January 6, 2014


Aunt Emma lived in an extended-care facility about 60 miles from where I was assigned to pastor the local church. She wasn’t really my aunt; that’s just what everybody called the 90-year-old matriarch. Long before I met her, members of the small congregation told me how well she knew her Bible.

Sure enough, when I finally met Aunt Emma, our conversation flowed freely among a broad range of Bible topics, mostly prophecy. I was fascinated by her grasp of world events, and how her interpretations added new dimensions to my understanding of last-day events.

I didn’t see Aunt Emma often, but whenever I was in town and I had a few minutes to spare, I’d stop by, and we’d pick up where we left off.

As time went by and it became clear that Aunt Emma’s days were numbered, I noticed a shift in the topics we discussed. Where before she was captivated by prophecy, our conversations were increasingly centered on Jesus: His love, His mercy, His grace. “Jesus is so precious to me,” she often said. In fact, the last time I saw Aunt Emma all we talked about was Jesus.

It’s not true, as some Adventists apparently believe, that salvation is based on some kind of Bible bowl, in which we answer questions about the Bible to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Paradise. Salvation is still a gift we receive by faith.

Let’s not make the same mistake made by those Bible scholars two millennia ago to whom Jesus famously said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39, 40).

Let’s make this year all about Jesus.