The Williamson Chronicles. . .
A Falling Away
"Eric! It's good to see you." The two cousins hugged each other. "How long has it been? Years?"
"Quite a few."
"You look great. Did you have a good flight?"
"Yeah. It was good."
"How's Helen and the kids?"
"Fine. Everyone's fine."
"Excellent." The airport was packed. The two started through a fluid maze of suits toward the baggage claim.
"What do you think? Ever see so many suits in one place?"
"At a preacher's conference. . . maybe." Reverend Eric Williamson wasn't used to large crowds, coming from North Dakota. Seeing that dense concentration of humanity around him made him wonder how many true Bible believing churches there were in Washington D.C. Even the powerful need the gospel, he thought.
They finally arrived as the bags were beginning to emerge.
"How many bags do you have?"
"You always travel light, always have. In fact, I remember in college, you. . . ."
"Excuse me, Mark, hold that thought, I think I see mine coming now." Williamson squeezed himself up to the baggage carousal. Mark stayed back, smiling, shaking his head. Still the same Eric, he thought.
Hasn't changed a bit.
The ride to the hotel was exciting. Mark had told the driver to take the scenic route, and they were now making their way through the heart of the nation's Capitol.
"Quite a town, huh, Eric? There's nothing like her."
"Mark. . . How are you doing? You haven't said a thing about Uncle Matthew."
"Look. . . .Eric. . . Pop was all right, he had it settled. I know he's in Heaven. So why get bent out of shape over it?"
"Well if you wanna talk about it sometime. . . ."
"Look, I said it's okay. Let's just enjoy your visit. Before you know it, it'll be over."
Williamson resumed his gaze out the window. He recognized the glass walls that enclosed the Smithsonian. "By the way, any idea why he wanted me at the reading of his will?"
"That's a silly question! You're family, remember?"
"I was never really that close to him. Dad never. . ."
Mark leaned forward to tap the driver. "Pull over. . .right here!"
The cab driver smiled, glancing at Williamson through his mirror. "Happens every time, Mister. People go crazy over that Capitol building."
"Wait for us here," Mark said. "I want to show my cousin where I work."
The two walked in. Ahead of them a guard was inspecting someone's backpack.
"Tourist," Mark said. "Everyday, hundreds of sightseers come to this place. Many of them are high school students, that's why you see so many yellow buses."
"Hi, Chaplain." The guard waved at Mark. "Taking in the tour yourself?"
"I'm showing my cousin around," Mark said.
The two passed right on in.
Something isn't right, Eric thought, as he looked around Mark's spacious office.
"I know what you're thinking," Mark said, almost defensively. "You think it's not spiritual for a chaplain to have a place like this."
"It's not my call." Williamson kept looking around.
"Now wait, who are you to say God's gonna judge me?"
Williamson was surprised by his remark. "That's not what I meant."
The two locked eyes. . . until a knock on the door broke the tension.
"Come on in," Mark said.
"I'm sorry sir, I didn't know it was you. You had said you wouldn't be in today and . . ."
"No need to apologize. I briefly stopped in to show my cousin the office. Eric, this is my secretary, and I think we should be getting you to the hotel. Let's go."
The following morning, Williamson made his way back to the Capitol building and attended the House chamber. Mark had arranged for him to catch the day's opening prayer. The rest of the morning was spent sightseeing. By 12:10, Williamson arrived at the restaurant where he was meeting his cousin for lunch. It was packed. As he tried to spot Mark, a hand darted up from the crowd. He made his way toward it.
"Sorry I'm late."
"No problem, Eric. I want you to meet Congressman Lukester."
Eric shook hands and sat down. Mark signaled for a waitress.
"So, your cousin tells me you're from North Dakota."
"Yes. That's right."
"How long are you planning on staying?"
"Until tomorrow. . . I'm catching a late flight out."
"Eric came for the reading of Pop's will," Mark interjected.
"You must have been close then," the Congressman said.
"Well, actually. . . ."
"Eric! What are you having?" The waitress had arrived.
"I'll have that special I noticed on the way in."
"I'll have the same."
"Make that three, Miss," Mark said, as he turned toward his cousin.
"Eric, Congressman Lukester is one of many, in Congress, fighting for this country's survival."
"Yes," Lukester added. "As a Christian, the day I set foot in Washington was the day I started doing my best to steer this country back toward God. At first it was a tough battle, sometimes a lonely one. But as you know, in 1994, the dominant party changed, and with it came a renewed hope."
"That's right, Eric. Most of those elected in 94 are Christians just like us. Don't you see the potential here? Finally, we can do something meaningful for God!"
