What I’ve Learned
When I first started my walk with the Lord, I really didn’t have a good grasp of the issues. I didn’t know what was at stake. But over time, going to seminary, reading the Bible, listening to other good teaching, and making serious mistakes time and time again, I’ve learned a lot. Here are some of the critical things that I’ve learned along with some of my favorite Scripture verses:
1. I’ve learned that God is an uncreated being. That is, He has always existed. That’s hard for us to grasp. God is more than and different from His creation. Scientists know now that our universe has not always existed. There is more evidence today that a singular event called creation (Big Bang, etc.) brought our universe into being. There are profound implications to this and it is one reason why many astro-physicists are converting to some belief in God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).
2. I’ve learned that God is sovereign and we’re not. Anyone who tells you that God is lacking anything or any power is not talking about God. God’s plan is perfect while our shortcut plan always leads to more trouble and more work. There is meaning in history. The world is moving toward a concluding chapter. It may take another 1,000 years to get there or it could happen this year. But God is the Author of all of it and I’ve learned that Israel is His timeclock. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer 29:11).
3. I’ve learned that hell is real. God’s Day of Judgment is real. Everyone will be raised from the dead to give an account for their life. We cannot count on a death of annihilation (where we simply cease to be) to get out of our moral responsibility. In addition to heaven, Jesus spoke about hell. Yes, gentle Jesus. And given our desire not to believe in hell, and that no one should go to hell, it would take our Lord Himself to warn us that hell is real. Jesus said: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mat 12:36?37). “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5).
4. I’ve learned that heaven is real and it’s more than a trillion times better than we think it is. Most people, when asked if they think they will go to heaven say that they hope so. The reason for getting in: about 90 percent say that they have tried to live a good life. Only about 10 percent say that they flee to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as their only means of getting into heaven. We either have a 100 percent chance or a 0 percent chance of getting in and it’s all related to salvation in Jesus Christ. Trying to live a good life won’t get you into heaven. “So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do” (Rom 3:28 TLB).
5. I’ve learned that love covers a multitude of sins. Getting everything else right without love equals failure. I’ve failed a lot and the key ingredient missing most of the time was love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:1?3). From that Scripture we infer: If I have the perfect doctrine and know all religion, but have not the love of Jesus in me, coming through me, it counts for nothing.
6. I’ve learned that religion is often used as a substitute for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Without this relationship, religion is worthless. Jesus said: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men’”(Mat 15:8?9).
7. I’ve learned that Jesus wants your whole heart. There is a personal transaction needed. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13).
8. I’ve learned that we have an enemy in this world that uses deception to win converts. If the truth were laid bare and everyone could take it, Satan’s kingdom would fall instantly like a house of cards. Ultimately, that will happen. So truth doesn’t require me as defender. Truth simply is. And its sheer power will win out in the end. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
9. I’ve learned that true kindness is an ability to love the unlovely. We ruin the economy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” when we use uncommon kindness. The world can be transformed into the kingdom of God, one act of kindness at a time. “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Mat 25:40).
10. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s more important to find Jesus in someone than to bring Jesus to that person. You don’t have to love a person to bring Jesus to them. You do have to love them if you want to find Jesus in them. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).