Urban Report

The Church: Hospital or Army?

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Jason Bradley (Host), Pr. Byron Hill Sr.


Series Code: UBR

Program Code: UBR000182A

00:01 Are you one of those people
00:02 that thinks that the Church is a hospital for sinners
00:05 well stay tuned to meet a man
00:07 who has a unique perspective on this issue.
00:09 My name is Jason Bradley
00:10 and you're watching Urban Report.
00:36 Hello and welcome to Urban Report.
00:37 My guest today is Pastor Byron Hill Senior.
00:40 Pastor Hill has served as a Seventh-day Adventist Pastor
00:44 for 43 years and is here to shed some light
00:47 on the statement that: Church is a hospital for sinners
00:50 welcome to Urban Report Pastor Hill.
00:52 Thank you, glad to be here.
00:54 So, tell us a little bit about your background,
00:57 tell us a little bit about where you're from,
01:00 do you have any siblings?
01:03 My father was a Seventh-day Adventist Pastor,
01:05 my mother was a Church School Teacher,
01:08 they both attended Oakwood College.
01:10 The family consisted of four boys and one girl
01:15 and two of the brothers were Adventist Pastors.
01:21 My oldest brother, Franklin,
01:22 passed away a couple of years ago,
01:24 and my youngest brother, Halloren is more into radio work
01:30 and TV work.
01:32 He's an amazing producer too, I've heard some of his music
01:36 and his tracks and he's talented... blessed.
01:40 Yes, he likes that and so... that was our family
01:43 we grew up in a home that really was very positive
01:47 about the church and that is that they were
01:50 very careful not to say anything negative
01:53 about the church around us.
01:55 My mother would even go into
01:57 Pig Latin if she wanted to mention something about a member
02:01 and they were really trying to keep it really careful that
02:06 the people in the church were basically good people
02:09 and they didn't talk about them around us
02:11 so we thought the church was
02:13 very good... as a place... to be a part of.
02:16 Ah ha, they didn't want... they didn't want you to think
02:19 anything negative about the church at all,
02:21 would you say that your parents
02:23 played a big role in you becoming a pastor?
02:25 Oh yes, yes, just being around them...
02:29 they were very upbeat people, positive people
02:32 and my father never
02:35 pushed either of us that became pastors to be a pastor,
02:40 he just seemed to enjoy himself...
02:43 we would go to Camp Pitch...
02:46 that was an event that took place before Camp Meeting
02:49 where the preachers helped put up the tents,
02:52 and all the preachers there... we knew personally,
02:55 they seemed to be very happy, positive people
02:57 and so we just had a knack of leaning toward liking pastors
03:02 and liking the church.
03:04 So you were a pastor, Dr. Hill is a pastor
03:09 and your other brother was a pastor as well
03:14 correct? Pr. Hill: Yes...
03:15 Okay, wow! three pastors! And what did your dad do?
03:18 Well, he was an Adventist Pastor... a regular pastor
03:22 he was one of the first hired in... I think, 1946...
03:26 as a pastor coming out of Oakwood
03:29 when they were just developing Black Conferences
03:32 and so, that was just our life... the church.
03:35 Jason: Wow! Pr. Hill: The church...
03:37 So, I want to get... because there's a lot of meat
03:41 that we have to cover and you oftentimes hear that...
03:45 that saying... that the church is a hospital for sinners,
03:48 you disagree with that
03:50 and I want to find out why... why that is...
03:55 Well, if you ask almost anyone to tell you
04:00 where the thought or the expression
04:04 "The Church is a hospital for sinners" came from,
04:08 you would get very different answers
04:11 and I asked somebody recently, just a few days ago,
04:15 where did you
04:17 get that statement... how did you hear it first?
04:19 And they just named a pastor...
04:21 then I asked another person right around...
04:23 and they said, "Well, I just heard it at church"
04:25 and so, finding an originator of the first person to state it
04:31 or write it... I think you would find it very difficult
04:35 some people even say that Saint Augustine originated it
04:39 or Chrysostom originated the statement
04:42 but the problem comes in when you try to find a primary
04:45 reference for either men... you can't find one.
