VFriday, Oct. 24
The Bible is totally true. Knowing the Bible is good, but that won’t save you. Believing the Bible is good, but it won’t save you. Trying to live up to the truths of the Bible won’t save you. Isaiah 4:6 says that “all our righteous acts are as filthy rags.” Even if you understand the core truths and accept them as truths, it is not enough. The Mosaic Law as documented in the Bible is God’s standard of conduct. The Jews thought they could gain salvation by meeting this standard, but could not. Rom. 3:20 says “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” The conversion experience is more than mere knowledge. Nikita Khrushchev learned the Bible from childhood, and, in fact, memorized the whole New Testament. [For my younger readers, you might not know that this Russian dictator was the one who said after their Sputnik went into orbit, “Our cosmonauts did not see God up there.”] I’m not his judge, but his asinine statement does not characterize him as religious or Christian, or even logical. Knowledge of the truth is necessary, but as Khrushchev illustrates, definitely not sufficient. The Bible is God’s revelation. It includes every truth that pertains to salvation but it doesn’t save you. It’s the message of salvation, not salvation itself. The Bible is inspired and it should be held in deepest respect. It’s not called the Holy Bible for no reason. But the Bible will never save anyone; only the author of the Bible can do that.
Wednesday, Oct. 22
While it is true that no one seeks God, it is also true that people are seeking to understand the meaning of life. Most people are aware of their sinful condition, and a lot of them would like to live a moral life. People are interested in fairness, love, honesty, faithfulness, etc. Morality is not quite dead yet. Many sense a void in their lives and are trying to find something that satisfies. But the quest for morality is undermined by sin. Rational thought and the desire for self gratification supplants the need for morality. The result of this is that they are looking for solutions in the wrong places. Some are trying to be “accepted” without having to give up their life styles. Some are trying in their own strength to do what only God can do—trying to be moral without the capacity to be moral. With Satan blinding their eyes and steering them down these false trails, it is no wonder that people can live nest door to a gospel preaching church while rejecting Christianity as “pie in the sky” or as a meaningless ritual or an ancient myth. C.S. Lewis spent years trying to find something that would satisfy his soul. He was not seeking God when he studied the Bible; he was seeking to disprove everything about Christianity. But his study of the Bible brought him to Christ. Reminds me of Saul on the road to Damascus. Sounds like the Hound of Heaven is still doing His thing. There are a lot of people like C.S. Lewis—people who are seeking to fill a void in their lives, but having no clue that it’s Christ they need. His Word has the answer and many find it with very little personal contact with a vibrant Christian. Many have come to Christ by reading a Gideon Bible in a hotel room. But many others need to see an example of a changed life. And that is precisely why God gave us the Great Commission. We are lights in a dark world.
Tuesday, Oct. 21
Elizabeth is doing fine. Saturday morning is still a blank, but she remembers the events of Friday and some of the later time in ER and coming home afterward. We are grateful for this and for the fact that there is no detectable damage in her brain. She appears to be back to normal. Dr. Chaffee is intent on finding a cause and Elizabeth will have an echo cardiogram and an ultra sound tomorrow. One of the positives that came out of this is a fresh reminder of how much we love each other. We relish the time we’ve had together and the time we still have. Evidently the Lord still has work for us to do. We are so glad we have each other. We appreciate all the prayer that has been offered on our behalf. Thank you all. We received some wonderful encouraging words from some dear friends. These reminders from God’s Word were very meaningful. God is good.
Monday, Oct. 20
This is a break from the usual homily. My wife, Elizabeth, had a traumatic experience Saturday morning. Along with others we went to church to spend the morning weeding around the church.