"Perhaps I can put it in a better perspective," the Congressman said. "By passing the right series of bills, we can turn this country around faster than a million churches could ever hope to do."
The waitress finally arrived with their meals.
"But Congressman," Williamson said. "How do you plan on legislating peace into a man's heart?"
"I don't think I quite follow you. . ."
"Eric!. . .Don't start."
"Or, for that matter, Joy, temperance, and goodness? Can your bills instill that?"
"Reverend Williamson, I find your statement a little preposterous. Unless you're joking of course."
"You're right, it is preposterous. In fact, to instill the list I just mentioned, the Bible says ...there is no law. (Gal. 5:23) That means you can't legislate any of those things. They have to originate from within, as a result of having a personal relationship with Christ. That's something that comes from churches preaching the gospel and getting people saved, not from the government."
"All right, Eric, you've done your preaching for today. . ."
"No, wait. I'd like to hear more. . . ."
"But Congressman, he's obviously forgotten that the country's in the midst of a revival."
"No, Mark," Williamson said. "This may be a political revolution, or even a conservative movement, but it's not a spiritual revival." Williamson turned to Lukester. "Sir, study through the Book of Acts. There you'll find the greatest revival of them all. Then tell me if you see the early disciples striving for a political revolution. You won't find it. And the reason is because Christ told them to, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15) That command hasn't changed, in spite of how much society has. Men still have souls, and there is still a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun and. . ."
"I'm sorry, Congressman," Mark interrupted. "I really must apologize for Eric. He's from the old school.
He still believes that your friendly neighborhood local church is the only instrument God will use. He's just not up to speed yet."
Mark dominated the rest of the conversation, keeping it away from religion. . .
When lunch was over, the men shook hands and departed. Mark quietly festered as Eric and he walked toward the Capitol building.
"Thanks a lot cousin! You ruined a perfectly good lunch, not to mention embarrassing me."
"I'm sorry. . . . although the Congressmen didn't seem upset. In fact, he was even interested in . . ."
"Look!" Mark stopped. "Don't try to weasel out of this one."
"I'm not. . .what's happened to you anyway?"
"Don't try to change the subject either." Mark started walking again.
"Hey!. . . WAIT!" Williamson grabbed Mark's arm from behind and swung him around. "Every time I get personal you get upset. Why?"
"For the rest of your visit here, stay out of my way."
"Mark, there was a time when you agreed with everything I told Lukester. But now. . .you're different.
When did you start compromising? Was it when you became House Chaplain?"
Mark broke Williamson's grasp and walked away. Williamson just stood there. It was no use following him.
That night, in his hotel room, while in prayer, Williamson asked God for forgiveness. I was too rough, he thought. I should have practiced 2 Tim. 2:24 and not started a fight. Familiarity can breed contempt even among the saved. Moments later, getting up from his knees, he reached for the phone to apologize to Mark, but someone knocked on his door.
"I'm sorry, Reverend. I hope I haven't caught you at a bad time."
"No, no, come on in."
"Thank you. I realize this is awkward; showing up at this time of the night. So I'll try to be as brief as possible."
"Take your time." Williamson motioned toward the only chair in the room. "Please sit down."
"Thank you. There was something you said at the restaurant today that struck me."
"What's that?" Williamson said, while he sat on the edge of the bed.
"Well, I took up your challenge. I opened my Bible, and. . . well. . . . I must confess, I wasn't sure where to start in validating your argument."
"This is important to you?" Williamson said.
"Yes!. . .Of course. . .I would not be here otherwise."
Williamson reached for his Bible.
"Congressmen, many today are claiming that we are in the midst of a revival. But that goes contrary to what the Bible teaches. The Apostle Paul warned: This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Tim. 3:1) Things will get worse, not better, right before the return of Christ.
The Bible also says: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [Christ's return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first (2 Thess. 2:3). That falling away refers to more and more people rejecting Christianity, not embracing it."
"But, Reverend, how do you explain what's happening around us? Surely during the last few years we've seen a resurgent movement back toward God."
"But are all these people truly getting saved?" Williamson said.
"I'm sure most of them must be."
"Yet Jesus said: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat. 7:13-14) Sadly, most people will not get saved and go to Heaven."
"But isn't Jesus referring to those who hate God? What about God fearing, God believing people?
Surely most of those are saved," Lukester said.
Williamson turned the page. "Sir I want you to read the following future event, described by Christ, then tell me who you think He's referring to."
