Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Road from Perdition

About two weeks ago I was listening to a Christian radio broadcast while on the road. The broadcast was of a Billy Graham crusade from years gone by. Rev. Graham, un-dubitably one of the greatest evangelists of modern times, passionately explained that the only way to not spend eternity in hell was to receive the forgiveness of sins provided through Jesus Christ and spend eternity in Heaven.

As I listened to the obvious conviction in his words and voice I began to wonder about the source and drive of his passion for the lost. I began to weigh my passion for the lost against what I perceived was his.

Both Brother Graham and I were saved by the same redemptive work.

We both received salvation through faith and Gods Grace.
We had both been convicted of our need for salvation through the same Holy Spirit.
We share all of the same rights, benefits and blessings of that redemptive work.
Why then was Billy Graham compelled to totally commit his life to reaching out to the lost. More importantly, to me, why am I not so compelled? Clearly, something is amiss. God is no respecter of persons. His gifts, although varied, are offered by the same measure to all. Therefore the difference is between Brother Graham and I and not in what God wills for us.

Many, if not most people I have met who claim to be “saved” only know Jesus as a sort of “get out of jail free card” or a “holy fire escape”. (I would like to think that that does not apply to me but I am probably closer to that then I can admit, even to me.) I have no doubt that if they believed and placed their trust in the Salvation of Christ that they are in fact saved. Unfortunately, some don’t go past that and many don’t go much further.

Jesus came to not only to proclaim “The Good News” but to also institute it. I simply can’t get my head around the idea that “The Good News” is only that we can avoid hell and that someday in the future, when we die, we will begin our eternal existence in Heaven. If God’s great eternal plan only involved the afterlife, then why bother with earth at all? For that matter, why not just whisk us off to the end of our mortal lives as soon as we accept salvation so as to prevent mankind from doing the damage it has to the message? Webster defines eternal as having infinite duration. That means no beginning as well as no end.

The answer is obvious, the Good News isn’t that He saves us from going to hell. The Good News is that He came to bring us into the Kingdom of God and to save us from hell, hear and now!

Mark 1:14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

Matthew 12:28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Mark 4:11 He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables.

Luke 11:20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you

Luke 17:21 nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

All of these scriptures speak of a now, a closeness, or and indwelling. I can find nothing in the scriptures to suggest that the True Fellowship of God extended to us is reserved till our deaths.

Ephesians 4:8 states “This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."

Jesus Christ has already ascended, this verse, when used in Ephesians, does not speak of some future event or promise. It SHOUTS that the work is finished! We have been freed from our captivity!

Although I don’t personally know Billy Graham and I can’t actually ask him I am forced to believe that he understands, much clearer then most of us, that Salvation is much, much more then a pre-paid ticket to heaven. Salvation frees us from the shackles of hell on earth and is the gateway into the Kingdom of God. A gateway we are not only invited but encouraged to enter through.

If you don’t know that you are a member of Gods family then please, take a moment and allow God to speak to your heart through His Holy Spirit. You were made in His image, for His purpose. A boat floats on the water, because that is what it was made for. A truck was made for another purpose, it will horribly fail if it is used as a boat. Likewise, the boat us useless on the highway. All of mankind was created to be the vessel of God’s pure Love. Reconcile yourself to the fact that absent God’s Love and Grace we are doomed to a hollow shadow of existence. I can think of no other name for that life but hell. Acknowledge your failure, your sin and accept Gods forgiveness through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Then invite the risen Jesus to be your Lord. Surrender to him and He will free you. He will return to you your true hearts desire. To be one with your creator.

If you already are saved, regardless of how long you have been a Christian or how deep your relationship is. I challenge you today to join me and pray that the Holy Spirit expose to you more of the Love and Joy that our Creator wants us to share.