Murder By Consent

Bible Book: Acts  8 : 1
Subject: Souls, Responsibility for; Witness; Evangelism; Burden for Souls

Stephen was one of the new deacons chosen by the Jerusalem church. Acts 6 reveals that soon after Divine approval, he came under attack by the religious hierarchy of the Jews. He was accused of blasphemy. Certain ones of the synagogue disputed with Stephen and when they could resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke, they recruited false witnesses to accuse him of blasphemy. Then the elders and scribes "caught" him and "brought" him to the counsel of the Jews who questioned him regarding the charge. Acts chapter 7 records Stephen's answer. In conclusion to his answer, Stephen boldly called his accusers "stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears." He told them that they were following the example of their fathers in always "resisting the Holy Spirit." He then reminded them of the murderous acts of their fathers who slew the prophets who foretold the coming of Jesus to become our Savior and Lord. Upon hearing Stephen's bold answer, in great anger they stoned him to death.

Acts 7:58 we are told that they laid their coats at the feet of Saul. Acts 8:1 says that, "Saul consented to Stephen's death.

Concerning man's relationship to others, there is no greater offense than murder. One of the commandments is "Thou shalt not kill."

Cain, who killed his brother, was the first murderer. Through the years, there have been some vicious killers. Serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, John Gasey, the Boston strangler and many others have stalked and killed their victims. In the past few years the young mother, Susan Smith, put her two little boys in her car and let it roll down into a lake. She drowned her boys because they interfered with her love affair.

A man in my area shot and killed his three little children to keep his estranged wife from gaining custody of them. A teenage boy in our city recently killed his parents with a hatchet.

You recall the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh who killed 168 people. And fresh on our minds is the atrocious crime of the terrorists who created the incinerating infernos in the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing thousands of people.

You say, "I would never do anything like that." True, you might never drown or shoot a child, plant a bomb, hack someone to death with a hatchet nor cut anyone with a knife, but ...

Saul never threw a stone. For him it was - Murder By Consent.

We must be Faithful, Mindful and Careful lest we consent to the eternal death of family members, friends and others. Does it not equate to murder by consent when we allow, by our carelessness and callousness, souls to go to Hell? How could we consent for people to go to Hell? How could the church consent for its area to go to Hell? How could Pastors, Evangelists, S.S. Teachers, Deacons and others give their consent for souls to go to Hell? Let's focus on the answer. It Is Murder By Consent When There Is:

I. Disregard for the Price of Souls

Jesus asked, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

Jesus in essence stated that one soul is worth infinitely more than all God's material creation and all that this world system has to offer.

The cross reveals the value God placed upon souls. No human words can describe their worth to God. In Christ, He took our nature, became our sin and died our death. Who can feel or measure the intensity of Divine emotion or the agony of His sufferings as He died to satisfy the demands of Divine justice toward sin?

Matthew 9:36 tells us that Jesus was, "moved with compassion" as he looked upon the multitudes in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew writer described the passionate heart of Jesus by stating that, "In the days of His flesh, He offered up prayers with strong crying and tears..." (Hebrews 5:7).

II. Disbelief of the Peril of Souls

When we fail to take seriously the truth that souls without Jesus are lost it is murder by consent. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You shall die in your sin and where I am you cannot come."

At physical death, souls are instantly in Hell. Jesus said, "He that believeth on the Son has everlasting life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him." He also said, "Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell."

Revelation 20:15 says, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Revelation 21:8 states, "But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone."

Again, the Bible says, "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone...and they shall have no rest day nor night."

To allow our loss of our sensitivity to the lost-ness of souls without Jesus is murder by consent.

III. Discomfort with Preaching to Souls

Too many today are concerned with being Religiously Correct rather than Biblically Correct.

They say we should not be confrontational with the unsaved, for it is offensive. They have abandoned biblical terms such as Lost, Saved, and even the title, Jesus. They insist on using the title, "Lord," for it is more inclusive of others who don't embrace Jesus as the only and Savior. It seems that they would rather people be Cloned than Converted! This kind of concern compels them to preach a Diluted or Decapitated gospel.

Listen, when we cut corners to get decisions and don't take time to present the essential truth of the gospel, we reap the fruit of carnal efforts and all we get are unrepentant church members.

IV. Disdain for the Passion for Souls

Most Christians today are in a maintenance mode: They are dysfunctional, non-productive, lack- hunger or passion for God and souls. They are content to escape judgment and Hell, to have a little quiet time, feel good, endure an hour or two a week in church and make it to Heaven. Lacking the Passion of Paul (Philippians 3:10), they avoid involvement with the unsaved and any change in lifestyle. Is this not murder by consent?

Most Christians today do not have a taste for what it takes to win souls. They have room for everything else they love, but they are unaware of "the ways of God" that demand burden, tears, agony and compassion. This is God's way and He implied it in Genesis when he described a new "physical lifestyle" to Adam and Eve. To Eve He said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children." He was speaking of physical pain and travail.

To Adam He said, "In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread." From here on out, you will know physical labor.

Spurgeon said regarding these statements to Adam and Eve:

No Sweat - no Sweet,

No Mill - no Meal.

He referred to a spiritual principle. Isaiah said, "When Zion travails, then will sons be born."

Vance Havner spoke of, "Trafficking in Unfelt Truth."

Illustration: Something Is Missing - Pens without tops. An advertising firm placed an order for a large quantity of tops of ballpoint pens. The manufacturer replied to inquire if there was a mistake. "You ordered only the tops; please explain." The advertising firm stated, "We are going to give the tops away in a country where most people cannot read nor write, but they take great pride in wearing the tops of the pens in their shirt pockets.

Something is missing: we have the tops, but not the pens. We have the paraphernalia, but where is the Power? We have the programs, but where is the Passion and Pathos?

Illustration: I was in a meeting in a certain large rural church. The pastor had told me not to expect a lot, that there were not many prospects ready to be saved. However, when I drove into the community and proximity of the church, I sensed the unique hallowing manifest presence of the power of God. It was definitely an area where the Holy Spirit was at work in an unusual way. (If this sounds like old fashioned stuff-it really is. It is the "ways of God.") The building was packed out morning and night. It was easy to preach. Souls came to Christ under deep conviction without any undue persuading on my part. I had no explanation for the unusual visitation of the power of God until late in the week. I went early one night and went into the educational building to find a place to meditate on my message and pray before the service. In doing so, I heard the sound of voices in prayer. Following the sound I went to a certain room and quietly opened the door. Lined around the walls of the room were men and women on their knees in prayer. I stood there and listened to them as they wept and sobbed, praying for the salvation of their family members and neighbors. I knew then why there was conviction of the unsaved and a great harvest of souls.

When there is no passion for God, no compassion and deep burden for people, no "strong crying and tears" like that of our Savior, it is murder by consent. Dry-eyed churches in a Hell-bound world equates to murder by consent.