Have you ever dialed 9-1-1? I will always remember, in vivid detail, the night our middle daughter had a febrile seizure. She had a spiking fever, convulsions shook her little body, and her eyes went blank as she dribbled saliva and vomit out of her mouth. Our world fell apart. We thought for sure we were losing our baby girl. Without asking any questions, I picked up my phone and dialed 9-1-1. A team of very competent firefighters and paramedics were pounding on our door about 45 seconds later. Praise the Lord we lived less than a mile from the fire department! These experts looked at our little girl and determined they thought she would be fine, but recommended we should still have her looked at the E.R.

Why did I take the step to call 9-1-1? I sensed there was an urgent, life-threatening emergency that only EMT trained experts could answer.

I’ve been praying and thinking about what might cause us to have this level of eternal urgency to reach our neighbors with the gospel this summer. What if we sensed a moment-by-moment, 9-1-1 kind of urgency, knowing that those who don’t turn to Christ in repentance and faith, will perish eternally? My heart is often apathetic toward lost people and too busy with the many tasks I feel overwhelmed to complete. I don’t want to stay this way. We serve a sovereign God who answers prayer, and works through our prayers and lives, to save those who don’t know him! Yes, those around us who don’t know Christ are in urgent, eternal danger. But we serve a loving, mighty, sacrificial Father who has given his Son to accomplish the salvation of all who will turn to him.

So, I did something these last weeks you might think is strange. I started reading about the biblical doctrine of hell: eternal… conscious… torment and banishment from the saving presence of God (see the recommended books below). Tim Keller makes a great case, in the appendix to Is Hell for Real or Does Everyone Go to Heaven?, that our modern age has dismissed hell because we don’t see how the doctrine of God’s eternal retribution holds together with all the other doctrines of Christianity. Take away hell and you cut out the very center of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross; hanging on the cursed tree to bear the eternal torment of hell we deserved.

The witness committee encourages you to pray, as a family, about taking the 9-1-1 challenge this summer. We’ll be producing some prayer cards and explaining this more in the weeks to come. But here is a simple introductory explanation for how we’ll pursue our lost neighbors this summer:

9 - As a family, learn the names of your nine surrounding neighbors. Imagine the five homes  across your street, and two houses on each side, and try to familiarize yourself with the names of everyone living there. If you spend most of your time around non-Christian co-workers, get to know the names of their family members also this summer.

1 - Pray weekly, as a family, for one person (or more) you come to find out isn’t a Christian, or has a significant struggle in their walk with Christ.

1 - By the end of the summer, invite that one (or more people!), to one of three Sunday evening services focused on evangelism and fellowship (June 25, July 30 & August 27).

In the next month, the witness team will also be introducing some other fun ways to be engaged in our neighborhoods and work to get to know those who live right around us.

But for now, pray with us for a sense of profound urgency that we wouldn’t be comfortable with our neighbors being destined for eternal torment and death, separated from the saving presence of God. I so appreciated this quote from Spurgeon referenced at the close of What is Hell? by Morgan and Peterson (see the last of the three books recommended below):

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and letting not one person go there unwarned, and unprayed for.”

What Pastor Adrian is reading:

Is Hell for Real?: And Other Questions about Judgment, Eternity and the God of Love by Erik Raymond. This is an excellent, clear, Biblically based little booklet that opens by comparing the many thousands upon thousands of people around our world headed toward eternal judgment to Niagara Falls. People are like that water just streaming off to God’s judgment. We can’t be engaged personally with every single person who is lost, but we can set some clear tangible goals to pray for a few! That’s the purpose of the 9-1-1 challenge.

Is Hell for Real or Does Everyone Go To Heaven?: With contributions by Timothy Keller, R. Albert Mohler Jr., J.I. Packer, and Robert Yarbrough...Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson. Tim Keller makes the excellent argument that we will need to explain hell differently to those he calls traditional and religious (these will be prone toward moralism), compared to explaining it to those who are modern and relativistic (these will think hell is medieval, cruel and unnecessary). This book also has great summary on views of hell through church history, and survey of Biblical teaching on the topic.

What is Hell? (Basics of the Faith) by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson (P&R). Here the authors make the Biblical case that hell is eternal, conscious, punishment and banishment from God’s saving presence.


Write a Comment

Comments for this post have been disabled.