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Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D., has a diverse background as a biblical scholar, worship leader, and pastor. He served as Christian Union’s first Teaching Fellow at Princeton University and later directed its ministry in New York City. Chuck earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and currently pastors the first church in his hometown.
We are up against a great threat. An invisible threat. A deadly threat. One that spreads quickly. And I'm not talking about the coronavirus. I'm talking about sin. I'm Chuck Hetzler. I'm with Christian Union Day and Night and pastor of Bethesda Grace Church in New York City. I want to talk to us and remind us about what Jesus warns us is the greatest threat to humanity. This coronavirus is showing us the fragility of our society and our lives and the mortality that we all face, but it's only an opportunity for us to remind ourselves about the threat of sin, which is far more deadly, far more dangerous than this coronavirus.
I've been reflecting on the seven letters that Jesus sent through John in the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. Five out of the seven letters that Jesus sends to His followers are calls for repentance from sin. Jesus takes our sin seriously. Yes, His blood atones for our sins, and He is the only way to escape from sin, and it's a free gift that all we have to do is repent and believe. Praise the Lord. But even as Christians, as the church in America, this coronavirus is a reminder for us to repent. And Jesus, in those seven letters to the churches in Revelation, He gives a grave warning against those who will not turn from sin. If we allow this threat of sin to remain in our churches and in our lives, we can expect grave consequences.
In chapter 2, verse 5, He says, "If you don't repent, I will remove your lamp stand." The lamp stand was the church itself, the symbol of the church itself. In chapter 2, verse 16, Jesus says, "If you don't repent, I will war with the sword of my mouth against you." That's Jesus speaking to us, His beloved followers. He takes sin seriously. It's a great threat. In chapter 2, verses 22-23, He says, "If you don't repent, I will throw you on a sick bed and kill your children." I think He's talking metaphorically. The Lord often speaks in hyperbole, that He won't literally kill our children, I don't think, but nonetheless, it's a grave threat to those who follow after this teaching of sin. We can expect that the Lord will end the spiritual life that's there, or at least dampen it to the point that it's ineffective until we repent again.
Revelation 3:3 says, "I will come against you like a thief." He'll come and steal away what we have when we don't expect it, if we don't repent. And finally, Jesus says in the last letter to the last church, He says, "You're lukewarm, and if you don't repent and become hot or cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." Wow. If Jesus himself didn't say these things, I certainly would not be bold enough to say them, but He does. Because the threat of sin in the body of Christ is worse than any physical illness. It will destroy us and it will cause us to be at odds with God.
So let us take this time, in this season of crisis and say, "Church, we must cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1). May we take it to heart. God bless you.
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