Category Archives for Salvation

HOW JOHNNY CASH GOT “THAT CHRISTMASY FEELING”

December 22, 2016

 

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared here and is used by permission of the author.“That Christmasy Feeling” was one of the songs on Johnny’s 1972 album entitled The Johnny Cash Family Christmas produced by Columbia Records.  Johnny and June Cash loved singing about Christmas and produced many television specials and albums in the 1970s, and into the 80s. A miracle in a dark Tennessee cave made these songs and shows possible.

It was a hopeless day in 1967 that Johnny literally crawled into a deep dark cave to die.  The accumulated pain and shame of a decade of doing drugs, popping pills, ruined relationships, while always riding the rapids of whiskey river brought him to the mouth of Nickajack Cave on the Tennessee River north of Chattanooga.All his “uppers” had turned to “downers,” but Johnny wasn’t blaming anyone but himself. He knew that he had been his own worst enemy. The “Man in Black” would die in total darkness that day!

Parking his Jeep, Cash walked into this underworld that he had explored years earlier during happier times. He knew that many had gotten lost in this large labyrinth of connecting tunnels and chambers stretching all the way into Alabama and were never seen again.Dave Urbanski writes about this day in The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash, “I never wanted to see another dawn. I had wasted my life. I had drifted so far away from God and every stabilizing force in my life that I felt there was no hope for me.”Cash walked into the cave, then crawled for three hours until his flashlight died before he could. Engulfed in pitch darkness Cash remembered, “The absolute lack of light was appropriate, for at that moment I was as far from God as I had ever been.”Waiting on death, Johnny realized that he could not crawl into a hole deep or dark enough to escape God’s grace. “I thought I’d left Him, but He hadn’t left me.”

Cash testified to a sudden awareness of utter peace, clarity and sobriety overwhelming his mind and body.  He says, “There in Nickajack Cave I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea: I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.”

This spiritual revival presented a new dilemma. Johnny had crawled in to die and no exit strategy existed. He had no earthly idea of which direction to crawl and utter darkness only intensified his confusion.

Driven by a simple urge to begin moving, Cash painstakingly crawled like a blind crab until he felt a faint breeze. Honing in on its direction, he crawled toward the breeze until it felt stronger. He crawled until a faint shade of light was sensed. Pulled toward the light like a dying man crossing over into eternity, Johnny finally surfaces.

Overjoyed with a second chance, Johnny finds his mother and June Carter parked by his Jeep with water and a basket of food. God had been leading them too!

On the long road back to Nashville, Johnny confessed, “God saved me from killing myself.” Johnny spoke sincerely of committing himself to God and doing whatever it would take to kick his drug habit. His promise turned to reality as he gradually regained his physical health and emotional well-being.

After destroying his first marriage, now a new man, Johnny married June Carter and little John Carter Cash was born on March 3, 1970. Life was getting much better!

Recording his Live at Folsom Prison album was a turning point for Cash’s career. The song had been a huge hit. Soon ABC television offered him The Johnny Cash Show. For two years, Johnny and June entertained as the show was taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Johnny invited guest singers from every genre of music – from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong and a lot of country in between.

The dark cave that Johnny crawled into represents a scary place – for most of us are just one step from stupid even on our best days. Over 40,000 people kill themselves in America each year. Many more are slowly crawling with feelings of hopelessness.

If Johnny could find a new reason for living, so can you! Job once said,

He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light (Job 33:28, ESV).

Johnny discovered “the light of world” and realized that he didn’t have to walk in darkness anymore! Life is better “saved, sober, and sane.”[i]

Only by the grace of God could Johnny Cash sing about Christmas!

 

A Prehistoric Final Judgment?

August 30, 2016

by Doug Sayers

***Editor’s Note:  Doug is the author of “Chosen or Not?” which is available for purchase HERE.

Historic Christianity has always insisted on a Final Judgment Day. It is a biblical no-brainer. Many of Jesus’ lessons and parables ended with a final separation of those who are rescued and those who perish. There will be a “settling of accounts” based on God’s eyewitness record of every private (and public) thought, word, and action.   I can bear witness to the biblical claim that this truth was written on my young heart, even as one who was not raised in a Christian home. I knew that God saw everything… and some nights it was hard to fall asleep. (Rom 1, 2) The very thought of being subject to this kind of perfect scrutiny is enough to make you want to put on some fig leaves, run, and hide. It may even lead to a feeble and truth suppressing denial that there is such a God and day of reckoning. But, alas, there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:13) Continue reading

Pimples and Purgatory: Should One Weird View Distract Us?

August 29, 2016

Dr. Braxton Hunter | President
Trinity Seminary, Newburgh, IN

**This article was previously posted by Dr. Hunter on his website www.braxtonhunter.com and is used by permission.

JUST RELEASED:  Dr. Hunter’s new novel, The Chronicles of the Adonai,  is now available!  Click HERE for more information or to purchase this great work!

