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Lowell Brueckner

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Tool for Evangelism II


I remind you again that soon I begin a new exposition on a book of the Bible. In the meantime, I continue to bring up articles, which were published earlier on this blogspot. This is the second installation on the theme, Before the Supreme Judge, first published in three parts between July 7 and July 16, 2014. This is meant for Christians to be a tool for evangelism. How have you learned to share the gospel in personal evangelism? See if it lines up with the truth presented in these three writings. They contain in detail the biblical principles concerning the subject.

 This second article deals with the following issues… What does the Law of God demand?... Guilty or innocent?... What does “death” mean?... The second death… Justice satisfied… The astounding rebellion against God… An example from hell… The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

 If you want to give people something of value to read, you can receive this and two other installments in the form of a small book. Simply write us at . A tract is all right, in order to get someone’s attention, but it gives little information concerning salvation and the reason why man needs salvation. This little book will inform them clearly about the righteousness and the love of God. I really wish that many, who have a desire to evangelize, would use it. 

Precisely – what does the law of God demand?

 Now we must deal with this question: How do we know whether or not we have crossed the line and broken His law? For a few moments, we must look into the law itself, as He has established it, to know if we have offended Him and if we are sinners or not, because, “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20b). You certainly are familiar with one of the Ten Commandments which states: “Thou shalt not kill”. You and I probably immediately conclude that we have never done that, so at least in this we are innocent. However, when Jesus came to earth to live among men and teach them, one of the things that he made clear is exactly how God views homicide, and He said, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court’ (Matthew 5:22a). In the context, He is speaking of the judgment against murder. Are you angry with someone right now: your boss perhaps, or a colleague, a neighbor, or a relative? Another of the Ten Commandments states, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, but Jesus said more: “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Have you entertained such thoughts?...

 Jesus also commanded, “Love your enemies”. Have people done you wrong, whom you do not love? … Well, these are just a few questions, to which you must respond with absolute honesty.

Speaking in detail of these things, Jesus left it very clear that God is not only judging our misdeeds, but also our thoughts and the intentions of our heart. He knows your mind and the motivation behind every action. He is a God who sees all and cannot ignore or turn His back upon the sin that you commit in your mind and those motivating desires in your heart. All this is a constant provocation to Him. In Noah’s time, He saw “that every intent of the thoughts of his (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5)

 Guilty or innocent

 Now, after contemplating these things, knowing that righteousness is an expression of all that is in agreement with Him and that sin simply is that which goes against His nature and impedes coming near Him: Do you believe that you have broken laws that define what is acceptable to God and what is not? To what conclusion do you come?

 You are certainly thinking: “Sure, but everybody does these things; there is no one alive who doesn’t” or “You can’t live without doing them”, and, you know, you are right! For that reason the entire human race, without exception, is under condemnation: “..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

 If what we are saying is true (and it is, because our source is not personal opinion, but an eternal and infallible Word, that is, the Bible), then it is obvious that you are in a very delicate situation. The question is not that you could be in trouble, but that you certainly are, because sentence has already been passed. You now live under an eternal condemnation, because you have broken the laws of the highest Authority in the universe. God’s perfect judgment demands that you pay the penalty for your infractions.

 What does “death” mean?

 The Bible declares: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4b) and just a light study of the Bible will cause you to know that it is not speaking of physical or temporal death, but of eternal punishment.

 We must become familiar with the manner, in which the Bible presents things, and understand them in a different way then they are commonly used, due to today’s vocabulary and mentality. It is easy to realize that here the text is not referring to physical death, since physical death affects everyone in the same way. He specifically speaks of the soul that sins. So we must first define what the Bible means by “death”.

 Not long ago on the internet, we read of a woman, recovering in the hospital after her brain had stopped functioning for a good while. I am not a medical expert, but I understand that the ultimate proof that doctors need before writing a death certificate, along with heart arrest, is that brain waves cease. However, it seems to me that even in these times of great medical advances, doctors are still taken by surprise by recoveries that they cannot explain or understand and which they must call “miracles”. The medical world cannot pinpoint correctly and accurately how and when death takes place or really define it, but the Bible does.

 The Bible speaks of death as a separation. Biblically, physical death is the separation of body and soul. For example, in one place, we read of the death of a woman and it clearly states, “her soul was departing (for she died)…” (Genesis 35:18). The Gospel relates the death of Christ in this way: “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46). In the same way, when Jesus’ disciple, Stephen, was stoned, he cried, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” He breathed his last and at that moment, it states that Saul, who was present, “was in hearty agreement with putting him to death” (Acts 7:59, 8:1). Death was confirmed by the departure of his spirit.

 The second death

 Now that we have seen what physical death is and in what moment it occurs, we will see that is meant by spiritual death, in order to better understand the statement, “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4b).

 Spiritual death is also a separation. God warned Adam, saying, “From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Nevertheless, even though Adam and Eve ate from it, they continued to live physically. What then happened to them immediately after ignoring the warning and disobeying God? “He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Man, from that day to the present, is separated from God and in this state of separation his spirit cannot live independently. Though he lives physically, he is spiritually dead. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Man’s spirit depends solely upon God for life.

 From these principles, we move forward to see the death to which the prophet Ezekiel refers, when he says, “the soul who sins will die.” The sad and dreadful reality is found in the last book of the Bible, where it tells us, “death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). In the next chapter, in more detail, we are told that “the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). It does not say that it produces a death, but that it is a death.

