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Do You Practice Love Abuse?  0

We are starting our talk with a few questions. The subject itself is framed as question, “Do You Practice Love Abuse?” And I pray you will be able to answer that question by the end of this talk.

This question is reframed in three other ways.

  • Are you an abuser of Love?
  • Are You A Practitioner of Love Abuse?
  • Put another way, are you an abuser?

What we are not talking of

We are not talking of:

Human love

No, I am not talking of human love. Human love is majorly lust anyway. I am talking about a different type of abuse and a different type of love.

Foul language

The word “abuse” is quite common in human conversation and in the news these days. Quite often abuse suggests to many the use of improper, obscene or what some refer to as “swear” language. The type of language not to be spoken in the presence of children. Important as that is, it is not what this article is about.

Domestic and other types of abuse

To some others “abuse” connotes the physical or emotional or psychological ill-treatment of someone or something (e.g.: Domestic abuse, drug abuse, child abuse, racial abuse etc). Important as that is, it is not what we are going to talk about here.

All these are legitimate meanings “abuse” in the right context. And it is important to focus on these ills wherever they exist in the society and to deal with them as appropriate.

We are talking of a special type of abuse

But here we are going to concern ourselves with a different or should I say a special type of abuse. There is a more profound abuse that hardly gets a mention in conversations. This abuse is so frequent as to be commonplace especially amongst those who claim to know and belong to God.

So what type of abuse am I referring to?

Let us go back to the beginning so we can get a clear answer to that question.

The right of God to receive loyal love

You see, God created everything, known and unknown, visible and invisible. As we are informed,

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1).

And surveying what He had created, we are told God’s conclusion,

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Gen 1:31).

All who profess genuine faith in Christ are to love the LORD above all else. Next to that love of God is to love one’s neighbour like oneself:

29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31).

To love God loyally and single-heartedly is the obligation of every genuine child of God. Such love of God is to be demonstrated by the believer through obedience to God in daily life.

Remember, God did not only create, but loves us too. God is the one who first demonstrated His loyal love for us,

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8).

God as the object of love abuse

Virtually every Christian you speak to will tell you of loving the LORD. That is what is expected and should be. That is it until you realise that such confession is mouth talk and not heart talk. But the people of God are commanded to love God.

Despite what God commands and all the shouts about love, it is apparent that many are abusing love.

I am referring to the love abuse in which God is the object of the abuse. You are probably surprised at that, right?

You might ask, what has abuse of love got to do with God? Well, my short answer is that love abuse or the abuse of love has everything to do with God.

The one type of abuse which is quite common, but which hardly gets mentioned is what I will call “love abuse”, that is, the abuse of love with God being the object of that abuse.

This love abuse or abuse of love is when the love that should be for God is misdirected to and given to something else. It is love for God directed to and showered on something else.

The genesis of love abuse is the lack of loving God above all else. Loving God above all else and loving your neighbour like yourself go together. They are mutually inclusive.

We believers in Christ talk so much of the cross of Christ. If our knowledge of the cross is commensurate to our depth of understanding of the cross, the world would likely be a different and better place. As it is, we know, that is, we have much information about the cross but little understanding of the cross.

There is a whole world of difference between having knowledge (information) and understanding the information. We leave the discussion of the difference between information and understanding for another day.

The cross is a depiction of love

But returning to the cross. It is common to depict the cross as having two beams: the vertical beam with a horizontal one. That is information. What may not be easily realised is a spiritual dimension of the cross

(Sorry to disappoint you, I am not looking for a theological debate right now. Just trying to illustrate a point.).

The vertical beam represents the relationship between God and each human being. God loves all His creation including man. However, the cross is about the reconciliation of humans to God at great cost to God through the finished work of Christ on the cross. One can then say, the love of God flows to man, and this is depicted by the vertical beam of the cross.

Hence, the love for God demanded by God can only come from God for it is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5 cf. Gal 5:22). And you cannot have the Holy Spirit except by Christ (John 14:26 cf. Rom 8:9).

