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STUCK! Chapter Five: Who Do I Need?

I’m an introvert. I’ve gone through the personality tests (Enneagram, Myers/Briggs, Briggs & Stratton, etc.) and I test out as an introvert. An “expressive” introvert. But an introvert nonetheless.

What that means is that people pretty much exhaust me. I force myself to go to parties and social gatherings, but only because my dear wife is an extrovert. She loves people. Me, not so much. I’m quite happy being by myself with occasional meetings with my wife and maybe a few grandkids.

I’m overstating this a bit, but introverts like me like quiet, peace, solitude. We spend a lot of time reflecting, listening to soft music (except for early Chicago), and avoiding crowds. My daughter, who is also an introvert, says she’s going to get us t-shirts that read, “INTROVERTS UNITE! BY YOURSELVES! IN YOUR OWN HOMES!”

I would be perfectly happy living in a cave (with good internet service, of course). But that’s not God’s best for me.

Just Jesus and Me!
One of the popular songs when I was a young believer was entitled “Just Jesus and Me.” It came at the height of the “Me” generation and fit in quite nicely with young adults who wanted to “do their own thing.” And we certainly didn’t need the stuffy environs of the church to pursue “our own thing.”

It seemed that the overemphasis on individuality and self-awareness quickly led to a kind of self-idolatry. And an ignorance of the Scriptures. Afterall, don’t we  read in Genesis 2 that Adam, before the fall and before the creation of Eve, was declared by God as “lonely?” What?! Wait a minute! He was in the Garden, which had not yet been affected by sin, and was in perfect fellowship with His Creator. And he was lonely?! Yes. And God saw that it was not good.

We need human relationships. And, therefore, we need the church. Now by “the church” I don’t mean the universal Body of Christ. Every believer belongs to that by conversion. I mean a local church, a group of believers to which one belongs and to which one contributes.

The Church — Why Bother?
Philip Yancey, who’s written more books than C.S. Lewis and Joel Osteen combined , wrote a small book years ago with the title The Church — Why Bother? It seems to me that there are four reasons to bother with a local church.

The first reason is that I want to join Jesus in His building project. He said that on the rock of Peter’s confession of faith in Him, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Mt. 16:18). Now, one may argue that He was referring to the “universal” church, but how is the universal church seen in this world? Through imperfect, yet authentic, local churches.

The second reason I want to bother with the local church is that the overall tenor of the New Testament focuses on the community of God’s people as gathered in local places. They are certainly not without their problems, but we have the Corinthian church, the church in Ephesus, the church in Philadelphia, etc. Geographically planted local churches are encouraged, admonished, rebuked even by the New Testament writers. Much of the New Testament is useless if one remains outside Christ’s work in the local church.

I’ve heard Twenty-First Century Christians say, “Oh, that we were like the First Century Church!” But wait a minute! Do you mean like the Corinthian church (which was failing miserably in both discipleship and evangelism, see I Cor. 5)? Or the Galatian church (which had abandoned its freedom in Christ and was returning to an unbiblical Judaism)? Or the Ephesian church that had left its first love (Rev. 2:4)? Of course we should seek to emulate the very best of the early church and also recognize where it often went wrong. But we should be involved, connected, committed to what the Lord Jesus is doing in the local church.

The third reason I want to bother with the local church is that there is much work to be done in both growing believers in and winning unbelievers to the gospel. I’m not sure the local church should be a place of evangelism, although I’m convinced the gospel ought to be made clear whenever the Word is preached to God’s people. Evangelism is to happen outside the walls of the local church. And not just by paid staff! Every believer, the Apostle Peter tells us, is to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (I Pe. 3). The believer in Jesus who doesn’t give a whit about the lostness of others is in dire need of repentance!

And it is in the local church where we are to practice the ordinances (some churches call them “sacraments”) ordained by God’s Word: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Baptizing one’s self or taking communion at home in one’s pajamas isn’t the biblical pattern.

Discipleship must happen in the local church. We need intentional, risky relationships which we develop in order to build up God’s people and help one another grow in Christlikeness. Of course that is not confined to the four walls of a physical building we call the church. True discipleship happens through connections that believers pursue with the family of God.

