Church Forward is a new blog I’ve added to my reading list. A few days ago, that site published the results of a study that showed the attitudes of the unchurched to evangelism. All the stats are important (please consider them carefully), but one stood out in particular:

78% of the unchurched agree that “if someone wanted to tell me what he or she believed about Christianity, I would be willing to listen.

That’s an astonishing figure. Part of me wonders if the survey question was understood. Honestly. Because that figure is amazingly high.

Last week I wrote about a subset of people who seem to be completely aspiritual. They may be the missing 22 percent. I suspect that they are the group that is actually growing in number.

If so, then our window of opportunity on that 78 percent is as wide open as it will ever be.

Let’s put this in perspective. In the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, 24, or Lost, 6,319 people worldwide will have died {source}.

The general consensus is that about a third of the world’s population is “Christian,” a loose definition that includes not only the genuinely born again, Exit, stage left...but also cult members who ascribe to deviant forms of Christian belief and people who may mentally assent to Christian morality. In other words, that one-third is quite generous.

Yet even if we assume that loosedefinition, applying the basic truths of mankind’s eternal destiny, of those 6,319 people, 4,212 are doomed to an eternity of torment in the flames of hell. 4,212. Every hour. Every day.

This is not a pain that goes away. No narcotic exists to extinguish that agony once it’s administered.

Leonard Ravenhill, the great British revivalist, put it this way in a true story:

Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man curbed him not. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the replay. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and yet, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase with a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings”? All this was too much for Charlie Peace. So he preached. Listen to his on-the-eve-of-hell sermon:

“Sir,” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!

Hang around the Godblogosphere long enough and you’ll see plenty of fawning posts about the TV shows I mentioned above. Or about some lame movie. Or about some album by some derivative band. You’ll read plenty of talk about stuff that that will burn when the fire comes, but you’ll read next to nothing about what happens to the lost when that same fire comes for them.

If the American Church’s concern for the lost people of the world could be summed up in one phrase, I suspect that phrase would be “Let ’em burn!”

If we cared, we’d live differently. But we don’t really care, do we?

For most of us, the limit of our caring extends to the walls of our home and no further. A few of us may say we care about others beyond those walls, but our caring never gets around to asking another person, “Where do you stand with Jesus?”

I don’t like what our American culture has done to me. In fact, I despise it. Because when I look deep into my own soul, I see a nearly total lack of caring about the eternal state of other people. I may say I care, but I don’t care enough to make the changes needed to my life to ensure I’m living for Jesus. And living for Jesus means that I no longer live for myself.

The power of the American lie casts a spell over us, doesn’t it? That lie takes Christ off the throne and enthrones that pretender, self. It’s the lie of “God wants you happy!” instead of the truth that God wants you obedient to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Now we may say that we’re sold out to Christ, but we aren’t. We lie to ourselves and keep playing the happy card, that selfish, devil-filled mantra of self-fulfillment no matter at whose expense that happiness comes.

Because when we get right down to it, we’re so preoccupied with self-fulfillment that we’re willing to gamble the lives of two out of every three people to ensure it, 4,212 people each hour, so that we can keep on living for whatever pleases us, even if that pleasurable pursuit wracks the heart of God.

Can we imagine having to apologize to each person bound for hell who had the opportunity to hear the Gospel from our lips, but we were too busy caring about what Jack Bauer would do next?

Well, can we?

We should count ourselves lucky if we merit the tiniest cot in the broom closet of the mansion Christ is building in glory.

God’s Kindness through Christ


Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds offers a profound quote from Martin Luther:

People don’t earn God’s approval or receive life and salvation because of anything they’ve done. Rather, the only reason they receive life and salvation is because of God’s kindness through Christ. There is no other way.

Many Christians are tired of hearing this teaching over and over. They think that they learned it all long ago. However, they barely understand how important it really is. If it continues to be taught as truth, the Christian church will remain united and pure — free from decay. This truth alone makes and sustains Christianity. You might hear an immature Christian brag about how well he knows that we receive God’s approval through God’s kindness and not because of anything we do to earn it. But if he goes on to say that this is easy to put into practice, then have no doubt he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he probably never will. We can never learn this truth completely or brag that we understand it fully. Learning this truth is an art. We will always remain students of it, and it will always be our teacher.

The people who truly understand that they receive God’s approval by faith and put this into practice don’t brag that they have fully mastered it. Rather, they think of it as a pleasant taste or aroma that they are always pursuing. These people are astonished that they can’t comprehend it as fully as they would like. They hunger and thirst for it. They yearn for it more and more. They never get tired of hearing about this truth.


(HT: Jollyblogger)

Gut Check #7


All across this country, every single day, Christians ask themselves difficult questions. Some are born out of anger, others from fear or frustration. In many cases, those kinds of gut check questions can be crippling. Of all these questions, none causes more ulcers than this one, our final question in this series:


When you look over your life and consider

the problems that won't go away

or the spiritual lethargy you constantly struggle against,

do you sometimes ask yourself,

Am I truly saved?


Some gut check questions move from the gut and over the lips to be shared with others. I suspect this one stays buried down deep, rotting away. Beseeching...Questioning one's salvation isn't discussed in polite Christian company unless one wants to send that polite company screaming away into the night.

So people suffer under it.

I can't speak about your salvation. Unless we've fellowshipped in person, I don't really know you. Only God knows you.

But I will say this: people who struggle with this gut check question are typically not the ones who need to worry. People who aren't saved don't typically wander through the day burdened by the question. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
—2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV

In context, this is to the people who question his ministry, the spiritually smug and complacent. But people who aren't spiritually smug, the very people who go around gut checking themselves on this question, aren't the ones to whom it is addressed.

Believe in Jesus Christ. Be baptized. Live out—no matter how imperfectly at this point in time—what the Lord reveals to you from the Scriptures and by His Holy Spirit in your life's journey. (Living it out is what separates real Christians from the demons, the ones who also believe, but don't live it—James 2:19, right?)  Be at rest on your security, but always desire more of Him. Every runner in the race struggles, some more than others, but all that matters is finishing the race.

We can't test ourselves in each second. Just as you can't look at your son or daughter and see that they've grown since yesterday, so it's not possible to see spiritual progress in one slice of one minute of one day. Your life does not consist of just this one moment in time, and yet we often try to compare it against the entirety of time, especially if we are using another person as our gauge. We might think that Charles Spurgeon's life was so much more fulfilling, but none of us was considering him on that one Tuesday as he lit up a favorite brand of cigar in his private den and kicked back his heels.

If you're questioning your faith, then confess it, have faith in Christ, and pray that He will strengthen you more thoroughly tomorrow. He will honor that prayer. Even if you pray it every day. Especially if you pray it every day. Then one day, you'll look back down the road and see how far you've come. And curiously enough, this particular gut check may have vanished along the way.

Be blessed. 

Other posts in this series: