Church of Christ Jamaica
Bringing Light to the Nation

None so blind

TREVOR E SMITH

March 2, 2017

None so blind.. The world is a dangerous place. We are constantly at risk from human and natural sources. Yet despite the dangers to which we are exposed it is amazing how many persons go about life as if they are in control of their environment. They seem to be unaware of the frailty of life. It is as if they are blind and deaf as it relates to reality of death. Death and its implications is a reality that all humans must face at some point. Yet, so many ignore that fact while others fail to fully grasp how they ought to respond to the reality of death. The Church has been presenting a solution for dealing with the reality of death day-in-day out for centuries. The solution is available to anyone who wants to use it. But make no mistake about it many will in fact come face to face with death’s reality without the solution. The cold hard fact is that many will be found wanting because they were unprepared. I have tried to put the people who will be unprepared to meet death into different categories.

Group I:

None so blind and deaf! There will be a group of persons who will so close themselves off from certain kinds of information that they will not take time to recognize the reality of death until it is too late. These people just go on through life without seriously giving thought to the fact that life will come to an end at some point. Why is this so? Why will people opt to lose their souls rather than heed the warnings and take the easy corrective steps? Well, there is one set that will put their souls in danger because they fall in the None so blind and none so deaf category. They shut themselves off from any contact with anything to do with the soul or God. [Sleep late Sunday or beach early don’t want to be reminded that people actually go to worship. Avoid contact with anyone who is likely to say something about God. ] There is one set within this None So Blind group that should be of great concern for some of you here this morning. Many Christian parents have been taking their children to worship with them from they are infants. The shocking thing is that many of those who literally grow up in the Church walk away from it and end up facing the reality of death unprepared. The problem is that they close their minds to the solution that is being presented. In that state, they are really blind and deaf. And there is none so blind as those who will not see. It is indeed scary to contemplate the possibility that all your efforts to expose your children to the Gospel and to the hope that is in Christ actually come to nought because they have closed their minds. We need to be alert to this possibility and not to take things for granted. We must engage children in meaningful dialogue about Jesus and the need for His saving power.

Group II:

There is no need! Some people are going to end up facing the reality of death unprepared because they will refuse to accept that you need a solution for death. They just believe that when you die that is it. The idea that Heaven and Hell are man-made ideas is very prevalent. There is also the thought that Heaven is right here on earth. Some will argue that the world was really created by some accident. Big Bang and no there is really no intelligent hand guiding it. Many of these people are going to be in for an eternal surprise when they come to find that there is in fact life after death. And that examining the solution that the Church offers for the reality of death does make a difference! Some will run the risk of the clear and present danger to their souls because they replace the Creator with something that is created. This might range from human idols “Jah” down through objects made by man or even Nature itself. Rom 1 tells us that we have no excuse in knowing about God because He can be seen from the things around us. Rom 1: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Still others will not accept the role of Jesus the Christ in the protection of the soul. They will present sophisticated arguments to downplay the relevance and importance of Jesus. John 14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going. Jesus the Way to the Father 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?� 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. So, many will lose their souls because they fail to be accept the central role of Jesus in matters of the soul.

Group III:

Soon come! There is another set of people who will not be ready for the reality of death not because they were not conscious about death. Not because they did not accept its reality. Their problem is that they put off doing anything about it. They will decide later to do something about it. Maybe next week. When next week comes, well next week and then next week. I call these the Soon Come group. They will be lost not because of unbelief. They will be lost because of procrastination. They may well accept that Jesus is the way but still lose their souls because of procrastination. I am going to become a Christian you know, but I have to do this or that or something else first.� They fail to fully grasp the urgency of the need to put on Christ! And then tragically � it is all too late �eternally! Any case of someone who is lost is tragic. However, the next groups that we will look at will be truly sad.

