Thursday, January 15, 2009

Farewell to God

In this picture Charles Templeton is the one on the left kneeling to pray, while Billy Graham is on the right almost prostrate on the floor. Charles Templeton was a close friend of Billy Graham early in their Youth for Christ ministries. Somewhere along the way, Templeton had doubts about Christianity - all the while, leading others to Christ. It was because of those doubts that he walked away from his ministry, his friends, and most of all - Jesus.

How could this happen - you might wonder. We discussed this last night at "big church." Bobby started a series on The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. The video portion included an interview re-inactment of Charles Templeton. He admitted that the reason his doubt led to his walking away was because he lacked theological training - the strong foundational belief - to ward off the doubts. Bill brought up that it's okay to have doubts - it's what we do with those doubts that matter. You have to take those doubts/questions to God. Ask Him, and He will tell you (just like Jeremiah). Not once did Templeton indicate his relationship with Jesus, not once did he say he prayed about his doubts - he admited he got too busy doing the work. His days in the ministry were filled with excitement - thousands would come to the rallies. But his nights were lonely and filled with doubts.

Lee Strobel goes on to tell that this story sparked this new investigation into Faith. There are two big questions that get asked by everybody (and if you haven't asked 'em yet, I'm sure you will at some point):
  1. In a world with thousands of different religions, why is it that Jesus is the only way to Heaven?
  2. How could such a loving God create such an evil world?

For me, I've had these questions. And God showed me a bigger picture. I take it on faith that the Bible is TRUE, Jesus is the only Son of God that was born of a virgin, lived on the Earth, ministered-healed-raised from the dead-worked miracles, and was led to be slaughtered on the cross as a propitiation for my sins. Without Jesus, I would not have salvation. And without me taking the time to be in the Word, I would be easily swayed to walk away from that salvation.

I don't think Templeton ever got the bigger picture. But my question from last night's story was what about Billy Graham? Did Billy reach out to Templeton? Did he even know what was going on with his friend? Did they ever pray together about it? Did Billy Graham fail his friend? I don't know that part of the story. The video gave no indication that Billy was involved on that level.

But I digress. We went on to cover these scriptures:

Last night, God gave me validation on stepping out in faith on some things, so that was pretty awesome.

And this morning, it gets even better. Alastair Begg's "Truth for Life" message was on James, "False Faith?" Did a message on faith without works is dead from James 2. Good stuff! I encourage you to check it out. And Dave Stone from Southeast did a message about how important it is to be in the Bible. That our faith is strengthened by the Word, and it's our individual responsibility to know it.