Evangelist T. T. Martin (AD 1862-1939) was a professor, pastor, evangelist. Born in Mississippi, he was a graduate of Mississippi College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He entered full-time evangelism in 1900 and was known for his effectiveness in bringing conviction and pointing men to the Savior. He often used large tents for his revival meetings. He was also known for his opposition to evolution. Thomas Theodore Martin was buried in Gloster, Mississippi and his grave has references to the three texts he viewed as the core of his ministry: John 3:16; Acts 16:31; John 5:24.
In his 1912 sermon, Rewards – Degrees in Heaven, Evangelist Martin told the story:
A rich banker in the West a few weeks before Christmas sent a check for three hundred and fifty dollars to his brother in the East, a poor country preacher, telling him to come and bring all of his family and spend Christmas with him. They had not seen each other since boyhood.
The preacher and family arrived Christmas eve morning. That afternoon in carriages the two families drove over the banker’s beautiful farm of a thousand acres of rich land. Coming in late in the afternoon, they came by the pasture and saw the beautiful herd of blooded cattle. After a sumptuous supper the banker’s daughters gave them some splendid music and the two families went upstairs to sleep.
The two white-haired brothers, the banker and the poor country preacher remained downstairs, and for hours talked of boyhood days in the old country home in the East. At last the conversation, like the fire in the fireplace, had about died out.
Finally the banker turned and said, “Brother John, may I say something to you and you not get angry?” Said the preacher, “Why, brother James, you can say anything you wish to me and I will not get angry.”
Said the banker, “Brother John, you and I were poor boys back in the old country home in the East and we agreed to be partners for life. One day you came to me and told me that you were called to preach. I told you then that you were a fool. What a fool you have been! Do you remember that rich farm of a thousand acres you saw this afternoon? Paid for with honest money, John. This comfortable home for my old age, paid for with honest money, John. The fifty thousand dollars I have in the bank in the city where I am president of the bank, every dollar of it honest money, John.
“John, you could have had as much as I have. What a fool you have been! Why, I had to send you the three hundred and fifty dollars to bring you and your family that I might see them before I die. And look at your daughters; they are dressed in such a shabby way that I am ashamed for my neighbors to see my children’s cousins. And look at you with your old seedy, worn suit and your patched shoes; I am ashamed to take you to town day after tomorrow and introduce you to my business associates.
What a fool you have been! Now, John, I am not saying this to wound your feelings; for I love you, John. But I don’t want you to let any of your boys be such fools as you have been. You know you have been a fool, John.”
Then there was silence for some time. The tears were trickling down the cheeks of the old country preacher.
At last he broke the silence, “Brother James, may I say something to you and you not get angry?” “Why, certainly, John, I did not say what I did you make you angry, but to keep you from letting any of your boys be such fools as you have been, for you know you have been a fool, John.”
“I know,” replied the old preacher, “that it looks like I have been a fool from this end of the line, brother James. But, brother James, we are both old men and we must soon go. Don’t be angry with me, brother James, but what have you got up yonder?”
Again there was silence, which was suddenly broken by the banker sobbing, “Oh, John, I am a pauper at the judgment bar of God.”
“So is he that layeth up treasures for himself and is not rich toward God.” They are dying all over the world, men who are redeemed, going to Heaven, but paupers.
-Evangelist T. T. Martin, God’s Plan With Men; 1912. Reprinted by Loizeaux Brothers, New York; c. 1950 (no date given).
This Loizeaux Brothers book is from my dad’s, Joe E. Brumbelow’s, library. As a boy, I remember him using this illustration in his preaching. And, I believe my dad’s life was another example of a preacher of the gospel laying up treasure in Heaven.
There is nothing wrong with being rich, if you can do so while honoring God. But, whether rich or poor, have you been laying up treasure in Heaven?
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, September 14, AD 2016.
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