Tim Johnson, editor
January 14, 2001
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were called before the king and faced charges of refusing to worship the golden image he had erected, Nebuchadnezzar asked, "Who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?" Things looked pretty dark.
But they replied, "We have no need to answer thee in this matter" (AS). The King James version reads, "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter" (Dan. 3:15-16). The thought seems to be, we will not choose our words carefully - concerned lest we offend; we will not try to "talk our way out of" this situation. And they added, "Our God is able to deliver us" (if it suits His purposes to do so) "but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
Several years back, a preacher said John (the Immerser) "lost his head" because he "lost his head" - he was not tactful in his criticism of Herod. John had said, of Herod's marriage to his brother Philip's wife, "It is not lawful for thee to have her" (Matt. 14).
John was not "careful to answer," someone might say. Well, he certainly was not trying to "butter up" the king. On the other hand, John and the captive Jews of Daniel 3, were very careful to maintain their faith in God and to court His approval. John lost his head, and the three Hebrews were thrown into the fiery furnace, but each gained more than he lost. We "have no need" for any man's approval as we have need for God's approval.
Jesus said, "Fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell" (Matt. 10:28).
We are not advocating crudeness! Daniel's brethren were respectful to the king; and love for souls will forbid our becoming a bully with the truth. Shouting, stomping pronouncements of Damnation are often sings of weakness, while genuine strength is accompanied by humility. But genuine strength speaks truthfully, directly and clearly, regardless of temporal consequences - and because of inevitable eternal consequences.
By Robert F. Turner, via Plain Talk, September 1980
Two men are religious, and both seem to be sincere, but they never seen to agree on religious questions. A brief look at their applications of the Bible helps to explain their problem.
The first man views the Bible as the complete and final answer to all religious questions pertaining to salvation. For him, a clear statement from the Bible ends all controversy. His simple approach is well stated by a bumper sticker we have seen: "God said it; I believe it; that settles it." In fact, he would agree that God's word "settles it" whether he believes it or not.
The second man relies on several sources for his religious beliefs. He believes the Bible and many of his convictions are based on what the Bible says. But he also is convinced that he has been "led" into certain beliefs by the Lord. Some of those beliefs he could not defend by the Bible, and in fact, some of them seem to contradict the Bible, but he is sure that they are true, for the Lord would not have so "led" him had they not been true. One man frankly said to this writer, "I read the Bible, but I mostly just depend on the Spirit to lead me in what I believe." He has also had his beliefs verified by knowledgeable preachers, who might not be right in everything, but would hardly be wrong on any serious question of truth.
The first man reads the Bible seeking for answers from God. The second man reads the Bible for the same reason, but his perception is affected by what he has been "led to believe." He has difficulty being objective, and, in fact, he might hold to what he has been "led to believe" ahead of plain teaching of scripture. He frankly finds his likeness in the man of Colossians 2:18-19 who takes "his stand on visions he has seen" and is "not holding fast to the head" (NASV). His religious practices may be different from the man described in Colossians, but his approach to authority in religion is the same.
We do not hesitate to side with the first man in his approach. God indeed "leads" us into truth, but He does so through His inspired word. Consider the following passages: "Your word is like a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105); Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth" (John 17:17); "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17).
The two men of our article will come to remarkable agreement when they both approach the scriptures as the final word of God, but not until then. Religious differences are not the product of scripture, but of varying attitudes toward what constitutes final authority in religion. True unity is desirable, and it can be enjoyed by those who humbly submit to God's word and will.
By Bill Hall
Preachers returning from evangelizing the natives of Africa tell of the unusual devotion of their converts. Each convert had a separate place in the bush where he went to pray. The well worn paths to these places testified to the degree of their fervor. Any who neglected his devotions was betrayed by the grass which grew on his path (Bible Truths Illustrated, p. 223).
This comports well with the beautiful sentiments expressed by the Sweet Singer of Israel: "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God&ldots;For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psa. 84:1,2,10).
How wonderful it would be if all professed followers of the Son of Heaven today were motivated by such lofty sentiments relative to "the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (I Tim. 3:15)? Be honest, now: Does grass grow on your path to the house of God?
By James W. Adams