The Day Peace Was Signed

It was 5:00 am in the cold November woods of northeast France where officials gathered in a rail car to sign the papers that ended WW1. Word immediately went out by telegram that all fighting would stop at 11:00 am. A final shot was fired from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris at that exact moment, and peace finally reigned in Europe. The following year, after much negotiating, the more famous Treaty of Versailles was signed. The spot where the Nov.11th papers were signed has been preserved. The rail car was taken to Germany in WW2, but it was destroyed as the war came to a close. Pieces of it were kept, and a replacement placed back on that spot in the forest.

The war has often been called the bloodiest in history. About 23 million soldiers were killed and another 18 million were wounded. Canada lost 61,000 soldiers, and 172,000 came home wounded. These are mind-boggling figures. It’s no wonder that Armistice Day was proclaimed across the British Empire in 1919, originally observed on the first Monday of the Nov.11th week, combined with Thanksgiving in Canada. In 1928, the Canadian government declared Nov.11th at 11:00 am to be Remembrance Day, observed yearly. We remember all those who lost their lives, and what it took to bring peace.

God brought us peace at another cold, lonely spot in 33 ad. The sacrifice was so powerful, it never has to be offered again. “He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). It was the day peace was arranged between God and man. It has the potential to save every human being alive, if they would only turn to Him in obedient faith. Pens and treaties can be powerful, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is decisive. No one knows the actual spot where the cross stood. Some claim pieces of it exist, but there is no proof. Unlike the monuments that help us remember war’s casualties, we have only the Word of God to tell us what He did to save us. In a way, it is more fitting and powerful.

And today, as every Sunday, we remember.

– Tim Johnson

Fake Medicine

I once met an elderly preacher who supported himself by selling home-made medicines. He wandered the forests and picked plants he believed could help people, and then ground them up and made liquefied products. But their effectiveness was called into question. He gave people false hope for physical problems. The same thing happens when people think parts of the Bible are not inspired, yet insist God’s word can save us. It’s like trusting in medicine you have decided is fake.

For example, in the late 1700’s, German scholars taught that since Isaiah prophesied events that would take place over huge amounts of time, he couldn’t have written all 66 chapters of his book. They decided the first 39 chapters are his, but others wrote the rest much later. Some claim the book was completed by up to four people, and that half the book is just history recorded by men.

But if half of Isaiah is not inspired, how can we trust the rest of the Bible? And if it can’t be trusted, how can these same scholars teach us that its message can save us? They have turned God’s word into fake medicine.

Jesus and His apostles thought differently. All of them quoted from the book of Isaiah and never gave a hint that there was any more than one writer. For instance, Jesus quoted from Is.6:9-10, 42:1 and 61:1-2 (see Matthew 13:14, 12:17, and Luke 4:17 respectively) – the first, middle, and last sections of the book. Jesus said he was quoting “the prophet Isaiah.” He meant just one. Further, the apostles quoted from many sections of Isaiah in their inspired books. Just look in a Bible concordance under “Isaiah” and see how many times he is quoted. All of them simply state “Isaiah said,” or “the prophet Isaiah,” etc.

These New Testament quotes indirectly tell us that there was only one Isaiah, and all 66 chapters of his book inspired by God. This is what Jesus believed, and He knew what He was talking about. There’s no legitimate reason for us to believe otherwise.

The book of Isaiah, like the rest of the Bible, is the real thing. It’s completely trustworthy, powerful, and can cure the sicknesses of the soul. Don’t settle for something that doubting men water-down and render useless – like fake medicine.

Have you taken God’s medicine today?

– Tim

The Daily Car Wash

I once knew a senior citizen who said he lived to have a clean car. Sure enough, he was up every morning and out the door to wash and wax it until it gleamed. That car would sparkle even on cloudy days. How silly, we say. Yet if there was anything positive about it, we could say it gave a senior motivation to get moving every day. But surely we can think of something greater than the vanity of a nice-looking car. Nothing injects life with more energy than when we have a purpose that is bigger than we are; an overall reason to live; a great goal that defines what we are trying to do in our all-too-short lives.

