What We Must Show The World
A. As we have hopefully seen over the past few months, one of the greatest responsibilities we have as disciples of Jesus Christ is teaching the lost. It is a command of our Lord and it is a necessity in the process of salvation. Though sometimes we may forget the vital need for this, I believe we all understand the importance of our part in the salvation of others. But what is often the case, many simply do not know what they need to teach! It's not that they don't know what to tell others to do to be saved, it's just that we don't know how much or how little is needed when we teach them. Do we need to tell them everything? Where do we start? What do they need to know?
B. What we should remember as we strive to bring others to Christ is that they need to see and we must show them a reason to repent, a reason to believe, and a hope they can hold onto. We can no longer simply sit down with someone and read selected Bible passages and expect that they will simply cast aside everything they have ever known. We've got to show the world that there is a reason to follow after Jesus Christ and His teachings, and we won't do it by telling them "Because God said so," or by scaring them into obedience. We've got to show them something that will cause them to want to leave the life they are now living but more than that. We've got to show them a worthwhile reason to follow Jesus but even more than that. We've got to show them the goal we strive for that will not only replace but surpass all they have ever known.
C. So today, let's look at What We Must Show The World.
Let us consider a few things the world needs to see that they might put away the worldly life and join with us in striving for the heavenly goal. Let us look at those things the world must see if we are to convince them to change and then follow after our Lord. And when we have done this let us also consider that we must get them to see the reality of eternity. These three things should motivate the lost to obey, but they should also motivate the believer to continue steadfastly in the faith, remembering from whence we came.
What We Must Show The World is:
I. THEY ARE LOST [Rom. 3:23]
A. And Do Not Know It.
1. D.L. Moody once said, "You can't win a man until you get him lost." He's right; most people do not believe they are lost, and until we can get them to see that they are, any appeal to obey that they might be saved will fall on deaf ears.
2. We must understand that what we are trying to teach the world, they are, in most cases, lacking a great deal of knowledge in these spiritual matters. Our society today knows very little of the Bible, and many of those who are somewhat religious know only what someone else has taught them. But for the world, most simply do not understand their own spiritual condition. In every survey over the past twenty years in these United States, when people were asked if they believed in heaven and hell, more people believed in heaven than in hell (90% to 60%), and most of those believed they would go to heaven and not hell (90% to about 2%; the rest weren't sure). And when asked in a recent survey, almost half of respondents believe despite the Bibles assertion to the contrary that all people will experience the same outcome after death, no matter what their religious beliefs. (The Columbus Dispatch, December 29, 2000.) If 9 out of 10 believe they are saved, who are the "few" of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:13, 14? Who is right? Clearly, the lost do not know they are lost.
B. We Must Show Them They Are Lost.
1. Show Them What Sin Is.
One problem we have in convincing the unbeliever that they need God is that they simply do not know what sin is. Nobody uses that word any more! Sin is no longer a sin it's a weakness or a mistake or even a disease. Anything but what it is. Adultery is now an "indiscretion," homosexuality is an "alternative lifestyle," and murder is "depriving one of their individual rights." Sin is something that is the center of jokes and monologues on the late night TV shows. Sin is not a serious matter in the eyes of most of the world. The world portrays "sin" as someone enjoying something more than what they should. (Like chocolate.) The world pictures sinful activities as fun and exciting and intellectually-superior choices; those who participate in these sinful activities are not "narrow-minded" like those who oppose them they're much more "enlightened" than the rest of us. The world would have us believe that the actions that God calls sin are a matter for anyone else but the one who participates. ("Judge not that you be not judged!") The world does not know what sin really is.
a. Transgression of God's will.
[1 John 3:4, KJV] Sin is not simply "a mistake" or an "indiscretion" that we can just shrug our shoulders at when it is discovered. We have gone against the will of our Creator and committed an act of unrighteousness (literal translation of 1 Jn. 3:4). It is one thing to do a wrong against another man, but God! We have committed the gravest of transgressions when we have gone against our Creator, for He is the most righteous one, the holiest of the holy, and the supreme being. We could not do a greater wrong. [Consider the positive example of Joseph in Genesis 39:9.]
b. The nails that hung our Savior.
[1 Pet. 2:24] Jesus came to this earth for the express purpose of saving us from our sins. This was done through the death on the cross, but He would have never had to come had we not sinned. He didn't die for "someone else's" sins; He died for mine and yours and the sins of the whole world. If just one person would have sinned, it would have meant that Christ had to die. Sin is what put Christ on the cross. It's an ugly act that demanded the horrible death of an innocent man to pay its wages.
