I knew a doctor who recommended to a mother that her baby have a meningitis vaccine. The vaccine was new at the time. When she asked if there were any side effects, the doctor flippantly said, “none that I know of!” as he walked out the door to prepare the vaccine. It was administered, and the next day the baby was critically ill with all the symptoms of meningitis. He was taken to the doctor’s office and sent immediately to the hospital. The truth was that there were known side effects. The doctor was not a negligent man, nor was he arrogant. He was a good doctor and a caring man. He certainly didn’t mean to bring harm to the baby. He was simply careless in answering the question. The baby completely recovered and didn’t have meningitis although he had all the symptoms. According to the mother’s and doctor’s orders, he never received another vaccine. If the doctor had disclosed all the side effects, the mother may or may not have made the same decision. But she would have made the decision with full knowledge, and the doctor would not have been responsible for the outcome.
There is an interesting passage of Scripture in Ezekiel 3. God says to His prophet Ezekiel, “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
Again, in Ezekiel 33 we read a passage with the same general idea except it refers to a watchman on a wall who stands guard and blows the trumpet when he sees danger approaching from any direction. He has the same responsibility to warn the people, or their blood will be on his hands.
Although the threat comes from an enemy that shows their intention to steal, kill or destroy, the warning comes from a friend, the watchman. It is given to thwart the plans of the enemy by making known to the people the danger that is impending. Then they can be prepared and make necessary arrangements to secure themselves.
It seems many people mistake the one who warns of impending danger for the enemy instead of recognizing him as their friend. The “watchman” is the one who sounds the alarm so they can prepare and take cover from the real enemy. But once the alarm is sounded, each person makes their own choice whether to prepare or allow the enemy to overrun them. The watchman is not responsible for their decision. He is only responsible for giving them the truth and a forewarning.
We don’t blame the weather man or woman for the tornado that comes or the hurricane that is headed our way. We recognize they are not the enemy. We are glad they care enough about us to warn us in advance so we can make wise decisions and save ourselves and our families. Of course, there are those who don’t take that warning seriously and lose their lives. But everyone has the same warning and the same choice to make. They could heed the warning or go on with their regular routine. Once the warning has been given, it is out of the hands of the “watchman”.
Jesus gave some teachings that people thought were hard, and they took them as a threat against them. He wasn’t threatening. Jesus made it clear He had not come into this world to condemn us. He came to save us, but He was telling us what we have to do to have that salvation personally. He was sounding the alarm, blowing the trumpet, giving the warning message about the day when we will all be brought into account. He suffered at the hands of evil men so we could have a choice. We can hear and heed the warnings in the Scripture, or we can go on with our regular routine. Jesus never forces anyone to follow Him or His teachings. But He loves us too much to let us go into eternal hell without giving us the truth that we have a choice. He tells us so we can prepare ahead of time. He is the only way to heaven.
Jesus is not our enemy. Nor are His true followers who proclaim His teachings. We are sounding the alarm. We don’t speak of the dangers and pitfalls of sin or the fires of hell out of a mean spirit that is just waiting for people to fall over the precipice. We speak the truth because we care about eternal souls. Telling people the truth about sin gives them a chance to prepare their hearts in repentance and change their destination. As Christians, we are the “watchmen” commissioned by Jesus to convey His truth and give everyone the choice of acting on the warning or ignoring it.
Are we sounding the alarm, or are we remiss in making the facts about salvation known? Maybe we are like the doctor. We may not be negligent or arrogant. We may truly care about the souls of the lost, but are we actively sharing the teachings of Jesus with them? Are we intimidated by those who consider us an enemy who is trying to condemn them? Do we love them enough to make sure they know there is a choice? That they can be free? Are our lifestyles showing Christ to them?
As the people of God who are filled with His Spirit, we are called to uphold the standard and principles taught by Jesus Christ. If we lower those standards, we are endangering our spiritual lives. If we lower those standards and yet proclaim we are followers of Christ, we are endangering the lives of ourselves, other Christians who may follow us and those who are unsaved. It is imperative that we hold forth the Word of Life, not an opinion or what is accepted by our culture. We need to be sure we are following Jesus and His Word and not the watered down version of those who want to miss hell but don’t want to pay the price of following Christ.
Many people do not want to hear the truth. But until we know the truth, we don’t know to repent of sin. Until we repent of sin, we cannot receive the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ. Until we know about Jesus, we cannot choose to surrender our will to His and follow Him exclusively. The truth is that He took all our sins on Himself and the wrath of God that was meant for us so we could be free. Our salvation cost a lot.
As Christians, we are examples to others. If we give the wrong example and withhold the warnings, their blood is on our hands. If we live by the Word of God, follow the teachings of Jesus and are led by His Spirit, we will be examples that will draw others to Christ.
We have the responsibility of telling this generation about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us. If they receive it, they can be saved from eternal damnation. The choice is theirs, but they need to know the truth before they make their choice. Many choose to reject Him, but let’s make sure they know there is an alternative. Be bold enough to ask Jesus how He wants you to carry out your responsibility. We would be quick to offer a life-line to someone drowning in the ocean, but we seem reticent to offer an eternal life-line to them. Believing in Jesus to the point of forsaking all to follow Him is the wisest and safest and most blessed decision anyone can every make.
There is a nursery rhyme that goes something like this:
“Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn.
The sheep’s in the meadow and the cow’s in the corn.
Where is the little boy minding the sheep?
He’s under the haystack fast asleep.
Several years back, I wrote a song using that verse, and then added this verse.
Children of God, lift up your eyes.
The harvest is white. It’s time to arise.
Where are the laborers minding God’s sheep?
They’re under the haystack fast asleep.
It’s time to wake up. It’s time to blow the horn and sound the alarm that Jesus will return one day and we all need to be ready. If we don’t go in the rapture, we will go through the death of this body. We will all live somewhere in eternity. Whether it is hell or heaven is the decision of each individual. Dare to be a watchman, even when you are mistaken for the enemy.
“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.
Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
(1 Timothy 4:16)