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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Consequences of Living Like There Are No Consequences

Protests would come from everywhere if I were to declare that God is dead. The people from my church would condemn me. People from other churches would dismiss me as an unbeliever. The media would be amused to hear a preacher say something that many of them would agree with. My ministry would be ended soon afterwards.

Yet, many Christians live as if God is dead. They don't think there are any consequences when they disobey Him. They don't see the penalty for the sins they have committed. They are depending upon His holiness being absent from His grace. They don't understand His justice. They believe that nothing happens to them because they have the "go to heaven" card that can't be revoked.

Of course, the nonbeliever has no understanding of justice. He acts without any regard to what will happen. He sees no consequences for his actions as long as he isn't caught.

Consider the parable told about the rich man.

Luke 12:16-21 (ESV)
16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

The man wasn't so different from the indifferent Christian or nonbeliever. He didn't overtly oppose God. He just lived his life as if there were no consequences for his own self-satisfaction without paying attention to any larger issues. He has not noticed that his heavenly bank account is empty. Instead he has stored up treasures on earth for himself. This does not prepare him for the journey he will make that night. All his treasures will be left behind and there will be no treasures for him elsewhere.

Would we be more cognizant of what we are doing if we had immediate rewards and punishments? Would Adam have eaten of the fruit that Eve ate if she had fallen over dead a  moment after she swallowed? Would a person give even more if their rewards came immediately? Sure, but, then, God would never be pleased. There would be no faith. No one would freely believe, serve or worship. Each person would be compelled by the immediate consequences for his actions.

I often tell people that there will be consequence even if they don't see them right away.  The chain smoker doesn't see his demise until it is too late. The adulterer is genuinely sorry he has lost his family when he is discovered but lives like nothing will happen as long as he isn't caught. Why should we believe that God would let us act with impunity?

The great preacher R.G. Lee, preached the message "Pay Day Someday" many years ago to congregations who understood consequences much better than we do today. But they had to hear it too.

This Sunday millions of believers will avoid church because they don't know that there are consequences for each action. Would they do so if they knew that there lives would be required of them on Sunday night?

No, I'm not for legalism. I think there are some great reasons to miss church on Sunday. I just don't think that those who can worship should take it so capriciously. I believe there are consequences for our actions and lack of action.