It Is Time to Start Listening to God (part 1)
As the years have progressed, there has developed an increasing tendency to place more confidence in what men think and say, than in that which God has revealed to us in the Bible. The trend has reached such proportions that every concerned child of God is giving the matter more than a passing attention. There is no part of revelation that has escaped the penetrating influence of human wisdom. Certainly, the subject of Salvation from Sin has presented the "great thinkers" of our time with an arena for displaying their wares. Consequently, this old world of sinful creatures has been presented with another great problem. Not only must we wrestle with the problem of sin itself, we must try to "make some semblance of sense" of the massive confusion which human wisdom has advanced as solutions to the problem. Even the casual student of the Bible, swept up in the frenzy of human wisdom, should begin to wonder about this wisdom (?). He should be able to conclude, at long last, that IT IS TIME TO START LISTENING TO GOD!
There will be three parts in this study. All of them will constitute another appeal to men to heed those things God has revealed to us about salvation. Each section will establish a scriptural foundation up which succeeding truths will be based. It is the author's desire that someone might read these words to his profit - that at least one soul might be snatched from the grasp of Satan and find refuge in the safety of the Master's Hand. This three-part study will consider (1) The Reality Of Sin; (2) You Need To Be Saved; and (3) You Can Be Saved, The beauty of this truth has been woven into the words of a well-known hymn:
My sin - O the bliss of this glorious thot
My sin, not in, part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
H. G. Spafford
P. P. Bliss
My friend, if you have discovered the futility of human wisdom -- if you realize your personal volition and power is unable to save you -- come with me now as we START LISTENING TO GOD.
PART I: THE REALITY OF SIN
It is true that man has made many advances in recent years. He is better educated than his forbearers. He lives a life of comfort and ease when compared to the rugged rural life of his grandfather. When he trudges through the damp underbrush in search of wild game, it is for his "sport," and not for his livelihood. His 8, 9 or 10 hour day would have been considered a vacation by his ancestors. "Down on the farm" concepts have been discarded in favor of the sophistications of "Urban America," and those things which characterized his childhood are now the brunt of his humor. His "much learning" has elevated him into a new-found respectability and he has sought to relegate all of those old concepts to the misguided era of the farmer and the backwoodsman.
I would hasten to say that I enjoy living in this age. I enjoy the comforts of modern life. As with most of you, I have no desire to plod along behind a horse and plow, working with all my might to try to make a living for my family. I like doing what I am doing. And, I would be less than honest if I did not confess that I have a sense of satisfaction that I can take my check to the bank, cash it and go to a modern grocer to purchase those items needed by my family. Not only do I enjoy this, I am thankful that such is possible for most all of us. I hope we all appreciate the blessings we have in this, and similar things. I am thankful that my wife is not required to break her back and rub her fingers raw on an old rub board, trying to get the family clothes clean. I am glad she does not have to hang them on the line in sub-freezing weather, taking them down while they are frozen stiff. And, my appreciation for this is shared by all who have these conveniences of the modern life.
These things are possible through the skill and technology of our western civilization. We have used our educations to advance our social and economic statures to the level we now enjoy.
Indeed, our knowledge has brought us far, and will most likely carry us even farther. No area of life has escaped the march forward. But, the move from the farm and its way of life has led us into grave danger. As we have so successfully modernized our thinking and our way of life, we have thought and talked our way into a gross error that will bring damnation upon our souls, unless some changes are made. It is fine that we have learned to say "I haven't any," instead of "I ain't got none." But, we have modernized our way of speaking until we have eliminated from our speech, some of the things God wanted us to leave in! Herein is the danger of which I speak.
No longer is it felt socially acceptable to talk about some topics discussed at length in the Bible. They are part of that former era of the farm and poor education. Such words as "Satan," "Devil," and, "Hell," are considered as the jargon of a few remaining old-fashioned, uneducated, ignoramuses who fill the pulpits of some, of the less popular churches in the land. Far too many of today's preachers are ready to reflect unfavorably upon those who believe in such "antiquated" ideas as the Devil and Hell. They do not believe in them so they never talk about them. In many pulpits it would be unthinkable to address an audience on these subjects. Therefore, the pulpit time is spent in discussion of current events and the so called "modern" problems of society. And, what God has said about Satan and hell is left unsaid. In consequence of this, the people of today's religious world are left ignorant of Bible truth, and they live in reckless abandon, happily on their way to Hell!
