June 18 2001
I’M ONLY AN EXAMPLE
This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15
Recently I received a letter from a friend in Ohio who told me he sometimes feels led to share my testimony
with others. He said that while most of these people would listen politely and
a few would be curious and ask questions, he was shocked by the number of them, even other Christians, who would react with
a degree of hostility and would get “ upset.”
This is something that I as well as my other friends on the outside have had to deal
with quite often. So I wrote back and suggested to this brother in the faith
to try to explain to them that, like the apostle Paul, I was simply shown mercy from the Lord not because I am anyone special,
but only because God wants to use me to show the world yet one more example of His unlimited patience and mercy towards everyone,
including the very worst people by society’s standards.
I will always be the first to admit that I do not deserve anything from the Lord, other
than to be sentenced to eternity in the Lake of Fire and to be tormented forever. However,
the Bible says that God delights in showing mercy.
Apart from the Lord I am nothing. But today,
by His grace, another one of the “chief sinners” can be put on display to show the world that no one is beyond
God’s reach and Christ’s forgiveness.
Yes, even some Christians have a hard time accepting my salvation. I told my Ohio friend that this is just
the way it goes. Not everyone can comprehend the depths of God’s mercy. But
I did thank him profusely for being willing to be my voice, so to speak, it telling others what Christ has done for me.
1 Timothy 1:12-16
June 19, 2001
“---God be merciful to
me a sinner.”
After my time of prayer and devotion this morning, the Lord showed me that I need to
talk just a little more about His mercy. Basically, God’s mercy means His
“unmerited favor”. And this means that there is nothing any human
being could ever do that will earn him or her any mercy from the Lord.
The Bible says that we are all under sin and there is no one who is righteous apart from
the righteousness that Christ gives. We cannot do good deeds to earn favor with
God when it comes to salvation. We cannot, through human effort, work our way into God’s good graces. Now many people think that we can, but the Bible does not teach this at all.
The Bible clearly explains that man is a “lost sinner” and that He can only
be forgiven by placing his faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus, by His willing
death, paid the full price for all our sins. This salvation is a free gift to all who come to Christ.
Yet many people, looking at the sins of others, see people like myself with my wretched
criminal past, and they think, “Oh, I’m not as bad as that guy.” And
therefore they falsely think that, because they’re “not such a bad person” by their own standards, or because
they’ve never committed a serious crime or even took another person’s life, that God somehow sees them as deserving
of His mercy while a more outwardly wicked person would not be…well this is a warped and unbiblical view that’s
based on pride.
And these are the people who, regrettably, have a hard time understanding that a murderer
or “serial killer” or some other kind of criminal can be completely forgiven.
Again, I feel it is so important to mention this, that in God’s eyes the entire
human race is under sin. In other words, each one of us have done wrong in our
lives. We’ve all lied, cheated, gossiped, stolen things or even had hateful
or impure thoughts towards other, etc. And each of these sins can damn a person
to hell just as murder can.
And since we are all sinners, even though the sins of some are worse by society ‘s
standards than others, we therefore
must all appeal to God for His mercy, that we may be forgiven and that our sins will not be held against us. This puts all people on the same plane, and all of us are equal before the eyes of the Lord. We are all sinners, and therefore we all need salvation.
So, people who see themselves as deserving of salvation but who cannot believe a murderer
can be forgiven, are really looking at this, not from God’s eyes, but from their own limited human intellect.
In a sense, these people are robbing Jesus Christ of His ability to “save to the
uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25). They are saying that God’s power to forgive
all sin is limited, because in their eyes there are certain sins He cannot forgive.
This is, to me, an affront to the One who is All-Powerful and All-Sovereign.
They are, in reality, trying to tell God what He can or cannot do.
Furthermore, by thinking along these lines, they’re trying to steal God’s
glory. Why? Because according to
the Bible, God does get a certain amount of glory for Himself when He grants mercy to and forgives the “worst of sinners”.
This is what I shared in yesterday’s journal entry, and I gave 1 Timothy 1:12-16 to back this up.
June 30, 2001
SOME GOOD REPORTS
As this month closes out I am already halfway through the year. Although the time has passed so quickly, the first six months of 2001 had many trials and tribulations. But there were also many spiritual victories, and lives have been touched by the Lord. Really, even the trials and tribulations, as painful as they were, all worked for
my spiritual growth and betterment. So Praise the Lord!
I am still enjoying Anne Frank’s diary. I
commented on this in yesterday’s journal entry. Earlier today I answered
a letter from an airman who’s stationd at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. He did not say how long he’s been in the Air Force, but he mentioned having
to be in this country for a two year tour.
I tried to encourage him to attend the chapel services and to find a group of Bible believing
Christians on the base to fellowship with. Turkey itself is predominately Muslim. I
know he feels lonely. If I can, Lord willing, I hope to have a friend mail him
a copy of the SON OF HOPE video. This will be a surprise.
Then the other day I received two encouraging letters from minister friends. Evangelist Richard Rochkind from the Pittsburgh
area said that he cannot give out my testimony fast enough. He told me he had
to reorder 2,000 more from MOMENTS WITH THE BOOK. Furthermore, he said that he’s
never gotten any negative comments from others.
This is refreshing!
Another Christian, Ted Schweitzer from Florida,
is a volunteer with Prison Fellowship. He mentioned sharing these testimony tracts with many prisoners as he goes into the
various facilities, including Florida’s Death Row. I’m so very thankful with all God is doing.