By Jeffery Kingry
“Suppose you had the opportunity to talk with a leading Biblical scholar on a man-to-man basis. Suppose that he was willing )or the conversation to be published. Now, suppose the scholar was the world renown commentator and author Dr. F. F. Bruce, of England’s Manchester University – what would you ask him . . . .” (Fudge, Edward, Gospel Guardian, “Interview With F. F. Bruce,” Jan. 31, 1974, Vol. 25, No. 38)?
Brother Fudge asks an interesting question. What would one ask a world-wide known scholar? Here is an opportunity given by the Lord’s providence which never again may be presented. If one were interested in ingratiating oneself, the question might be designed to draw out a favorable response. If one wanted to build up a reputation as a great scholar, the question might reflect those ostentatious desires. But if one sincerely desired to lead a soul to life, the question might have been, “Why are you not a Christian?”
Questions asked in the Word of God by teachers of truth have always been ultimately designed to lead the sinner unto truth and salvation, no matter what the fame and worldly power of the sinner: “Understandest thou what thou readest” (Acts 8:30)? “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me” (Acts 9:4)? “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord” (Acts 13:10)? “Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God” (Acts 14:15).
It is with a great sense of weariness and shame that we find our brethren more interested in intellectual exercise, the “exegesis,” the “theology” of the Bible – the “mental hike” – rather than the application of God’s truth. We are truly “disciplined” in the word of God when we do his commandments (1 Jno. 2:3,4). The man who claims to “know” the Bible and yet does not practice its precepts, deceives himself, and in truth “knows” nothing (1 Jno. 2:5,6).
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation – not the intellect, the effort, or the charisma of man. What is important, good brethren? Is it the learned commentaries, the sublime books of theology, the college degrees and all they entail? “And I brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified . . . and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom . . . that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:15).
There is so much wrong with what you did, good brethren . . . but basically what is most tragic is that you let a man who perhaps is “not far from the Kingdom of God” leave without ”reasoning of righteousness, temperance, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). What is so unutterably sad, is that you had something to give to him, not he to you . . . and you did not even know it. The truth that could have saved him eternally was not as important to those who should be declaring it as the scholarship of the one they should have taught.
Paul could say, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:26, 27). We have nothing to learn from the unprofitable works of darkness, we are rather to reprove those in darkness that they might see the light (Eph. 5:11). A man’s scholarship is nothing if it costs him his soul. Yet, honor and deference, praise and glory are given to one who is not even least in the kingdom of heaven. There was no love or respect shown unto F. F. Bruce. If you love a man, you give him what he needs. Mr. Bruce needed the blood of Jesus, and those who could have given, did not.
“Unto you, O men, I call: and my voice is unto the sons of man. O ye simple, understand wisdom: and ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart . . . the fruit of the righteous is a tree of lifee; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 8:1,5; 11:30).
Truth Magazine, XVIII:24, p. 9-10
April 18, 1974