Friday, November 16, 2007

This Side of Heaven


This side of heaven is the only place where we will be able to preach the Gospel message and where it will have the power of God through His word to save souls from hell.

In heaven…we’ll be able to rejoice and tell each other how God saved us…and praise Him for the glorious plan of salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. But in heaven…our testimony won’t be a tool that God will use to bring people…draw them to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Our last breath here on earth…will be the last breath where we can share the Gospel with unbelievers.

Once we are in heaven…we won’t encounter unbelievers. This is our only chance to reach out to them. Sometimes that prospect may seem good…especially if we encounter people living ungodly lives…in a prideful, flaunting manner. But here and now is our only chance that we will have the opportunity to love the unlovely…do good to those who despitefully use us. To turn the other cheek…out of love and obedience for our Savior.

This side of heaven is the only place where we can and are called to forgive. In heaven…I won’t be able to obey God’s command because there will be no need to forgive others. Do I remember when I forgive…I am imitating Christ and acting in the same manner that my Savior did? When I forgive the inexcusable…am I aware that I can do this only through the power of Jesus Christ living within me? Am I mindful that when I forgive I am defeating Satan and his plans to harm me…and allowing God to work all things together for good, for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes?

Here and now…is the only time we will be able to demonstrate that our hearts break for that which breaks God’s heart. Do I weep when I see someone lost in their sin…living an ungodly lifestyle? Or do I just choose to “be offended” by their ungodly choices and have nothing to do with them? Do I remember that those who live descent lives and are good people, but have not yet received Christ Jesus as their Lord, are just as lost as the vilest offender and need the Gospel message just as much?

Jesus was so broken hearted at seeing the destructive force of sin…and its inescapable consequence…that He chose to come down and bear our sin debt. Holy righteous God can not even look upon sin. But Jesus…chose to set His glory aside so that He might dwell with sinful man. So that He might show us the way…on His way to bearing out sin debt in full. He chose rejection and scorn…as part of the path for Him to redeem us from our sins. He willing received beatings that left Him so marred He was beyond recognition as a human being.

Do I choose to risk rejection and scorn by others so I can share the Gospel message with those lost in their sins and bound for hell? Or do I prize and more highly value the praise and acceptance or men?

Do I really believe that person sitting across from me is bound for hell because they have not accepted God’s only plan of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord? Or do I think…gee wiz they are a nice person…and surly God must “grade on the curve”? Do I withhold sharing the knowledge of the only cure for their terminal and most certain fate…all because I’d rather receive their acceptance and love this side of eternity?

Will I remember clearly the faces of those whom God brought into my life so I could share the message that salvation is found no other name in heaven and earth…than Jesus Christ? Will I be rejoicing because I obeyed God in sharing the life saving power of His word and through it He brought many to salvation? Or will I be weeping because I know I remained silent? I had the cure…I knew it and didn’t share it with those who are perishing. Lame excuses like “I’d didn’t have time” or “I didn’t know what to say”…won’t fly in heaven.

What will I be feeling when the books are laid open...and truth is made known? Will I want to shrink away knowing full well how much I failed in obeying God, loving people and sharing the truth? Or will I be most grateful to hear my Savior say, “Well done good and faithful servant”?

Are the unsaved saved more than just “Gospel fodder”? Do I truly love them…desire to get to know them and care for them…weep with them when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice? Do I want to build a relationship…invest time…so that I can share the best treasure I have with someone I love? Or do I tolerate them as a necessary evil, present the Gospel message so I can say I obeyed…and then flee?

Am I mindful that nothing good dwells in me? That the pain and suffering that Jesus bore was a result of my sin? That God turned His back and rejected His Son on the cross because Jesus bore my sin? Sinless, perfect, holy, righteous Jesus Christ was rejected by God the Father…because of me? Do I think that in and of myself I have something to offer God? Or do I remember that I am a sinner, saved by grace, through faith, least I boast?

This article is dedicated to Gary Peterson who heads Kindred Community Church’s Prison Ministry. Gary has a love for the lost that he walks out in his life daily. May we be a shining light of God’s love to those who are not yet saved.

What do I still need to do this side of heaven?

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