“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6, KJV).
When we truly grasp the magnitude of the depth of God’s unfathomable mercy and grace so freely bestowed upon us upon our salvation, that is when we as believers truly begin to “die to self.” Only then do we begin to develop a healthy fear of the Lord, which is “the beginning of wisdom.” We will never be wise in any area of our lives without a proper fear (a deep and awe-inspiring respect and reverence) of the Lord and His holiness.
Only when we are faced with the brutal truth of the depth of our own sin nature will we even begin to grasp what His mercy and love has done for us through His death and resurrection. When presenting the gospel to those who are lost, the lost soul must first be confronted with the FACT of his lostness so that he can come to understand WHY he needs a Savior (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-14). We must be able to explain not only what the gospel is, but why they need a Savior.
MERCY is mankind NOT getting the eternal punishment that we in our fallen condition deserve. Why? because we ALREADY ARE justly condemned sinners who are hopelessly infected by sin.
GRACE is God OFFERING to “whosoever will” the FREE GIFT of eternal salvation which we ourselves can never deserve and for which we could NEVER qualify by our own merits. That free gift is the complete forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Although God holds all men accountable (Romans 1), how many people within our own sphere of influence slip into an eternal Hell all because no one ever dared to love them enough to tell them the unvarnished truth – that they stand guilty before a holy God “condemned already”? How many breathe their final breaths in this world and awaken in a never-ending Hell all because no one loved them enough to dare to endure their mockery, their scorn, or even their hatred by confronting them with the inconvenient truth that sin must be dealt with at the foot of the cross? How many slide into an eternal and final Hell unwarned because we are afraid of being truthful to them – afraid that the gospel will be offensive to them? Are we afraid of offending them into a Hell to which they are already headed unless they come to salvation before they draw their final breath?
The Prophet Elijah at Mt Carmel did not confront the false prophets of Ba’al with timidity and deference, seeking not to be provocative. No, he came with boldness, with purpose, and yes, even righteous indignation at a vacillating Israel too easily swayed and ensnared by the lure of pagan idolatry. John the Baptist did not come with timid, sin-tolerating words dripping from his lips like deceptive, poison-laden honey. No, he came out of the wilderness brash, bold, and unapologetic with the ringing cry of “REPENT” resounding in the ears of a complacently religious, but utterly lost Israel.
Were these men then unloving because of their bluntness? I say a resounding No! They were among the MOST loving champions of the faith in the entire Bible. Was Jesus unloving when He fashioned a whip and drove out the money changers – those religious charlatans, from the Temple? Was He unloving when He confronted the Pharisees eye to eye and called them “whitewashed tombs full of rotting dead men’s bones”? Of course He was not being unloving – He was being brutally truthful BECAUSE He loved the people of Israel who were being deceived by the false religious charlatans of their day.
Truth and genuine Love ARE divisive; both divide, and both are an offense to the lost. To a lost man or woman, love sounds like hate when it goes against that which one does not want to know or hear. We must never forget that the hands that bear the scars of Calvary are also the hands that fashioned the whip which drove out the money changers defiling God’s temple. The Son of God who cried aloud, “Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…” is the same God who smote the army of Senecherib, and who slew the firstborn of all of Egypt when Pharaoh hardened his heart and defied the God of Glory.
Yes, God IS love. He IS mercy, but He is also holy, righteous, and just. Before any person can be saved, he must first be introduced to the cross and WHAT Jesus did there and WHY. One must first be confronted with one’s sin guilt dealt with by Jesus CHRIST, God the Son come in human flesh, who “became sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21) for us, taking upon Himself the penalty for our sins. It was at the cross where the Mercy of God met the Justice of God. It was at the cross where the vile depth of man’s sin debt was satisfied and sealed by God the Son who, at Calvary, paid in full with His blood the infinite penalty for mankind’s sins, and sealed for all eternity our salvation with His bodily resurrection from the dead three days later in order that the justice of God may be fully satisfied, and the Mercy of God extended to us who had no hope.
