Sunday service, Erlo Stegen, 07 Oct 2018
2 Corinthians 6 v 2
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
The Lord says not the day of tomorrow or another time but today is the accepted time. It is dangerous to say you will repent when you are old. You must do it today. It is dangerous to procrastinate regarding your repentance. The good, acceptable time is now, today. There is a story that says the devil got his demons together and he asked the demons, “What should I do to get the people to hell?” One demon said, “Tell the people on earth that the Bible is a fairy tale.” The other demons said, “No, you won’t succeed. If you tell them it’s not the truth, they won’t believe you.”
Another said, “I’ll tell them there is no heaven.” The others said, “No, that will also not work.” Another said, “I’ll tell them there is a heaven and a hell. There is God but there is no need to make haste. You can repent another day.” All agreed that that would work!
The Bible tells a story about Amasa. He was one of King David’s generals. If we read in the book of Samuel we read he had to speak to the people. All the people had to come and meet on the third day. In 2Sam 20, the king sent his messengers to the people of Judah. Amasa was David’s general. He went to fetch the people but he was delayed on the way. It is said he failed to get the people in the time that King David had specified. The king had given a law that they had to be at a certain place at a certain time. Amasa delayed and was no longer within the time the King had specified. If the Lord speaks to you never delay and say you will do it another day. Keep the time the Lord gives to you. If the Lord speaks and says repent, do it immediately.
There are many stories that illustrate this fact that the time to obey is now.
A big passenger ship was on its way from NY to San Francisco. It was at night, and there was an accident. The ship sprung a leak and started sinking. They sent out distress calls and flares to show they were in trouble. Another ship was nearby and saw the flares and made contact with the ship in distress. The second captain said they would come immediately to help. The first captain insisted that they didn’t have to rush as the water was coming in slowly and that they could sort it out in the morning. After one and half hours the lights of this stricken ship disappeared. The captain didn’t realise how quickly the water was coming in and after one and half hours the ship sank.
In the Bible we don’t find the Lord speaking about tomorrow. It says that now is the acceptable time when the Lord speaks to you and is near you. Many people are hurt and perish, because when God speaks they say they will see later. When God speaks, obey immediately because you may never find that opportunity again.
In America there are very big rivers and waterfalls. One day an eagle saw the carcass of an animal floating on the river but further down there was a very big waterfall. It was in winter and it was very cold. The eagle swooped down and sat on the carcass. It was floating down stream towards the waterfall. The river was flowing faster and faster towards the waterfall. The eagle had a feast eating the meat. When the carcass was just about to go over the waterfall, the eagle spread its wings to fly away but its feet had frozen onto the carcass. The eagle thought he would just take off and fly away but his feet were stuck to the carcass. Some tourists who were visiting saw the eagle going over the waterfall. They saw it struggling and trying to take off but it was stuck to the carcass. That teaches us that when God speaks to us, we must obey immediately.
I remember when I was in America at a Wesleyan church and the preacher related that while he was preaching he felt he should go to a young man at the back of the church. So he stopped preaching and went to the young man and said, ”Woody, God is speaking to you. You must repent right now. The Lord wants you, repent!” It was a Rev. Smith who told me this story. He said it was strange and that it had never happened to him before that he felt a sudden urge to speak to that young man immediately. He stopped the service and went all the way to the back of the church to speak to the young man who was 18 years old. He said, “Listen to the Lord while He is still near. I feel the Lord is speaking to you personally and saying that you must repent now.” It was the first time such a thing had ever happened to him. He went back to the pulpit and continued with the service. The service was at 11 o’ clock and after lunch he got a message that he should quickly go to a certain mortuary. He said when he arrived he saw something he had never seen before. It was the body of the young man he had spoken to. The young man had driven back after the service in the new car his dad had given to him. There were many people at the mortuary but when Rev Smith went through all of them and saw the body, it had no head. He remembered the film the Burning Hell where the young man who was on the motorbike had his head cut off. That’s what it looked like. He had pleaded with Woody to repent. Rev Smith asked, “What happened?” They said that Woody had received a brand new car from his father and that he had had an accident. He went down the side of a mountain and the police spent two hours looking for his head. Rev Smith said he cannot forget that picture of the 18 year old boy lying on the board without a head. In other words if God speaks to you, obey immediately. Don’t waste any time. Woody died a terrible death. The pastor had told him to repent and that afternoon he had a terrible accident and he lost his head. Rev Smith said that he had urged Woody to repent but he didn’t use the opportunity given to him. God is not mocked. If God speaks to you, listen and obey. Woe to you if you do not. I was invited to Rev Smith’s church to preach and I saw where the young man had been sitting. Friends don’t forget this story about Woody. Woody didn’t listen and he lost his head. If God speaks, forget everything else, deny everything else and obey God’s word.
There is the story of Dr. Jack Hyde. He was a pastor and gifted with preaching. Sometimes he preached to 20 000 young people. One day another preacher asked, “What is the reason for your success?” He replied, “I woke up one night and my sister was screaming from the upper story of the double story house. I ran to her bedroom and asked her why she was screaming. Had she had a nightmare? She said, ‘No, it was real. I have just come back from hell. The road to hell was beautiful and lit with many lights. At the end of the road there was no-one and I was alone.’ He said, ‘Did you dream?’ She said, ‘No, it wasn’t a dream. At the end of the road, something said she must stop. At the end it was a dark, terrible place. I realized there was no hope and I was lost. I saw people entering into hell. Their faces were terrible, twisted and changed. It looked as if their eyes were going to pop out of their head and their hands were bleeding. I cannot describe the torment they were in. I looked and saw people in hell. Their torment was indescribable. I asked the angel with me, ‘Why don’t you let fresh air in? The people are burning.’ He said, ‘There is no fresh air in hell and there is no water in this fire.’ She said, ‘It is better that they die.’ The angel said, ‘There is no death here.’ She asked for how long it would be like that and he said that it would be forever. She turned and saw her father. She said that you cannot describe what hell is like. There is no way of escape. You will burn for eternity. Dr Hyde said, “That is why I have such a passion for young people. I don’t want them to be in that suffering.”
You see friends that God’s time is now. Hell is a terrible place. The Lord Jesus says that if your hand causes you to stumble, you should cut it off. It is better to go to heaven with one hand, than to hell with both hands. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, rather than going to hell with both eyes. The Lord says that today is the acceptable day of salvation. Obey Him today. The Bible doesn’t give another time. Woe to the person who doesn’t obey immediately. When He calls you, come to Him.