2. Show Them That Sin Separates.
Another misconception the world has about sin is that it is not something so bad that it will get in the middle of their relationship with God. They just do not believe that God would ever turn them away because of their sins. Some have such a distorted view of God they say such things as "God is too loving to send someone to an eternal punishment in hell." God, in the eyes of an uninformed world, will just pat us all on the back and say, "I know you've all made mistakes, heh, heh, but that's okay; we all do. Come on in!"
a. God withdrew from His children. [Joshua 7] When the Israelites God's people had just one amongst them who had transgressed the will of God, he was not with them when they went to conquer the small city of Ai, and would not be with them until they had destroyed the sinner amongst them (v. 12). Just one was all it took.
b. It was their own sins that separated.
[Isa. 59:1, 2] God withdrew from His people and would help them no longer, but why? Was it because He was unable to help or unable to hear? No! It was their own sins and iniquities that separated between them and God. Sin separates.
c. God is against those who practice evil.
[Psa. 34:16] God can have no part with sin, wickedness, or evil however you want to describe it because there is no unrighteousness in Him (Psa. 92:15). So, no matter how "good" we think we may be, if there is sin in our life, God can have no part with us. Paul told the Galatian brethren that those who practice sin can have no part in the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
3. Show Them All Including They Have Sinned.
Understanding what sin is and what it does is just part of the equation; we must also show the world that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). No man is without sin, so all men have transgressed God's will and are separated from Him. In that condition, we must emphasize the urgency in remedying the situation. We need to point them to the only way out: through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
a. People today are just as lost as they were when Christ walked this earth: they are still "like sheep having no shepherd." (Matt. 9:36) Many people live their entire lives without knowing where they are headed. We need to point them to the Master Shepherd.
b. People are just as much in need of teaching as they were in Christ's time, too. The "harvest" is still "plentiful." We need to bring in the sheaves!
II. THE LOVE OF CHRIST [Isa. 53:5]
A. The Depths.
1. Left Heaven.
[2 Cor. 8:9] Jesus loved us so much, He left the very place we all aspire to reach. He left the glories of heaven and the honor of it all and came in the form of man. He was not compelled to, He was not obligated, He did not do it against His own will. Jesus loved us so much, He was willing to give up a great home and live as a man.
a. Constantly questioned.
(Luke 11:53, 54) His opponents followed Him around simply that they might find some way to accuse Him of wrongdoing.
b. Falsely tried.
(Matt. 26:57-61) When He was finally taken and tried, those who had done so sought false testimony against Him. They could not find anything against Him, so they invented something and they condemned Him to death (v. 66).
c. Physically abused.
While He was before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was struck on the face (Luke 22:63, 64; the word beat here literally means to scourge), the officers striking Him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:65). Leaving them, it is most likely He was bleeding from the beatings, which would literally rip the flesh open. When He was taken to Pilate, Pilate could find no fault in Him, but bent to the will of the people. In sending Him away to be crucified, He was again scourged (Matt. 27:26). At this time, they "twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head" (John 19:2) I am pretty sure they did not place it lightly upon His head. No doubt, He was further wounded by the thorns being roughly thrust upon His head. This was not enough, for they then "struck Him on the head with a reed" (Mark 15:19) and "with their hands" (John 19:3). To add insult to injury, they "spat on Him." The blows to His head no doubt pushed the thorny crown further into His head and inflicting more pain.
The means of crucifixion was such that it would bring about a relatively quick death. The "nails" might be more correctly called spikes like our railroad spikes for they had to bear the weight of the crucified one. The crucifixion was such that it stretched out the body, sometimes to the point that the bones were literally pulled out of their joints by the body's pull itself. After awhile, and because of exhaustion, the body would sag even lower and would bring on difficulty breathing, some dying from self-suffocation. As He hung there, suffering the physical pain and anguish and dehydrated from the heat of the day, He cried out "I thirst!" (John 19:38), to which someone ran and brought a sponge filled with sour wine (vinegar, v. 29). To the very end, His accusers would give Him not even the slightest bit of relief or comfort just as they had done in His life on earth.
e. All in innocence.
(Matt. 27:4) Even His betrayer admitted the innocence of Jesus. He had committed no crime. One of those who hung with Him recognized that He had "done nothing wrong." (Luke 23:41) So on top of the great suffering that Jesus endured, He did so in innocence, and He "did not revile in return" and "did not threaten." (1 Pet. 2:23)
B. The Reason.
[1 Cor. 15:3]
1. For Our Sins.
The plain fact of Jesus' death is that it was for our sins. He had no ulterior motives, no secret agenda to take over the world or usurp Roman authority, and no alternative plan that was not revealed. Jesus Christ suffered these terrible things and died the cruel death on the cross for our sins. He died for our sins that we "might live for righteousness" (1 Pet. 2:24). He did all this that we might have the hope of eternal life.
2. Because He Loved Us.
(Eph. 5:2, 25) And again, we see there was a higher motivation than selfish ambition. Jesus did not do all of these things that He might gain the glory. Certainly, He was exalted, but because He did it by love for us.
3. We Could Not Do What He Did.
(Rom. 5:6, 8) We were literally helpless in our efforts to remove sin from our lives. We could not do it! But Jesus could! He "died for the ungodly" (you and me) and "while we were sinners." He didn't do it because we deserved it or because we were good or His friends; He did it in spite of who we were.
III. THE REALITY OF ETERNITY
A. Misconceptions About Eternity.
1. The End.
There are some who have such a lack of knowledge of what death is that they think it is just the end. They know nothing of what God has revealed to us, so they believe that when we die, we're "like Rover, dead all over." Others hold to this idea knowing full well what God has revealed to us, but have rejected His will and try to convince themselves (and others) that this life is all there is and that we should "get what we can while we can."
There is one group of people who claim to be followers of
Jesus Christ that teaches that death is nothing more than "a state of
complete unconsciousness." In that same creed book, they also claim that
death is a "state of nonexistence" and man "no longer
[Q: How can something that no longer exists be unconscious?] They teach this, not because of what God has revealed, but because they do not believe there is an form of eternal punishment for those who do not obey His will. In this same creed book, they ask: "Would a loving God really torment people forever?"
Still others believe that death is only one step in the progression of a soul to either eternal reward or punishment. This doctrine, called reincarnation, or transmigration, states that "Delivery from the body occurs only after the soul passes through a series of transmigrations. If the soul has had a good character in its several existences, it is allowed to return to a state of pure being. If, however, its character has continually deteriorated in its transmigrations, it ends in Tartarus, the place of eternal damnation." Death eventually means the end, but not necessarily.
B. The Truth About Eternity.
1. It Is Everlasting.
As much as man wants to deny and ignore the reality, we cannot change the fact that eternity means forever. By definition, eternal means without end; ceaseless; perpetual. Whether eternal rest or eternal punishment, eternity is forever, without end.
2. Described in God's Word.
a. At The End.
When Paul wrote the Thessalonian brethren in seeking to ease their fears about those already dead, he revealed that, in the end, the dead in Christ would be raised first, then "we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4:17) Paul wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that our dwelling would be with the Lord always.
b. Eternal Life.
(1 John 2:25 John 6:47) The promise that God has given us is the promise of eternal life. We have a hope of living forever with God in eternity! But that promise is given to those who believe in Jesus as the Christ, not just anyone. Many in the world of religion want to make the reward of eternal life available to any and all who claim it, but God has not so promised. What reward would it be if you spent an eternity with those who opposed the very thing you believed, worked against you at every turn, and sought to destroy those who believed as you believe? What kind of reward is that?
(Rev. 22:5) One of the ways eternity is described is by what is absent. In Revelation 21:4, we are told that there will be "no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." If it is no longer, then that implies eternity! John would later describe the city, stating: "There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever." Forever and ever! That is eternity!
(Matt. 25:46) But, there is a negative side of eternity: eternal condemnation. On the flip side of the description of eternal reward for the faithful is the certainty of eternal punishment. In the judgment scene of Matthew 25, the Judge (Jesus Christ) condemns the unmerciful and selfish ones to "everlasting punishment," while the righteous received "eternal life." The apostle Paul described their fate as "eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord." (2 Thess. 1:8, 9)
Also described as a lake of fire, in which the wicked are "tormented day and night forever and ever." (Rev. 20:10) The rich man, after death, was in a place of "torments," and asked that a little relief because he was "tormented in this flame." Only after death did he stop to think about eternity, and then because he did not want others to come to where he was.
C. Preparation Needed Now.
Eternity is certain, so which will we choose? Do you want to spend an eternity with those who have believed in Jesus and who have followed His word faithfully in their life, honoring and worshipping Him? Or, do you desire to spend an eternity in torments, in that lake of fire that burns day and night, forever and ever? The choice is easy, isn't it?
We must not only show them they are guilty of sin, show them that they are loved by God and Christ, and that eternity is real, we must also show them they must do something about it now. It will have done no one any good if we do not get them to make preparation now, before it is too late. We need to show them the urgency of obedience to the will of God that they may have those sins taken away, that they may enjoy the benefits of the love of God and Christ, and that they may enjoy eternity in heaven, reigning forever and ever.
How about you? Will you come?
By Steven Harper
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