The Congressmen took the Bible and began to read: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;" . . .Surprised, he looked up at Williamson for a moment, then continued, . . . "but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Mat. 7:21-23) With raised eyebrows he whispered, "How sad. . . . .how very sad."
"Yes it is, Congressmen. It's one of the saddest events in the Bible."
"But they sounded like they were saved. Where did they go wrong? Doesn't the Bible say that all it takes is to believe in Christ?"
"The Bible says it takes, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21) To repent means to change your mind, forsake sin, and submit to God in complete obedience to His will. Your belief must be coupled with a repentant attitude. After all, how can you believe that He is the only one who can save you when you're not even willing to submit to Him as Lord. You can't have your cake and eat it too. God is not simply going to save someone who will still insist on going their own way and rebelling against Him. Jesus said except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)"
"And you're saying these people we read about did not repent?" The Congressman replied.
"Apparently not. Jesus, referring to them, said: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21) In God's eyes, they were rebellious all along. They were not doing what God told them to do. Instead, they did what they assumed He wanted them to do. They took matters into their own hands."
"But look at the things they did. Surely it was part of God's will."
"Was it? Then why did Christ tell them: I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity'?"
The Congressman leaned back, looking perplexed. "But Reverend, then how does one know exactly what God wants them to do?"
Williamson held up his Bible. "By seeking His will through His Word. That's the only place you will find it."
"So you're saying that we are not experiencing a revival and most people today, claiming to be Christians, are not really saved because they have not repented?"
Lukester shook his head. "I'm sorry, Reverend, I can't fully accept that."
Williamson closed his Bible and handed it to Lukester. "Then show me where God commands Christians to bring back a nation to Himself through legislation and government intervention."
The Congressman slowly grasped the Bible with both hands, placed it on his lap and stared at it.
Williamson waited for him to open it, but instead he squeezed it and said "I can't. . . .I can't do it." He looked up. . . . . ."I wouldn't even know where to start."
"Then you're like one of those people described in Matt. 7:21. You're assuming what God wants you to do. You're taking matters into your own hands and not doing what He tells you to do."
The Congressman bowed his head. Williamson gave him a few silent moments then gently took the Bible from him.
"Sir. . . I want you to hear how God wants it done. He says: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways [REPENT]; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chr. 7:14) Is this the way you've been going about turning this country around?"
"You know the answer . . . no," Lukester said, his head still bowed. After a few long moments, he finally stood up and sighed. "Reverend, I want to thank you. You've given me a lot to think about. I will strongly consider what God says and examine my own profession at the same time."
The two shook hands and as Lukester made his way to the door he turned toward Williamson.
"Something's not right. I'd hate to miss Heaven because of it."
"I'll send you some material. And when you get it right, give me a call," Williamson said.
"Oh, don't worry Reverend. You'll be the third one to know. . ."
By 11:00 A.M. the following day, Williamson was all packed and ready to check-out of his hotel room. By two o'clock he'd be sitting in the attorney's office with other family members. They would just be coming in for the reading. Between now and then, Williamson thought he'd take in one more sight, eat, and show up early to spend some time with those members he had not seen in years. On the way out the door, the phone rang.
"Eric! We need to talk-before Pop's reading."
"Sure. . ."
"Be at the attorney's office by 12:30. He'll lend us a private room. This is important."
"I'll be there."
Mark hung up. Williamson slowly placed the headset in its cradle. He had that something is wrong feeling again. . .
At 12:32, the two men sat down together. . .
"Look, Eric, I'll get right to the point." Mark reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an addressed envelope. Williamson recognized the hand writing; it was his own.
"I found this among Pop's things. It's from you. It's a letter along with a gospel tract."
"Did you enjoy the tract?" Williamson said.
Mark slapped the table with his open hand. "DON'T TRY TO BE FUNNY! I don't appreciate you sending Pop this stuff."
"Why not? He had a soul didn't he?"
"HE WAS ALREADY SAVED." Mark jumped off his chair, clutching the letter in his hand. He got uncomfortably close to Williamson's face and waved it. "HE DIDN'T NEED THIS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
"Mark, you don't have to yell. I'm only two inches away from you."
Williamson's calm demeanor only made matters worse. Mark flung the letter to the floor, a volcano was erupting. Obscenities began flying out of his mouth. Both fists were shaking in the air. Williamson just sat there, watching, silently praying for what to say once sanity returned to the room.
"HE WAS DYING," continued Mark. "The last thing he needed was to lie there worrying about whether he was saved or not."
"You mean he didn't know for sure?" Williamson said.
Mark paused, and took two steps back. "Of course he knew. . . he knew. . . why wouldn't he?"
