The following is a Russian parable. A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear. When about to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft, soothing voice, “Isn’t it better to talk than to shoot? What do you want? Let us negotiate the matter.”
Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied, “I want a fur coat,” “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question. I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.”
They sat down to negotiate, and after a time the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat.
Compromises rarely satisfy both sides in equal measure. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
”In religion, the things about which men agree are apt to be the things that are least worth holding, the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” – J.G. Machen
George Norris, a Senator from Nebraska, after making a very unpopular decision in the view of his constituents, stated: “I would rather lie in the silent grave, remembered by both friends and enemies as one who remained true to his faith and who never faltered in what he believed to be his duty, than to still live, old and aged, lacking the confidence of both factions.” – John F. Kennedy
A Peanuts cartoon pictured Lucy and Linus looking out the window at a steady downpour of rain. “Boy,” said Lucy, “look at it rain. What if it floods the whole world?”
“It will never do that,” Linus replied confidently. “In the ninth chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”
“You’ve taken a great load off my mind,” said Lucy with a relieved smile.
“Sound theology,” pontificated Linus, “has a way of doing that!” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Truth does not need updating. There is
a story of a man who came to his old friend, a music teacher, and said to him,
“What’s the good news today?” The old teacher was silent as he stood up and
walked across the room, picked up a hammer, and struck a tuning fork. As the
note sounded out through the room, he said, “That is A. It is A
today; it was A five thousand years ago, and it will be A ten thousand
years from now. The soprano upstairs sings off-key, the tenor across the hall
flats on his high notes, and the piano downstairs is out of tune.” He struck
the note again and said, “That is A, my friend, and that’s the good news
for today.” ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical
The relationship between truth and holiness is similar to that between light and vision. Light cannot create an eye or give a blind eye vision, but it is essential to seeing. Wherever light penetrates, it dissipates darkness and brings everything into view.
In a similar manner, truth cannot regenerate or impart spiritual life, but it is essential to the practice of holiness. Wherever truth penetrates, it dissipates error and reveals everything for what it really is. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
Response to Truth
You are driving down the highway when you encounter a sign that reads, “Dangerous Curve Ahead.” Immediately you are confronted with making a choice. One, you can observe the warning and slow down. Two, you can ignore the warning and maintain your rate of speed. Or, three, you can defy the warning and speed up. Whatever response you exercise, you will not change the truth of the sign. The curve remains dangerous, regardless of whether you acknowledge the fact or not. ── Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
John Cage, a contemporary American composer, believes that the universe is impersonal by nature and that it originated only through pure chance. In an attempt to live consistently with this personal philosophy, Cage composes all of his music by various means of chance. He uses, among other things, the tossing of coins and the rolling of dice to make sure that no personal element enters into the final product. The result is music that has no form, no structure and, for the most part, no appeal. Though Cage’s professional life accurately reflects his belief in a universe that has no order, his personal life does not, for his favorite pastime is mycology, the collecting of mushrooms, and because of the potentially lethal results of picking a wrong mushroom, he cannot approach it on a purely by-chance basis. Concerning that, he states: “I became aware that if I approached mushrooms in the spirit of my chance operations, I would die shortly.” John Cage “believes” one thing, but practices another. In doing so, he is an example of the man described in Romans 1:18 who “suppresses the truth of God,” for when faced with the certainty of order in the universe, he still clings to his own novel theory.— Cited by Francis Schaeffer
In the early 1900s George Riddell acquired the sensational London newspaper The News of the World. Meeting British journalist Frederick Greenwood one day, Riddell mentioned that he owned a newspaper, told Greenwood its name, and offered to send him a copy. The next time they met, Riddell asked Greenwood what he thought of The News.
"I looked at it and then I put it in the wastepaper basket," said Greenwood, "and then I thought, 'If I leave it there the cook may read it,' so I burned it."
Today in the Word, November 3, 1993.
Two men had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a Sufi judge for arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, "That's right, that's right."
On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, "Wait a second, judge, you haven't even heard my side of the case yet." So the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said, "That's right, that's right."
When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, "Judge, they both can't be right." The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, "That's right, that's right."
Roger von Oech, Ph.D., A Whack on the Side of the Head, Warner Books, 1983, p. 23.
Henry Augustus Rowland, professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University, was once called as an expert witness at a trial. During cross-examination a lawyer demanded, "What are your qualifications as an expert witness in this case?"
The normally modest and retiring professor replied quietly, "I am the greatest living expert on the subject under discussion." Later a friend well acquainted with Rowland's disposition expressed surprise at the professor's uncharacteristic answer. Rowland answered, "Well, what did you expect me to do? I was under oath."
Today in the Word, August 5, 1993.
Even those who claim to be Born Again are not necessarily firmly grounded in the truths of the Bible. In his book which provides a statistical analysis of religious beliefs in America, George Barna cites several fascinating statistics which are based on a national survey.
