Friday, October 23, 2009

Witnessing of Wrath To Come; Not Joy and Happiness

A few years ago, I attended a Christian conference in Katy, Texas, where I had the privilege of hearing Kirk Cameron speak. Kirk is an actor who gave his heart to the Lord several years ago. He teamed up with well known evangelist Ray Comfort (Living Waters Ministry) and together they have produced a series of DVD ministering videos called “The Way of the Master". Kirk is well known for his starring in the “Left Behind” movies.

In their ministry, Kirk and Ray approach people from all walks of life and show them the NEED to turn away from sin and accept Jesus as their Savior. As anyone has read any of my articles would know, I am a strong proponent of this type of evangelism. Too many people are walking around today deceived into believing they are saved when they are not.

While it is true that, once saved, you cannot lose your salvation, thanks to misguided evangelists seeking numbers, rather than strong believers in Christ, many think they are saved due to a (five) minute prayer. Meanwhile, most professed Christians are living in all ranges of iniquity, including fornication, adultery, pornography, alcohol and drug abuse, blasphemy, and even supporting the most heinous of sins-- abortion.

I have heard so many arguments from people claiming to be Christians regarding (my) view of the Gospel… “Is just the way you interpret it”, they’ll say. They truly believe that God’s word is acceptable in many different forms, depending on how each individual interprets it, as long as that individual thinks he or she is doing the right thing. It is truly sad. What they are saying, in essence, is that they can play stupid, and all will be fine in the end. God said His people will be destroyed due to ignorance. That means ignorance is no excuse. Worse yet, is the fact that the ones of whom were presented with the truth, and rejected it, will be the most harshly judged.

This brings me to the next most popular argument… “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”
Oh, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been hit with that one. Totally misunderstood, even atheists use that one. Judging sin is not the context by which Jesus meant we were not to judge others. As much as misguided sentiments like “pray about it, and you’ll be fine”, oftentimes we tend to use scripture to enable our disconnect from doing the right thing, and still seem godly about it. It’s always human nature to rationalize our own lackings. When it comes to sin, we are commanded to judge it, especially, in as far as pointing it out, and hopefully the recipient will be nudged to be convicted of it, and repent. Silly atheists!!!

At the conference, Kirk gave the best analogy I had ever heard regarding the need to make it clear why a person needs the Lord.

Two men are seated on a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put it on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little skeptical at first, since he cannot see how putting on a parachute could possibly improve his flight.

He decides to experiment and see if the claims are true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders, and he finds he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact he was told the parachute would improve his flight, so he decides to give it a little time.

As waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him for wearing a parachute on a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they continue to point and laugh at him, he can stand it no longer. He sinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fills his heart, because as far as he was concerned he was told an outright lie.

The second man is given a parachute, but, listen to what he is told. He’s told to put it on because at any moment he could be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on. He doesn’t notice the weight upon his shoulders, nor that he cannot sit upright. His mind is consumed with the idea of what would happen to him if he had to jump without the parachute.

Let’s now analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience is that he was humiliated, disillusioned, and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he is concerned it will be a long time before someone gets one of those things on his back again.

The second man put on the parachute solely to escape the jump to come. And because of his knowledge of what would happen to him if he jumped without it he has a deep rooted joy and peace in his heart knowing that he is saved from sure death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude toward those who gave him the parachute is one of heart felt gratitude.

Now listen to what the modern Gospel says: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” In other words, Jesus will improve your flight. The sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion he puts on the Savior to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptation, tribulation, and persecution. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; he’s offended for the Word’s sake; he’s disillusioned and embittered--- and quite rightly so.

He was promised peace, love, joy and fulfillment, and all he got was trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed at those who gave him the so-called “Good news.” His latter end becomes worse than the first, and he’s another inoculated and bitter “backslider.”

Instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight, we should be warning sinners that they have to jump out of a plane. That it’s appointed for man to die once, and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). When a sinner understands the horrific consequences of breaking the Law of God, he will flee to the Savior, solely to escape the wrath that is to come. If we are true and faithful witnesses, that’s what we should be preaching-- that there is wrath to come-- that God “commands all men everywhere to repent: because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:30,31).

The issue isn’t one of happiness, but, of righteousness. It doesn’t matter how happy a sinner is, or how much he is enjoying the pleasures of sin. Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of salvation, but, it’s not legitimate to use these fruits as a drawing card for salvation. If we continue to do so, the sinner will respond with an impure motive, lacking repentance.

Can you remember why the second passenger had joy and peace in his heart? It was because he knew the parachute was going to save him from sure death. In the same way, as believers we have joy and peace in believing because we know that the righteousness of Christ is going to deliver us from the wrath that is to come.

With that thought in mind, let’s take a close look at an incident aboard the plane. We have a brand new flight attendant. It’s her first day aboard the plane. She’s carrying a tray of boiling hot coffee. She wants to leave an impression upon the passengers, and she certainly does. As she walks down the aisle she trips over someone’s foot and slops the coffee all over the lap of the second passenger. What’s his reaction as the boiling coffee hits his tender flesh? Does he go , “Man that hurt!!!” ? Yes, he does. But, then does he rip the parachute from his shoulders, throw it to the floor, and yell, “Stupid parachute!!!” ? No, why should he? He didn’t put the parachute on for a better flight. He put it on for the jump to come. If anything, he clings even tighter to the parachute and even looks forward to the jump.

If we have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the right motive-- to flee from the wrath to come-- when tribulation strikes, when the flight gets bumpy, we won’t get angry at God, and we won’t lose our joy and peace. Why should we? We didn’t come to Christ for a better lifestyle.

If anything, tribulation drives the true believer closer to the Savior. Sadly, we have multitudes of professing Christians who lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? They are the product of a man-centered gospel. They came lacking repentance, without which they cannot be saved.

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