GCI: My Pilgrimage

Transformed by Truth, by Joseph Tkach
Chapter 3

Several years ago the famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote a fascinating book titled Awakenings. His book, which later inspired a movie starring Robin Williams, told the remarkable stories of several long-term coma patients who were finally (but not always permanently) coaxed out of their deep slumber by doctors using unorthodox methods. The book is both a celebration of human consciousness and a profound meditation on the mystery of life.

Dr. Sacks’s book suggests a useful metaphor for describing what has happened to us over the past few years. By the grace of God, we have awakened out of our deep theological slumber. No longer does our faith consist primarily of a grab bag of esoteric doctrines. Today we enjoy and are actively exploring a personal relationship with our living Savior, Jesus Christ.

One biblical text especially comes to mind when I think of our recent spiritual awakening. John 5 ministers powerfully to me, but I am particularly drawn to the end of the chapter where Jesus says to the Jews, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John. 5:39-40).

For so many long years, this is exactly the error we made! We searched the Scriptures diligently to discover the right twist to this doctrine or the correct slant to that one. We got lost in minutiae and largely missed the real treasure, Jesus Christ Himself. We didn’t completely ignore Jesus, but to us He was little more than a messenger, a newscaster of prophesied events, and a man who somehow lived a life free of sin. We searched the Scriptures because in them we thought we had eternal life; yet we did not come fully to Jesus that we might truly live.

This passage in John, as well as the rest of the gospel, has been a tremendous, eye-opening blessing to us. Why? It trumpets the deity of Christ and celebrates who He claims to be. Its simple proclamation has been a powerful help to us, as have John’s epistles. Can you imagine what it is like to be greeted by such an overwhelmingly attractive Presence upon awaking from a decades-long slumber? It is nothing short of miraculous.

When Did You Come to the Lord?

Since the news about our changes in the WCG began to spread in the evangelical world, Greg Albrecht, J. Michael Feazell, and I (and others) have periodically been asked to appear on various Christian radio and television programs. Inevitably the host will ask us, “When did you come to the Lord?” A good portion of these folks seem to want us to name a particular point in time when we entered the kingdom of God. Others are content simply to know that we did so, even if we can’t name the day and the hour of our conversion. They don’t push for a specific answer or insist that if we can’t name a particular day and hour our experience is invalid.

Frankly, this question of when we came to know the Lord presents a problem for us. Long before the changes began, all of us were functioning as ministers. We were baptizing people and performing weddings and counseling and preaching sermons years before the transformation of our church. So what should we say about our ministry before the changes took place? Was it invalid? Was it unchristian? Was it illegitimate? Do we believe that the only true ministry we’ve performed occurred after the changes and not a moment before?

I don’t think so. For a number of us, this waking out of sleep has been a slow, yet steady process. It’s been progressive, not sudden. Over a number of years we began to come to the Lord and understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Him, God has led us gently; Jesus as our Shepherd has been patient. I don’t believe our story in this regard is unique—the widely respected and best-selling evangelical author Philip Yancey says something about this in his award-winning book, The Jesus I Never Knew. At the outset of his literary journey to understand the Jesus of the Gospels, Yancey confesses that his grasp of the Savior has changed greatly over the years:

Jesus, I found, bore little resemblance to the Mister Rogers figure I had met in Sunday School, and was remarkably unlike the person I had studied in Bible college. For one thing, he was far less tame. In my prior image, I realized, Jesus’ personality matched that of a Star Trek Vulcan: he remained calm, cool, and collected as he strode like a robot among excitable human beings on spaceship earth. That is not what I found portrayed in the Gospels and in the better films. Other people affected Jesus deeply: obstinacy frustrated him, self-righteousness infuriated him, simple faith thrilled him. Indeed, he seemed more emotional and spontaneous than the average person, not less. More passionate, not less…

Sometimes I have felt like a tourist walking around a great monument, awed and overwhelmed. I circle the monument of Jesus, inspecting its constituent parts—the birth stories, the teachings, the miracles, the enemies and followers—in order to reflect on and try to comprehend the man who has changed history.

Other times I have felt like an art restorer stretched out on the scaffolding of the Sistine Chapel, swabbing away the grime of history with a moistened Q-tip. If I scrub hard enough, will I find the original beneath all those layers?1

Our own understanding of and appreciation for the Master also has changed over the years, although I’m certain our perceptions have changed more radically than Yancey’s! Still, in many places where Yancey’s book articulates how his views changed, his experience mirrors our own. We did not one morning suddenly turn around and bump into the real Jesus; it’s more like we had been shadowing Him from a distance for a long time, and only recently did we get close enough to glimpse His face.

