|Vol. 16 No. 4 April 2014||
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with a feeling of inadequacy when you observe some of the situations in life? There are scenes on television that depict wars being fought on foreign soils in which not only the soldiers but innocent civilians are killed. News reports fill our minds with the facts that thousands of people are actually starving to death because of an acute shortage of food. You learn of embittered conflicts being waged between citizens of the same country and even of the same city wherein people of all ages are murdered or maimed for life. Practically every day stories are brought to our attention of injustices abounding in our own land. Because of the greed of some, the poor and illiterate are taken advantage of and are caused to suffer in various ways.
Then there are the aged who are lonely. Because of inflation, they are deprived of proper food and other necessities of life. The nursing homes are filled with the old and infirmed. All know those who are very sick, some with terminal diseases. Others are plagued with emotional problems. There are individuals whose hearts are broken due to the untimely death of a child, the passing of a parent or one’s mate. It seems that on every hand we find the downtrodden, the bereaved, the oppressed and the broken-hearted.
Thus, we ask ourselves the question, “What can I do?” The problems of this world are so complex and vast, and “I am but one person with limited ability and resources,” we declare. Many rush to assist in good works that are needful in our society which deal with benevolent and humanitarian deeds. Yet, is this enough? Is there something I can do as an individual for my fellowman that will enrich his or her life beyond all physical and material aid? The answer is a simple, “Yes.” As a child of God, I can teach about God and His love and about Jesus and His vicarious death for all mankind. With the Bible in my hand and love in my heart, I can lead them to salvation in Christ by relating the facts to believe, the commands to obey and the assurances and promises given to all who will obey the Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3; Mark l6:15-16; Acts 2:38). There is no greater gift in this world that I could give than informing others of the redemption which is in Jesus Christ.
My brethren, we cannot afford to deprive dying humanity of this knowledge. Every sinner led to Christ is one less person who will be serving Satan. I urge you to begin right now, where you are while you can, to teach others of Jesus Christ.
“And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire” (Matthew 18:8-9).
The above passage of Scripture reminds us that Jesus warned more about avoiding the horror of eternal punishment than he taught about the beauty of heaven. The reason He did so is because He wants us to go to heaven! It is likely the people He taught during His earthly ministry were much like the people of our day. We cannot imagine God condemning us personally to spend eternity in hell (perhaps it is not so hard when thinking of others), and so we are less than objective about how we live. I must admit, in all my years of serving in the kingdom, I have rarely attended a funeral where a loved one said of the deceased that they were not in heaven. We tend to think of ourselves and our loved ones as being saved.
If we are New Testament Christians, we should think so, because God is full of love, mercy and compassion. Through Jesus and His sacrifice, the gift of eternal life is made available to everyone. We are redeemed from our sins by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), and by living in Christ we have its cleansing effect provided continually for us (1 John 1:7). The very fact that God sent Jesus to die for our sins shows us how much He wants us to be saved, to be with Him in eternity (John 3:16).
This fact, however, should not cause us to become complacent about eternal judgment. We understand the Bible speaks clearly about the possibility of forfeiting our salvation by allowing sin to reign in us. Paul warned us not to let this happen (Romans 6:12)! The writer of Hebrews also pleaded with his readers that no one “come short” of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15). He was writing to Christians who were abandoning Christ and the Gospel. He previously spoke of those who had “fallen away,” and in such a state how it was impossible to restore them again to repentance (6:4-6). Once saved, we can be lost if we so choose to return to and live in sin.
Sin is so deceptive, and given time it hardens our hearts (Hebrews 3:13), blinding us to its true nature and to its very existence in us. We cannot willfully, deliberately and rebelliously sin and expect God’s grace to cover us, as we sever ourselves from Christ under such conditions (Hebrews 10:26; Galatians 5:4). Therefore, Jesus warned people during His earthly ministry, and warns us today, to get away from those situations, places or people who would entice us to sin and forfeit the hope of eternal life. As the beginning Scripture says, do not use your feet to go and to sin! Do not look at that which will arouse lustful desires! Do not handle that which only promotes ungodliness! Avoid those temptations that lead us away from Christ’s forgiveness and back into condemnation!
The question is whether we think any longer of the possibility of losing our salvation. Do you ever ask yourself that question? In the events of life, do you ever stop and think about what you say or do, what you don’t say or do, and if it pleases or displeases God? Do you reflect to see if there’s any sin hidden in the heart, covered over and long forgotten? Or would you be indignant if anyone suggested such? We do not discount the love of God by reminding ourselves of the judgment of God. Paul said, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:11). We must be sure ourselves as well. So we must test ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5), and “let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We must never forget there is a day of judgment. We must never forget the grace of God in Christ. We must never forget about the love of God and the wrath of God, because if we do, sin lurks nearby, waiting to deceive and overcome us.
Satan has been hugely successful in creating amnesia in most people about hell, and convincing us we all will be saved. Be sure you are saved! Do not forget about judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).