The fourth reason I want to bother with the local church is that God has ordained spiritual leaders (elders and deacons) who are tasked with caring for my soul! If I’m disconnected from a local church, I’m removing myself from their encouragement, influence, and correction. Formal membership may not be outlined in the New Testament, but it is quite clear that every believer is to use his or her gifts to build up others, to pray for and submit to godly leaders, and to practice the priorities modeled for us by the early church. Those priorities are set forth in Acts 2:42 where we read, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

In short, we need truth, friendships, worship, and prayer to thrive in the Christian life. And that’s to be found in the local church.

HOMEWORK:
1. Read Yancey’s little book Church — Why Bother? Write out a one-page defense of the church after you’ve read his book.

2. Find a friend in your local church with whom you can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your church. Many today are staying away from the church because of what is called “church hurt.” Reach out to someone who is making that choice and seek to win them back to the local church. Pray with your friend for your church’s leaders and your church’s mission.

3. Adopt an elder or deacon in your church and covenant before the Lord to pray for him every day. Meet with that person and find out what some of their needs are.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2022 in STUCK!

 

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STUCK! Chapter Three: Why Should I Care?

Perhaps one reason many Christians get stuck is that their eyes are too often on themselves, their needs, their families, their comfort. But here is where the gospel of Jesus Christ really becomes invasive. If the gospel is true, it demands us to open our eyes to those around us who are lost, separated from the love of God, outside the family of God, presently under God’s wrath.

A Vision Problem
I suspect many of us have a vision problem. We don’t look at others as desperately needing the gospel. Our vision is blurred or blinded by many other concerns. One of the blind people that Jesus healed said, “I see men as trees.” We often don’t even see the trees! How we view others is critical to getting unstuck in our Christian lives.

I’ve had a recent experience that has made me acutely aware of my vision. My right eye began showing signs of macular degeneration, a condition in which small capillaries leak blood in the eye, eventually leading to blindness. The cure? I had to have several months of injections into my right eye! The first injection was terrifying as you can imagine, but the doctor’s assistants did a great job of numbing my eye. All I felt was a slight pinch when the doctor gave me the injection. That first injection was followed by seven more spaced over a year. When I showed up for my last injection, the doctor looked at the high-res picture of that right eye and said, “You’re done. You don’t need any more injections. The medicine is working.” You can imagine my relief. Now, whenever someone tritely uses the expression “Just stab me in the eye”, I don’t hesitate to tell them of my real life experience!

Lost About the Lost?
Is that what it’s going to take for you and me to start seeing lost people? As a theologian I wonder if many followers of Jesus somehow inwardly think that those who die without Christ will somehow still be okay or that God will judge them on the basis of their good works or that they will somehow have a post-mortem (after-death) opportunity to believe the gospel. None of those options are supported biblically. One receives salvation in this life, on this side of the grave, before death. That’s why evangelism and missions are so important!

If I am thoroughly convinced that the gospel is true, that there is only one Savior and His name is Jesus, and that a person is saved only by believing in Him, then I will have to open my eyes to the lost — and really begin to care about reaching them.

Do you see? Do you see?
All the people sinking down
Don’t you care? Don’t you care?
Are you gonna’ let them drown?
How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come?
(Keith Green)

Homework:
1. Read my short book Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. Pay particular attention to the story in Chapter Three “‘I Haven’t Got Time for the ….🎶” (a discussion of Luke 7 where Jesus says “Do you see this woman?”). How did Simon the Pharisee need his vision corrected by Jesus?

2. What specifically are you going to do to further develop your passion for lost people? Do you have a prayer hit-list which you use everyday to pray for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin to the hearts of those you love?

Some of our witnessing is a one-and-done experience. We might meet someone on a plane or have a brief conversation with our plumber. I call this “evangelism by strafing.” In other words, you might not see that person again. I believe God honors a gentle boldness when we step out in faith and share the gospel with a stranger.

A while back we were getting a lot of telemarketer phone calls. It’s easy to be rude to such people. But I made a promise to the Lord and He quickly gave me the chance to keep my promise. A telemarketer called and I said, “I’m really not interested in what you are selling, but can I tell you about a promise that I made to God a while back?” Silence. Then, “Uh, sure.” “I promised the Lord I would share the gospel with every telemarketer that called me for the next month. Do you know what the gospel is?” Some listened. A few hung up on me! But I kept my promise. Do you have an idea for a similar bold effort you can make in single conversation encounters?

