The Personal Involvement
From Discover Your Destiny
It’s a frightening but wonderful experience.
As one proceeds deeper into his examination of Christianity, he almost always comes to the point where he experiences a set of very strange sensations. He feels a sense of terrible embarrassment in the mounting suspicion that, while he has been examining the facts of the Bible and the gospel, he is himself being examined.
He began with the assumption that he was on the initiative, and now he senses that he has been strangely but inexorably moved to the defensive. He feels subject to an intangible but undeniable pressure to step from the platform of dispassionate observation into the arena of personal participation.
He feels he must make a decision.
So it is that examining Christianity is, in a very real way, playing a dangerous game. The strange magnetism of an inspired Bible and the loving conquest of its Author create a massive motivation from within the soul of the seeker to let go and step into the life of God. This nameless motion arises from the inner being and moves like a floodtide toward the surface of the personality.
Not infrequently in passing, it brings shortness to the breath, tears to the eyes, and a touch of divine fever to the mind. The yearning personality senses in the profoundest integrity of its being that this message, this person, this life, is so, so right.
The heart leaps to cross the line which is the end of seeking and the beginning of finding.
The long wandering trail is nearly at its end. These surely are the lights of home.
This is the critical point! This is the moment when stubborn, foot-dragging intellect asserts itself. If at this point the person pauses to reflect, then a thousand questions immediately are precipitated into the brain, along with the expected negative assertions:
Can I be sure?
Surely this wonderful feeling within me is pure emotion and therefore not real (coming from a foolish argument that emotional things are not real things).
Am I fooling myself?
Can I be certain that this is all true?
Should I not, before making so profound a decision and com itment, reexamine all of the facts?
If this Christianity is true, it is the most fantastic and life-changing involvement in the universe, and therefore I must be careful!
Simple dependence on the intellect or the emotions cannot take us beyond this point. One who looks only to these sources will be vacillating forever between the dictates of what he thinks and the insistent voice of what he feels. In approaching the point of decision for Christ, one must realize the limits of the intellect and the emotion, and by an act of his will take the step of faith by which he receives Christ into his heart as his personal Saviour. No one gets married, lands a job, or buys a car without coming to the point where he takes a step of faith by an act of his will. Thousands of potential Christians stop short of the gates of light because they concentrate on “thinking” or “feeling” and do not go on to “believing.”
I recall the story of a jailer, responsible for keeping a prison in a little city called Philippi in Asia Minor. He was an experienced jailer, thorough in his work, and convinced that prisoners were all alike—ruffians who deserved what they got.
One day the local police appeared at his door and presented him two prisoners with the demand that they be beaten and then locked in the stocks of the inner prison. To his undiscerning eyes these men looked just like all the prisoners he had known up until this moment. Little did he suspect that he was to be that evening the captor and the captive of one of the most influential human beings in history. His prisoners were the apostle Paul and his co-worker, Silas.
According to the dictates of their sentence, the prisoners were beaten (perhaps by the jailer himself) and placed in the inner prison. What happened next was totally unexpected.
From the inner prison, to the jailer’s wonderment, came sounds of laughter, singing, and expressions of thankfulness to God from these two most unusual prisoners. They seemed to be actually happy and sincerely rejoicing in the painful events that had befallen them. Used to seeing bitter and despondent men, the jailer was not comprehending of the strange gaiety of his prisoners.
Take a moment to appreciate the amazement of this man as he listened to the sounds from within the dungeon. Perhaps they were something like, “Silas, it’s wonderful to be a Christian and surely the greatest experience in all of life is to know Jesus Christ. And, think of it, we not only have the opportunity of sharing in this wonderful salvation but also of proving its validity in our lives by going through this little experience of suffering for Christ. Did not Peter say, ‘Count it all joy when ye fall into diverse testings’? Surely this is true because our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Think of it, Silas! These temporary difficulties of ours show the world up for what it is, not reality, but the prelude to reality. Salvation, Silas, is the most wonderful gift that anyone can receive in all of life.”
The singing, the conversation, the strange reaction of the men in the cell, the mention of the word salvation, all of these began now to make their mark.
We do not know what other remembrances combined to create the emotion of these moments, but we have the record that the jailer retired into reflective and fitful sleep.
An hour of darkness, the stroke of midnight—then it happened! The stillness of the night was suddenly interrupted by the rumble of shaking foundations, the noise of falling rock, the clang of prison doors swinging freely on their hinges. An earthquake had struck! The jailer leaped to his feet and instantly saw the doors of his prison were open. He was certain at this point his prisoners surely would have escaped.
The laws of Rome worked very efficiently in the relationship between jailer and prisoners. They were very simple. When a prisoner escaped, the jailer paid for his breech of duty with his own life. The jailer knew this. In this moment of despair he took his sword and moved to commit suicide on the spot. Rather than face the shame of failure and inevitable execution, he moved with dispatch to bring to pass the inevitable. Suicide was the only way out; this was the end.
