A generation back, there was a famous Hollywood actor named Spencer Tracy who starred in such notable films as Captains Courageous (1937), Father of the Bride (1950), and The Old Man and the Sea (1958). Most people in that day thought he was the best actor they had ever seen. His performances seemed flawless and looked completely effortless. When people would ask him what his secret was, Spencer would just shrug and say, “Learn your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.” In other words, Mr. Tracy just tried to keep things simple and work on the fundamentals.
Working on the fundamentals will bring success not only in the imaginary world of filmmaking but also in the real world of everyday existence. There are certain lines of truth that must be learned and relearned if you and I are to make a success of our lives. There are foundational and fundamental realities that must be very real to us. The psalmist David said, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). When foundations are destroyed, buildings collapse, and when certain truths are ignored, disaster strikes in human hearts and human history. Working on the fundamentals of biblical truth must therefore become second nature to us if we are to survive a world that is constantly changing its mind and its morals. In our postmodern culture, there is no true truth that acts as an anchor, and that is why our country, and its citizens are adrift without a coherent and consistent philosophy of life. Modern man is not sure of himself or anything anymore, for he has his feet firmly planted in mid-air.
The Christian, however, has truth to live and die by, truth that acts as a solid rock foundation upon which they may build their lives safely and securely (Matt. 7:24–29). Since you and I need to work on the fundamentals, let me share with you some cornerstone truths that my friend John MacArthur shared with the students at the Master’s College 2009 graduation ceremony, where he was the keynote speaker. One, God is creator; therefore, life is not random. Two, the Bible is the sufficient and inerrant word of God; therefore, truth is not relative. Three, sin is the source of all our problems; therefore, man is not good. Four, Jesus is the only Savior of sinners; therefore, the gospel is not optional. Five, everyone lives forever; therefore, death is not final.
Spencer Tracy put his success down to keeping the plain things the main things! In the light of these five fundamental realities shared by John MacArthur, may we make it our purpose to live to the glory of God—looking to the Bible for wisdom, trusting not ourselves but the Lord Jesus Christ, all the while remembering that what we do today will count a million years from now!
Don’t forget to learn your lines!