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2022 in STUCK!

 

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How Burdened Are You for the Lost? (A Study of Psalm 36)

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2022 in Psalm 36

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 30)

As I think about my unsaved friend Mike, God is reminding me of the many blessings I enjoy — or should enjoy — that he does not yet have. One blessing that occurs to me might sound strange, but I believe is a marker of a serious follower of Jesus. I don’t believe my unsaved friends —

30. THEY DON’T HAVE A PASSION FOR SOULS!

What do we mean by “a passion for souls”? We mean that the follower of Jesus is to be greatly concerned with the spiritual welfare of everyone he or she meets or knows. If the Bible is true that every human being is headed either to hell or to heaven, then the right passion, the crystal clear passion of the Christian, must be the gospel.

I’m certainly not criticizing my lost friends for the passion that they have for their families. I’m grateful when my friend Mike expresses his desire to be a good husband and father. But what ought to be the highest priority in a human being’s life is knowing God and longing for others to know Him.

Jesus says in John 17, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (v. 3). Eternal life is not simply unending existence, but a quality of life in knowing and following the God of the universe.

A passion for souls involves the following elements: (1) A clear recognition that man without Christ is lost (Jn. 8:22-24); (2) A daily discipline of praying for those who are outside of Christ (“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” I Sam. 12:23); (3) Eyes open to opportunities to share a bit of the gospel on every occasion (“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Tim. 4:2); (4) An awareness of being a stench to some and an aroma to others (“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” 2 Cor. 2) ; (5) A commitment to doing the homework necessary to answer any questions which are keeping a person from believing the gospel (Acts 17- the Apostle Paul knowing pagan literature so he could speak to the philosophers of his day).

So, how do I pray for my lost friends? I pray for myself that I would not settle for a watered-down, minimal concern for the eternal welfare of others. I want my evangelistic zeal to be white-hot, but wise in its expression. And I pray for my friend that he would see that eternity is a long time to be wrong about Jesus. And that he would trust Him as his savior and get passionate about others’ doing the same. (to be continued)

 

 

 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 24)

“Please don’t do that, Jim!” I said out loud in my car as I listened to my favorite stand-up comedian resort to four letter words to entertain his audience. Considered by many to be a “clean stand-up comedian”, he gave into vulgarity and coarseness. And I found it sad.

I have a vested interest in stand-up comedy. My son and I actually took stand-up comedy lessons together a few years ago and I know how hard it is to write a good sketch. He and I (and maybe one other guy) were the only clean students in the class. Effective comedy needn’t be abusive or demeaning or gross, especially for the one who believes that God gave us a sense of humor.

I have unsaved friends who have a great sense of humor, but for others they have no boundaries. For that reason, I thank God for laughter but regret that many of my lost friends —

24. THEY DON’T POSSESS A HEALTHY SENSE OF HUMOR!

In his excellent book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis talks about four types of humor. Some advance “the Enemy’s (Christ’s) cause”; some advance the cause of the demons. Those four types are: JOY. This is the one most detested by the demons. One blogger writes: “This type of humor is rare. I daresay that in some homes it may be non-existent. Joy of this type is a gift of the Father and is a tool in His hand, not the tempter’s. Humor of this sort makes others feel warm and wanted, never cut down and ashamed. Joy leads to deeper intimacy and foreshadows [all] the joys that await us in heaven.”

The second type is FUN. Screwtape defines fun as “a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct.” We in America, I’m afraid, are guilty of “amusing ourselves to death” (Neil Postman). “It can also be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy (Christ) would like them to be feeling or doing.” Fun is great, but it can also be distracting.

The third type of humor is THE JOKE PROPER. This is usually why we laugh at things. Something takes us by surprise or “turns on a sudden perception of incongruity.” The problem is that the joke can become a kind of armor that keeps us from admitting a fault or facing possible shame. We can use this type of humor as a weapon which allows us to cover our malice.

The fourth type of humor is FLIPPANCY. The blogger Matson writes, “Flippancy builds up a callus against a topic so that no serious conversation or dialogue can be had. Purity before marriage, male leadership in the home, a biblical definition of marriage, a biblical worldview—these no longer need a joke in order to be a punchline. They’re a joke all by themselves. Our society thrives on flippancy.” Hollywood and the internet thrive on flippancy and we become inoculated to it.

