The citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn't know what to do. Napoleon's massive army was
preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which
was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide
whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender. It
happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church. The pastor
rose and said, "Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently
that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord's resurrection, let us just ring the
bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our
weakness, and not the power of God to defend us." The council accepted his plan and
the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian
army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy
broke camp and left.
[According to a recent poll] 88% of Catholics and a majority of Presbyterian and
Methodist evangelizers [those who actively try to share their "faith"] believe
that "if people are generally good, or do enough good things for others during their
lives, they will earn a place in heaven."
National & International Religion Report,
August 23, 1993.
A total of 36,000 Sadhus (Hindu holy men) were part of the estimated crowd of 40 million attending the two month Kumbh Mela
festival in India last spring. More than 200 American Sadhus of the Hari Krishna groups brought millions of dollars worth of
Hindu literature to the festival.
One of our partners in South India explains the purpose of the ritual bathing in the river,
"They come for forgiveness of sins and salvation. Some thousands come stark naked--some of them rolling on the rough roads for
miles, believing the festering sores on their bodies would earn them salvation...Hundreds have kept one arm lifted up for years
until the arm gets shriveled with dry gangrene...others have stood on one leg for years, hanging on to a suspended sling while
sleeping...all these are done to appease angry gods."
During the festival, which takes place in the heat of summer, our Indian Christian partners set up free medical clinics. About 150
Christian students passed out literature and talked with pilgrims about the love of Christ. "Some received us with friendliness,
some merely tolerated us, and others ferociously objected to the spread of Christianity," wrote our partner. A number of pilgrims
accepted Christ, though circumstances prevented them from taking an open stand at the Kumbh
Mela. But five Hindus, including two Sadhus, were baptized--the ultimate step of courage for a Hindu.
Partners, published by Partners International,
August 1992, p. 7.
I read about an instant cake mix that was a big flop. The instructions said all you had to do was add water and bake.
The company couldn't understand why it didn't sell -- until their research discovered that the buying public felt uneasy about a
mix that required only water. Apparently people thought it was too easy. So the company altered the formula and changed the
directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water. The idea worked and sales jumped dramatically.
That story reminds me of how some people react to the plan of salvation. To them it sounds too easy and simple to be
true, even though the Bible says, "By grace you have been saved through faith...; it is the gift of God, not of works" (Eph.
2:8-9). They feel that there is something more they must do, something they must add to God's "recipe" for salvation. They
think they must perform good works to gain God's favor and earn eternal life. But the Bible is clear -- we are saved, "not by
works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy" (Titus 3:5).
Unlike the cake-mix manufacturer, God has not changed His "formula" to make salvation more marketable. The gospel we
proclaim must be free of works, even though it may sound too easy.
R.W.D. Daily Bread, June 2, 1992.
7000 Protestant youth from many denominations were asked whether they agreed with the following statements:
"The way to be accepted by God is to try sincerely to live a good life." More than 60% agreed.
"God is satisfied if a person lives the best life he can." Almost 70% agreed.
"The main emphasis of the gospel is on God's rules for right living." More than half agreed.
Despite the efforts of evangelists, parachurch ministries and local churches, the percentage of American adults who are born
again Christians is no different now than in 1982, according to a study by the Barna Research Group.
The study found that 34% of all Americans can be identified as born again--that is, they have
made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, and say they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted
Christ as their savior.
Among those surveyed, 62% said they had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still
important in their lives today. However, among those who have made a commitment to Christ, only 55 percent believe they will go
to heaven because of accepting Christ as their personal savior (the basic belief in the "born again" movement)...Most of those
surveyed said they would go to heaven because of living a good life, or obeying the 10 commandments, or because all people will
go to heaven. Others who said they had made a commitment to Christ said they were unsure about what will happen to them after
Reported in Inland Northwest Christian News,
March 1990, p. 3.
In one of his sermons, A.C. Dixon told of an incident that took place in Brooklyn, N.Y. A detective who had been looking for a
local citizen finally tracked him down in a drugstore. As the man began to make his purchase, the officer laid his hand on the
citizen's shoulder and said, "You're under arrest; come with me!"
Stunned, the man demanded, "What did I do?"
The detective calmly replied, "You know what you did. You escaped from the
Albany penitentiary several years ago. You went west, got married, and then came back here to live. We've been watching
for you since you returned."
Quietly the man admitted, "That's true, but I was sure you'd never find me. Before you take me in,
could we stop by my house so I can talk to my family?"
The officer agreed. When they got to his home, the man looked at his wife and asked, "Haven't I been a kind husband and a good father?
Haven't I worked hard to make a living?"
His wife answered, "Of course you have, but why are you asking me these questions?" Her
husband then proceeded to explain what had happened and that he was now under arrest. He apparently had hoped that his record as
an exemplary husband and father would impress the officer. Even so, he was still an
escaped criminal. Though he was "right" with his family, he was all wrong with the state of New York.