of us today need our understanding opened on many subjects. You take the subject of Christian Education, Christian Education--I heard Bro. Pullias speaking this afternoon on a subject on a line or trend of thought that I was sorry that he stopped. It is right along that line that the Church of Christ today is suffering--misunderstanding. The brethren that are putting the Church of Christ through and over in the world today, these schools you take our brethren today when they want to meet a great scholar, and they want to meet a great man that is fighting the Church of Christ and they want the man to debate him, they try to look for the best college man we've got. You can't deny it brethren--They even write Bro. Pullias to recommend one.
Just as soon as the fight is over we don't believe in school--the fight is over, the fight is over, the college man has whipped him, has got him down. That's who holds him too. Now you take me. I got by with my degree. I got by with mine. Once I remember a Greek scholar, a member of my race, grabbed me in a tent meeting. He said what is the Greek word on that? I knew nothing about no Greek. I said, "What did you say?" He said, "What is the Greek word on that?" I said, "Listen brother, I want everybody in this audience that knows Greek to raise his hand." Not a man in the audience knew anything about it. I said, "Don't waste your time, Nigger." That slowed him down. My friends, the day is coming though that the audience is going to know Greek, and that won't work. I wouldn't advise you to use it continuously. But I got by with it and I said to this man, "Now we won't waste any time talking about Greek, we will talk about the Bible that has been translated by some of the best Greek scholars that ever lived and they translated it for us so we wouldn't have to be bothered." It's kind of like selling peanuts. You walk up to a man's counter and want shelled peanuts. What do you mean by that, Keeble? They are already shelled, to save you the trouble of hulling them. Well the Bible in the King James translation, the word of God is already shelled. All you have to do is eat it, you already have it hulled. My friends, I am glad we already have it hulled, so I wouldn't have to bother about hulling it. Now then again, Misunderstood!
Some time ago, I was preaching and I was talking about the school, and trying to get help. I was in one of the biggest churches in America, white church. The elders opened those doors and said, "Keeble, preach! Tell them about you school." And then when I got through, one of them whispered to me and said, "You just stand back there at the door, and if anybody has got anything for you they will just drop it in your hat." There I stood at the back door like a blind man. Now what was the matter with those brethren? Not a thing in the world, but they misunderstood the thing. They didn't want me mixing into the church treasury. They stood me back there so I wouldn't get into it. Now, I went to the door and stood there and smiled because I knew these men were honest men. They were good Christian men, but they had me standing back there because they misunderstood. Their misunderstanding made me stand back there, but their curiosity arose in them after, after I got so much. They run up to me, one of them did, and said, "How much did you get?" Well, he could have found that out if he had took it up, without asking.
So, my friends, the day is rapidly coming when we are going to understand how to take care of a situation like that and not injure the Church of Christ, but help us to train better boys, better girls to make better workers, and better workers in the kingdom of our Lord. We have baptized at the Nashville Christian Institute, I imagine, over 150 students since it has been in operation. We have gone into the different congregations, and some of them have gone back home in the churches where they have placed their membership. Now if we baptized them and converted them at school, then it looks like those churches where we sent them and where they placed their membership could occasionally send a contribution. We have made one to them. Brethren, they are solid facts I bring before you. Christ was misunderstood, and we are misunderstood many times. When Jesus Christ talked with Nicodemus, Nicodemus misunderstood him. He said, "How can these things be? Can a man go back and be born of his mother?"
Jesus gave him to understand, "I am not talking about your mama! I am not talking about your mama!" He thought he was talking about the flesh. He said, "Except a man be born of the water and the Spirit, be cannot see the kingdom of God." He explains it to Nicodemus. Friends, we need above everything in connection with the church and Christian education an understanding. Now what is more misunderstood than water baptism, a thing that the world staggers at, a thing that the world is confused about. A man said to me not long ago, "Keeble, you are teaching that water washes your sins away." He said, "Don't say water."
