The Correct Diagnosis

Our son Grant and his family drove  to Libby from Oregon City to spend Christmas with us. At Thanksgiving, they had gone south to Glide (near Roseburg), Oregon to spend the holiday with the Finlays (Grant’s in-laws). On their return, their van started shimmying badly so they stopped at a Les Schwab dealer where they balanced and rotated tires and checked the alignment and sent them on their way. It started happening again so they found a Sears tire shop and had it checked out again. They were told all looked good and they should be able to safely drive the rest of the way back to Oregon City (a suburb of Portland). Well, it wasn’t okay and shimmied and shuddered badly, but they limped on home. They took the van to a Honda dealer. They kept it overnight, and one of the mechanics drove it to Salem to his home and back the next day–and it didn’t have any problems! (How often does that happen!). Well, they found a weak motor mount and replaced it–at a high cost–and thought they had it fixed. It didn’t cause any problems over the next couple weeks. But, as they were headed to Montana, about three hours into the trip the  van started shuddering again–quite severely. Grant called us and we checked with mechanics here to get some advice on what he should do. It was Sunday so there was very little open. They discovered that if they drove between 50 and 55 mph the shaking wasn’t too bad, so they set the cruise and had a long, boring ride to Libby. 

     We made an appointment here with a mechanic and, fortunately the shuddering had become quite consistent, so the mechanic was quite certain right away what the problem was–bad CV joints in the drive axle.  When they disassembled the axle, one of the joints was quite worn. They found they could get a whole new axle for only $40 more than to replace the one joint, so put a new axle in and the family drove back to Oregon without further incident–just several hundred dollars poorer!
     The previous misdiagnosis had proven quite costly and could have stranded them on their way here for Christmas.  But there’s another misdiagnosis that is far, far more consequential than that regarding car problems, or even medical problems, and that is regarding man’s spiritual condition. Many would try to say that man is basically good and just needs to be given the proper education and environment and will be fine. History has surely proven that to be false.  Others would say that there are many paths that lead to heaven. You just need to pick one and be sincere about your pursuit, and do the best you can. Or, some would maintain that if you do enough good works to outweigh the bad, that God will let you into heaven. Some even think that eventually all will be saved, given enough opportunities, either in this lifetime or in future lifetimes!  Then some believe that religion is the key and that you must follow the dictates of a particular religion, and through your ritual–be it baptism, communion, circumcision, prayer, indulgences, spiritual journeys, etc, you will achieve eternal life.
     In all these “paths” to the future life, there is a failure to diagnose man’s problem accurately. The Bible, our standard for faith and practice, tells us that man is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). A dead man can do nothing to help himself. He cannot respond. He can do nothing to earn or inherit eternal life. The passage in Ephesians goes on to say: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus…for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:1,5-9).  Someone said the only part we play is salvation is the sinning!  God has done it all for us, we simply accept that and by faith trust in the provision He made, Jesus death and resurrection, for our sins.   You see from the time of conception, we are sinners (Psa. 51:5). We aren’t sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. We are born with a “defective steering column” and the only solution is to be “recalled” and restored. That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus that if he was going to enter the kingdom of heaven, he had to be “born again” (Jn. 3:3). By our first birth we are separated from God, without hope, living in spiritual darkness. We aren’t just sick, we are dead!  We need new life, and that is only available in Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6), and no one can go the the Father (and heaven) except through Him. It isn’t through church attendance, membership, baptism or anything else. It is through faith in Christ–plus nothing else. “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.”
     Misdiagnosis of your vehicle’s problem can be inconvenient, frustrating, and costly. Misdiagnosis of a medical problem can have even greater consequences, possibly even leading to physical death. But, misdiagnosis of our spiritual problem can lead to eternal separation from God in hell.  Before the foundation of the world, God had a remedy for the spiritual problem we would face–Jesus would become the sinbearer to pay the penalty of sin which is death (Ro. 6:23). He would offer the cure to our sin problem at no cost to us, because He would pay the whole price through the sacrifice of His Son (II Cor. 5:21: I Pet. 2:24; Rev. 22:17). Have you accepted His offer of eternal life (Jn. 3:16)?  If not, there would be no greater way to being a new year than to do so. It will be the best decision you will ever make in your life.
                            Forever His,
                                  Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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