Vol. 3, No. 9
After Jesus resurrected Lazarus, the Jewish religious leaders were thrown into a quandary.
"Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" (John 11:47-48).
Off the record, even the enemies of Jesus Christ acknowledged the miracles that he performed (John 3:2; 12:42). These miracles were intended to cause belief in the Lord and his Word (John 2:11, 23; 20:30-31).
How wonderful to think, unobstructed in anyway, every honest heart would believe on Jesus Christ. Yet, this proposition horrified the religious leaders of the day, for they would lose their position at the helm of contemporary religion and the worldly esteem that accompanied it. Their solution was to erase the miracle under consideration; they plotted to murder Lazarus.
"But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus" (John 12:10-11).
Unfortunately, there is still a council against faith today. The chief-executive-officer (CEO) is the devil himself.
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
The devil and his board of devious directors disguise themselves as servants of God, thereby deceiving countless souls.
"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
Consequently, this unholy company represents itself with false Messiahs (Matthew 24:5), false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13) and false gospels (Galatians 1:6-9). These are the ploys that obstruct the faith of millions. Even the children of God must be careful lest they succumb to such devilishness (Matthew 24:24). Each Christian must discern between true and false prophets (1 John 4:1); and, the tool for this discernment is God's Word alone (Acts 17:11). Potential danger may lurk without or within the Lord's church (Acts 20:29-30). Whereas denominationalism is an obvious departure from Bible truth to the clear thinking student of God's Word, more subtle deviations are brandished by some among us.
How wonderful that, unobstructed, the world would gladly believe on Jesus. Yet, how sad, because of numerous obstructions and the relentlessness of the evil army of darkness, headed by Satan himself, most of the souls who have ever lived, have already, or will cross the threshold of eternity ravaged by sin and lost. How horrible! Then, how momentous the mission of the army of light, with Jesus the Captain of our salvation leading, to counter these obstructions and inoculate the lost instead with saving truth.
Every Christian is a soldier (on active duty); each congregation is a fighting unit (surrounded by hostile forces); and, the brotherhood is the nation of God (engaged in deadly spiritual combat). The future of the entire free spiritual world depends, in part, on each child of God. Are you well trained, able and willing to faithfully serve the Captain of your salvation, unto death if necessary? If not, why not? If not now, when?
by Louis Rushmore
I am dying! Yet, I am not surprised. I knew my life ultimately would come to this. Simple reflection on the births, lives and deaths of people around me, teaches me that death is a common experience of humanity. Further, the Bible instructs me of the certainty of death -- and judgment.
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not" (Job 14:1-2).
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
No, as far as I know, I am not afflicted with a terminal illness. I have never been so sick that I was in danger of dying. Neither have I sustained a mortal wound. I have never suffered an injury from which I was not expected to recover.
However, I adamantly affirm again that I am dying. Further, you are dying, too. Every living thing is in the process of dying. From the moment babies are born and begin to mature, they march throughout life toward their ultimate deaths (untimely and prematurely or expiration at the conclusion of several decades, Psalm 90:10).
Since we refuse to acknowledge our vulnerability, we often live as though we will never die. Were a doctor to tell us we have only three months to live, we would with great urgency and much carefulness do those things that are the most important to us. If we had no more than 90 days to live, we would also do our best to prepare to die.
The truth is that we may live long lives -- or you may die before finishing this paragraph. For all we know, Jesus may return an hour before our next supper meal.
"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:13-14).
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36).
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
All people need to sense the urgency of making the most of the remaining days we have among the living on this earth. After death (Luke 16:19-31) or when Jesus comes again, no more preparation for eternity can be made. After death (or the return of our Lord), we will also be unable to guide friends, neighbors, co-workers and family to heaven (Luke 16:27-31).
It is now that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). It is now that we must continue to work out our own salvation (Revelation 2:10). It is now that we must apply ourselves to whatever good work we hope to do.
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
". . . be ready to every good work" (Titus 3:1).
It is now that we must tell lost souls (non-Christians and erring Christians) about a Savior who died to save them from sin (John 11:51; Romans 5:6-10). We must tell the world now about the Savior who has prepared heaven for the saved (John 14:1-3; 2 Peter 3:13). It is now that we must tell lost souls about Jesus who will assign disobedient humanity to eternal punishment in hell (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Revelation 20:12-15).
I think I fall into the category of what is considered middle-aged. Yet, to children (as I also once thought) I must seem "old," and older people must appear to be ancient. To these "ancient" ones I am but a youngster. However, I am aware that should I be granted a long life, I have lived more years than I probably have left to live. Hence, I sense the urgency of "redeeming the time" (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5).
We cannot earn our salvation, but neither do we dare to neglect our participation in our salvation. We must prepare to meet God (Amos 4:12). We have the additional responsibility to help others prepare to meet God (Mark 16:15-16; 2 Timothy 2:2). The summary of our earthly duties is to prepare now, in this life, for eternity.
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil"(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).