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Dr. John Bressler - Do you choose to believe?
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John Bressler

    To the delight of some Bible students, there is value in uncertainty about Scripture. That means for some pastors and their flocks, the Bible's teachings are too vague. Really? Of course, those same groups love II Peter 3, "There are some things in Paul's letters hard to understand..." These groups also fail to read the rest of the quote, "Which gives a lot of ignorant people a case to twist his meanings."
    One noted minister has been cited to have founded his church growth on the premise that all he had to do was to give the people what they wanted. I had to take a seat and re-read a report about a fast-growing post-modern church movement that announces that there must be a safe environment for those who have left or are leaving main-stream denominations. It seems that many believe that the story of the Good Samaritan is more important than The Ten Commandments and that all external means of Grace: the Sacraments, Scripture and Laws are secondary to good works. There is now great emphasis on what is called Lectio Divina. I take that to mean that the study of God's Word is secondary to enjoying God's Word. That's sort of like saying that I have read what God has clearly said in Scripture, but I really need to get mystical by emptying my mind — which I seem to do too often — and let my enlightened mind tell me what God means. I believe God, in Scripture, tells me what He means and doesn't need my help, which needs to be assisted by bells, chants and incense.
    This past Sunday, Julie and I were surrounded by a totally blessed congregation as Pastor Jimmy clearly and powerfully preached the Word of God. He very strongly made the point, "Turn to your neighbor and say,'Happy Resurrection Day!'"
    Since Pastor Jimmy's sermons are always biblically based, he read from the Gospel of John and emphasized old doubting Thomas' question — and by the way — is our question. I guess that Thomas, like some who suspend reality and gravitate towards mysticism, failed to listen to Jesus' original statement, "I will come again and will lead you home." Thomas' question, "We don't know where you are going; how will we know how to get there?"
    I digress for just a tad. There was a religious competition going on in the first century called Gnosticism or Knowledge which is remarkably related to the post-modernist thinking. Thomas' question was pretty Gnostic.
    I'm back again. The question could have been, "How do I know that you are what you say you are?"
    The philosophers would have said, "Everything we see, touch, hear or interact with is a copy of the perfect, which is out there somewhere. The copy has flaws."
    Now let's read what Jesus said. And by the way, pay special attention to the definite article the. He said to Thomas, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me."
    "I am not A way, A truth, and A life. I am the perfect!"
    Let's not forget Philip. He's also a lot like many of us. "Jesus, could we have just a teeny vision of God, some absolute proof, a written notarized document perhaps?"
    Folks, we do not need to get mystical, hum a tune or suspend our thinking. Jesus answered Philip very plainly, "Philip, if you've seen Me, you've seen the Father."
    "Do we know what that means?" asked Jimmy.
    "If the world doubts, if the world questions, if the world proves otherwise, if we aren't certain, it makes no difference in God's plan!"
    Talk about a Happy Resurrection Day!
    It's a good thing that I'm one of the so-called Frozen Chosen or I would have stood and yelled, "Amen!"
    Presbyterians are permitted to do a fist pump as long as it's not showy.
    Pastor Jimmy closed with this final and indisputable point, "The time will come when all this will come to pass. Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ will go home with Him. Those who deny Jesus will not."
    No one can add to or take away from the Grace of God. No one can add to or take away from the Crucifixion. No one can add to or take away from the Resurrection. We do have two options: I can believe and accept. I can deny and reject. I choose to believe.
    Thanks, God!

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