Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"Believe-It-Or-Not" by William Ashbrook

The following article was submitted by Pastor William Ashbrook to the Columbus Dispatch in 1938 and was transcribed from a copy of the letter provided by Pastor Dan Greenfield of Orwell Bible Church.


November 10, 1938

"Believe-It-Or-Not"
Contest Editor
Columbus Dispatch
Columbus, Ohio

Dear Sir:

The following incident occurred about 2 p.m. on October 31st., 1936. Mrs. Ashbrook and I, together with our four children, had just completed a hurried visit to the bed-side of my mother who was critically ill at Washington, Pa. We were returning by automobile to our home at Columbus, Ohio. Traveling west on U.S. Route 40, we had just passed through the village of Claysville, Pa., where the road makes a slight turn to the right and starts down a small hill. The car was going at approximately 35 miles per hour. Our youngest child, Emma Ruth by name, was just past two years old. She was riding in the front seat with her mother and myself. At this particular moment she was standing on the floor of the car next to the front door, holding a baby doll in her arms. A sudden gust of wind opened the door with terrific force and the resulting suction drew the child from the car head-first, before her mother could lay a hand on her.

The mental agony of the next thirty seconds cannot be described! Fearing to apply the brakes too suddenly, I brought the car to a gradual stop, meanwhile looking in the mirror for some sight of our little one in the road behind. The baby doll was lying in the road at the point where the child had pitched out, but there was no Emma Ruth to be seen! Before the car came to a complete stop, Mrs. Ashbrook was out on the road. She could see the child's feet and red leggings protruding from under the running board, her head and shoulders being concealed beneath the car. Great was the mother's surprise and resultant joy wen she discovered her child suspended in mid-air by the sleeve of her coat which had caught on a small bolt beneath the running board. She seemed to be held up by a single thread, but that thread had suspended the child's body safely above the hard road and had protected it from the front and rear wheels of the car.

As the child was extricated, her scream of fright gave some assurance that she was not badly injured. A hasty, but careful examination revealed a badly torn little dress, a small tear on the coat sleeve, and one tiny scratch on a little finger! A lady living nearby, whose name can be furnished, heard our screams and seeing the open car door and the baby doll rolling in the road, came running to our aid. She arrived just in time to see the child taken from under the car uninjured. Be assured that prayers of thanksgiving ascended from the middle of that National Road, and tears of joy fell freely also as father and mother and the three older children thought on the wonder of it all. A little dress, badly torn, but very precious, is among our most valued possessions!

The car in which we were traveling was a borrowed one, 1935 model. The doors were hinged at the rear, the latch in front, making the doors open from front to rear as they did in some cars of that period. We discovered later that this door had a faulty latch which made it possible for the gust of wind to open it. However some might attempt to explain, we firmly believe that our Heavenly Father in His wonderful loving care spared the life of our child. We would give Him all the glory. This incident was freely told to many at the time it happened. The next evening, being Sunday evening, Nov. 1st, 1936, I preached to my congregation on the theme, "Why I Believe in Miracles", relating to them the happenings narrated above. "Believe It Ir Not" the age of miracles is not past and our God can still give his angels charge over us!

Very Sincerely,

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Doctrine of the Remnant

"The trouble still in the church is a matter of foundations. There are those who would have us believe that it is a good and a right thing to form great unions, to have a great ecumenical church, and that then we shall be a great body of people confronting the world. But the question is, what is this great ecumenical church to stand for? What is she to believe? What is her foundation? We are not concerned primarily about numbers, for however great a body the ecumenical church may be, she will have no influence upon the world unless she has a truth to present, unless she has a solid and firm foundation on which to stand. Surely that is the great emphasis of the Bible. What the Bible is concerned about is truth, and in a very extraordinary manner it ridicules our pathetic faith in big battalions and in great numbers. It seems to go out of its way to teach a doctrine of the remnant and to show what one man can do when that one man is truly Christian."

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones in Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, (Carlisle PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), 5.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some Thoughts on 2 Peter 1:1-4

"Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."
2 Peter 1:1-4 NASB

When my son and I first started looking over these verses last year, he was unsure how practical the first few verses in 2 Peter would be to his daily life. Why memorize Peter's greeting to his readers? But as we looked at them more closely, it became apparent that this was no casual greeting but a carefully planned reminder of what God has accomplished for every true believer. Before we can delve deeper into the knowledge of God, we have to understand and be certain of where we stand with Him. This is what Peter does in these first few verses.

"There are always those who are ready to help us to yield to doubts and fears and to encourage us in them. I therefore believe, as I am never tired of saying these days, that the first thing that is necessary at the present time is that Christian people should be certain of their position. I borrow the words of the Apostle when he says, 'I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them'. That is profound psychology! It is a very great mistake to think that because we know a thing we need not be reminded of it repeatedly."

D. M. Lloyd-Jones in Expository Sermons on 2 Peter (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), 3.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Remember the deeds of the Lord.

During college, Dr. Ollila often reminded us to remember the works of the Lord. The idea was that remembering what God has done would encourage us to trust him for the future. As I read Psalm 77 this morning, the same idea popped out of the text.