The horizontal beam represents the relationship between human beings. Similarly to the love for God, the love for fellow human beings demanded by God can only come from God, again part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Having received the love of God as depicted by the vertical beam, the true child of God now radiates that same love to fellow human beings as depicted by the horizontal beam of the cross.

The cross is a depiction of the love of God for man and should be that also of the love of man for God.

And so, the genuinely born-again child of God receives the Holy Spirit who then begins to work on the believer so he/she can begin to grow spiritually and manifest more and more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

But because the believer in Christ, though growing is not yet a finished product, and can indeed not be perfected until the final glorification in the presence of the Lord, he/she is still very susceptible to becoming an abuser of love.

Again remember, love abuse is the redirection of the love that should be exclusively for God to the wrong direction and to the wrong object.

Let us now look at a few examples of the abuse of love. Out of the numerous abuses of love we shall look at four.

These four are broadly representative of the unchanging desire of humans to turn away from God that they may continue in sin:

Love of self

It seems natural for each human being to love himself/herself above all else. But God was aware of this strong tendency in humans before commanding that He be loved above all else. If you are honest with yourself, you will agree that it is quite difficult at times not to be engaging in self-love. The danger is that uncontrolled love of self may then mushroom into selfishness that then causes the person to do almost everything out of self-interest.

Love of self becomes love abuse when you shower the love meant for God upon yourself, you become your own god, and an idolater!

To guard against this possibility, we are commanded,

3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (Phil 2:3-4).

Haman is a classic example of someone with love of self that mushroomed into selfishness. Hear what he thought:

“So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?” (Esther 6:6).

And this love of self we are informed in Scripture will be one of the signs of the perilous times that shall come in the last days (2Tim 3:1-2).

Love of self is one form of love abuse as you redirect the love that legitimately belongs to God inwardly to yourself.

Instead of God being the centre of everything, you plant yourself squarely at the centre as the one to whom all else must reckon with.

Possibly without realising it you have become a god. And like all gods, you also desire to be worshipped. You start worshipping yourself as all your resources are harnessed to ensure that all your desires are met. You then attempt to extend your rule to and over others as you crave their attention and worship.

  • Brother, sister, how close to selfishness is your love of yourself?
  • Have you become so immersed in yourself that things are only seen through the eyes of “how will this or that be of benefit to me?”
  • Are you covering you desire with the cloak of righteousness claiming you are fighting for God’s cause?

Love of the world

Our second example of love abuse is love of the world. Remember, we are talking about those who profess to belong to God. Believers in Christ are warned against having love of the world,

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1John 2:15).

The love of the world manifests in a diversity of ways few of which are:

  • Following the multitude to do evil.
  • Colluding with others to bear witness so as to pervert justice (Ex 23:2).
  • One who loves the world will usually conform his ways to the standards of the world. To such a one lust is nothing but enjoyment!

Demas is an example of a person who loved the world. There was a time he engaged in the work of preaching and propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ as he worked with apostle Paul and other believers (Col 4:14; Philemon 24).

But along the way, he fell in love with the present world and departed from the gospel (2Tim 4:10).

The love of the world will usually start innocuously, with something minor that is not thought of as anything. It will then surreptitiously expand its tentacles until it possesses its victim completely. Thereafter, such a person will see things only through the eyes of the world much aided by the flesh.

Love of sin

Sin is doing something prohibited by or contrary to God. In the first instance, God informed the first man, Adam of the penalty for disobeying His command. The instruction would have been noticeably clear to the first man:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17).

It was a direct communication between God and the first man. There was no intermediary. It was the same language with no need for translation. First God told him what he could do, then what he should not do, and the consequence of doing what he should not do. The man heard, knew, and understood what God commanded.

The first couple sinned knowingly

Hence, the man knowingly sinned. He chose to deliberately act contrary to what God demanded of him. Hence, the sin of the first human couple in the garden in Eden (Gen 3) caused man to fall.

