A few weeks ago a well-known radio personality announced another Russian technological achievement. In the next breath he made the side remark: “Anyone know where there is a nice deep cave in which I can hide?”

Little did he know that many centuries ago the Prophet Isaiah wrote: “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.… And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isa. 2:17, 19). Nor did he know this prophecy is confirmed in Revelation 6:15, 17.

Unquestionably, these are days of testing, a time when Christians must constantly check their perspectives. Amazing new achievements are increasingly commonplace. Yet more dazzling discoveries would seem inevitable. Outer space is at present a ripe field for the imagination and an area where frantic investigations are being made. To what extent man will eventually invade space remains to be seen. But it is certain that because of the infinity of the universe he will continue to be an earth-bound creature, subject to the limitations of time, space and circumstance.

While there are many who recognize God and give him his rightful place as Creator and Sovereign Ruler, the overwhelming majority have no such concept of him and tend to magnify man and his achievements.

Surely the Church must rise to her responsibilities at such a time as this. The unity she seeks is important, but the message she preaches is of infinitely greater importance. Standing as a light in a dark place, as the custodian of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before an unbelieving world, the effectiveness of her witness depends far more on that which she preaches than denominational unity or ecclesiastical organization, important as they may be.

It is high time that wherever men gather to worship they shall hear truly biblical messages. Never have such been more relevant than now. It may seem expedient to ignore the clear affirmations of Scripture, but the effect of such negligence can be tragic, both now and for eternity.

In large measure preaching today is earthbound. Not so the biblical revelation. There we find a continuing story of man going his own way, thinking his own thoughts and making his own plans while at the same time a loving God makes plain his sovereign will and yearning love, all in the context of eternity.

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Down through the ages God has pleaded with men in the face of sin and rebellion. The Gospel is the good news of redemption. It is also the solemn warning of impending judgment.

So far as the world is concerned there is no ground for optimism, but in the light of and by God’s redeeming love pessimism can be transformed into a glorious assurance.

But how rarely does one hear a message of impending judgment from the pulpits of today! Sin and its inevitable consequences are neglected for the more pleasant homilies on psychosomatic theology. So largely have we lost our perspective that eternity is the lost horizon in modern preaching.

Nevertheless, the message of the Bible is so plain that the wayfaring man, though a fool, should not err therein. But have not we, to whom is committed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, lost our perspective to the extent that our messages are largely centered on temporal values rather than the eternal?

The Apostle Paul states a principle which should never be forgotten by the Christian: “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal (temporary); but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). And, writing to the Colossian Christians, he says: “Set your affection (mind) on things above not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

Let us be frank. Is that the message of the Church today? Are men hearing of “eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord,” or are they being urged to make the “far country” a better and more comfortable place in which the sinner may continue to sin? Preaching the love of God, are we not forgetting his holiness and justice? We affirm our own concept of what we think this is but it is a far cry from the holiness and justice of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

Some believe and preach that “God is love,” but reject the statement that: “Our God is a consuming fire,” which is equally true. Some rationalize: “… when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” while they bask in the assurance that: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” Some glibly quote with approval our Lord’s words: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” but find it convenient to overlook the dreadful alternative: “should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Carried over into the medical world the same attitude would result in an emphasis on acne and not on cancer, much talk about flat feet but little about heart trouble, research on dandruff but nothing on leukemia, symposia on ingrown toenails but no programs on polio. Symptoms would hold the spotlight rather than the diagnosis and cure of diseases from which symptoms arise.

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Today men’s eyes are looking up, if no higher than outer space in which travel the latest evidences of man’s inventive genius. But with this upward look there is also a searching question, either of wistfulness or of actual fear—what does the future hold? For some there is even now being fulfilled the word of our Lord: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.”

It is high time that when we preach “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” we preface our sermons with the solemn warning “For the wages of sin is death.”

Unquestionably, the message of the Church in our generation has been largely world-centered. We have forgotten that a better social order, with all of its accompanying benefits for humanity, will eventuate as men become truly Christians. We continue to urge non-Christians to live and act like Christians, stressing reformation rather than redemption. It is not too late to change. But some day, in the blinding light of certain developments, the experience of Esau will, for some, be tragically re-enacted; “For he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

Let us never forget: No man is prepared to live this life aright until he is prepared for the one which is to come.


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