From the Pulpit: With a warning to everyone

I remember the day I woke up with a sty on my eyelid – the decision was to go and see the doctor to make sure that it wasn’t something more sinister – but, as I entered the examining room, the doctor promptly diagnosed me with high blood pressure. My immediate response was: “I knew I shouldn’t have gone to the doctor!”

There is something in mankind that creates an aversion to the medical profession – especially if the professional has the reputation for being honest with the patient. I guess the thing is, we don’t want to be told that there is something wrong with us.

This issue finds its parallel in the spiritual world. Consciously or sub-consciously we all wish to be diagnosed as enjoying complete spiritual health (which in view of the human condition [all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God] no one can claim) needing no adjustment, needing no medication.

But the truth is that every human being is carrying in himself a deadly disease. Admitting it or denying it makes no difference. Just as an untreated physical disease will eventually adversely affect the body, so the untreated deadly disease of sin will ultimately destroy one’s whole being. Some of the symptoms of sin begin to show their effect here and now – but the ultimate consequence will become evident in the here-after. The only thing with that is the biblical truth which declares that at that point no cure will be available. The reality is that all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God can only anticipate the wages of sin – which is spiritual death (eternal separation from God, relegated to the place the Bible calls hell) – Romans 3:23; 6:23.

The New Testament writers tell us that the things written in the Old Testament were written as examples to us: so let’s think of some of the examples. God said to Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam ate, and he died (first spiritually, then physically). In the days before the flood, God sent Noah (whom Peter calls a preacher of righteousness – 2 Peter 2:5) to warn that sinful generation that judgment will come unless they repent – they didn’t listen, and God sent the flood to destroy the wicked people in their wickedness (Genesis 6-8). And in the days of Abraham God sent Lot into Sodom and Gomorrah to warn the people of the region to repent of their wicked ways, they didn’t repent, and God sent fire and brimstone and destroyed the entire region (Genesis 19).

The point is that if we hear a warning from God, or if He gives us certain directives, then it is to our advantage to listen and obey. And the call of the New Testament is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ – to admit one’s sinfulness – to accept the fact that Jesus was (and is) the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world – to confess one’s sins – to seek forgiveness from God – to surrender to His authority – and live one’s life in obedience to God’s Word. To make this even more urgent, the Bible declares that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

It would be stupid, if one wants to live a healthier life, not to pay a trusting doctor a visit on a regular basis, and follow the professional advice of the doctor. It is even worse not to listen to God and follow His advice. So, the word to those who have an aversion to Church attendance or Bible reading because they don’t like what they hear – would it not be better to hear the truth and act on it for a healthy spiritual life that will bring you to heaven?

Maybe for someone reading this it will be God’s last attempt, so: We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (Hebrews 2:1-4).

(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)