Friday, June 24

Do Bible Verses REALLY Help in Persecution?

What? . . . I'll explain this, but first:

I remember hearing John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist, Minneapolis) remark concerning reading that we do not usually recollect whole books that we read. What strikes us is a sentence or a paragraph that stays with us. Such is the case from having read The Triumphant Church, a brief compilation from Richard Wurmbrand, John Piper, and Milton Martin. Wurmbrand points out a critical, should I say, foundational truth regarding how we gain faith in the Christian life, a truth that too long has evaded many, if not most Bible-believing Christians.

Wurmbrand after his kidnapping to be tortured
Now, what did Wurmbrand say about Bible verses?
"I have told the West [He came from Romanian communist prisons. Fourteen years!] how Christians were tied to crosses for four days and four nights. The crosses were put on the floor and other prisoners were tortured and made to fulfill their bodily necessities upon the faces and the bodies of the crucified ones. I have since been asked, 'Which Bible verse helped and strengthened you in those circumstances?' My answer is, 'No Bible verse was of any help.' It is sheer cant and hypocrisy to say, 'This Bible verse strengthens me, or that Bible verse helps me.' Bible verses alone are not meant to help. We knew Psalm 23: 'The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want . . . though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. . .'"

"When you pass through suffering you realize that it was never meant by God that Psalm 23 should strengthen you. It is the Lord who can strengthen you, not the psalm that speaks of Him doing so. It is not enough to have the psalm. You must have the One about whom the psalm speaks. We also knew the verse, 'My grace is sufficient for you' (2 Corinthians 12:9). But the verse is not sufficient. It is the grace that is sufficient and not the verse."

Then These Words Pierced My Pastor's Soul
"Pastors and zealous witnesses who are handling the Word as a calling from God are in danger of giving holy words more value than they really have. Holy words are only the means to arrive at the reality expressed by them. If you are united with the Reality, the Lord Almighty, evil loses its power over you; it cannot break the Lord Almighty. If you have only the words of the Lord Almighty, you can be very easily broken."

I have preached and taught consistently the need for Bible intake and prayer. Sometimes it seems like pulling hen's teeth to get "Christians" to do what any Christian should crave doing. And I will continue pressing home our Bible reading and prayer. But I also listen to these words carefully, for they come from a man with much experience in suffering for Jesus Christ. What he has said is reminiscent of Jesus' words in John 5:39-40, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me." And then the kicker, "Yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." It would seem obvious on the one hand that our faith does not rest in our practices of Christian disciplines but on the Person to whom all our disciplines direct us. learn this and we are well on our way to becoming those who can "withstand in the evil day" (Eph. 6:13).


David Scudder said...

Excellent! Much food for thought. Thank you. I'll include you in my email as I share it with others.

David R. Nelson said...

Thank you, David. It's so good to be connected with you, and to read your entries as well. I have been very affected by reading Wurmbrand's Tortured For Christ. There's more there than reporting on the dismal conditions in communist prison camps. His words re: true faith are amazing.