Pimples. Everyone has had them. If you are one of the fortunate souls who was not afflicted by the blemishes during adolescence . . . well, I wish at least one on you today. Even now a pimple will occasionally appear on my own face, and though I try to ignore it, each time I gaze into a mirror it draws my attention. I can’t really judge my overall appearance because my eyes keep drifting slowly back to the imperfection. Occasionally I’ll discover that some professor, preacher, or Bible teacher I greatly admire holds to at least one seemingly weird view. That one view will then capture my attention and hang in the back of my mind as I listen to them discuss other unrelated issues. The weird affirmation is like a pimple on the face of their systematic theology. Since I listen to a wide range of thinkers I’ve gotten good at “eating the meat and spitting out the bones,” so to speak, but I’ve noticed that a lot of believers still have trouble with this. They’ll say things like, “Yeah, well, I used to listen to that guy, but then I found out he holds to X (where X is not a position over which to break fellowship).” This is ridiculous. In the end we’ll all discover we had a few pimples.

Having said that, one great example of a clearheaded evangelical academic with one view around which I cannot get my mind is, Jerry Walls. First let me say how much I appreciate this man’s ministry. His work on the problem of evil and moral foundations is beyond laudable. Just check out his book Good God.[1] Further, I know this will not earn me points with those finding their theological roots in Geneva, but his philosophical critiques of Calvinism are the first place I would turn if I were a theological Genevan looking to prepare myself for defense. If you’re interested, check out the video below.

Now, there are naturally minor differences I would have with Dr. Walls, but they are the same differences I would have with many of our students at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. That is, they are common enough among evangelicals. Yet, the view I think many consider to be what we might call pustule, is his position on purgatory. Obviously, many Catholics affirm purgatory, but it’s unusual, to say the least, to find a card carrying protestant who thinks it all works. It should be noted, however, that Walls does reject Catholic renderings of purgatory including the idea that one might “indulge” an expedited exit. So what gives?

As I understand him, Jerry Walls sees purgatory made reasonable by the need for the process of sanctification to reach completion. Once a man is regenerated, he begins the process of cooperating with the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Christ throughout the rest of his life. Now, imagine a girl becoming a Christian, and thus beginning this sanctifying journey, at the age of eleven. Say she lives to the ripe old age of eighty-five. This means she is likely much further along in becoming like Christ than, for example, a twenty-one year old young man who becomes a Christian and then dies in a car accident a week later. The question is not whether they are equally regenerate, but whether they are equally sanctified. One would imagine that if the process of sanctification is, in any sense, important that this sanctification would need to continue before a less than sanctified individual is to enter heaven. Remember, the question is not whether they have been saved, become a new creation, or their sins entirely paid for. The question is whether they have become sufficiently Christ-like. Most evangelicals, myself included, would merely say that whatever the case may be they will be glorified, and the sanctification process instantly completed. Walls, sees it in a way that I think he would consider to be more earthy and realistic.

I have not allowed Walls to speak for himself, and that is a great problem, indeed. Thus, I encourage you to read his book, Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory[2], for yourself. Or if you don’t have time, you might just watch the following video to get a feel for his case.

The point I wish to convey, however, has little to do with Jerry Walls. It has to do with the fact that many Christians would write the guy off immediately for this one “blemish.” In reality, when we encounter thinkers with a seemingly out-of-nowhere perspective, we ought to consider what they’re saying . . . fairly. They might be right. I don’t think Jerry Walls is right about purgatory. So what? I think he’s right on a lot of other things. In fact I think the way he’s right is a lot righter than a lot of the other “right guys.” Worse than dismissing someone because of an unusual view, some believers commit a far greater sin. They assume that because someone has one weird view, they must not be saved to begin with.

I was recently told in a private online conversation with an Arminian, that he thinks all Calvinists are “going to hell,” because he feels they get the gospel wrong. At the same time, I read an article from a Calvinist who thinks that anyone who isn’t a Calvinist is going to hell. Shocking? Click the link HERE. Cries of heresy are so frequent that the term has all but lost meaning, especially in lay-level discourse. It’s like the term fascist. “Trump is a fascist, Hillary is a fascist, restaurants are fascist if they don’t serve baskets of free bread.” The morphological meanings of these terms are hard to find.

Whether Jerry Walls’ view amounts to a pimple is a question you will have to decide for yourself, but even if you find a few pimples on the faces of your favorite thinkers, don’t abandon the otherwise great resources they provide. Pimples happen. Everyone gets them.

 

 

[1] Baggett, David, and Jerry L. Walls. Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
[2] Jerry L. Walls. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the things that matter most. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015.

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