Group IV:

It is too inconvenient� There are persons who will face the reality of death unprepared even after they actually make an attempt to get the solution. They will go to Church or attend a campaign. They will see the need for the solution. But they may think that baptism is not really convenient at this time or something else turns them off from actually making the commitment to get the solution. They do not see that facing the reality of death without the solution is much worse than any perceived inconvenience or problem that they could face. A big part of this group is made up of people who are too attached to things in their life to make the change. Many are in relationships that they are not willing to give up or change. Some are kept away because of their friends. Far too many because of their parents. Yes, people who have seen the light will still end up losing their souls. This by the way is a nice way to say �end up in hell.� They will lose their souls because it is not convenient to put on Christ at this time. Make sure you are not one of those!

Group V:

I am OK. Regrettably, some persons are going to come face to face with the reality of death unprepared because they will believe that their healthy lifestyle prepares them for death. They are kind, they try to be honest and they try to be good. They believe that their �goodness� should be enough to allow them to face death with confidence. They fail to understand and accept that there are things that need to be done in this life to ensure that the transition into the next life goes well. They fail to accept the need for the solution. They will lose their souls because they believe that they are in such good order. They think they that are living such a good life. What then could be wrong with their souls? If I want to study at a tertiary institution, I have to meet certain conditions. If I want to drive legally in this country I have to meet certain conditions. If I want to travel I have to meet certain conditions. If I want to put my money in a bank I have to meet certain conditions. Why is it then that we could assume that there are no conditions attached to moving from this life to the next? All through this life, what we do at one stage plays an important role in what happens to us in the next stage. Why do we believe that it really does not matter how we live in this live? It�s just a matter of personal preference, we say. I might be able to drive well, but I do so outside of the law unless I meet the conditions laid down for getting a driver�s licence. Rev 20:12 The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. There are conditions attached to saving our souls. It is not a free for all. What happens to us in the next life will be dependent on how we live this life. And that should not come as a big surprise to anybody. There is a good reason why good behaviour is not enough: Rom 3: 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 1 John 2: My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense�Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, �I know him,� but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God�s love is truly made complete in him. The real issue is that God is light and in Him is no darkness. A righteous God is unable to accept man in his sinful state. There is a need to reconcile man to Him. However, a just God needs to not only act justly but also to demonstrate justice in His actions. It is for this reason that Jesus had to be sent as an atoning sacrifice for man�s sin. And it is for that reason that our only hope of reconciliation to God is through the atoning blood of Jesus. That is why to protect our souls in response to the reality of death we must put on Christ. This is vitally important not only for the next life but in this life. Eph 1: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Friends, in this life and in the next it makes sense to follow the correct procedure to put on Christ. It is not wise to think that it is OK to live your life on the basis of what you think is OK.

Group VI:

