Vol. 12 No. 7 July 2010
There is a commercial for a type of garbage bag that caught my attention the other day. On one side of the screen is a muscular young man, and on the other side is a little old man. They are stuffing garbage bags. The muscular young man’s bag busts and everything falls out, but the little old man’s stays strong. They put up a screen that says, “Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy” about the young man’s bag. It is cute, but it makes a point that they may not even mean to make. True strength is found in those who make use of the correct tools, who have the inner strength, courage and wisdom to go to the right source for true power.
In Ezekiel 22:30, God is lamenting through the prophet that He cannot find any man to stand in the gap and stop the onslaught of evil in the country of Israel. I truly believe that we need men (and women) today who will stand in the gap for God.
We need those who will stand in the gap for our country. No matter what is being said in all the world, the fact is that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” It breaks my heart to hear, even some members of the Lord’s body, spouting the politically correct nonsense that religion should not be considered when we think about our government. If Christians forget our faith, and stop standing for God, then our nation will be destroyed just as surely as ancient Israel and Judah were. We must stand in the gap, for there is no other hope for this country.
We need those who will stand in the gap for the family. In a couple of weeks, a faithful Gospel preacher in our area will celebrate with his wife their 50th wedding anniversary. We need couples who love each other and love God so much that they never consider anything but being together for life. We need those who will live and teach our children that marriage is sacred, and the marriage contract is not to be broken. We need examples of love between mates, and in families that will help stand in the gap at a time when the family is being destroyed by couples living together unmarried, and by rampant divorce for every reason and by the emphasis on homosexuality in our society. We must stand up and be counted for God.
We need those who will stand in the gap for the church. We need those who are unafraid to lovingly but firmly proclaim the truth of God concerning the church. We need those who are going to stand in the gap and battle the tide of false doctrine, false living and false philosophies that would overwhelm the church like a great tidal wave. We must stand in the gap for God by proclaiming His way without compromise and without malice.
We must realize that it is we that must stand in the gap. We may not be well known. We may not be powerful in the eyes of the world. Yet, we, like the little old man in the ad, have the right tools to be those who stand in the gap: the Word of God, the power of prayer and the fellowship of other faithful men and women. We have the “faith that overcomes the world.” May we all use it and be those who stand in the gap on God’s behalf.
Yes, if you understand first of all that God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4), that He gave His only begotten and beloved Son to die for the whole world that through faith in Him we could be saved (John 3:16), and Jesus, by the grace of God, died for every man (Hebrews 2:9). However, does the fact that “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11) mean that everyone will be saved presently and in eternity? Not according to the words of Jesus Christ as found in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (NKJV).
This is one of the saddest statements that Jesus made during His ministry. In contrast to the “many” who will be lost, there will only be a “few” who will be saved. However, the church of our Lord should preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world so that people from every nation, tribe and tongue can know of God’s love for them (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). It is the responsibility of each hearer to respond to the good news and believe in Jesus Christ and obey the commands of the Gospel (Acts 2:36-38).
When an individual dies, his eternal destiny is forever settled (Hebrews 9:27). There will be no second chance. The decision as to what direction a person travels in this life will eventually determine his eternal destiny. There is only one way, and that is through Jesus Christ, who said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The faithful child of God will hear on the Day of Judgment these words: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
What the preacher or priest might say at the funeral of the person who has died will have no impact on the eternal destiny of the departed soul. Of course, the survivors can have comfort in knowing that their loved one died in Christ as a faithful (I did not say perfect) child of God. The apostle John wrote in Revelation 14:13: “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” Yet, what about the individual who never manifested faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, and did not endeavor to live a pure life in submission to His will? Can a preacher preach a soul into heaven even though the deceased one did not live for Jesus? I think not.
In recent times, we have learned of the deaths of movie stars, entertainers, TV personalities and athletes. To listen to some of the remarks made at the various funeral services, you would have thought the departed spirits deserved to enter the ‘golden gates’ in fine fashion. It is not mine to judge; that responsibility belongs to the Lord (Matthew 25:31-46). Our modern society does not like to think of anything being a sin or that a person could enter eternity without God and without hope. However, what about sins like fornication (unmarried couples living together), drunkenness, adultery (marital infidelity), multiple unscriptural divorces and sexual perversion?
Read carefully the following passages found in the Sacred Scriptures: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolater, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV). “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:20-21).
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people (John 14:1-3). Now is the time while the mercy of God lingers to live in such a manner as an obedient believer in Christ that we will inherit “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9). In conclusion, hear the words of the preacher as found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: “This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard; Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil” (ASV).