|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a picnic as “a meal eaten outdoors on an excursion; an easy task or pleasant experience.” We may or may not care for picnics, but virtually all of us like easy tasks and pleasant experiences. However, going to heaven is not of the picnic variety. Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. It is an ongoing, lifetime task.
The following statements made by two brotherhood preachers have been referenced in previous articles by this writer; they bear repeating. Perhaps it is because the words “anybody” and “nobody”— two opposites — are used to make the same point so profoundly.
“Anybody can go to heaven who wants to go to heaven more than anything else in the world. And until you want that more than anything else in the world, you are as close to heaven right now as you are ever going to get!” “Nobody is going to accidently stumble into heaven. If we are there, it will be from a lifetime of intention, and planning, and forethought, and devotion, and humility before the living God!”
In the October 28, 1986 publication Firm Foundation, there is a graphic entitled, “Awake Thou That Sleepest…” It pictures a man lying in a hammock asleep, hands resting with his fingers intertwined across his chest, with what appears to be a newspaper over his face. There’s a dog sleeping quite contentedly at his feet. This man’s spiritual armor is lying on the ground around him. The apostle Paul lists the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:14-17 as having our (1) waist girded with the truth, (2) the breastplate of righteousness, (3) feet dressed with the Gospel of peace, (4) the shield of faith, (5) the helmet of salvation, and (6) the sword of the Spirit.
In this same graphic bearing down on this unsuspecting soul are the hornets (1) ignorance, (2) unloving (3) indifference, (4) lust, (5) idolatry (6) lukewarmness, (7) stubbornness and (8) complacency. These are but a sampling of the torpedoes Satan has in his arsenal to bring us to our knees in defeat. His unwavering aim is to make us forget all about God and righteousness. Therefore, we must be ever vigilant because the eternal destiny of our souls is paramount!
Paul describes superbly this fight that is raging within between right and wrong in Romans 7:14-25. He explained in verses 22-23, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Paul further warned us in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 to be keenly aware of this war in. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Furthermore, the apostle Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Since we are commanded to put on the whole armor of God, when is it alright to take it off? To ask the question is to answer it—never! God will do that when He calls us home. Paul said it best when he told Timothy as he neared the end of his earthly life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
In his book, To Know Him Better (page 96), Randy Becton states; “Christians didn’t receive a ‘spirit of timidity,’ but as God’s children know with certainty that the crown at the end of the fight of faith is the same crown Paul claimed. We have loved His appearing as Paul did.”
Hebrews 12:1b exhorts us to “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The writer of the Hebrew letter says we are in a race—not a sprint! Too many, and any is too many, have fallen by the wayside because they have been choked out by the cares and the desires for the things of this world.
We are told most pointedly in Hebrews 12:3-4 that the choice to give in and give up will lead to our condemnation. “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving against sin.” We have Christ as our supreme example of resistance to sin.
John was shown a vision of Jesus Christ in Revelation of the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. Christ gave this admonition to every one of those churches: “He who overcomes…” To overcome means:
For our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to repeat that admonition seven times, surely He had the highest expectations for results. “As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:36-37). With Jesus at our side, we can do this!
Jude 3 exhorts us, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” In his book, Spiritual Patriots, Jude’s Call to Arms, Aubrey Johnson wrote on page 10, “Christians are in for the fight of their lives; only the committed will survive the onslaughts of the enemy.” We are in a fight—not on a picnic!