A Kinship With Peter

In my personal testimony I sometimes compare my spiritual experience to that of the apostle Peter. Before Christ is crucified, Peter is with Him, eating, living, and interacting with Him for at least three years. Yet at crunch time, Peter vigorously denies his Lord three times. Along with all the other disciples, he flees into the night, leaving Jesus to face the cross alone. Three days later Christ conquers death and rises from the grave. One of His first actions is to bring Peter back into the fold. Then Pentecost comes and we see a different Peter—now he’s preaching in the faces of the Sanhedrin; now he’s giving his first sermon and three thousand people are convicted and converted; now he’s the unquestioned human leader of the fledgling church.

Here’s the problem: If you had to identify the time when Peter was converted, what would you say? Was he a believer when Jesus told him, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23)? Was he a believer when he three times denied the Lord? Did he become a believer after he was convinced of the resurrection? Or did he enter the kingdom at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church? I’m not sure. The one thing I am sure of, however, is that the Peter I see in Acts is definitely a believer—and a bold and uncompromising one at that.

When I consider Peter in both his before and after versions, I find it natural to identify with him. No doubt I’ve grown tremendously in my understanding of the faith in these past few years, but I firmly believe I was a convert to Christ long before that.

The Cleanest Feeling I’ve Ever Known

I can’t say for sure the exact moment I was converted. I do know I experienced the cleanest feeling I’ve ever enjoyed in my life in 1971 when I was baptized. I felt that I was born again (even though I was told I was only conceived). I had an experience that was remarkable, genuine, and true.

Perhaps this will mean more to you if you understand something about what our church culture as like a few decades ago. I regretfully admit that the experience of Ambassador College for some people more closely resembled an indoctrination camp than it did an undergraduate institution of higher learning. Many students felt a covert pressure (at least in the sixties and seventies) to be baptized by the end of their freshman year. If you didn’t get baptized by the end of your first year, some assumed that you simply weren’t mature and that probably something was very wrong in your spiritual life. If you entered your sophomore year as an unbaptized student, the peer pressure really mounted. Only rarely did people make it past their second year without succumbing to the pressure. If you were an upperclassman and not baptized, you had to be a real rebel.

All but two in my class were baptized their freshman year; I was one of the “unwashed.” Other students came up to the two of us and said things like, “You know, I’ve just got to tell you, I’m really kind of perplexed at what I see. Why aren’t you baptized? What’s wrong with you?” I remember clearly the concerns I had. I could see that some of my friends were baptized, but their behavior and conduct seemed to be the same or even worse than before they had made this commitment. I knew I was no one to judge, but I didn’t want that to be my story too. I wanted to get baptized at some point, but I was genuinely disturbed by what I saw … and I let people know about it.

My views were not warmly received.

Still I waited. I wanted to be sure that I was doing the right thing; I wanted to be certain I knew what I was doing. To me, baptism was very serious. I finally took the plunge, so to speak, in my junior year. When I slid under the waters of baptism, I knew that all my sins had been forgiven. I felt tremendously good about that. I didn’t want to commit another sin from that point on! It took only a day to crush my naive hope. All these girls were coming up and hugging me, and I couldn’t help but think, Wow! Now I see why my buddies are getting baptized!

I don’t mean to suggest that my baptism is what saved me; no mere ritual can do that. Since I already have mentioned the kinship I feel with Peter, perhaps it would be appropriate here to quote him on the significance of baptism. His words well summarize what I was feeling that day:

This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. (1 Peter 3:21-22)

By the time I was baptized, I already had a saving relationship with Jesus Christ—even though it was encrusted with layer upon layer of theological barnacles. When those barnacles finally started coming off a few years ago, what a massive weight was dropped into the depths of the ocean! I had not known what I was missing for so long. My eyes—our eyes—at last were being opened, and we were emerging from a deep, deep sleep.

Hallmarks of the Awakening

Some people might expect that when God began to rouse us from our theological slumber, He would wake us up with mighty demonstrations of power and extraordinary signs and wonders. But that’s not how He worked His miracle with us. We had long held a negative view of charismatic manifestations, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Jesus would not lead us toward those things in our fellowship; we’ve always been a bit more Presbyterian or Anglican in our worship. Would God have led a lot of people in our fellowship at this crucial time to some sort of awakening that highlighted all kinds of charismatic gifts? I doubt it. We wouldn’t have known what to do with it. For good reason, I think, the move of the Holy Spirit through our fellowship has been cautious and progressive.

