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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Joy began to ripple from a mine in Copiapo, Chile, last night. The ripple extended to faraway countries as the world watched the first of 33 trapped miners emerge from a dark chamber half a mile below ground. As I write this blog, the number of rescued miners stands at 12. We can only imagine the relief and joy the rescued miners are experiencing after 69 long days and nights in their sealed underground chamber. They owe so much to their own indomitable spirit, to the prayers of many, to the grace of God, and to the engineering genius and persistence of those who planned and performed the rescue.

My grandfather was killed in a mine explosion in Scotland, and my father worked in a mine when he was a boy. He always referred to the mine as “the pit.” “Jim,” he would say, “if we hadn’t left Scotland and moved to Canada, you would be working in the pit today.” That word “pit” occurs in Psalm 40:2 in several English versions of the Bible. King David wrote: “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God” (Psalm 40:1-3a).

I think we lost some spiritual treasures when many churches banished hymns from worship. When I watched the first rescued miner step out of the rescue capsule, I thought of the hymn, “He Lifted Me.” The first stanza says, “In loving kindness Jesus came My soul in mercy to reclaim, And from the depths of sin and shame Thro’ grace He lifted me.” The chorus follows: “From sinking sand He lifted me, With tender hand He lifted me, From shades of night to planes of light, O praise His name, He lifted me.”

Life may never be the same for the rescued Chilean miners. For sure, it is never the same for anyone who has been rescued from the depths of sin and shame by the grace of our loving Lord!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Absolutely Only One Way to Heaven

Do all roads lead to heaven? Many liberal-minded people seem to think so. There is only one God, they insist, and He (or she, or it) is too nice and loving to refuse admittance to any sincerely religious person. But how does that thinking square with what Jesus said. “I am the way,” Jesus told His disciples. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The apostle Paul, who left religion in the dust when he believed in Jesus, the risen Son of God, as his Savior, wrote in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.”

These are strong words. There is only one way to heaven. Jesus is the Way; and there is only one gospel (message of good news). That gospel announces that Jesus “died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). Jesus provided eternal life for all who believe (John 3:14, 15), and His resurrection affirms that fact.

But in our eclectic, tolerant culture, liberal minds deflect absolute truth as quickly as an upright deflects a football that hits it in an errant field goal attempt. Nevertheless, without absolutes life would be chaotic. For example, it is absolutely true that 5 plus 5 equals ten, but if you reject that absolute and believe 5 plus 5 may also equal 15, try paying for a $15 purchase with two fives and see what happens. Also, it is absolutely true that we must eat and drink to stay alive. If a person rejects that absolute, he may not be able to argue his point for very long.

If our hope of going to heaven rests on anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, it is a false hope. But if our hope of going to heaven rests on Jesus Christ, it is a “living hope” made possible by “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). And that’s an absolutely wonderful hope!