Vol. 11 No. 7 July 2009
By Don Blackwell
The church of Christ must seek and save the lost! I do not know that there is any subject more important for us to discuss than this one. When Jesus was on the earth, He said that His mission was "to seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10). As His body, our mission is the same. It seems, however, that sometimes we get distracted from our mission by the things going on around us. In the meantime, 110 souls die every minute and go into eternity. It is estimated that in 2005, 57.9 million people will depart from this earth. Almost 2 people per second pass into the Hadian realm to await their eternal reward. The percentage of these people who are prepared for eternity is very small. The vast majority of them are destined to eternal torment in Hell. Let us consider some reasons the church of Christ must seek and save the lost.
#1 - The church of Christ must seek and save the lost because no one else is qualified to do it! The Apostle Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for IT is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). Anything less than that gospel offers less than salvation. And anything less than salvation is damnation. I recently decided to count the number of "churches" in the Atlanta phone book. When I got to 1000, I gave up. There were still about as many pages left as I had counted. Therefore, I estimated that there are approximately 2000 churches in the Atlanta area. Fewer than 20 of them were faithful congregations of the Lord's body. The religious world is filled with preachers and teachers offering a gospel different from that which we read about in the New Testament. Sadly, however, they offer nothing but a salved conscience. Since men can only be saved by the true gospel, and only the church of Christ is preaching it, then we MUST seek and save the lost. If we will not preach it, then it simply will not be preached!
#2 - The church of Christ must seek and save the lost because of what it means to be lost. Luke 16 describes a man who died in a lost condition. This man, who is simply identified as "the rich man," lived a very comfortable life on this earth, but when he died, he lifted up his eyes in torment. He cried to Abraham for mercy, but the answer that came back was essentially "no mercy." For the one who dies lost, the time of hope and mercy has forever passed. All eternity holds for him is torment without end.
Consider the horrors of this terrible place. First, consider the horror of darkness. The Bible says that those who go to Hell will spend eternity in darkness. Three times Matthew refers to Hell as a place of outer darkness. It is total, utter darkness. A second horror of Hell is fire. Its occupants will burn in fire. Mark 9:44 describes it as the place where "the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched." Normally, when a person dies, the body is buried and the worms consume the body, and then the process of destruction is over. Not so in Hell. The idea being expressed in this passage is that Hell is destruction without end. Its inhabitants will be consumed by fire, but the process of consumption never ceases. They will burn forever and ever. Revelation 14:11 says, "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night." Consider also the horror of eternity. Eternity is not of itself a bad concept. In fact, it can be beautiful in a different context. But imagine eternity suffering in darkness, burning in fire, and surrounded by the most wicked souls who ever walked on the earth. Imagine knowing that there will be no relief tomorrow, or the next day, or a million years from now. It makes one shudder even to think what this condition will be like. Surely the church of Christ must seek and save the lost!
#3 - The church of Christ must seek and save the lost because of the urgency of their situation! How do we treat an emergency in the physical realm? If someone is having a heart attack or bleeding to death, we take immediate action because time is crucial. The situation with the one who is lost is much the same, except that the consequences are much more serious. When one dies lost, the eternity described above (Hell) is what he is facing. There is no other alternative. There is no second chance. There is no hope of parole. I have a friend who says, "Hell wouldn't be so bad if it only lasted a million years!" At first, that sounds crazy, but his point is that there would be hope of one day being released. But for those who die lost, there is no hope. It is forever too late. When we consider that 6619 people die every hour, and that nearly 2 people die every second, we have to see the urgency of seeking and saving the lost. In the time it has taken you to read to this point in this article, more than 200 people have left this world. Most of them were in a lost condition. The church of Christ must seek and save the lost!
#4 - The church of Christ must seek and save the lost because if we do not, we will be among the lost! Many Christians do not believe they will lose their souls if they do not carry the gospel to others. If they did, they would not treat the responsibility so lightly. If they did, nothing would stop them from teaching. Matthew 28:19, 20 commands that we go into all the world and teach the gospel to all nations. This is the command of the Lord! Who can believe he will be held guiltless for ignoring the command of the God? I John 2:3, 4 teaches us that those who do not obey the commandments of God do not know God. Surely such will not have a home in Heaven. Listen carefully to the words of Ezekiel 3:18, "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." The teaching is simple. If we don't warn the wicked, the wicked will die in his sins, but we will be guilty of his blood. The church of Christ must seek and save the lost! Jesus said He came to earth to seek and save the lost. As His body on earth today, we are the only ones qualified to carry on His mission. In light of what it means to be lost and the urgency of the situation, Christians had better step up to the task at hand before it is too late. If we do not, the eternity lost will be our own!