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Jesus Only . . . our source of truth

Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success. Josh. 1:8

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Many said that the Lord would give us a bigger house. I half believed it. My wife, Sonia, and I had just turned our backs on the comfortable life of a physician working for the U.S. Public Health Service. I was quitting medicine, and we were selling our dream home. I was 32 years old.

The story had started 10 years earlier when the Lord confronted me with the need to totally surrender my life to Him. I had been a Christian for five years, and my wife and I worked hard in every possible ministry opportunity. But what the Lord was now asking of me was more difficult. It was not a matter of doing more but of being totally His, much like the “rich young ruler” (Mark 10:17–29).

The young ruler was successful but also in the midst of a serious reevaluation of what that meant. Who better to ask than the latest rabbi in the preaching circuit? “Sell it all, give it away and follow me,” was Jesus’ response. Tough words?

That crucial day in my life, I was praying: “Lord, you know that I am yours . . .” I was interrupted by the clear conviction that my words were not true. The minutes that followed were intense. The Lord confronted me with the reality that I was not truly His. He clearly said that I should give Him all of myself. After a long, painful struggle, I finally yielded. In a sea of tears, I surrendered. My broken heart and shattered dreams scattered all over the place.

Christians find Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler hard to digest. Can we trust Jesus enough to give Him all we have? Our answer will lead us to examine whether Jesus is our Lord. That was one of the of the young man’s problems.

He came to Jesus with a question but rejected the answer! Why? Because the young man came for advice, not for confrontation. He was wrong about who Jesus was. He called Jesus “Good Teacher,” an exalted title of recognition for a rabbi. But it was not enough.

Jesus’ words were intended to reveal to this religious man how wrong he was about Jesus’ identity. “Teacher” would not do. “Master” would have been better. But “God” would have been perfect.

Years after my spiritually painful experience of yielding completely to God, the Lord came to reclaim what was His. At that time I was a bivocational physician/church planter. But the orders were clear: I was to quit medicine, sell our house and follow Him! This was a very difficult decision for Sonia and me, but we obeyed.

Many people thought we were crazy. A neighbor even asked if a pastor’s salary is higher than a physician’s! Many dear brothers and sisters tried to bring some reason into our heads. Their concern was sincere, but it was not correct. Many times we have a distorted view of the gospel. Instead of the Lord, what we really want is a “teacher”; instead of commitment, we want enjoyment; instead of the cross, we want a cruise; instead of self-denial, we prefer self-esteem; instead of death, we lust for life.

We can imagine the rich young man asking himself what kind of an answer he had just received. He was not immediately aware that the religious commitment he had alluded to was being tested. Jesus was showing that this seeker did not obey the most fundamental aspects of the Torah: “Love your God with all your heart” and “Love thy neighbor as yourself.” It was Judaism 101.

Not long after Sonia and I went into full-time ministry, we became aware of the need for Spanish-speaking missionaries in Spain. In 1991 that country had about 40 million inhabitants, of whom only about .1 percent was evangelical. So it was time to pack and move to Spain.

After 11 years of ministry in Barcelona, we are back in the pastorate, serving a wonderful church in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Financially, we are starting our lives again—almost from scratch—at 50 years of age.

Do we have any regrets? Do we look back to reevaluate that pivotal decision of 30 years ago? We certainly do! And we come face-to-face with the same reality that molded our decision back then: Humanity is lost, hell is a reality and only Christ can save men and women from their sins.

Hence, when the Lord says “sell, give and follow,” we obey— even if we do not get the “bigger house” offered to us in Jesus’ Name by well-intended friends.

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