When Adam sinned, an infinite penalty was incurred by him along with every person descended from him – a penalty that no human could ever pay because ALL mankind is infected with the curse of sin. Because of that taint, ALL “fall short of the glory of God.” God the Son, in obedience to the Father’s will, incarnated into human flesh so that as the perfect, sinless God-Man (being both fully God and fully Man) He qualified, as that perfect, sinless Man, to pay that penalty – the payment or satisfying of that penalty/debt without which all mankind would be eternally doomed to Hell, separated from God by the curse of sin with which all mankind is infected.
Only when the lost man or woman, boy or girl is brought to the awful truth of the eternal condemnation of sin can true repentance occur.
And what of us who have already been saved by God’s so great salvation? Why is it that we live such timid, defeated, useless, and unproductive lives? The answer is simple; we live defeated lives as believers because we fail to grasp this one truth – that once we have come to Christ in salvation, we are not (any longer) our own. We have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20). The blood of God the Son paid the infinite and eternal ransom that was required by God’s infinite justice in order to justify us who are nothing more than hopeless sinners rightly and justly condemned before a righteous and holy God. We live defeated lives when we fail to remember just what Christ’s death accomplished on our behalf.
“Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be” as the old hymn states.
Only when we comprehend the depth of our sinful nature and what Christ has freed and redeemed us from will we ever be able to fully appreciate His great mercy and grace that upon the instant of our belief (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) moved us from eternal death unto eternal life in Christ. Our salvation is eternally secure! Can we ever ponder that enough?!
Only when we come to the point of realizing the enormity of the price Christ paid in order to redeem us, it is only then that we become utterly undone and broken before our Lord. This is when true surrender to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power in us can grow. When we come to the place where we “die to self,” then that is the point when we can boldly and without fear become the effective watchmen we have been called to be sharing the gospel and the truth of God’s coming judgment without fear and without compromise.
When giving the gospel, we must make sure that people clearly understand what THE gospel is. Repentance, according to the scriptures, is NOT “turning from our sins.” We are no more capable of turning from our sins than we are capable of sprouting wings and flying to Mars. No, repentance for salvation is a change of MIND: first about who and what WE are ( NOT “good people” but lost and justly condemned sinners already on our way to Hell), and second, it is changing of our minds about who Jesus Christ is: the incarnate Son of God come to earth – the ONLY way of salvation and the only One through whom mankind can be can reconciled to God (Acts 4:12).
Only in that state of utter brokenness when all rationalizations, all excuses are over – only when the lost soul has been broken in pride, when one is forced to face the fact of the brutal truth of one’s sin, only then is the lost man’s foolish self-importance crushed beneath the weight of the depth and truth of one’s guilt laid bare. Only in that repentance – that change of mind and heart and with one’s belief in Jesus alone for his salvation, is the lost soul saved.
As for believers, we who are ALREADY saved and redeemed, only when we fall broken in our pride, surrendering our own selfish will, yielding completely to the One in whom we have already placed our trust – only when we come to the end of our own will and surrender to His perfect will, only then will the stranglehold of those habitual sins that so beset us and which hinder our effective witness, be broken. Only then will those old habits that constantly enslave us finally be shattered in the face of remembering God’s great mercy and grace with which He has already set us free. The instant we believe, we become “free indeed” (John 8:36).
Why are we who are God’s ambassadors in the closing out of this dispensation of the Church Age so often timid in sharing the gospel? Why are we so often ineffectual in standing firm on the verity of the Word? Why are we so often afraid, intimidated, distressed, and despondent?
Is it not because we have taken our eyes OFF of our Lord and focused them instead upon the circumstances of a world drowning in evil, just as our Lord already warned us it would be? When our focus is on our circumstances and surroundings, then we become timid, fearful, impotent, angry, apathetic, uncaring, ineffectual, and even unloving because we are afraid to give the truth that as my pastor Dad used to say, “There is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun.” When we forget the magnitude of the price Jesus paid for our salvation, we lose our passion and our compassion.
