Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

The Wilderness Experience

Luke 4:1  Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.


What a Way to Begin!

As the Lord began his public earthly ministry, I notice several things.  One, He was baptized and the whole trinity was involved.  The Lord was there, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Him, and the Father spoke from heaven.  These three were unified in presenting the Lord to the nation of Israel as the Son of God.  John had been saying the Lord was coming.  He was the herald preparing the people for the Lord.  Now the Lord was publicly manifesting Himself to the Jews and ultimately to the world.    At the baptism of the Lord, we find that the Lord was now here.  Some have wondered why the Lord needed to be baptized.  I don’t suppose He NEEDED to be baptized for the same reasons that the people were baptized, but His baptism identified Him with the ministry of John the Baptist.  It identified Him with the nation of Israel.  It also gave witness to the fact that He was the Son of God and was doing the work of God.


Why then did He start his ministry by being sent by the Spirit into the wilderness?  It seems that the Lord not only needed a public declaration of who He was, but as the Son of Man, He needed a time of testing to prepare Him for the ministry ahead of Him.  His testing proved that He was who He claimed to be.  He did not sin and he could not sin.  He was God.  But Satan still tried.


Wilderness experiences are hard.  When we try to serve the Lord and make decisions based on our faith we are always put to the test.  The difference between us and the Lord is that we are like the children of Israel and often fail the test in the wilderness.  The Lord certainly did not.  The Lord never asks us to do what He is not willing to do so He spends a testing time in the wilderness.  And when he is the most vulnerable, Satan tries to get Him to sin.  It didn’t work.


Are we Willing to be Tested in the Wilderness?

After Paul was saved, He spent at least three years by himself in Arabia,  Moses spent forty years on the back side of the desert.  David spent time getting to know the Lord while he kept sheep.  These experiences prepare us to depend on the Lord and not on man when the going gets tough.  And any person who wants to serve the Lord will find that the there are times when they wonder if they made the right decision.  Then when you think about what life could have been, the Lord reminds us of what life will be like in a coming day if we have really served Him.  We will be glad that we didn’t waste our lives on the things that will be burned up one day.


I have always wanted to be a great evangelist.  I don’t suppose that is ever going to be the case.  While others apparently see multitudes come to the Lord, I see multitudes reject the plain simple truth of the Gospel.  I get very little feedback that my ministry has made a difference.  But once in a while, the Lord gives me encouragement.  Recently, my wife and I found out that a man who came to one Bible study last year in our home, has come to know Christ because of that Bible study.  He will be in heaven. My wife befriended a neighbor some time back.  She came to a few Bible studies and called us one night to tell us that she knows that she will be in heaven.  Now that is what makes the wilderness experience worthwhile.  Over the years, there have been a few people tell me that because of my ministry, they heard the Gospel and believed it.  I will meet them in heaven.  That has made all the rejection by the world (and in many cases by those who call themselves Christians) worthwhile. 


I thank God for faithful loyal friends who have encouraged my wife in I in our "down" times.  They have made it possible for us to keep the Gospel free.  They have encouraged us to worship in a simple way according to the New Testament pattern.  They have never told us that the Lord’s instructions in this day of grace simply do not work today. 


But I see a religious world today that wants to serve the Lord without taking up a cross.  They do not want to experience the wilderness.  They have never experienced rejection.  I pity them because I suspect that they have never really found out what it means to do things the Lord’s way instead of the way "that seems right (Proverbs 14:12)."  I sometimes wonder just how many people who call themselves Christians and who think they are doing great things for the Lord are going to find themselves on the outside of a closed door one day saying,  "Lord, Lord, open for us," and He will answer and say to you, "I do not know you, where you are from."  Then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets."  But He will say, "I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity. (Luke 13:25-27)."



Let those of us who know the Lord encourage those who are trying to be faithful. Let us examine our own ministries to see if we are doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way. And then let us remember that the wilderness experience will come but it should make us stronger and not weaker.  And yes, there will be a wilderness experience.  Perhaps there will be more than one. 


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of March 25, 2018

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