"If he was saved, why are you so upset in the first place?"
"Look! Don't try that pastor's psychology junk on me," Mark said, pointing his finger.
"The Bible says "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." (Psa. 119:165) If a person is saved and secure in where they stand with God, then nothing will offend them. Especially when someone else tries to tell them about Christ."
"OH!. . . I suppose you're going to question whether I'm saved?"
"Of course I am, you idiot, I'm the House Chaplain, remember?"
"So what? Judas wasn't saved, and he was an Apostle," Williamson said.
Mark was stunned, blind-sided. Williamson stood up, like a savvy attorney spotting a weakness.
"Mark, let's examine your claim to being a man of God. The Apostle Paul, while giving advice to his preacher boy, Timothy, said: No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2 Tim. 2:4) That means that a true minister, a soldier of Christ, is not supposed to entangle himself in the affairs of this earthly life and try to fix the world's problems."
"But that's what Jesus wants us to do!" Mark shot back.
"NO, He does not. Read your Bible. Jesus said: For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10), and a minister's job is to follow in Christ's footsteps. He's to concentrate his efforts in seeking to save the lost and train others to do the same by feeding them God's word. That's why Paul told the pastors at Ephesus to, Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.' (Acts 20:28) I'm sorry, but the crowd you're running around with is not concentrating on feeding the saved. For that matter, they're not even trying to get people saved in the first place. People like Jesse Jackson and Pat Robertson are, instead, entangling themselves in the affairs of this world."
"But they started off as ministers until God called them to do what they're doing now." Mark said.
Williamson raised an eyebrow. "Mark, listen to yourself. That's NOT how God operates. Jesus told Peter, Feed my sheep (John 21:17), not: go change the world! If these so called ministers were truly called of God, they would be home with a congregation feeding them the Word of God. Besides, true ministers of God wouldn't be able to work within the world's system anyway. Jesus told His disciples: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. (Luke 6:22) Does that sound like the kind of treatment most evangelical leaders normally receive?"
"OH!. . .so as Christians, we're supposed to be hated and persecuted by most? . . . You're crazy!"
"What's so strange about that? Jesus was persecuted, and He said: Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; (John 15:20). You see, persecution is the norm in a Christian's life. So much so that the Bible says: Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. (1 John 3:13) After all, why should you escape persecution, when Jesus, the one you supposedly represent, did not?"
"Well, you stupid fundamentalists may enjoy being hated, but not me. I don't want shots taken at me.
Life's much easier when you're the world's friend," Mark said.
"Then you're definitely not right with God, because the Bible says: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)"
The verse pierced Mark. Williamson expected another eruption any moment. To his surprise, however,
Mark turned and headed for the door. Before exiting, he faced Williamson and said: "After today's reading,
I never want to see you again." Williamson, left alone in the room, was reminded of 1 John 2:9: "He that
saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now."
By 2:00 everyone was sitting down, waiting for the attorney. Williamson had spent some time greeting
his aunt Martha, the deceased's wife, and her two other sons. Uncle Matthew's brothers and sisters were
also there. Mark was no where in sight. After three minutes, the attorney walked in. And moments later,
Williamson heard the door open behind him. He assumed it was Mark.
A half hour later, they were down to the last recipient and Williamson's name had yet to come up. He
began to wonder if his invitation was somehow a mistake. Leave it to the Lord, he thought, to create a
mistaken situation so I could witness to a Congressman. The attorney finished and turned to Williamson.
"Reverend Williamson, by now you're probably wondering why you are here."
Williamson nodded as the attorney produced an envelope.
"Your uncle Matthew added this amendment the night he died. It's directed at you, but he wanted
everyone else here to hear it also. I shall read it."
Thank you for coming. I realize your church duties must keep you very busy, but I'm sure that what
you are about to hear will make your trip worthwhile. My immediate family, whom I dearly love, never
thought twice about my use of the term Lord, since I have always professed to be a Christian. However,
you, Eric, knew differently, and have for a long time. For, unbeknown to them, you have been sending me
letters preaching the Gospel. Well my dear nephew, God has blessed your efforts for I am hereby
announcing, in the presence of my family, that I, Matthew Williamson the second, have repented of my
sinful self-righteousness and have placed all my trust in Jesus Christ as my one and only Saviour.
I realize my statement may be raising a few eyebrows right about now. But I wish I had the time to
tell all of you what a difference being truly saved makes. For one thing, I no longer fear death and look
forward to its arrival, which I sense will be soon upon me. . .
The attorney stopped momentary. "Your uncle died two hours after writing this. I shall continue."
