Our Lord's Triumphal Entry

by Tom Wacaster

In the closing days of our Lord’s earthly ministry, more specifically the beginning of what is commonly referred to as ‘The Passion Week,’ the Lord increasingly foretold of His arrest, trial, and inevitable death and resurrection.  I was studying Mark’s account of our Lord’s triumphal entry and gleaned some wonderful lessons from God’s word.  The precise passage to which I refer is Mark 11:1-10, which reads thus:  “And when they draw nigh unto Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go your way into the village that is over against you: and straightway as ye enter into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon no man ever yet sat; loose him, and bring him.  And if any one say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye, The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back hither.  And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door without in the open street; and they loose him.  And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?  And they said unto them even as Jesus had said: and they let them go.  And they bring the colt unto Jesus, and cast on him their garments; and he sat upon him.  And many spread their garments upon the way; and others branches, which they had cut from the fields.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:  Blessed is the kingdom that cometh, the kingdom of our father David: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:1-10, ASV).

It was Sunday morning of the ‘Passion Week.’  The Lord was about to make His last entrance into the city of Jerusalem.  He was fully aware of the hostility that awaited Him, particularly among those who were of the elite religious hierarchy.   Our Lord never lost sight of His mission, and His ultimate death upon the cross for the sins of mankind.  Keep that in mind every time you study the events of the ‘Passion Week.’   Jesus could easily have fled from those who sought His life.   Even up to, and through the last night with His disciples, there was ample time for Him to escape the fate that awaited Him.  But He did not flee; instead He set His face steadfastly toward the city, and to His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Bethphage and Bethany were twin cities that lay just beyond the Mount of Olives almost due east of Jerusalem.  The names of the cities mean “the place of figs” and “the place of dates” respectively.  Little did the inhabitants of those cities realize the role they would play during the last days of our Lord.  What would happen on this particular day would be a dramatic demonstration of what the Lord had been teaching for more than three years.  Out of these two cities, and in accord with the words of Zechariah:  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zech. 9:9).  What Israel had failed to grasp by the Lord’s teachings would now be presented to them in dramatic fashion.  Precisely as Zechariah prophesied, the Lord would come riding into Jerusalem on a “colt the foal of an ass.”   There are some significant lessons that we can glean from the record of our Lord’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. 

First, what transpired within a relatively short period of time was precisely as the Lord had predicted.   No human could have possibly predicted, with such accuracy, some of the little details that unfolded on that Sunday morning.  “Ye shall find a colt.”  But it was not just any colt; it would be one “whereon no man ever yet sat.”  Animals which had never been used before were admissible for sacred purposes.  In Numbers 19:2 we read of the sacrifice of "the heifer on which never came a yoke."    The colt was “tied,”  precisely as the Lord predicted.  When the disciples attempted to take the colt, they would be confronted by the owner; again according to the Lord’s instructions.   The Lord’s detailed predictions give proof to His ability to behold things that were out of His sight.  Of course He had demonstrated this ability on at least two other occasions.  The first was when He told Nathanael, “When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:48).  That was enough to convince Nathanael and that Israelite “in whom is no guile” proclaimed, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 2:49).   The second was the miraculous catch of the fish with the shekel in its mouth, where the Lord told Peter, “Go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a shekel: that take and give unto them for me and thee” (Matt. 17:27).   Such detailed predictions, all of which came to pass even as the Lord said, are abundant proof of our Lord’s deity.

Second, the manner and occasion of our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on that particular day is significant.  For more than three years the Lord had gone about on foot, traveling the width and breadth of Palestine in this way, all in an attempt to teach the people that He was, indeed, the King of Israel, the Messiah and heir to the throne of David.  He did not lead an army, He did not pick up arms, and He did not incite a riot or open rebellion.  He was not surrounded by pomp and circumstance.  He was not bearing a sword or any such instrument of bloodshed.  Instead, there were palm branches and garments spread along His path—evidence of devotion and respect. He did not ride into Jerusalem on a white stallion, a symbol of earthly power and prestige.   Instead, He came riding on an ass’s colt in order that He might show that His kingdom was of another kind; that it was spiritual, not earthly.  On this occasion, He assumed a  humble demeanor, His only belonging being the clothes He wore.  Yet in it all there was great dignity; even royalty.  The ass of the East was considered a superior animal.  Judges and princes often rode upon white asses, and their sons upon asses colts.  As one author noted: “He came in gentleness, not that he might be feared on account of his power, but that he might be loved on account of his goodness.”

