One may find it puzzling why a book of sermons would endure after many years. This usually speaks to two factors—the deliverer and the message. In this case, Foy E. Wallace, Jr. delivered a series of lessons in a gospel meeting in Port Arthur, TX in 1937 which were released in book form and entitled The Certified Gospel. Due to the book’s enduring popularity and increased demand for the preaching of brother Wallace, it was expanded to its present format, The Gospel for Today which was released thirty years later. Today, over seventy years after the original release, it remains one of my personal favorites, even though the expanded version was released just a few months after I was born. I never had the privilege of knowing Wallace; however, my father inspired me from his recollections of days at the Nashville School of Preaching where he heard stories about brother Wallace and was able to watch him preach. I have been blessed to know his youngest son, Wilson and his wife Peggy. They are a delight to visit with and if you have the pleasure of their company to discuss his father, cherish it!
The message of the book is timeless—gospel sermons. We need more straight-from-the-book gospel preaching. Young preachers would do well to obtain brother Wallace’s preaching books. Now, brother Wallace packed so much material in his sermons that one may likely find multiple sermons from just one chapter of the book. Brother Wallace was known for preaching well over an hour or more. People travelled well over 100 miles just to hear him speak one night! There are sermons here we need to continually ring forth from our pulpits—“The Certified Gospel”, “Who Wrote the Bible”, “How and When the Church Began”, “What to Do to Be Saved”, “What Must the Church Do To Be Saved”, “The Sin of Sectarianism”, “Bible Baptism” and others.
My personal favorite from this work is “Why Send for Peter?” I wish every member of the church would read this sermon or their preacher would preach it to them or both! In this lesson brother Wallace deals with several miraculous manifestations including the appearances of an angel to Peter and Cornelius and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Cornelius’ house. Brother Wallace points out the significance of these events and we do well to remember these. For example, Wallace writes concerning the angel which appeared to Cornelius and God’s plan that men preach the gospel, not angels or the Holy Spirit directly:
But why did the angel not tell him [Cornelius] what to do to be saved? Because that is not God’s plan. Angels cannot preach the gospel to men. Cornelius might have said to the angel: “Now, I am ready to do what God commands, why send for Peter, when you are here already; just let Peter stay in Joppa, and let me stay in Caesarea, and avoid three days delay—just tell me what God would have me do.” If ever the gospel plan should vary under any circumstances, would this not have been the one time when it should have varied enough for an angel to tell a man what to do to be saved? (Page 164).
Brother Wallace expands the lesson to point out some additional important points of which we must not lose sight:
We have now learned the purpose of all three of the miracles in this case. First, the appearance of the angel to Cornelius—that was miracle No. 1, and its purpose was to inform Cornelius where to find the preacher. Second, the vision at Joppa—which was miracle No. 2, and its purpose was to show Simon Peter that he should go and preach to the Gentiles. Third, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the household of Cornelius—Miracle No. 3, the purpose of which was to convince the whole Jewish church that the Gentiles were acceptable to God as gospel subjects. (Page 168).
One will not agree with everything brother Wallace writes. He was not perfect and he made mistakes—we all do. We should keep these matters in mind but never let his great accomplishments and writings go unnoticed. People have and still do criticize the man when his name is brought up, but let them show forth their works for the kingdom and see how these set in the balance with brother Wallace’s labors for the Kingdom. Sadly, many of us may find ourselves more akin to Belshazzar than Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 17 No. 2, February 2010, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.