When I think of all the people whose souls are hanging in the balance of an eternity without God, I am reminded of the tragic story of the Titanic.
April 15, 2021, marked the 109-year anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic. In stark contrast to Noah, who by divine warning obeyed God and built an ark to save his family (see Genesis 6–9), some of those connected with the passenger liner Titanic arrogantly said that even God Himself couldn’t sink her.
I’ve heard that at least six warnings were sent to the Titanic before she hit the iceberg that sank her. Throughout the day, various ships, including the Californian and the Carpathia, sent warnings of impending danger, yet all warnings were scorned, and the rest is history.
We can see a parallel between the fate of the Titanic and the fate of a people who choose to ignore God’s warnings. The word pride could be used to describe the actions of the Titanic’s crew, as pride can describe so many today who reject the warnings of the Lord. But there were also three other ships in the Titanic story that must not be overlooked.
The Samson was a ship that many did not hear about until years later. It was the closest ship to the sinking Titanic and could have aided in rescuing many of those who perished in the icy sea, yet it chose to leave the scene. The crew of the Samson was involved in the illegal hunting of seals, and because they were afraid of getting caught, they turned off their lights and sailed away, leaving more than 1,500 to die a horrific death.
How many professing Christians have rendered themselves ineffective in rescuing perishing souls? Due to the dark deeds of sin, some do nothing. They run away from, rather than toward, those who are shipwrecked in the sea of death.
The next closest ship, the Californian, was in an ice field less than twenty miles away from the Titanic. Earlier, the Californian had sent warnings to the luxury ocean liner about the danger of icebergs, only to be ignored. Although the Californian was not far away, it only proceeded toward the Titanic the next day, after the great ship had sunk. There may have been a bit of pride involved in their decision not to hasten. After all, they did try to warn the Titanic.
I wonder how many believers choose to do nothing to help rescue the perishing because they don’t want to risk their own comfort?
The third ship, the Carpathia, was nearly forty-eight miles away from the Titanic, but when they received the distress call, they immediately chose to go full speed ahead. They, too, had earlier warned the Titanic, and their warnings went unheeded. The fog was thick, making it dangerous for the Carpathia to maneuver past icebergs, but at the risk of their own lives and against all odds, her crew chose to rescue the perishing. They were able to save the lives of just over 700 people, while more than a thousand others froze to death in the icy sea. How many more could have been rescued had the Samson and the Californian assisted the rescue efforts?
Like the passengers on the Titanic, people today are cruising along through life, oblivious to the impending dangers around them. But when calamity comes, will there be adequate lifeboats to handle the shipwrecked victims?
There is such need in the world around us today. How can we settle into complacency? How can we be so hardened of heart as to sit back on the beach of comfort, ease, and apathy while so many are still shipwrecked in the sea of despair?
LESSONS FROM BOOK OF HEBREWS:
One of the things I love about the book of Hebrews is its recurring theme of believers standing strong in the Lord and finishing their journey of faith well. Quite a few years ago, I was reflecting on the various stories I read regarding the Titanic and the various warnings the crew had received prior to the perilous day of their shipwreck. It occurred to me of the various warnings and lessons we are given in the book of Hebrews that can help us from our own shipwreck, personally and corporately.
Initially, I noticed and jotted down six warnings in Hebrews that compare with the six warnings given to the Titanic: 1) The warning and danger of neglect; 2) The warning and danger of unbelief; 3) The danger of the hardening of our hearts. 4) dullness of hearing; 5) The danger of drawing back or away from God; 6) The danger of refusing God. Later, I noticed at least four more specific warnings the writer of Hebrews lists that are hindrances to personal and corporate revival. Nearly every believer claims to desire a transformed life, but these 10 factors often get in the way.
Today, as in the day the book of Hebrews was written, every Christian will face the following hindrances:
1. Failure to hate sin (See Hebrews 1:9; 12:1; 13:18.)
2. Negligence (See Hebrews 2:1–3.)
3. Hardening of heart (See Hebrews 3:7–15.)
4. Unbelief (See Hebrews 3:12, 19; 10:38–39; 11:6.)
5. Prayerlessness (See Hebrews 4:16; 5:7–8.)
6. Dullness of hearing (See Hebrews 5:11–14.)
7. Insulting the Spirit of grace (See Hebrews 10:26–29.)
8. Discouragement (See Hebrews 6:11–12, 19–20; 10:23, 35–36; 12:12–13.)
9. Harboring unforgiveness and bitterness (See Hebrews 12:14– 15.)
10. Refusing the Lord when He speaks (See Hebrews 12:25–27.)
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK:
In my book, Leadership Awakening, we address each of the 10 hindrances individually, but for the sake of space in this article, I hope you will take the time to study the list of verses, as well as corresponding scriptures. May you find renewed challenge, perspective, and purpose for your own walk.
