1 Thes 5:14-24
[a] We were associated with Portobello Corps situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, for a number of years, first running it along with Leith, and then along with Musselburgh.
Some time after we had relinquished responsibility for it, they bought a new flag.
The D.C. of the day, didn’t stop to think of the memories and experiences associated with the old flag, and threw it out. People were upset - one ex-officer, even wrote a poem about it. “The Demise of the Flag” or something like that.
[a] “Why a flag?” people ask! No other church has a flag?
Well, whoever saw an army without one!
[b] Often a flag is known as ‘the colours’.
In the American civil war, the story is told of the regiment in retreat, and the flag and it’s bearer getting left behind.
The anguished cry went up, “How will we get the colours back to the regiment?”
The officer in charge said, “We won’t! We’ll get the regiment back to the colours!”
They did, and in so doing received new impetus, and won the battle they had been losing!
[c] Dear friends, WE MUST GET BACK TO THE COLOURS - OUR FLAG - OUR STANDARD, AND ALL THAT IT MEANS.
[d] SO MUCH OF IT HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN, OR LEFT BEHIND IN THIS MODERN ARMY OF OURS!
[a] When I was just a Cadet at the college, we were preparing to go into Soho for open-airs, probably standing outside a strip club, or a brothel.
[b] I was told, “Don’t preach about being washed in the Blood of Jesus. Modern people don’t understand that concept. They will think of a basin in which to wash - filled with blood!”
[c] Is our message of the Blood old fashioned or outdated, or harder to understand than it was in Bible days. BECAUSE IF IT IS, THEN OUR FLAG TOO IS OUTDATED!
[d] More than that, IF IT IS, THE BIBLE ITSELF IS OUTDATED!
Are we really suggesting that the people of Bible days, were more intelligent to understand the concept of the Gospel, than people are today?
[a] I would suggest that one of the things that down through 135 years, has kept the Army true to the Biblical message of the Gospel, is our flag!
[b] I can look at the RED of the flag, and I can ask, “Are you washed in the blood that Jesus shed on Calvary?”
[c] I can look at the YELLOW, and ask you in the words of Scripture, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
[d] I can look at the BLUE, and be reminded that from it’s beginnings, this has been a movement that has stood for purity and holiness of life - and I can ask you if your life radiates that holiness and purity, that reveals the depth of your walk with Christ. The words of God Himself say, “Be ye holy for I am holy.”
[a] Orders and Regulations states the flag to be “ an emblem of highly cherished principles …… a reminder of God’s dealings with the Army in the past ……… a constant stimulus to faithfulness, courage and enterprise.”
[b] I will remember until the day I die, seeing an early Salvation Army Flag, splattered with the blood of those who stood for it’s truths on the streets of London in those early days!
[c] We are a movement with a history! Let us never dare to forget, those who even gave their lives, to keep this flag flying, because they stood for it’s truth, whatever the cost! It is an insult to them to belittle or misuse this precious emblem of our faith.
[d] Now by saying that, I am not giving license to worship the flag! God forbid!
[e] There are those who do. They will with great gusto sing that they’ll never let the old flag fall, or that they love the dear old flag. They’ll maybe even wave their little flags at everybody! ( No offence to the flag wavers of this morning - that was a tonic to our souls!)
But ask some of these folk if the red, yellow and blue have been applied to their lives, and you’ll soon find out that they’re ‘Army Barmy’ and have never even thought what the colours are all about.
[f] Oh yes, they might be washed in the Blood of Jesus, but ask them if they’re baptised in the Fire of the Holy Spirit - there it is burning on our flag, and they’ll look at you as if you need locking up! Confront them with the truth of the blue - holiness of life, and they’ll be phoning the men in the white coats to come and get you!
[a] The colours on our flag are a guarantee that no rank modernist can slip into high office in our movement, and change our basic fundamental doctrines. They are enshrined in the colours of our flag for as long as our movement exists!
[b] An excursion train from Kingston, North Carolina, ran on to the drawbridge crossing the Elizabeth River, but one of the sections of the bridge was open, and the train plunged into the river, with the loss of many lives.
The badly injured driver insisted that the signalman had shown him a white flag, signifying he should proceed, while the signalman insisted he had been shown a red flag!
The flag was produced, and the mystery was solved, the red flag had been in use so long, the colour had faded, and it could easily have been mistaken for white.
[c] We cannot afford that the colours of our flag become faded - they - along with the message they represent, must stand our clear and true! That, dear friends, is the basis upon which our Salvation Army came into being. It must be the basis upon which we continue throughout this new millennium.
[a] Our beliefs, teaching and experience, our Blood, Fire and Holiness experience must remain bright - there’s no point in having them on our flag, if our experience is faded, and giving the wrong signal to the lost - for it will send them to destruction!
[b] It is our standard - it shows our allegiance - Who we belong to!
[c] It is our colours - it shows our doctrine - What we believe!
[d] Like a battle flag, it must be our rallying point - Where we stand!
Choruses 237, 243
Songs 781 (264) 782 (106) 786 (456)