Do You Have Scars? God Doesn’t Waste Hurts

Hey TD,

Do you have wounds and scars from hurts in your life?  If so, please watch this video from Steve Saint, who has been no stranger to hurts.  You may be familiar with the story of 5 American missionaries in the 1950’s to the Waodoni Indians (formerly known as Auca Indians) in Ecuador.  They were murdered via spears in the jungle, leaving their wives widowed and their children fatherless.  The most famous of them were Jim Elliot and … Nate Saint, Steve’s father.

Nate was a pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and flew his plane to the jungle to help evangelize the unevangelized Waodani tribe.  What’s amazing is that two of the wives elected to stay in the jungles of Ecuador with their families to continue the work that they started with their husbands … and much of the tribe came to surrender their lives to the Lord.  It’s an amazing story that I could tell you more about in more detail.  But it’s something you can read about in many books and even a movie called, The End of the Spear.

Steve followed in his father’s footsteps and became a pilot.   Two years ago, Steve was seriously injured, becoming an “incomplete quadraplegic.”  In this video, he talks frankly about where he’s at and what he’s learned about the hurts God allows us to experience.  It’s humbling to see where’s he’s at now.  Watch it and think through the character and plan of the God of life. – Arthur

A Personal Conversation with RC Sproul, Pt. 3 of 3

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In this final installment with RC Sproul, one of the world’s leading theologians and a hero of mine, you will get a very personal, real, and honest look into the life and heart of one of the world’s leading theologians, and a spiritual hero of mine.  My hopes for these interviews is for you to be able to not only learn directly from what he says, but also by the manner and humility with which he shares his life with us.  Glean and grow! I think you’ll be surprised.  Enjoy! – Arthur

Arthur:  I have one or two more questions. In giving my audience a glimpse into the life of RC Sproul, I wanted them to get a whiff and a peek into the passion and purpose of RC Sproul … Can you just preach it to me right now and charge me with what you desperately and passionately want my audience to know? What is the thing that you want to say, “Make sure you don’t forget to communicate this to them, Arthur.”

RC: What has been intimately connected with the holiness of God has been my lifelong preoccupation with justification and with Christology, because as I’ve said in teaching systematic theology, our doctrine of God informs every other doctrine that we have; and you can’t really understand salvation unless you understand who God is; and you can’t understand who Christ is unless you understand the nature and character of God. We’re living in a time in evangelical circles where people are attacking the doctrine of imputation and the righteousness of Christ. They’re attacking the active obedience of Christ, and when they do that, I feel like they’re trying to steal the gospel away from me. And so I say, whatever else you do, don’t forget the gospel. And understand the gospel in theological terms. Gospel is doctrine before it’s ever life. You have to get the doctrine right.

Arthur: You don’t have to answer this … but what would you prefer people not know about you?

RC: What would I prefer people not know about me? That I smoked for 40 years.

Arthur: You know, that’s one thing I was going to ask you since you are RC Sproul, the Christian hero, and in your mind you didn’t really want to smoke but … Can you talk about what was going on in your soul and what you were thinking during those days?

RC: It almost destroyed my soul. I mean I never prayed about anything so much about what I did as much as I did about that. I’m the one who proved the adage that it’s easier to quit smoking because I did it a thousand times. I hated it … but it was an addiction, a physiological addiction and I just couldn’t kick it.

Arthur: You didn’t do it in public, during conferences, or anything like that …

RC: With conferences, that was later, but earlier on when I was teaching, when I was in the church, and with certain colleges, it wasn’t all that big of a deal. If you would go to conferences at Westminster Seminary, and everyone would have a smoking break – Van Til and Murray, and everybody … ‘cuz everybody smoked, especially those Dutch guys. It wasn’t a big deal then as it is now … but then there came a time where I was careful not to blatantly smoke in public because people just couldn’t handle that. I remember once, the last cigarette that (he names a prominent Christian leader) ever smoked, he borrowed from me. One time, he was smoking and somebody came and he didn’t want him to see him, so he handed the cigarette to his associate … his associate put it in his pocket and it started to burn up his pants! (laughing) I could tell you some funny stories …

Arthur: Lastly, could you quickly talk about your changing relationship with Vesta (his wife) through the years … Fifty-some years now, right?

RC: 53 years. And I tell you what. She’s been my greatest help and really a biblical helpmate in the highest degree. It’s just like … umm … we just fit together; and I’ve had to take care of her these last couple of weeks like I’ve never had to do in my whole life, because she’s the healthiest person I’ve ever known. She has this serious back problem and it’s been awful to see her in all this pain. But, we know what each other’s thinking before we say it.

Arthur: And you guys started liking each other at the age of six, before you became Christians.

RC: Yeah, we were engaged before we became Christians Arthur: How did that change your relationship … when you became Christians? How did that change things? RC: It changed the focus of our relationship. We were now both in love with Jesus. It made all the difference in the world.

Arthur: Thanks A LOT, RC!

