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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Borrowed Time

Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (NIV)

Romans 8:1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.(NIV)

If you have ever heard conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, you may have heard him repeat the phrase, "Talent on loan from God." What he, Mr. John B. who has just died, nor any of us may fully realize, is that all that we have, even our very life is given to us by God. We join a heavenly intake process now in progressÖ

Notier: Sir, I see on the Lordís records that you were given 55 years of life.

John B: Yes, well, I, uh, Iím sorry but 55 wasnít really enough, was it? I mean, there was so much more to do. There was so much more living to be lived, and people to see, and so on. Iím not complaining but I thought I would have longer. See, I just thought that Iíd live to be 80 or 90 and Iíd have all that extra time to finish up my life.

Notier: Well, you know, life is given to you by God. It isnít just something that happens by accident. You were not an accident. God acted to bring you into existence.

John B: But I was born out of wedlock. How can you say I was not an accident? You donít mean to tell me that God acted when my parents did it when they werenít married do you?

Notier: Yes, that is pretty much what I am saying. God is continually supplying life, life force, soul, spirit, and life support to all human life and, more or less, supplying life to all living creatures. God not only started life, He keeps it going with life fuel. Letís just say God is the ultimate life support machine.

John B: But scientists donít really believe that. Scientists say that life is just duplicated. You know, like two living cells coming from one living cell. Life is just sort of passed on from one cell to another. God isnít really in that cell dividing picture is He?

Notier: Yes, God is in the picture. God supports or keeps the life going in the cells.

John B: You mean, all of life, every living thing is living because God keeps it living?

Notier: Yes, that is pretty much how things operate.

John B: You mean, even my life on earth was started and supported by God.

Notier: Yes, every cell in your body was in the hand of God. Another way to look at it is as if God is the generating plant and you are a light bulb. God keeps the light lit.

John B: So when God pulls the plug, then I come here.

Notier: In a manner of speaking, yes, that is how it works. However, a lot more is expected of you by God than just to be an inanimate object. God expected you to glow with His spirit of love, kindness, caring, and compassion. God expected you to turn away from the sinful influences and nature you were born with and accept Christ into your life.

John B: I always went to church you know. Iím sure you have a record of that.

Notier: Yes, I see you went to church. I see you were baptized, joined the church, and gave money. But I donít see that you ever really got the message.

John B: What message? I listened to the sermons.

Notier: Yes, I know you did listen. The message I was referring to is the message that Christ came so that you could live more fully. The I am talking about is the message that He came so you would turn away from doing the sinful things you did and live a more devout and holy life.

John B: Yeah, well, we all have our weaknesses, donít we? God never made a perfect human did He?

Notier: Yes, He made one. God made his only child and when Christ walked the earth, the "weakness" as you put it, or "human nature" as others put it, crucified Him. You see, John, the human nature that crucified Christ is the same human nature you lived with all your life. The same anger, resentment, unforgiving heart, hatred, turmoil, jealousy, and greed that infected your 55 years, all that trash of the human heart and mind, that human nature put Christ on the Cross.

John B: No, now wait a minute here. I am not responsible for Christí death. I did not live when He did. That was 2000 years ago. That was long before my time.

Notier: Iím sorry, John, the same dark power of sin that crucified Christ was in you. The same dark power infected you and life for 55 years. Unfortunately, you did nothing about it. You did not want to confront it. You did not want to deal with it. You sat in church and listened but when you would look at your life you did see what you were, you did see the infection of your heart and soul, but refused to admit the sin infection was there. You ran away from your sin because you did not want to give it up.

John B: O.K., I admit there were some things I could have changed when I was alive but we all have free will and if I had gotten the whole picture I might have made other decisions.

Notier: You did get the whole picture. You understood for years who Christ was and what He did for you. You just did not want to go to the Cross and admit you were a sinner. You did not want to admit you crucified Him.

John B: No, I did not crucify Christ. I do not admit that. I had no part in that act. That was long before I was born.

