Monday, January 11, 2016



        Forty years ago I called on an elderly lady who was burdened with many difficult circumstances.  She was not healthy, her son was often in trouble, and there was not enough money.  Her favorite, and very often repeated phrase was, “I just don’t know.”   Over and over she would say, “I just don’t know.” 

        As we visited I listened to her problems, thought with her about her trying circumstances, and then talked with her about spiritual doubts--“I just don’t know.” 
        For her “I just don’t know,” was more than just an expression.  I’m afraid it was her testimony. 

       What troubles me today is that I’m afraid it is actually the testimony of millions of others. 

        They don’t know that they are loved with an everlasting love.  They don’t know that God has a perfect plan for their lives.  They don’t know the power of grace--forgiving grace, teaching grace, saving grace, keeping grace, sanctifying grace, dying grace.  They don’t know the joy of serving Jesus.  They don’t know that the Bible is really true.  They don’t know that the Word of God is lamp to our feet, and light on our path.


        Educators are great at helping us gain new perpectives--seeing what others have thought and done. But too often their open-minds keep them from discerning answers.  I'm afraid the critic was right, "Some people are so open-minded their brains fall out."
        Learning that is devoid of virtue diminishes confidence.  Facts in the context of the Christian worldview fosters confidence.

        Scientists are good at unsettling what we thought was settled fact and settling what we know is not settled. For example, did you know that the word “Atom” literally means “that which cannot be divided.”  At one time science was sure that the Atom was the smallest particle in the universe.  Now they know it is not.  Today they are sure that life is the product of random chance, but sheer probabilities alone demonstrate the impossibility of naturalistic evolution.
        Unfortunately, secular scientists have eroded the confidence of the unsuspecting students who are unware of their intentions.  Historically this is a new phenomenon as most of those who led the scientific revolution in its infancy were Christians or Deists convinced that the universe was created by an Intelligent Designer.

        Politicians are noted for exploiting the passions of their followers to further their personal agendas.  As they mislead their voters they engender a skepticism that depresses the mood of nations, and disheartens the good hearted.  Travel in Post-Christian Europe and you'll soon see how corruption has fostered cynicism, doubt and ultimately apathy. 

        Philosophers and religious leaders have driven millions into that same ditch.  They speak with such certitude, relying on their own lights, discounting the True Light, and obscuring the Way of Light.  It’s amazing how quickly moderns will accept the opinions of a popular expert over God’s revelation.  Coolness is better than rightness to the post-modern mind.

        C. S. Lewis once observed, “Experience is an honest thing.”  And so it is.  How many times have we witnessed the masses rushing to follow first one and then another leader, only to be disappointed.

        The popular genres of entertainment are corrosive to Christian Confidence.  Sensuality has always been the enemy of spirituality. To make matters worse we are witnessing the blending of sensual with sacred so that "feeling good" has replaced the Christian aim of "being good."  But when the music stops, and the dance is over, and the movies end, and the internet is gone, we are left with nagging doubt and overwhelming despair. 

        With that context it’s no wonder that so many people, even in ranks of the Church, are wondering if it is really possible to know anything for sure. 

"Christian" Diversity
        Add to that the diversity of opinions among believers, we are not surprised that honest, good, intelligent people are asking, “What can I know for sure?” 

        Professing Christians in one country do this. 
        Believers in other cultures do that.  
        My Christian friends on FaceBook seem to have no problems with going a different direction.
         Who are we to tell them that they are wrong? 

          The Apostle Paul faced all these questions, and the added trial of painful and life-threatening persecution.  If anyone had a reason to doubt it was Paul! 

        Hear his testimony to his young preacher, “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  (2 Timothy 1:12).          

        Assurance like this is not found in abstract ideas, scientific principles, pop-psychology, or human endeavor--it is centered in the God-Man, the Word Incarnate, the SAVIOR OF ALL THE WORLD!  This same Jesus who was born of a virgin, crucified, dead, buried, risen, ascended, and coming again is the source of confidence.

        How can Paul be so confident?  He answers, “I Know HIM!” The poet aptly penned

Not what, but WHOM, I do believe,
That, in my darkest hour of need,
Hath comfort that no mortal creed
To mortal man can give;--

Not what, but WHOM!
For Christ is more than all the creeds,
And His full life of gentle deeds
Shall all the creeds outlive.

Not what but Whom.
Not what I do believe, but WHOM!
WHO walks beside me in the gloom?
WHO shares the burden wearisome?
WHO all the dim way death doth illume,

And bids us look beyond the tomb
The larger life to live?-

Not what I do believe,
Not what,
 [John Oxenham, “Credo,” in Bees in Amber: A Little Book of Thoughtful Verse, 1917]

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