The Warning

"As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now. You may leave.' " Acts 24:25........"What does grace mean in our society? In the minds of those who are convinced of their sinfulness, it is a refreshing oasis of relief from a dry spiritual desert. But for those who have embraced a fuzzy, relative morality - the 'whatever you like' ethics of our age - grace means nothing. Why would a generation that has defined its own easy standards need a merciful God? What is there to forgive?" Chris Tiegreen

 

While I write this, Florida is being threatened by what is being described as a "potentially catastrophic hurricane," Irma. Pictures of packed, almost impassible freeways are being shown, as people in panic seek to get out of the path of destruction. As gasoline supplies dwindle, many are unable to procure the fuel needed to leave. It's too late. May His mercy be much upon these ones, and upon all that lie in the path of the storm, should it actually come upon the state, as many believe it will. Yet, as I watch these scenes of flight and fear, I am reminded of something even more dangerous, more destructive, and is coming upon the entire human race regardless of where they live. It is inescapable, and it is the final judgement upon all those who are without Christ on that great day. For all those whose lives are not "hidden in Christ," He who is the only source of safety, the only Way out of destruction's path.

 

Again, as I watch the scenes of flight, I am amazed at how close is the attention we pay to warnings of physical danger, yet how oblivious we are to those that are spiritual. Then again, could it be that we, the Church, have taken ourselves out of the role of those who sound the warning? We have emphasized the saving grace of God, and infinitely great is that grace. But as Tiegreen points out, what does the grace of forgiveness really mean to a generation who believes they have no need of it? Paul said that without repentance there can be no forgiveness of sins. Repentance flows out of conviction of need, of awareness that we have ALL sinned and fallen short of His glory. How can anyone truly be "saved" if they have no idea of what it is they are to be saved from? We are awash in a culture of depravity, where there is tolerance for every view except one that is absolute, and there is nothing more absolute than the message that Christ came to save sinners, among which we, like Paul, are foremost. When Paul witnessed to the Roman governor Felix, who was part of a culture so very similar to that of today, he knew just speaking of His love and grace would not reach the dark heart of Felix. Felix needed to know what his true problem was. That the problem could only be solved through the blood of and belief upon Jesus Christ, and what the consequences of rejection were. Felix fled. Not towards, but away from Christ, and His messenger, Paul.

The concept of sin is not just fading in our culture. It is fading in a great part of the Church as well. We present Christ as One who satisfies every fleshly longing. We speak to consumers who are looking for needs to be met...and abundantly. We must instead show forth a God who is a consuming fire. Who seeks to consume us...and cleanse and make us whole. A God who is hurricane of Life and Love....but also a hurricane of loss and eternal death to all who reject Him. We do not speak with a torrent of condemnation, threat, and carnal fear. We speak in and with the mighty wind of His Spirit. A mighty wind filled with His love, but filled also with the real and awful consequence of rejecting that love. Eternal darkness. We do not try to convince anyone of His Truth. Only He can save and transform. We can only be His Light shining in the darkness, calling lives to Him. To Christ as He is and not as we would like Him to be.

John the Baptist asked the Pharisees "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Who warns this generation of the destruction that is certain for all who are without Christ? The answer is not in a renewed evangelism emphasis, but upon a Holy Spirit filled love for God, love for the lost and for souls, and a hatred of sin and all its consequences. The consequences are sure. Who among us will sound the warning?

Blessings,
Pastor O

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