by J. Austin Bennett
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J. Austin Bennett
I remember an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in which a beautiful young nurse (I believe it was Anne Francis) awakened in terror from a recurring nightmare. In the dream, she was eagerly anticipating a well-earned vacation in an exotic destination. Two weeks of fun in the sun and no charts, no codes, no demanding doctors or obstreperous patients. At the airline gate, a dark haired stewardess with almond eyes and a broad smile greeted the passengers. When Anne’s turn came to board, the stewardess always turned to her and slyly intoned, “Room for one more, Honey.”
The next scene in the dream was the airliner’s fiery crash into a mountain amidst the screams of the doomed passengers. The screams were real. It was Anne’s own shrill shriek as she awoke bathed in sweat night after night. The terrifying nightmare kept repeating itself, always with the same result.
Anne shared her story with a friend and confidant at the hospital. Her friend remarked how stressed Anne looked and told her, “You need a vacation. Get away from this place for awhile and you’ll feel like a new woman.” She handed Anne some travel brochures picturing white sandy beaches in the sunny Caribbean complete with palm trees and a bright blue ocean backdrop.
That advice, along with the crushing workload she had borne was all the catalyst Anne needed. It had been several years since she had a break. Anne immediately called a travel agent and told her boss she needed to take her vacation time.
That evening, the nightmare once again played out to its horrific conclusion. Anne awoke to her own scream and saw her bags, already packed, standing by the front door. It was time to go. The taxi would arrive soon to take her to the airport. She dressed hurriedly but with an unshakeable sense of apprehension. As the cab pulled away, Anne looked back toward her apartment. She knew it was silly, just a case of nerves from her exhausting schedule.
“I’m acting like a ninny.” She muttered.
“How’s that?” asked the cabbie as he unloaded her bags.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just a crazy dream I’ve been having,” Anne replied with a forced smile.
She paid the taxi driver. The skycap took her bags and checked her tickets. Anne nervously waited for the boarding call. She jumped with a start when the loudspeaker announced, “Worldwide Airlines Flight 103 to Bermuda is now boarding at gate seven.”
Anne must have walked aimlessly half a mile without realizing it. The knot wouldn’t leave her stomach. “I’m acting like an idiot,” she said aloud. “If I don’t get moving, I’ll miss my plane.” Anne turned and strode resolutely toward gate seven which was now at the other end of the concourse.
“Final boarding call for Worldwide Airlines Flight 103 to Bermuda!” The loudspeaker blared. Anne was now in a dead run or she would miss her flight. Breathless, she fumbled in her purse for her ticket as the last passenger entered the door.
“There it is!” Anne exclaimed. She grabbed the ticket from the jumbled assortment of odds and ends spilling from the handbag and, without looking up, handed it to the waiting attendant. As she knelt and stuffed the contents back into the bag, Anne heard a familiar voice.
“That’s all right.” The dark haired stewardess smiled. “Room for one more, Honey.” Her almond eyes sparkled with a mischievous glint.
Anne’s blonde hair blowing in the wind almost covered her panic stricken face as she ran from the gate. When she had calmed down over a stiff drink in a nearby bar, the television gravely announced, “We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin.” You can guess the rest. The smoking scene of devastation on the mountainside covered almost two miles. There were no survivors.
We all know about the Great Commission, to go two by two proclaiming the coming kingdom. There is a misconception abundant among professing Christians. That is, if you bring someone to church, you’ve done your good deed for the week.
I want to ask you a question. Were you saved while in a church?
Maybe we better start this again. “Do you remember where you were when you were saved?” If you don’t, you aren’t!
I can say that with absolute certainty because salvation is not a process. It’s an occurrence. . . a life changing occurrence that no saved man or woman can ever forget!
I was saved by the blood of Jesus and imbued with the Holy Spirit in a small motel room off Interstate 70 at about nine p.m. on April 10, 1994. It is an experience that I cannot explain to anyone who hasn’t shared it and no one who has needs an explanation.
I attended church as a saved man under the blood the following night.
Take your own poll. Politicians are fond of polls. They mean votes. In this case, it means lives. Ask those you know, “WHEN were you saved?” Not IF . . . Everyone will answer yes to that one, including the devil himself. Tally up the results and you will not be amazed to find that very few conversions occur inside a church. That’s because church is for the saved, not the lost. It is a place where we gather in each other’s company to swap stories, share experiences, both good and troubling, strengthen each other and perfect our witness. It is the place where the saved worship and praise our God and redeemer. The lost have no redeemer, and no hope. Their only chance is YOU!
And you and I must go out to them. Lost, by definition, means they are on the wrong road. They are not going to find you.
Why bother? If there is nothing to be saved from, then there’s no reason to make such an effort. I hear very few sermons preached on the subject of hell in today’s intellectual climate. It’s equally rare to hear a discourse on the horrors awaiting the unsaved in the Day of the Lord. (We also don’t hear much about the travails and suffering Christians can expect in the time leading up to that Day.) These are not popular topics. The Word of God predicted, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim. 4:3 NIV)
The emphasis seems to have become showmanship coupled with a syrupy message of complacency. The one popular topic: God loves you. It’s true. He does. Look at the price He paid for you. -- Ooops! We’re getting close to those unpopular items again.
“We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship, to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we'll do it not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that bring people to their senses.” Mario Cuomo
Governor Cuomo’s statement is not just vital in the political spectrum. It’s a life or hell matter to everyone around us. Leaving the comfort of our homes to witness means effort. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses think it’s worth it. How do you feel about it? Look at the faces of those people in your life. They, just like Anne Francis, have a reservation. Only, they won’t miss their appointment. The only question is the destination.
“Speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills.”
- Catherine of Siena, 1347 – 1380
A friend of mine, Dr. Larry Lilly, pastors the Berean Baptist Church in Terre Haute, Indiana. He once commented, “The bane of Christianity is the nominal Christian.” If you’re not on fire for the Lord, there is a nightmare of your own. It’s in the faces of everyone you meet. Isaiah 5:14 tells us “hell enlarges its appetite and expands without limit.”
“Room for one more, Honey!”
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"Thatâ€™s because church is for the saved, not the lost." --- I appreciate your commitment to God, and I enjoy your articles very much. However, I respectfully disagree with you on this statement, for I know of many who have surrendered to God in church. They would testify church was for them, for it was there they learned of Jesus. I gave my life to Christ one Sunday evening in church. May God bless you. Thomas.