Time Flies

Today, I end a 26-year worldwide journey. I’ll spare you the details. As I ease out of my now empty office in Texas, I’m reminded of so many things in this bittersweet hour. There’s one thought I’m grateful to share with you, readers.

I look around me and I’m surrounded by modern blessings. Wonderful things! Since just about the end of the 19th century when mankind learned to harness the power of fire in electricity so much has changed. We’ve seen the world from space. We vacation in Spain, and Spaniards vacation at Disney in Florida. We’ve seen inside the body down to the molecular level and stars we think are beyond our reach in universe so vast it can only serve as a word picture for the vastness of its Creator. We’ve opened the book we call DNA. We fly, we steam, we drive. Though fallen in sin we still, “…fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28. What a world! What a cursed world!

I’m an upper middle class American. That means I’m one of the wealthiest people who has ever lived on the earth. That means that Jesus said of me: “…it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23. I know why he said this. The rich are worldly. Carnally minded. They’re prone to arrogance and self-sufficiency. They’re the “educated fools” who jump off their own buildings with sin a greater weight than gravity to their deaths all the while shouting out, “is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty”? Daniel 4:30. I am among the rich. I’m a 21st century American. It’s here in this building that James could preach truly: “Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?” James 2:6-7. God’s word is always true. They are. I am. Jesus said again, “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24. Wealth and power are a burden. Poor people are wicked too, but oh the wealthy!

But here’s the thing, even a rich man like me can be unburdened. He can lay aside his sin. He can be brought by God to conviction and its resultant repentance. God desires all manner of men to be saved. 1 Timothy 2:4. Like the poor thief on the cross there have been rich thieves on crosses too. Elect all unconditionally from before the foundation of the world. Romans 8:29-30. From before sin entered the world, both poor and rich were fully known to God. That’s why I, though a rich man, have hope today. I’m not rich by American standards, but I am loaded by the world’s income standards. But such as me are saved. The beam has been removed from my eye. I don’t trust in myself even a little bit. I put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:9. I truly wholly in Christ. In the grace that’s already been brought to me in justification and yet will be brought to me by Jesus if he comes today or I die tomorrow. 1 Peter 1:13. I don’t want sin anymore. I want holiness now. I’m like my Father. I too (though imperfectly unlike him) love good and hate evil. I have been made worthy of my Christian title “saint” and those who know me, who have similarly been made partakers of Christ’s own perfect righteousness imputed to them (1 Peter 5:1), can attest. I’ve been born again. The evidence now for the last nearly twenty years is the fruit in my life. My sin wants me, but my war is being waged under the Cross where I was entirely ransomed. Romans 8:12-17. It wins nothing!

I look around at my advanced age today though, and I’m haunted by the sounds of a brook. By the softness of the grass, and the cool blessing of shade. By the simplicity of the laughter of children. I’m reminded of the distractions my advanced age brings my kinsmen. I’m reminded that life was lived on earth for about for about 7,000 years before there were, as we know them, cities to be built. Life before I-phones and internet. That throughout all that time, God, “did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:17. I’m reminded now as a dad with four wonderful kids and a wife more valuable to me than gold of how the distractions of modern life (like all life I suppose) can rob the rich by distraction. I’m reminded that life was life, even though in a fallen world, for a very long time. It’s the simple beauties of life we miss when we only see the world in neon. God, family, friends, joys. We die these days as actors never having played what we thought was our best role and die without even five people to mourn us. I’m constantly reminded of the words of one of my late great teachers, doctor R.C. Sproul who said something like, “I would consider myself a very wealthy man if just five people could get through my funeral without looking at their watches.” Christ hasn’t just taught me how to live, reader; he’s taught me how to die. Do you know and live by what he says is required of you? Then blessed are you too.