Third, we learn that our Lord never placed importance upon physical things; in fact, He deprived Himself of all those things that are typically associated with success.  Mark tells us that the disciples, when asked about who it was that was requesting the colt, were to tell the owner, “The Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him back” (verse 3).  The Lord only borrowed the colt.  In a previous article some time back I pointed out that our Lord never owned any property, never built a house, never laid by in store, never had a passbook savings account, never organized a "garage sale," and never placed an ounce of importance on what one might possess in this life.  When His life was finished and His course completed, the only thing He could call His own was stripped from His sinless body and gambled away at the foot of the cross by the Roman soldiers while their Master and Creator hung on the cross close by.   He depended upon others to be used as tools in the Father's hand to minister to His need.  From the cradle to the grave, never did a man live in such poverty, deprive himself of the things of this world, or depend upon others for his physical well being, as did Jesus of Nazareth.  Though He may have borrowed those things He needed from time to time, those who were gracious to "loan" unto Him what they possessed soon learned that their "investment" returned mighty dividends that could not be measured in monetary value.   The poet’s words still ring crystal clear:

They borrowed a bed to lay his head
When Christ the Lord came down;
They borrowed the ass in the mountain pass
For him to ride to town;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

He borrowed the bread when the crowd He fed
On the grassy mountainside;
He borrowed the dish of broken fish
With which he was satisfied;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

He borrowed the ship in which to sit
To teach the multitude;
He borrowed a nest in which to rest -
He had never a home so rude;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

He borrowed a room on his way to the tomb
The Passover Lamb to eat;
They borrowed a cave for him a grave;
They borrowed a winding sheet;
But the crown that he wore and the cross that he bore
Were his own - the cross was his own!

Our Lord’s triumphal entry is rich in its content, and striking in its implications.   May we learn to appreciate it more with every passing year.

Grace

Editor Note:  The following article was written by Hugh Fulford.  It is an excellent article and worth passing along to our readers.  TW


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The following story is well known to many people, including many of the readers of "News & Views."  I repeat it here because it is a fitting introduction to today's column.

Little Johnny was only seven years old when his mother died.  She was a pious woman and did everything she could to teach Johnny about God and spiritual matters.

But Johnny's daddy was a sea captain, and the lure of the sea pulled Johnny in that direction.  At the age of eleven, Johnny Newton went to sea and spent the next twenty years as a sailor engaged in African slave trading.  His life was spent in the basest sort of wickedness.

However, during a violent storm at sea John Newton almost lost his life.  His wicked deeds passed before him in vivid review and caused him to cry out to the God he had known as a child.  His life was spared.

His next several years were spent in preparation for the ministry.  He studied Latin, Hebrew, and Greek.  He diligently studied the Scriptures.  He became a preacher and author of great note.  But the world knows him best for a hymn which he wrote which was autobiographical.

                   Amazing grace, how sweet the sound;
                   That saved a wretch like me.
                   I once was lost, but now am found;
                   Was blind, but now I see.

Beyond all doubt, mankind's only hope of redemption from sin and everlasting life in heaven is the amazing grace of God.  In a recent sermon I emphasized that God's grace seeks the sinner, saves the sinner, and sustains the saved.  Yet God's grace must be appropriated by all who would be blessed by its benefits.  Paul the apostle wrote, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).  One is neither saved by grace only nor by faith only, but rather by grace through faith!

A Bible professor who was purported to have a great appreciation for and a superior understanding of the grace of God was asked what day he was saved.  With a smile on his face, he replied, "It happened about 2,000 years ago on a hill called Calvary."  Yes, that is obviously true.  But from that perspective, everyone will be saved and nobody will be lost because "Jesus . . . by the grace of God" tasted "death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9).  Yet the reality is that not everyone will be saved "for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in through it" (Matthew 7:14).  At His second coming, Christ will take "vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 2:8).  Christ is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 2:9).  So, while it is gloriously true that everyone was potentially saved "about 2,000 years ago on a hill called Calvary," it is equally true that only those who through faith appropriate the grace of God by obedience to the gospel are actually saved.  Sometimes in an effort to appear super spiritual or super wise, some religious professors and preachers make statements that are not founded on what the Scriptures fully teach about a matter.  In such cases they need to heed the admonition, "Do not be wise in your own opinion" (Romans 12:16c).

