Last week, I shared the first part of this blog with you taken from a message that I preached several weeks ago. It is part of a series related to the judgments of God on all of mankind, but in order to understand the full scope of these judgments, we must know that God loves every man, woman, boy, and girl. He has done everything possible to draw all of us to Himself and to show us the way to spend eternity with Him. Here is part two of “Seven Stop Signs that Will Change Your Life.”
The third stop sign God has placed in your path is the stop sign of individual Christians. Many of you grew up in godly Christian homes with parents who taught you what the love of God is all about. You heard it in the stories they told. You saw it in the lives that they lived. But even if you didn’t grow up in a Christian home, by your presence here today, it is obvious that God has placed Christian men and women in your path to show you that there is a better way, the narrow way, that leads to heaven. That’s why Jesus called Christians the “light of the world.” It is our responsibility to illuminate that sin-darkened broad path so that the lost men and women who are traveling down that road that leads to destruction will be able to see where they are heading before it’s too late. And Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:16 that true believers are “the aroma of death leading to death….” Have you ever smelled death – the aroma of decaying flesh? It is sickening, and it causes most people to stop in their tracks and go the other direction. When we live the Christian life before a lost world, not only do they see the light of God’s love shining through us, but also they sense in the depths of their hearts that they are headed in the wrong direction. That’s why most lost people don’t want to hang around true believers. We are God’s stop sign on the path to hell.
The fourth stop sign which God has placed in the path of the lost on their way to hell is the Church. While technically the church is made up of the Christians I just spoke of, I am now talking about the institutional church, the body of Christ called together under Jesus’ Lordship for the purpose of showing a lost world the way to Christ. According to Jesus in Matthew 16:18, the church is the only institution that has the power to overcome the very gates of hell itself. That one verse tells me that our Savior intended for His church to stand in the way of lost people headed to hell. How do we do it? By fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. The Great Commission says we are to go into all the world, starting at home, to make disciples out of lost people. And the Great Commandment says we are to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus defined the word neighbor for us in the parable of the Good Samaritan as anyone who has a need, and there is no greater need in the lives of men and women than to come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Church must stand unwavering for the Truth of God’s Word especially now when the culture is rapidly rejecting that Truth. Too often, the church and its institutions give in to the rising tide of culturalism and choose to honor the world over the Word. We can see it in the recent actions of different denominations accepting gay marriage. We can see it in the recent actions of our beloved Samford University choosing to give credence to a student group that promotes homosexuality even when it means losing $3 million from our state convention. The Church can only be the stop sign on the path to hell when we proudly and boldly stand on the BIBLE and stand against a culture headed for an eternity in hell.
But know this. It is not the church that saves the lost. It is not Christians that save the lost. It is not creation or conscience that saves the lost. It is not even messages like this on hell that save the lost. The Bible says in Romans 1:16 that the gospel “…is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” So understand this morning that the Gospel is our fifth stop sign on the road to hell. What is the gospel? It is the good news that God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son to die for us. It is the good news that He did this while we were still in our sins. It is the good news that God is not slack concerning His promises, but He is longsuffering/patient because He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. The good news is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” This is the only thing that has the power to deliver any man or woman from the path of destruction to the path of life. But the gospel will never be heard unless we share it, and it will never be believed until we live our lives in such ways that prove it is true, and we will only live that way if we truly believe this Book from cover to cover.
There is another stop sign on this path to hell, and that stop sign is God. Jesus made it clear that no man can come to the Jesus unless the Father draws Him (John 6:44). “Salvation is never achieved apart from the drawing power of God, and it is never consummated apart from the willingness of humans to hear and learn from God.” (New American Commentary – New American Commentary – Volume 25a: John 1-11.) If you read that passage in John, you hear Jesus saying that God draws us by teaching us. That happens as we read Scripture, hear the gospel presented by Christians, or see His power in nature, and suddenly the Holy Spirit, our Guide, whispers into our hearts, “This is truth. Listen to it.” You’ve heard the stories of people flipping through the channels on the television or scanning the radio stations, and for some reason they stopped on one where God spoke to their hearts through the message or song. That isn’t coincidence. That is God drawing us. No doubt your story is different, but if you look back at it, you will see the hand of God drawing you. And I believe that He draws everyone at some point in their lives as He seeks to stop them on the path to damnation.
There is one final stop sign on the path to hell, and it is Grace. The New Testament definition of grace is God’s love in action, so grace is more than a concept; Grace is a Man, and His name is Jesus Christ because He is God’s love in action. He loves you so much that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself placed His own body as the last stop sign on the road to hell. Listen to me. If you go to hell, you will have to walk across the bruised and bleeding body of Jesus because He has placed Himself there to try and stop you.
So dear friend, what will you do today as you travel down the broad path that leads to destruction? Will you totally ignore these seven stop signs along the way? Will you simply step over the body that was bruised for your sin – that was bloodied in your place?
You can listen to the audio sermon from which this was taken by clicking on this link. If you have questions, or if you would like to know how to change your life, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.