I heard this from a preacher recently and it struck me that this is something that we haven’t heard in the church in a long while. The message was about how we need to be aware that it doesn’t all end here. We will have to give account of our lives at some point in the future. We will be required to stand before the judgment throne of Christ and be judged about everything we do here on earth.
This is not a message that is popular in this day and age. It is a frightening message. It has a tendency to chase people away from church. It is a demanding message, because when you hear a message like that, you can’t just walk away from it. It will haunt you for days thereafter. You will want to ask yourself many questions. Am I ready for that judgment? Will I pass? What do I need to change in my life now? How do I get ready?
It is definitely not a sermon to be preached on a day the pastor wants a good offering from the congregation. It is not a sermon to be preached on a thanksgiving day or at a wedding. That is why the message is not popular. By the time consideration is given to the effect of the message on church finances and the “likeability” of the pastor, the message is postponed until further notice.
But who do we seek to please by preaching or not preaching these messages? Have we built up a congregation with itchy ears, who only want the positive messages of wealth, increase, promotion and so on? Are we not supposed to preach the message that God gives and not just the message that we feel people want to hear? Who sent us to preach – the people or God? Who do we seek to please with our messages – the people or God? Who is most pleased with our “bless me” messages – the people or God?
I do not intend to condemn any pastor or preacher. I am guilty too. So this is an admonishment for myself as well as for every other Christian, because we all fall into either of the two categories: the category that preaches what people want to hear or the category that desires only the “bless me” messages. We both need to correct ourselves.
In thinking about this, I tried to make excuses for the church as a whole, both the preachers and the laity. In a society like ours with much poverty, there is a need to encourage people to look beyond their suffering, to a God who is able to turn around their circumstances drastically. On the other hand, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:13 NKJV:
“Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body”
Also, in Philippians 3:18-19 NKJV:
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
May God forbid that we should become enemies of the cross, after we have left all and followed Christ. May we never be consumed by earthly things, so much that we forget our eternal destination.
Like someone put it simply, ‘It is what we sow here on earth that we will eat in heaven’. There are those whose works will be destroyed when tested by fire. There are those who are so entrenched in earthly things that, left to them, heaven can wait!
It is true what Jesus said in Luke 12:39-40 NKJV:
“But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Yes, indeed. We have a tendency to forget, because we are enjoying our lives. We have a tendency to forget because it is to the devil’s benefit that we do so. We must wake ourselves up and remind each other often. It is said that the Jews in diaspora had a prayer they prayed regularly: “Next year in Jerusalem”, even when Israel was not yet a recognized nation. That kept their hopes up and their focus on the Promised Land. Heb. 2:1 NKJV says “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away”
This type of message was popular about 25 years ago, with the revival of Pentecostalism in Nigeria. It was a great pull to the church and people were saved in their hundreds and possibly thousands. However, as the prosperity message caught hold, the message was packed away and a lot of preachers went with that wave, gathering large congregations and living big. I believe it is time for the Nigerian Church to go back to the basics of the faith. We must not be like those Jeremiah referred to in Jer. 6:16 NKJV:
Thus says the Lord:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
This is the time to walk with God and develop intimacy with Him, so that we can be part of the remnant who will be ready when He comes. Let us earnestly seek the Lord and seek His face continually. (1 Chron. 16:11) He does not expect us to walk alone or try to do it in our own strength. But as we wait on Him and seek Him and walk with Him, He will prepare us and present us holy according to His word:
“that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
Let us fight the good fight of faith and keep the faith, so that we may say, like Paul:
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:8 NKJV
We will make it, by God’s grace. Be encouraged.