What�s the difference? This is a hard one to take, but it is occurring all the time. Sometimes when trouble or illness steps in some people will be in a mad scramble to find a solution. They are not discerning and accept things that they should have questioned. Others are just not careful. Still others are led astray. This group includes people who will claim that they are very �spiritual�. You will have others who are very religious and are even fearful of God. Some are fervent in worship. There is a school of thought that we serve a loving God who is full of grace and so He is not particular about how we serve Him. Punishment is not a part of His loving make-up. Governments insist that procedures that are laid down ought to be followed in a just society. Justice cannot be arbitrary. Why would we expect a just God to be less concerned about the consistent application of rules and regulations? No matter how much good you are doing and how pure you think your heart is and how much zeal you are putting in serving your community, you will still be exposing your soul to danger unless you follow the correct procedures to put on Christ and to be in Him. Rom: 10 Brothers, my heart�s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God�s righteousness. God is particular and specific. You can�t just serve Him the way you feel like it. Lev 10 Aaron�s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Is it likely that a God who has never been late for a sunrise or a sunset for thousands of years will be careless and arbitrary about something as vitally important as to how we can put on Christ and be reconciled to Him? Friends it makes a difference how we seek to serve God. I think it is critical to emphasize the need for all of us to put on Christ. Jesus says John 14:15 �If you love me, you will obey what I command. Check the facts for yourself. Don�t rely soley on people like me who stand before you. Search the scriptures for yourself and ask questions. There seems to be a tendency towards convenience salvation. It is too much trouble to follow the pattern laid down in the New Testament. God knows everything and so He will know that you agree with all the steps but because of time and convenience you have had to leave out some. How many of us listen to the disaster preparedness plan of action and decide well, I will buy a flashlight and battery radio but I can�t be bothered with taping up the glass and securing the things that might be blown away? If we take a logical approach to such matters, why would we not approach the critical matter of how to protect our souls � eternally � in a similar manner? Should we not examine all the examples of persons who have put on Christ that are presented for our learning and try to pattern what they did? SO HOW DO YOU PUT ON CHRIST? You are here and you are convinced that you no longer want to expose your soul to the clear and present danger that threatens it. You want to enjoy the spiritual blessings that are to be found only in Christ. A review of all the conversions in the New Testament and supporting passages point to the following process for putting on Christ: You must hear the good news of Jesus, His atoning sacrifice for our sins and His resurrection. Rom 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? You must also believe the good news. Heb 11: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Faith is not enough. We are called to act on our belief and to make a decision to no longer let sin reign in our lives but to seek to live in obedience to God. This is the very important act of repentance. Luke 13: 2 Jesus answered, �Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. You then have to confess Jesus as Lord of your life. This is a public declaration of your belief that Jesus is the Son of the Living God: Rom 10: 8-10 But what does it say? �The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,� that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, �Jesus is Lord,� and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Another major step is that you must be baptized for the removal of our sins. This is a step that is either left out completely or is comprised in attempts to make salvation more convenient. Gal 3:26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. At that point you have put on Christ and you are in Christ. Many opportunities are now opened to you. One is that you are added to His Church. There you are able to access the exclusive blessings that are in Christ. Now your soul is protected by the atoning blood of Jesus, the Christ. Now you are ready to face the reality of death. Baptism comes from the Greek baptizo which means to immerse. Sprinkling and immersion are not the same thing. We have to ask if God who is fussy about the kind of fire that is used to light sacrifices to Him and who will punish one of His leaders for using a tried and proven method to get water for his people will notice the difference. Is it worth it to take the chance? Why not just do what He commands, however childish and petty it may appear to our human minds? Baptism is also for the remission of sins. Therefore, baptizing infants who are without sin does not appear to fit the pattern laid down for us in the New Testament. Ez 18: 20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. If you are here today and you are in any doubt about whether you are in Christ, do not delay, do something about it now. If you have questions as to whether the process for putting on Christ that you have gone through is in keeping with what I have just outlined, make a commitment to investigate your status fully. We are willing to have someone go through any questions you may have. If you have not been immersed for the remission/removal of your sins, then I urge you to do so before it is eternally too late. This next group is the real tear jerker.

Group VII:

Over exposed As we come to a close, we have one category of persons whose souls are in clear and present danger that we need to touch on briefly. These persons have actually gone through the correct procedures to put on Christ and yet they are in critical danger of losing their souls. These persons overexposed themselves to the world and have got too caught up in it. Also, in many instances they stayed away from the fellowship for so long that they have lost out on the benefit of the Word and the support of the brotherhood. The key is that when you find yourself in a spiritual rut NEVER stay away from the fellowship. Let the world call you a hypocrite. That is their problem. Draw near so that you can access the support that is available. Today, I remind you of the story of the prodigal son who recognized the folly of his ways and returned to his father. You know the blessings that are available in Christ. You know that whatever it is that is keeping you in the world and away from Him is like fool�s gold. It only glitters on the outside. Deep inside you feel the frustration that accompanies the life of those who have put their hands on the plough and then turn away. You feel the emptiness that once was filled by the joy that comes from knowing Christ. I say to you this morning, enough is enough. Come back to truth that you accepted in the beginning. Come back to the peace that is only possible when you are firmly grounded in Christ. Set aside the human factors that led you to stray from the path and set your sights on the prize�.. the crown that awaits you. Make the commitment to be once again proud to be called a Christian!

About Author

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Trevor ES Smith is an author and people skills and performance enhancement specialist with the Success with People Academy. He is a hands-on practitioner in the areas of Inter-personal relations, Marketing, Sales, HR and Management processes. He presents unique perspectives on inter-personal relationships, leadership, team building, customer service, technology and time mastery.