Nevertheless, we can point to several hallmarks that powerfully indicate just how greatly God has transformed us. These things are both past and ongoing and show that something dramatic as happened over a short period of time in our church. We were in darkness; now we are, walking in light more than ever before.

1. New comprehension of Scripture

It’s easiest to sleep when you’re in the dark. That’s true in both the physical and the spiritual realms. If you want to wake someone up either from spiritual or physical sleep, flood the room with light. It may take a while to rouse the sleeper, but eventually light wins. And then what sights there are to see!

We have found this to be delightfully true in our understanding of Scripture. I’ve already mentioned what a help the writings of the apostle John have been to me. Throughout his Gospel he contrasts light with darkness and how people living in the darkness can come into the light of life. At one point he quotes Jesus: “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:19-21).

I can point to several defining moments in my life when the light of Scripture blazed in my mind with a power and clarity I had never known before. I think of the time when Galatians 3:13-14 leaped off the page and slapped me in the face: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” This is not a text that a lifelong legalist can safely read! Another defining moment came when I read Galatians 2:14: “When I saw that they [Peter and his friends] were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”’ Gulp! That is precisely what we had been doing for decades; we insisted that Gentiles should live like Jews. How could we have missed this?

I recall one time reading about the transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountaintop with Jesus and all three blazed with an otherworldly light. Peter and the other two disciples who witnessed the event were so frightened they did not know what to say, but Peter, in typical fashion, spoke up anyway and suggested that he and his friends should build three tabernacles for Jesus and Moses and Elijah. Suddenly it struck me like never before: “Wow! Is this loaded with meaning! He picked the two most important guys from the Old Testament. Boy! John is talking about the law and the prophets—and you don’t build tabernacles for them. Here’s the glory—Jesus! He’s not just some messenger; He is the message. And I missed it! Until now, I didn’t see any of it.”

Where was I? It was as if I were at last emerging from a massive cloud bank, an impenetrable blanket of fog that had obscured my vision my whole life. Finally I was stepping out of the darkness and into the light. At last I could see John’s point.

The last three years, every time I have read the Bible I find myself exclaim “Wow!” It’s a wonderful, exquisite feeling. It’s great. And I can’t help but wonder: How did I miss it?

2. Attitude toward Old Testament purity laws

In the past we practiced all the Old Testament laws of purity and therefore refused to eat the foods listed as unclean in Leviticus 11. Pork and shellfish and a myriad other foods were off-limits. Imagine how difficult this could be when one of us visited a restaurant with some friends. More than one of us got bug-eyed if we got a bowl of soup that might possibly contain a bit of ham; it was not unusual to ask our waitress if the refried beans contained any lard. Some of our members would get around this by eating whatever they ordered, without asking questions “for conscience’ sake.” They’d order, assume there might be lard in the beans, but not ask about it, and eat it anyway.

Today, members throughout our fellowship are discovering a newfound freedom as expressed in texts like Colossians 2:16-17, 20-22:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ….

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.

A big part of our waking out of sleep is that many people have felt tremendous liberation from the bondage of the past and have expressed a need to act in certain symbolic ways. For instance, after my dad gave his Christmas Eve sermon in 1994, some people went out immediately afterward to a lobster dinner. It wasn’t that they needed lobster; they wanted to make the statement, “I’m not bound by this anymore.” In some ways, they were following in the footsteps of Martin Luther several centuries before, when he broke with the medieval Catholic church and married Katherine Von Bora—something that had been forbidden to him in his life as a monk.

How times have changed! It’s been fun for me to watch some of my closest associates, including Greg and Mike, on this issue. One time, we were in a restaurant, and Mike said, “I’m going to have a pepperoni pizza. I hope this doesn’t offend you. This is symbolic for me, symbolic that the church of God is bigger than us!”

Greg and I looked at each other and said, “Hey! Go for it, Mike!”

I’ve had lunch or dinner with several others who have ordered similar items. I don’t know if they’re eating these things just to see how I react or if they really want to enjoy the new experience. One friend, a longtime church member, ordered a plate of mussels. Every insect in the ocean was on his plate. And you know what? It really didn’t trouble me at all.

I’ve tasted shrimp, I’ve tasted pork, I’ve tasted just about everything now. But because my grandmother and my dad and my aunt all died of colon cancer, and since I have a genetic predisposition to getting the same disease—I have a one in four chance—I hardly eat beef, let alone pork. I am Mr. Fiber Man. Some of my friends think that I cut out a little corner of the carpet every morning and put it in the blender. I want fiber.

