Basics of the Narrow Way
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Matthew 7:14.
When I am first introducing the concept of the bible to a person, I start with basics. We no longer live in a society where we can expect that the people with whom we are dealing have any real concept of the bible at all. Most of the people I deal with are sceptical of the bible. They are either sceptical because they have no real exposure to it, or more commonly than not they are sceptical because their exposure was a weak vacillating exposure which came about through new translations which in their very prefaces and marginal notes cast doubt upon themselves.
Secondly, the average person's exposure to humanism in all of its facets such as pop psychology, evolution and New Age thinking far outweighs any exposure to bible concepts. Therefore, I start with the basics. I ask them if they can tell me what differentiates them from animals. Eventually, we come up with four things. We can reason on a higher plain, we have a complex language ability that outstrips that of animals, and we can express our reasoning of the present, the past and the future through complex language. Also, we are able to record those thoughts in writing to have them preserved.
That may seem basic and easy to some, but there are those with whom it has taken more than one session to get past their vague metaphysical musings on the nature of dolphins, or their concepts of some other weirdo pseudo-science, but most people can grasp those four things. I then reason with them. If God made man, and God wanted to communicate with man, wouldn't it be logical that he would use those four features that distinguish us from animals?
Most of them see the point and from there, I begin to explain what the bible is. What is important for me to convey to them is that the bible is from God. It cannot be proved on a normal basis. Instead I explain that the bible is the owner's manual written by the one who made them. The only real proof of the bible is to test it in life and to see whether or not it can live up to its miraculous billing.
I stay with these people. I am a pastor to them whether they accept that or not. Very few of the people with whom I deal have much of a working conscience. That is a sad reality in our time. Never in the history of the English speaking people since the time of Wycliffe, have so many people given themselves permanent scars before the age of 25. They have addictions, bastard children, tattoos, divorces and felony records.
Many of them have already built up an online profile which will shame them for life. Their relationships with their families are often troubled to the point where communication is difficult. These people hurt. The problem is that like bruit beasts they can't understand where the pain is coming from. They are like a horse that has gotten loose in the grain bin. They are in agony, but the have not the wit to stop eating. Their conscience was given to them by God to guide them in these times, but most of them have a seared conscience. I drop back to God's next line of defense.
Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint, Isaiah 1:5. When Israel would no longer listen to the law of God, God pointed out to them their pain. Their consciences may not work but their pain is real. My people hurt. With patience I take time to show them practical advice out of the bible about things that were once common sense.
A typical scenario is a man who is recently out of jail. He and his girlfriend and a couple of their children from previous relationships live with his mother. His girlfriend and mother hate each other. His mother resents him and has enough problems of her own including abusive boyfriends and substance abuse. They are all lying to social services to get more benefits. He repeatedly tells me what a witch his mother is but he can't afford to move out. I repeatedly show him that the bible says, Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise; Ephesians 6:2. We discuss ways to possibly do that.
Then one day he tells me about coming home from work and his mother screamed at him as he walked through the door. Instead of screaming back he shocks himself and listens to her complaint. He tells her he's sorry and that he loves her and thanks her for letting him stay there. He then tells me with some surprise that everyone had a good time that night. They popped popcorn, they watched a movie and went to bed sober.
That may not seem like much to some of my readers, but for the first time in this man's life, a verse in the bible stopped a pain in his life. For a brief few hours, they lived without pain. That verse now becomes more than an intellectual exercise in his life. It is real to him. We then begin to work on the next 31,000 plus verses. That couple of hours may not have seemed like much to many, but if a man could be taken out of hell for just a few hours he would never forget it.
With that bridgehead into his life we begin to seek out other places that the bible can help him. He will resist some but try others. God is very gracious. As he slowly begins to incorporate the word of God into his life, more and more aspects of his life become pain free. Most of these people's lives are like a big ball of string that has laid neglected in a junk drawer for too long. It is so tangled that it is essentially useless. I have watched in tears as I have seen God unravel knots that no man could ever untangle.
