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.

 

Be Ready for . . .

The one question extremely few would have answered correctly in June, 2015:  Where do you see yourself in five years?  A typical question asked by head-hunters or human resources’ interviewers, most would not have anticipated working from home, taking turns watching children who could not attend school, looking for work since so many jobs folded up for the duration of the pandemic, and changing routes to avoid rioting crowds in some cities.

Nine months into 2020, most of us would agree that this year has not gone according to our expectations.  From a virus by multiple names from Wuhan to Covid-19, churches that cannot meet or even sing, riots and graffiti disparaging police, a run-up to an election that no one expects to solve anything — to wildfires and locust swarms, hurricanes and extreme deadly heat, the majority of the year has felt like a slow-motion lunge off a ladder face-first onto concrete..

Loneliness settled into some of the most disparaging situations as nursing home residents met the Spectre without even a loved one with whom to hold hands as Death ushered them into an even bigger unknown.  Civil unrest erupted into violent lawlessness as BLM appropriated the protests over George Floyd’s death to foment destruction and mayhem, calling for the reorganizing of police the way Hitler did before consolidating his power in the Third Reich.

Some are speculating on whether the pandemic is judgement foretold in Revelation, one of the Four Horseman, perhaps.  It has been said that while history does not actually repeat itself, it does rhyme.  Such is the case with the current crises through which we are living.  A careful reading of the end-time events described in John’s Apocalypse (aka Revelation) will suggest that “these are just the beginnings of birth pains.”  There are more to come. 

The Gold MineDr. James Christie describes some of the events of the end of time with a wisdom born of one thoroughly steeped in Scripture and balanced in his understanding of how to disclose a complex piece of literature.   I have referenced his work, The Gold Mine, before (), and now it just seems to become more relevant as the months crawl by.  I encourage you to download it and read it as soon as possible!

So if we are facing a wrap up of this age, how much worse will things get before they finally get better?  Well, things have been much worse at other times in history:

  • the Crusades lasted almost 400 years from 1060 to 1430 killing hundreds of thousands in the name of God (on both sides of the Christian/Islamic divide).
  • the Bubonic plague of the middle 1300s killed 40% of Egypt, 30% of the Middle East, and about half of the 100,000 people in Paris. The worst hit area was Mediterranean Europe, including Italy, Spain, and southern France.  There, about 75% to 80% of the total populations died. 
  • sometimes called the War to End All Wars, or The Great War, WW1 resulted in 15,000,000 civilian and military deaths and precipitated the Spanish Flu which took another 40,000,000 lives around the world.
  • Hitler’s regime murdered 6,000,000 Jews and hundreds of thousands of others in the POW camps, while 60,000,000 soldiers and civilians died on both sides of the avoidable conflict we know as WWII.
  • Stalin forced starvation on an estimated 4,000,000 to 10,000,000 Ukrainians when food was scarce in the Soviet Union, but his campaign of Holodomor was entirely a political construct.
  • the Chinese famine of ’58-’62 killed an estimated 45,000,000 people.
  • in ’75-’79 the Kmer Rouge murdered between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000, sometimes simply because they wore glasses and were therefore suspected of being intellectuals who would oppose Pol Pot’s programs.

And this minuscule list only touches on the “big” man-made events of a few centuries and overlooks the natural disasters and calamities that have fallen on mankind for millennia;  think Yellow River flood, Hurricane Katrina, Indonesian tsunami, California wildfires! 

And even these do not account for the tremendous damage and suffering caused by Khans, emperors and despots, nor for harm caused by weapons of mass destruction and murder by chemical warfare.  Nor does this list take into measure the economic and personal devastation of events such as the Crash of ’29 or the ethnic “cleansing” by almost every group who enjoyed a short season as the “preferred demographic.”

2020-09-12 The Four HorsemenYet the end times are described by Jesus as being something of a magnitude more!  “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.”  (Matthew 24:21-22)

For the follower of Jesus, that is those who are His disciples, and not just “bench warmers” who attend church or have a statue at home, this would be a good time to refocus on how Father can take our struggles and turn them into triumph for His glory.  This triumph may seem drowned out by the loud roar of life’s chaos but God’s sovereignty is never at stake, even if it feels like our plans are falling apart.  In fact, it is often in the middle of the worst darkness that His goodness and grace can shine the brightest through us.

There are dark days ahead for the world, but the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9)  So these are days that call for faith that Father knows what He is accomplishing as the timeclock for this age winds down.  It is the opportunity to let our lights shine!

A friend told of some monks who were captured in WWII and put into a concentration camp.  Their reaction was that of Christ’s followers: they simply proceeded to serve the new community they were among.  And so it may be for some of us.  We must be prepared to lose our lives for Jesus’ and righteousness’ sake, or we are clinging too tightly to something we will lose anyway!  As Jim Elliott penned before giving his life to reach the Waorani Indians in Ecuador, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”  

We may not be called to reach hostile Indian tribes or remote island people like John Chau, but we may be called to reach out to our neighbors in love.   Who is to say that the mission field might become dangerous in our cities and in our suburbs as people make politicians and “causes” their gods?  The end is near, as I have noted in previous blogs, whether that is merely my end or the end of the age.  It is certainly closer than when Jesus, Paul, Peter and John predicted it.

So Jesus’ main message was not get ready, not watch for world events, not identify the anti-Christ, not even attend church.  His main message was: The Kingdom of God Is Near.  BE ready!  Now, where do you see yourself in five years?