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Rescue the Perishing


This past Friday I was driving to get something to eat and the song Rescue the Perishing came on and immediately I began to think of the Titanic.  This year was the 100th anniversary of its sinking.  None of us here knew a single passenger on this luxury liner.  But yet all of us, even the younger ones, seem to know about the sinking of this boat that was considered too big for even God to sink.


Nonetheless on April 14, 2012 the ship ran into an iceberg.  It is my understanding that most of the time icebergs are not found so much in the area, but that night there were several and despite the warning of the icebergs from other ships that had passed through the area the Titanic sailed at near full capacity ahead.  Debate goes on and on over why the accident ever took place some considering the ships design, others focus on human error.


And though those things may be interesting to talk about they mattered very little to the 2,228 passengers who were aboard a ship with not enough life jackets or life boats.


The call for help went out in the darkness of night.  There were no planes and helicopters to go to their daring rescue like we have all seen today.  Their hope and only hope was that some ship might hear their distress and come to their aid.


One boat responded as quick as they could to the midnight distress signal.  The name of the boat was the Carpathian.  It’s captain turned his course in the shadows of the night and pushed ahead with everything he could.  The sleeping staff were woken up.  Every available person was told to go to the boiler rooms to do everything they could do to keep the boilers hot for the steam to run the engines.  The steam heat on this freezing night was cut off to the passengers rooms to preserve every bit of steam they could.  This was probably the fastest the ship had ever traveled. 


Consider though, the same iceberg laden waters that sank the Titanic were the same waters that the Carpathian was selling into full speed ahead.  It took them three and a half hours to make it to the spot where the massive liner sent out its last message.  No boat was there.  Nothing was seen.  But then, out in the distance a faint light of a flare was seen from one of the boats that had survived.


As quickly as they could they collected boat after boat of passengers that had survived and those still alive in the water.  Out of the more than 2000 people on board only 705 survived.


Those that survived really owed their lives to the crew of the Carpathian that risked their own lives to come as fast as they could to rescue the perishing.


And then I began to even think of about 911.  That is something that is still fresh in most of our minds even now.  But I thought of all those firemen that rushed into those towers risking their own lives for the hope of rescuing the perishing.


I wonder even today if we had a neighbor whose house caught on fire how many of us would rush in to try to help or to rescue a child that you knew was in danger of losing their lives.  Most of us when called upon in such times would indeed put our life in risk to rescue someone who was in danger.


Few of us would turn a deaf ear to those who are calling out in distress for our help out of fear for ourselves.  I really believe it is the nature for man to do everything he can do to try to save someone who is in this time of great need.


A few years ago I was reading some letters written by a preacher in another country.  I think it was Russia, but the details now have passed away for me.  But he didn’t know English and instead he would write his letter in Russian and then use a program like Google Translate to convert it to English.


In his letters whenever he spoke of the word saved the program translated it to rescued.  The words are synonyms, but we all are used to hearing the word saved.  We say I was saved at the age of eight or eighty-eight and as wonderful as a thought that is for us I want you to consider the way your mind conceives the word rescued.  I was rescued at the age of 8.  Rescued sounds dramatic.  Sounds like you were in danger of losing your life and someone risked everything they had to rescue your life.


But ahh, isn’t that exactly what Jesus Christ has done for you.  When we were lost we were going through life in danger.  Our souls were in danger.  We were one heartbeat away from dying and spending an eternity in hell.


But Jesus, Emmanuel, God in the flesh, set aside the glory of heaven and willingly and lovingly came to this earth just like a man so that he might rescue us.


Last Wednesday night in our bible study we talked about original sin.  That is how sin entered the human race by one man and the curse of sin has continued ever since form Father to child.  We spoke of how the promise of a Messiah was made at that time and how the first sacrifice for the sins of man was made by God for Adam and Eve.


If we allowed our fingers to peruse through the Old Testament we would see time and time again the promise sometimes by type, by shadow or by prophecy of one that would come to pay the price of sin.


Jesus was the one indeed that God through the prophets had spoken of; the one who came to rescue all that the Father gave him.


While he walked upon this earth, ever step that he took was for the rescuing of the saints and as he was there in the garden praying the night before he was crucified he poured out is his heart over the souls he came to save.


The next day as he was taken and beaten and scourged beyond what any of us can truly imagine.  Nailed to a cross and lifted up between heaven and earth as those that stood around him mocked him, wagging their heads at him as they walked by.  What a gruesome sight to see anyone in that shape.  But here was one who had done no wrong crucified as though he was the enemy of the world.


And he did this for one reason,

John 3:14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

John 3:15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


He came to rescue the perishing and to do that he had not just to risk his life, but give his life freely for all those who will look to the cross even today and believe on him and not that just he died for you but that he has risen again and today he is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for the saints.  He is still rescuing the perishing this morning.  Today as you go about your business he will still be rescuing the perishing.  Tonight as you lay your head on your pillow, Christ will still be rescuing the perishing. 


You may say that I am sounding perhaps too dramatic.  I don’t think so.  Turn with me to the gospel of Luke.

Luke 13:1  There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.


We don’t know exactly what happened here to the Galileans.  Some of these men though had rebelled against Rome.  Perhaps they were Zealots that often carried out hostile actions and assassinations against Roman authorities.  These men had come to make their sacrifices at the temple and there they were seized by Roman soldiers and killed.  That’s what is means to have their blood mingled with their sacrifices.


Luke 13:2  And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?


People just love to point fingers at others and speak of because such and such happened to them they must be guilty of this sin or that sin or just a greater sinner than everyone else.  People are quick to think they got what was coming to them.  That is what these people were doing.


Christ tells them point blank,

Luke 13:3  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.


