This Bible study letter began as a conversation on Market Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1985. I was walking along the street, deep in thought, when I was interrupted by two fine young men who thrust a gospel tract in front of me and asked me if I was a New Testament Christian. They looked at me, enthusiastically awaiting an answer. I gave no answer.
I took their tract and glanced through it. It contained what some characterize as The Roman Road To Salvation. In this witnessing approach, the first verse shown to the sinner, the presumed "unsaved," is Romans 3:10 and one young man read it to me:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one..."
Wait, I protested, you have not completed the Biblical thought. His partner quickly pointed me to the second verse along the Roman Road, Romans 3:23, and he read:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Again, I protested, you have picked one section out of a whole thought that runs from verse 20 to verse 26. It seemed to never occur to either young man that if I could make those statements I must have already been over those Scriptures a hundred times before.
The first young man then had the next verse of the Roman Road ready. Neither seemed interested in answering my objection to taking verses out of their context. He jumped all the way over to Romans 5:12 and began to read soberly so that "this unsaved sinner" might finally understand:
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned..."
"What in the world does that mean?" I asked. I pointed to his Bible text and again complained that he was just picking verses and skipping around to make a point. He asked me to please wait until he had finished his street ministry. Then he would answer any questions I had as to my personal salvation. I did not bother to inform them that I had been writing Christian materials since before they were born. The next mile post along the Roman Road is Romans 6:23, and it was read to me:
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Wait," he told me, "this thought continues back here in Romans 5:8,"
"But God commended his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"Now," he asked, "are you ready to confess your sins and become, through Christ"s Grace, a New Testament Christian?"
I told them very seriously that I was not so sure that I did. I asked them to explain to me what the New Testament was, so I would understand what brand of Christianity he was proposing to me. Before he could gather his thoughts, I asked one of the young men to take a picture of me talking to his partner. After the picture was taken, we began a discussion that lasted three hours.
When I finally had to leave, they asked me to send them a letter with all the advanced Bible teaching that I had given them. That letter became the mustard seed from which Star Wars has grown over the past seven years. I hope it is as thrilling to you as it was to my young Tennessee Temple Bible College students and the thousands of our readers who have studied our previous editions ever since. ¦