Since then, man has not only continued in but also loves and delights in sin. Sin was what has and continues to separate human beings from the Holy God who created all.

The penalty for sin has always been death

God told man that the penalty for disobeying His command was death. And man deliberately chose death over life. God has decreed that whoever sins shall die:

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4).

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23).

It follows that whoever sins have chosen death instead of life unless God provides a means of escape.

Sin is disobeying the commandment of God.

God in His mercy has provided the solution to the problem of sin by the provision of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Christ is the propitiation (the appropriate atoning sacrifice) for our sins (cf. Rom 3:25; 1John 2:2; 4:10). Though Christ has come and been offered as the sacrifice for our sins, numerous people are still choosing to sin and thereby are choosing death instead of life.

Many are choosing not to appropriate the sacrifice of Christ and are instituting their own alternatives. These man-made, devil-instigated alternatives are unacceptable to and are rejected by God.

That so many are continuing to choose to sin shows the power of sin. Those who sin are characterised in many ways by the word of God. As an example, those who sin are described as those who,

“received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thess 2:10-12).

Contrary to what many people claim, sinning is neither accidental nor incidental in the life of a person. Rather, from the beginning human beings have deliberately chosen to sin and taken delight in sin and continues to do so as a habit. There seems to be this innate desire in man to do things that are known to be contrary to the will of God.

Scripture after scripture testifies that those who sin do so deliberately. They chose to do their own will and not to do the will of God. They are those,

“who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rom 1:32).

God hates sin and we have been seriously warned of the consequences of continuing in sin,

“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6).

(cf. Eph. 5:5 and Col 3:6-9 where some of “these things” are enumerated).

King Ahab of Israel and his wife, Jezebel were supposed to use their position as the rulers over Israel to uphold the true worship of God and to rule justly and in righteousness. But they used their position, power, and influence to oppose God, to oppress the people of God and to serve the devil through the worship of idols.

The word of God describes them thus,

25 (But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. 26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel).” (1Kgs 21:25-26)

cf. 1Kgs 16:30-33 which give more detail of their abominable idolatry.

30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” (1Kgs 16:30-33).

This couple just loved to sin!

There are many like them today within the church of Christ who outwardly seem to be sheep but inwardly are ravening wolves (Mat 7:15). They are using their position and influence to oppose God by bringing in damnable heresy into the church and exploiting the people of God for filthy lucre. Please, beware of such ones!

  • How are you operating in the position God has placed you in His church?
  • By your activities are you obeying or rebelling against God?
  • What does it take for you to forgo the word of God for the opinion of someone you respect?

Love of other gods

The living God is in intimate relationship with each of His children.

How?

Each genuine child of God, each genuine believer in Christ carries the presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit. Hence, each disciple of Christ is truly a temple of God. Loving other gods is tantamount to bringing idols into the temple of God. Such idols will pollute the temple of God making it unclean and unfit for the worship of God.

Hence, the love of other gods is spiritual adultery in Holy Scripture. It is the giving of that which should be the exclusive preserve of God to something profane. It should not be done!

Adultery has devastating effect in human relations

The breaching of the conjugal love within the most intimate relationship between two adult human beings of opposite sex united in the marriage covenant is used to illustrate spiritual adultery. Such a breach when discovered by the victim can be very devastating to the relationship and health of the couple.

If adultery at the level of human relationship could have such serious negative impact, it should be no surprise that it is of even more dire consequence when it is the relationship between God and any of His children that is involved.

The couple in a conjugal relationship are rightly jealous of and diligently guard their relationship against outside interference and enticement as they value their union immensely.

Similarly, God values, seriously and jealously guards His relationship with His children. He does not accept any competition.

In like manner, the true believer should jealously and diligently guard his relationship with God and not allow idol to intrude.

Our God is rightly described as a jealous God,

“for thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Ex 34:14). Also see Ex 20:5; Deut. 4:24).

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” (Ex 20:5).