So how do I pray for my lost friend? I pray that my sense of humor will be alive and real and reflective of the God who created us to laugh and experience life. And I pray for my friend to get serious with the Lord so he can experience real joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

xxx

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? XXX

(to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 23)

I thank the Lord for my friend Mike. He does not know the Lord — yet — as his Savior, but God is using him to remind me of the many blessings which I have “in Christ.” This study is multi-faceted and is helping me enormously in taking stock of what I have as a follower of Jesus. And I purpose to not simply coast through my Christian life, oblivious to the many gifts which being in God’s family has given me.

Our next “blessing” might seem odd, but it is a really critical one. This is a broken world; we are broken as people; terrible tragedies and catastrophes happen on this planet (and to us) under the watchful eye of a sovereign God. How are we to understand pain and tragedy? Sadly, my unsaved friends —

23. THEY DON’T POSSESS A PROPER VIEW OF SUFFERING!

The Bible does not sugar-coat this world’s fallenness with all its effects of “natural disasters” (earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc.) and man-made evil (crime, betrayal, anger, revenge, injustice, prejudice, greed, etc.). But how are we to understand this world’s suffering in light of the Bible’s picture of a God of love?

Scholars refer to this effort at understanding evil as a theodicy (a defense of God’s justice in the face of evil’s reality). Some religious systems deny the reality of evil (the cult Christian Science is an example), compromise God’s omnipotence or omniscience (Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People is an example of the former; Greg Boyd’s open theism an example of the latter), or resign themselves to a kind of deterministic fatalism about evil (Islam is an example of this approach).

The Bible provides the very best theodicy, for it affirms the real existence of evil and suffering while setting forth the goodness and justice of the biblical God. And God’s Word does not hesitate to show us godly people who had wrong views about suffering. One thinks of Job and his friends who were sure either Job had sinned greatly (and deserved what he was getting) or God was unfairly making Job His target (and needed to be sued in court for His [God’s] mistake). Even Jesus’ disciples cut to the chase theologically and thought the man-born-blind’s condition was because of sin (either his or his parents). Jesus corrects them by saying that “this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).

As God-manifest-in-the-flesh, Jesus allows death to take his friend Lazarus even though He had the power to keep him from dying (John 11). I’ve worked on this passage and entitled it “Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die!” But Jesus did.

One classic passage on the issue of suffering is Luke 13 where we read —

This brief theodicy by the Lord Jesus covers two areas of suffering and evil in our world. Notice the victims of a vicious crime in verses 1-3. Notice also the victims of a violent accident in verses 4-5.  Neither the sin of the Galileans nor the guilt of those killed by the falling tower were the cause of their catastrophe. An evil man (Pilate) and the effects of gravity (the tower) illustrate one basic fact: life is dangerous! Make sure you are right with God!

There is much more in God’s Word that prepares us for suffering. See such texts as: 2 Corinthians 1:5-7; Phil. 1:29; 3:10; Col. 1:24; I Thes. 1:6; 2 Thes. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3; Heb. 2:18; 10:34; James 5:10; all of I Peter; Rev. 1:9; 2:10; etc. We can fight suffering and evil without fighting God. As salt and light in our culture we stand up for what is right and oppose what is wrong. But, contrary to the devilish perspective of prosperity theology, we are not guaranteed a life with no suffering or deprivation.

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I model for him a life of faith even in the midst of trials and pain. And I ask the Holy Spirit to use whatever challenge comes in his life that he might see his need of getting right with the Lord. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Bless-ed! 52 Blessings Your Lost Friend Doesn’t Have . . . And What You Can Do About It! (Part 22)

My heart grieves for my friend Mike who thinks he’s right with God, but isn’t. And as I’ve been praying for him, I’m becoming more aware of what I have that he doesn’t. Yet. And the blessing list includes many more items than simply salvation, as fundamental as that is.

