I got lost recently. With a couple of friends, I was hiking Tasmania’s epic South Coast Track. Most of this 84 km (52 miles) trail is really easy to follow. But there was a certain point at which we lost the trail. It just disappeared. We continued on in the general direction, but before long we were bush-bashing. We did that for about 20 minutes. Then we stopped and had to admit that we were getting ourselves deeper into trouble.
It was time to break out the map and compass. Looking at the map, we knew where we’d started and we knew where we were going. There was a general direction of travel. Using the compass, we could follow that heading. So that’s what we did. As it turns out, though we didn’t plan it that way, our heading was offset enough to intersect with a place where we could pick up the trail again. Thankfully, we were only off the trail for about 45 minutes.
When you get lost like that, it’s like a navigational puzzle. There are certain key ingredients which help you solve the puzzle. The starting point is one of them. If you don’t where you started from, you might not be able to establish a general direction of travel to your destination. I know, I know, if you have a GPS that changes everything. And if you’re able to shoot headings on landmarks you can also triangulate your position. But if you’re in thick bush just on map and compass, as we were that day, you need some fixed starting point from which to plot your direction of travel.
When you walk, you have a lot of time to think and as we carried on with the South Coast Track, I thought about our experience of having been briefly lost. It reminded me of how important it is to have a good starting point when you or someone else is lost. That’s true of physically being lost, but it’s equally true of being spiritually lost. Having a good fixed starting point makes all the difference.
In fact, in spiritual terms it’s essential. To point the spiritually lost in the right direction, we want ultimately to point them to Christ. That’s the “destination,” if you will. Any other endpoint besides Christ means certain death. The only way to be pointed in the direction of life in Christ is by having the right starting point.
That point must be God’s written revelation in Scripture. It’s a fixed point – it never moves. When you do life’s journey taking the Bible as your starting point, you’re provided with a 100% reliable direction of travel.
This has implications for how we share and promote the gospel with unbelievers. They’re lost and they need a reliable starting point to get unlost. The only reliable starting point is in what God has said in his Word. No, I’m not saying that evangelism and apologetics ought to be a stream of Bible verses. What I’m saying is that we ought to present biblical truth. We have to speak biblical truth about humanity, about God, about sin and its irrationality, about salvation in Christ, and much else besides.
Psalm 119:89 says, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” God’s Word, like God himself, is immutable. It doesn’t move all over the place or change from day to day. God’s Word is also uniquely trustworthy: “Every word of God proves true…” (Prov. 30:8a). Therefore, it’s the only reliable starting point, not only for our lives in general, but also when we seek to help people we love get unlost.