“For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” (Deut. 4:24)

The commandment of God to all humans is that He must be loved above all else.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3).

And

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: 5 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” (Deut. 6:4-6).

Examples of love of other gods even amongst the people of God abound within the pages of Holy Scripture.

The incident of the golden calf amongst the Israelites during the journey in the wilderness is well known to many (Ex 32:1-35). It is difficult to understand how such evil could have taken place considering that the Israelites had witnesses many miracles from God. God was even leading them through the presence of one of His angels.

But then, it truly happened as we are told,

3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” (Ex 32:3-4).

God was and is too slow for some

Why did the people do this?

Because God’s timing was too slow or too late for whatever they wanted. We are informed,

“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” (Ex 32:1).

Similarly today, we see people in a hurry. They want everything instantly and on their own terms. There are many that imagine a god only in their own image. The true and living God is foreign to what they imagine their god should be. So, they manufacture or concoct a god of their own making.

  • Hence, today, we see a diversity of caricatures of Jesus, a Jesus that is far removed from the Jesus Christ of Nazareth:
  • Jesus that is too loving to send the wicked and ungodly to hell,
  • Jesus that only blesses if you sow “dangerously” into the coffers of the “name it, picture it, claim it” crowd pastor,
  • A Jesus that can only heal or do miracles in a specially created atmosphere of music and only if you have enough faith or put in enough money,
  • A Jesus that does miracles and wonders through only “specially anointed” one who are the “spiritual elite”
  • A Jesus that mandates the foot soldiers who are the spiritual commoners and downtrodden to contribute all the money demanded of them by the so-called man/woman of God before they can be blessed,
  • A Jesus that is only present when the foot soldiers are wiped into a frenzy by the false teacher masquerading as “the anointed one.”

One can go on multiplying these false gods that people are running after, which some are even willing to defend with their own life! All these are false gods and are nowhere close to the Jesus of the Holy Bible. But the crowds that follow these false gods, like those that followed the golden calf will not be deterred.

Idolaters reject God

On the pages of Holy Scripture, God makes it abundantly clear that He alone is the true and living God. And demands absolute obedience from His people.

What is common to all idolaters is their rejection of God and His righteousness and the institution of their own gods and the righteousness as determined by themselves.

God has the absolute right and authority to demand unalloyed obedience from all His creation as their God. By His will they were created and exist (Rev 4:11). And beside Him there is no Saviour,

“I, even I, am the Lord; And beside me there is no saviour.” (Isa 43:11).

Before you absolve yourself claiming you are not bowing before some statue, hear this:

“Whatsoever and whosoever you give the worship and reference that is due to God only, whatever has taken the place of God in your life is your idol, your new god. That is what makes you an idol worshipper, an idolater.”

Such idol could be your ambition, your job, a relationship, an infirmity, love of money, love of prominence, love of praise, and many more.

Our God knows us much more than we can imagine. He knows that even at our best we are still vulnerable to love abuse. Hence, the numerous warnings and admonitions in Holy Scripture to be on guard and to avoid as much as possible love abuse.

The Love of self, The love of the world, The love of sin, and The love of other gods are a small sample of love abuse. They are all the symptoms of an underlining condition, the fallen condition of man.

The fallen man’s heart is the seat of the evil as we are informed that, “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5).

And his heart is described as, “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9).

Hence,

Man is not a sinner because he sins. Rather, man sins because he is a sinner.

The above is not exhaustive. Rather, is more of representative of innumerable others that upon reflection you can add to these. Please, reflection on this small sample.

Are you by any means an abuser of love where God is concerned?

Are you an idolater?

Please, do not wave this off flippantly. Rather, look intently at yourself and the way you are living your life. And if perchance you discover something amiss, please quickly rectify it before it is too late.

I pray the Almighty God will help you to draw the right lessons from what you have heard, and to be in the right relationship with Him in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

What Conversion Is Not  0

Introduction

There are many who regard the bible as a book of “quotable quotes” only. They quote passages from it when it suits them even using some verses as motivation or basis for their ungodly escapades. Yet, they know not the God of the bible neither can they obey Him. The tragedy of it all is that they are going headlong into destruction without knowing it!  

