They say I tell a great many stories; I reckon I do, but I have found in the course of a long experience that common people, take them as they run, are more easily informed through the medium of a broad illustration than in any other way, and as to what the hypercritical few may think, I don't care." Abraham Lincoln
We know that Jesus lived
He was a man in history, as well as a man for all times. Tacitus, perhaps the greatest Roman historian born in the first century, speaks of Jesus. Josephus, a Jewish historian born A.D. 37, tells of the crucifixion of Jesus. A contemporary Bible scholar said that "the latest edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica uses 20,000 words in describing this person, Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon Bonaparte."
Abiding In Christ
Dr. Howard A. Kelly had a unique and effective way of "witnessing". He was never seen in public without a beautiful pink rose in his lapel. This practice gave him many opportunities to witness about his relationship with the Lord Jesus. Someone meeting him on the street might remark, "That's a lovely rose, Dr. Kelly." "Yes, it is," he would reply. "Actually, it's a 'Christian rose!'" "Why do you call it that?" he would be asked. The well-known physician would then turn back his lapel and display a tiny water bottle which held the stem of the flower and kept it fresh and sweet. "It's a 'Christian rose," he would explain, "because it has a hidden source of life and beauty. When our Savior pardons our sins, He also unites us with Himself and thereby nourishes and strengthens us. He becomes the secret reservoir of our joy, and any fragrance of testimony we exhibit to the world comes from Him."
Authority of Christ
Napoleon (cited by Vernon C. Grounds, The Reason for Our Hope) said: "I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity...Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Between him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by Himself. His ideas and sentiments, the truth which he announces, His manner of convincing, are not explained either by human organization or by the nature of things...The nearer I approach, the more carefully I examine, everything is above me everything remains grand, of a grandeur which overpowers. His religion is a revelation from an intelligence which certainly is not that of man .... One can absolutely find nowhere, but in Him alone, the imitation or the example of His life.... I search in vain in history to find the similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.
The yellow gospel without blood
Some years ago a terrible railroad accident occurred, killing many people. A commuter train had stalled on the tracks just a few minutes before a fast freight was due to arrive. A conductor was quickly sent to flag down the approaching "flier." Being assured that all was well, the passengers relaxed. Suddenly, however, the speeding freight came bearing down upon them. The crash left a ghastly scene of horror. The engineer of the second train, who escaped death by jumping from the cab, was called into court to explain why he hadn't stopped. "I saw a man waving a warning flag," he said, "but it was yellow, so I thought he just wanted me to slow down." When the flag was examined, the mystery was explained. It had been red, but because of long exposure to the sun and weather it had become a dirty yellow. Dr. Harry Ironside commented on this incident: "How many lives can be eternally wrecked by the 'yellow gospels' we are hearing today the bloodless theories of unregenerated men that send their hearers to their doom instead of stopping them on their downward road!"
Dear friend, only Christ and His sacrifice on the cross can redeem your soul (see Romans 5:8,9). Don't be deceived by an anemic "yellow gospel" of works that is powerless to save you from everlasting destruction.
The cross of — pledge of forgiveness
I read the story recently of how Louis XII of France treated his enemies after he ascended to the throne. Before coming to power, he had been cast into prison and kept in chains. Later when he did become king, he was urged to seek revenge but he refused. Instead, he prepared a scroll on which he listed all who had perpetrated crimes against him. Behind every man's name he placed a cross in red ink. When the guilty heard about this, they feared for their lives and fled. Then the king explained, "The cross which I drew beside each name was not a sign of punishment, but a pledge of forgiveness extended for the sake of the crucified Savior, who upon His cross forgave His enemies and prayed for them."
Blood of Jesus — The invulnerable covering
The great English preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, told of a man who had been sentenced to death by a Spanish court. Because he was an American citizen but also of English birth, the consuls of both countries decided to intervene. They declared that the authorities of Spain had no right to take his life, but their protests went unheeded. Finally, they deliberately wrapped the prisoner in their flags— the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack. Defying the executioner, they issued this warning: "Fire if you dare! But if you do, you will bring the powers of two great nations upon you!" There stood the condemned. But the rifleman would not shoot. Protected by those flags and the governments they represented, the man was invulnerable.
Greatness of Jesus
An anonymous author made this striking comparison: "Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.
Jesus painted no pictures; yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world's greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music, still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble Carpenter of Nazareth.
The tiger and the lamb
In a collection of Negro folk tales, William J. Faulkner relates the story of a disobedient lamb. A mother sheep had warned her little ones, "Do not go near the river, for a bad tiger lives there, and he will kill and eat you." One lamb kept toying with the thought that the grass near the river seemed to be greener than elsewhere and that his mother must be mistaken about the tiger. Finally, his curiosity and desire for greener grass led him near the river bank. After grazing for some time on the luscious grass, he scampered down to the water for a drink.
Suddenly he heard a gruff voice saying, "What are you doing, drinking from my river and muddying my water?" The disobedient lamb began excusing himself, but the tiger came closer, saying "I'm going to kill and eat you." As the tiger sprang toward the helpless lamb, the mother sheep ran between them, taking the deathdealing blows of claws and fangs in her own body. Thus, the disobedient lamb was spared and scampered up the river bank to safety.
It was Christ's willingness to lay down his life that has brought us salvation and life.
David Livingstone once wisely remarked: He is the greatest master I have ever known. If there is anyone greater, I do not know him. Jesus Christ is the only master supremely worth serving. He is the only ideal that never loses its inspiration. He is the only friend whose friendship meets every demand. He is the only Savior who can save the uttermost. We go forth in His name, in His power, and in His Spirit to serve Him.
God putting His arms around our neck
A Sunday school superintendent read this text. "Who can tell me what a yoke is?" he asked.
"Something they put on the necks of animals," answered a ten year-old girl.
"Then," asked the leader, "what is God's yoke?"
There was silence until a four-year-old raised his hand and said, "God, putting His arms around our neck."
The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down in front. Any attack upon the sheep had to take him into account. Now our God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. (F. B. Meyer)
Love came down (a Christmas parable)
A man is climbing a mountain, at the top of which he hopes to find God. By ascending the heights, the seeker expects to leave all the cares and miseries of life behind in the valley. But while he climbs, God is coming down the mountain into the toil and grief. In the mists of the mountain God and the man pass one another.When the man reaches the mountaintop, he will find nothing. God is not there. What then will he do? He knows the climbing was a mistake, but in agony of that recognition, will he fall down and despair? Or will he turn to retrace his path through the mists and into the valley to where God has gone seeking him?
Love came down at Christmas, but only a few perceived its coming.
Martin Luther once said, "Anything that one imagines of God apart from Christ is only useless thinking and vain idolatry."
Henry Feyerabend is the speaker-director o/It Is Written for Canada.