I said, "What must I say?" He said, "Obedience, teach that obedience does it." I said, "Well, obedience in what?" He said, "Water!" I said, "that is what I was saying." When you get around to the bottom of it, it is water. Now you go around and circle around till you hit the bottom and it is water. I went over to Ephesians 5:25-26: "Husbands love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." I am so clad that text is there. I wouldn't take nothing for it, because when the brethren jump on me, I run there for my water. Water is there. Nobody in the world can take it out of the plan. Somebody wants to go to heaven dry. Somebody wants to be saved--Don't you hear our great scholars preaching over the radio and saying that you can be saved right there at your radio? I heard it not long ago a scholarly man, say it on the radio. Well, I will say that he is right if there is enough water around the radio. There must be enough water to bury the man in, and very few homes if any would have that much water around the radio. So, my friends, I have never believed that a man could be saved dry. If he can, then what does that do? That puts God in the dry cleaning business. That makes God clean a man dry. Is that right? He didn't clean Naaman dry! You all admit that. I am so glad that II Kings the fifth chapter is in the Bible. I don't know what to do. Naaman thought he would be cleansed dry, and he thought it rubbed off. He thought the man would come out and smite his hands clean. That's a dry cleaning. The people today must have caught that from Naaman. They want it dry, but the prophet told Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip in the river Jordan seven times, and thou shalt be cleansed. He went to the water and he wasn't cleansed, and he went down one time and he wasn't cleansed, three, four, five, six and seven times he went down with it and he come back without it. Nobody in the audience disputes it, Nobody in the world would dispute it, can't afford to. He went down with it and I frequently ask, "When he come back, where did he leave it at?" You know that nobody can't get around it, that last time he went down with it, and that he come up that last time without it.
I am not arguing, brethren, I am just letting II Kings take care of the situation. It is absolutely there. I am not ashamed of it, it was written before I was born. And people misunderstand Jesus when he told the apostles "go preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth that and is baptized shall be saved." He took the page and put salvation on the other side of baptism, not saved before, saved after baptism. A lady said to me a few days ago, she said, "Bro. Keeble, My mama was saved and never was baptized." I said, "Now listen, lady, I am not disputing nothing about your mama, I am preaching the Bible. I didn't even know your mama, and I am not concerned about your mama. If she's dead it wouldn't interest me one bit, but I am interested in what the Bible teaches." She said, "My mother got religion on her deathbed." I said, "Well, if she got it on her death bed she got something she had no business getting."
The Bible says that religion is a duty. People have misunderstood religion just like they misunderstood Christ when he walked among men. They think you can get the thing. You can't get it, brethren. The Bible teaches that religion, pure religion, that's the kind, is this: "Visit the fatherless, and the widows in their affliction, and to keep one's self unspotted from the world," and I very often tell the brethren to be careful and look end see right good what kind of a widow that was that was to be visited. Not a well widow! The well widows are looked after. The well widows are looked after, but the afflicted widows are scarcely regarded. But my friends, the Bible teaches that it is the afflicted widow that is to be visited in pure practice of pure religion.
Then someone might say, Bro. Keeble have you got the baptism of the Holy Spirit? There is another misunderstanding. A lot of people today think they ought to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, and that's a misunderstanding. If you turn over to the eighth chapter of the book of Romans and the fourteenth verse you would find that the Spirit is to lead you, not to baptize you. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." It leads us, brethren. It don't baptize you, it leads you. Not a man living today is baptized by the Holy Spirit, not a man! Well, Bro. Keeble, why? Because there is no need of it. When Mr. Roosevelt lived he used to make fireside chats over the radio. He used to make them and we enjoyed them because no man has ever been born that could speak over the radio as he could. We all admit that. We miss his voice now, regardless of what party he belongs to. I love his voice. Now, then, when he would make those fireside chats he was not a well man, he would go to bed early and about 12:00 you would hear the announcement telling you that this is Mr. Roosevelt by transcription. Mr. Roosevelt speaks in Washington in the White House. What do you make out of that, Bro. Keeble? We today don't need the baptism of the Holy Spirit for we have God's word by transcriptions. We have the record. I want to introduce to you this evening through transcriptions, therefore it eliminates the baptism of the Holy Spirit, no need for it, absolutely get it by transcription, on record.
