Scripture taken from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
Do you own a fire extinguisher? What motivated you to get a fire extinguisher? Was it fear? Do you have a phobia of fire? Was it peace of mind? Does having a fire extinguisher make you feel safer? Do you sleep better at night having one? Was it a past experience? Have you ever been burned in a fire? Have you ever lost property to a fire? Was it a matter of fulfilling laws or regulations? Certain businesses and establishments are required by law to have one. They have to be inspected and be visible.
Now think back to the moment when you got your fire extinguisher. Were you excited? Did you call all of you friends and neighbors? Did you put an announcement in your local paper? Did you celebrate, dance and sing praises to your fire extinguisher?
O.K. What about those of you who have gotten past that initial feeling of awe when you bought your fire extinguisher? What about now? How much attention do you give your fire extinguisher? Do you ever give it an occasional inspection? Do you polish it weekly? Do you practice using it regularly? Do you look forward to using your fire extinguisher?
Reality Check. For the most part, that fire extinguisher will hang on the wall, sit in closet or be stowed away in the trunk of your car and collect dust. It is usually not first and foremost on your mind. It is not fun. It is not exciting. It is there “just in case.”
Now dont start feeling sorry for the neglected fire extinguisher. Thats all it was ever meant to be.
The sad thing is for many people becoming a “Christian” is not unlike having a fire extinguisher. For some Christianity is only a part of their life just in case. It may be something they “became” out of fear. Perhaps someone told them they would go to hell and burn in a lake of fire if they did not become onetrue, but that leaves out the greater blessing of a relationship with God. Even with all the unquenchable fire and torment, that is not the worst part of hell. It is the eternal separation from God. And, Heaven is more than the absence of pain and torment; it is full and complete presence of God.
Others may have become a “Christian” for a peace of mind. They feel complete in being active in a church. It is a social club. “It makes me a better person,” they will say. They see being involved in church as a civic duty, but have never sought out or known a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Many people will flock to churches and take on the name “Christian” as the result of a past experience. Unfortunately, this happens often at youth camps, revivals, and other large events. In the parable of the sower and the seed, this is the seed that fell upon a rock. They are those who have heard, received the word with joy, but have no roots. They will sing, praise and shout hallelujah, but dont bother them with studying the Word of God. There is no depth. There is no well from which to draw. They will believe for a while, but then fall away. They are the epitome of the seeds that fell on the rocks. Jesus said in Luke 8:13, “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.”
Still others may be “Christian” because of laws and regulations, whether perceived or real. It was forced upon them. They grudgingly attend a church somewhere, struggle to remain awake during the service and bolt out the door as soon as the preacher says “amen.” To them, it is a chore or religious duty or some kind of penance. Just as there were times in history when people were persecuted for professing Christ, there have also been times when people have been persecuted for not confessing Him. Jesus himself while on earth did not condemn those who rejected him, therefore, who is one man to condemn another. There will be a judgment for rejecting Christ, but it is not by man’s hands. Convert or die (physical death) was never a method of evangelism condoned by Jesus.
47 “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges himthe word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Those who treat Christianity as a fire extinguisher often do so because they have only an intellectual knowledge of Jesus Christ. To know about Him is not the same as to know Him. Those that do not know Him lack the heart knowledge and the love for Jesus that causes one to confess Him before all men.
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
An example of such head knowledge can be found in John 12:4243
42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
The chief rulers were members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body and court of justice over the Jews. This absence of confession was partly out of their lack of commitment. It was not even for a fear a losing ones life but rather a fear of man; fear of losing the praise of the people and their fellow man. Perhaps one of the most tragic facts of these verses is that they chose the praise of men over the praise of God. The way verse 43 is written indicates they knew that by their confession of Christ, they would receive the praise of God. They knowingly chose the temporal over the eternal. They had a head knowledge of Christ and who He was, but that knowledge had not yet taken root in their heart. They chose pleasing man instead of pleasing God. They were as the seeds that fell among the thorns, choked by the fear of man and the thought of losing their prized reputations.
14 “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
Among the Sanhedrin there were some whose hearts were good ground. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, both came forward at Christs death. Joseph came forward to claim the body of Christ and Nicodemus came to prepare it properly for burial. Since the first meeting with Jesus in the night (which some speculate may have been out of fear), when Jesus told him he had to be born again, Nicodemus had come face to face with the reality of who Jesus was and believed. In fact, he confessed Christ before the Sanhedrin when questioned in John 7:4751.
47 Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? 48 “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49 “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
Nicodemus, being a ruler, had a lot to lose. He was well off. He had status and power. Nevertheless, he chose to publicly make a stand for Christ. He took Christ off the shelf. And put Him in the forefront of his mind. He made a choice to put the praise of God before the praise of man. He had a boldness, more than many Christians today, and without the benefit of the Holy Spirit. How much bolder should we be? Paul, once a Pharisee, wrote in Philippians his choice of seeking the praise of God over the praise of man.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I heard a story of regarding the fire hose and sprinkler system of a large hospital in a major metropolitan area. It seems that about three decades after its construction, it failed a basic fire safety test. It was not that the employees did not know what to do during a fire drill. They knew the drill and had practiced it many times. It was not that fire extinguishers were not clearly marked. They were all conspicuously labeled with bright red signs. It was not old hoses or outdated equipment. Everything looked in great condition. Doctors, nurses and employees went about their business as usual and patients had complete confidence in the hospital staff and equipmentfor three decades everything seemed well!
What inspectors found, however, was horrifying. The main sprinkler water supply pipe had never been connected to the citys water supply. All of the sprinklers and fire hoses that were there just in case were completely incapable of delivering a single drop of water.
Many profess to be Christians. They know the drill. They practice. They may know the manual, the Bible, inside and out. They may go to church. They may a silver fish on their car. They may be in the choir. They may be on the deacons or elders board. They may even be behind the pulpit. And, while everything seems well, they have never been connected to the heavenly water supply. They have never tasted of the Living Water, Jesus, who gives everlasting life. While all of these things may be well and good, none are capable, in and of themselves, of delivering one drop of Living Water.
There is a day coming for each and every one of us. A day when we must be found connected to the One who is the source of Living Water, or there will be no hope of escaping the eternal torments of hell, and being eternally disconnected from the Lord God Almighty.
Christianity is not a just-in-case religion. It is an all-for-Him relationship. It is not something to do or some place to go on Sundays. It is a walk through each week, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minuteconnected to God, through Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit to guide you. It is a commitment where Jesus Christ is Lord of all. For if He is not Lord of all, you have not really acknowledged Him as Lord at all. Far too many have been playing church for far too long. We must realize that there is no such thing as fire insurance faith.
My prayer for all who have either heard or read this message is that you would examine yourself and be found true. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in youunless, of course, you fail the test? (NIV)