Notier: Yes, you did. You know you did. You know that the sinful nature of the men who sentenced Him, flogged Him, and drove the spikes into His hands and feet was the same sinful nature you had. These men were just like you. They were just ordinary people whose human nature led them to put Christ on the Cross. If you had lived at that time, you would have done exactly what each of those men did. You would have made the same decisions, and made the same compromises with your conscience they made. John, it was your nature, your sinful nature that killed Godís son. And you know it.

John B.: But I was human just like everyone else, you donít expect people to actually change their nature do you. I mean, come on, letís be realistic here.

Notier: Yes, you were human, but Christ wanted more. Christ wanted you to rise above the dark and sinful nature you carried in your heart and soul. Christ wanted you to seek forgiveness for carrying the sinful nature. Christ wanted you to go the extra mile and be honest with Him, with yourself, and with others and you knew the truth. You knew what Christ wanted from you.

And yes, with Christ in your heart, you do have a changed nature. You are different. You are a new person, a new man, a new human being.

John B: Well, it is never to late to change.

Notier: Well, it is too late for you. Your time has run out.

John B: Now wait a minute. I was a fine, upstanding member of my church. Look at all the money I gave. Look at all the time I spent in church. Look at all the good deeds I did.

Notier: Yes, I see all that. However, you were always trying to buy off God by what you did. You gave money, gave time, and did deeds so you could go ahead and live life the way you wanted, not the way Christ wanted.

John B: Well, its never to late to get in is it? I mean, if I had really known what was going on I would have been different. You surely have some way to let me in. OK, so I was stupid. I admit I was stupid. I didnít know then what I know now.

Notier: It wonít work John. Youíve been pleading innocence through ignorance and it wonít work. You are just being manipulative. You were not stupid then and you are not stupid now. You were always on borrowed time and you squandered it. Your life was given to you and supported within you by God. Every moment of your conscious life was given to you by God. Yet you turned away, ran away, walked away, stayed away, so you could keep yourself in pleasure, greed, jealousy, and sin. I admit sin did have a grip on you but you controlled whether there was a grip. All you had to do was admit you had fallen short of Godís desires for you, ask Christ for forgiveness, and the grip would have been loosened and you would have been a new person.

John B.: What can I do? I am already dead but I could go back and get another shot at things couldnít I? You could give me a near death experience and I could go back and be different.

Notier: Iím sorry, we are not passing out NDEís today. Itís Fritday up here and we donít do NDEís on Friday. Besides, what is it you would do differently?

John B.: Iíd give more money, do more work, and go to all the church servicesÖno sweat, no problem.

Notier: You still donít get it do you?

John B.: Yeah, I get it. I just have to read more Christian books, read the Bible more, be more of a Christian.

Notier: How is it you would become a Christian?

John B.: Well, I would join the church, be baptized, sing in the choir, be an usher, teach Sunday school, and work real hard.

Notier: I think we are about done with this intake. You know the answer but you refuse to say it. I think I will call the escorts and you can be escorted out of here.

John B.: No wait, I know what you want. Donít send me down there. I know what you want. You want me to say that I repent or I have turned away from my sinful nature. You want me to say I accept Christ as the person who died for me on the Cross because He loved me personally. Thatís it isnít it?

Notier: It isnít what I or God or Christ want you to say. We are not in the business of show business. Where do you think you are?

John B.: Well, I know I died. Iím in heaven arenít I, or some kind of purgatory or a waiting area. I died and you are seeing if I can get into heaven, arenít you? I mean, you are not going to send me to hell are you? Look, I am not a bad person. Whatever you want from me, you got it. It is not too late is it?

Notier: Iím sorry, 55 years was enough. You time is up.

John B.: OK, Iíll quit the games. I just never could quite get into the church thing, the religion thing, the gospel thing, whatever thing the God thing is, I just could not get really into it. I went along to go along. I figured when I died God would see I did a lot of work and He would overlook the rest of the stuff I did. I admit I did not make a commitment to Christ. I admit I was playing games all those years. I admit I did not really take the gospel into my heart and soul.

Notier: Good bye John.

John B.: No, wait.

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONģ. NIVģ. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018