Posts Tagged ‘Rejecting Christ’

Matthew 13:36-43 – HELL, GOD’S WASTE MANAGEMENT CENTRE – Part 11

Hell

I watch as hell is washed inland with the momentum of an earthquake behind it, a wave of burning cars, buildings and debri. And in its wake the devastation of thousands lost. Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear explosion.

In the Valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, refuse was burned continually day and night. It was called Gehenna, the city dump. Jesus uses it as a picture of HELL. I know that Hell is regarded as a foolish ploy of religious people to instill fear, or a metaphor of retribution, but the Bible is very clear about it being a LITERAL AND DEFINITE place, originally prepared for the devil and his angels and not us (Matthew 25:41).

We are concerned for the lives lost in Japan. What is even worse is the thought of people being separated from God for ETERNITY. As reluctant as I am to speak about hell, Jesus isn’t. Perhaps today, rather than pointing to Gehenna, Jesus would point to the smoldering, twisted rubbish dump, like a lake of fire and smoke that once was Northern Japan, and say that it is a portrait of hell. It’s an incredible waste. But Imagine God thinking that my life is a waste such as this, not only on earth but also for eternity. No wonder hell is described as “THE SECOND DEATH”.

Imagine in Japan a helicopter offering to lift someone from the path of the Tsnami. Imagine them saying “I don’t need your help”. Lots of people do that with Jesus. They say “Well, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I don’t need Jesus. I don’t need to be saved!” The arrogance that deceives me into thinking that somehow I DESERVE heaven rather than accept that Christ died for my sins to keep me from hell may be a prevalent concept today, but it is totally ego centric and highlights how spiritually blind I am. I am choosing to live on a waste dump. Or as we choose to call it a Waste Management Recycling Centre.

As I speak on this day 14th March 2011, Hell walks through the battered remains of New Zealand, Japan and threatens people at Gunpoint in Libya, but Matthew 10:28 (NLT) says “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The Bible says God is life. Those who choose to separate themselves from God separate themselves from that life for eternity, an unimaginable existence.

When Jesus gives an explanation of the parable of the WHEAT AND WEEDS being separated at the harvest, He uses strong terms. He says in Matthew 13:41-42 (NLT) “The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will remove from His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” A comedian said if you don’t have teeth then teeth will be provided, but somehow it doesn’t seem so funny when you think that teeth gnashing describes the terrifying torment and anguish of such retribution.

Jesus is looking at some very religious people as He speaks and says “There will come a time when it will be sorted out”. The day of judgment is coming! He is simply stating it as a fact, and He is not trying to be some street preacher wearing a placard saying “Turn or burn!” Far from it. He is saying “NO-ONE ELSE has come to save you.”

John 3:17-21 (NLT) says “God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE the world, BUT TO SAVE the world through Him. There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES IN HIM. But anyone who does NOT believe in Him has ALREADY been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light…”

These are words of life, not death. God loves you. He IS love. The invitation is clear. God offers us life in Christ. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. Choose life.

Pastor Ross

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John 3:16 –  PARABLE OF THE LOST MINERS

Parable of the Lost Miners

The world watched as 33 Chilean miners TRAPPED underground for 69 days were rescued. The last miner was rescued on Thursay October 14, 2010, a day marked with celebration and joy all around the world. The President of Chile said that Chile will never be the same.

One of the rescued men, Mario Sepulveda, said “I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought and God won the battle. I reached out and took hold of God’s hand. I never doubted that I would be rescued.” According to one article a number of men and their loved ones gave their lives to Christ during the ordeal as they prayed and reached out for God’s help.

Scientists and engineers WORKED day and night to design and drill an ESCAPE hole half a mile down to the trapped miners. 69 days later, they lowered a capsule from CAMP HOPE down to the men. It took 50 minutes to rescue each man. One newspaper headline read “FREED FROM HELL TO HOPE”. As the steel caged capsule surfaced it was as if each man was given NEW LIFE, SAVED, DELIVERED, REBORN.

