Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia, C. R. Nichol

Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia, C. R. Nichol

One of the earliest religious books my parents gave to me was a 200+ page little black book small enough to fit into my shirt pocket entitled Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia. From this invaluable book I drew material for my first attempt at delivering a lesson at the Weirton Heights Church of Christ that was supposed to be 10 minutes. Being so nervous I think I finished my material in less than 7 minutes. My father stated that this little book is full of excellent material that one could preach from their entire career. While I have not put this to the test, I am confident that many lesson that need to be taught in our pulpits could be organized from the material in this book.

Some time ago, I read a review in The Messenger about this encyclopedia which I enjoyed so much I saved the article for reference in preparation of this article. Charles Ready Nichol was an effective evangelist, debater, and writer. Every Christian should pursue his debates and books. I recently saw where all his published works are now available on CD. Based on what I have seen of his writings, I am confident this CD would be a wise investment for those who are able to use electronic books on the computer. The Gospel Advocate has recently reprinted his series of book entitled Sound Doctrine that would be another fine edition to a church library.

C. R. Nichol lived from 1876 to 1971. He was a fellow debate student with another famous debater among us, Joe Warlick. He attended Nashville Bible School under David Lipscomb and James Harding. His sermons were described as so filled with information that the audience was captivated by the sheer volume of material presented in such a short amount of time. By the time he was 28 he had already been in sixty debates, but before his career would be over the number would climb to 300. He was also president of Thorp Spring Christian College in 1916. He also worked closely with both the Gospel Advocate and the Firm Foundation. It is estimated that he baptized over 30,000 people by the time he reached his prime. He has had a tremendous impact on many other preachers that would contribute greatly to the cause of Christ as well; e.g., Foy E. Wallace.

The book has a table of contents of nearly 60 topics that provide for quick access to material on various subjects. Relevant scriptures are quoted in the manuscript for quick review. One of the practices that C. R. Nichol incorporates is to use multiple passages from differing angles to more illuminate the truth on the topic. For example, on the subject of the Holy Spirit, C. R. Nichol stated:

If the Spirit comes directly from God to convert sinners, the Bible is not true—unless the Spirit comes to the sinner to bring the ‘law of the Lord,’ the converting power. If it is necessary for the Spirit to bring the ‘law of the Lord,’ then the Bible does not contain the ‘law of the Lord,’ and if the Spirit must come directly from God to convert, then the Bible is not true, for it says: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.’
One must ‘see, hear and understand’ to be converted. Jesus says the one ‘having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.’ Lk. 8:15. If man is converted by the Spirit, independent of the word of God, and saved when converted, then he is saved without faith. ‘For faith comes by hearing the word of God.’ Rom. 10:17. But if the Spirit converts him and enables him to believe, then he had to be converted before he could believe, and as God saves the converted, it follows that he was saved before he could believe. If it is said that the Spirit in his power is necessary to enable man to believe that he might be saved, then the law, the converting power, can have no effect on the sinner to convert him till the Spirit operates on the sinner. If this position be true, the Spirit itself does not convert the sinner, but operates on the sinner to enable him to believe. If this be true, then a sinner cannot believe without this operation, and as he cannot be saved till he believes, then he cannot be saved till the Spirit operates on him. The matter stands thus: The Spirit operates on the sinner to enable him to believe. All the Spirit operates on will believe (if this is denied, then the Spirit failed in its work), and all who believe will be saved. Then if man is lost, it is because God withholds the power which would enable him to believe and be saved, and then sends him to hell for not believing. Per the theory: Man can’t believe till God sends him the enabling power of the Spirit; but God does not send the power to all men by which they are enable to believe, and then sends them to hell for not believing. Reader, do you believe that God is so unjust? I beg you, accept the truth; the Spirit has given the word—the law of God. You are to believe his word, obey him, God saves you.
(pp. 138-139)

This is only a fraction of what he writes on this topic. He goes onto list passages that show works of the Holy Spirit and the works of the word of God being joined together. For example,
the Holy Spirit sanctifies (1 Cor. 6:11) but the word also sanctifies (John 17:17).

The encyclopedia, which was copyrighted in 1949, is still available for purchase—another testimony to its enduring value. Its size makes the book fairly inexpensive to purchase and share with others. It makes a great reference work for new converts who need further instruction in the word of God. I highly recommend it for young men working to develop material for sermons.

Mel Futrell, “Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia,” The Messenger, Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching, July 2001.

Nobel Patterson, “Restoration Leaders—C. R. Nichol,” Opening Our Eyes to Jesus from Darkness to Light in Acts, Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman University, 2004, pp. 341-345.

Earl Irvin West, The Search for the Ancient Order, Germantown, TN: Religious Book Service, Vol. 4, 1987.

Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 13, No. 3, March 2006, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.

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