In 1959, Leonard Ravenhill wrote a classic book called Why Revival Tarries. In it, he described some reasons why the church doesn’t see revival:
“We’re content to live without it. It’s too costly. We don’t want God to disrupt our status quo. The Christian life can only be lived one way, and that’s God’s way. And God’s way is that I leave all and follow Him…. When I think I’ve ‘arrived’ at something, the Lord shutters that.”
Ouch. I sure hope I never become content to live without revival. I never want to conclude that a spiritual awakening is too costly, or that the status quo is preferable to a move of God’s Spirit throughout our nation. But I know that each of us must guard against spiritual complacency. If Christians in the early church lost their First Love and became lukewarm, how much more do we have to take pains to ensure that our own hearts remain kindled with fresh passion for God?
We need people today who exhibit this kind of radical commitment. The days of cosmetic Christianity are coming to an end. Laodicean Christians must decide whether they will be hot or cold, devoted or lukewarm.
We need a renewed passion for God that gives us a compassion for others. Genuine passion for God allows no room for compromise or mediocrity. How can we settle into complacency while multitudes upon multitudes of lives are in the balance of eternity? How can we be so hardened of heart as to sit back on the beach of comfort and apathy while so many are still shipwrecked in the sea of destruction?
Brother Ravenhill once asked, “Could a mariner remain idle if he heard a drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman let people burn without lending a hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion (or as Christians) while the world around you is damned?” These are still powerful questions for us today.
Let us not miss our windows of opportunity. Paul said in 1 Cor. 16:9, “A great and effective door of opportunity has been opened unto me but the adversaries are many.” We live in a great and exciting time in which we, the Church, must bring a message of hope. Distractions, disappointments, discouragements, and even temptations can be works of the adversary to keep us from what God wants us to do to be effective at this time. Distractions can include our love of comfort and ease or the cares and securities of this world.
Yet everything that can be shaken is being shaken, as Scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:25-29. Shakings can bring distraction, which brings disappointment, then we become discouraged. We get disappointed in people and even in God. From a place of discouragement we must watch out that we don’t compromise our convictions. In those times, our response should be different. We should call upon the Lord and His emergency hotline to find peace, grace, and mercy.
God can turn it all around—the economy, our circumstances, and worldwide situations. He promises us good and not evil, a future and a hope. If we call upon Him, He will answer (Jer. 29:11-12). He can do exceedingly beyond all we can think or imagine.
God has given us a great and effective door to reach many with the Gospel. Whatever door He opens, no man can shut. May we not have to look back and say weeks and months from now that the harvest is past; the summer has ended and the people are still not saved (see Jer. 8:20).
We have the opportunity to bring a message of hope. Luke 21:13 is an encouraging picture that—in the midst of challenges and worldwide crisis—we can “let this be in occasion for our testimony.”
The world is looking for answers. This is not a comfortable place to be! Most of us would rather be spectators in the epic battles of our times. “Hurray for Jesus!” we shout from the grandstands. Some of us at times are more concerned and upset about athletic events, or other personal preferences, than we are for a world in crisis. Instead of standing in the gap between the living and the dead, we sit in comfort on our padded pews. Instead of running into the flames to rescue lost souls, we piously hide out in our stained-glass buildings in our holy huddles.
George MacLeod, a famous Scottish preacher once said:
“I simply argue that the cross should be raised in the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town’s garbage heap; at a crossroads, so cosmopolitan they had to write his title in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. That is what He died for. And that is what He died about. And that is where church people ought to be, and what church people ought to be about.”
Echoing this same passion for intercessory evangelism, C.T. Studd wrote, “Some like to live within the sound of church or chapel bells; I’d rather run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”
To quote my friend, Bishop Dale Bronner from Atlanta, “Our passion for Christ must be greater than our passion for anything else.”
Is there hope that we can really make an impact? Yes, indeed! As Winkey Pratney once said, “When God finds someone with courage to pray, preach, and live a life before Him of holiness and compassion, He can literally change the face of a nation.”
During times of crisis, courage and cowardice emerge. Courage and character in any man or woman shine most brightly in times of crisis and intense pressure. The sirens and alarms are screaming a resounding cry, “Spare Your People, O Lord.” You and I can be a part of the largest, mobilized rescue effort in our day as we reach the multitudes living on the edge of eternity. The question is, will we answer the call?
By Doug Stringer