04:49 Yeah and it seems like it's generational
04:52 like this has been passed down from generation to generation
04:55 to generation because I've heard it
04:56 I mean... all throughout my life
04:59 and I couldn't tell you where it came from either.
05:01 Well and most... and I was like that too,
05:03 that's why I said, "Let me try to find out"
05:07 and surprisingly, I thought I had kind of
05:10 nailed it down... when I say, in my booklet,
05:14 that Morton T. Kelsey originated it,
05:17 Morton T. Kelsey was an Episcopal Priest
05:20 and a Writer and kind of a Counselor
05:25 and he was born in 1817 and then
05:30 as I began to still kind of verify it
05:33 because I had a book that he states it in,
05:37 and in his book he says this, on page 40...
05:40 I think it's 42 and 43 he says,
05:42 "The Church is not a museum for saints,
05:47 but it is a hospital for recovering sinners. "
05:53 And boy! I said, "I have it, I have it,"
05:56 but as I continued to try to find the origin,
06:00 I was very surprised to find out
06:03 that "Dear Abby" in 1964 April the 1st,
06:10 made a statement in a newspaper, in her column,
06:14 and there was a couple that had been
06:17 living together for 32 years
06:18 and they wanted to get back to church
06:20 but they had not been married yet...
06:23 they had a few kids, so they wrote to her...
06:25 they felt like they were too sinful
06:26 to be accepted in the church,
06:29 so they said, "What shall we do?"
06:31 And she said,
06:33 "I believe that if you go to the church
06:35 and talk to the pastor, he'll work out a plan for you
06:39 and you can kind of quietly get married
06:42 and then just be a regular member of the church. "
06:45 And in that context, she said,
06:48 "Remember, the church is a hospital for sinners,"
06:51 that was back in 1964 and I believe now
06:55 that more people could have gotten it from "Dear Abby"
06:59 than any place else.
07:01 Yeah, yeah, that's a possibility,
07:04 I think it's interesting that you said
07:06 that they felt like they were too sinful to join the church,
07:09 you see... I mean... that's what the devil wants you to think
07:12 because you've gone so far away from God
07:17 that he wants you to think that
07:18 there's no turning back that God doesn't want you
07:20 but we know... that's not true,
07:22 we know that God wants to save us,
07:24 he wants to save each and every one of us
07:26 but we have to make that choice to follow Him,
07:28 so...
07:30 why do you feel that it's so important
07:32 to share this message with the church?
07:34 Well, basically I believe
07:37 that when you look at the church as a hospital,
07:41 you will begin to make excuses
07:46 for people who are not growing spiritually,
07:49 when you look at the church as a hospital,
07:53 church discipline either completely goes away
07:57 or is rarely applied because a person can say,
08:00 "Well, I'm just sick... " and who would want to be
08:04 hurting or causing a sick person to even suffer more?
08:07 "We're all recovering so just have mercy on me. "
08:11 So are you saying that people are getting complacent?
08:14 Are you saying that people use that saying
08:17 to just be stuck in their ways and become habitual sinners?
08:21 Yes, I believe that... that...
08:23 that they begin to make excuses for others
08:26 and make excuses for themselves, and so...
08:29 and I think that oftentimes, people sincerely believe
08:32 if they know somebody who is not attending church,
08:35 either they're completely a non-Christian
08:39 but even those who were once Christians,
08:42 to encourage and to come back,
08:44 and they say, "Well, I'm too bad... "
08:45 "Oh, the church is a hospital for sinners... "
08:47 you'll be fine... just come on back,
08:49 "We're all sinners... " they'll say something like that.
08:51 Ah ha... now, what do you think about
08:55 people in the church that... they say, "Don't judge me... "
09:00 or telling people not to be so judgmental?
09:03 What do you think about that situation?
09:07 I think, in the context of judging a person
09:11 and not knowing their actual motives
09:13 is not something we should do,
09:17 but in the same chapter it talks about "Judge not... "
09:21 also, continues by saying that you should be able to
09:25 recognize people by their fruit,
09:27 you know...
09:29 Not to cut you off but... it's a part of this...
09:33 there... you have that verse in the Bible
09:37 that also talks about "no man knows a man's heart"
09:40 or something along those lines,
09:42 but then you also have the verse
09:44 that you're talking about... with the fruit...