Forty days after His death on Calvary, Jesus appeared to His apostles and said "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).  Ten days later still, on the Day of Pentecost, and fifty days after Calvary, "repentance and remission of sins" began to be preached (Acts 2).  On that occasion, the murderers of Christ were convicted of their sin and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).  Neither Peter nor any of the other apostles responded by saying, "There is nothing for you to do; you were saved fifty days ago on a hill called Calvary."  Instead, Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).  "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day about three thousand souls were added to them" (Acts 2:41).  It was at this point that they were saved and that Christ's prayer on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), was answered—when the people for whom it was prayed complied with the conditions for appropriating the grace of God to their lives!

Were the "about three thousand souls" saved by grace?  Most assuredly!  Were they saved "on a hill called Calvary"?  Yes, potentially . . . and so was everyone else in the whole world!  But in reality the "about three thousand" were saved on the day they came to faith in Christ as the Messiah, turned from their sins in repentance, and were baptized for the remission of their sins.  And the day I did those very same things is the day I was saved by the grace of God through faith!  The day you did those things (or will do those things) is the day you, too, were (or will be) saved by the grace of God through faith!  Let no one deceive you into thinking otherwise.

One Language



By Tom Wacaster

Traveling among the various countries of the world one comes to appreciate the inspired record’s account of how the multitude of languages came to exist.  That record is contained in Genesis 11:2-9:

And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.   And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And  they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.  And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.  And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.   And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” 

In India there are literally hundreds of dialects in addition to the various languages.  The Republic of the Philippines, being situated where it is, likewise has numerous languages, as well as dozens of dialects.   If asked if any of the citizens in these countries speak English, it is sometimes said that they speak a “broken English.”   By this we mean that the sentence structure, or perhaps even the words themselves, are not as clearly distinguishable as we might want.  Of course such is not peculiar to non-citizens of the USA.  I have known country folks, and even some city folks, who butcher the King’s English.  It is not that the citizens of India or Manila do not understand English; it is that their accent, and difference in usage of certain English words, often make it difficult to carry on a descent conversation.  Of course, my Texas draw does not help the situation any.    So, if you ever get tired of pushing “1” for English, or “2” for Spanish here in America, just be thankful that you don’t have to listen to dozens, if not hundreds of choices before you even get to speak to an operator.  But I digress; so let me return to the account of where all of these languages originated.  

One must keep in mind that the confusion of languages in Genesis 11 was not for the purpose of simply creating dozens and/or hundreds of  cultures; though no doubt it contributed to that.  God’s divine intervention was for the purpose of bringing man back into line with God’s will and purpose.  When God destroyed the earth’s inhabitants with the flood He promised Noah that He would never bring that kind of punishment upon the human race.  Don’t forget how wicked the world had become in Noah’s day: “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen.  6:5).  It is hard for us to conceive of such evil.  Every single word in God’s description of the world at that time staggers the mind.  Not only were the “thoughts” evil, but so was the very “imagination” of their thoughts wicked.  Nor was their wicked imagination something that occasionally entered their mind and/or heart.  It is said that it was only evil, it was only evil continually.  I am within bounds when I say that there was nothing good, nothing kind, nothing even worthy of serious consideration; not only did they deserve to die; they did not deserve to live!  

Fast forward now to the passage in Genesis 11.  Once again the human race has abandoned God.  In their arrogance they thought they could built a physical edifice that would, somehow, by their own ingenuity and human wisdom, take them into the presence of God.  But their desire was not to worship God; it was to overthrow God.  Please note that the aim of that pre-Babel society: “Let us make us a name” (verse 4).  The focus was on self:  self gratification, self achievement, self glory.  

The curious thing about the passage is God’s assessment of these people: And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do(verse 6).  One assumes too much if he concludes that this race of men could somehow overthrow God.  It is not that their possibilities were unlimited, but that the possibilities they sought were capable of being accomplished.   One must ask, therefore, why would God confuse them, if in fact that which they desired to accomplish was good?  Had not God instructed man to subdue the earth?  The inevitable conclusion is that this generation of humanity wanted to accomplish something contrary to the will of God.  We readily admit that much here will fall into the realm of conjecture; but it is what I would call more than simply an educated guess. 