 

The mistakes about conversion or what conversion is not concerns those within the Christian fold who claim to be converted but are not. Some may truly not know their status while some may be truly unconverted and sent by the devil to weary the saints of God by their persistent rebellious attitudes and activities from their evil heart of unbelief (Matthew 13:25; Hebrews 3:12). When the Israelites left Egypt, as the word of God says: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them;…” (Exodus 12:38). This mixed multitude was to later be a source of problem to them when they started to show their true character of unbelief in the God of Israel: “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (Numbers 11:4) Similarly today, mingling with the body of Christ is a mixed multitude referred to in scripture by various names – tares (Matthew 13:24-30 esp. vv.25, 38; Goat (Matthew 25:32-46); sons of Belial (1Sam 2:12); children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2, 5:6). They will claim to know God but will deny Him through their actions: They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16). It is to avoid the influence of the mixed multitude within the congregation of God that the bible warns us: “Be not deceived: evil communication corrupts good manners.” (1Cor 15:33).

 

The Devil has made many counterfeits of conversion. He has cheated and continues to deceive people with all manner of devices. Such is his craftiness that, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect of God (Matthew 24:24). We are thus warned not to be ignorant of his devices (2Cor 2:11). We want to look at the mistake [blunder, gaffe, clanger, howler], yes, a very serious mistake that many make. It is very serious because it is dangerous enough to lead to their eventual destruction if they persist in it rather than taking drastic action against it. This serious mistake is that some think they are converted, that they are of Jesus Christ when, in truth, they are none of His. Some refer to this as false or pseudo- conversion. But let truth be told, you are either converted or not converted. There is no middle point. 

 

The people who think they are converted when they are not are mistaken – either genuinely mistaken or are deceived or are those referred to in scripture as tares sown by the enemy (Matthew 13:25). The former two will readily or with much difficulty eventually accept correction and mend their ways. But tares cannot but continue to be tares. Let the wise be aware. Whatever the case may be, these professors of Christianity need to be made aware of their not only pathetic but dangerous status before the Lord; perhaps some of them may be snatched from the fire (2Timothy 2:25-26). Remember: a mistake is an incorrect, unwise, or unfortunate act or decision caused by bad judgment or a lack of information or care. The consequences of a mistake could be anywhere from minor and inconsequential to serious and devastating. It is also hoped that those who are converted but fear they are not, will have such fear removed.

 

We start with the negative – what conversion is not. Let’s go!

1. Professing to be a Christian is not conversion.

Contrary to what many believe, conversion is not the profession of Christianity, taking on the name “Christian.” Some think that by styling themselves “Christian” means they are disciples of Jesus Christ. They come to this erroneous conclusion by diverse ways – being born into a Christian home or parents, being the child of a minister in church, attending church and Christian activities and such other things. However, without fear of controversy, Christianity is more than a name: For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” (1Corinthians 4:20). If to cease to be Jews and Pagans, and to put on the Christian profession, had been true conversion, there probably would have been no better Christians than they of Sardis. These were all Christians by profession, and had a name, a reputation of being alive. But because they had a name only, they are condemned by Jesus Christ since their works were contrary to Him. In fact, to Christ they were dead! There are many like them in the church today: They name the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but do not depart from iniquity (2Timothy 2:19). “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him,” (Titus 1:16). The Lord says they are dead though they continue to claim they are alive and well and on the way to heaven. If these have been converted, then from what have they been converted since they have remained the same as ever in their sin? What convert! What a contradiction! Perhaps it should be noted that if professing the name of Christian alone would do, the five foolish virgins would never have been shut out (Matthew 25:1-13). The bible shows that even some preachers of Christ and miracle workers will be turned back because in spite of all their protestations, they are in truth, evil workers (Mat 7:22-23).