Slowly, the bible takes on a new place in this person's life. At this point, I warn them about other bibles. I don't have to spend much time doing that. Most of them by this time while they are learning this new book have had an encounter with another bible. It struck them as odd and weak. They don't know the bible through manuscript evidence. They know it from a power in their lives. They begin to seek out truth for themselves. By this time, they rarely miss church. Their children start going to bed listening to the songs of Zion instead of a drunken brawl.
About this time, their consciences reawaken. That is always a painful time. These are people who have beaten spouses, walked away from families, slept with whomever they could, stolen from people they love, and crossed sexual lines that grieved nature itself. They become ripe for the gospel. Keep in mind, all of them have prayed the sinner's prayer many time in their lives. It never worked. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? Romans 10:14.
It takes me 4 years or more to ever get one of my people saved. When they do get saved, their lives reflect it. Social service people are amazed. Doctors are amazed. Their families are amazed and they begin to live separated lives which revolve around the house of God. Their lives are living miracles. I get criticized because I witness to people about a King James Bible long before I ever introduce Jesus Christ. If my critics can point to a body of believers whom they have preached the gospel to and those same people now have lives that reflect the grace of Christ in their daily lives, I will be more than glad to listen. Most of my critics could fill stadiums with the people with whom they have tried their anemic little tactics and have failed to ever see any change after a few days.
I said all of that to say a few things about cults and authority. In the various comments that I have received after the post titled, Distinctives of a Cult, I saw remarks about the Catholic Church being a cult. I am also mindful of Dr. Ruckman's often repeated phrase, the "Alexandrian Cult". These are not cults. Cults by definition need to be relatively small. Those two are huge. Instead we need to go back to the basics to understand them.
When I teach my people, I create a one on one relationship with the word of God, and I await the time when that relationship proves itself to them with infallible proofs. In time, they know for a certainty that the book in their hands is the owner's manual to their lives and that it was written by their creator. I counted on their intellects to do two things. First, it reasoned that if God did want to communicate to them, that bible in their hands met each of the four qualifications for what distinguished them from animals. Secondly, they could see that the application of those verses relieved pain in their lives and they begin to trust it throughout its entirety.
The Catholic Church and the new bible people cannot do that. They cannot create a one on one relationship with God in anyone's lives because there will always need to be the judgment of man. A Roman Catholic will always be subject to men's interpretation of each and every statute he is told to obey. A person introduced to the new bibles can never know for sure if any particular passage in the bible is real. He will always be dependent upon the scholarship of man. His bibles even tell him that in their introductions. A need to trust man is the broad road to destruction.
My trust in the King James Bible comes from its miraculous nature. In my own life I have experienced the miracle of wisdom in a fool, a sound mind in a mentally ill person, a clean heart where filth and sin ravaged, a clean conscience that no amount of confession and penance could ever create, and I have experienced saving faith. Because I am a pastor, and because I watch the word of God get attacked, I have done more research than the average person and I have experienced the goodness of God in the answers he has given me.
What I want to distinguish here is that my faith does not rest on manuscript evidence or columns of differences between bibles. I am glad that God taught me and many others those very things. I once approached God from that angle, made a profession of faith, became a defender of the King James Bible, joined a good church but was still lost. It wasn't until a real preacher took those words that I thought that I believed, and preached them to me like a man with a pile driver, that God brought me to repentance and quickened me.
People can join the Catholic Church and find a change of life. They can join these new bible churches and find a change of life. They can also join a bowling league and it will change their lives. I want a people whose lives have been changed by a one on one relationship wrought by the Holy Ghost through preaching the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to a people who have been brought to trust his word.
Most of my readers have gone so long since they have seen any person become really settled as a functioning and contributing member of their church through evangelism that they have forgotten that it can happen. Their churches are composed of people who were converted elsewhere or a long time ago. Get off the broad road. Get on the narrow road which starts with a King James Bible.