Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Fine Line

By Ray Gano

I recently presented an article where I presented the story, "Dying Without God." For those of you who have not read it, I include here.

Dying Without God

A youth at one of the large iron works in Sheffield was some time ago accidentally thrown on to a red hot amour plate. When he was rolled off by his fellow workmen, it was doubtful if he could live, as nearly all one side of him was burned to the bone. His workmates cried, “Send for the doctor,” but the poor suffering youth cried, “Never mind sending for the doctor; is there anyone here can tell me how to get saved? My soul has been neglected, and I’m dying without God. Who can help me?”

Although there were three hundred men around him, there was no one who could tell him the way of salvation. After twenty minutes of untold agony he died as he had lived.

The man who saw this accident, and heard the cries of the dying youth, was a wretched backslider, and when I asked him how he felt about the matter, he said, “I have heard his cries ever since, and wished I could have stooped down and pointed him to Jesus, but my life closed my lips.”

Does your life tell sinners that you are saved, or does it close your lips, when those around hear your talk and witness your actions?

- “Dying Testimonies of Saved and Unsaved Compiled By Solomon Benjamin Shaw – page 301 published in 1898

I received many emails regarding my article on how to share the gospel by using the scripture. But I got one email where the person asked for clarification.

While I generally enjoy your site and I do read the articles posted there often, I found your article "Dying without God" a bit troubling. The main issue I take with it is that in your example, a young man was "dying without God" and realized it in the last moments of his life. It was also in that moment that he confessed his sin (stated he didn't know God and that he had neglected his own soul by not knowing God), asked for forgiveness (when he asked who could help him, he was crying out to God, not just the bystanders) and was repentant. In other words, he asked, sought and knocked. Our God, a just God, would have accepted him into salvation at that point just as Christ had accepted the thief on the cross. If one were to take your article at face value, the young man asked, but was not given; sought but could not find; and knocked but the door went unanswered. Since God, nor His word, can be contradictory, how can you continue on with the article after making such a declaration? I understand the point you are trying to make in the article, but using an example that is totally contradictory to the word of God distracts from the credibility of your attempt.

The reader brings up some interesting ideas, but I have to say that what this person is presenting is a form of "easy beliefism." This is an ever growing error in today's church and why it is so important that we know the difference from scripture.

There is a fine line between the person in the iron mill and the thief on the cross. Even though it is a fine line, there is a huge separation between the two once we understand what God's Word says.

Let's look at the two for a moment. First the man in the iron works.

"but the poor suffering youth cried, “Never mind sending for the doctor; is there anyone here can tell me how to get saved? My soul has been neglected, and I’m dying without God. Who can help me?”

The best way to address this is by going to see what scripture says. In Romans we find the prerequisite to the Gospel.

Romans 10:13-14 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

Romans 10:17 (KJV) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

First we see that whoever calls upon the Name if the Lord shall be saved.

We also see Paul making the statement "How then can they call on Him whom they have not believed?"

So we know from this, that a person has to have the knowledge of Jesus Christ in order to call upon Him.

And finally we see that faith comes from hearing the gospel out of the Word of God.

By his own admission the man in the iron mill realized he was a sinner, but he did not know Christ, nor did he know the way to Christ. He did not have the knowledge to call upon the name of the Lord.

Now, let's look at the thief on the cross, this is found in Luke 23:39-43

Luke 23:39 (KJV) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.

40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

The thief on the cross realized he was a sinner, and we can clearly see that he had the knowledge to call upon the name of the Lord asking Jesus to remember him.

So even when these two different stories seem to be the same, sad to say, there is a difference.

The thief knew who he was talking to and about. He realized he was addressing the very Son of God. He knew Christ and called out to Him. The man in the iron mill did not know Christ, nor did he call out to Him.

The sad point is that the man in the iron mill did not know The Way. No one ever shared the knowledge of the Gospel with him. If someone in his life might have shared, he may have had the knowledge to call upon Christ.

On the other hand the thief on the cross was saved because he knew and heard of Christ. We clearly see that in scripture.

We know from John that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father.

John14:6 (KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

One must call on the name of Jesus. There is no other name above the name of Jesus.

One cannot call on Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Joseph Smith, ect, ect, ect.

It is Jesus and Jesus alone. The thief called upon Jesus because he knew of Him and heard of Him. Faith cometh by hearing.

The iron mill worker knew neither because he never heard the Word of God nor of the saving grace of Jesus Christ our Savior. All he knew is that his soul was neglected.

This is why it is so important that anyone who claims to be a bible believing Christian, we must clearly know and understand how to share the gospel according to the scriptures.

It is also important that we dig deeper into the Word of God so that we can differentiate between the fine lines, because when we know the word of God, we realize that the fine lines are truly gaping chasms that separate us from God. But if we do not have the knowledge of God's Word, we only see fine lines. And in that, there is a danger that are easily crossed.

Here is the best guideline that I can give you...

Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
It is for this reason why we are to always lean upon His Word as the final authority and never our own understanding.

Because with knowledge of God's Word, we can clearly see the fine lines and great chasms, thus avoiding both.

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