Monday, December 2, 2013

Last Call

Someone once said -- If you're in the wrong place, the right place is empty![1]  Our text deals with the basic simplicity of God's invitation to be in the right place.  This is His last call to the nations. 
It is built on four basic presuppositions --
1.  God is God, and He must be worshipped.
And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”    Revelation 14:6-7 (NLT)
The everlasting gospel is that of the kingdom of God.  This is a promise that Jesus gave to his disciples, that the entire world would hear the good news before the final battle.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.    Matthew 24:14
When the angel proclaims this gospel, he says it without stuttering, and without apology; Give GOD glory!  Today many people live as if God is not a part of the equation.  The Scriptures plainly declare that we belong to God.
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.    1 Corinthians 6:20
2.  Those who oppose God and teach others to do the same will be held accountable.
Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”  Revelation 14:8 (NLT)
Babylon is John's cryptic reference to Rome, and the evil kind of influence world systems have.  The World is not the physical realm in which we live; rather it is the particular mindset of separation from God.  It is the independence Adam and Eve sought, desiring to control their own destiny.  It is the basis for all false religion. 
The ancient false religions started in Babylon, with Nimrod.  There is a tale of Nimrod's wife, Semiramis, who was also his mother.  When her husband died she married her own son to keep control of the fledgling Babylonian world domination.  Her birth story was that she cracked the eggshell in which she lived in the Euphrates River, and emerged fully grown, becoming the mother of all living creatures.  In short – she claimed to be God.  She was not!
God has always hated false religion, and He has always treated its followers much more harshly and decisively than those who simply were ignorant.
Beloved, there is enough of the image of Almighty God stamped on your spirit for you to know He alone is God.  To ignore Him or twist Scripture to fit your way of thinking about the way you want to live, rather than how He has commanded us to live will bring you before the judge!
3.  Those who prove unfaithful in their profession of faith in Christ (apostate) will not go to heaven – they will suffer eternal punishment.
Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger.  It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath.  And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.  The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.”  This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.   Revelation 14:9-12 (NLT)
Eternal punishment is for those who are false believers – those who only play at religion.  Human beings have always attempted to do away with hell in an attempt to ease our conscience, but that doesn't mean eternal punishment doesn't exist. 
A very popular pastor and author of a book entitled “Love Wins” takes the idea of eternal punishment off the table.  This means he believes God will not punish unbelief; everybody will eventually be saved.  It is a popular idea; it is also inconsistent with what Scripture teaches.
4.  Faithfulness to Christ is the only criteria God uses to extend eternal rest and reward.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down:  Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on.  Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”    Revelation 14:13
The word blessed literally means finding the right pathway.  The believer who remains faithful to Christ, no matter what the circumstance, is the one who is on life's right pathway. 
An exposition of Scripture without application to our life's structure is just a waste of time.  So let me give you three ways to apply the teaching of John's vision:
#1  Don't fall for the world's materialistic system -- It will fall apart in your hands, before your very eyes.
Babylon fell apart, as did Rome, because of a preoccupation with self and greed (and maybe America if we don't turn from our wicked ways). 
#2  Don't fall for the world's false view of God – He really does punish those who reject Him.
When my brother Thom and I were kids we loved to go to Stump Pond to swim.  One particular Sunday afternoon the pond really beckoned, but Dad said No!  We didn't think that was quite fair, but Dad remained firm.  It was a great day, and we couldn't see any reason not to go – so, when we could we slinked off and through the woods to a fun-filled afternoon at the swimming hole.  It was fun-filled until Dad saw us coming down the lane.  I will go to the grave with the sight of those steel-blue eyes blazing holes in my soul like a laser.  The utter embarrassment of being caught in a disobedient lie by Dad was bad enough – but you know it didn't stop there!  We couldn't sit for a week.  My Dad took his role seriously as God's minister in that household -- and he indeed ministered to the seat of my pants.  The Heavenly Father is also God Almighty.  He does not wink at sin.  He makes certain no one sneaks in Heaven's back door.
A false view of God tells us to fit in with the world, be respectable and likable.  A right view of God says, Be different, be holy like God is holy! 
This could be a last call – he could come back today, or you might be called to see him tonight.  Either way…reject this world’s standards; lean on Christ and be saved.

[1]Original author unknown, David J. Frahm, The Great Niche Hunt, (Navpress, 1991), 15

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