Prepare or Perish; I Cannot Be Quiet.

“Come, NOW is the time to worship.”

2021-03-27 House on FireI wish this could be more gently expressed, but like a man seeing the house of a friend on fire, I must SHOUT IT.  There is too little time to say, “Oh, maybe I will disturb him or interrupt his nice supper; I’ll call him later and tell him his house is on fire.”  What kind of friend would I be!?  That said, no one can force you out of a burning house if it is your choice to stay there.  But still, I have to warn that Jesus made it clear, we must Be Ready or we will perish.

We have examined the evidence of evil.  There are people who sell other people into the sex trades or some form of indentured servitude.  Just as bad, there are people who buy and use them.  There are people who will sell drugs to anyone with money to purchase, no matter how badly addicted their victims are; others who will turn a blind eye to crises because it is politically inconvenient or will cost them their job or make them look foolish to others; even more who simply shrug and say, “Well, I am not doing that.  It is not my problem.”  The mass of German citizens seemed shocked when they were paraded into POW camps after WW2 and said, “Oh, my, we didn’t know.”  But their complicity was in not listening to the warning sirens of Jews being “labeled” and marginalized; ignoring the buildup of power into a select few, all in the name of “purifying the race;” making life better for “all of you.”

We have looked at the Scriptures for what Jesus, the apostles, and Old Testament prophets taught about hell and its misery.  Gehenna (translated ‘hell’ or ‘fiery furnace’ or similar analogies) was the garbage dump outside Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, “where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”  This was His picture of hell; a place not intended for human habitation, but where those who cannot serve their purpose wind up; a place of disposal; strangely, a place “chosen” by those who will reside there because they refuse to trust the Creator and Jesus, in [whom] the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily

Evil is evident.  Hell is authentic.  So how can one avoid it?  Jesus spent most of his parables telling about the Kingdom of God and how to get into it.  He gave several stern warnings, though, against being deceived.  In Matthew 24, four times He told His followers to beware.  He then conclude this teaching with a blessing and a severe warning (verses 45-51) .

 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.  But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

He then tells the story of ten women who went out to meet a bridegroom.  In that culture, the groom would come to his bride at an unannounced time after meeting with his friends.  Five were foolish and five were wise.  At the end of the story, this Jesus that everyone thinks would always be so kind and forgiving, excludes the foolish women from the groom’s banquet, and quite harshly!

He then tells a story of a landowner who commits responsibilities to his servants while he is away.  The wise servants invest his loans to them, but a foolish one hides the money so he can give back only what he received.  He gets a tongue lashing that would make Bear Bryant blush, and the land owner orders the worthless servant [to be cast] into the outer darkness . . .  where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

He concludes a trilogy of parables with a story of sheep and goats being separated.  To the “goats on the left” Jesus will tell them, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Note, the eternal fire was never intended for humans.

The fearful thing for most people is that Heaven is not our default destination.  In our natural state, the way we are born, we are already condemned to hell!  John wrote in his Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already!John 3:16-18

That is why Jesus told the Pharisee that he needed to be “born again!”  Being born into this life was NOT enough!  As lovely or successful or rich or powerful or comfortable as one can be, we are all condemned to hell UNLESS we specifically and personally take a step of faith and “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” to be saved.

It would be “nice” if everyone would get into Heaven, but Jesus clearly teaches that many will NOT!  How can I invite you to read the Gospels, the Good News, so that you do not have to go to hell?  What can I do to persuade you that you were created for a better life than this?  Are there any words I can write that will convince you to trust Jesus for eternal life?  What can I show you of how much God, the Father, loves you beyond the fact that Jesus died in your place, in my place?

The promise is completely inclusive: ANYONE can come to Jesus, regardless of past sin, problems, ethnicity, success or failure; NOTHING excludes you!
But the promise is completely exclusive simultaneously: ONLY those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved.

Someday, at the name of Jesus every knee [WILL] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [WILL] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” when He is fully revealed at the end of time.  But there is a special blessing and fellowship of the Holy Spirit and of other Christ-followers for those who bow their knees now, and confess now that Jesus Christ IS Lord.  Do not be deceived. 

Please, dear friends reading this blog, you to whom I have emailed this link, those of you just stopping by for a visit:
Pray to Jesus to be born again and to guide you by His Holy Spirit.
Begin reading the Bible, especially starting in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Find someone near you who knows Jesus and start meeting regularly.