First, it is reasonable to assume that their purpose in building this tower was to become “like God.”  They wanted to enter into “heaven.”  For what purpose?  Like Eve who was deceived into believing that if she ate of the fruit, she could become “like God,” so these pre-Babel socialites ate the same poison from the devil and drank from the same polluted waters.  For some curious reason men have, over the centuries, sought to become like God; yea to become more powerful than God!   The Mormon have concocted an entire theological system that promises, “As you are now, so God once was; as God is now, so you will become.”  That same mindset is manifest in various “isms” of our generation:  humanism, agnosticism, atheist, pluralism, et al. 

Second, it is reasonable to assume that those people wanted to take others with them.  Not satisfied with making the journey to “godhood” alone, they “communicated” that desire with others.   Eve took Adam down with her;  false teachers destroy the very ones who have escaped corruption, drawing disciples away after themselves (Acts 20:28-32).  The world cannot understand why the child of God refuses to run in the same excess of riot; the faithful child of God cannot understand why the world won’t just leave them alone.  By confusing the languages at Babel, God immediately stopped their desire to communicate their evil intentions to others. 

Third, that pre-Babel world realized the key to success.  They did not stop with their imaginations.  Moses tells us, “this they begin to do” (verse 6).  We would do well to take a lesson from the children of darkness.  Our Lord made this observation:  “And his lord commended the unrighteous steward because he had done wisely: for the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light” (Luke 16:8).  Applying our Lord’s words to the record in Genesis we learn that imagination without action spells nothing!  Hard work has always been an essential ingredient to success.  Most of the world knows this, but a growing number are slow to admit it.  This will explain why those who seek something for nothing seems to be growing in number with every passing day.  

Fourth, “one language” is essential to accomplishing some worthwhile task.  Right here I am not talking about “on language”  of tongue.  In fact, time and experience has proven that the Gospel can go forth even in the midst of multiple languages.   I have, on occasions, had to go through no less than three interpreters in one setting in order to convey the truth to all those in the audience.   The “one language” that is essential to actually doing what God desires, is the “one language” of unity.  The prophet of old acknowledged this: “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).  I have learned over the years, and over thousands of miles traveled to various parts of this world, that great good can be accomplished even if we don’t speak “one language.”  But I have also learned that much evil can also be accomplished by those who “speak one language,” but whose language is that of Ashdod.  






Thirty-Eight Years of "Tom's Pen"

by Tom Wacaster

As best I can tell, the first time I used the title “Tom’s Pen” as a heading to my bulletin articles was on September 19, 1976. I had just accepted the work as the pulpit minister at the Southwest congregation in Ada, Oklahoma. This does not mean this was the first bulletin article I ever wrote; it only means that this was the first time I would use the title which would become my trademark [if I might use that phrase].

My first work was in Tupelo, Oklahoma, and as was expected of the local preacher, part of my responsibility was to crank out a bulletin every week using an old A.B. Dick mimeograph machine. Compared to today’s modern technology, we lived in the age of dinosaurs back then. I had to use a manual typewriter to type out my original article. Then after checking for all the typographical errors, I would have to re-type the same bulletin, making sure I got all the errors corrected; and once again I would proof read and check for errors. When I was completely satisfied with the proof, I would then put a mimeograph stencil in the typewriter, and commence the arduous task of duplicating what I had on paper. Once the stencil was made, I would put that on the drum of the machine, ink up the well, and commence to hand crank the paper through the feeder; and that was just one side. The same process was repeated to complete page two. Of course we only printed about 60 or 70 copies of the bulletin, but that process took every bit of a half day’s work, and sometimes a full day. My how times have changed.

When I first moved to Ada I was introduced to off-set printing. Though somewhat more efficient, the process still involved photographing a copy of our final product, and burning it to a metal stencil that would then be placed on the drum of the off-set. The paper feeding was automatic, so the total time for writing, typing, burning and printing a bulletin was dramatically reduced. Still, it took the better part of a half day to complete the process. Today we have computers, copy machines, and the capability of typing the bulletin and sending it directly to the printer from the computer. We even have the ability to send that bulletin, via the internet, to countless thousands of people in all parts of the world. Indeed, how times have changed.

That first “Tom’s Pen” consisted of some comments on the congregation, with encouragement to the membership to be faithful and stay involved. Since that time, my articles have evolved into more than just an additional supplement to the regular church news. In fact, just two weeks later I wrote my first full article under the heading of “Tom’s Pen.” Here is a reproduction of that article, after which I will make some comments:

From Tom’s Pen: It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant and unconcerned people are toward the Bible and its authority. This past week [September 19, 1976] I had the opportunity to help in the “Bible I.Q.” booth at the county fair. A display board was set up to invite people to “test your Bible I.Q.” Various questions were asked and the participant would choose one of three answers, only one of the three being correct. If the correct answer was chosen, the scripture would light up on the board. Several interesting comments were made by passers-by. “That’s the church of Christ answer,” was one remark when they saw the answer to the frequency of the Lord’s Supper. Or, “They don’t know what they are talking about” in regard to baptism for the remission of sins. I asked one lady if she had any questions about the display and she simply said, “Your answers are not true according to what I believe.” But the saddest remark I heard came from a middle aged woman: “I don’t care what that says” (making reference to the scripture that lit up), “it’s what I believe that counts.” It would seem that a large majority of our society simply doesn’t care what the Bible says. And yet Paul said, “All scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for teaching; for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Peter said, “But sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord; being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). But behind every cloud there is a silver lining. Two interested souls listened and agreed to study the Bible at a later date; two out of so many. “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth to life, and few are they that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Tom Wacaster
9-26-76


This September will mark 38 years of “Tom’s Pen.” I have often thought I would collect all of these articles, put them in a book, and trace my preaching career using these, and other comments, to write somewhat of a biography of my life. Over those 38 years I have learned a number of lessons, many of which have been reflected in my “Tom’s Pen.” Here are just a few of those observations:

First, I have learned that people are still the same 38 years after I wrote that first article. The reason is, people don’t change. Solomon correctly observed that there is nothing new under the sun. When it comes to interest in the scriptures, a study of the Bible, or a close examination of one’s spiritual condition, the majority are as oblivious to the truth and unconcerned about the word of God as they were almost four decades ago.

Second, I have learned that there is power in the written word. While living in Ada I had occasion to attend East Central University. On one occasion a new class was commencing, the roll was being called, and upon my name being called, the gentleman next to me said in a somewhat urgent voice, “I need to talk to you after class.” It turns out that he was the new pastor of a denomination in town and was likewise trying to improve his education. After class he told me that he has known of me for a number of years. It seems that an article I wrote came into his hands in the town where he previously preached, and he was so impressed that he ran it in his church bulletin; a denominational church bulletin at that! Shortly after moving to Ada, he decided to run that same article in their bulletin there in Ada. When he handed it to his secretary she asked him if he was acquainted with me. He was shocked to learn that I actually lived in Ada. He was even more shocked when it happened my lot to sit next to him in our class at East Central University. He and I had conversations over the course of that class, but it never led to any real serious study. What I learned from that encounter, however, is that the written word of God can and will go to many places we ourselves may never go.

Finally, I have learned after more than 38 years of “Tom’s Pen” that there is great power in the written word to express ideas. Words mean something, and carefully chosen words can do much good. I find it extremely significant that our God has chosen to communicate His will through written words (cf. John 20:301-31, Eph. 3:3-5). Benjamin Franklin once said, “Give me twenty-six little lead soldiers [i.e. the alphabet in a printer’s case] and I will conquer the world.” Silence the written word of God and you will plunge the word into chaos. Daniel Webster recognized this and penned the following more than two centuries ago: “If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be...If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”

I plan to continue “Tom’s Pen” as long as God sees fit to use me in that capacity. My prayer and aim is that it will help some lost soul to come to the light of God’s word, and ultimately to heaven where I shall forever lay down my pen and rest from my labors for the endless ages.

Ask And It Shall Be Given

by Tom Wacaster

How refreshing to know that God “has granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises” (2 Peter 1:4). The Bible is filled with promises for strength, material sustenance, spiritual guidance, and forgiveness of sins. Someone has said that there are enough promises in the Bible for us to read and meditate on a different one every single day of the year. In addition to the promises, God’s word is replete with statements pointing out the ability of God to fulfill His promises. The Old Testament demonstrates the omnipotence of our God through recorded miracles, prophesies made and fulfilled, etc. These all declare with force that our God CAN provide.