 The second death is a place where the soul and the body of the sinner suffer, being eternally separated from God. This is the death to which the prophet Ezekiel refers; to an eternal condemnation. Jesus warned us of this death, when he said, Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

 Justice satisfied

 Returning to what we wrote in the beginning, stating that the justice of God is perfect and does not tolerate any infractions, you need to understand that in order to satisfy it and guarantee an eternity that will be clean and perfect, the sentence must be respected and completed. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

 Justice is magnified at the center of Christian history through the cross of Christ. The death of Jesus Christ was an act of the righteousness of God, because God, good as He is, has to satisfy the demands of justice (as any just judge must do). Here is a question to consider:

What would you think of a judge, who would free a man that had murdered? Does this make that judge good? Truthfully, we know that not to be the case. To the contrary, a just judge will apply the law in its rightful measure; punishing the guilty and freeing the innocent. Then, why do we think it should be any different in reference to God? How many times have we heard it said: “If God is just, then why would he let me go to hell, or why does he permit this or that..? With such words we are saying, nothing more and nothing less, that in order for God to be just, He must go against His own righteousness and lay aside that, which His law demands. However, we would never demand that of the judicial system in our country. Can we admit to this?

 God is righteous and He must fulfill that, which His law demands, and it demands death for sinners. For that reason, He sent his own Son Jesus to take their place, fulfilling in Himself the sentence put upon the sinner. That was the only way to satisfy the justice of God and, at the same time, procure pardon for the one who sins.

 The Bible, the basis of every Christian life, teaches clearly that someone has to pay the penalty. Therefore, the one who rejects and will not accept the sacrifice that Christ made in his place, then must satisfy the righteousness of God himself, paying eternally for his guilt in the place designated to carry out his sentence, which is called Hell.

 The astounding rebellion against God

 It is surprising that someone in the worst possible condition, awaiting eternal condemnation, can so harden his heart against truth and against the Author of truth and life. You have probably heard about the two thieves, who were executed on the same day that Jesus died. One was so bold as to say to Jesus, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The other, startled by his crass challenge, rebuked him: “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds” (Luke 23:39-43).

 In an instance, both would leave this earth and enter their eternal destiny, but even in this situation, the first had no fear of what would happen in the next moments, when he breathed his last. He was only enveloped in his present circumstance and pain. It never entered his brain to think that he was paying justly for his deeds and that he deserved the punishment. He saw himself as a victim of circumstances and only thought to alleviate his suffering.

 It is easy to see the same attitude in people today. The whole world accuses God, not man, for wars, the suffering of innocent children and, principally, for not intervening to relieve their anguish. “If there is a God, then why.. why.. why?” They sound like the thief. Few care to think of their own guilt and in the offenses done against their Creator.

 We have observed people extremely ill, dying from cancer, AIDS and other causes, who will not leave their sin and rebellion against God. The Bible teaches us that the heart of man is more deceitful that anything else. He will not even leave his arrogance when he finds himself in Hell!

 An example from Hell

 To illustrate this fact precisely, Jesus gave us a clear example of two men that entered eternity; one was a believing beggar and the other a rich man (Luke 16:19-31). This was neither fable nor one of His famous parables, which he would always begin by saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” and then he would introduce one of His allegories. In this case, Jesus began with a cold phrase, “There was…” and continued by presenting the name of the beggar, which was Lazarus, who was then in Paradise. From Hell, the rich man pleaded to Abraham that Lazarus should wet his finger in water and moisten his lips. Imagine that – he wanted that poor man, who had so cruelly suffered all his life, to leave his rest, in order to serve him in that terrible place of torment. Even Hell had not changed his mentality! He wanted only to relieve his sufferings, believing that he was not deserving of them.

 Also even in Hell, he had the gall to argue with Abraham. He still greatly valued his own opinion. He requested that Lazarus be sent as a missionary to his brothers, so that they would repent and believe (it seems, he was not about to let Lazarus enjoy the beauty of his destiny). Abraham told him that his brothers had the Scriptures at their disposal, given so that they could believe. But the rich man did not believe that they were enough and was not ashamed to dispute with Abraham, insisting to him that if they saw Lazarus resurrect, then they would believe.

 We have before us a marvelous lesson about the stubbornness of man. I hope that sad story will not be repeated in one of our readers, but that each one will pay attention to that which God has given us so that we can believe – that is, the Scriptures. The Bible is a word like no other to give powerful conviction to the human heart over the necessity of repentance and faith.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions

 Do you think, perhaps, that the charges against you can be dropped, if you resolve never to repeat the offenses again? That does not sound like a bad idea, but it would just be a vain and presumptuous attempt, because the sad truth is that you will continue to commit the same infractions. Why? Because you were born with a nature that is contrary to that of God and cannot do anything that will please Him.

 You and I do what we do, because of who we are, and until we leave behind who we are, we cannot stop doing what we do. A certain kind of tree is not that kind, because of the fruit it produces, but it produces that fruit, because of the kind of tree it is. Do you see what I am trying to say? It gives fruit according to its nature, because of the kind it is. We are not sinners, because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. Following that principle, even though it may sound blunt to say so, we must accept that, if we lie, it is because we are liars. If we steal (not just expensive things; to steal also means taking small things), it is because from the heart, we are thieves. And we can go from there in relation to other sins.

 These are not conclusions based on personal opinion, but are the result of a study in the Word of God. I would like to continue to observe how the Bible describes man and what his true needs are. An old theological term states that human nature, since the fall of Adam, is “utterly depraved”. Man is innately and hopelessly immoral at the core of his being and does not possess the power to help himself change. Though he makes many efforts to reform, rejecting the bad and hanging on to what he thinks to be good within himself, there is no goodness at all in adamic nature (meaning that we have inherited the genes of Adam, physically and spiritually). Our good intentions cannot change who we are, or those things that motivate us to do what we do.




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