"Therefore do not be unwise,
In Acts Chapter 12, we are told that Peter was put in prison by Herod, and that he was sleeping between two soldiers and bound with chains. Suddenly, there was a light in the darkened prison. But the light wasn't enough to awaken Peter. Even with the brilliant light shining, he snoozed on. It was then that the angel of the Lord "struck Peter on the side and raised him up" (verse 7). His chains fell off, he was told to gird himself, tie on his sandals, put on his garment and follow the angel.
The word used in the Greek to describe how the angel struck Peter means "to sting as a scorpion." Being struck in such a way while asleep probably hurt and frightened Peter, but it woke him up from his plight of sure death (Acts 12:2-4).
The sinner is asleep in the prison of sin (Ephesians 5:14). He lives in a dream-world. He is bound in chains of his own personal iniquity (John 8:34). Death and Hell restra restrain him (Revelation 1:18), but even the light of the glorious Gospel does not awaken him (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Almost everyone in the United States knows that Jesus Christ died for their sins. We celebrate His birth and His death and resurrection, but even with the Gospel light their understanding is still darkened.
John Wesley in speaking of the "smiting" power of God's Law said that there is only "one in an age (who) have been awakened...by hearing that `God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.' But it is the ordinary method of the Spirit of God to convict sinners by the Law."
Bible teacher Rolfe Barnard said, "The preaching of the Gospel is but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals if it falls into the ear of the best man out of Hell who has not been awakened to his awful condition by the thunderings of the Law..." It is only when the sinner is smitten by the Law of God that he will rise up and escape (Romans 7:7-13). It is the Law that awakens him so that he can see the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ (Galatians 3:24). It is then that his chains will fall off (John 8:31,32), he will gird the loins of his mind (1 Peter 1:13), tie on his Gospel shoes (Ephesians 6:15), put on his garment (Luke 22:36) and follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19). Perhaps the many who sit passively within the Body of Christ still chained--bound by the fear of man, are that way because they have never been smitten by the Law in the first place.
I was having lunch with a pastor, when he leaned across and said, "What keeps you going?" He was asking what it was that gave me an evident undying fuel to burn for God. My answer was simply, "The cross." Paul felt the same way; this is how he expressed it:
Revelation of Christ on the cross is the key to unlock the door of perpetual passion for God and for the lost.
Here's how it works: A father and son once went on a camping trip. When they arrived at the site, the father pitched the tent and said, "Son, see that river; it's full of crocodiles. If you want to do any fishing, fish off the wharf." The son reluctantly agreed that he would stay on the wharf. After three days of fishing, the son began to think about the excitement of fishing amidst the crocodiles in the safety of a boat. So, that is what he did. He obtained a boat, and in a sense of bravado, rowed out into the river. He had only been fishing for a short time when a crocodile came alongside the small boat, hit it with its tail, and the terrified boy was thrown into the water. The father heard him scream, saw what had happened, and without hesitation dived into the crocodile-infested waters. He grabbed his beloved son and pulled him to the safety of the shore. When the boy opened his eyes, he saw a grisly sight. A crocodile had draped its massive jaws around the father's legs, leaving him in bleeding shreds.
The following thought is unthinkable: Imagine if the son looked at his father lying there in agony, bleeding to death, and said, "Dad, I really appreciate what you just did for me, but I found it exciting out there with the crocodiles--you wouldn't mind if I got another boat and go out again, would you?" If the son could think, let alone say such a thing, the blind fool hasn't seen the sacrifice his father has just made for him!
Dear professing Christian, if you and I have any, even hidden desire, to go back into the sinful excitement of the world, we haven't seen the sacrifice of the Father! If that son has truly seen what his father has just done for him, a sense of horror will consume him at the cost, the extreme, the length, the expense his father has just gone to, to save him. He would pour contempt upon the very drops of water that still cling to his flesh!
The true Christian has seen that God in the person of Jesus Christ, without hesitation, dived into the very jaws of Hell to save him from the folly of sin. A sense of horror consumes him at the cost, the extreme, the length, the expense his Father went to, to save him. He cries,
He pours contempt upon the sinful desires that still cling to his flesh. The true convert is crushed by a sense of his own foolishness and yet at the same time, he has inexpressible gratitude for the "unspeakable gift" of the cross. He has seen Jesus Christ evidently set forth and crucified. He, like Paul glories only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to him, and he to the world. In other words, after seeing the sacrifice of the Father, how could he ever go back to the exciting pleasures of sin! To do so, he would have to trample under foot the blood of Jesus Christ. He would have to count the sacrifice of Calvary as nothing.
Instead, in the light of the cross he willfully crucifies himself to the world, and the world to himself. They that are Christ's, have crucified their affections and lusts. He whispers with the hymnist: "When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."
The flicker of the world's candle can attract him no longer. Its sparkle has been outshone by the brilliant light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. The only thing that matters to the saved soul is to do the Father's will. It is good old fashioned gratitude that fuels the fire.
I was once lying in the desert with no water. I was once lying helpless and hopeless in the desert of my sins. The burning heat of God's Law scorched my sinful flesh. Words cannot express my sense of futility, my fears, my anguish of soul. I was smitten beyond words. It was as though the gentle hands of Jesus turned my head to the side and poured in the fresh, cool life-saving waters of the gospel. My gratitude can't be put into words, but it can be put into works.
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