Summary: The Christian life is to be a life of mercy. We are to have compassion on people who are lost, and in mercy share the light that leads out of darkness into life. We are to have compassion concerning every human need.

In 1867 a bearded Norwegian named Lars Skrefsrud, and a

Danish colleague found two and a half million people called the

Santals living in a region north of Calcutta, India. He quickly

learned their language and began to proclaim the Gospel. To his

utter amazement the Santals were expecting just such a message,

and they were excited and enthused about it. One of the leaders

said, "This means Thakur Jiw has not forgotten us after all this

time. Thakur means genuine and Jiw means god. The Genuine

God has not forgotten us.

Lars was dumbfounded, for he expected to tell these pagans

about a God they never heard of, and instead, he finds they have

heard of the one supreme God. He asked them how they knew,

and one of the elders told him of their oral tradition. "Long, long

ago thakur Jiw, the Genuine God created the first man and

woman. They were tempted and fall, and knew that they were

naked and were ashamed. They had 7 sons and 7 daughters, and

founded 7 clans. But the people became corrupted and so God hid

a holy pair in a cave and destroyed the rest of mankind with a

flood. The pair that was saved multiplied and God divided them

into many different peoples.

"The Santal people once obeyed Thakur Jiw, but as they made

their way through the Khyber Pass they became discouraged with

the hardships of the mountains, and they began to pray to the

spirits of the mountains, and then to the spirit of the sun. They

just drifted away from Thakur Jiw. They still recognized him as

the one supreme God, but they developed their religion around

lesser gods."

The missionary could not believe his ears. Here was a people

who had the same experience as the Jews. They had the truth of

the supreme God in their tradition, but went after other gods, and

their religion became corrupted. When the Gospel was

proclaimed they recognized it was their supreme God showing

mercy on them, even though they had forsaken Him. If this was

only an isolated case we could put it into the category of the freak

accidents and coincidences of history, but it is not isolated. Don

Richardson, author of Peace Child, in his book Eternity In Their

Hearts reveals how the belief in one true God is a part of the

tradition in hundreds of cultures throughout the world.

This one true God has many names, but he is always the

Creator and Sustainer of all, and supreme over all. The

missionaries who confront these people have to make a decision as

to whether the name of their God is the name of the God of the

Bible, or not. In many cases they have concluded that it is, and the

result is God has a great many names.

It all started with Abraham and Melchizedek in Gen. 14.

Abraham had just come back from a victory over some kings and

Melchizedek, the king of Salem, brought out bread and wine and

blest him. He was the priest of the Most High God, and he said to

Abraham, "Blessed be Abraham by God Most High, Creator of

heaven and earth." This God was El Elyon. This was a Canaanite

name, and Abraham was being blest in his name. Abraham did

not say, "Hold on there, my God is Jehovah, and not El Elyon."

He not only did not say that, but he gave this high priest of ElElyon

a tenth of all he had. Heb. 7 makes much of this and shows

Jesus Christ to be a priest forever after the order of melchizedek.

El Elyon became associated with the God of the Bible and God

was named in the Bible as Elohim, and El Shaddai.

This same thing happened in the New Testament world. Zeus

was the king of the gods, but he was so corrupt that he could not

represent the one supreme God. But the Greek writers, like Plato

and Aristotle, used another name for the supreme God which was

not contaminated. They used Theos, and this became the name

the translators of the Old Testament into Greek used for God,

and this is the name Paul used in his New Testament letters for

God. The pagan peoples of the Gentile world had names for the

supreme God that were kept pure enough to become the names of

the God of the Bible.

So getting back to Lars and the Santal people-he decided if

Abraham and Paul could do it, so could he, and so he accepted

Thakur Jiw as the name of Jehovah. He said it felt strange at first

to be proclaiming Jesus Christ as the son of Thakur Jiw, but after

a couple of weeks he felt comfortable. The response was

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