 

2. Baptism is not conversion.

Many think that baptism means they are converted. Such ones carry their baptismal certificate like a badge of honour that they brandish at others. It is as if saying: “Look at my entry visa to heaven. Have you obtained yours?” They feel they are now regenerated and need nothing further. There are groups that baptize infants and all such infants need do to remain or continue to be a Christian is to renew their baptism by being baptized again when they are older. Hence they continue in their previous ways of life. What a serious mistake to think that the external administration of baptism and other external rituals of religion can secure the promises of God without following the leader. But the word of God tells us otherwise: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:11). And further: “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” (Titus 2:12). But these baptism-certificate wielding professors say no, they must have it their way. Deceiving and being deceived, convinced of their automatic admission into heaven upon sight of their glazed beautiful baptismal certificates, they continue on their way oblivious of what awaits them at their destination.  Please, be warned, no church rites and rituals will avail you anything if you do not follow the rules as laid down by the master in the Word.                                                                                                    

 

3. Believing that many ways lead to God is not conversion

There are many on profess to be Christians but claim that Jesus Christ is not the only way to God. Rather they believe and say that there are many other routes to God. They say it is the heart that matters not whether you have believed in Jesus Christ or not. Some say God is love and will actually not send anybody to hell. They raise questions like: “What will happen to people in such and such faith or movement?”, “Are you saying you are the only one who knows the truth”, “I know so and so has done so much for humanity and can’t but go to heaven” and so the argument goes on and on. But truth be told: There are NOT MANY different ways but ONLY ONE WAY TO GOD. This might not be environmentally, politically, socially and religiously correct in the world of today where people are claiming that everything including truth is relative. Howbeit, we speak of godly correctness not worldly correctness – there is ONLY ONE WAY to God the Father and the kingdom of heaven – Jesus Christ.

 

The head of a super mega church was asked once on a live television interview “Do you think Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven?” He responded: “I don’t go there. I think there may be other ways to heaven. I don’t know.” A pastor who claims to be preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ! Need I say his must be another gospel?

 

The scripture is very clear in its testimony of Jesus Christ. A tiny sample:

  • Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.(John 14:6).
  • 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.(John 1:12–13).
  • 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:18).
  • For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.(1 Corinthians 3:11).
  • Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.(Acts 4:12).

 

Yes, we live in a world filled with diverse philosophies, ideologies, pushing for pluralism, one-world order, where God has been dethroned and man enthroned in His place and sin is glamourized; One-world religion, where man is worshipped. This now has a big help from inside Christiandom – the hyra-headed monster called ecumenism!  They say everything exists for the sake of man and must be seen to be so. Everyone, at least numerous people, groups and organisations seem to be falling head-over-heels to belong. We truly live in the last days, perilous times (2Timothy 3:1-5)!

 

But no matter what they say or do, God’s word remains true and absolute forever (Ps 119:89). You see, it is always true that:“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20).

 

4. To continue in something contrary to scripture because “it works” is not conversion

Some claim to be Christian but continue in their previous way of life. There has been no apparent change. They say what is important is that they said a few lines of “prayer of faith” sometime ago. Therefore whatever they are doing now doesn’t matter. They continue in their old habits and practices only now they do so claiming to be Christians. When asked why the ready answer is “It works!” Many actually practice syncretism – they combine practices from their previous faith or walk of life with aspects of Christianity.

 

Some still burn incense and carry holy water and holy oil around, many from different metaphysical movements continue with visualisation (picture it and claim it), mantra chanting, eastern meditation and concentration, those from white garment and green garment churches still consult “prophets and prophetesses” who are actually diviners and mediums; many continue with numerology, astrology and horoscope. Some even attend three or more churches concurrently refusing to be “tied down” to any local church because they need “different types of anointing from different pastors” to attain their aims and objectives. When asked why they do this their answer is that “it works” by which they mean “I’m getting what I want therefore God approves and is blessing me!” they forget that a person in Christ is a new creature, old things are passed away (2Corinthians 5:17). When you come to faith in Jesus Christ of the bible you completely severe relations with your previous and past life and do away with all paraphernalia of that previous life (Acts 19:18-19).

