I'm sure other people have thought of this but it really just struck me last night. My son watched "Titanic" (well, the last half or so) and described to me the awfulness of people leaving in lifeboats while others on the ship (or already in the water) were screaming and crying... and dying. People all around us are dying without Christ. I see it in my hometown where so many are really GOOD people. I mean, they are kind, generous, devoted, loyal to their own and to this town. But, without a relationship with Christ, they are dying and don't know it.
I left town for a number of years and worked as a missionary in France, in Italy and then lived in New Jersey where we preached the gospel and saw lives changed. Now, here we are back in my hometown. These are my people. These are my roots.
We are faced with some choices. The easiest choice is to save ourselves, to row away to be comfortable and safe and provide for our family. The other choice is to stay and row towards the sinking ship, climb aboard and help.
We don't like to think about people's eternal destinies, but God is very clear about it. There is a hell. There is a place of eternal punishment and suffering. And the people all around us are either going there or they are going to heaven, a place of eternal life and joy and peace. Because of what Jesus has done for us in dying on the cross to pay for our sins we can spend eternity with Him. Because of our sin... in nature in by choice, we are destined for hell. Jesus came to rescue us! "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".(Romans 3:23) "The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord." (Romans 6:23) "He came to His own and His own received Him not, but to all who did receive Him, to those who believed on His name, He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12).
Who wouldn't want to believe that "everybody goes to heaven"?? I mean, sure! Wouldn't we all like to believe in a happy ending for everyone regardless of choices made in this life? So many people believe this! It's much more comforting to think that when someone dies they go to heaven (or "cease to exist" as some claim) than to wonder and think they perhaps your loved one has just gone to a place of eternal punishment! "but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:31
I don't want to get into arguments - I just want to help rescue people. And the people the most dear to me are right here in my hometown.
So, instead of rowing away and plugging my ears to their cries, I'm staying and doing all I can to help rescue the perishing.
- Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen,Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.
- Refrain:Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
- Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,Waiting the penitent child to receive;Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently;He will forgive if they only believe.
- Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
- Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;Back to the narrow way patiently win them;Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.