Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
February 11, 2018
Living water revived our thirsty souls
During college days at Auburn I seldom read the Bible. I did not question the Bible’s teaching. It was The Book, the Word of God. But while I thought highly of the Bible, I paid little attention to it.
In seminary at Vanderbilt I learned to question what I found in the Bible. Some verses, I was told, were “spurious,” bogus ideas added to the original version. One professor had a loose-leaf notebook Bible from which he had removed all the spurious verses. He would not discuss questions based on what he considered counterfeit verses.
Armed with my enlightened view of the Bible, I finished seminary, was ordained to “preach the Word,” and began my pastoral ministry. There was, however, no fire in my preaching and there was a disturbing emptiness in my heart. I felt bankrupt spiritually. Inwardly I was a wreck. Something was missing and I had no idea how to fix the problem.
When a friend invited us to attend a retreat called an “Ashram,” my wife and I decided to go. There, for a week, we sat with a hundred other people under the teaching of E. Stanley Jones, an author, missionary and evangelist. From the first hour to the last we realized that God was speaking to us through Brother Stanley. It was as though God was pouring the living water of His Spirit on our thirsty souls. Until that week my wife and I had been “committed” Christians who wanted to do God’s will, but we were struggling uphill, without peace or power.
That week we realized that Brother Stanley had what we wanted but did not know we needed – and that was a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ. We saw what was missing – a daily, authentic walk with Christ, an awareness that Christ was in us and we were in Him.
Jones did not speak about “inconsistencies” in the Bible; he was focused on Jesus! Jesus was alive! Jesus was everything! You could know Him, talk to Him and allow Him to live His life in you daily. It was a new concept for me. It set my heart on fire for the first time since at age 15 I had walked forward at a summer camp to be saved from my sins
Brother Stanley showed us the secret of this way of living, and it can be summed up in one word, the word surrender. Surrender is the key, nothing more, nothing less. Surrender is more than saying “Jesus is Lord;” it is yielding your whole life, everything, to His will and His way, day by day, moment by moment. Together, Dean and I surrendered our lives to Jesus and began to know a peace, a power, and an assurance that we had never known before.
One result of this new way of life was a new attitude toward the Bible. We began to see it as the Book which leads us to Jesus. It all began to make sense. Moses came with the law in a dramatic display of the glory of God. Then, in the fullness of time, Jesus came with grace, and we saw in His face the love of God.
Instead of looking for problems we began to read the Bible to find Jesus, and we found Him on every page of the Bible! We began drinking from “a fountain that never shall run dry,” asking the words of the Bible to lead us to the Word, the living Christ who became flesh so He could show us the Father.
Now, nearly 60 years since God quenched the thirst of our parched souls, I can testify that there is nothing sweeter than the living water that God provides to those who surrender to Jesus. And when Jesus is Lord, you always have more important things to do than wondering if some verses in the Bible are spurious! + + +