We were about to quit near noon time and Elizabeth came up to me and said “What day is it?” I thought this a bit weird, but told her it was Saturday. It got more scary when she said “Why are we here? What are we doing here?” Obviously, there was a problem. We got home as soon as we could. As I questioned her further I found out she did not remember anything we did that morning, nor did she remember anything that happened on Friday. We had gone to the Grandparents Day at Mid-Valley Christian Academy Friday morning and later to our weekly prayer meeting. As soon as we could we took her to the ER in Salem. They tested her for the various things that could cause this, found no detectable cause. It could have been a TIA which leaves no tell tale sign other than memory loss. We were in the ER for about seven hours while they were doing the testing—MIR, urine test, chest X-ray. During the last two hours in the ER, Elizabeth’s memory was beginning to come back. The doctor released her to go home. She had a good night’s sleep and was quite normal yesterday, remembering things that she could not remember Saturday. She remembers Friday’s activities but still can’t remember anything about Saturday morning. Dr. Chaffee, our family doctor, called Sunday afternoon to see how things were going and plans to get involved in finding out what caused this. Please pray for us during this time.
Sunday, Oct. 19
Some people think that with multiple churches in virtually every community in America, that evangelism is not that big of a deal. Americans also have radio and TV, and Bible book stores. We have the idea that it’s a rare person who has not heard of Christ—that if one really wants to know the truth, it’s there for the taking. When this was discussed in our men’s meeting the other night, my fellow elder, Doug, responded with the truth that no one really seeks God. This is Biblical. Paul says in Romans 3:11 “ . . . there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” I’m reminded of the poem “Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson (referred to in my Aug. 8 blog). This pictures a man running away from God, precisely the opposite of seeking God. This is also Biblical. Paul says in Romans 1:18-19 that men “suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God made it plain to them.” This knowledge is “natural revelation” and man is no better at dealing with “special revelation” (the Bible). The point, of course, is that churches and Bible book stores and Christian radio and TV by themselves will not cause a man to seek God. It takes a live and vibrant Christian to demonstrate why someone needs Christ. So we not only need faithful, righteous Christians, we need them to speak out. This is a core issue for our church as we strive to carry out the Great Commission. We could use your prayers as we wrestle with this.
Saturday, Oct. 18
Just about everyone takes delight in bargains. Retailers are always hyping a big sale where you can save oodles of money. Some of them sound as though you can save more money than you spend. I don’t really understand that one. Seems to me you save the most if you don’t go to the sale at all. Anyway, I got to meditating about the greatest bargain ever. It’s not just big; it’s colossal. Just think about this. It’s dealing with the largest “stake” in history. It means total bliss or total misery. It means eternity in hell or in heaven. Because of the enormous cost, it can’t be purchased. But amazingly enough, it’s free! If you can find a bargain even close to this one, let me know, OK? You might call us Christians the middle men. We don’t own the product, so we can’t really sell it. We are just peddling the goods. We are salesmen, ad men. People will know about this great bargain only if we tell them about it. That makes us the most important “agents” in the world’s history. There are “commissions” to be won, too. They’re called “soul winners crowns.” There doesn’t seem to be too many people clamoring for this prodigious job, either. You can sign up any time. The rewards are out of this world.
Friday, Oct. 17
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Prov. 14:12. Because of sin, men have turned truth into falsehood. Sometimes it’s blatant—knowing the truth and choosing to ignore it because it’s onerous. Sometimes it’s ignorance—not being aware that it’s sin. But sometimes it’s the result of faulty thinking. Sin has brought disease to the body, but it also has brought disease to the thinking process and the emotions. History is replete with men who thought they had it all figured out. People today are no different. They think they can deal with life by rational thought and by how they feel. I could give you many illustrations of this, but will limit it to a couple. People feel that gay relationships are OK. Some even convince themselves that the Bible not only doesn’t condemn it, but supports it. Another example is the idea that God is a God of love and could not or would not condemn anyone to hell. The Bible clarifies these issues and is our absolute authority. By the way, the New Testament declares the same truth as found in Proverbs. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Col. 2:8. A lot of things might seem right, but if not based on the revealed Word of God, they don’t just lead you astray, they lead to disaster.