Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Message from God

You may not be looking for an angel from heaven, or a heavenly voice to guide you. I know I don't. But think of the people you have met, or even heard on the radio who have helped you with God's truth.

I am an old man now, and I have never had a human , in person mentor. I had to find my own way. You can do it, with your Bible, books, radio broadcasts, good preachers and teachers.

For me, books have been my best friends. Besides the sixty six in the Bible, there have been countless ones that have helped me to learn and even changed my life. I'd like to tell you about a tiny little booklet that rocked my boat and set me straight many years ago.

I used to relieve a second shift guard in a large printing plant for Christian literature. He only worked weekends so I didn't see him often and we did not talk much.

On this particular night when he had gathered up his lunch box and thermos, he extended his hand and held out a little booklet to me.

"I won't see you again", he said, "My wife and I are moving to Colorado. I've noticed you bring your Bible to work and I thought you might enjoy reading this little book."

I thanked him and put the book on my desk. He put on his jacket and lit his pipe. I closed the big sliding gate and padlocked it. I watched him walk away, leaving a trail of smoke from his pipe. He turned and smiled at me, waving goodbye one last time. I watched as he started his car and slowly drove down the long drive.

He was a small man, almost elf like and very quiet. I knew almost nothing about him except his name was Arnie.

I made my first key round. I was all alone in this huge plant. I walked past printing presses and composing rooms and through a huge warehouse filled with stacks of giant paper rolls.

When I had completed my round and returned to my desk, I tool out a book I intended to study that night. It was a study on the Book of Revelation. Then I looked at the little booklet Arnie had given me. It had a paper cover attached with two staples. On the cover it said "For Whom Did Christ Die?".

Even though I had intended to study my Revelation book, I opened Arnie's book and began to read. From the beginning I did not like what I saw. I was offended by it. I did not realize at that time, but I was being introduced to the doctrine of limited atonement.

How idiotic, I thought. Everyone knows that Jesus died to save every man, woman and child in the world. What kind of mis guided cultic literature can this be? And Arnie seemed like such a nice guy too!

I could not enjoy my Revelation book until I had disposed of this booklet! I had an eight hour shift and I intended to demolish it. First I ran down each quote cited, to be sure they were not taken out of context. This is a reasonable precaution. No problem there. I pushed on, but the author seemed to know what my objections were, he was way ahead of me. He countered my every objection.

I made more rounds, thinking about the book as I walked. All thought of the book I had brought to study left me. I had to solve the puzzle of this little book first.

Well, I never did find how to disprove this book. I can't disprove it this day, many years later. Only now, instead of consternation, I have peace. I delight in this doctrine. The author was right and I was wrong.

It can be very humbling to find that your long held belief is not Biblical. Many refuse to accept such a fact. They cling to an idea because that is what a parent has taught them. It could be that it is a church teaching, perhaps from their childhood days. Or, very likely, it could just be their human nature hanging on and resisting both God and his Word.

The argument is between the idea that God loves everyone, and opposed to this, that He loves his people and in an intimate way. It is so intimate that his people are said to be betrothed, or engaged to him.

Let us look at this idea in a purely human way. Suppose a man works on a job where there are a number of young, unmarried women. He sees them at work every day. But despite the fact that he is in the midst of all these women, from his very first day there, he is attracted to only one woman. She is not more beautiful than the others, at least to an outsider. There is nothing about her that marks her as special, except to him. Something inside him says, "She is the woman for me".

They meet and he introduces himself to her. Later they begin to have lunch together in the lunchroom. The day arrives when he decides to ask her out on a date. She gives him her phone number and asks him to call her. A few days pass and he calls. He tells her how he is attracted to her and enjoys being with her. Would she like to go out for dinner and a show?

But her reply shocks him. She refuses. She tells him she has lost all respect for him. He begs her to tell him why. What has he done wrong?

Well, she begins, I have been doing a little checking among my girlfriends and I find you have never asked any of them out on a date! They tell me you don't even notice them, all you do is look at me. What kind of guy are you, anyway? Don't you love all the other girls as much as you love me?

Now I have made this as absurd as I know how. But is this not exactly what a number of us say we feel about a Savior who has selected a bride out of the world to the exclusion of all others? Often the charge is, "It isn't fair!" No, it isn't fair, it is gracious, it is love beyond fairness.

You may say, But what of the Old Testament saints, Abel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Doesn't he love them too? And you would be completely right. He does love them. But they are not his bride. And there are others, not yet born, whom he will love after
he takes his bride to heaven. But neither are they the bride.

At this point you could well say I have strayed from the subject matter of the little book. Did not Christ die for all? Then, some of us choose him and become the
bride. The offer is out there, but some choose not to accept it. It is their choice not his. I have even heard a preacher say that the great creator of the universe is helpless before the will of one puny man. People like to hear this, it says they have power over God.

The Bible teaches we were once under a ransom because of sin. Jesus paid that price.

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Matt.20:28

We, who have been chosen by God, are among that "many".

In the book of Acts we see a limited company, called out by God, being formed.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Acts 13.48.

Notice that "ordained" precedes "believed"

After this little book persuaded me, I sought out others books and continued to study this doctrine. I never forgot the original book,though. I called the author at the number stamped on the inside cover. I found he was a preacher ousted from his church for teaching this doctrine. I went to his home. He said he might have one or two books left. He found one in a desk and gave it to me. He was holding church in
his own home, I saw folding chairs set up.

I returned to my study of Revelation and began to teach it. But I never forgot how I came upon my new found knowledge concerning God's choice of his people. God sent me Arnie and that little book.

God has all kinds of messengers. Some of them are small and smoke pipes.

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