In chapter four he states, "The Devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil." Then asking that segment of his survey respondents who have identified themselves at being Born Again, he states, "Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with that statement?"
The Born Again population reply with 32 percent agreeing strongly, 11 percent agreeing somewhat and 5 percent did not know. Thus, of the total number responding, 48 percent either agreed that Satan is only symbolic or did not know!
Should it then be surprising that a few pages later Barna would receive some very startling responses? His next question, "Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others all pray to the same God, even though they use different names for that God." Again, the respondents were asked to agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat or disagree strongly.
Of that population surveyed who identified themselves as Born Again, 30 percent agreed strongly, 18 percent agreed somewhat and 12 percent did not know. That is a total of 60 percent! (What Americans Believe, pp. 206-212).
Watchman Expositor, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1993, p. 31.
A pastor I know, Stephey Belynskyj, starts each confirmation class with a jar full of beans. He asks his students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make another list: their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right. Belynskyj then turns to the list of favorite songs. "And which one of these is closest to being right?" he asks. The students protest that there is no "right answer"; a person's favorite song is purely a matter of taste.
Belynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame asks, "When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?" Always, Belynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one's faith is more like choosing a favorite song.
When Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away. "After they say that, do you confirm them?" I asked him.
"Well," smiled Belynskyj, "First I try to argue them out of it."
Tim Stafford, Christianity Today, September 14, 1992, p. 36.
At the end of the Battle of Britain, British vice-marshal Alexander Adams was driving to a meeting at his headquarters when he came upon a sign: ROAD CLOSED -- UNEXPLODED BOMB. Adams called over the policeman on duty, hoping he might be able to suggest an alternate route.
"Sorry, you can't go through," said the policeman as he approached the car. "The bomb is likely to go off at any minute now." Then he caught sight of Adams's uniform. "I'm very sorry, sir," he said, "I didn't know you were a wing commander. It is quite all right for you to go through."
With "advisors" like that, who needs enemies! Although that policeman -- who was trained to respect rank -- momentarily allowed his deference to a vice-marshal to overcome his good sense, Adams had better sense than to follow his advice.
Today in the Word, May 2, 1993.
William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State in Woodrow Wilson's Cabinet, was interviewing a man who was seeking a diplomatic post in China. Bryan warned the applicant that it was necessary to qualify as a linguist. "Can you speak the Chinese language?" he asked.
The man was equal to the occasion. Looking Bryan squarely in the eye, he replied, "Try me. Ask me something in Chinese." --
John F. Parker in Washington Roll Call, Reader's Digest, May, 1981.
Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny. "What did he find?" asked the cohort.
"A piece of the truth," the Devil replied.
"Doesn't it bother you that he found a piece of the truth?" asked the cohort.
"No," said the Devil, "I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it."
Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths - Living with Biblical Tensions, 1990, Zondervan Publishing House, p. 35.
Cleveland Amory tells this story about Judge John Lowell of Boston. One morning the judge was at breakfast, his face hidden behind the morning paper. A frightened maid tiptoed into the room and whispered something to Mrs. Lowell's ear. The lady paled slightly, then squared her shoulders resolutely and said, "John, the cook has burned the oatmeal, and there is no more in the house. I am afraid that this morning, for the first time in seventeen years, you will have to go without your oatmeal."
The judge, without putting down his paper, answered, "It's all right, my dear. Frankly, I never cared much for it anyhow."
Bits & Pieces, March 4, 1993, p. 23.
Another poll sheds light on this paradox of increased religiosity and decreased morality. According to sociologist Robert Bellah, 81 percent of the American people also say they agree that "an individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church or synagogue." Thus the key to the paradox is the fact that those who claim to be Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms -- terms that make no demands on behavior. A woman named Sheila, interviewed for Bellah's Habits of the Heart, embodies this attitude. "I believe in God," she said. "I can't remember the last time I went to church. But my faith has carried me a long way. It's 'Sheila-ism.' Just my own little voice."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 98.
Allan Bloom writes: "Openness - and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings -- is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger. The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 84.
To please his father a freshman went out for track. He had no athletic ability, though the father had been a good miler in his day. His first race was a two-man race in which he ran against the school miler. He was badly beaten. Not wanting to disappoint his father, the boy wrote home as follows: "You will be happy to know that I ran against Bill Williams, the best miler in school. He came in next to last, while I came in second."
Bits & Pieces, September 17, 1992, p. 12.
Once when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was preparing a speech, he needed some economic statistics to back up a point he was trying to make. His advisers said it would take six months to get accurate figures. "In that case, I'll just use these rough estimates," FDR said, and he wrote down some numbers in his text. "They're reasonable figures and they support my point.
"Besides," he added as an afterthought, "it will keep my critics busy for at least six month just to prove me wrong."
Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.
At the county fair a distinctively dressed Quaker offered a horse for sale. A non-Quaker farmer asked its price, and since Quakers had a reputation for fair dealing, he bought the horse without hesitation. The farmer got the horse home, only to discover it was lazy and ill-tempered, so he took it back to the fair the next day. There he confronted the Quaker.
"Thou hast no complaint against me," said the Quaker. "Had thou asked me about the horse, I would have told thee truthfully the problems, but thou didst not ask."
"That's okay," replied the farmer. "I don't want you to take the horse back. I want to try to sell him to someone else. Can I borrow your coat and hat awhile?"
In the survey taken in early 1991, interviewees were asked, "Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with the following statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct." Only 28% of the respondents expressed strong belief in "absolute truth," and more surprisingly, only 23 percent of born-again or evangelical Christians accepted this idea!
What a telling revelation! If more than 75 percent of the followers of Christ say nothing can be known for certain, does this indicate, as it seems, that they are not convinced that Jesus existed, that He is who He claimed to be, that His Word in authentic, that God created the heavens and earth, or that eternal life awaits the believer? That's what the findings appear to mean. If there is no absolute truth, then by definition nothing can be said to be absolutely true. To the majority, apparently, it's all relative. Nothing is certain. Might be. Might not be. Who knows for sure? Take your guess and hope for the best!
James Dobson, December 1991 letter, quoting George Barna, What Americans Believe.
While an estimated 74 percent of Americans strongly agree that "there is only one true God, who is holy and perfect, and who created the world and rules it today," an estimated 65 percent either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the assertion that "there is no such thing as absolute truth."
Christianity Today, September 16, 1991, p. 48, from George Barna, The Barna Report: What Americans Believe, 1991.
A woman's red station wagon was crushed by an elephant at a circus. The owners of the animal apologized, explaining that the animal, for some reason, simply liked to sit on red cars. In spite of the damage, the woman's car was still drivable. But on the way to the garage she was stopped short by an accident involving two other cars just ahead of her. When the ambulance arrived a few minutes later the attendants took one look at her car, then ran over to assist her.
"Oh, I wasn't involved in this accident," she explained. "An elephant sat on my car." The ambulance attendants quickly bundled her off to the hospital for possible shock and head injuries, despite the lady's vehement protests.
Bits and Pieces, October, 1991.
The drunk husband snuck up the stairs quietly. He looked in the bathroom mirror and bandaged the bumps and bruises he'd received in a fight earlier that night. He then proceeded to climb into bed, smiling at the thought that he'd pulled one over on his wife.
When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his wife. "You were drunk last night weren't you!"
"Well, if you weren't, then who put all the band-aids on the bathroom mirror?"
A number of years ago the Douglas Aircraft company was competing with Boeing to sell Eastern Airlines its first big jets. War hero Eddie Rickenbacker, the head of Eastern Airlines, reportedly told Donald Douglas that the specifications and claims made by Douglas's company for the DC-8 were close to Boeing's on everything except noise suppression. Rickenbacker then gave Douglas one last chance to out-promise Boeing on this feature. After consulting with his engineers, Douglas reported that he didn't feel he could make that promise. Rickenbacker replied, "I know you can't, I just wanted to see if you were still honest."
Today in the Word, MBI, October, 1991, p. 22.
Once, when a stubborn disputer seemed unconvinced, Lincoln said, "Well, let's see how many legs has a cow?"
"Four, of course," came the reply disgustedly.
"That's right," agreed Lincoln. "Now suppose you call the cow's tail a leg; how many legs would the cow have?"
"Why, five, of course," was the confident reply.
"Now, that's where you're wrong," said Lincoln. "Calling a cow's tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Bits and Pieces, July, 1991.
Those that think it permissible to tell white lies soon grow colorblind.
Dr. Clarence Bass, professor emeritus at Bethel Thelolgical Seminary, early in his ministry preached in a church in Los Angeles. He thought he had done quite well as he stood at the door greeting people as they left the sanctuary. The remarks about his preaching were complimentary. That is, until a little old man commented, "You preached too long." Dr. Bass wasn't fazed by the remark, especially in light of the many positive comments. "You didn't preach loud enough," came another negative comment; it was from the same little old man. Dr. Bass thought it strange that the man had come through the line twice, but when the same man came through the line a third time and exclaimed, "You used too many big words" --this called for some explanation.
Dr. Bass sought out a deacon who stood nearby and asked him, "Do you see that little old man over there? Who is he?"
"Don't pay any attention to him," the deacon replied. "All he does is go around and repeat everything he hears."
Pulpit and Bible Study Helps, Vol.16, #5, p. 1.
Writing letters of recommendation can be hazardous--tell the truth and you might get sued if the contents are negative. Robert Thornton, a professor at Lehigh University, has a collection of "virtually litigation-proof" phrases called the Lexicon of Intentionally Ambiguous Recommendations, or LIAR.
