Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering Church: A Passion For Souls (Soul On Fire #5) To hear this message and others go to: THEGATHERINGHG.COM
Hell Mark 9:42-48, Revelation 20:15, 21:8, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9
I begin today’s message with three brilliant and timely quotes from William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army who said:
“I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell”.
Although his quote was from the late 1800’s, it hits many present day “Christians” and congregations square between the eyes with truth. The message of the cross is often so diluted by modern day preachers that it fails to put out the flames of hell that are burning up the foundations of the church. Where are the souls on fire for Jesus Christ? William Booth said:
“Most Christians would like to send their recruits to Bible College for five years. I would like to send them to hell for five minutes. That would do more than anything else to prepare them for a lifetime of compassionate ministry”.
A recent study by Pew Research found that 74% of Americans believed in heaven, while only 59% believed in hell (pewresearch.org). That number dips even deeper when we define hell in Biblical terms. That is a place where the fire never goes out and worms eat out your eyes (Mark 9:42, 47-48). The eternal consignment of all unbelievers who will be thrown into a lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:15, 21:8) along with the Devil (Revelation 20:10); a place where these will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
William Booth and his wife Catherine were Christians who literally believed in the Bible and the hell that it references some 167 times. Do you believe in that place or do you need to go there for five minutes? Do you have a passion to rescue those who are headed there? General Booth said:
“Let the business of the world take care of itself … My business is to get the world saved.” “The Risks” in The War Cry (20 December 1884)
What is your business today? Are we bringing God’s kingdom to earth or too busy building our own while those around us are headed to hell? Are we so tied up in civilian activity that we have forgotten our call to be soldiers of God’s salvation army? 2 Timothy 2:3-4
Call To Arms Mark 16:15-16, John 3:16-18, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Timothy 1:7-14, 1 Timothy 4:15-16
Jesus commanded his disciples (and that includes you and me) to proclaim the gospel. He was clear: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (See also John 3:16-18). This verdict includes our Grandparents, our parents, our children, our grandchildren, our extended family and friends…our best friends! Do we have a passion for their souls? Jesus has given every believer a Call to Arms. We are to move as soldiers into the battle for souls. We are not to fear the enemy but to be move forward in the power of the Holy Spirit— in love and self-discipline! We are not to be ashamed of our testimony, but to join with all Christians in suffering for the gospel (lit. Greek “Good News”).
God has saved us and called us to a holy life (2 Timothy 1:9) so that we can proclaim this life to others. If we live in an unholy way then we pollute our witness. That is why we are to guard the good deposit (Salvation by faith) entrusted to us (with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us). If we will remember that the war for souls rages constantly around us then we will stay alert for their salvation —and in so doing will save ourselves and our hearers (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
Isn’t it amazing what heroic acts are committed in war, natural disasters, and human tragedies? How are regular people turned into such heroes? It is because they forget themselves in the act of saving another. Christians we must carry the cross into the battle that the Devil wages against humanity for their souls. We must forget about ourselves and respond to our Lord’s call to arms. We must advance on the enemy, put on that full armor of God, take up our shield of faith, put on that helmet of salvation and pick up that Sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God: Ephesians 6:10-20) and rescue those who are perishing fearlessly.
Rescue The Perishing Proverbs 24:11-12, Hebrews 9:27-28
Our enemy, the Devil, is a liar (John 8:44b) and one of his greatest lies is his accusation that God is a narcissistic and wicked judge. “Who else would cast men into hell’s tormenting eternal fire?” The fact is that God wrapped himself in human flesh, came down to a troubled earth, showed man the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and then allowed the Devil to rip him to shreds on the cross and kill him (in our place) in order to rescue man from the just consequences of his willful sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Hell is the direct consequence of turning away from God…no one has to go there. In fact God desires that no one perish but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Just as we all live with the law of gravity we must also live with the spiritual law of God. To act in rebellion to either law is foolishness and will result in needless catastrophe.
It is the Devil who leads unbelievers to hell and their ears are closed to Jesus because they are blind to his truth. They cannot hear him because they do not belong to him (John 8:42-47). We who hear and see cannot say that we know nothing about this fact. God has revealed it to us and called us to rescue the perishing and to hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
Pray for a passion for souls! Pray to be a soul on fire! Forget about yourself and let the Holy Spirit work in you to save the lost before it is too late! (Hebrews 9:27-28)