Monthly Archives: March 2021


“If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).” 

My brother pulled the trigger on this buck.

I was afraid to pull the trigger.  Older than dirt, this gifted shotgun looked like it had not been fired in 60 years, so I bravely did what any real guy would do…I took it to a gunsmith. After a few months, he said it was fixed and safe to fire.  Today, it’s still empty.  I have not pulled the trigger…yet.  

For me, it’s a matter of trust that this guy (who I don’t know) says it’s safe, but is it, really?  Popping a 20-gauge shell in the chamber, putting it up to my cheek, and pulling the trigger is a big step of faith on just his say-so.  Unlike a plastic surgeon, talk is cheap.  

If I really believe, I’ll act on his promise.  Believing is that simple, and that hard.  

The gun that Booth pulled the trigger on with Lincoln

And so it is with Jesus.  Faith to take Him at His word, believing that His death on the cross pays for your sins, and that His tomb is empty is easy…to say.  But is just “saying” real saving, eternal faith, or is it just an intellectual assent (like believing in Napoleon or Lincoln)? How can you be sure your faith is genuine and not just acknowledging a fact? 

The Apostle James, and half-brother of Jesus, said, “faith without works is dead.” If you really believe, they’ll be a transformation because the Holy Spirit enters your body, and good works will flow from your faith.  God uses outward and visible faith proofs of this inward and invisible change to tell the world, you “pulled the trigger.”  What proofs?  

In the Old Testament, circumcision was a faith proof, but Israel could not even keep the Ten Commandments, let alone the extensive Jewish Law.  The Law was really a spiritual thermometer to show how sin-sick we all are, that being right with God isn’t about doing good works.  Besides, if it made lawbreakers right and holy, why did Jesus have to die?   

The Jerusalem Temple where many circumcisions happened.

Do you know how to never break the Law?  The only way is to have no Law to break.  So that’s what Jesus did.  Jesus was the only one to keep the Law with a sinless life, and as a perfect man, and God, His sacrifice freed us from trying (to be good, keeping the Law), to instead just believing in His work.  But again, what is genuine pulling the trigger faith? 

Action. In the New Testament, baptism was faith proof of your unseen belief, but getting wet doesn’t save you anymore than circumcision made an Israelite a believer.  God has always operated on faith and grace; beginning with Abraham’s faith, long before the Law was given to Moses (Romans 4).  Again, what else constitutes saving faith? Repentance.  

The Dead Sea (near where the Scrolls were found).

James says, “Even the demons believe.”  If they believe in Jesus, and they aren’t going to Heaven, what’s the difference in your faith and theirs?  The answer is…surrendering your will (repent means to change your mind). So stop trying to be good (you can’t keep the 10 Commandments either).  Ask Him to forgive you, once and for all, based on His work. 

Inside The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Now, I’ve changed my mind, and by faith…I’m going to go fire my gun.  Happy Easter! 

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“When the Deal Goes Down”

At the Bob Dylan concert at MSU (2019)

“Jesus…abolished Death and brought Life and Immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10).” 

A good friend lies in the ICU right now, and will most likely be dead before this column goes to press.  Eternity looms for Jeff, as it did for Paul when he wrote these words, his last letter to Timothy before Rome chopped off his head.  Immortality finally revealed.

Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air, Tomorrow keeps turning around
We live and we die, we know not why, But I’ll be with you when the deal goes down 

Fortunately, Jeff’s a Christian (and a fellow Bob Dylan fan).  We went to see Dylan at the Wharton Center last year (our third time seeing him together since Bob became a Christian) and Jeff wondered if this was the last time we’d see Bob (since Dylan is 79). Sadly, it was.  

The midnight rain follows the train, We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll, And I’ll be with you when the deal goes down

Bob has a song, “When the Deal Goes Down” that talks about not being alone in Death for the Christian.  Jeff is living these lyrics right now.  What an immense comfort to his wife who sits by his side tonight, praying, knowing their separation is only momentary.  And, that Jesus will usher him into eternity to be safe from any harm.  Death abolished.

More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours, That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies,And I’ll be with you when the deal goes down

Jeff at 40 (celebrating first birth)

Warren Weirsbe once said, “If you’re born once, you die twice; born twice and you die only once.”  In other words, Death cannot hold you in the grave if you’re born again by the Spirit.  But if you ignore Jesus, the one who conquered Death, and are only born physically, then a Second Death awaits you to pay for your own sin.  It’s your choice.

In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain, You’ll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you, and that’s sayin’ it true,And I’ll be with you when the deal goes down 

The Groom is waiting for you to accept His proposal

Those are some excerpts from Dylan’s classic song, and now I’ll take a shot at a verse:

The rich and the poor, they always want more, Immortality too far from shore.  They cut and they duck, but Death still runs amok, and stands alone at their door.  Asleep at the switch, there’s always some itch, thinking there’s bound to be more.  But the road always ends, with no payment for sins, they’re left alone, when the deal goes down.

Jeff and his sister (first birth)

Maybe I’m not Dylan, but we both know without Jesus you haven’t got a chance in your ICU.  If Jesus rose from the dead, and revealed Life and Immortality, can you give me one good reason why you wouldn’t bend your knee tonight and repent?  I can see Jeff, a man “Forever Young,” offering a thumbs-up right now on that ICU bed.  Choose Life. 

* Jeff saw Jesus on the Sunday this was published. His second birth celebrated by His Friend…and got shelter from the storm.



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