It got me thinking about what this story would look like if Jesus told it as a parable. I’m sure it would go something like this.

“Once there was a wise, good and powerful King. His kingdom was known as the kingdom of Hope and it was the richest kingdom in the world. He ruled his people with love and justice. The kingdom of Hope was known throughout the world and other kings would seek to emulate the leadership of the great King. His writings and pronouncements were valued. For countless generations his family had ruled the land which was rich in beauty and mineral wealth. His people worked the land and as they ploughed the fields they would find diamonds and gold. As they ate the fruit of the orchards they would find health and strength. As they obeyed their king they prospered and he encouraged his people to share the wealth of the land with their families and with others all around the world. His exports were prized by many people – gold, silver, precious stones, fruit from his orchards and many other riches.

Not satisfied with working the land and planting orchards for food, the people became greedy and decided to find more efficient ways to extract the mineral wealth of the land. They dug a huge mine miles into the earth and worked night and day. Their families suffered as sons and daughters were without their fathers for many days on end. They became very rich from the resources they unearthed, but careless in their work practises and in their family relationships.

The wise king established safety precautions for them to follow but they were largely ignored so it was not surprising that there were many serious accidents and sure enough one day the mine collapsed. Many of the men from the kingdom became trapped in the bowels of the earth. As earth showered down upon them they stopped digging, left their tools and ran for their lives to a section of the mine that remained intact. Some men were wounded and had to be carried to safety. For a while they were stunned at the situation they found themselves in. They cried out in anguish and fear. But then many of them began to blame eachother. Fights began to break out. Then their anger turned towards the king. It was his fault that the safety precautions were not enforced! Soon a number of the men began shouting their abuse and slandering the name of the king.

Others began examining the instructions in the safety manual that the king had written to see if there was something they could do. They found a procedure which would let the king and those on the surface know that they were alive, so that the king could find a way to get them out. They knew the king would know where they were and that they were alive, but they cried out to him and made as much noise as they could. Others told them to be quiet and that the king didn’t care.

From Camp Hope the king soon drilled a small shaft down to the men. He said that the small shaft was just a promise of things to come when a larger hole would be drilled. The miners sent a note up to tell him that they were alive. Food and air was provided by the king along with an assurance that he would provide the way out. Some of the men continued to slander the name of the king, convinced that he intended to kill them.

Days and months went by. Periodically a note would come down the small shaft with a message from the king saying that a hole was being drilled and that someone was coming to save them. A physician would come down through a shaft to the men and examine them. He would give medical assistance and then bring each of them to safety. Many of the men did not believe. They saw no evidence of escape or the help that the king was providing them from above. They decided to make the best of it and ignore the messages and simply receive the provision from above that came through the smaller shaft.

Nevertheless the king continued to drill down to the men, day by day, and continued to send reassuring messages down through the small shaft.

The day finally came when the escape hole was nearly finished. The king sent final instructions through to the men to prepare the way as he drilled through the final few feet to the roof of their prison.

The king was so excited! He had done everything possible to provide a way to rescue the men. In camp Hope their was great celebration that the men would finally be rescued. The king decided to send his own son who was the best physician in the land down in an escape capsule from camp Hope to the trapped men. He was surprised that when he arrived far below that their were few men who welcomed him. He began to bring healing to the wounded men and gave instructions for each person to be rescued.

Some of the miners, after all the work that had been done for them, decided they DIDN’T WANT TO BE RESCUED and walked back into the darkness of the mineshaft, away from the capsule which had been made to bring them to safety and celebration on the surface? They refused to be saved and decided to stay behind? They tried to KILL THE PHYSICIAN who came to examine them, SLANDERED his name, the capsule, the king, the citizens of the kingdom of Hope and they stayed behind. They didn’t want to be hugged by the king of Hope! They didn’t want their lives changed forever? They said to the kings son, “I REJECT ALL YOUR WORK to save me. I DON’T WANT TO BE RESCUED!””