As we study the New Testament and examine the life of Christ, it is obvious that Jesus possesses a dual nature - He is human and He is divine. The uniqueness of that makeup will perhaps never be fully appreciated by man, at least not in this life. The dual nature of Christ helps us to understand the willingness of God to give us those “great promises,” and to appreciate as never before the ability of God to provide His creatures with intended blessings. From a portion of Matthew 7:7, we read the words of our Savior: “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” One of the greatest blessings we have as God’s children is the privilege of prayer and the power available through this designated avenue of communication with our Creator. But despite the fact that the promises are given in God’s word so many fail to receive the fullness of those promises simply because they do not ask (James 4:2). The lack of prayer in the lives of so many Christians is due in part to at least two gigantic misunderstandings. One of these is man’s misconception of God’s empathy for His children, and the other is lack of faith in the effectiveness of prayer. May I suggest to you that our understanding and believing in the dual nature of Jesus actually helps us to hurdle these two obstacles to healthy prayer life.

Think for a moment about the human nature of Jesus. The “son of man” has experienced the feelings peculiar to man. The Hebrew writer tells us that “we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). He has suffered the loss of a loved one, and wept tears of sorrow (John 11:35). He has been discouraged over the hardened hearts of those whom he taught (Matt. 23:37-39). He has faced the temptations of Satan, and come forth victorious (Matt. 4:1-11). This human nature of Jesus assures me that God CAN and DOES know how I feel. When we are tempted to accuse God of not knowing how we feel, or lose sight of God’s pity for us, may we remember that the human nature of our Lord enhances God’s empathy for us. What motivation to keep on praying as we ought.

Now consider the divine nature of Jesus. It is absolutely necessary that I believe in this characteristic of my Master. The Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the divinity of Jesus, and as we study this point the force of that denial will become apparent. There are abundant passages which testify to the divinity of Jesus (see John 1:1-3, Col. 1:15-18, etc.). No man has ever seen the Father. We have, however, seen the power of God demonstrated in the life of Jesus. The miracles He performed and the teaching He proclaimed are not the product of humanity, but of divinity. “No man can do these things except...” (John 3:1-3). Even the Pharisees recognized the implicit teaching of Jesus’ divine nature and sought to put Him to death because He made Himself “equal with God.” When Jesus declared, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do,” it is the divine nature of Christ that gives me the assurance His promises will be fulfilled. He who healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, and walked on water can surely provide. If Jesus is NOT divine (as per the JW’s) then Jesus was a liar and a fraud and the promises He has given mean absolutely nothing. But beloved, IF Jesus IS divine, then my faith in the power of prayer with God’s ability to provide ought never waver. It is my conviction that the absence of prayer in the life of a child of God is evidence of a lack of faith in God Himself, and as such, is sinful (Heb. 11:6).

May God help us to fully appreciate the power of prayer as we reflect upon the dual nature of Jesus Christ our Lord.

When The Impassable Meets The Immovable

by Tom Wacaster

I have often commented on the illogical and unreasonable driving habits of those who live in many of the Asian and Far East parts of the world. I think I have shared with you one incident last year that demonstrates the thinking (if we can call it that) of motorists here. On this particular occasion the main road was under some kind of construction causing it to be closed and the traffic diverted another way. In this case, the regular route was a rather wide street, able to accommodate three or four lanes of cars in either direction. But the diversion took all of that traffic down a back road barely large enough to accommodate two cars, much less a large bus heading one direction, and a semi truck headed the other. Of course when the two met each one had to hug their side of the road, and with the help of those in the neighborhood who were anxious to get this traffic past their house, this huge bus and semi began the arduous task of getting by one another, the truck hugging the curb on one side, the bus taking up all of the available space on the other. There was not enough room to pass the proverbial “two by four.” Of course, once the traffic comes to a crawl those who are on motorcycles always go around the cars that are backing up in search of some kind of space they can squeeze through. In this case, there was none. So the motorcycles pile up in front of the bus coming at us, and no doubt the situation was the same on the other side of the truck we were behind. And then began the honking of horns. I have concluded that folks in India think that the horn has some miraculous ability to alleviate traffic jams and move traffic forward at an accelerated pace. One of the things missionaries sometime comment on upon returning from a culture where drivers honk their horns so much is the amazing “silence” on our freeways; even when back logged in heavy traffic. As it turned out, this situation to which I refer here took at least an hour to resolve; something that could have been taken care of in less than a few minutes if the motor cycles had just stayed in line behind the cars. But then, that just doesn’t happen here in India.