Here are some examples:
*To describe an inept person--"I enthusiastically recommend this candidate with no qualifications whatsoever."
*To describe an ex-employee who had problems getting along with fellow workers--"I an pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine."
*To describe an unproductive candidate--"I can assure you that no person would be better for the job."
*To describe an applicant not worth consideration--" I would urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment."
Larry Pryor in Los Angeles Times.
Two brothers were getting ready to boil some eggs to color for Easter.
"I'll give you a dollar if you let me break three of these on your head," said the older one. "Promise?" asked the younger. "Promise!" Gleefully, the older boy broke two eggs over his brother's head.
Standing stiff for fear the gooey mess would get all over him, the little boy asked, "When is the third egg coming?"
"It's not," replied the brother. "That would cost me a dollar."
Justin Martyr may have been the first Christian to express what we today call "the integration of faith and learning." He wrote, "Whatever has been uttered aright by any man in any place belongs to us Christians."
D. Bruce Lockerbie, Thinking and Acting Like a Christian, p. 87.
When regard for truth has been broken down or even slightly weakened, all things will remain doubtful.
The unattended garden will soon be overrun with weeds; the heart that fails to cultivate truth and root out error will shortly be a theological wilderness.
Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.
The late former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker told the story of the day Winston Churchill, sitting in the House of Commons, was brought the message that his deadly enemy, Aneurin Bevan, had just died. Churchill bowed his head, clearly shaken. "A great man, a brilliant man, a tragic loss," he muttered. Some minutes later another member of parliament came to Churchill to inform him that the press was waiting outside to get his "heartfelt opinion on Nye Bevan."
Churchill thought a moment, then looked up warily and said, "Are you sure he's dead?"
A ship captain one day recorded in the ship's log, "First-mate drunk today." It was a true statement, but was the first incident where the mate had been drunk while on duty. The mate pleaded with the captain to amend the statement, but the captain refused, saying it was a true statement.
The next time the First-mate was in charge of the ship, he recorded in the log, "Captian sober today."
The kings of Italy and Bohemia both promised safe transport and safe custody to the great pre-Reformation Bohemian reformer, John Hus. Both, however, broke their promises, leading to Hus's martyrdom in 1415.
Earlier, Thomas Wentworth had carried a document signed by King Charles I which read, "Upon the word of a king you shall not suffer in life, honour, or fortune." It was not long, however, before Wentworth's death warrant was signed by the same monarch!
Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 16.
Everybody has the right to express what he thinks. That, of course, lets the crackpots in. But if you cannot tell a crackpot when you see one, then you ought to be taken in.
Harry S. Truman.
A couple of hunters chartered a plane to fly into the Canadian wilderness. Two weeks later when the pilot came to pick them up, he saw the two animals they had bagged and said, "I told you fellows I could only take you and one moose. You'll have to leave the other behind."
"But we did it last year in a plane this size," protested one of the hunters, "and the other pilot let us take two moose."
"Well, okay," said the pilot. "If you did it before I guess we can do it again."
So the two moose and the hunters were loaded in and the plane took off. Because of the heavy weight, it rose with difficulty and was unable to clear an obstructing hill. After the crash, the men climbed out and looked around.
One hunter said to the other, "Where are we, anyway?"
His companion surveyed the scene. "I think we got about half a mile farther than we got last year."
ASPECTS OF THE GOSPEL.
Ⅰ. Gospel of God. “Separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom.1:1).
Ⅱ. Gospel of the grace of God. “ I have received of the Lord jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Ⅲ. Gospel of Jesus Christ. “ The beginning of the gospel of fesus Christ” (Mark 1:1).
Ⅳ. Gospel of Christ. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16).
Ⅴ. Gospel of uncircumcision. “ When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me” (Gal.2:7).
Ⅵ. Gospel of peace. “Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).
Ⅶ. Everlasting Gospel. “ Having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth” (Rev.14:6).
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》
Ⅰ. Incorruptible God. “ Changed the glory of the incorruptible God” (Rom.1:23; 1.Tim.1:17, R.V.)
Ⅱ. Incorruptible Blood. “ Not redeemed with corruptible things……but with the precious blood of Christ” (1.Peter 1:18,19).
Ⅲ. Incorruptible Word. “ Not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God” (1. Peter 1:23).
Ⅳ. Incorruptible Apparel. “ The incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit” (1.Peter 1:4).
Ⅴ. Incorruptible Apparel. “ The incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit” (1. Peter 3:4, R.V.; Titus 2:7; Eph.6:24).
Ⅵ. Incorruptible Crown. “ We an incorruptible” (1.Cor.9:25).
Ⅶ. Incorruptible Body. “ The dead shall be raised incorruptible” (1. Cor.15:52).
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》