I’m a Pretty Good Boy

My senior year of high school I took a law course. One class period we were visited by two convicted men serving time in an Oregon state prison; one for armed robbery and the other for murder.

The men talked about the conditions they faced growing up, the influences that led them to lives of crime, details of their trials, and pain of being in prison. Both asserted their innocence.

When they finished telling their stories we were allowed to ask questions. I asked: if you were a judge sitting on a trial with your exact circumstances, would you find the person guilty, and what sentence would you give?

The thief said it was an interesting question, but both refused to answer.

It’s easy for us to judge others based upon our own circumstances.

See, I’m a pretty good boy. Sure, I’ve made some mistakes over the past 50 years, but overall … you’re still a far worse a person than I am. I can think of a hundred and one reasons to condemn you and excuse myself.

God, however, doesn’t judge us by how we compare to our neighbor but according to the standard of His Law, the Bible. Where we don’t measure up, where we miss the mark, God calls it sin and sin makes us guilty before God and deserving of punishment.

The punishment for our sins? The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), physical and spiritual death.

Yet God has done something remarkable. He sent His beloved Son to the earth to stand in your place at the sentencing hearing. Yes, you are guilty, but Jesus took your guilt upon Himself and died for your sins. To be saved you must accept what He gave without claiming innocence, shifting blame, or trying to add any of your own merit to the court case.

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 2:8-9).


Things So Precious

Dr Willard Aldrich

It was the first day of Bible college and my new friend and I compared classes. “Oh, you want to get out of this one,” David said. “Both my brother and sister had him and you’ll be bored to death. Take the class by Dr So-and-Such. He’s so cool.”

The Registrar’s Office assured my worst nightmare: all the other classes for the Study of Salvation were full and I was stuck with Dr Willard Aldrich.

Dr Willard co-founded the school in 1936. He was old and old-school, so soft-spoken that from the center of the room I couldn’t hear him speak. His lecture notes hadn’t been updated since Tyrannosaurs walked the earth.

I’d arrive for class as early before 8 as possible for a seat in the much sought after back of the room. All went well until I was late and the only seats left in the room were in the front row. I was the only student in the front row.

He opened the notebook he’d been reading his lectures from for the previous 50 years and began reading so quietly I strained to hear him over the racket of a pin dropped on the carpet. B – O – R – I – N – G!!! To add to the insult, we could hear the laughter from Professor Hipster’s class next door.

I counted the “dots” in the ceiling panels overhead as Dr Aldrich droned on about the theology of Substitutionary Atonement. Then I saw that the old man had tears rolling down his cheeks. His quiet voice was because he was crying. The things he was teaching were so precious to him that he could barely speak of them! Jesus died in his place. A sinner, redeemed eternally at the cost of the life of the eternal Son of God. The Precious for the wicked. The Perfect for the flawed and ruined. The Saviour for the sinful.

Dr Aldrich became my favorite professor and I took every class he taught. A man whose heart was still touched after so many years by the mind-numbing truth of salvation was a man I needed to know.

When the death of Jesus no longer moves our heart, we need to repent and return to the place where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. 

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

What’s In Your Wallet?

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The television commercial for the bank asks, What’s in your wallet? Your wallet may be different, but mine is filled with dust and crickets. The real value of a wallet is never the wallet, but what’s inside it.

In the ancient world clay pots were a dime a dozen. They were cheap, broke easily, and were replaced easily. A woman might buy two identical clay pots at the market and use one at home for collecting urine and the other clay pot for serving dinner. One pot gives you the heebie-jeebies, the other is worthy of placing before dinner guests. The real value of the vessel isn’t what it’s made of, but what fills it.

It’s easy to think of ourselves as something special. We’ve heard someone say, Jesus died for you so you must be very special and valuable. That kind of emotional drivel plays so well into the self-important mindset that plagues the human heart. But remember what God said of Adam: … for out of the ground you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return (Gen 3:19).

Jesus didn’t die for you because you were special. He died for you because you were sinfully disgusting, soulfully decrepit, and spiritually dead. You were a walking tomb full of dead men’s bones upon which God took pity because He is gracious.

O Christian, your value isn’t because of you, but the One who fills you.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ …. that you may know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 15:14, 19).


Untrained Hands

holding fast the faithful Word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers whose mouths must be stopped, teaching things which they ought not … (Titus 1:9-10).

My heart and mind reeled when I heard that a young man who attends church an hour a week is starting a church. Today everyone feels qualified to start a church and be a pastor; qualified or not. Feeling is the qualification.

Which brings more fear to your mind: an untrained surgeon with a scalpel, an untrained bomb defuser, or an untrained and unqualified pastor?

We would never encourage a child to open a surgical hospital because of a feeling he got after a dream. We wouldn’t permit a woman to defuse a nuclear weapon after watching an episode of MacGyver. We should never accept the thought of anyone leading a church without first having careful Bible and theological training and meeting the Biblical qualifications for the ministry. One of the qualifications for the pastorate is that the man holds fast the faithful Word as he’s been taught so he can teach sound doctrine, but the untrained man begins from day one upon the threshold of false teaching before he even opens his mouth.

We are prone to lightly handling God’s Word. We don’t realize that the slightest error is to misrepresent the True and Living God. The tiniest distortion of the Word of Life – even by well-meaning people – leads others into spiritual darkness and deception. As Jesus warned, it becomes a matter of the blind leading the blind.

The Scripture is the flaming sword of the Spirit, able to divide even the soul and the spirit. It is the very words of God, breathed out by the Spirit of God. It is powerful for the condemnation of the wicked, the calling of God’s elect to salvation in Christ, and the training and instruction of God’s people in righteousness. Untrained hands are eternally deadly with such a powerful tool.


# 30 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 30 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word is the believer’s protection against sinning. Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You (Psalm 119:11).


# 29 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 29 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word is used by the Holy Spirit to restore the believer’s soul to God’s intended purpose and condition. The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7).


# 28 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 28 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word shapes the believer according to God’s purposed will. We thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).


# 27 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 27 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word gives the believer clear sight about life. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes (Psalm 19:8).


# 26 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 26 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word equips the believer for spiritual proficiency and ability in serving God and living for Him. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work …  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).


# 25 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 25 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word leads the believer into thankful worship and gratitude. Let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).