Similar traffic jams occur almost every time I travel to India. Bangalore is a city of several million citizens. It is also a sprawling city of some significant distance. The hotel in which we stayed while doing the work here lays claim to being situated in the center of town with easy access to various points of interest, and relatively “close” to the airport. The brochure at St. Mark’s Hotel has some of the more vital information, and that print out says it is 48 Kilometers to the airport. That is about 30 miles, if my calculations are correct. If it is the case that the hotel is centrally located, then the city stretches at least the same distance in the opposite direction, giving the city a width of more than 60 miles. That is about the same distance from Lake Rockwall in east Dallas Country to the western side of Fort Worth. There are no roads we would call “freeways,” and like many large cities here in India boarders on the intolerable.. The driving habits of the drivers exacerbates the problem of an over abundance of automobiles. So it is inevitable that from time to time you will come across a situation much like that mentioned above.

We were on our way to the evening services Saturday night, a drive of approximately 6 miles, if I calculated it right. A bus had pulled out into the traffic in an attempt to maneuver across the traffic and make a right hand turn (it would be like us trying to cross traffic and make a left hand turn, seeing they drive on the opposite side of the road here). He managed to get out enough to block the traffic coming from his left, but not enough to merge into the traffic on the other side. Any expectation of motorists demonstrating any kind of courtesy and let the bus in is what we call in Texas, “a pipe dream.” So there the bus sat. On the other side of the road were motorists wanting to make a right turn, their path now being blocked by the bus. So, the traffic backed up. Then came the honking, the motorcycles, etc. In fact, the drivers on motorcycles were actually driving up on the side walk to get around the back log of cars. I turned to Nehemiah and I said, “this is a classic case where the impassable meets the immovable.”

The Bible also has various records of cases where the impassable meets the immovable. Take Pharaoh for example, When Moses came to the Egyptian king and demanded that he let Israel go, the king simply responded, “I do not know your God, neither will I let your people go.” That is where the impassable (Pharaoh) met the immovable (God). God would prove to Pharaoh, however, that although the king’s impassable will would not yield to the demands of the Almighty, the immovable God would not give way to Pharaoh’s hardened heart, and it would be the later who would lose the battle. After ten miracles the king of Egypt was convinced it best to give way to God, and he literally drove the Israelites from Egypt. But Pharaoh’s stubborn will would relent and make on last attempt to fight God, only to loose his entire army in the waters of the Red Sea.

Korah was another example of someone who thought he could find God. He accused Moses of taking too much authority upon himself, only to have the earth swallow him and his followers up in a demonstration from the Almighty that it is He, and He alone, who is immovable.

We could add a long list of rebels, both from the Old and New Testaments. Sacred history is littered with the corps of those who thought they could fight God: Haaman, Nadab and Abihu, Ahab, Jezebel, Judas, king Herod, to name but a few. All of them soon learned that any attempt to fight God is futile and feeble.

Some years ago I heard a speaker at FHU give a lesson entitled, “Boxing with God.” I cannot now recall the text he used, nor the points he made, but the title of his lesson made an impression on my mind, and I have often thought I would develop a lesson on that same topic, something I have not yet done. That “sermon seed” has been filed away in my files like hundreds, if not thousands of sermon seeds awaiting further development.

When the impassable meets the immovable on the streets of Bangalore, one can expect that eventually, the snarled traffic will be unsnarled, and that motorists will go on their way and soon forget the traffic jam that may have temporarily upset their schedule or strained their nerves. But when men fight with God and their impassable hearts refuse to give way to the demands of God, they soon learn that God is immovable. Those who “box with God” cannot win. Tragically, the lesson is not learned until it is too late.

Tom’s Pen: I am sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge writing this week’s article. My flight leaves for Tokyo in about one hour. I begin this journey already tired, with a sore throat, and with only a few hours sleep from the night before. By the time this goes to print I should be somewhere close to Seattle, if not actually on the ground in the United States. Our work in Bangalore was not as fruitful as we had hoped, but with the handful of those who made the good confession and were baptized and the seed planted in the hearts of good and honest souls, the full harvest will be realized on the judgment day, not on our earthly calendars. I’ll give a full report Sunday evening along with some slides from Manila and India.