09:46 "by their fruit, you shall know them"
09:48 so, unpack that.
09:51 Well, I think sometimes,
09:53 people can assume they can tell...
09:56 will the person will be saved or lost.
09:59 They'll make a judgment call, and they'll say,
10:02 "They'll never make it to heaven"
10:03 and based on how they are conducting themselves,
10:06 they probably wouldn't, but what they can't know
10:10 is if the person will change or make a decision
10:13 to turn around, so a judgment like that...
10:16 as sometimes the Jews did... they would look at the Gentiles
10:19 and say, "Oh, they're lost... they can work on the Sabbath
10:22 but we don't work on the Sabbath
10:23 because they're not going to be saved anyway"
10:25 and if you make a judgment like that,
10:28 I think that's out of place,
10:30 but I think by the same token
10:32 if there's someone whose openly sinning,
10:36 let's say they are in a situation where they are
10:39 committing adultery or fornication,
10:42 they're drinking, they're smoking,
10:44 they're going to all types of un-Christian environments,
10:48 you can say, "You are not following God,
10:52 if you continue to openly do these things...
10:56 or even secretly... because you're out of His will"
10:58 and so, you can tell them,
11:01 "You need to get to God, you need to turn around"
11:03 that's a judgment call, people can make judgment calls
11:07 and they do when they say that a person is a good person.
11:10 That's a judgment call,
11:12 you don't really know their heart,
11:13 you don't even know what they do in secret,
11:16 but based on what you kind of see, you say,
11:18 "Oh, they're good... they're just...
11:20 they're going to probably be right in heaven"
11:22 you're making a call... and you might be surprised
11:24 if you get to heaven and you don't see them.
11:26 Hmmm... hmmm... yeah... I think it's also a fine line
11:31 because you don't want to throw rocks
11:33 if you're living in a glass house, so to speak.
11:35 Right, right, right, right, right.
11:37 So, if you're telling somebody,
11:39 "You know, you shouldn't be smoking,
11:41 you shouldn't be drinking because,
11:43 you know, it's not in God's will"
11:45 but then, you're going and smoking
11:47 and drinking every now and then,
11:48 it's like you have to get the mote out of your own eye
11:51 before you can get the speck out of your brother's eye
11:53 but that's very interesting information,
11:56 so tell us a little bit more about what's in this booklet.
12:00 This booklet is really seeking to do one thing,
12:06 it's trying to say, "When you look at the church,
12:11 don't look at the church as a hospital,
12:15 but look at the church as an Army"
12:18 and so, there are several
12:21 descriptions of the church in Scripture,
12:23 the church is described as a building at times
12:26 it's described as the Body of Christ
12:29 it's described as a vineyard, it's described as a woman
12:33 but you don't have it ever described as a hospital.
12:37 You do have statements about people being sick in the Bible,
12:42 but the amazing thing when Israel came out of Egypt
12:47 we're told that there was not
12:50 one sick person among them
12:52 and they were in the millions, maybe 2 or 3 millions
12:55 and the expression that there was no sick person among them
12:59 was talking about physical sickness,
13:01 but it was to illustrate what God could do for people
13:04 spiritually... within His church,
13:06 you see the great text in the Bible
13:09 is in Jeremiah 8:22, when it just asks a question,
13:14 "Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no Physician there?"
13:18 And it continues... but the basic idea...
13:21 if Christ is the Great Physician,
13:23 why won't He heal sick people spiritually
13:28 as He did when He was on earth
13:31 healing people physically
13:33 there were whole villages
13:34 but there was not one sick person there
13:37 because Jesus had passed through it
13:40 so in His own church... why would He just let people
13:43 remain sick two years, three years, thirty years
13:46 and He won't heal them?
13:47 Because the great call for Christ just says,
13:51 "I didn't come to call the righteous
13:52 but sinners to repentance. "
13:54 Jason: Hmmm... hmmm...
13:56 The way Christ heals a person
13:58 is He forgives their sins if they're sincere,
14:02 so everybody in the church can become well
14:05 by having sins forgiven.
14:08 Yes and that's not to say
14:11 that you're once saved... always saved.
14:13 Correct? Because I think, then, a lot of people...
