The Trumpet’s Sound
And if the [war] bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?
1 Corinthians 14:8
Paul encouraged the Corinthians to use clear language in communicating truth to one another, and one of the analogies he used was the sound of a trumpet. In that day and up to the twentieth century, military commanders communicated orders to their troops with distinct trumpet sounds. It was important for the trumpeter to blow strong, long, and clearly so every soldier would know whether to advance or retreat, to stand and fight, or to move to the left or right.
The trumpeter, though, was a man with hopes and fears like any other. He was positioned near the commander, and he heard officers discuss the options and consequences on the battlefield. If he heard that they all might be slaughtered, his lips could pucker when he tried to blow the horn and he would make “an uncertain sound.’ The soldiers in the lines weren’t fools. They could distinguish a confident trumpet sound from a warbled one, and they surmised that the uncertain sound might indicate greater danger. Naturally, the uncertain sound caused them to look for a way out!
In the same way, unclear language as we talk about Christ causes people around us to look for a way out too! We don’t have to be theologians to talk about Christ, but we need to focus on the basics of the faith- especially when we’re talking to unbelievers or those new in their faith. We may want to impress people with our vast knowledge of eschatological metaphysics, but we’d best leave that to the seminarians.
Focus on Christ and the changesHe has made in your life. Blow your trumpet loud, clear, and strong, and everybody will benefit.
Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…We are in charge of our attitudes.
In this time of uncertainty, we who are the people of God must be certain. This doesn’t mean that we need to be certain about everything but we ought to be certain about our faith. First, we need to be certain about what we believe and second, we need to be certain about why we believe what we believe. The Bible teaches that we are to be ready to give an answer when asked about our faith. There may be variations in matters of conscience for we are told to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” That, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any absolutes.
We must be certain, for example, that everyone born into this world is a sinner needing forgiveness. We must be certain that only through Christ can we find forgiveness for He Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” The world around us is uncertain in these matters for it says that we are inherently good people, maybe a little off track, but basically good. But Paul, writing to the Romans says that there are none that are good.
“As it is written and forever remains written, “ There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], not even one. “ There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God . “ All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, no, not one .”
We as Christians must settle this in our hearts, otherwise we have little or no motivation to share our faith with those who know not Christ.
In the name of tolerance, the idea has risen that as long as one practices some religion they will be ok in the end. But again that is in conflict with what Christ taught. As a matter of fact He told the Pharisees that they could not trust in the fact that they were the descendants of Abraham. He said that those who rejected Him rejected God. He was adamant that He was the only way for He said that anyone trying to climb up another was a thief and a robber.
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up from some other place [on the stone wall], that one is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider]. 3 The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. 4 When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. So Jesus said again, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I am the Door for the sheep [leading to life]. 8 All who came before Me [as false messiahs and self-appointed leaders] are thieves and robbers, but the [true] sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).
We as Christians must settle in our hearts that the Bible is the inspired(God-given) Word of God with authority to speak to every issue. Having said this, it doesn’t leave room for any private interpretation nor can we extract a verse or two from its context to create doctrine or support for our own beliefs. Instead we allow the scriptures to form our beliefs by carefully searching them out, by reading them in their context, and by asking the Holy Spirit to give us understanding. Preachers would do well to utilize expository preaching(line by line and verse by verse).
“All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Finally, in these uncertain times, we must be sure of the promises of God. We must be sure of His promise to be with us as long as we walk this journey of life.
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you. But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.”
We also must be sure of His promise to return and to take us with Him to heaven and into eternity.
“Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.
In Jewish culture, trumpets were used to communicate with the people. Every event had its own distinctive sound. There was one sound to call for a solemn assembly, another to call for celebration and still another to call for war or danger. Some years ago as Promise Keepers gathered on the Mall in Washington, DC, I had the privilege to hear Jewish Rabbis blow the shofars(trumpets). Although I wasn’t trained to know which sound meant what, I could distinguish between the sounds. Of course the rabbis explained the meaning of each sound. The highlight of that experience was when the fifth or last trumpet sounded and what Paul wrote in Thessalonians was read. Every trumpet sound was clear and distinguishable. There was no confusion between the sounds even to an untrained listener such as myself. I remember that day thinking how we have been called to give certainty to an uncertain world and though they may not know initially what the trumpets mean, we, like those rabbi, are charged with not only giving a distinct sound but an explanation of that sound so that the people can be prepared for what comes next. There will come the day when the last trumpet sounds and the dead in Christ rises and those believers who are still alive will be caught up(raptured) to meet the Lord in the air to forever be with God.
Are you listening for that sound? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to train your heart to recognize it? Are those you know aware that the trumpet will blow and when it does what it means? Are you certain about the basics of the Christian faith, certain about your salvation and relationship with Christ? Do you know that your name has been written in the Lamb’s book of life?
I would urge you today to bring your uncertainties to Christ in prayer and receive from Him the necessary certainties you need to be at peace. Once Christ settles these things in your heart, will you then allow Him to work through you to bring certainty to an uncertain world?
“Now we do not want you to be uninformed, believers, about those who are asleep [in death], so that you will not grieve [for them] as the others do who have no hope [beyond this present life]. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again [as in fact He did], even so God [in this same way—by raising them from the dead] will bring with Him those [believers] who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For we say this to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are still alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede [into His presence] those [believers] who have fallen asleep [in death]. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (raptured) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord! Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words [concerning our reunion with believers who have died].”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
May in this time of great uncertainty and confusion, our trumpets sound clear!
Dr. John Thompson