When we look into the New Testament we see the early church engaged in expansion, pushing the borders of the Kingdom into new places, smashing right through racial barriers, and dreaming to get into new areas. They endured prejudice, persecution, exhaustion, and stress. What drove them to take the gospel into the whole inhabited world in one generation (Col.1:23)?

The answer lies in the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. They realized that God Himself was behind this new enterprise of faith. Jesus gave his earliest followers their marching orders, recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mk.16:15-16). Obeying this purpose produced the greatest strides in evangelism that the world has ever seen.

How about us today? Is our purpose simply to make as much money as possible? Should your ultimate future achievement be ownership of a great big house in a nice neighbourhood? Is your goal just to travel and enjoy warm weather somewhere? If we’re just trying to please ourselves, we’re not much different than that man who had to do the daily car wash. When we live for great things Jesus gave us, life gains a driving force that moves us to take on exciting challenges and satisfying works for others.

Are you serving the Master, or just washing the car?

– Tim Johnson

Last Apostle

When John wrote his three short New Testament letters, he was an elderly man. It is highly likely that he was the last living apostle of Jesus Christ. He had contributed the Gospel of John, and the great book of victory, Revelation. The shortest of his letters is 2 John; it only has 13 verses. It would have been one of his final letters. As in the case of the book of Revelation, did he write it in exile on the island of Patmos? We can only speculate.

And what did the last apostle have to say in one of his last letters? He reminded us to love one another (v5), uphold the truth (v2), and refuse deceivers (v7-11). THE TRUTH dominates his thoughts. Everything dear to Christians is built upon it. Even love for one another is related to it; “…whom I love in truth” (v1).

It was a violent time in the Roman world and John writes in a discreet way. Rather than identify the congregation of the church that was to receive his letter, he calls them “the chosen lady and her children” (v1). A fellow congregation is mentioned as “the children of your chosen sister” (v13). It is John’s love for these churches that shines through the ages. He speaks of love four times in the letter. They were people in the Lord “whom I love in truth” (v1).

The challenge for us is not just to walk in truth, but to love the church as John did – and to love it in truth. Love without the truth is just sentiment. God calls us to a higher love for His people.

Our care for the church is not because our building is convenient or some of its members may be relatives. We love it for the sake of the truth, because its people know the truth and walk in it, and because the truth abides in them forever.

The last apostle laid down a challenge for all succeeding generations of Christians – love each other in truth.

– Tim Johnson

Just One Can at Skydome

All of us are well aware of the Blue Jays fan who threw a beer can on the baseball field in the middle of play during the seventh inning on Tuesday night. It outraged everyone because it almost hit the Baltimore Oriole’s outfielder who was busy catching a fly ball. The police were quick to enter the stands to find the culprit, but were unsuccessful. The entire Orioles baseball team was upset, and the fielders felt threatened. This dangerous can-toss has been condemned in Canadian newspapers and by hosts of news people on television and radio. They used words like “embarrassing,” “inappropriate,” and “reprehensible.” Needless to say, the entire city of Baltimore is upset, and people all across the United States feel disgusted with Toronto baseball fans.

Now let’s think about the unfairness of this. There were 50,000 fans at the game, and the actions of just one of them has spoiled the reputation of everyone present. Sure it’s unfair, but that’s the way the human mind works.

Let’s apply this to our actions as members of the Lord’s church. We’re told in 2 Cor.5:20 that we are “ambassadors for Christ.” We are faithful spokesmen for our sovereign, and our actions can enhance what we’ve been called to do, or dishonor it. What comes out of our mouths can be godly and pure, or disrespectful and foul. We can not only spoil our own reputation, but that of the entire church in the eyes of the community. It’s vital that we live and talk in a way that gives the world the best impression of the name “Christian.” Jesus deserves our best; let’s strive to give it to Him. Never be guilty of tossing a big mistake into the reputation of Christ’s church.

– Tim Johnson