Wednesday, April 4, 2012


     It is likely that you can look back on your days in school and remember your tendency to put off the necessary work on classroom assignments and projects until too near the due date. This is because most people are not only natural procrastinators, but also because we are so often slaves to the tyranny of the urgent. We frequently have the best of intentions, but since we have so little control over so many of the events of life we find ourselves distracted and actually shelving more important matters to quickly address less important but more immediately pressing matters. This tendency to procrastinate is reflected in one's responsiveness to the gospel.
     Those who know me know my opposition to most forms of contemporary evangelism, believing it to be for the most part manipulative and ignorant of the real nature of the human heart as revealed in scripture. In addition to those reasons for opposing most contemporary approaches to reaching the lost, allow me to add the emphasis that is placed on going to heaven. If you are going to emphasize one thing to the sinner about the consequences of his lost condition and estrangement from God, I would urge that preparing for the day he dies so that he might go to heaven is not what should be emphasized, and here is why: Assuming the target of your prayers and efforts to bring an unbeliever is forty-five years of age, how long does he expect to live before he dies? Forty years? Thirty-five? At least. Therefore, if that person is anything like most of us he will procrastinate for decades before he begins to concern himself with his eternal destiny.
     Thus, pointing to God's future wrath (I am a Hell-fire preacher) is far less effective in persuading the average procrastinator than an entirely different (and I think more scriptural) approach. I urge focusing on the sinner's present estrangement from God. After all, even if someone lives for forty, fifty, or in the case of a teen some sixty more years before entering eternity, he is presently an enemy of God (Romans 5.10) and God is presently visiting judgment upon his life (Romans 1.24, 26, 28). That the Apostle Paul lists "disobedient to parents" among those sins that give evidence of God's judgment, a powerful argument can be made that some forms of God's judgment are even visited upon wicked children. Such things need to be pointed out to the lost.
     The gospel is not a fire escape from Hell.  Neither did Jesus Christ suffer the death of the cross merely to enable believers to go to heaven when they die. The gospel is good news on many fronts, not the least of which is the forgiveness, the new life in Christ, and the divine enablement to live in communion with God in service for Christ for years before dying and going to heaven. Contrary to popular opinion in the world today, and even among many who name the name of Christ, there is a direct correlation between holiness and happiness, with the child of God who loves and lives for his Savior is among the happiest of people on earth, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God because of the joy of sins forgiveness, knowing his relationship with God is established and sustained, and with communion with God thoroughly enjoyed.
     Christians need to emphasize the present more in their witnessing, pointing to the lost their present distress as God's enemies, and exhibiting for all to see our present delights as God's children.