. . . Therefore, if I don't have an opportunity to speak to each of you, I have instructed my attorney
to make copies of the material Eric had sent and have them distributed among you. Please, I ask that
you read it all and consider where you stand before God. For the Bible exhorts you in 2 Cor. 13:5 to:
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves,
how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
And so, Eric, I reserve my deepest thanks until we meet again in Heaven. And I ask that you continue
to use the same wisdom and tenacity toward my family that you demonstrated toward me. Particularly
toward my son Mark, who as of this day, I am afraid I will never see again - Ever.
Williamson heard the door open and close. Without looking back, he knew Mark had left the room. . .
It was 4:15 and the airport had the same suit-filled buzz it had when Williamson had first arrived two
days earlier. His lone bag was checked in as he verified his flight departure time.
"Looks like it's on time, Aunt Martha."
"I wish you could stay longer, Eric."
"Me too. But I miss Helen and the kids. Plus, I've got a church I need to get back to. Maybe I can come
again some day."
"Yes, please do," Martha said. "And bring Helen with you, I haven't seen her in years."
"That would be good for her," Williamson said, as the two walked toward his departure gate.
"By the way, thanks for the ride."
"Oh. Think nothing of it But I'm surprised Mark bowed out at the last minute. There isn't anything
going on between you two, is there?"
"Mark has some thinking to do."
"Does it have something to do with Matt's letter?"
"Most likely," Williamson said, as they arrived at the gate. He stopped and gave his aunt a concerned
look. "How about you? Are you going to be alright?"
Martha shrugged, trying to hold back a tear. "I'll be fine. That letter somehow comforted me. Although,
. . .I don't really understand what happened... I thought he was saved all along. I mean... he was always
involved in organizations like the Christian Coalition and. . ."
"All I can say is read the material Uncle Matthew left you. I'll call you in a week or so in case you have
Williamson's flight was beginning to board. He gave his aunt a hug and headed toward the tunnel.
"Eric!" His aunt shouted. "Anything you want me to tell Mark?"
Williamson stopped for a moment, then ran back. "Give him this." Reaching into his coat pocket, he
pulled out a folded piece of paper. "It's written by a friend of mine, a very close friend. I carry it around
as a reminder."
"But. . .if it's. . ."
"Don't worry," Williamson said. "I'll get another copy. Goodbye."
Williamson waved as he ran, making it into the tunnel as the door closed. As the plane taxied away,
Martha looked at the paper. She opened it. It was a poem:
There was a ship sinking, due to a large hole.
With three groups of people, each playing a role.
The first group had felt no reason to worry.
They thought they had time, and no need to hurry.
The next group was trying with all of their might,
to patch up the hole and make the ship right.
The last group was wiser and worked very,
at getting the people within the life raft.
Consider my friend, which group are you in,
as you pass through this world that's sinking in sin.
Are you totally blind and don't seem to worry,
that maybe one day you'll die in a hurry?
Or do you profess, yet use all your might,
to hopelessly try to make this world right?
Or are you the saved, who works very fast,
at showing them Jesus, the sinner's life raft?
GOD'S PLAN FOR SALVATION
(The Bible Way to Heaven)
If you died today, are you 100% sure you would go to Heaven? . . . The Bible says you can be!
"These things have I written...that ye may know that ye have eternal life," I JOHN 5:13
Consider life's greatest question:
"What must I do to get to Heaven?"
A. You must understand where you stand with God.1. Your sins separate you from God.
"your iniquities have separated between you and your God," ISAIAH 59:2
2. That includes everyone.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" ROMANS 3:23
* Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago to pay for your sins.
B. You must understand Heaven cannot be earned.1. Not by doing enough good things.
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us..." TITUS 3:5.
2. Not by being baptized, joining a church, or obeying the Ten Commandments.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." EPHESIANS 2:8-9
C. You must be willing to change your direction from sin.1. Sin will take you to Hell.
"the wages of sin is death;" ROMANS 6:23
2. Faith in yourself, your baptism, or your church will cause you to miss Heaven.
ROMANS 3:24-25; JOHN 1:12-13; JOHN 3:3
3. You must be willing to repent of your sins.
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..." ACTS 3:19
"The Lord is...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." II PETER 3:9
* Repentance means to change your mind or attitude about sin.
D. You must believe in Jesus Christ with all your heart.1. You must receive Jesus Christ by faith as your personal Saviour.
"being justified by faith," ROMANS 5:1
* Eternal life was paid for by the shed blood of Christ. Accept it as a free gift.
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." ROMANS 10:13
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