Lessons were reinforced today.
I began with one guest today and ultimately ended up with five. The first man was troubled. He not only had drifted away from his faith, he was also shaken by 9/11. My job would have been to encourage him, but that would not have been enough in this case.
We were joined shortly after by another gentleman, who was going to get in his truck, hit the road, and try to find a “real” church along the way. But it came into his mind to join us instead. He was the perfect man for God to send to us. He was well-versed and well-grounded, but also understood exactly where the first guest was coming from and had the wisdom on how to deal with it. He was also of the same race and could deal with the tougher issues in a way that a white man such as myself could not have. These would be issues such as: “Why did you quit your job?” “People should work instead of expect handouts.” “Do you have family?” “Have you called them to help?”
All this being done from a sound biblical perspective, with evident compassion, but with conviction that God expects us to take responsibility. It would not have been as effective coming from me.
Lesson #1: God provides the help of the right people at the right time.
Lesson #2: Give people meat in due season. James talked about the person who says “be warm and filled”, but who does not provide what is needful for the soul. I could have covered my planned study today, or insisted on talking about whether there are two or three resurrections, or which day is the Sabbath, but if we had not worked from the perspective of providing sound counsel and comfort from the word, we would have failed miserably.
Lesson #3: Don’t feel you need to be the center of attention. Let the Holy Spirit move wherever it will—and whomever it will. Keep your mouth shut and let others be an instrument of God. Instead, make sure the meeting stays focused on the message at hand and does not drift aimlessly.
It never hurts to reflect and remember what these experiences have taught me.
Two drivers came today, both going through divorces that they don’t want. We reviewed 1 Corinthians 7 regarding unbelieving mates. If the unbelieving mate is pleased to dwell with the believer, then don’t divorce her. However, if she insists on a divorce, then the believing mate is not under bondage in such cases.
Having said that, they should do what they can to save their marriages, especially when children are involved.
Last week I met with a truck driver who was most likely going to give up driving, one reason being his desire to get back together with his ex-wife and do it right this time. Truck drivers have a very hard time of it in regard to family life, some being on the road for months at a time. I often turn to Ephesians 5:17, telling them not to be unwise, but to understand what the will of the Lord is. The rest of that chapter tells us much of what God’s will is. We will not find in the Bible any instruction that says that Joe Truck Driver should give up truck driving, but if it interferes with God’s will regarding marriage and family (5:22–6:9), then maybe they should find another line of work.
Almost the entire study today was spent discussing the issues at hand. Sometimes it’s best to just give these men a venue to talk.
I began today by discussing Saul and Samuel and their sparring in 1 Samuel 13. It seemed to me that Saul was an accomplished liar and refused to take responsibility for his actions. One of the drivers had another take: that Samuel had set him up. The Scriptures say that as soon as Saul finished the illegal sacrifice, lo and behold, Samuel showed up (v10). He theorizes that Samuel entrapped Saul because he wanted to get rid of him. We countered by pointing out that Samuel mourned for Saul (15:35–16:1). The truck driver had an answer for this, that the Scriptures don’t always tell the whole story and can be wrong, whereupon we pointed out that Scriptures are either inspired or not. He said that he certainly believes in the inspiration of Scripture, but that the Old Testament is often wrong.
So what could we do with a comment like that?
[I have occasionally spoken with people who claim to be Christians, but believe that the Bible has major errors, as this man did. If I have time, I usually try to sit down with them and get them to describe how one could know which parts of the Bible are the thoughts of God and which are not. Some have already worked out a clear definition of what parts they believe are true. Then I ask them if they are perfectly following all of the commands that they agree are true (as Christ asked of the man with one talent in Matt 25:14–30). Most agree that they are not, so I encourage them to do the parts they know to be right, and ask God to show them about the rest.
Others clearly have never thought about exactly how much of the Bible they believe and how much they do not. If they claim to believe the New Testament, but not the Old, I show them that NT authors believed the whole OT (Matt 5:17–18, Luke 16:17; 24:44; Acts 24:14; 2Ti 3:16). If they claim that the Scriptures have been changed since that time, I start asking them how much they know about the Bible manuscripts, and how few significant differences there are, and usually find that they know little about these things. Also, I try to show them that the Bible can never be any kind of spiritual guide for their life if their approach is “anything I disagree with in the Bible is probably wrong”—they might as well say they don’t believe it. I do agree that there are some relatively minor errors in today’s Bibles, due to manuscript and translation problems. However, Since the Bible claims to be God’s revelation to man, and since I know of no other book that comes close to fulfilling that role, I think we should obey everything in it, unless we can use manuscript and translation tools to demonstrate an error. God can judge us very well from seeing how well we follow what we understand to be right (Matt 11:23; Rom 2:1–16).
