The Back Page – Books

The Back Page

Books

Will books go the way of eight-track tapes, corded telephones, and cursive handwriting?
Let us hope not. God commissioned a book be written as a reminder for Joshua (Ex 17:14), and was
himself composing another (32:32–33). The authors of scripture referred to non- canonical books as
sources for what they themselves were writing (e.g., Num 21:14; 2 Sam 1:18; 1 Ki 11:41). Joshua was to
read regularly in the book of the Law (Josh 1:8), and so was the king (Deut 17:18–20). The discovery of
the book of the Law sparked a great revival (2 Ki 22). Job wished his words were inscribed (Job 19:23);
the dead will be judged from what is written in the books, according to their deeds (Rev 20:12).
In addition to the Bible, classic Christian books include:
Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, 1678. An extended parable of the Christian life.
Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis, 1952. The basics of our faith. Key to the conversion of Chuck Colson.
Confessions, Augustine, c. 400. His spiritual autobiography.
Knowing God, J. I. Packer, 1973. An extended study of the character of God.
Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1937. The need to engage with culture, by a pastor martyred by
the Nazis.
Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton, 1908. Classic of Christian apologetics. How do we make sense of this
world?
Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, 1320. A fictional journey through hell to heaven. Not an easy read.
The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis, c. 1420. Perhaps the most read Christian devotional book after
the Bible.
My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, 1935. Devotional.
Through Gates of Splendor, Elizabeth Elliot, 1957. An early attempt to reach the Aucas.
The Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis, 1950–1956. Wonderful allegories of the Christian life, for
children and grown-up children. More than 100 million sold.

The Back Page – To Know the Lord and Make Him Known

The Back Page

To Know the Lord and Make Him Known

Why is this our motto?
The Bible often urges these two goals. How did Jesus define eternal life? “This is eternal life—that
they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” What would have been
better than mindless sacrifices for Old Testament Israel? “I desire knowledge of God instead of burnt
offerings.” Paul distinguishes saved from unsaved as those who know God versus those who don’t. Under
the New Covenant “they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” During the Millen
nium “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea.” Knowing the
Lord is what Christianity is all about. Religious activity is pointless unless we do: to some who have
done many things in his name Jesus will someday say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evil
doers!” We need to know the Lord or, better, be known by him.
We who know him then need to make him known. When Jesus appointed the Twelve, it was for two
purposes: (1) “that they might be with him” (that is, invest time getting to know him), (2) “that he might
send them out to preach and have authority to drive out demons” (that is, make him known in word and
deed). To know the Lord and make him known.
Why should anyone outside listen to us if we don’t truly know the Lord? If we have come to know
him, what right have we to keep him to ourselves?
How important to Paul was knowing the Lord? “I consider everything a loss compared to the
surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” How important was making him known? Think
about what Paul went through to do that—being beaten with rods, shipwrecked, imprisoned, on journeys,
hungry, endangered….
May these twin objectives motivate and shape all we do at Second Cape—how we spend our time,
invest our resources, and shape our ministries. Finally, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let
not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast
of this, that he understands and knows Me.”

The Back Page – Double Double Mindedness Mindedness

The Back Page

Double Double Mindedness Mindedness

“A double-minded person is unstable in all he does (Jas 1:8).”
If the boat is setting sail, you can’t stand long with one foot on deck and the other on the dock. On or
off.
This principle holds throughout life.
Elijah chided Israel: “How long are you going to jump back and forth between two opinions? If
Yahweh is God, serve him; if Ba‘al is God, serve him.” Amazing that the prophet should counsel
allegiance to a false deity. But he was neither the first nor the last to do so. Joshua had challenged, “If it is
disagreeable for you to serve Yahweh, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether
the gods your fathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but
as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh.” The glorified lord Jesus would later say, “I wish you
were either hot or cold.”
In or out. On or off. Going or staying.
Double-mindedness is deadly. A wavering soul is weedy soil. “No one can serve two masters. Either
he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot
serve both God and money.” Adultery is double-mindedness with one’s wife.
We can’t do everything, be everything, have everything, go everywhere. Life is choice. Once we
select it is best to jump whole-hog into what we choose: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all
your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in she

’ôl where you are going
(Eccl 9:10).” Now or never. “We must work the works of him who sent me as long as it is day; night is
coming when no one can work (Jn 9:4).”
Whole-heartedness is the path to commendation: “Before Josiah there was no king like him who
turned to Yahweh with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, nor did any like him arise
after him.” Whole-heartedness is the way to find God: “You will seek me and find when you search for
me with all your heart (Jer 29:13).”
Let us live whole-heartedly for the god, the spouse, the job, the organizations we choose. But choose
with care—for once we make our choices, our choices make us.

The Back Page – History

The Back Page

History

“The only thing we learn from history is … that we don’t learn from history.” Sad. If we are
Christians, we need to learn.
Christians are neither Israel nor under the Law, so why bother reading the Old Testament? One
reason: Israel’s history was recorded to keep us from repeating her mistakes (1 Cor 10:6, 11).
Both testaments urge that we celebrate God’s great deeds in history. The annual Passover was
commanded so that “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With
a mighty hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’” When Israel crossed the
Jordan River, the nation set up twelve stones, so that “In the future when your descendants ask their
parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For Yahweh
your God dried up the Jordan before you….” In the hours before his betrayal Jesus instituted a memorial
celebration that we still observe today. History.
If asked whether Christianity is primarily Views or News, we should answer News. Our faith hinges
on history—on whether the man Jesus of Nazareth physically rose from the dead in time and space. Not
whether his resurrection is a Nice Idea or What Our Church Teaches or What I Believe, but whether or
not it actually happened. If no, we are of all people most to be pitied. If yes….
The longest book in the New Testament is Luke; the second longest, Acts. Together they comprise a
whole, making Luke the most prolific New Testament author. They both deal with history—what Jesus
began to do and teach (Acts 1:1), and what he continued to do and teach, his ascension providing the
hinge. God (and Luke) obviously thought it important that we know something of our own—as well as
Israel’s—history.
In 2020 Second Cape will be 250 years old. We also have a history—a quarter of a millennium’s
worth. We have passed through ups and downs, advances and retreats, highs and lows. Just as the Old
Testament does not whitewash Israel’s past, parading only the nation’s successes, so we also may do well
to contemplate all of our own, so as not to repeat our mistakes. To the extent we accomplish this, we shall
all be … learning from history.