Another blessing that I have as a believer doesn’t seem to get much publicity among the people of God. Perhaps we are afraid. Maybe we aren’t sure of this blessing. But I believe we need to recognize and pursue this gift. I don’t believe my unsaved friends —

22. THEY DON’T HAVE THE BLESSING OF A FEARLESS INTELLECTUAL LIFE!

If biblical Christianity is really true, then all other worldviews are wrong. Other religions and philosophies deny the reality of the biblical God, salvation alone through faith in Christ alone, man’s need of redemption, the trustworthiness of the Bible, etc. We are not being arrogant when we take our stand on the absolute truth of the Christian worldview.

Some scholars have said that the early Christians “out thought the world!” I’m not so sure that’s true of our present generation — but it could be. The follower of Jesus should be able to talk to anyone about the gospel without fear. We should not be afraid to vigorously debate worldviews for we are not engaged in comparative mythology, but truth. And when we don’t have an answer to a hard question, we go and do our homework!

However, I feel that many Christians think of their faith as so personal that all they can share is their peace and happiness in Jesus. And that’s it. The late scholar Carl Henry said “your relationship to Christ must be personal. But it dare not be private!”

The Christian worldview is based on facts and evidence. The believers in the first century were not afraid to debate the messiahship of Jesus in the Jewish synagogues or argue the gospel among the intellectual elite of the day (Acts 17).

Followers of Jesus are in a cooperative ministry with God the Holy Spirit. Our job is to present the best case we can for Jesus Christ and biblical Christianity. The Holy Spirit’s job is to bring conviction to the heart of the unsaved. We work together. We are to seek to convince; His job is to convict.

Jesus did not hesitate to declare Himself as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). He even dogmatically claimed that “no one can come to the Father except by me.” His claims stand up under the intense scrutiny of this unbelieving world — and the Christian has the privilege of carefully responding to those who don’t believe. We read in I Peter 3 –

This is a powerful text to challenge the believer to get out of his Lazyboy and get in the battle. No fear. And he or she is to be ready to respond to questions that are provoked in their unbelieving friends by the conduct and gentleness of the believer.

So, how do I pray for my unsaved friend? I speak the gospel unashamedly and get ready to take questions. I read what I need to read in secular literature and I keep myself soaking in God’s Word and crying out to His Spirit to bring conviction to my friend. And I pray that he or she will open their heart to the truth. (to be continued)

 

 

 
 

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Sharing Your Faith During the Holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2021 in Christmas

 

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“It Was Great to Meet You!” (an evangelistic booklet)- Introduction

Friends: I have wanted for quite a while to write a short, evangelistic booklet that I could give someone that I had just met. Maybe you feel the same. There are plenty of gospel tracts out there, but I’m thinking of something personal, something that might lead to a growing relationship with that person.  So here are a couple of ideas that I’ve had as to the content of this booklet:

1. The Purpose of the Booklet

2. Some personal details

3. A clear gospel presentation

4. Contact information

What information would you want to suggest that I add? Is this something that you would find useful? Would you consider inserting your own personal details if the framework of the booklet looked good?

Sure would appreciate any comments you want to give me!  Thanks!

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2021 in evangelism

 

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Saved! Rescued from God, by God, and for God! (Epilogue: Loathed)

Friends: This is the epilogue of a short book I wrote a couple of years ago. Comments welcome!

Epilogue: Loathed

“We are not simply dealing with matters of life and death. We are dealing with matters of eternal life and eternal death.” (Bill Hybels)

“I’m afraid that in the United States of America today the prevailing doctrine of justification is not justification by faith alone. It is not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in our culture today is justification by death. All one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.” (R.C. Sproul, Saved from What?)

If we have truly been rescued from God, by God, and for God, then there is no greater joy in life than in serving Him. Whatever that means.

Being rescued from God reminds us of the rightful, eternal judgment that awaited us upon death if our sins were not taken care of. John 3:36 says that “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” The Bible teaches that we come into this world as sinners, as those who are under the wrath of God. And the only way to get that wrath removed from us is to believe in His Son. Those who reject the Son won’t get eternal life, but eternal judgment. They will not see life. Why not? Because “God’s wrath remains on them.”

Some today bristle at the idea of God’s wrath. They not only hate Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” their perspective twists that sermon into “GOD in the Hands of Angry SINNERS!” Being rescued from God means being rescued from His wrath.

