|Vol. 15 No. 1 January 2013||
David A. Sargent
In 1893, a great “Parliament of Religions” was held in Chicago, Illinois. Members of all the various cults were gathered in attendance: there were Hindus, Buddhists and representatives of all sorts of exotic Eastern religions. It was designed to be a great festival of tolerance and ecumenical brotherhood, but a preacher, Joseph Cook of Boston, offered a reminder that not all religions are equal. During one of the sessions, he rose and dramatically announced, “Gentlemen, I beg to introduce to you a woman with a great sorrow. Bloodstains are on her hands, and nothing she has tried will remove them. The blood is that of murder. She has been driven to desperation in her distress. Is there anything in your religion that will remove her sin and give her peace?” A hush fell on the gathering. Not one of the swamis or monks said a word.
In the heaviness of that silence Cook abruptly raised his eyes heavenward and cried out, “John, can you tell this woman how to get rid of her awful sin?” The preacher waited, as if listening for a reply. Suddenly he cried out, “Listen, John speaks. – ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, purifies us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7).” Not a soul broke the silence that followed; all the representatives of Eastern religions and Western cults sat speechless. Why? Because only Christianity can make that statement: only the shed blood of Jesus can claim the power to forgive all sin.
This is a sublime truth for all of us because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us have the stain of guilt of sin in our lives. What can wash away my sin and yours? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! Peter and the other apostles preached to a crowd in Jerusalem that had the blood of Jesus Christ on their hands. Peter declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Their response: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). They wanted to know: Is there anything that can remove our sin and give us peace?
The answer: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). Amazing Grace! The bloodstained hands of those who cried out for the crucifixion of Jesus could be washed clean by the blood that He shed on the cross! Jesus made forgiveness possible by dying on the cross as payment for sin (Ephesians 1:7). In the same way, our bloodstained hands can be washed clean by the cleansing blood of Christ when we respond in faith, placing our trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Won’t you be washed by the blood of Jesus to have your sins forgiven?
“Tim was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages, but he was so ignorant that he went out and bought a cow to ride on” (Ben Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac). Without doubt, one should avail himself of as much education as possible because it will be an asset throughout life. Book learning, however, without any practical sense, is like having as many degrees as a thermometer, and not having enough ‘horse sense’ to get in out of the rain. One thus minded is sure to end up all wet!
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. (Proverbs 4:5-13)
Anyone who reads these simple and understandable verses is sure to conclude that God wishes for His children to attain knowledge and wisdom. We would all agree that the attainment of such is both desirable and profitable. Let us not, however, be deluded into thinking that worldly attainments alone can bring us into pleasant relations with Almighty God. The same mouth that urged getting wisdom, said in the same breath, get understanding. The writer Matthew soberly decries some who had…“ears dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart…” (Matthew 13:15).
In plowboy terminology, those who see with their eyes and hear with their ears, but have no understanding of heart, are not one whit better off than the old boy who could speak in nine languages, but went out and bought a cow to ride. Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge! Being engaged in everything going without understanding where we’re going will land us in the shrink’s office, which has a growing clientele, which doesn’t understand the message on the ‘shingle’ outside his office door. It reads, “Soothing Treatment for Psycho-Ceramics.” Translated, that means, I work on ‘Crackpots.’ Knowledge and wisdom ‘wrested’ from God’s Holy Word is still only wrested Scripture and will net one nothing short of God’s denunciation at the end of life’s way. God gives man five senses! A successful man has two more: ‘horse’ and ‘common.’