Christ tells them if they continue with their hearts in hardened shape without the love of God, they themselves though they may live to be 99 will yes meet the day when they too will perish just like the lost of all ages.


Luke 13:4  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?


The first action was the action of brutality by Rome.  Here we have an unfortunate accident.  In Jerusalem there was a pool named Siloam.  This was a tower that was close by.  Something happened causing the tower to fall and 18 people died.


Again though still today people are quick to murmur in the most unfortunate of accidents of someone’s presumed sins, judging them worthy of their untimely demise.


Luke 13:5  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.


Christ’s reply to them was the same.  They were perishing and didn’t even know it.


Let’s continue on in the reading,

Luke 13:6  He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Luke 13:7  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Luke 13:8  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

Luke 13:9  And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.


The tree that has no value is cut down and burnt in the fire.  Likewise the lost here today, the lost who read this message today wherever you may be, you are that dead fig tree.  Your time is running out.  Soon the day of reckoning will come when you too shall be cut down and cast into the fire.


You are as in danger as Jonathan Edwards once wrote as a spider dangling on a single thread about the fire held only by the mercy of God ready to released into that fire.


You are perishing daily.  Every day the thread gets weaker.  Death is coming.  Hell is moving to engulf the souls of the perishing in this life without Christ.


And yet today, the message is going forth to let you know of your condition.  Your need.  The life preserver of Christ, is being cast out at your soul this morning.  Can you by the grace of God reach out and say Lord Save Me?  Can you cry out to the one who holds life in his hand?  Can you believe in him as your own?


Rom 10:13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


You say Brother John you are starting to sound a little Armenian.  God forbid such things brothers and sisters.  You know that I believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation and all things.  But I also know that the Lord has told us to preach to all that all should repent.  All should believe. 


I know though that no one would dare call his name that he hadn’t all ready enabled to within their heart to call upon him.  Man who is hardened in his heart is like the man who clings to the drifting wood in freezing waters unable and unwilling to take hold of the preserver being cast right in front of him.


But for those whom the Spirit is working in their hearts even now, maybe you, they will gladly turn loose of the refuse of this world and cling to preserver that has been tossed around their bodies even and being rescued from the death that is to come.  Yes Christ came to rescue the perishing.


Christ is able to save.  Christ will save.  He will rescue all those that call on his name in faith.  But he doesn’t do it alone folks.  He could, but that isn’t how he works.  Just as the Carpathenian’s captain didn’t rescue the survivors without the help of a crew who was diligently working to pull the people in, put blankets around their bodies, and give them something hot to drink. 


So too Christ expects his saints, his children, his ambassadors on this earth to have concern for the lost.  To have the desire to rescue the perishing, just as God rescued you from the drowning in your own sins and iniquities.


Again if your neighbor’s house was on fire, would you not try to help, call 911, spray the house with water or try to reach those perishing inside in someway.


Let me tell you brothers and sisters if your neighbor is lost, if your friend down the street is lost, if your family member is lost they are perishing just the same.  Just as much in need of saving.  They need you to tell them about Jesus.  Tell them how to be saved.


It is not just my duty as Pastor to tell the lost of their need for Christ.  It is all of our jobs.  The world is not rushing through church doors to be saved.  The world is clinging to the refuse of the sea with everything that they have inside them.  They are barricading themselves behind closed doors ignoring the fact that the fire is slowly engulfing around them.  The only way they will ever be rescued is if you brothers and sister the salt and the light of this world take to them the message of Christ.


Will you be faithful as the song resounds to rescue the perishing, care for the dying, tell them Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.


Will you,

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it;
Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide;
Back to the narrow way patiently win them;
Tell the poor wand’rer a Savior has died.


I pray that we would all be stirred of the urgency of the mission that we are on.  Stirred by the urgency of the mission field in which we stand. 


We all say tomorrow I will.  Tomorrow I will tell them of Christ.  Tomorrow I will tell them of the Savior.  They are in good health.  There is no reason to rush things.  I will get around to it.


How many times in my own life have regretted the thought I will wait till tomorrow? Wait for the time to be convenient and the time never came.  Death is no respecter of persons.  It comes on the old and it comes to even the young.  If they don’t know Christ as their Savior, they are all in need of him.  They are all perishing.  Will you not cast before them the life preserver of Christ. 


By the way, that is all we are required to do.  We cannot force them to take.  We cannot plead and persuade them to take it.  Give it to them in love and let God do the rest.  Let God do what he does best.


Before we leave I want to share with you one more story of the Titanic especially for those who believe to show you the urgency of telling others about Christ and that is the story of John Harper.  John was a Baptist preacher aboard with his young daughter.  His wife had previously passed away.  When the truth that the ship was sinking he took his daughter to one of the life boats and gave up his seat on one of the boats.  He urged women, children, and the lost to go to the boats.  Knowing the saved had a much greater hope ahead in death than in life.  He preached to all that would hear upon the boat calling on the lost to trust in Christ. 


Later as he was floating in the frigid waters he swam from person to person to ask them if they knew Christ.  The last person that he spoke too that night later testified that John swam to him in the water and asked him if he knew the Lord.  He said he did not.  Harper asked him if he wanted to be saved he said he did not.  Harper then took off his life jacket and gave it to the man and told him he needed it more than he did. 


John began to swim away before quickly succumbing to the waters.  As he struggled the last thing he shouted to the man was, “Believe and thou too shall be saved!”.


That man lived to tell the story.  He was rescued from perishing that night not only by those of the Carpathian who would rescue his flesh.  But his soul was rescued that night from the grips of hell by Jesus Christ through the witness of one who gladly died with the hope of Christ than to let one who didn’t know the Lord drown without hope.


Saints of God never let us forget the urgency to rescue the perishing.

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