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One Challenge: Two Very Different Responses

This is a true story.

Many years ago, two promising young men who seemed destined to have a major impact on the world for Jesus were struggling with their approach to the Bible. They both knew the Bible had a foundational place in the Christian life, but they were troubled with intellectual challenges to the trustworthiness and authority of the Scriptures.

The two young men were Billy Graham and Chuck Templeton. They were both considered to be rising stars, but Templeton was considered by most to be the better preacher.

The question they ultimately faced together was this: Is the Bible the inspired Word of God and therefore the ultimate authority for the Christian? Or is it merely ancient record that presents human insight and some wonderful words of comfort, but at the end of the day is no more inspired and trustworthy than any other work?

Chuck Templeton became convinced that the Bible was not to be trusted, largely because there were questions about the Bible’s teaching that he just couldn’t find the answers to. So he treated it any other ancient piece of literature, and urged Billy to do the same.

Billy felt challenged and struggled with his inability to come up with completely satisfactory answers. The issue was resolved while Billy was at a student conference at a retreat center in the San Bernadino Mountains in Southern California. Billy went for a walk in the woods and found a large rock where he sat in prayer and contemplation. He had his open Bible before him on the stump of a tree. Then he said this prayer of faith: “Oh God, I cannot prove certain things. I cannot answer some of the questions Chuck is raising and some of the other people are raising, but I accept this Book by faith as the Word of God.”

There is now a plaque on the stone commemorating his decision to trust the teaching of the Bible. Billy’s grandson recently visited the historic site. That decision was the turning point of Billy’s life and ministry. Later, Billy wrote that the decision he made that day “gave power and authority to my preaching that has never left me. The gospel in my hands became a hammer and a flame… I felt as though I had a rapier in my hands and through the power of the Bible was slashing deeply into men’s consciousness, leading them to surrender to God.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

But whatever happened to Chuck Templeton?

He ended up resigning from the ministry and eventually he left his faith in Jesus altogether. At the age of 83 he was interviewed. When asked about his youthful decision to disregard the Bible, he looked back and said that he missed Jesus. Then, speechless, he broke down in tears and the interview was over.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

At Crosswalk, we love to study the Bible, and we are not afraid of looking deeply for answers. However, our intellect can only take us so far. At some point, we have to make a life decision and choose to trust the Bible or not. Jesus chose to trust it. He said, I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved  (Matthew 5:18 NLT).

I urge you to make the same choice.

See you in church,

Pastor John