Gospel Gazette Online

Vol. 12 No. 6 June 2010

Page 8

Coal or Diamonds

T. Pierce Brown

It is generally understood that coal and diamonds consist of the same basic carbon compounds. The difference is said to be that the diamonds are formed under conditions of extreme heat and pressure for some period of time. This suggests a principle that we find in the Bible and in our own experience.

James says it this way, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience.  And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). In my own years of growing up in poverty and hardship, going barefooted in the snow and having nothing to eat except popcorn balls or hominy for several days, I am aware that hardships and testings of various kinds may be valuable in helping to form character. However, I have discovered another truth, perhaps of equal value. The wind that causes one tree to be stronger and have deeper roots may uproot and destroy another. The difficulties, adversities and tests that help to make one person strong may break another. What is the difference?

It seems apparent that one of the things that make a difference is in what was there in the first place. If you do not have certain qualities present in the raw material, the end result will not be the same. The things that caused Pharaoh to harden his heart might well have caused a person who had any respect for Jehovah to soften and repent. The same sun that shines on a stick of butter, causing it to melt will shine upon a piece of clay and cause it to grow hard.

If, by God’s grace, you have learned to love God, all things, including hardships, testings, pressure, difficulty, disaster, danger or death will work for your good (Romans 8:28). If not, they may well be your downfall. Whether the pressures of life and the heat of battle cause you to be a diamond or merely a lump of coal depends to a large degree on what was there before those pressures and heat were applied. Our primary concern should be to make sure that loving God and glorifying Him are more important than anything else in our lives.

Jesus and Paul taught that the righteous shall suffer persecution, and that we are blessed when we suffer for the sake of righteousness. It is possible, however, for us to suffer rebuke or alienation because of our bullheaded, obstinate, hateful attitudes, self-righteous, opinionated, arrogant assumptions and responses. In our blindness, we may then whine and complain because everyone else is wrong, and Jesus and we stand alone against the rest of the world. Whether you turn out to be coal or diamonds may well depend on what you were before the pressure and heat were turned on.

Prove It!

D. Gene West

D. Gene WestWhen we were children, we would often tell some fantastic story, perhaps one we had heard from some older person, since storytelling was a form of entertainment in that time, and a schoolmate or some other playmate would incredulously say, “Prove it!” Usually saying that grandpa said it was not sufficient evidence for the challenger. Most of the time the matter was dropped with one child believing and the other not believing. A lack of evidence lay at the heart of the matter. Looking back on that time, one sees the value in the challenge to “Prove it!” Later in life, matters of great significance were also thus challenged and the proof was given from an undisputed source. When the proof was given, truth had been found, and while one might learn a great deal more about that particular truth, he did not abandon what had been learned initially — what had been proven.

In historical matters, proof can be obtained from history books; in matters of science and math, the sources were generally textbooks on those subjects. However, to what or whom does one appeal to find proof on religious matters? What does one do when, in the realm of faith, he is challenged to “Prove it?” Does he say, “Well, all truth is relative; there is no such thing as orthodoxy, so whatever you think about it is as acceptable as what I or any other person may think.” If that is the response — remember, nothing has been proven! No evidence has been given; the question has been sidestepped, and you are left with the same problem you had at the beginning — no answer to your question. Furthermore, in no other field of endeavor would such a thing be allowed to happen; that would not be done in science, math, literature or any other discipline of study. Only in religion will such be accepted, endorsed and believed with no proof whatsoever. That is a pity!

However, just because one does not appeal to an authority in religious matters does not mean that no authority exists; nor does it mean that the authority cannot be understood. There is a body of objective truth outside man that explains all he needs to know about religious matters. It is a simple authority and can be understood by most people with a minimum effort. That source is the Bible. Men may differ on its meaning, and that only proves that men can be wrong, but that in no way proves that it cannot be understood, accepted and practiced.

God has revealed Himself in His Word and His truth cannot be disputed. For thousands of years men have sought just one contradiction in it and found none — not one! Oh, they have thought they have and claimed they have, but all such effort has resulted in only showing their lack of understanding rather than the Bible’s lack of truthfulness. Furthermore, both historically and dogmatically Christians, up until the late 1960s, have stood in full agreement that the Bible is true objectively whether man understands it or not, likes it or not, takes interest in it or not, receives its truths or not, or obeys it or not. However, in our time people are delving into subjectivism and relativism, claiming that the Bible’s truth is relative and means to them what they want it to mean to them. Yet, they still wish to be recognized as Christians!

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