But if the craving for pepperoni ever does strike, I can party just as hearty as my friend Mike. And God is pleased.

3. Attitude toward the Saturday Sabbath

For many years our church taught that the key sign to identifying God’s true church was the keeping of the Saturday Sabbath. There is no question that some of us worshiped the day instead of worshiping God. One of our former pastors gave a series of seven sermons on how to keep the Sabbath. In one sermon he used an extreme example to illustrate his point. He asked the members of his congregation to imagine they were home on a Saturday when someone fell down in front of their home or perhaps was injured in a car accident. Suppose this injured party came to their door, cut and bleeding, and asked for help or to use the phone. What should godly WCG members tell such a person? Here’s what I was told this pastor recommended: “Look, this is my Sabbath day, and I’m resting today. Could you please go next door? If there’s nobody there, fine, then you can come back and I’ll see how I can help you.”

Believe it or not, this was seen as proper and righteous conduct by some in our fellowship. This is how they taught one should worship God. Most of us did not take things to such an extreme, but some did. They failed to see that such behavior demonstrated they were worshiping the day rather than the Lord of the day They should have reread what Matthew wrote on the subject:

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. (Matthew 12:1-13)

Texts like these forced us to see that Jesus is the Lord of our lives, but the converse was true and shocking to some of our members, The Sabbath day is not the Lord of our lives. Jesus has come into our fellowship and into our individual lives and claimed His rightful lordship. This major change was part of our waking out of sleep, part of our coming to Jesus. It was an issue God forced us to deal with.

Anyone—whether he’s a Saturday or Sunday Sabbatarian or whether he’s bound by some other legalistic doctrine that vies for lordship of his life—is going to have to struggle through the same black hole we did. Jesus is Lord, not the day. We were so focused on the day that we felt made us special and unique that we failed to understand that Jesus is Lord of all days and of all time. We worship Christ, not the Sabbath. Legalism blinded us from seeing what should have been so plain. And that legalism is still a plague today—not just with groups like ours, but with all of the evangelical world. It has to be identified, rooted out, and purged. The Lord of the Sabbath requires it.

4. The emergence of small groups

In the past, members of the Worldwide Church of God prayed alone, rarely in groups. We misunderstood the words of Jesus when He said: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). We did not understand He was using a picture to illustrate that prayer is not for show, that prayer as some of the Pharisees practiced it was empty and meant only to impress people. We took His words literally and missed His whole point. We taught that one should pray alone and that it was wrong to pray in groups.

Somehow we missed the fact that Jesus Himself often prayed in public (see Matthew 6:9-13; 11:25-26; John 11:41-42; 17). Somehow we didn’t notice that the early church loved to pray in groups (see Acts 1:24-25; 4:23-31; 12:12-17; 13:3; etc.).

Here, too, God has led us out of darkness and into His brilliant light!

Today, small group fellowships are blossoming in our church. We’ve gone from no small groups to having over eleven hundred of them throughout our church. This is a miracle. Never before would we have prayed together. Never before would we have studied the Bible together. Never before would we have encouraged men and women to sit together while a woman read Scripture.

Now we urge our members to join accountability groups in which they pray and study and commit themselves to seeking the welfare of everyone in the group. I’m a member of a small group myself.

And the result? Our people have experienced the unity and special bond that come from praying together and studying the Scriptures together in small groups. It may not seem like a big deal to outsiders—small groups have been growing in popularity in the church for decades now—but to us, it’s a major, unprecedented step into the light. It’s so much fun being awake!

5. Embracing other Christians

In the old days it was common for our members to look askance at people from other denominations. We thought of them as “Christians falsely so-called,” as “deceived,” and even went to the extreme of regarding them as “children of the devil.”

Thankfully, those days are past. Now our members are able to embrace other Christians as genuine brothers and sisters in the Lord. No longer do we regard them as deluded or fifth- column people. We are all one in Christ, and we can joyfully urge our people to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).

6. Ministers joining local associations

To fully appreciate this final hallmark of the Holy Spirit’s dramatic reformation of our fellowship, one has to appreciate the depth of our former exclusivity. Never before would our ministers have anything to do with pastors from other denominations. What has light to do with darkness, or Christ with Belial? The distrustful attitudes held by our members toward outsiders was multiplied many times over in our ministers.