But we have also seen that our rescue from God was accomplished by God. Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Divine Trinity, paid our debt that we might be

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righteously forgiven. Only one who is fully divine could pay that debt. The centrality of the deity of the Lord Jesus is a doctrine rejected by many in our culture. What they do not realize is that a non- divine Jesus can’t save anyone.

The story is told of a liberal minister who was being tried for heresy by his denomination. “We understand that you deny the deity of Jesus,” the council said to him. “Is this true?” The minister replied, “Deny the deity of Jesus? Deny the deity of Jesus?!”, he replied. “I haven’t denied the deity of any of us!”

The central theme of the Bible is that God loved man so much that the Son of God volunteered to become human (without giving up His deity) for the express purpose of coming to this earth to die for man’s wrong-doings. To deny the deity of Jesus completely obliterates the meaning of His atoning work on the cross.

We have been rescued from God, by God, and for God. The burden of this book has not been to simply talk about how nice it is to be saved. Instead, we have looked at several implications of salvation. We have seen that our lostness has been taken care of. The work of salvation was done out of the love of God paying the debt we could never pay. We were lured into becoming fellow men-catchers with Jesus. We also saw that we have embarked on a life of learning in which Jesus Himself is our curriculum and He puts us to work. Because He is now our life, we are not devastated when we are labeled, but do our utmost to speak to the intellectuals of our day the Good News about Jesus, even if we are thought to be mental airheads in the process! There is now a glorious liberty to those who are the Sons and Daughters of God, and nothing should entice us to give up our

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freedom in Jesus. With all these blessings, we also discovered that we have been launched into a mission for the Son of God and need to get to it.

But not all will believe. Not all will be saved. In fact, some will resist this message and will go to their graves passively ignoring or actively opposing Jesus and His atoning work. What about them?

Yes, what about those who die without Jesus? Those who refuse to see their own lostness, mock the love of God, steadfastly resist His attempt to lure them into the family of God — what about them? What about those who insist on not enrolling in Jesus University, who are content with the myths of this world and will not become learners of God’s grace? What about those who give no reason to be labeled as “little Christs,” and turn away from the liberty that God promises to His redeemed children? What about those who couldn’t care less about His mission and launch themselves into their own orbits of self- absorption? What about them?

Limits to God’s Love?

Some would say that the unredeemed, those who refuse to be saved, will still be loved eternally by God, even as they are separated from Him and the family of God. After all, isn’t the love of God everlasting? There can’t be limits to God’s love, can there?

But what does the Bible itself say about those who die without Jesus? We read in Matthew 25: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” (v. 41). To be in the category of the “cursed” does not sound like they are objects of God’s love. Earlier in this chapter of Matthew we read of a worthless servant. The master tells the

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faithful servants to “. . . throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 30). At the end of Matthew 25 Jesus gives us a summary conclusion of the sheep and goats’ analogy: “Then they [the goats] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous [the sheep] to eternal life.” (v. 46)

The fate of those who die outside of Christ is explained as their being thrown out of His presence, a place of eternal fire originally prepared for the devil and his angels, a destiny described as eternal punishment where there will be everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The book of Revelation tells us that “A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: ‘If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.’” (ch. 14).

We read in Revelation 16 of those who experience a foretaste of God’s wrath: “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” (v. 9). This seems to contradict those who say that a moment’s experience of God’s wrath will immediately convert a person to faith.

In Revelation 20, we read of the punishment of the evil trinity: Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. We

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read: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (v. 10). Two verses later we read about the fate of all human beings outside of Christ: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (vv. 12-15).

There is no way that anyone could read such verses and conclude that the lost are still objects of God’s love. They are, instead, objects of His eternal wrath.

A Shocking Resurrection

But the idea of God’s righteous hatred of the wicked is not just taught in the last book of the Bible. We read in Daniel 12:2 an amazing end-times’ statement: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”

The Bible teaches that there will be a resurrection of the wicked, for they will receive indestructible bodies which will undergo God’s wrath eternally. We do not rejoice in such a doctrine, but must recognize that, apart from God’s grace in our lives, we would merit the same. And that’s one major reason why those of us who are saved must get the Good New about Jesus out to a lost world. A.W. Tozer said, “The vague and tenuous

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hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”11 May those of us who by His grace know Him not succumb to such a doctrinal drug.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2021 in saved

 

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