14:15 some people might misconstrue that
14:17 and we definitely don't want them to be mistaken that
14:20 once saved... always saved... that's not the case.
14:23 And so, have you ever pastored hospitalized "sinners?"
14:30 Yes, there have been people that chronically complain
14:36 about how hurt they are, how offended they have been...
14:42 they've been... how offended... someone has treated them
14:49 in a way that the church is just a terrible place
14:53 and so they threaten to leave, they talk about...
14:58 "There are a whole lot of hypocrites in this church...
15:00 there's not enough love in this church"
15:01 and they go on and on...
15:03 and usually they don't do much work
15:04 in terms of bringing souls to Christ
15:07 because they are sick... whether they know it or not
15:10 and so, I pastor people like that...
15:13 like most pastors have...
15:15 and then there are the other people...
15:16 they have a sweetness about them,
15:18 they have a great desire to bring souls to Jesus Christ,
15:22 they love the Lord,
15:23 they don't talk about the mistreatment they received,
15:27 they just kind of say,
15:28 "This is just a part of Satan's work
15:31 to try to dishearten me or discourage me
15:33 but I will not be that. "
15:34 Hmmm... hmmm... hmmm... so let me ask you this,
15:38 how do we... how do we make that shift...
15:41 how do we change that paradigm?
15:43 That was a great question,
15:45 I believe that the best way to look at this whole concept is
15:50 to say, "What's the best thing to do
15:52 for people that come into the church
15:55 or are already in the church?"
15:56 There's a statement
15:58 in the Spirit of Prophecy that says this,
16:01 "The best medicine that we can give members
16:05 is to give them work to do, not sermonizing...
16:08 but give them something to do
16:10 this will strengthen them in a great way"
16:13 and so the church... instead of being a hospital,
16:15 where we're constantly treating people,
16:17 becomes a place where we're constantly training people...
16:21 equipping people to work for souls.
16:24 Jason: Hmmm... hmmm... hmmm...
16:26 so that's how the church should function
16:28 it's to equip people to get out, go work and go win souls
16:31 but the reformation has to take place...
16:34 or the revival has to take place within the church
16:38 before they can go out and win souls.
16:41 Right... I was in... I pastored in Oakland
16:45 and so... two people got a handbill
16:48 and they were about to break up their marriage
16:51 and they just said, "Let's go to this Revelation Seminar"
16:54 and they attended
16:56 and they were not regular-going church people,
17:00 the gentleman... he would wear a nice bright yellow suit
17:06 with yellow shoes, gold in his mouth,
17:10 driving a Cadillac and... so they came to the meeting
17:15 and they attended very regularly and they were baptized.
17:20 They were on the roll,
17:22 they were baptized in the Immanuel Temple Church
17:25 in Oakland and so they got baptized
17:27 and so... it just came to my mind...
17:29 I said, "Why don't I have them do a Revelation Seminar?"
17:33 And boy! they did not like that idea.
17:37 But my idea was...
17:39 I want to put them to work as soon as possible
17:41 and so, they finally gave in,
17:44 because I was kind of determined,
17:46 I said, "I'll be there every night with you
17:48 I have the book... the same book I use,
17:50 I'm going to give you that same book,
17:52 you just do one lesson at a time"
17:54 and so they finally consented
17:55 and they hadn't gone to college or anything
17:58 but... you know... so they had some challenges
18:01 reading certain words... even.
18:02 They got up there, both of them, every time we had the Seminar
18:06 and then all their relatives came out,
18:08 they finished the Seminar and at this point...
18:12 they have been in the church now for nine years
18:16 leading on as a deacon that has keys to the church
18:19 and his wife is a Sabbath School Superintendent
18:23 and I think it was them becoming active right away
18:26 that has helped them remain in the church.
18:28 Wow! yeah it's not like come in and then forget them
18:33 they come in, we embrace them and equip them
18:36 to go out and teach others.
18:37 Pr. Hill: Yes, yes, yes.
18:39 All right, that's amazing, what are some Scriptures
18:43 that can support what's in your booklet?
