Marschall: How can they believe?

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS) — If you had a child playing at the edge of an ever-widening sinkhole — and sinkholes lately have been inRick Marschall the news, including ones that swallowed people as well as houses — you would call that child to move back. If your friend were eating something poisonous without realizing the dangers, you would advise that friend of the fact. We do the same, some of us, with people, even strangers, who smoke. “Intervention” today increasingly is employed on behalf of people with drinking problems.

Followers of Christ, who subscribe to the beliefs that all of us make mistakes and are sinful at heart; that therefore a wide gulf separates us from a Holy God; that this God nevertheless desires eternal fellowship with us and offers forgiveness and salvation; and that “accepting” Jesus — believing in our hearts and confessing with our words — these Christians cannot do anything else than have the same regard for other people’s souls as we do their health and comfort.

How often do contemporary Christians fit that last puzzle-piece in place?

Failing this, we condemn ourselves; and we are implicit in sending others to the cold darkness of eternity, separation from God. How often do we avoid sharing even the smallest portion of Jesus with someone because we might “offend them”? Hurt their feelings? “Hey buddy, don’t smoke in your apartment, but I don’t care if you go to hell.”

It’s not always comfortable, but neither was that splintery cross. Living in a multimedia culture makes it easy to assume everyone thinks like we do, or has access to the same facts that we process. Not so. When the Apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus, word-of-mouth about the Savior had already led to the establishment of several Christian communities. But not every word had been shared by every mouth:

“…he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ he asked them. ‘No,’ they replied, ‘we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then what baptism did you experience?’ he asked. And they replied, ‘The baptism of John.’ Paul said, ‘John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.’ As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6, NLT).

Paul wrote letters to local churches and church leaders, sharing the good news, and answering questions. These letters comprise the majority of the New Testament. We shared last week how papyrus letters from a generation or two after Paul are extant. Before Christ’s time, spiritual news and God’s words were shared by Torah scrolls, inscriptions, sacred texts. After him we have the successive march of letters, manuscripts, tapestries and stained-glass picture stories, parchment books, printed books, mass-production, tracts, evangelistic crusades, recordings, radio, short-wave, television, and the internet.

The SHARING of the good news is central to the good news itself. “Go into all the world…” Jesus said, commissioning His disciples. Romans 10:14-15 argues: “How can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’ (NLT) Like much of the Book of Romans, this is like an advocate summarizing his case. How can they hear about Jesus unless someone tells them?

Right about in the middle of humankind’s list of ways to share the good news — not in a timeline, but in the numbers of methods and technologies — is the radio. After its invention it was available to almost every community on the earth. And much of its message, especially today on short-wave broadcasts, is Christian. I went to Sunday school as a child, but it was preachers on my AM transistor radio from whom I really heard the first hard (and sweet) truths of the Gospel; and came face-to-face with decisions to make, or avoid, regarding Jesus Christ.

Albert E. Brumley was an American gospel songwriter of the past century. He wrote more than 800 sermons-in-song, many of which are favorites today in churches, hymnbooks, and recordings. Among them are “I’ll Fly Away,” “If We Never Meet Again (This Side of Heaven),” “I’ll Meet You In The Morning,” “Jesus, Hold My Hand,” “I’d Rather Be An Old Time Christian,” and “Rank Strangers to Me.”

He told a story about another of his classics… and the role of radio in spreading the gospel:

“I wrote ‘Turn Your Radio On’ in 1937, and it was published in 1938. At this time radio was relatively new to the rural people, especially gospel music programs. I had become alert to the necessity of creating song titles, themes, and plots, and frequently people would call me and say, ‘Turn your radio on, Albert, they’re singing one of your songs on such-and-such a station.’ It finally dawned on me to use… ‘Turn your radio on’ as a theme for a religious… song.”

Like the poor, radio we will always have with us. In the words of the song, “turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air; Turn your radio on and heaven’s glory share…”

Are you tuned in… to what God is saying to you? Don’t touch that dial! You can broadcast (as it were) a brief public-service announcement, or a personal message, every once in a while yourself.

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