Instead of standing boldly and telling forth the truth in loving boldness, we pull inward and cower in fear. We lose sight of the fact that millions of souls stand poised on the very brink of Hell because the earth itself is teetering on the brink of God’s consuming wrath.
We need to become broken before the Lord, asking Him to rekindle our passion to serve Him without fear or compromise, and to restore within us His compassion for all who are lost and dying headed for an eternal Hell – just as we once were. We need to be broken again.
See, God loves and uses broken things. He takes our sin-sick souls and offers eternal life to all who are willing to believe on Him. Then, once we believe, He takes the broken and shattered pieces of our prideful, rebellious hearts and begins to remake us into the image of His Son.
Beloved family, let us love the lost enough to confront them with the truth from a heart broken over the lost state of their eternal souls. And in love, but with unflinching boldness, confront them with the inconvenient truth that they may not want to hear, but which they so desperately NEED to hear – that they are lost and in need of a Savior – that they are facing God’s imminent wrath and judgment and that an eternity in Hell awaits them unless they believe in the only One who can and is willing to save them. We must tell them that Jesus Christ is the only One who can save them from the eternal penalty of sin.
We need to love the lost enough (even the most hate-filled ones) to tell them the truth so that they may understand that they NEED a Savior and what the eternal consequences are for those who refuse God’s so great salvation.
We are at the very end. We are on the cusp of the Church being Raptured out and the Church Age of Grace ending. There is no time left to vacillate or cower in fear. As we face these last waning moments before God removes His Church from this earth, may we never be afraid or ashamed to speak the truth to those who are lost. May we with fear and trembling for God alone, stand fast so that we do not squander the opportunities He has given us. May we stand in faith with boldness. May our fear be NOT of any man or any Principality or Power of Darkness regardless of how powerful they may seem, but let us stand boldly, proclaiming the gospel, warning of soon-coming judgment, recognizing that it is nothing less than the eternal destiny of men’s souls that hang in the balance.
Satan and all his minions, both demonic and human, only have the power God allows them to wield. We are inviolate unless and until God is finished with us and our race is over, whether that be in death or through the rapture.
“And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
We, who have been eternally saved and eternally sealed “in Christ” by the Holy Spirit, are yet a work in progress. It is not yet clear what we shall be, but we know that when “He who began a good work in us” is finished, we will be a shining reflection of our Lord, dwelling with Him in Glory for all eternity. It is for the redemption of our bodies that we longingly await (Romans 8:23).
Let us be willing to love as HE loves, even when that love involves bringing the rebellious lost face to face with the ugliness of sin so that if they are willing, they might see the mercy of the Savior.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, God tells us that to everything there is a season: a time to laugh and a time to weep; a time to sow and a time to reap. We must also realize that there is also time to be gentle and a time to be urgent. We are living in urgent times, dark, dire, and dangerous days. The time left to us before the rapture of the Remnant Church occurs and judgment descends for a wicked, God-hating world begins is almost upon us. The closer we get to being called Home, the more urgent our warnings should become. When a disaster is impending, the niceties and differences of society matter very little. If we really love the lost, we will confront them without deference, fear, or compromise. We must warn them boldly and uncompromisingly of what is coming, indeed what is almost here. We must do this in boldness but with a weeping, burdened heart, without regard to how they or anyone else may view us or what they may say about us or do to us for Jesus’s sake. Our warnings should grow ever more bold and blunt the closer we get to God’s coming judgement.
Let us testify the truth without fear before a lost and increasingly hostile world. Let us boldly call all who are lost to the One who IS TRUTH before it is too late.
“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” Jude 1:22-25).
Keep on keeping on with boldness, and as the Apostle Paul would say, “May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”