Matthew 7-8, Psalm 85
Penn Jilette, magician and atheist, said the following after being approached by a man of God with the gospel message after one of his shows: "I've always said that I don't respect people who don't proselytize. If you believe that there's a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward-and atheists who think people shouldn't proselytize and who say just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself-how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn't believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that." To proselytize means to attempt to bring someone into a belief. For us, it would mean for us to plant that seed that would convict them and help them desire a saving relation with Jesus Christ. In the past two months I have unfortunately heard and seen the stories of many unexpected and untimely deaths. A young girl that I delivered 24 years ago died of a heroin overdose. A patient told me of her 28 year old daughter who died of a heroin overdose and her 20+ year old step-son who committed suicide. We have a beautiful young girl in our practice who at 28 years of age was diagnosed and died of an extremely rare form of cancer in one month. I have a patient who was away in Turks and Caicos for vacation when her husband suffered a massive heart attack and died while out on a snorkeling trip. Death will happen to us all, we make a mistake when we we somehow believe that we can predict it and wait to share our faith at the "right" time.
Jesus had much to say about eternity. In fact he spoke 3x more about hell than heaven in the gospel accounts because He does not want anyone to go there. We read in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Jesus said in John 10:9, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." In John 14:6, we read, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus clearly states that His way is the only way. Those who like to make the broad statement of "all roads lead to the same destination", make this statement to feel good, open-minded, and tolerant of all beliefs. But Jesus claimed exclusivity. We read in Matthew 7:22-23, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" So many have a false sense of security. They feel that they were born into the "right" religious denomination, did the "right" rituals necessary for heaven, such as baptism, confirmation, circumcision, bah mitzvah, etc. Many will go to church on occasion, give a little money here and there, and practice the traditions of their faith without ever really desiring or entering into a true relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, if nothing changes, they will one day hear those chilling words when it comes time for judgment, "Depart from Me". For any who believe that hell will not be that bad, Jesus clears that up for us in Matthew 8:12, "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
We who claim to be Christians are continually missing the mark. We get up in arms when a nativity scene is removed from a public place as though that scene will make the difference in someone else's eternity. But where is our emotion and how often do we neglect to warn the masses of what their eternity holds for them if they do not choose Jesus. As we all know, since we cannot predict someone's death, what are we waiting for? The right time? The right words? The right scenario? Jesus continually spoke of the kingdom. If we want to be His disciples, so should we. There is no middle road, and everyone gets to make a choice. Jesus couldn't possibly make it any clearer as He concludes the Sermon in the Mount: two roads: one unto life and one onto destruction; two trees: one of fruitfulness, one of failure; two foundations: one to stand on, one to collapse. God sends no one to hell. Instead He loves us so much that He leaves that choice up to us and left us with an instruction manual, the Bible, to help us choose. He has given us all free will with the ability to choose. He also loves us so much that no matter how far we have traveled down the wrong path, He will never leave us but will make Himself available if we so desire to enter the right path. With eternity at stake, what are we waiting for? Atheist, Penn Jilette, recognized this, why don't more of us realize this and seize every opportunity to help lead others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: