A Great Chasm Divides
Are you ever amazed at just how many contrasts there are in the Bible? Could we be missing the obvious because the opposites presented are so frequently stated – God wants us either hot or cold, we are either wheat or tares, we are either part of the bride or the harlot, we form either the harvest of the righteous or the harvest of the wicked and so the list goes on.
In his radio programmes entitled “No Neutrality”, Derek Prince speaks about the problems that occur when we are not wise to the clear distinction between good and evil, the Kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness:
Compromise has become one main characteristic of our contemporary culture. Most issues today are put to the test of expediency rather than of morality or justice. I think this is true in our personal lives, it’s true in business affairs, it’s true I think in legal issues and I think it’s true with the course of government as a whole. If a thing generates money, practically no other endorsement for it is needed. There really are no longer any absolutes. Nothing is black and nothing is white. Nothing is really good, nothing is really evil. We only have various shades of grey. Worst of all, in many areas, the church has the same attitude as the world.
Flagrant evils abound all around us. Abortion takes the lives of millions of innocent little children every year. Famine stalks the earth; an estimated 10 million people die every year of malnutrition and famine—and most of them small children. Pornography defiles our nation. It is carried in the various media of the nation; it’s become a billion dollar industry and yet, in the midst of all this, masses of professing Christians show little or no concern. They sit as comfortably on the fence as they do on their church pews.
However, let me tell you something: when the Holy Spirit comes, He changes all this. That’s why many people are afraid of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit penetrates a church, He electrifies that fence on which they’re all sitting and people just have to jump off on one side or another but there’s no more room for neutrality.
You see, Jesus Himself left no room for neutrality. He was totally uncompromising. His ministry brought into focus two opposing kingdoms: the Kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness. Between these two there is no neutrality, no peace, and no compromise. Ultimately, each of us must align ourselves with one or the other of these two kingdoms: the Kingdom of light or the kingdom of darkness.
Time For Decision
From one perspective, life is a series of decisions. From choosing whether to get up when we awake, to what time we go to bed and what we do or think or say at almost every moment in between. We choose what we will eat, what we will wear, where we will go and what words to use in a variety of contexts. We also are faced with making “big” decisions like our careers and whom to marry.
But when we come to know Jesus, die to ourselves and take up the new life that He offers us through His Spirit, our decision-making approach undergoes a paradigm shift. It is not all about “I”, but about “Him”. It is not a question of what will bring us glory, but what will glorify Jesus. It is not about following the rational thinking of our carnal nature, but the direction of the Holy Spirit. It is not about law, it is about grace. It is no longer about slavery but about sonship. It is not so much a question of pursuing a career as much as finding out what God created us to do. Perhaps we can even believe that it is not about whom we want to marry, but about preparing ourselves in such a way that enables God to bring the right person at the right time if He chooses to – just like He did with Adam and Eve.
Each decision is significant and has the potential to either build us up or break us down. One of the best ways to empower our decisions of today is to look at the results of tomorrow.
Making the Right Choices
The Bible has many reminders for us to consider the future and so compel us to make the best choices today. Look, for instance, at Hebrews 10:23-25:
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Verse 23 talks about holding unswervingly to the hope that we profess. The first thing to notice is that we have to do something – we have to hold unswervingly. Also, there is a requirement that we profess this hope about our future – we are not permitted to remain silent about it.
You may have heard people say that they have the attitude to “Live and let live”. By this they mean that they want to live as they choose and allow others to do the same. In reality, though, it is a fallacy. If the person is an unbeliever, then ultimately their destination is not life but death so in the first place, they are not living but dying.
If the person is a believer, they cannot remain silent about their hope and expect to live – that doesn’t meet God’s requirements. Scripture tells us that if we deny Him, He will deny us before the Father. This truth about professing our faith and our hope is further confirmed in Revelation 12:11 where John writes, “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony and did not love their lives to the death.”
The compelling reason to keep holding on is the truth that “He who promised is faithful.” If we don’t have full confidence that God will fulfil His Word in its entirety and bring us into eternal life, then as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:9, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 reveals how this living hope transforms our actions. It commends us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Note that the writer to the Hebrews shows us that this new life is not an ego-centric life, but an other-centred life. Furthermore, he tells us that this life of encouragement should increase as we see the Day approaching.
One Choice Two Destinies
Each person has an option as to whether they will trust Jesus as their Saviour and Lord or not and this decision and the resultant unfolding revelation that comes through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit will go on to determine the choices we make through life. It is what we do that is the outworking of our faith. It is not our works that save us, but works are the evidence of faith.