 

Simon used sorcery to bewitch the people of Samaria and it was working and the people considered him great, he claimed to be converted and perhaps to the casual Christian onlooker he was a Christian. But this only continued until apostle Peter came on the scene and Simon the sorcerer’s true condition was then revealed (Acts 8:9-24). Similarly sorcery worked for Elymas the sorcerer until he met the apostle Paul (Acts 13:6-11). What the sons of Eli were doing was working for them until the day God’s judgment came (1Samuel 2:12, 4:11). Today many are engaged in things contrary to God but they are holding on to them claiming that because “it works.” They have fame, they have self-satisfaction and fulfilment, they have money and a big following, good feelings and experience what they consider abundant life in this world now or whatever else they consider as “it works” For many it will seem to work not realising they are being deceived until they meet with the Lord and are then rejected (Matthew 7:21-23).

 

I pity you indeed if the only reason you are a Christian is because “it works” for there are many in cults, other ungodly faiths who are there because it works for them. Does that make what they are doing right in the sight of God? Worse still you fellowship with the children of God while engaged in other things contrary to the word of God and you say it is alright with God because you are getting what you want – that is rebellion against God!  With all these that you are still engaging in you claim to have been delivered and that you are a Christian. What have you been delivered from then? When are you going to stop giving the sacrifice of fools (Ecclesiastes 5:1) and face up to it that you are not a Christian but an enemy of God and still in the firm grip of the enemy?

 

5. Moral uprightness is not conversion.

There are many people today who humanly speaking are morally upright, more so than the average person. But the God of the bible, His Word both in written form and in the form of His Son is about relationship not morality. It is necessary to have good morals but more is demanded by God than morality. When a person tries to qualify by himself in the sight of God through whatever good he thinks are due himself, God sees this as self-righteousness and is never acceptable to Him. A group in the bible were very righteous, God’s word confirms it – the Pharisees. One of them praying said among other things that he was not an extortioner, unjust, and he fasted twice a week (Luke 18:9-14). Jesus demanded that the righteousness of His followers must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Mat 5:20). Similarly, Apostle Paul before his conversion and while still in Judaism as a Pharisee was “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Phil 3:6). He later, after his conversion repudiated all and “counted all things but loss” and “count them but dung” (Phil 3:7-8). I do concur with what a Puritan once said “Piety includes morality, as Christianity includes humanity, and grace includes reason: but we must not divide the tables.”

 

6. External conformity to the rules of religion is not conversion. Nice as it is may be to have rules and conditions to ensure everyone is operating at the same level, it is clear that faith cannot be legislated. People do thereby have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof for (2Tim 3:5). In other words, they follow rules of religion – they go to church, they pray often, fast frequently, give alms and otherwise engaged in various acts that will suggest they know God. But their heart condition, attitudes and lifestyle demonstrate that they do not know God. This is possible because they have not known God. In fact people in different faiths carry out good charity work every day at great personal cost, yet they do not know God and do not therefore qualify automatically for His approval because of what they are doing. In biblical times, many were involved in God’s work that did not know the Lord. Examples of such include:

  • The first two sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-2);
  • Two sons of Eli: Hophni and Phinehas (1Sam 2:12);
  • Two sons of Samuel: Joel and Abiah (1Sam 8:3);
  • The couple: Ananias with Sapphira his wife (Acts 5:1-11) and
  • Simon that used sorcery but claimed to have converted (Acts 8:9-24).

Similarly, there are many at the various levels of the church engaged in God’s work but who do not know the God of the bible and God doesn’t know them either.