If you do not know of anyone in your hometown or country, email me at capost3k@gmail.com and I will help you find someone out of our international connections.  If you want to Zoom with me, just email me, but I encourage you to find someone locally who speaks your ‘heart language.’  Please, prepare or you will perish.

 

“God, I don’t want to die . . . “

Two men’s deaths were reported last week, one 27-year-old John Chau, who has been on national news with an interesting quote.  The other, Jimbo Hawkins, a 47-year-old acquaintance, only on the local news here in Kentucky.

The death of John Chau almost makes me believe the conceit about “fake news.”  Yahoo News, MSN, CNN, GlobalNews, even Fox News, and all the other popular outlets I read capitalized on the statement in John’s last journal entry, “God, I don’t want to die.”

The presentation of this entry in the way the media hyped it made it sound like an insincere missionary being coerced into going somewhere he did not really wish to go, someone who was unwilling to die for the faith he was trying to spread.  Even the Wall Street Journal called him a “proselytizer” as though this was tantamount to cultural murder and forced conversion.

Like Paul Harvey used to say, let’s get to “the rest of the story.”

In November, 2018, after nearly three years of studying the area and the people groups in India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where North Sentinel is located, John chose to violate Indian law and visit the island.  His heart’s desire was to share the love of God in Jesus Christ with people who had been left alone by the rest of the world; people going to hell without hope (Acts 4:12).  So John prayed and journaled: “Lord, is this island Satan’s last stronghold where none have heard or even had the chance to hear your name?”

Then there was the line taken out of context by the media: “God, I don’t want to die.”  Put in context, it reveals a completely different picture:
“You guys [his family] might think I’m crazy in all this but I think it’s worthwhile to declare Jesus to these people . . . God, I don’t want to die.  Would it be wiser to leave and let someone else to continue?  No, I don’t think so.”
“I think I could be more useful alive . . . but to you, God, I give all the glory of whatever happens,” he wrote, noting that he had asked God to forgive “any of the people on this island who try to kill me, and especially if they succeed.”

This was a young man who knew his Lord and wanted to share His love with everyone, not wanting any to perish without God’s salvation.  Arm-chair critics, even among believers, question the sense of going where he was unwelcomed, violating Indian law, hiring accessories who have now been charged with criminal involvement in his death (over the objections of his family who have forgiven even the tribesmen who killed John).

John Chau.jpg

Laws that prevent us from sharing the Gospel must be weighed against the call of God to do just that.  The Nazi argument in 1935-44 was this: The Bible tells you Christians to obey the law; how do you justify protecting Jews?  We followers of Jesus must remember Acts 4:18-20 when Peter and John were told by the legal authorities to stop preaching in the name of Jesus: “But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ “

Whether John was obeying the Lord in his calling or just playing an adrenaline pumping adventure is between Jesus and John now.  But his intention could not have been clearer.  He wanted to share the Good News of salvation with people who had not heard, perhaps one of the last, if not the very last people group without a Gospel witness.  And he was unafraid of dying for that opportunity.

News of the death of the 47-year-old acquaintance came quite unexpectedly from his mother’s phone call.  Jimbo was walking with a new friend along Winchester Road at 5:30am when the driver of a small truck did not see him in his dark clothing and struck him, rendering him unconscious for the last few hours of his life.

He had lots of problems in his life, but he loved his mother and had prayed with different Christian friends in Quest and First Alliance Churches.  Only God knows the condition of his heart when he left earth, and our hope is that in God’s mercy and grace, he found salvation from God’s judgment (2 Peter 3:9).

I weighed the surprise of these two deaths to those of us who read or heard about them.  Neither was a surprise to The God Who Is Here.  Psalm 139:16 says, Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”  God knew before John ever visited Sentinel Island what was waiting for him there.  God knew before Jimbo ever went walking by the roadside what was going to happen to him.

Why speak of these two very different men in the same blog?  Just to note that death is the common denominator for all mankind.  Whether a missionary engaged in spreading the Gospel or just a hiker along a road, whether unformed in the womb or ninety-five years old, whether rich or poor, we will all “go the way of all flesh.”

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)  So get ready and stay ready.