Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Truths I Couldn't Find in Church": by Ole and Skippy

Here's a classic column from the Wittenburg Door.

Because they Door editors once told us we could repost their stuff if credit were given,

and because the formatting is messed up on the original post on their site,

here it is below:
The Last Word:
Truths I Couldn't Find in Church

By Ole Anthony and Skippy R. Issue #189, September/October 2003
Wittenburg Door

I started to call this "Everything I needed to know got screwed up by what I learned in Vacation Bible School." But I never went to Vacation Bible School, so that won't work. Actually this is a listing of some truths I intuited when I first became a believer in 1972. In studying the Bible since my baptism, these points have been confirmed over and over again, but I was shocked when I found the opposite was being taught in the churches I visited. Over the years, the shock has turned to dismay. Here's a short version of the list:

God doesn't love the human race and doesn't have a wonderful plan for our lives. At least, not in the way love is usually understood. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade who died a few months ago, introduced the Four Spiritual Laws as an evangelism tool. I interviewed him several times over the years, and believe he has done great service for the Kingdom of God. But his famous evangelism tract has always seemed somehow disengenuous. If God loves humans so much, why is there suffering, misery and death? Why did he allow Eve to taste that forbidden fruit in the first place? (If Bill Bright had included the whole book of Job, maybe I'd like that tract better). But in fact, since the Fall, God hates the human race with perfect hatred, and the human race hates God. The word is "enmity" in Romans 5. The only plan for the human race is to die, to be buried in baptism so a new thing can take its place: the bride, His church. And that is love. He created us to become a bride for His son.

The human race is already dead, in fact. II Cor. 5:14-15 says, "If one died for all, then were all dead." Jesus Christ was the last Adam. Then who are we? The human race died on the cross. That means "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20).

The Old Testament is all about Jesus. The Law, the prophets and the writings were fulfilled in Christ. When you read what Jesus said, it's clear: "These are they which testify of me."

Take no thought for yourself. The essence of sin is self-seeking. The rivers of living water won't flow because you've created a dam. That dam is you. To "deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me" means to abandon yourself, to take absolutely no thought about yourself in any dimension.

Taking the name of God in vain doesn't mean saying "goddamn." At the 1975 National Religious Broadcasters Convention I told the audience taking the Lord's name in vain had nothing to do with cussing. It meant taking the slightest bit of glory for yourself. None of the early believers called themselves Christians. They called themselves People of the Way. They were too humble to put the name of Christ on their own flesh. I posed a question: "Can you imagine the Saul of Tarsus Evangelistic Association?" That was the last time I spoke at a national Christian meeting.

Eternity doesn't mean a long, long time. It means outside of time. God exists outside of time. When the mystery of God is completed, "time shall be no more." Time is, well... temporal. People usually study scripture from their own personal viewpoint: what does this mean to me? But the only way to understand the scriptures is to read them from the standpoint of eternity.

God doesn't care who wins an election. We are to pray for all leaders no matter who they are. And yet all nations are "as a drop in the bucket," including the United States of America. They're meaningless to God. Whether it's a Republican convention or a Shiite funeral in the Middle East, it becomes a spiritual feeding frenzy of idolatry. When I ran for the Texas Legislature, I went to bed on election night flying high:I had apparently won the race by 15,000 votes. When I woke up, I had lost the election. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: both are idolatry. If you feed on those kinds of things, you forget "Thou shalt not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." The Word is Jesus Christ, and He alone is our sustenance.

Jesus Christ is in you. "The kingdom of God is within you," He said. It doesn't come by observation, i.e by sensory perception. What you feel or see happening around you is meaningless in this regard. If you don't know this, then you're "reprobate" and incapable of repentance. He is not going to teach you the truth, He is the truth. He is not going to show you the way, He is the way.

I am the chief of sinners. There was a point I realized I was so bad that I couldn't be saved. And yet even so, there was nothing else I could do but continue to live and preach this doctrine of Christ. I am left out of the picture completely. Each one of us has to come to this realization in one way or another. That leads to the next point.

You're perfect. "By one offering we've been perfected forever." Wait a minute! We're perfect? The study of the offerings in Leviticus shows that Christ's sacrifice has met every possible condition we can ever be in. We don't have to sweat it. And it is when we present ourselves a living sacrifice that we become of use to God.

Repentance doesn't mean having to say you're sorry. It means to totally leave all of yourself behind. If you try to improve yourself, you'll resurrect the antichist, raise him from the "deadly head wound" that was inflicted on the Cross.

It is finished. Christ's last words on the cross tell me that if I think there's something left to do, I don't believe His sacrifice was sufficient. Our "mission" is to tell people that their mission is over. It has failed, whatever it is. We can't sell the mystery of Christ, we can't try to attract people into the kingdom. We believe, therefore we speak. And God's strength is perfected and manifested in our weakness.

Now that you've read this list, tear out the page and throw it away.

Because if these points have resonated with you, you might be tempted to make these into modern-day phylacteries and wear them on your wrist and forehead as some kind of guide to living or religious tract. The only thing we need is the living Christ... within us.
-By Ole Anthony and Skippy R. Issue #189, September/October 2003, Wittenburg Door


  1. Blown away Dave, thanks for posting this. Wow.

  2. should be required reading for church membership

  3. Amazing. If only this was taught more.


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!