So It Is With "Sin"
Another of those forbidden words of the past is "sin." Its counterpart is "salvation." In the modern mind, salvation is avoiding any present calamity which might cause one grief. We are warned, "Watch out that you don't get injured in an auto accident, or "fortunately your house was 'saved' when the neighbor's house burned." This is "salvation" in the thinking of most of us. It goes no further or deeper than that. To speak of what God has said about salvation is useless rambling - an imposition on the valuable time of man today.
"Sin" is considered a simple little inconsequential "mistake," similar in result to the mistake or error a child makes on his math lesson. We know he is mistaken when he says 2 + 2 is 5, but he easily can correct the mistake with his little eraser. And, what possible harm is done when he makes an error like that? He will not lose his soul (another of those forbidden terms) over a simple error like that! Many of us equate this type of error with the "mistake" of adultery, murder, theft or lying. One is no worse than the other. So, why get so excited about sin? With our great knowledge, we can reason and discuss away almost every sin that is known to man.
Sin Is More Than A Mistake
In Genesis 3: 1-6, the Bible relates for us the first sin known to man. It was Adam who plummeted out of the favor of God when he sinned. And, Adam set the pace for succeeding generations -- even our own generation. It would be interesting if Adam were resurrected from the dead. Think of this possibility for just a moment.
Have him rise from an audience listening to the theology flowing so fluently from today's pulpits, interrupt the preacher, and begin to tell us about sin. I suspect from his vantage point, he could present a far clearer picture of sin and its results than any of us who are alive today. I suspect he would riddle the reasoning of many ministers into unidentifiable shreds who say sin is a simple little mistake.
Adam knows what sin is and what it will do for a person-he has been there! He could relate first-hand the truth of God's word on the subject. He would not have to speculate, suppose and reason about it, as does the modern preacher. He would "tell it like it is." Old-fashioned or not, repulsive or not, Adam would let us know vividly that God means what He says about sin. Of course, such is not going to happen. Adam is dead and will not be speaking to any of us today. It is foolish for us to wait on testimony from the dead. It will not come. But, God does give us testimony of these things. It is found in the Bible and it is meaningful to those who still believe the Bible.
Hear What God Says
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law- (I John 3:4)." Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). We understand this teaching from the Bible. We can reject it, despise it, minimize it, forget it, or try to explain it away. But, WE CANNOT CHANGE IT! When all is said and done, God's word will still say the same thing. And, God is true, if every man on the earth turns out to be a liar on this or any other subject (Romans 3:4). Sin is a real thing - today, yesterday or tomorrow! "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Do not affirm you believe the Bible and then deny the reality of sin. It is not possible. Faith and infidelity cannot reside together.
The Effect Of Sin
Some say, "Alright, we sin, but so what"? We confess our sinfulness, but in reality we think it does not actually make that much difference. Again, hear what God said about the effects of sin.
"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). ". . . Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you (2 Chronicles 24:20). "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). So you see, sin does not do any harm to man. "All" it does is (1) Separate him from God, (2) It causes God to forsake him, and (3) It brings eternal death to him. That does not sound bad, does it?
In view of such divine testimony, will your conscience yet allow you to minimize sin? Can you yet say it is "only a little mistake"? Can you read these passages of scripture and still affirm that there is no such thing as 44 sin"? Sin is a real thing! We cannot deny this Biblical evidence and yet affirm our faith in the Bible. It is either the testimony of God's word or the blind, unfounded assertions of human wisdom. One simply cannot accept both.
As we conclude this part of our study, consider this solemn truth. Because of the reality of sin, the subject of salvation from sin becomes one of the most important subjects to challenge the thinking of sinful humanity. If my sin condemns me to eternal death, what can I do to save my soul?
(Continued Next Week)
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 25, pp. 10-12