How Would You Have Handled the Situation?

by Gene Street

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An experienced visiting Grace Pastor and teacher, who was conducting a week of meetings, asked for questions from the floor after one of his nightly meetings. A lady then asked him, “How do you reconcile Romans 4:5 with James 2:24?”

The question could have been answered in either of two ways:

(1) James 2:24 is preceded by a “timeline” in a preceding verse, James 2:21, “was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” Romans 4:5 on the other hand occurred before Isaac was even born, many years before Abraham “had offered Isaac…upon the altar.” (Cf. Genesis 15:2-6). So then, Romans 4:5 stands!

(2) Ask the person who posed the question to open her Bible to James 1:1 and read it aloud. After reading the verse, ask her the question, “Are you a Jew?” “Are you a member of one of the twelve tribes of Israel?” The lady’s answer will be an indignant “No!” Then say to her, “The Book of James is not your mail; James 2:24 was written to Jews, the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” Romans 4:5 still stands!

The above was related to the writer and his wife by that lady who since has become a Grace Believer.

The visiting pastor used answer (2) above. He knew that the lady, being of a prominent denomination, was not acquainted with the Bible; her only help being “Quarterlies.” If the word “timeline” of the first approach had been used, the visiting pastor would have “lost” the attention of the lady. The more direct approach was the most appropriate way to respond to her question. The visiting pastor was C. R. Stam. The church that he visited was the Forest Park Bible Church, Mobile, Alabama, whose pastor is Roy Lange.

The writer gives the above happening as an illustration of directness since lately he has been deluged with mail with argumentation that runs “all over the woods” to make a point rather than using the direct approach. In the writer’s experience in working in government and private industry he has found that a letter will receive more attention if it is short and to the point (i.e., direct) rather than one that rambles “all over the woods,” as it were.