Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alarms...

A week or so ago on a Tuesday evening around 5:00pm, the mournful wail of the fire siren pierced the hot afternoon air. Firefighters came running from this way and that. Trucks sped west, lights flashing. The radio traffic was incessant for the next few minutes as Argonia’s bravest sought to locate the blaze.

A short time later, the alarm sounded again. Another fire, this one to the south. Our trusty volunteers showed their readiness once more. Within minutes of dispatch, their trucks were rolling.

Both fires were put out quickly, the first before they arrived on scene. I talked with a few of the guys at the station after they returned from fire two. They were hot and sweaty and, in their own words, a bit smelly. They were happy, though, as they put things back in order, readying their trucks for their next page out.

It came just before 11:00pm that night. Not sure if the warning went off a third time. I reset my pager, turned down my radio and dropped back in bed. I dreamt while they doused. I, like the majority of you, am not required to respond to most fires with anything more than curiosity.

You know what? God sounds warnings in the hearts of men and women every day. His signals warn everyone, everywhere to quit playing with fire.

Unfortunately, millions in our nation have the same apathetic response to God’s alarms as you and I have to local fire sirens. They yawn and go on. What God says means nothing to them. Who’s he to boss them around? His rules are outdated. They’re free people. He can’t tell them what to do.

And, on average, 5,000 to 7,000 of these Americans die each day.

Some, those who have believed on Jesus for their salvation, are immediately with their Savior in Heaven. Jesus on the cross gave us that hope of immediate reward when he spoke to the repentant thief on the cross. “…today you will be with me in paradise,” were his words of comfort and promise. (Luke 23:43, NIV) For the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ.

But most of those who die each day in the land of the free do not enter eternal rest. Instead they begin their long, eternal punishment.

Hell is real, folks. It is the forever prison of those who reject God and choose their own way. It is as physical a place as the eternal home of the saints is. Raised from the dead and given new bodies, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, those who have put their faith in Jesus will live joyfully on the New Earth and in the New Heaven. Raised from the dead in eternal bodies, all the unrepentant rebels will suffer unending physical torment and mental anguish in the Lake of Fire. If the one is true, the other must also be. Both places are spoken of extensively in the same book, the book through which God reveals truth. The Bible is clear on Heaven and Hell and clear on how to reach the one and avoid the other. You must believe on Jesus or be condemned.

From Jesus’ mouth we have these words: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:16-21, NIV)

Why do men and women ignore the alarms God sets off in their hearts? They love darkness. They hate the light. They fear exposure of their evil deeds not realizing they’re already exposed before God. If only they would confess, they would be free. Instead they, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, hide from the One who loves them.

Are you among the hiders? God loves you. He sent his Son to die for you. There’s no greater love than that. I urge you to come out of hiding, confess your sin and be freed, be saved, be fully known and loved.


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