What is the meaning of this parable? John 3:16-18 (NLT) says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” Jesus has done everything He could do to save me from the penalty of my sin. There is nothing left for Him to do, but I am left with a choice as to whether or not I respond to the conviction in my heart and receive Christ as my Saviour.

Like the miners who agreed to be rescued I stepped into the very love of God and received new life and hope for the future. As I emerged the King of kings wrapped His arms around me to the applause of heaven. My life will never be the same.

Pastor Ross

Part 8 – Matthew 12:22-28 – I’M AN ATHEIST AND I INTEND TO STAY THAT WAY!

I’m an Atheist!

He was wide-eyed but unable to speak properly. The nurses told me that he did not have long to live. Brian (not his real name) was experiencing spasms of pain and shortness of breath. He was groaning and looked weak, drawn and afraid. I offered to pray for him. I prayed for healing and encouraged him to reach out to Christ and seek to have a relationship with Him. I told him that Christ would be able to help him get through this situation.

The next day I came in to see Brian again. I asked the nurses how he was and they told me he was much better. I was surprised that he was able to speak again. His recovery was amazing. An answer to prayer! I introduced myself. He looked at me, recognized who I was immediately, and said vehemently, “I’m an ATHEIST and I intend to stay that way!” His response to Christ as he had faced the possibility of death was to REJECT Him. I said that this was his choice but that I hoped he would come to know the Lord.

It’s not unusual that the crowd is amazed as Jesus heals a demon-possessed, blind and dumb man in Matthew 12:22, but it’s that TOTAL REJECTION of Jesus by the Pharisees (and Brian) that surprises me the most.

The Pharisees response to Jesus is vehement and MALICIOUS. Not only do they REJECT Jesus but they proceed to SLANDER His name before the people. They say in Matthew 12:24 (NLT) “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.”

Why are they saying this? Why aren’t they willing to examine things further? Is it that they are afraid of losing their REPUTATION? Is it because they want to hold onto their POWER and already feel that it is slipping away? Perhaps.

The Pharisees are the TALIBAN of Jesus day (If you can’t get people to think your way, bomb them). They behave like RELIGIOUS THUGS! The intensity of their unbelief is incredible. It has already expressed itself as they plotted to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14)! They are obstinate, pig-headed, determined, inflexible, unmoved, stubborn and persistent leaders. The kind of political leaders we still revere today.

The Pharisees did not actually see first hand Jesus heal the demon possessed, blind and dumb man. That’s not surprising. When I DISTANCE myself from Jesus I will rarely see His miracles, even when I hear about what God is doing in the lives of others who have had a personal experience of Christ. Like the Pharisees, I will not be satisfied or happy for the man who has been healed, even though his life has been CHANGED FOREVER. It is only as I am willing to place myself in PROXIMITY to Jesus and see Him for who He is that I begin to acknowledge, like the crowd, the possibility of Him being the MESSIAH, more than a man, the One sent by God to save me from my sin.

In psychology, PROJECTION is a defense mechanism where a person denies what is happening in their own lives, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions, and then ascribes them to other people. Perhaps the Pharisees are demon possessed themselves and being BLIND to this, they PROJECT what is happening to themselves onto Jesus. John the Baptist calls them a BROOD OF VIPERS in Matthew 3:7 who are resistant to REPENTANCE.

In Matthew 5:20 (NLT) Jesus says “But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

The man who was healed was BLIND AND DEAF. The Pharisees are BLIND AND DEAF themselves to the things of God and need healing. John 12:38-40 (NIV) says “…For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has BLINDED their eyes and DEADENED their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Like Brian, they say, “I am blind to what Jesus has done for me and I intend to stay that way!” My Dad used to say “There are none so blind as those who will not see!”

The invitation is to allow the Lord to open your eyes to His truth and intentionally remain open to Christ and what He wants to do in your life today.

Pastor Ross