Is it time for you to make a decision?

By AL EARLEY

Religion columnist

In Judges 7 we have the amazing story of Gideon who leads 300 men into battle against an army of 135,000 Midianites. In verse 20 we read, “The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!”  The rest of the chapter tells the story of how God had the victory over the Midianites through Gideon and his 300 men.

At first Gideon was quite reluctant to do what God called him to do. In Judges 6:36-40 Gideon tests God twice, and comes to the conclusion that God is who he says he is, and Gideon can trust God to do whatever God says He is going to do. So, Gideon obediently follows God plan, and the victory is won.

Do you believe it happened that way? Billy Graham does. Billy Graham and Charles Templeton were evangelists who rose to fame in the 40s. Early in their careers they were very close friends. It was Templeton who everyone said was the greater preacher, but in 1982 Templeton lost his faith, and died an atheist in 2001. In his book, “Farewell to God,” Templeton records this conversation, as he remembers it, when he challenged Billy Graham’s faith. Templeton said, “But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world was not created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s a demonstrable fact.”

“I don’t accept that” Billy said. “And there are reputable scholars who don’t.”

“Who are these scholars?” Templeton said. “Men in conservative Christian colleges?”

“Most of them, yes, but that is not the point. I believe the Genesis account of creation because it’s in the Bible. I’ve discovered something in my ministry: When I take the Bible literally, when I proclaim it as the word of God, my preaching has power. When I stand on the platform and say, ‘God says,’ or ‘The Bible says,’ the Holy Spirit uses me. There are results. Wiser men than you or I have been arguing questions like this for centuries. I don’t have the time or the intellect to examine all sides of the theological dispute, so I’ve decided once for all to stop questioning and accept the Bible as God’s word” (Farewell to God by Charles Templeton, pp. 7-8).

Gideon was asked to do the impossible by God.  God guided him to that point where enough of his questions were answered so that he believed God would win the victory through him. There will always be more questions. I know, I have asked most of those questions, and I have come to the same conclusion that Gideon and Billy Graham came to. There will always be more questions. At some point, you have to make a decision. I made that decision, and I no longer question the truth and authority of scripture. Like Billy Graham, I have found that when I believe the Bible is true, and preach with that kind of faith, the Holy Spirit works through me, and powerful and miraculous things happen.  

There is a time when we, like Billy Graham, must stop the type of questioning that comes prior to faith, and make a decision. This does not mean we stop using our minds, as Templeton unfortunately assumed. In Christianity, we call this fides quaenes intellectum, “faith seeking understanding.” We believe in order to understand. We have faith and seek understanding. I think Solomon said this wisely in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”

Do you struggle with doubts about the truth and authority of the Bible? How long have you struggled? How many questions have you asked?  How many times has the Bible proved to be right?  How many times must the Bible prove to be right before you will decide to believe? Is it time for you to make the decision to believe the Bible is true?  (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.)