RC: Well, I hope it helped. How’s your family doing these days? (After some dialog about each of the kids, we finished up) Well, blessings on ALL of you guys!

Arthur: Thanks for the time, the discussion, and really, thanks for your life. I want to steward this time well.

RC: Oh, thank you, Arthur. You are too kind. Ok, buddy, we’ll see you. Bye now.

Disability Ministry in China is Booming!

Hey TD, this is some encouraging news from Joni (just posted yesterday)!  I’ve always wondered why God has taken a Chinese church like ours and led it to be such a large force at the Murrieta Hot Springs Family Retreat for so many years.  It may well be as a segue for some of you to minister to the disabled in China!  Jenny has already served at a Family Retreat in Shenyang, China a couple of years ago.

This summer, Nathaniel is serving as the co-ordinator team leader for the STM’s at the same Family Retreat in Shenyang!  Please pray for him as he has been given quite a responsibility and workload.  May God’s hands and heart reach those families affected with disabilities in Shenyang!  Thanks in advance! – Arthur

Disability Ministry in China is Booming!

  • By: Joni Eareckson Tada

Map of China showing where Joni and Friends is serving

In the last few weeks, three Wheels for the World teams have been delivering wheelchairs and Bibles (and Joni books in Chinese) in different parts of the People’s Republic of China, sharing Christ’s love and giving practical help. Just last week, we held our International Family Retreat in Nanjing with many special-needs families hearing the Gospel for the first time. In addition, our Pastor’s Conference was extremely well attended as we taught these Christian leaders all about the Savior’s mandate in Luke 14. And finally, this past weekend our teams completed a Special Education Training Conference, helping Chinese leaders understand how to reach children with autism (with a biblical worldview)! Please join me in praying that God will “grow” all the Gospel seeds we are planting throughout China (and the map shows you where). Praise be to God for His indescribable gift! And join me in asking God to cover our teams with His safe hand as they journey home to the U.S.

Are the Red Letters More Important?

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Hey TD,

Does your Bible contain red letters highlighting Jesus’ own words in the New Testament?  Most do, but some don’t.  Those that don’t are that way for a reason.  Here’s a recent thought from our friend, radio apologist and author, Greg Koukl, from Stand to Reason, about this, about how to use and NOT use the red letters in our evangelism and apologetics.  Something to think about. – Arthur

Are the Red Letters More Important?

Twice recently I’ve noticed people making a theological point based on what Jesus, allegedly, did not say. In both instances I have the same questions: So what? Why should it matter what Jesus did not say?

I have three points in mind with these questions. They have to do with a tactical maneuver, a misstep in thinking, and a misunderstanding about the Bible that so-called “red letter” Christians seem to fall into.

First, notice the tactic being employed here: appeal to authority. The person making the comment is trying to bolster her point of view by enlisting Jesus as her ally, as a person whose views must be reckoned with.

Now, on this point I completely agree. What’s odd, though, is that this appeal is often made by people who seem completely unconcerned with Jesus’ opinion until it appears He sides with them. This looks suspiciously like special pleading. If, for example, Jesus had condemned the behavior in question, would that make a difference to the challenger? If not, then why bring Jesus into the discussion at all?

So, first I want to point out that if Jesus’ opinion on any one issue matters, maybe we should take His counsel on other things for the same reason.

For example, even if we have no record of Jesus’ thoughts on, say homosexuality, did He weigh in on the closely related issue of marriage? He did, it turns out: From the beginning, God designed, endorsed, and intended marriage and sex (“one flesh”) solely for long term, monogamous, heterosexual unions (Matt. 19:4-5). Shouldn’t this teaching of Jesus’ have a legitimate bearing on the debate, if His opinion really matters?

Now to the logical misstep. Nothing meaningful can be concluded from Jesus’ reticence on any issue because it’s a mistake to assume Christ must favor whatever He doesn’t explicitly condemn.

There’s a deeper theological concern here regarding Scripture, especially when the “Jesus never said anything about that” comment comes from a Christian. The mistake is thinking that the verses in red letters (the actual words of Jesus) have more authority than the rest of the Bible.

Our doctrine of Scripture entails that all the holy writings are “God breathed” (called verbal plenary inspiration). Therefore, Jesus’ words have no more authority than Jude’s, and Paul’s words have no less authority than Christ’s. In fact, since Jesus is God—the same God who inspired all of Scripture—in a very real sense, Titus’s words and Paul’s words are Jesus’ words.

Since the same doctrine supporting Jesus’ words endorses every other biblical writer, singling out Jesus as a special authority undermines the doctrine of inspiration for all of Scripture. Consequently, Jesus’ own words fall under the cloud, especially since He wrote nothing Himself, but entrusted that task to His followers.

No, nothing helpful follows from Jesus’ apparent silence on any issue. Don’t make this mistake yourself. And don’t let others slip it by you, either. Simply say, “Jesus never said anything about that? So what? Let’s look at what the Bible does say.”

Thoughtfully yours,

Greg Koukl