This is beginning to change. Many of our ministers have joined the local ministerial association in their city. Our ministers have joined transdenominational prayer groups and are getting to know other pastors in their cities, meeting with them for prayer and fellowship. Our pastors and members assist in Billy Graham crusades, Promise Keepers rallies, and a host of cross-denominational evangelistic and service projects.

A lot of good things have developed out of this interchurch activity, perhaps most notably the new places of worship we have gained. With few exceptions, we rent or lease facilities for our local church services; not many of our congregations own their own property. Now, instead of meeting in Masonic lodges and bingo halls, many of our churches partner with other congregations in sanctuaries designed for worship. We use their facilities on Saturday while they use them on Sunday. Many denominations have been helpful to us in this regard, led numerically by Foursquare Gospel and Missouri Synod Lutheran churches.

For our ministers to join a local pastoral prayer group is such an incredible step forward for us. It certainly wouldn’t have happened even five to seven years ago. Yet most of our pastors are seeking out such groups. This tremendous hallmark demonstrates the enormous change that has taken place in their own spiritual lives. This development alone shows how powerfully God has been at work in us in the past few years, and we are eternally grateful for His intervention.

The Need for Romans 14

It is wonderful to walk in the daylight after so many years spent slumbering in the darkness, but we have found that it takes awhile for our eyes to get used to the bright Sonshine. Many of what I have called hallmarks also call for a high degree of tolerance within our fellowship. Many of our people still see some of these hallmarks as sinful. We have had to cling to Romans 14 for guidance. In that chapter Paul gave so many helpful directions for dealing in a godly way with “disputable things.” I’d like to quote the whole chapter, but I’ll restrain myself. Permit me to recall verses 19-20: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.”

Part of waking out of sleep for us has been to understand what these verses mean. If we are to act in love, we simply can’t go out and do everything that we might be justified in doing. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are more important than meat and drink, and we must remember this always—especially in view of our peculiar history.

A Real Challenge

It is a real challenge to explain these issues of liberty to some of our folks who still cling to the o;d order. On the one hand we’ve explained there’s no sin in devotion; if you want to be a Sabbatarian and you do this as to the Lord, more power to you. Great! But as soon as you say it’s what someone has to do and you try to force your standard of righteousness on others, you’ve crossed the line.

I try to explain it in this way: If your devotion is in response to God’s love, that’s fantastic. But if you’re going through these exercises to stand in His good favor, then you’ve missed the boat.

Some of those who struggle the most are people I know so well, such as in my extended family. I’ve had a few conversations about this with one of my relatives. “Don’t you see, Joe, that it’s a means to worship God,” she has told me. “Yes,” I have responded, “I see it as a means to worship God. But my relationship isn’t through the configuration of the sun and the moon and the earth. It’s through the living Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Law, and He’s the one I serve. Not the Sabbath.”

Because of these challenges, tolerance on this issue has been the order of the day. “One man considers one day more sacred than another,” wrote Paul, “another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). If our goal is to serve and worship the Lord Jesus, then tolerance is an absolute requirement. And in our case, so is something else.

An Indispensable Sense of Humor

I doubt we would have made it this far without a healthy sense of humor. To keep our sanity (not to mention our sanctification) we have found it necessary to make fun of ourselves and laugh at events and at each other. That’s helped tremendously.

Sometime ago I received a letter from a man taking me to task because the WCG now says it’s OK to celebrate Christmas. In the past this was absolutely forbidden.

Can’t you just see the problem?” he demanded. “Satan is right in Santa!”

I quickly wrote back and made several points, including this one: “It’s no legitimate proof of anything, but can’t you see that God spelled backward is dog?” My point, of course, was that matching up corresponding letters in two distinct words is without value. You can prove anything you want to with that sort of reasoning.

A few days later I was watching Saturday Night Live, and comedian Dana Carvey was doing his Church Lady character. “She” had a little board with magnetic letters spelling out “Santa.” Then she said, in a conspiratorial voice, “Have you noticed something here?” Her hands moved to the board and rearranged the letters to spell Satan. “Could it be?” she asked, her raised eyebrows pointing skyward.

And I thought, Mr. Carvey must know us.

Bring on the Sonshine!

We were asleep for so many years that now we revel in each waking moment. We much prefer the world of light to the world of darkness, the land of reality to the land of shadows. As the apostle Paul wrote: “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:13-14).

This is a great promise, and a faithful one. Take it from somebody who knows. It’s good to rise from the sleep of death. And it’s even better to bask in the Sonshine of the Master’s boundless, red-hot love.


1. Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 23, 25.

To chapter 4

Author: Joseph Tkach


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