Vol.IX No.V Pg.3
July 1972

After - Thought Authority

Dan S. Shipley

An interesting story with a good point appeared in a recent issue of Nuggets. It told of a Marine recruiting sergeant who happened upon an impressive sight while traveling the back-woods country. At this one road­side farm, he saw targets painted just about everywhere — on the barns, on fences, and on all the out buildings. And exactly in the center of each targets bullseye, there was a bullet hole! Knowing the Marine Corps could use a marksman like that, the sergeant stopped at the farmhouse in hopes of recruiting this sharpshooter. His knock on the door was answered by a gangling, barefoot lad of a not-too-bright appearance who proudly admitted that he had made the targets and bullet holes. The sergeant asked him how he managed to get a perfect bullseye with every shot. He drawled, Aw, that s easy Sarge — I jes shoot first an then Ah paint rings around the bullet hole!

It occurred to me that a lot of people make bullseyes in religion like that too. They shoot first by committing themselves to some religious position or affiliation, then later when necessary, seek to justify their actions by painting on the target—rings with some kind of after-thought authority. Multitudes have made such commitments and in doing so have entrusted their souls to positions which they have pleased God, but in which they have no real understanding or conviction This means that what these people are religiously is attributable to some­thing less than their regard for Bible truth — and they, therefore, are something less than what God would have them to be. In spiritual matters as elsewhere, eternally important commitments are apt to be improperly motivated and rashly made.

But, in religion, as nowhere else, once committed, seldom changed. Why? Because Every way of a man is right in his own eyes. (Prov. 21:2). And perhaps because many had rather be considered right than to be right. And because, though essential, pride makes it difficult to render an objective assessment of what one has done or become. So — out comes the target paint of after-thought authority. Just about any shot of commitment can be transformed into a bullseye using such paint as feelings or sincerity. Other popular shades of target paint are: It-doesnt-make-any-difference what-you-believe"; "the-Bible-doesn't say-not-to" and all-roads-lead-to heaven. No wonder so many view themselves as being "on target" in religion.

But all such efforts ignore the fact that only God has the right to make such a target and that His word (Bible truth) constitutes the mark (bullseye) for which all men are to strive. (Sin is missing His mark) Coming to Jesus Christ and salvation is impossible apart from hearing and learning His will (Jn. 6:44,45) and abiding in Christ means abiding in His teaching (2 Jn. 9). Therefore, all right relationships with the Lord in­volve a right relationship with Bible truth and vice versa (Col. 3: 17: 1 Pet 4:11).

Was it Bible truth that influenced what you are?