Search For God
Commentary for September 26, 2004 — The Goldmine of A.S.K.
A friend of mine came to town a few weeks ago. Over dinner with friends he expressed anxiety over the fact that I and other friends seemed so positive about our faith in God, and that we were quite unlike other Christians he had met. Raised in an orthodox Greek denomination, he has little or no faith. It is all so much going through the motions of rituals that have no meaning to him. I answered him as best as I could at the time, but upon later consideration I sent him this email:
James,Since that meeting with my friend he notified me that he is reading Dr. Martin’s book. If a change takes place, that is up to God. If not, my friend will still remain my friend, of course.
If you are serious about learning about God, I recommend you read the Bible, learn about the Bible and how it was put together and how the documents were selected and set out. Most of the books of the Bible are assembled from documents from eyewitnesses to events, prophecies or visions, and their writings were then compiled or canonized by those who had authority to do so.
The best understanding of how this was done is contained in Dr. Martin's book Restoring the Original Bible. It is the book-expansion of his original doctoral dissertation titled "The Design and Development of Holy Scripture." The book can be accessed by the web address: http://www.askelm.com/restoring/index.asp which is the introduction, table of contents and a short preface written by me.
The individual chapters can be read in order (so far as we have gone) by adding one number to each succeeding chapter. The first chapter web address is: http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res001.htm.
Chapter 2 web address is: http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res002.htm,
Chapter 3 web address is: http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res003.htm, etc.
Not all chapters are present yet on the ASK website. Some longer chapters will be split into sections due to length and readability. One chapter or section is added each week.
There are other study guides that are helpful (which I can suggest) if you don't like Martin's approach, but I feel his is the best and most comprehensive.
If you are serious about learning about God and the Bible, then do it. There is no compulsion or indoctrination or obligation or "works" to do — just a gaining of knowledge, understanding and wisdom — which entails constant growth, and sometimes faltering, and even temporary failure. You can and will learn and grow at your own pace.
If you do not want to do this (or do some other means of study), then don't complain to me that you don't "feel" the confidence that my friends and I have. I will consider it whining.
Of particular interest to you may be Dr. Martin’s lecture on video “The Simplicity of Christian Teaching” which may explain much to you at your present stage of education and information, which is considerable (you know more than you think you know — knowing some Greek will help, if you get into the original koine Greek of New Testament time), having been to Jerusalem and talking with us all over the years.
If you are wondering about salvation and the salvation process, then I highly suggest Dr. Martin’s small book The ABC’s of the Gospel (Portland, OR: ASK, 1997/2003). It can be ordered at: http://www.askelm.com/books/book009.asp and it is online with one chapter each week at: http://www.askelm.com/abc/index.asp.
The resources available to you or anyone who truly wants to learn about God are tremendous. Don't ignore them, or your feeling of being "lost" and directionless in life will continue. Unless you act, that feeling may continue even though salvation will be yours (and everyone's) in the end.
There is nothing for you to "do" regarding salvation. Everything has been done for you, for me and for all of us. God will make that clear to everyone at a time He chooses. Note what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy a few months before Paul died — note even the opening words of each passage:“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men [even you] to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth [even you]. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men [even you], the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all [even you], to be testified in due time [each in their own time periods].”It was great getting together again last weekend. David
• 1 Timothy 2:3–6“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men [even you], specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.”
• 1 Timothy 4:9–11
Perhaps I should have mentioned Dr. Martin’s finest work, The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine which is available at http://www.askelm.com/books/book007.asp. While this book deals with the “essentials,” it is quite comprehensive in its coverage of the teachings of the New Testament. It is the kind of book that forces an “oh wow” reaction when God’s plan for mankind in the Bible is fully explained in a straightforward and clear way.
Like all of Dr. Martin’s books, its purpose is to make God’s Word clear so that you can read the text in context, read it like you read your local newspaper, and truly say, “Ahh, now I understand.” However, our sole purpose at ASK is always to direct people to the Bible, to have them read God’s Word so that they understand the meaning through a proper consideration of context, word meanings, authorship, development and placement of the books in relation to other books of the Bible. Restoring the Original Bible accomplishes that in the clearest way possible.
As Dr. Martin told me one time, “You know, I don’t work for God, my God works for me.” It is not my function to “convert” people. It is not yours. That is God’s job. My job is the same as yours, the same as any Christian’s:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience ...”We can only make the information available. Only the Word of God (which expresses God’s thoughts) can communicate to the loneliness in the human heart and mind. Only Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, can fill the void in the human heart. Only God’s Spirit can energize your human spirit (also from God) so that you can receive the righteousness of Christ as God’s gift and later receive the resurrection spiritual body God intended for you at the return of Christ Jesus to this earth. This is what God intended for all mankind way back in Genesis when He created mankind “in His image.” He will accomplish it fully in His own good time.
• 1 Peter 3:15–16
God chose me and you and my friend from before the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 17:8). His choice was for the purpose of making you and me and my friend a full son or daughter of God with all the power and glory that Christ has at this moment (Revelation 1:13–16).
Many of you reading this have had that void of emptiness and loneliness filled decades ago, some over 50 years, yet try to remember what it was like before you knew God and His word. For those of you who have forgotten, I suggest you reread three articles: “Where Is God?” by Dr. Martin and two articles I wrote “Forgiving God?” and “Are You a Misfit?” All three will remind you what it was like to not to know what you know now.
We (you, me, and all ASK readers and supporters) all have an advantage. We have the advantage of not having to try to explain the so-called Trinity to people, or to show that the soul is immortal, or attempting to rationalize an eternal hell with God’s love.
The ASK Website is important. Articles on the ASK website contain some of the most fascinating articles produced anywhere — on a multitude of subjects. Nowhere else does there exist such a deep mine of information that will open anyone’s understanding to the message that God intends to convey from His Word, His Bible through His Son, Christ Jesus.
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