18:46 I think one of the very best Scriptures
18:50 that talks about this idea
18:53 is in 2nd Timothy chapter 2 and verse 3
19:00 and here's what it says,
19:01 it says, "Thou therefore endure hardness,
19:05 as a good soldier of Jesus Christ"
19:08 "Timothy... I want you to be a tough soldier
19:16 for Jesus Christ," and so, that one Scripture there
19:19 is a very powerful Scripture that talks about this
19:22 and then as we think about Christ... looking for a church
19:29 ultimately, as Ephesians talks about,
19:31 that doesn't have spot or wrinkle,
19:34 He's coming back for a church that is completely blameless
19:38 now they have to depend on Christ's righteousness
19:42 to become that way and remain that way
19:45 but His church that He's coming for
19:48 will have a bunch... a whole group...
19:52 of dedicated, righteous people
19:55 who love Him and work for Him with all their hearts.
19:58 Yeah, He's coming for a purified bride.
20:00 Pr. Hill: Yes, yes He is.
20:02 Man! there's so much in this booklet,
20:08 how can people get this booklet,
20:11 how can they contact you,
20:13 how can they get in touch with you so they can get this?
20:15 They can just e-mail me at
20:21 ByronHill5153@me. com
20:28 that's: me. com
20:30 and they'll be able to contact me
20:32 and we can discuss about how they can get the booklet.
20:36 Oh, wonderful and what inspired you to write this...
20:40 out of all topics that you could have selected,
20:43 what inspired you to write this particular booklet
20:47 at this particular time?
20:50 I think when I got a glimpse
20:53 of what happens when you put people to work...
20:56 I used to teach at an Academy,
20:59 Rio Lindo Academy in Healdsburg, California,
21:01 I taught there for seven years,
21:03 I was the Bible teacher for Sophomores and Juniors
21:07 and also the Church Pastor,
21:08 I had never worked with teenagers this closely
21:11 and so I saw them every school day
21:14 and then on the weekend and so,
21:17 we would have our regular Weeks of Prayer...
21:21 and we had even invited through the time I was there,
21:23 we had Doug Batchelor before, he was well known,
21:26 Lonnie Melashenko, Jose Rojas,
21:29 we would just try to get the best in...
21:31 for Weeks of Prayer for them
21:32 and then we'd have a Student Week of Prayer, so...
21:35 Oh, now explain that... so the students...
21:37 The students would lead out in the Week of Prayer themselves,
21:41 we didn't have a guest speaker, we just...
21:42 the students would speak and then
21:44 that was a Student Week of Prayer,
21:46 so, we were getting close to one...
21:48 and so the Science Teacher, Ron, spoke to me after Chapel,
21:53 he said, "Byron... " he said...
21:56 "We talk about having Week of Prayer
21:59 but we don't do much praying. "
22:01 and I didn't take it as a bad statement,
22:04 and I said, "What do you mean, Ron?"
22:06 he said, "Well, I'm a Chemistry teacher,"
22:09 he said, "but I have to get kids in the Lab
22:11 to do experiments
22:12 if they're going to really understand Chemistry"
22:15 and so he said, "I just think
22:17 that a Week of Prayer should have more prayer"
22:19 I said, "Wow! so how can we do it?"
22:22 he didn't know a solution, he just had an idea
22:24 so we talked awhile, came back again
22:27 and so we decided, "Let's try this out... "
22:30 so we said, "Let's have the students
22:32 instead of coming together to hear a Student Speaker...
22:37 let's have them broken up... girls in their own dorms,
22:41 boys in their own dorms,
22:43 we're going to get a Leader
22:44 and he's going to have three others to come to his room,
22:49 during this week,
22:50 they'll have a piece of paper that has a Scripture,
22:53 maybe a Spirit of Prophecy quote
22:55 and then they'll have prayer together
22:56 and that was it.
