Vain Salvation – A Letter From Jim

Vain Salvation – A Letter From Jim

Dear CCW family,

A well-loved Christian conference speaker once posed this question to me after his message: “Is there any sin in trusting God?”

Strange question, isn’t it?

The answer has to be, “No.” I know that. You know that. The man who posed the question knew it also. He only wanted to emphasize that the best action all the time, regardless of the circumstance we might be in, is to trust God.

But . . . is that what you are doing?

A case to think about

Once a minister from another country contacted me through social media. He was exceptionally friendly, but I immediately suspected his motives. Sure enough, before we had exchanged three gracious lines, he was posing his desperate situation and asking for money. I took the opportunity to address this request I get often from professing believers in poorer countries by sharing my true thoughts about how he had used our new relationship. I was kind in doing it, but truthful.

Regardless of the fact that there are legitimate needs in other places, I told this young man how it embarrassed me to read this request and to know that he was fishing the internet to find people to send money to him. Since I had been asked hundreds of times for help like this, and had seen firsthand what troubles this often causes in other lands, I felt I had an obligation to correct him in hopes that it would improve his future.

I told him that he did not need to go back to school at my expense. Rather, if God did not provide the money either by trusting Him for the job he needed or trusting Him for (in this case) unsolicited gifts, he should assume God has a higher plan. I spoke to him about how education isn’t helpful if it is gotten by “the flesh.” I tried to help him see that trusting God is the only way God is pleased. I tried to show him that his problem is not lack of education, but lack of faith and lack of diligence to study God’s word that he holds in his hand.

He was humbled in a good way, I believe. He promised to take my advice and never ask for money like this again. He hopefully will trust God and be content. I didn’t want him to spend the next fifty years bilking people and calling it ministry. Often, a much better gift for such people who are learning bad habits of extorting unsuspecting westerners is to teach them about the virtues of depending on God. That will supply him for the rest of his life, if he catches on.

But what about us? Are we trusting Him?

Trusting God isn’t just about money, but about all aspects of life. It is a conscious decision to stop in our tracks and acknowledge God’s will and ways. It is refusing to trust in ourselves as if we really knew what was best and had the abilities or resources required. It demands that we see God as bigger than we have been seeing Him, and ourselves smaller and in need. This is the life that pleases God . . . whether you live in the West or East or North or South.

David said, “Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!“ (Psalm 108:12)

And Paul said to the Galatians, “The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).

This is the life that pleases God.

Our recent CCW ministry

Steve just returned from Mumbai, India. Here are two photos from his time there and his comments:

“Thank you for praying for my ministry in India. In one picture, you see four students studying deeply a section of Acts. In the other, I’m saying goodbye to the six graduates of the seminary that I’ve had the privilege of teaching over multiple years.

Class was a wonderful week of studying Acts inductively (Bible intensive style), talking church life and missions and pastoring, and enjoying fellowship with the leaders of the school. I also spoke to the church there twice during my time with them — a great privilege!”

I recently led a Bible Intensive with various leaders and eager members from churches in Farmington, MO, accompanied by Rod McDonald. We felt there was a lot of benefit gained. We are hopeful of doing this again if they wish. On Sunday I spoke at one of the churches. Here’s a reflection called, “The Old Church.” Find it at this link

We’re counting on your prayers as we place our trust in the Lord. He is absolutely faithful.

With joy,
Jim Elliff with Steve Burchett