Sin remains the same. Our enemies are still the world (all outside me), the flesh (all inside me), and the devil (an actual fallen being). All of it is a distractor to life itself. That’s my theme as I write this and I want you to read this next quote in the shadow of your own modern life. Now, I would not attend a church where C.S. Lewis was a pastor, but nevertheless his insights into certain areas of the Christian life are I think a great blessing to anyone who looks. In his inimitable book The Screwtape Letters we read the following:
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

These are mainly the sinners of my day as far as I can ascertain. Sure, some of them are aborting kids, covered in the fluids of those they help condemn along with themselves, are drawing pentagrams and drinking blood, etc., but many are just “too busy” to hear God. They’re the “good people” who just don’t believe in Jesus. They don’t understand that not believing in Jesus as their great God and Savior is the very worst sin they could ever commit. John 3:19. Committing it will be the imputation of all their sins. Their lives are a scramble between work, the gym, and the bar. Career is their Babel. They’re “playing cards” in life like money/materialism, politics, sports, and hobby. They’re the walking dead. Hostile against God, but not bothered enough with him to show it.

I’m reminded today as I exit this journey that Christ comes to men at the tops of skyscrapers and on the gravel road. In ivory halls and foxholes. O-10 to E-1. The Gospel is always the same: Repent and believe the good news. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. This means there’s a judgment coming (Hebrews 9:27) and there’s only one way that anyone born can be delivered from the sentence of hell, and that’s by the shed blood of Jesus of Nazareth, the virgin-born Messiah or Christ, on Calvary’s Cross. By a New Covenant, God enables men to come to him in love and grace. Have you been visited by God through a Christian messenger to hear how: “all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. What beautiful feet bring this! Romans 10:14-15. We love you with a love you cannot grasp outside of the love that grasps us.

Our message has gone to all four corners of the earth! Everyone will either stand or fall by it. That Jesus (God incarnate) lived, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead. The good news of grace and healing comes only to those who learn they’re sick. We only know we’re sick when God reveals it. So, look to the test. Look at the Ten Commandments. Have you broken them? Then God the judge opposes you. You’ve sinned. 1 John 3:4. Consider also some of the Ten Commandments by the horse’s mouth in Matthew 5:21-32. Been divorced unlawfully? Looked with unlawful lust? Hated unjustly in your heart? If you’ve even done such even in your heart and God sees it and judges it. Trust God, you’re sick. Romans 3:23. May he reveal it to you. You’re in your father Adam. May a diagnosis lead you to the only prognosis outside of Christ – you do not have long to live. Time flies! If you’ll listen to the Law, God’s grace can take its message and re-route it. There’s a perfect cure for humbled hearers. With hearing comes a new prognosis and grace then opens a new door. You won’t go in with your sin. You’ll have to leave it in the dirt, but it’ll be a literal no-brainer. The door is labeled “Reconciliation.” It’s the message of the Cross. The message of the triune God who made you is tuned in at Calvary, and he never once misses to deliver it to his sheep. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One God, three Persons. What is made know from Genesis to Revelation’s 66 letters is that for his glory he agreed that sin would enter and corrupt his creation, but that the Son would at the time agreed upon enter into his own creation to redeem his own. God’s prophets all spoke of this in their various times and means, and Christ has made it perfectly known worldwide, again speaking through the prophets he selected while walking in Israel and just after he Ascended back to heaven over which he rules through his Apostles. It’s no “fairy tale” of a “sky daddy” by as distracted dead say, it’s the plan of the ages. You will eventually either stand or fall by it, but you’re already a part of it.

Don’t be distracted into hell! Stop “playing cards” rich man! Consider your fleeting life. Put it all away and consider it. Take a walk, take a swim, take a ride. Get alone with God. Consider Jesus’ message. Open your Bible! Whether you’re from Bagram, Afghanistan or Mineral Ridge, Ohio you’re equally condemned by God’s good, just, holy, and illuminating Law. His judgment is without mercy by it…except when the Father accepts us in his love for the Son and vice versa. The only solution is Jesus. Time flies! Tomorrow life will be gone. Jesus asks us all, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36. Reader, I’m glad you’re reading this. It’s no accident. Repent and believe the good news today. “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts…” Hebrews 3:15.
Life is so short. Eternal life is not. Repent or perish.

Joseph Pittano

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