But not quite. His prisoners, Paul and Silas, stepped through their open dungeon door and cried loudly to him, “Do thyself no harm. We are all here. This was the precise point where the most important single event in that evening happed—decision!
It was a decision on the part of the jailer to know the God of these two remarkable prisoners who stood confidently before him. In that moment of time he had reviewed the issues of that hour.
Here were prisoners who could have escaped but who held physical incarceration in such contempt that running away from a mere prison was beneath their dignity. There was something about these men of such awesome gravity as to produce fear and longing in anyone who knew them. They carried freedom with them, in their own hearts, which no locked door could contain. Surely, the jailer thought, this God and this salvation has something to do with the joyful spirit of these unusual men which even their dreadful condition cannot dampen.”
This was the catalyst, and it precipitated the question. With trembling lips the jailer asked “Men and brethren, what must I do to be saved?”
The response of Paul was immediate but no less serious. “Sir, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” The happy result was that the jailer did believe and was obviously and instantly transformed. From this moment forever a new man lived in the old body. All this was because of one question and one answer:
“What must I do?”
So it is that his strange longing within the life of every seeker after truth must finally be resolved. From the innermost being of a man he says, “I want so much to be transformed and to receive this living God into my life.” His stubborn intellect instantly responds saying, “But can it be? Can it happen to you? Can you be sure? Think! Analyse! Review! Don‘t be too hasty!”
So happens again the recurring dichotomy between the unfulfilled longing of the heart and the unresolvable reflections of the intellect. The emotions long for fulfillment, but the mind contemptuously insists that real resolvement of any thing is impossible because intellectual activity invariably breeds more problems than it solves.
But wait! A voice, still, small but insistent, issuing from a deeper mind (the sub-conscious mind, the source of those “flashes of insight” that enable even a natural man to think straight despite the bias of his overt consciousness) reminds the individual that his profound step into involvement with God is neither primarily intellectual nor emotional. It is volitional: it is an act of the will.
The way to Christ is the way of decision. Christians call it an act of faith.
This should not come as a surprise to any of us. No solely intellectual process will ever lead a person to involvement in anything. No emotional desire will ever be fulfilled if it is merely the exercise of pure emotion. No person is simply a combination of glandular or cerebral activity. The essential being of man stands above these, arbitrates between them and issues a command on the basis of their findings. This “issuing of a command” is a volitional act, an act of the will. When this act of the will, this decision, is directed toward God in reception of Christ as personal Saviour, it is done on the basis of what we call “faith.”
What is faith? The Bible gives a simple but profound definition: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith, therefore, is not experimentation at all; but faith is “moral certainty.” It is a strange surety that flows into the heart of a seeker of truth. It springs like a life-giving oasis upon the desert of an emotionally and intellectually wrought despondency, flowing through te subvolitional aqueduct of God’s super-conscious relation with every man.
But faith issues in several specifics. Faith is the ability by which we, upon examination, are clearly certain that the Bible is indeed the Word of the living God. Though we know it was written over the course of 1,500 years by forty different authors, we see in it the obvious credentials of divine authorship. It is entirely expected then that the prophets who wrote the Old Testament should say as the credential of their writing. “Thus saith the Lord.”
By this same faith—this same “total certainty”—we understand clearly (and with profound gratefulness) that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God. The deity of Jesus Christ by this wonderful faith becomes a settled fact with us. Because we know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, therefore we know that this Word is ultimate truth, His presence is ultimate reality, His triumph in His universe is inevitable.
The fact that Christ is the Son of God immediately solves the mystery of ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is no longer a “thing” or a “force.” It is a person. Upon examination we discover that this is precisely the claim that Jesus Christ made for Himself. He claimed to be the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life, the Creator of the universe. The apostle John said, “Thy Word, [ultimate reality] was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Knowing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God leads me immediately to a position of transforming confidence in the finished work of His cross. The deity of Christ makes clear that His death on the cross was not the ultimate tragedy but the ultimate triumph of God in history. On the cross, far from being victimized. He became the Victor over sin and death and Satan and hell. The master of the spiritual universe had earned in His own right the right now to be master of the physical universe, which He had created independent of Himself.
The power of God’s life transcends the power of Adam’s death. I have seen that Calvary’s cross is a pathway to heaven for me. By this faith, this “moral certainty,” I know that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
I see, I believe, and I am instantly transformed by the miracle-working power of God. I have become a new creature by this moral certainty in Jesus Christ. It is life’s most infinitely wonderful experience. This is involvement with God, personal involvement that reaches from here to the wideness of eternity.
Has this happened to you? Your decision must come before you can proceed with God. Eternal destiny begins in the moment of time when the heart says yes to Christ!
Discover Your Destiny