Has God forgotten to be gracious,
Or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion? Selah.
Then I said, “It is my grief,
That the right hand of the Most High has changed.”
I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.
Psalm 77:9-12

The writer of the psalm must have been going through some dark days — so bad that he thought the Lord had forgotten him. His remedy was to remember and meditate on the works of the Lord. In his case, he went back to God's works during the days of Moses and Aaron. But what about us?

The Scriptures were written to give us hope. As we read the Bible narratives of ancient believers, we should be encouraged that God can do the same for us. But there comes a point where we have to remember what he has done for us as well. What has God done for me during my life? What has he done for me recently? Remembering those things will be an encouragement to all who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What can I get from those verses?

I have begun memorizing 2 Peter 1 with each of the children but got a bit of negative feedback recently. One of them asked, "What can I get from those verses?" I was incredulous! The first two verses of 2 Peter 1 teach some great doctrines that should encourage every believer. Take a look at them.

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

Here's a sampling of what I found in these verses.

  1. Peter's humility and authority.
  2. Peter addressed his readers as a slave and apostle of Jesus. He willingly served Jesus as his Master but also recognized himself as one of the few who had been personally chosen and sent out by Jesus. He had a great task, great message, and great authority, but he also knew his place compared to the Lord Jesus. He was just a slave who willingly did what his Master commanded. This is the attitude that each of us should have as we seek to proclaim God's truth to the world.

  3. God's gift of faith to the elect
  4. Peter wrote to those who had received faith just as he had. His readers were on an equal plane as the apostles and prophets who had come before them. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" but it is also the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). Here Peter points out that this common faith is something believers receive not something they do. God gives faith to those whom he has chosen. That ought to bring great humility and gratefulness to each true believer.

  5. The righteousness of Christ
  6. Here is a place for more humility and thankfulness. My sinfulness kept me from ever being right with God on my own. So what do I have to boast about? I have nothing except for the righteousness of Jesus imputed to me. That's where my hope lies. So there is no reason to doubt my standing before God when I consider that he is my righteousness.

  7. The deity and saving work of Jesus Christ
  8. Who is this One who gave me his righteousness? It is my God and Savior Jesus Christ. He is both God and Savior to everyone who believes. Because he is God he has all the attributes which give me hope throughout life. He is perfect, unfailing, loving, just, all-powerful, and always does the right thing. Think of that the next time you hear the name of Jesus. But remember that he is also your Savior. He is the One who rescued us from our sinful life and from eternal punishment in Hell.

  9. The blessings of knowing God and the Lord Jesus.
  10. When Peter prayed that grace and peace would be multiplied to his readers, he knew exactly how they could obtain such blessings. They come from knowing both God the Father and God the Son. Is it really that simple? Yes, but grace and peace will only multiply as your knowledge of God grows. The more you know him, the more you will trust him and find his peace. The more you know him, the more blessings you will recognize as grace coming from him. So get to know him more and more!

What can you learn from these verses? I found some really good things. And I'm sure that there is even more to be found should we think about them some more. Perhaps if we took more time to meditate on the Scriptures, we would find them to be that much more of a blessing to us. But don't stop there. Share them with others so that they can enjoy the multiplied grace and peace that comes from knowing God.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Song for Sharon

I started writing a love song for my wife almost twenty years ago. It is finally finished. Click here to hear read the lyrics and to hear a piano version of it. The pianist is Bernie Katzman, someone I hired to play it by ear. I like how it turned out.

Which translation for memorization?

Growing up, I memorized everything from the King James Version of the Bible. However, when I quoted to people unfamiliar with that type of speaking, I would change the archaic language to what they would understand. From their perspective, it was better to understand what was being said than to include words like thee, thou, believeth, etc. As I grew older, I found modern translations refreshing as they were understandable to me and easy to share with others. But I still remember my childhood memory verses in the King James Version.

A few weeks ago, I started memorizing some Scripture with my children. But what version would we use? Our pastor preaches from the New American Standard but I still had my old New King James Version from college. Which one should we use? Being that the NKJV was so familiar to me, I started with that. But my oldest son (almost 15) asked if we could use something more understandable. That was a shock to me. Was the NKJV so difficult to understand? Apparently so. It would seem that my own upbringing was blinding me to the fact. So, we have chosen to use the New American Standard Bible and he is able to understand it better.

Here is an example of the difference in wording:

2 Peter 1:1 (NKJV) Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:1 (NASB) Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The difference is not that big for someone who grew up learning from the King James Version. But to the younger generation, "a faith of the same kind as ours" makes more sense than "like precious faith." Peter's point was to show the common bond that all Christians have through the faith each has received from God. That is a great message to get across to everyone who reads the Bible not just those accustomed to the wording of the past.

That takes me to my main point. The time has come to put aside life-long loyalty to ANY particular translation of the Bible. Note that I am not speaking of a lack of discretion when comparing good and bad translations. My point is that any good translation is limited by the language of its generation. What seemed clear to those who read the KJV (1611/1769) is not clear to people today. And what seems clear in the NKJV (1970 based on KJV wording) or the NASB (1995) may not do the job in 2013.

Each generation must ensure that the Bible is translated accurately and clearly for its own generation. Since "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ," it is our duty to make sure all people understand the Scriptures in their own language TODAY!