 

7. Being the member of a church is not conversion neither is being rich in the material things of this world conversion

There are many who attend church meetings and are active in the church environment. The have imbibed so-called church manners and for the cursory observer they easily pass of for a devout Christian. They parade their material endowment as a sign that they are right with God. After all God has promised abundant life so they are living that abundant life now; otherwise why will God be blessing them so much? Some claim to have miracles every day and indeed at the snap of their fingers God seems to come running to wait on them. Some claim to be led by the Holy Spirit even being instructed as to when to get off their bed and which grocery to buy their grocery. Many of them are very very challenged when it comes to the scriptures (or shall we say close to being ignorant?), but veeeeeerrrrrryyyyyy long and deep in feelings and experience. But remember the Lord’s indictment of the Pharisees who were rich this world’s good and took that as a sign of approval by God (). Some consider gain to be Godliness (1Timothy 6:5), but God says He sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45) there was also the ones like the Laodiceans claiming to be rich in this world but in truth wretched and poor before the Lord (Revelation 3:17). These are they that the bible says “Behold all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of my hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” (Isaiah 50:11). If only they will humble themselves they will come to a true knowledge of God and be saved from the coming wrath of God.

 

8. The force of incumbent addiction or felt need is not conversion

By incumbent addiction or felt need, I mean that craving that is the uppermost desire for the moment and for which the person seeks a solution. To obtain that solution, a person with incumbent addiction will be ready and willing to do what it takes to obtain the solution even with deceit if need be. He behaves like a person being driven by an invincible force but is clever enough to cloak of religious zeal. Examples: a person is seeking a spouse to be. That is his incumbent addiction. At this moment, he decides to go to a church or fellowship to attend to this craving. He is ready to claim being a Christian, get involved in church activities as required for maximum exposure. An observer will believe this person is committed and may even give responsibilities. Once his craven is met (gets a spouse), the true character may then become apparent. A jobless person’s craving is to get a job. If he sees that a church will be a quick source, he will jump at it. Some see the church as a place to get fame or gain control over many people. Their being there has nothing to do with faith in Jesus Christ. The church is only their means to an end – healing, prosperity, victory over enemies, dominion over others, fulfilment of their lust and covetousness or whatever other force may be controlling them.

 

Reading the above you may begin to say “Wait a minute, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be healed, with being morally up right etc. I concede to you that there are areas of overlap but that will be the subject for another post. Till then, may the Good Lord keep all of us in His favour.

Sinners in the Hands  0

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Enfield, Connecticut
July 8, 1741

“..Their foot shall slide in due time:.. (Deuteronomy 32:35).

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as verse 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. — The expression I have chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

 

1. That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm 72:18. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction.”

2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18,19. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!”

3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. — “There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” — By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. — The truth of this observation may appear by the following considerations.

1. There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men’s hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God’s enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

2. They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God’s using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God’s mere will, that holds it back.

3. They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. “Ye are from beneath:” And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God’s word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God bums against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the fumace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:12. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God’s restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isa. 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;” but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked me live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discem them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God’s hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

8. Natural men’s prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men’s own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Eccles. 2:16. “How dieth the wise man? even as the fool.”

9. All wicked men’s pains and contrivande which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, “No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself — I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief — Death outwitted me: God’s wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me.”

10. God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men’s earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.

Application

The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. — That world of misery, that take of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies. God’s creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great fumace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly,

1. Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Prov. 20:2. “The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul.” The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4,5. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”

2. It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isa. 59:18. “According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries.” So Isa. 66:15. “For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.” And in many other places. So, Rev. 19:15, we read of “the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, “the wrath of God,” the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is “the fierceness and wrath of God.” The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also “the fierceness and wrath of almighty God.” As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so fastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezek. 8:18. “Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them.” Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only “laugh and mock,” Prov. 1:25,26,&c.

How awful are those words, Isa. 63:3, which are the words of the great God. “I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

3. The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies. Rom. 9:22. “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?” And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isa. 33:12-14. “And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites, ” &c.

Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isa. 66:23,24. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”

4. It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For “who knows the power of God’s anger?”

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day’s opportunity such as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generaity persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God’s mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God. — And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. — And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God’s word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men’s hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles’ days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.

Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”