Tyndale House Publishers
Do you enjoy worshiping God? Most people in the Church would say they do. Every Sunday all across the country, auditoriums are filled with hand-raising, God-loving Christians singing their praises to God. That’s understandable, because when the Holy Spirit dwells within us, it’s not hard to worship our glorious and worthy Creator. It’s as natural for Christians to worship the Lord as it is for flowers to open their petals in the warm sunlight.
On the other hand, demonstrating our love for God through our obedience to His will (John 14:15) doesn’t happen quite as naturally. It takes a concerted effort to obey the Great Commission and follow in Christ’s footsteps, seeking to save the lost. Nevertheless, our professed love and worship of God should show itself in a determined devotion to do His will.
May I ask you a personal question? When was the last time you shared your faith with an unsaved person? When did you last meditate on the fact that all who die in their sins will be cast into a lake of fire? In his book The Coming Revival, Dr. Bill Bright notes that only 2 percent of American churchgoers share their faith with others. That is tragic. If the love of God dwells in us, how can we not be horrified by the fate of the lost? Yet, many professing Christians today are so locked into worship (with the volume turned high) that they seem to give little or no thought to the fate of the ungodly.
To make a very important point, I would like for you to consider the following scenario:
An experienced big-city firefighter was charged yesterday with grave neglect of duty. Prosecutors maintain that he abandoned his responsibility and betrayed the people of the city when he failed to release rescue equipment during a recent fire, resulting in the needless and tragic deaths of a family of five.
The lead prosecuting attorney said that for more than three minutes after arriving at the scene, the firefighter sat in his vehicle, wearing earphones and listening to a CD, while a family of five screamed to be rescued from the sixth floor of the burning building. Horrified bystanders reported that, as flames licked at the mother’s clothing, she cried out in terror and fell to her death, still clutching an infant in her arms.
The distraught onlookers also said that the father held two terrified children as he was engulfed by the massive flames. This terrifying drama took place in full view of the firefighter as he remained seated in the fire truck listening to the CD.
Eyewitnesses were sickened when they discovered that the reason the firefighter had remained in the locked emergency vehicle was simply to test a new high-tech CD player that he had purchased as a gift for the fire chief.
The chief immediately distanced himself from the defendant and dishonorably discharged him from the fire department. In a prepared statement, the chief said that there were no words to describe such a betrayal of those the firefighter was sworn to protect.
At the trial, the defense pleaded “no contest,” but added that the defendant had gone to great personal sacrifice to purchase the expensive gift for the chief, and he hoped that the judge would take that into account when passing sentence.
What do you think would be a fitting punishment for this firefighter’s serious crime—probation? Two years in jail? Twenty years? Life? Death? What sentence would you give the negligent firefighter?
Perhaps you’re saying, “That’s ridiculous. A firefighter would never do that.” Allow me to apply the parable: If you and I are not seeking to save the lost “with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 1:23), are we not, in effect, negligent firefighters? That’s a sobering question, isn’t it?
Am I saying that if we don’t evangelize we’re not saved? Of course not. But if we would expect a firefighter to make saving lives a priority, are we honest enough to judge ourselves by the same standard? Are we doing all we can to rescue the lost, or are we sitting passively in the pews while people perish?
I recognize that these questions are shocking—and perhaps you’re feeling a bit put off at this point. But I urge you to stay with me. My purpose is not to offend, but it is to get your attention and to present things as they really are. After all, what the Bible tells us about the fate of the lost (Revelation 20:15) is pretty shocking.
In Revelation 3:1-3, Jesus says to the church at Sardis, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”
Oswald J. Smith said, “Oh, my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.” We have been gazing to the heavens while sinners are sinking into hell.
Worship is the highest calling of the Christian, and we can see in the book of Revelation that the Church will one day be consumed in worship before the throne of the Almighty. But when we look back at the book of Acts, we don’t find the Church consumed with worship. Instead, we find that those Christians were devoted to reaching the lost, to the point that they willingly gave their lives to preach the gospel.
Time is short. Let us not sit passively by during these crucial days of opportunity, drowning out the cries of a dying humanity with the sweet sounds of worship. Let us reevaluate our priorities, take off the earphones, unlock the doors, become equipped, and demonstrate the depth of our love for God by rescuing those who are about to perish.
I wonder if you have been praying for revival. Many are, and that’s good. But if we make revival sovereign and don’t share our faith with the lost, in effect this is what we are saying: “Lord, I know that you have commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. But we will stay here and pray. We know that you have chosen the ‘foolishness’ of preaching to save them that believe. But we will stay here and pray. And we know that the Bible asks us, ‘How will they hear without a preacher?’ But we will stay here and pray, because it sure is easier to talk to God about people than it is to talk to people about God.”
C. T. Studd said: “We Christians too often substitute prayer for playing the game. Prayer is good; but when used as a substitute for obedience, it is nothing but a blatant hypocrisy, a despicable Pharisaism. . . . To your knees, man! And to your Bible! Decide at once! Don’t hedge! Time flies! Cease your insults to God. Quit consulting flesh and blood. Stop your lame, lying, and cowardly excuses.”
A. W. Tozer hit the nail on the head: “Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late—and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”
God has given the Church the ability (under His hand) to govern the tides of revival. A. W. Pink writes, “It is true that [many] are praying for world-wide revival. But . . . it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be made to the Lord of the Harvest that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about a revival.”
That is the purpose of this book—to put into your hands “truths which are calculated to bring about a revival.”