In Luke 16:19-31 we read the familiar story of Lazarus and the Rich Man:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
If we consider the future elements of this passage, there are numerous things to note:
1. The decisions made while living on earth affected the destination at death. Lazarus was laid at the rich man’s gate, but the rich man chose to do nothing about him. Lazarus endured and was later comforted.
2. There is no curtain blocking the view from Hades to Abraham’s side. The rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus in the distance.
3. There was recognition of character after death. The rich man knew who Abraham and Lazarus were and was able to communicate with Abraham.
4. There was no way to change each one’s destination because a great chasm divided “Abraham’s side” from “Hades”.
5. Abraham’s side was a place of comfort. Hades was a place of torment.
6. Jesus reveals that those who do not listen to Moses and the Prophets will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead which He then went on to do. The story is talking about Lazarus rising from the dead, but there is a prophetic illustration of Jesus’ resurrection which would be rejected by those who did not truly heed Moses and the Prophets.
Much of what is taught in churches today is about the love of God. It is a wonderful, compelling message but needs to be balanced by a healthy fear of God. These two aspects complement each other beautifully and help to keep us from straying into error.
Some years ago, I taught a group of Christians on the fear of the Lord and there was an outcry at the end. The older, more mature Christians were quiet because they could see it all came from the Bible but they didn’t know what to make of it. The younger Christians were indignant. It is something we hear very little about and yet it is a truth that has tremendous blessing attached – who wouldn’t want that?
The Bible has a good deal to say about the fear of the Lord. But great numbers of Christians misunderstand the concept. Of all the themes of Scripture, the fear of the Lord contains some of the most outstanding promises of God’s favour and blessing. In fact, I know of no other theme of Scripture that has more blessings to offer than the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 33:6 ends with eight little words: “The fear of the Lord is His treasure.” The fear of the Lord is not something to be afraid of or to despise. Rather it is God’s treasure that He is sharing with His people.
When we have a healthy, reverent fear of the Lord, it keeps us on an even keel through life and helps us to keep on the narrow Way that leads to life. If the rich man had feared God, he would have been looking to help those in need and received reward as a result. Instead he sought his own prosperity and was excluded from “Abraham’s side”.
Making the Right Choices
Oftentimes, Christians are well-intentioned, but they fail to make good judgements as to what is good and edifying, and what is spiritually corrosive. This may come in many forms, but two particular areas are in alternative forms of healing and medicine and alternative exercises. There are many books on the market which cover these in details, but just to mention a few: homeopathy, reiki, acupuncture, martial arts and yoga.
Some time ago, we received a letter in the office from a Christian who was confused when they had learned that reiki was no good for Christians. She said that she thought it was good because it was just like laying on of hands. As I looked for a way to explain the difference, the Lord showed me that it was the spirit, and thus the power behind it, that was different – the laying on of hands is something initiated by the Holy Spirit for different reasons, but including healing. The Spirit prompts a believer to lay hands on another person and it is Jesus’ power, released through His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that brings forth the healing. Reiki, on the other hand, is not Holy Spirit-led and its power is not from Jesus which leaves us with no other conclusion than that it is from Satan.
A friend related a story to me the other day of his previous pastor who was doing very well in the things of God and then his child became sick to the point of death. The doctors could find nothing wrong that they could treat and so the pastor spent a few hours on his face before God crying out for mercy. After a long time, God said to him, “you have never dealt with your involvement in martial arts.” Now the pastor didn’t do martial arts any longer, but the Devil still had the trump card which he could play in the season of success. When he had repented of this past sin, his daughter recovered fully.
Let us be sure to discern the spirits behind the activities which we are involved in and let us clear out the basements, closets and attics of our hearts and minds to ensure that there is nothing lurking there that the Devil can take advantage of when it suits him.
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have called me to in the Kingdom of light. Please would you electrify the fence in every area where I have compromised and impassion my heart with the matters close to Your heart.
Please give me increasing appreciation of the hope that I have in Jesus and give me the courage and the words to profess that hope before men. Open my ears to hear the promptings of your Holy Spirit so that I will make good decisions that edify me and make me more like Jesus each day.
With so many subtle delusions of the enemy, I recognise my need for discernment and grace. Please bring conviction in every area that needs repentance and make my heart a fit place for King Jesus to live. I see clearly that there is a great chasm that will divide between the righteous and the wicked and I declare my dependence on your grace to lead me in the way everlasting.
In His name I pray. Amen
– Peter Lindop