Phil worked hard in his service to the Lord. He was an elder on the church board, taught Sunday School class of rambunctious pre-teens, led a midweek adult Bible study group and kept the church lawn mowed. At his workplace Phil was mocked as “the preacher” but he was not deterred. Though he could not tolerate the wickedness of the world he endured all taunts and hardships with perseverance. None of these things moved or wearied him. Phil pressed on.
Phil was on his way to hell!
“How can this be?” one might ask. “Is God unjust?”
No, God is most certainly NOT unjust. The judgement of God is according to Truth… real Truth… Truth as God knows it best to be. We may be deceived, but God is not. God knows our hearts. His judgment is not based on our deeds, but on our hearts… on whether we know and love our Lord.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” said Jesus (John 10:27). “I never knew you, Away from me, you evildoers!” He says to the self-deceived (Matt. 7:21-23).
“Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?… Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” asked an incredulous Abraham (Gen. 18:23, 25). “No one is good—except God alone.” said Jesus (Mark 10:18), and Paul affirmed “God’s judgment… is based on truth” (Rom. 2:2). In fact, God alone is Truth (John 14:6).
God has given Phil and all like him fair warning. To the church in Ephesus He warns:
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.“ (Rev. 2:2-4)
The Church in Ephesus was doing many good things, but they lacked just one thing, the most important thing: they had left off loving the Lord. Martha was an excellent hostess, but she too had neglected the most important thing, just one thing: to spend time with Jesus (Luke 10:42). A rich man wanted eternal life but he too lacked one thing: a love for Jesus greater than his love for money (Luke 18:22).
Certainly, God wants our service. But He wants our hearts more. What are we To do? We, like Phil, whose love for God has grown cold? Confess to God our sorry state, purify our hearts and environment, obey promptly the nudges of the Holy Spirit, and confess publicly, unashamedly, our allegiance to Christ.