22:58 We knew the students well enough to say,
22:59 "We can't ask kids to volunteer
23:01 to be Leaders of a spiritual entity"
23:04 so we picked the Leaders
23:06 and so when the kids came back, we announced it
23:09 and they didn't like the idea
23:11 that some of them were chosen as Leaders
23:13 and they would have to have this Reading in their room
23:16 and prayer and all of that,
23:17 they were not happy about it at all
23:19 but that's what was planned... so they did it
23:23 not with happiness or anything
23:26 but they did it,
23:28 and so... the time came,
23:30 the girls and guys were separated,
23:32 most of the week
23:34 and they would have to meet in their rooms
23:36 we didn't hear any good feedback during the week,
23:39 it was just like, "Well, we got seven days,
23:41 it will be over and we'll try the usual back again
23:44 the next time we do it
23:45 and so when the Week of Prayer ended,
23:49 we had a Communion,
23:51 we still kept the girls and guys separate,
23:53 you know, even for Communion
23:55 because we don't want that to be any part of the mixture
23:59 you know, and so,
24:01 one Friday night after this had ended
24:05 I was walking back as I did for six years...
24:08 seven years... while there... back to my house
24:11 and I've always passed the boy's dorm
24:13 and this one time I passed by
24:16 and I heard... upstairs in the chapel,
24:20 the boys singing hymns, it was so shocking,
24:25 I walked there six or seven years...
24:27 so I heard many Friday nights...
24:29 nothing like that, so I said, "I got to go in"
24:31 so I went in, went upstairs
24:32 and there were about 50 guys with regular hymnals
24:36 singing hymns, there was no adult there.
24:38 Jason: Wow! Pr. Hill: I was shocked!
24:40 Jason: Wow!
24:41 And I said, "Why are you all doing this?"
24:43 "Well, we just want to be closer to the Lord,
24:45 we just felt that we should sing some hymns together"
24:48 but they were also meeting in their rooms
24:51 reading their Bibles and some Spirit of Prophecy...
24:54 So, that Prayer Meeting... when you added extra prayer...
24:59 when they were able to commune with God,
25:01 the Holy Spirit worked on them,
25:03 and it just carried on into everyday thing for them.
25:08 And they have something to do that wasn't...
25:11 even though they didn't do it well,
25:13 they don't want to do it, they had something to do
25:16 rather than just sit in the audience.
25:17 That was most of the School
25:19 and it was such an amazing thing that happened,
25:22 I was thankful to God,
25:23 He let me stay there for seven years,
25:25 so I could actually see Him move on people who are put to work.
25:31 Hmmm... and what you said was key,
25:34 that... "being put to work"
25:36 because if people aren't getting involved,
25:39 that they're not being a part of the Service
25:43 or if they don't feel like
25:45 they're a part of the congregation
25:48 and able to get out and do some work,
25:50 then, sometimes they feel like it doesn't apply to them
25:54 especially as a young person
25:57 they feel like the Pastor might be
25:59 talking to their grandparent.
26:02 In the short time that we have left,
26:06 what would you say to a church leader
26:09 or to members in the congregation
26:13 about overcoming sin?
26:17 I would say that...
26:21 one of the important things...
26:23 while I was at the Academy, I heard many times,
26:26 "I got baptized too early and therefore
26:29 I shouldn't have done it"
26:31 my concept is that
26:33 you probably didn't get baptized too early...
26:36 you probably didn't realize that after you got baptized,
26:41 you needed to become a student of the Bible...
26:43 reading it, studying it on a regular basis
26:47 and I believe that anyone that wants to move
26:50 into an Army position,
26:51 has to equip himself with Biblical information
26:56 for his personal life and also to share with others
26:59 and any church with people
27:01 who don't know how to study the Bible,
27:04 is not going to really be able to challenge people
27:09 to be in the Lord's army,
27:10 and so any time you find young people that are into the Bible,
27:15 you're going to find young people
27:17 that are into Christ and into working for Him
27:21 as they would in the army of God.
27:24 Hmmm... that's amazing and it's not a hospital...
27:27 Jason: It's an army... Pr. Hill: It's an army.
27:31 I love that... I can't believe our time is just about up,
27:34 this was so power-packed
27:37 and people definitely need to e- mail you
27:39 and get in touch with you for this booklet.
27:41 Thank you so much for joining us today.
27:43 It was a joy being here.
27:45 Oh, wonderful, I've definitely been provided with a...
27:48 a whole new way of looking at this issue
27:51 and I hope that you have as well
27:53 and received a new perspective today.
27:55 Well, we've reached the end of another Program,
27:57 thanks for joining us,
27:59 join us next time and remember...
28:00 it just wouldn't be the same without you.


Revised 2016-05-23