Misunderstanding today makes us think that everybody should be baptized by the Holy Spirit. When they were baptized by the Holy Spirit it was because the New Testament wasn't written. There was a need for it, something to guide the apostles, but after it was written, we have it by transcription. We have it on record.
No need of the baptism of it, and I am not ashamed to tell nobody I am not baptized with the Holy Spirit. If I were, I would quit reading the Bible and write one. I wouldn't go buying a thing I could write, so you see the uselessness of claiming that we are baptized with the Holy Spirit when we have the record in my hand. If I were baptized by the Holy Spirit I wouldn't need this. I would give it to somebody that wasn't baptized with it. I wouldn't need it, and thank God today I am willing to let it lead me. I am willing to be led by it and not baptized by it.
I think in my conclusion I would like to make an illustration and that is this: In the beginning in the manufacturing of automobiles they made them all with different shifts. If you could drive one it was no sign you could drive the other because the shifts were different. You had to learn the thing over. Well way long down the stream of time, the engineers got together. They decided to put a standard shift in all cars. Standard shift--what was that for? So all the world, all nations could shift just alike, and there would be no trouble in selling the thing.
Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came down from heaven and changed the gears, came down and changed the gears so all nations could shift again. Way back yonder under the Mosaic Law it had ten shifts and only a Jew could shift the gears. Way later on it got to where the Jew couldn't shift it. Jesus came down and put in a shift with five gears, and now teach this to all nations. Thank God for the church has five gears. Easy! No wonder he said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. He tells you in Mark 12:29 shift it up into hearing. It tells you in Hebrews 11:6 shift it back in belief. It tells you in Luke 13:3, shove it up into repentance right where nobody don't want to go, shove it on up there in repentance. And after you push it up into repentance, pull it back into confession, and then last of all pull it way back into baptism and rise in high. Rise in high--on your way to heaven if you keep enough gas in your tank. If you keep enough gas in your tank. What is that, Bro. Keeble? The heart, with the heart man believeth. The heart is the tank and it must be filled with the love of God. God declares, If you love me you will keep my commandments." I think the theme of this meeting is, or this lectureship, that godliness is a condition of salvation. I think that is the theme of this lectureship.
Did you know if we followed that theme we could go back to the second chapter of the book of Titus, "The grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared unto all men teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live righteously and soberly in this present world, looking for the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ," My friends, what we need today is absolutely the grace of God in our hearts. Let us "press forward to the mark of the high calling which is in Christ Jesus."
I held a meeting in a large city not long ago, I won't tell where it is because somebody is sitting here from that city. Not long ago, I held a meeting and the home that I was in they were fixing to serve me beer, fixing to put it on the table, a glass of beer sitting around at each place. One lady that knew me grabbed the lady of the house and said, "Don't set that on there. He wont drink it." She had the bottle ready. She brought it out of the frigidaire. Now when I got to preaching there I told the elders, I said, "Go around to the churches here in the city (I would like to call the name of the city) and raid these frigidaires." Wouldn't it be fine if the elders of every church would raid these frigidaires and take all the bottles of beer and wine out of the frigidaires and learn the Christians that they are to "touch not, taste not, and handle not the unclean things. All these perish with the using?" Then I said to the elders before you start out raiding, raid your own box.
My friends, in my conclusion, I want to thank you this evening for this privilege, and I want to thank the President and the Vice-President. I want to thank the Board of Directors for the privilege of telling you about our school, and I hope and pray to God that you will understand it better after listening to that great message from Bro. Pullias this afternoon. "Christian Education" and "Godliness As A Condition of Salvation" is one of the greatest themes that I have ever heard at a lectureship. I thank you.
-David Lipscomb College, Annual Winter Lectureship, Lipscomb Lectures Vol. II, January, 1948. pages 120-127
Webmaster's Note: Marshall Keeble often opened and closed lectureships. I stumbled across this lesson when one of our elders, Virgil Richie, walked in the office one Wednesday evening and gave me a copy of a book he had in his library. It was the 1948 Lectureship Of David Lipscomb College. It was Volume II. What a treat. And low and behold, guess you closed the lectureship? None other than Marshall Keeble. So, I had to have this on the site and available to the masses. I hope you enjoy it.