We have been so blessed recently as a family. God has provided in many different ways for us, even a place to live while we are home on this trip as our kids do some testing for school. Some friends of ours have a furnished home in a patch of woods not far from our home church and they let us stay there when we are in town. The kids love it out there. There are lots of trees, and occasionally the old ones fall down and need to be taken care of. So I usually do some cleaning up with the chainsaw whenever we are in town. It also gives me a reason to do something else I love, bonfires.
Take a glance at the pic attached to this post. What does this picture make you think about? This is actually just a pit of burning coals left over after a day of cutting and burning tree branches. After hours of fire, the remaining coals get red hot and glow all through the night. They can even smolder for weeks. Any of you who have done a lot of bonfires know this. And you know the sort of hypnotizing effect staring into the flames of a fire can have on you. I don’t know if it’s just me, but after just seconds of looking at the fire my mind drifts towards biblical things. I usually think about God at first. Watching the flames dance over the logs as they grow taller and intimidating, things come to mind. Like the Great I Am, speaking to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). Or the pillar of fire that guided Israel by night (Exodus 13:21). Or the appearance of the glory of the LORD that was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel (Exodus 24:17). I think of many things, especially when alone at night by the fire. And it usually drives me to look towards heaven and pray.
But there’s one thing my mind always arrives at when I stare at the smoke rising from the remaining red hot coals as they burn and crackle. You probably guessed it…hell. Uh oh I said the h word, now that isn’t very popular to talk about is it. But even as a born again believer, one who absolutely believes in the assurance of my salvation and the perseverance of the saints, it still horrifies me. And unless you are way out in left field in your theology we can all agree on this, hell is real and people go there everyday. But people sure don’t seem to be talking about it much. No one wants to be known as that fire breathing preacher. But where is the love in not warning people? Jesus obviously thought it was important enough to mention it quite frequently. Actually, most of what we know about hell are from His very words in the gospels. It was this vision of hell shortly after my conversion that cost me many nights of sleep because of the new awareness I had of the fate of many. And it was the same that helped to fuel in me a passion for the Gospel and evangelism.
It was Charles Spurgeon that said,
“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that. “
Ouch. Go ahead and read that quote again. Now ask yourself, do you wish for others to be saved? Now, either you don’t care if people come to Christ (see quote), or you do but you are afraid of something. Most likely what people will think. And it keeps you from speaking up. People just don’t want to talk about things like sin, hell, God’s holiness, and judgement. And yes there are many different topics in Scripture, but we can’t pick and choose what we like and avoid the rest. It’s all or none. God forbid that we shy away from this sobering task before us. Lord help us to be obedient in the sharing of a biblical gospel and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Whether that person comes to Christ or not is completely up to God, but it is through the sharing of the Gospel that the person will respond. And that’s the task at hand, to preach the gospel, repent and believe (Mark 1:14-15) .
Does it not trouble us to know that many will perish? Do you feel no urge to share with others the only hope there is of salvation? The hope we sing about and praise Him for week after week!? Then perhaps many don’t believe the Bible as much as they think they do. Charles Spurgeon also said these words.
“Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”
Mr. Spurgeon is not saying we all need to pack it up, sell everything and move to a foreign country (although more probably should). But what he is saying is that every Christian should be mission minded, and live their lives in such a way that it is structured around the command to share the gospel and make disciples. Right there, wherever you live, you are a missionary. At home, at work, or on the ball field. Warn people of coming judgement, but also share the wonderful promises of God in the gospel and lift up Christ in all of His glory and majesty. God will do the rest.
Regardless of what theological camp you’re in, hell is real, Christ saves, and we have a command from the King. My prayer is that every Christian would stand up unashamed of the gospel, realize the task at hand, and say with Paul, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1Cor. 9:16) Pray.