This past week I went to see ‘1917,’ a movie I would highly recommend to anyone who, like me, is fascinated by the history of the First World War. The film follows two British soldiers on a mission to deliver a life-saving message to a battalion walking into a German trap. They must travel across No Man’s Land into enemy territory, danger looming at every turn as they navigate the vast carnage of war.
I won’t give anything away since it’s a movie everyone should take the time to see, but what struck me most about the film was the soldiers’ determination in delivering their message. Sure, one of the soldiers, Lance Corporal Blake, is personally driven by his need to save his brother who is one of the 1,600 men they are trying to reach, but Lance Corporal Schofield has no family among the battalion and still goes to enormous lengths to see the mission through. He knows his success or failure will determine whether the men of the 2nd live or die.
A message worth dying for: that’s the title of this week’s post because, like Lance Corporals Blake and Schofield, Christians have been tasked with a message of utmost importance, a message for which we should be willing to lay down our lives. The gospel we have been told to proclaim to the world is more important than the soldiers’ in that it has the ability to save men from eternal death and destruction, raising dead men to life (Ephesians 2:1-10). The message we carry is the very power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).
Yet, too often, we are cowards in delivering this message. We’re worried about what others might think of us. Or we think we’ll stumble over our words, allowing pride to silence us. Or we’re simply lazy and don’t want to argue. We forget the imminent danger, that those who are perishing are walking into certain death. Blake and Schofield were willing to face tremendous odds to save the lives of those men, and we aren’t even willing to look foolish while delivering a message that would save eternal souls. We’d rather keep our heads down. We’d rather stay in our trenches.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV
Brothers and sisters, we have been commanded to go forth with the gospel. This command comes from an authority higher than military rank allows. Jesus Himself orders us to “go forth and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). How can disciples be made but through the power of the gospel? It is not enough to make casual mentions of Jesus or abstract references to God. We must deliver the gospel in its fullness, knowing that God will use it as the means to draw His people unto Himself. We are soldiers in His service, and the mission we’ve been given is no light undertaking. Are we up to the task? Or should He send another?
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”Charles Spurgeon
To the one who hasn’t heard the message:
The gospel is good news, but to understand just how good it is we must start with the bad news. God created Adam good, in a state of moral balance, with the ability to follow His commands (Genesis 1:31), but Adam was not immutable and his sin, his disobedience in the Garden of Eden, plunged all mankind into rebellion. He brought a curse on all creation. As Adam was the representative of mankind, we are now all guilty of sin; not one of us is innocent. We have all violated the laws of a perfect and holy God (Romans 3:23). That sin comes at a price and the price is eternal punishment in hell, a place of horror and chaos beyond measure. Romans 6:23 tells us that the “wages of sin is death.” This death is not just physical, but spiritual. God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness, but He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7). To do so would be unjust. So, each and every one of us will be held accountable to God.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.Matthew 10:28, NIV
But God─the sweetest words to the sinner’s ears─but God made a way for His people to be reconciled to Himself. The gospel is a story of redemption, and that redemption came through the God-man Jesus Christ, sent by the Father to be the savior of a fallen world. Fully God and fully man, Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience and died a gruesome death on a cross in payment for the sins of His people. It was a punishment we deserved. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13). What’s more: three days later He rose from the grave, conquering death and sin, and ascended to the Father whence He will return to consummate His kingdom, judge the living and the dead, and renew creation (Revelation 20-21). Those who are united to Him by faith alone have a new representative, a new Adam, and are counted righteous not of their own merit but by the merits of Him who fulfilled the law and paid the penalty we owed.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:56-57, NIV
Your response to this message can be to continue to foolhardily rely on your own “goodness,” though Scripture says that all our “righteous acts are like filthy rags” in the sight of God in whom there is no darkness (Isaiah 64:6; 1 John 1:5). Or you can repent of your rebellion and turn away from sin in humility. You can believe the truth of this message and submit to the authority of Jesus as your Master and Creator, or you can ignore the warning and continue down the path of certain death. But whatever you do, don’t be fooled by the lies of this age. There is only one path to God, and it is through Jesus Christ by grace alone through faith alone.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6, NIV