June 4, 2010

Fair Warning

Today's devotion is from Pastor Al Van Geersdaele, which is part of series of weekly devotions, for the month of June and our Way of the Master evangelism training at First Assembly of God, in Brookfield.

(Ezekiel 3:16-21 KJV) And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, {17} Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. {18} When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. {19} Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. {20} Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. {21} Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

When an individual completes the course of study at one of the Military Academies, he or she receives a Commission upon graduation. The commission is an assignment of responsibility, and an agreement to serve. We have here in this text, the commission of the Prophet Ezekiel as a “watchman” over the house of Israel.

He was told to hear from the Lord, and communicate that message to the people. His commission is given in verse 17, “hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” This message came to him after he waited on the Lord for seven days. In the Old Testament dispensation, the Lord used select people that He gave a commission to, for just that purpose, to hear the word from His mouth and give a warning from Him.

This process is no longer the norm, as EVERY New Testament believer has been issued a commission which exceeds all others. It is stated in Mark 16:15 “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. We call it the “Great Commission”, and rightly so, for it far exceeds any command given to any man. Just as a reminder, it is a command given to every believer, not a suggestion. It is not a calling to certain believers who are gifted speakers, or only to pastors or evangelists, but it is a command given to every believer of all ages since the cross.

The consequences of Ezekiel’s commission were severe. If the prophet failed to warn the wicked, their blood would be on his hands. In other words, he shared the responsibility for their fate of eternal damnation, if he did not warn them. If he did warn them, he was free of that responsibility. Note with me that Ezekiel, and all New Testament believers are responsible to warn the lost about the consequences of rejecting the gospel. “Knowing therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor 5:11).  We are not responsible for the results when we share the gospel, that is up to the individual and the Lord.

What are we doing to obey our Great Commission? When an officer, in carrying out his commission, finds it difficult, or even life-threatening, it is not an option to disobey, or to quit, or to disregard that commission, and what it stands for. It must be obeyed, or serious consequences will occur. The consequences of our obedience to the Great Commission are life or death, heaven or hell. Hear, once again, God’s commission to Ezekiel, “hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” With the knowledge of Calvary’s cross, and the Savior’s command, we can do no less.

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