Vol.XVII No.II Pg.8
April 1980

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

While visiting with my sister in Kentucky she asked if I remembered my first sermon. She said it was in the early twenties. My brother Jack had complained that every time he played ball his big toe hurt, and I told him the Bible said, "If thy toe offend thee, cut it off." (Turner version!) Well, some fifty years later he let his foot slip under a lawn mower and — no toe. And that shows how long it takes for some people to get the point and obey the word. Fortunately, he was much more prompt in obeying the unadulterated truth of the gospel; having been a Christian and an elder in the church for many years. Can one genuinely believe in the Christ of the Bible — genuinely believe the inspired record — and put off obeying its commands? I doubt it!

"As a man thinketh... so is he," or "Out of the ... heart, the mouth speaketh" (Prov. 23:7, Matt. 12:34). The flip side of such passages says: genuine words and deeds (what we really are) begin with our true thoughts, emotions and will. If we truly believe in God, and truly believe He wants us to act in a certain way, our sense of "ought" impels us in that direction. Fleshly appetites will exert their influence but the heart of man will struggle against them. We are intelligent creatures, not brute beasts. If you can ignore the commandments of the Lord and feel no inner battle with your heart, it isn't time that you need; you need faith. There are times when each of us can cry, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

When formerly rebellious Jews gladly received the word they were baptized "that day" (Acts 2:41), and the believing jailor repented and was baptized "the same hour of the night-straightway" (16:31-33). We don't put off until tomorrow the escape from a burning house we believe endangers our life; nor do we "put off" the way of escape from an eternal burning, if we truly believe in Him.

Nor is genuine obedience an accident of circumstances. Unusual conditions may focus attention upon ones need, a chance reading or hearing may provide the Bible answer, but faithfulness is a characteristic deeper than an emotional "spirit" binge.