Finally, I ask people if they have mistrust for the Bible because they have met people in church organizations who were deceitful and tried to “get rid of” their political enemies (as your visitor accused Samuel). I assure them that God and the righteous people in the Scriptures are not like the corrupt people who run corrupt church groups today. — NSE]
Another topic of discussion related to various covenants in the Bible. It seems to me that the Old Covenant was between God and a nation (Israel), and that this covenant by itself did not offer salvation. The New Covenant is between God and individuals (not any one nation) and is all about salvation.
Other covenants relate to God’s agreement with Abraham and his descendants, a covenant with Jonah, and so forth.
With the five truck drivers today we covered a number of different topics, although the intent was to cover Genesis 2 and 3. A discussion of those two chapters can logically lead in dozens of different directions, including Sabbath, family relations, evolution, humanism, New Age philosophy, discussion of covenants, the sacrifice of Christ, Satan’s devices, self-justification, the presence of evil in the world, the spirit of God vs. the spirit of man, the introduction of animal sacrifices, etc., etc. The door can be opened to any of these issues and more, depending on God’s leading. So that’s what we did today.
One of the drivers was perhaps too articulate (he tended to dominate the meeting) and spoke at great length about the man’s responsibility in leading his family, and thus ultimately, Eve’s deception was Adam’s fault. His wife (who is also his driving partner) pointed out that the command given to Adam to not eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was given before Eve’s creation (which to my surprise appears to be true), and therefore it shows that Adam didn’t sufficiently teach his wife.
So where did God get the animal skins with which to clothe Adam and Eve? Obviously from an animal, which had to be killed so that they could be covered, which was a precursor of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. An innocent animal had to give its life to cover the shame of our first parents in the same way that an innocent lamb had to be slain at the Passover in Exodus 12 so that the angel of death would have no power over the children of Israel.
God breathed into man the breath of life. An interesting characteristic of
both Hebrew and Greek is their words for spirit. In Hebrew, “breath” and “spirit”
are translated from the same word ruach. The Greek pneuma can
be rendered both “wind” and “spirit”. So whenever we see the word “spirit”,
it is not necessarily talking about the Holy Spirit. One of the men had a theory
that he asked for some help with—that the Holy Spirit is given at the moment
of conception. How else could we have a sense of the divine and feel God’s presence
even as young children? So we reviewed Acts 8 and
Acts 2, showing that the Holy Spirit was given to people at specific points in time. But I believe his confusion came from a misunderstanding of 1 Corinthians 2, where the relationship among the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, and the spirit of the world is discussed. And Jesus also mentioned, when speaking to His disciples on the night He was betrayed, that the Holy Spirit was with them, but later would be in them.
Of the five truckers today, three admitted to jail time. It was gratifying to see them openly admit past mistakes in life and how much their faith meant to them in overcoming destructive lifestyles. In fact, had you walked into the study today, you might have wondered what type of motley crew was meeting there. One fellow had a totally shaved head except for a long braid going halfway down his back. Another was dressed in all black leather with shoulder-length black, curly hair and was built like a stereotypical biker (which he was), and a third one was a stern-faced native American with scraggly hair well passed his shoulders. I relate this because these people were evidently sincere in their desire to learn form the Word of God and were there today because they wanted to be. I also want to ask this question: if any one of these men were to walk into your congregation, would you welcome him as a brother or treat him like an infidel? Think about it.
[Christ seemed to find the most honesty among the poor, tax collectors, prostitutes and other “less desirable” people of his day (Matt 21:31). He had the most criticism for the religious leaders of his day (Matt 23). I have occasionally observed people from “difficult” backgrounds come to Sabbatarian groups—both corporate and independent. Unfortunately, they were usually not well received and most stopped coming fairly soon. We have a lot of room to grow. — NSE]
Six truck drivers joined me today, including a gentleman who had met with me several weeks ago. It was obvious that all the men knew their Bibles, as they had no problem finding the scriptures that we referred to. But two men in particular were articulate, one of whom claimed to have been in his Bible for only a year. Yet his understanding was amazing. I asked him if the Bible made sense to him before that, and he said that it did not. I mentioned that sometimes it’s like God flipping a switch in your mind, and what at one time was indecipherable will become clear when God decides to open our minds. I asked him if he could explain that. Another trucker told him to turn to John 14:26:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
We covered a lot of ground today, including a discussion on the Apostle Paul, law, grace, end times, Lucifer and his origins, etc. My hope going into the meeting was to focus on Genesis 2–4 and how most of the Ten Commandments can be found there, including the fourth one. But for whatever reason I just couldn’t get it there. One way to defeat the argument that the law is done away is to show that the law was not really instituted at Sinai but was there right from creation. It’s a wonderful way to show that the Sabbath was not a Mosaic institution, but part of the creation covenant. Maybe we can get to that next time, as I would bet that we’ll have some of these men back again.
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE
Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri 64068