Will We Ever Wake Up?

Will We Ever Wake Up?

Richard Hollerman

Suppose that you lived in New Orleans and the Weather Bureau issued an urgent warning of a huge hurricane that would reach the city tomorrow!  Would you continue your life as usual, unconcerned about the ominous storm that threatened?  Or would you desert your property, forsake your job, and immediately escape with your life for a safer area?  What would you do?

Suppose that you lived in Kansas and the Weather Bureau broadcast a critical warning of a tornado that was only one mile away and directly heading your way!  Would you continue to mow the grass, paint the house, work on your car, or hang up clothes on the line?  Or would you escape for an inner room, the cellar, or a storm shelter?  What would you do?

Usually life goes along with few surprises.  We get up, go to work, eat our meals, go shopping, and retire for a good night sleep.  But sometimes life strikes us with its shocking reality.  What if a doctor gave you medical tests, then soberly told you that you have inoperable cancer and will probably be dead in three weeks!  What if you were awakened in the middle of the night with your house engulfed in flames!  What if your boss called you to the office to pick up the proverbial “pink slip” and you knew that you would lose your position!  What would you do in these cases?

More to the point, suppose you were on the Titanic and the captain delivered the warning that this “unsinkable” ship had collided with an iceberg and would sink in a half hour!  Would you straighten the pictures on the wall, pick your clothes up and hang them in the closet, and decide to have a light meal?  Or would you immediately desert the ship to save your life?

Why is it that we can see the point in these cases, but somehow we fail to heed the call of God to get right with Him?  Again and again, He has warned us in His written word, through His chosen apostles and prophets, as well as by His very Son, Jesus Christ.  Yet we fail to heed this gracious call and assume that nothing really climactic and disastrous is about to happen!  How deceived can we be!

John the baptizer said to some who came to him for baptism but were unwilling to repent: “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matthew 3:7).  Let’s ask this of ourselves: God has warned us of His burning wrath to come, so will we repent and escape this coming judgment?  Will we believe Him or continue on as usual, oblivious to the wrath that presently hangs over our head and will one day be poured out in its fullness (Romans 1:18; Colossians 3:6; Revelation 14:10-11)?  Will we wake up to this dreadful reality?

God issues a plaintive call to Israel, “I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct. . . . Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.  Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!  For why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies. . . . Therefore, repent and live” (Ezekiel 18:30-32).  Yet Israel refused to heed the call—and perished in their sin and lack of repentance!

God sent Jesus to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6), but very few heeded his urgent call: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  Toward the end of His earthly life, Jesus approached the city of Jerusalem and “wept over it” for He could see its coming destruction (Luke 19:41).  He confessed, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37).  Jesus “wanted” them to repent, but they were “unwilling” to receive His grace and mercy!

God has openly described the urgent need to repent and be forgiven, but somehow most are unwilling to take His words seriously.  Paul speaks of  unbelievers, “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).  People generally are unwilling to repent and they will not escape from the coming destruction!

The future is certain!  God has told us in advance of the future judgment, yet people refuse to believe, choosing to think that “all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation,” thus there is no need to make major alterations in our life (2 Peter 3:4).  Yet God says, “by His word,” that “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of evil men” (v. 7).  Peter tells us the reason why God has waited this long before bringing an end to all things: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  God patiently waits for men and women to repent of their sin and come to Him for mercy!

The future will bring utter destruction that will be more powerful and devastating than a trillion megaton nuclear bombs dropped at the same time!  “The day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:10-11).  This speaks of universal calamity, destruction, and ruin!

That isn’t all.  Peter goes on to say that we are “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:12-13).  The writer then shows the connection to our personal life: “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).  The truth of God’s coming judgment, His punishment of the unforgiven sinner, and His promise of a blessed place of joy and peace should cause us to repent and live absolutely pure lives!

The Bible says that those who die with unforgiven sin will be “thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30), will be “cast into the eternal fire” (Matthew 18:8-9), and will be “thrown . . . into the furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:42, 50).  There will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 42, 50); there will be “black darkness” (2 Peter 2:17), torment and agony (Luke 16:23-24), eternal fire and punishment (Matthew 25: 41, 46), and eternal separation from God (Matthew 7:23; 25:41),   The unrepentant will forever be excluded from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-7), the beautiful Heavenly City (Revelation 21:1-2, 27), and the Paradise Garden of God ( Revelation 2:7; Luke 23:43).  They will never be able to see the blessedness of God (Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14) or be in His joyful, fulfilling, and wondrous presence (1 Thessalonians 4:17; Jude 24).  Consider this: Every obituary notice you see, every funeral you attend, even your physical injuries and illnesses—should remind you that your days are numbered and you must die!  You will then stand before God and Jesus Christ to give account (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 20:11-15; Matthew 25:31-46).  When will we wake up to our urgent need of forgiveness right now!

When we consider facts like this, maybe we can see how Paul could write, “Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11).  In light of these sobering truths, the apostle wrote, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  Since “our God is a consuming fire,” “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 12:29; 10:31).  What if we remain in our sins?  “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).  Paul mentions a number of sins, then warns, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6).  The outcome and wages of sin is death (Romans 6:21, 23; Ephesians 2:1), thus it is vital that we run to God for His deliverance.

We can find this deliverance through Jesus Christ!  The Bible says that Jesus Christ “rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  If we have truly been born again and forgiven of our sins, we belong to God through Christ.  Then the promise is ours: “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:9).  If we have been cleansed from our sins, “we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9).  Jesus Christ is our Savior, our Deliverer from sin’s punishment!

What will you do with the Lord Jesus and His gracious offer of forgiveness and salvation from sin?  He has patiently waited for you and is willing to receive you today—if you are willing to repent and come to Him in faith and submissive obedience (2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 5:9; 10:36).


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