WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM! by Pastor George Burkinshaw
I perceive that television wishes to convince Americans that Christianity is exemplified by Jim and Tammy Baker, Pat Robinson, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, etc. But Christians just do not conduct their affairs like television personalities.
I believe that Hollywood has taken pride in depicting all Bible believing pastors as the infamous "Elmer Gantry" who was characterized as a hypocrite and a drunk. The fact is that the author of the book from which the movie was made, was himself an alcoholic. His book was a personal vendetta against the temperance preaching of evangelist Billy Sunday. "Inherit The Wind" is another example of Hollywood deceiving the public. One is led to believe that he is receiving most of the facts from the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, when in reality it is a fictional play void of almost all historic truth.
"By their fruits shall ye know them" is an admonition of our Lord to tell true Christian leaders from false leaders. From careful observation, all that we can see of television ministries is a school for suckers!
Here is the testimony of a Christian gentleman who was converted to Christ through a local Bible church in his home town:
"For a number of years just past I have been more and more impressed with the importance of regulating my conduct by the precepts of Christianity. Of the being and attributes of God I have never entertained a doubt, and my studies as well as frequent contemplations on the works of nature have led my mind to most sublime views of his character and perfections... Still I had doubts respecting some of the doctrines of the Christian faith, such as regeneration, election, salvation by free grace, the atonement, and the divinity of Christ; these doubts served as an apology for my forbearing to make a profession of religion; for though I could never read or hear the solemn declaration of our Savior, 'Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven,' without compunction and alarm; yet I endeavored to justify my neglect by a persuasion that I could not conscientiously assent to the usual confession required in 'Biblical' churches as the condition of admission to their communion. That is, in plain terms, I sheltered myself as well as I could from the attacks of conscience for neglect of duty under a species of skepticism, and endeavored to satisfy my mind that a profession of religion is not absolutely necessary to salvation. In this state of mind I placed great reliance on good works or the performance of moral duties as the means of salvation, although I cannot affirm that I wholly abandoned all dependence on the merits of a Redeemer. You may easily suppose that in this state of distraction and indecision of opinions I neglected many duties of piety.
About a year ago an unusual revival of religion took place in New Have, and frequent conferences of private meetings for religious purposes were held by pious and well disposed persons in the Congregational societies. I felt some opposition to these meetings, being apprehensive that they would, by affecting the passions too strongly, introduce an enthusiasm of fanaticism which might be considered as real religion. I expressed these fears to some friends particularly to my family, inculcating on them the importance of a rational religion and the danger of being misled by passions.
My wife, however, was friendly to these meetings and she was joined by two eldest daughters who were among the subjects of serious impressions. I did not forbid but rather discouraged their attendance on conferences...
These impressions I attempted to remove by reasoning with myself and endeavoring to quiet my mind by persuasion that my opposition to my family and the awakening was not a real opposition to rational religion but to enthusiasm or false religion. I continued some weeks in this situation, utterly unable to quiet my own mind and without resorting to the only source of peace and consolation. These impressions, however grew stronger till at length I could not pursue my studies without frequent interruptions. My mind was suddenly arrested, without any previous circumstance of the time to draw it to this subject and, as it were, fastened to the awakening and upon my own conduct, I closed my books, yielded to the influence which could not be resisted or mistaken, and was led by a spontaneous impulse to repentance, prayer, and entire submission and surrender myself to my Maker and Redeemer. y submission appeared to be cheerful and was soon followed by that peace of mind which the world can neither give nor take away.
This my dear friends, is a short but faithful narration of the facts. That these impressions were not the effect of any of my own passions nor of enthusiasm is to me evident, for I was in complete possession of all my rational powers, and that the influence was supernatural is evident from this circumstance; it was not only independent of all volition but opposed to it. You will readily supposed that after such evidence of the direct operation of the divine spirit upon the human heart, I could no longer question or have a doubt respecting the 'Biblical' and Christian doctrines of regeneration, of free grace and of the sovereignty of God. I now began to understand and relish many parts of the scriptures, which before appeared mysterious and unintelligible or repugnant to my natural pride. For instance, I was remarkably struck with the 26th verse of John 14th: 'But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you'- a passage which I had often read without realizing its import. In short, my view of the scriptures, of religion, of the whole Christian scheme of salvation, and God's moral government are very much changed, and my heart yields with delight and confidence to whatever appears to be the divine will.
Permit me here to remark, in allusion to a passage in your letter, that I had for almost fifty years exercised my talents such as they are, to obtain knowledge and to abide by its dictated, but without arriving at the truth, or what now appears to me to be the truth, of the gospel. I am taught now the utter insufficiency of our own powers to effect a change of the heart, and am persuaded that a reliance on our own talents or powers is a fatal error, springing from natural pride and opposition to God, by which multitudes of men, especially of the more intelligent and moral part of society are deluded into ruin. I now look, my dear friend, with regret on the largest portion of the ordinary life of man, spent 'without hope and without God in the world.' I am particularly affected by a sense of my ingratitude to that Being who made me and without whose constant agency I cannot draw a breath, who has showered upon me a profusion of temporal blessings and provided a Savior for my immortal soul..." NOAH WEBSTER**
**The testimony above is Noah Webster's own words as written to his brother-in-law, Judge Thomas Dawes. Noah Webster is responsible for the enhancement and comprehensive understanding of the English prose as we know it today. An excerpt from the 1828 reprinted edition of Webster's Dictionary.