Jentezen Franklin - The World's Greatest Crime
Proverbs 24. Proverbs 24. Are you ready? I'll begin reading with verse 11. "Deliver those who are drawn toward death, hold back those stumbling to the slaughter". What a mental picture. "If you say, 'Surely we didn't know this, Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds"? I want to focus in on that 11th verse. "Hold back those stumbling to the slaughter". "Deliver those who are drawn toward death". The King James says, "Those who totter to the slaughter". And it says that if we forbear. That word is used in the King James. If we don't say something, that "He who knows and weighs the hearts will consider it. Does He not know it"?
I want to talk to you today on this subject, "The World's Greatest Crime". There's a crime that is being committed that is the greatest ever known to mankind; and shockingly, it's not being committed by criminals. It's being committed by Christians. It's the crime of forbearing. If we forbear, does the Lord not know it? What does the word forbear mean? It means to not reach. It means to do nothing. It means to put off and to procrastinate about the lost who are perishing all around us.
Did you know that 125.000, according to the latest statistics, 125.000 people die every day who profess to not know Jesus Christ as their Savior? If just one soul a day dies and goes into eternity without God, it ought to be enough to break our hearts and make us weep for the lost. Jesus has no way to save the world except by us. He said, "You are the light of the world". He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel. And they that believe and are baptized shall be saved; and they that believe not and are not baptized shall be damned".
There are nine times more people living today than when Jesus made that great command 2.000 years ago. The number one responsibility of the church is evangelism. Jesus looked at a harvest field and He said, "Notice that it's white unto harvest". And then, He came with His own prayer request. The Lord has a prayer request. "Pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He would send for the laborers to reap that harvest". We think it's evangelists and pastors and preachers, but the laborers are you. You who have been born again and received grace are required by God to share grace and testimony of and witness of a living Savior. You're required to do that.
He said, "Deliver those who are drawn away to death, those who totter to the slaughter", who stumble to the slaughter. They're going into eternity. And if they get into eternity, it's too late. Hold them back from their doom. Who are these who totter to the slaughter? They're in the rest homes. We're supposed to hold them back from the doom, the elderly, forgotten, in the rest homes. I want you to understand that those people are headed into eternity, and somebody's got to reach 'em. And we've got to understand that God has not called preachers and teachers only to reach the lost, but all of us have got to say, "God, give me a burden for those who are perishing".
If we linked all the people up who do not know Jesus Christ and asked them to join hands, they would completely circle the globe. There's so many who are lost, without God. The line grows 20 miles a day. They slip into eternity, one after another, men and women, boys and girls, gone into eternity without God. If all of the births could be stopped and all of the deaths could be stopped and we just went to work on those who are here right now, it would take us, at the rate that we're winning them, 100 years to reach all of the people who are lost and do not profess to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. Why? Because we're not winning them like we should.
I'm talking to good people. I'm talking to wonderful people. I'm talking to people who love Jesus but they never attempt to lead anyone to Jesus Christ because we operate under a false philosophy that it's the preacher's job, that it happens on Sunday morning or it happens through some evangelist on television. And the truth is, there's not enough of us to reach that many people. God calls you to share your witness. And if you don't hold them back from their doom, they will stumble to the slaughter. They will go: that friend, that relative, that dad, that husband, that brother, that sister, they will totter to the slaughter and go into eternity without God. It's everybody's job. It's every Christian's job to be a minister.
The startling reality of what I'm preaching ought to move us. It ought to stir us. It ought to bring us to our knees. It ought to burden us. Church is not just about you being blessed today but God wants to use you. He put people in your life that only you can reach, that only you can carry a burden for, that only you and your testimony can break through the darkness, and we need to stop them, to hold them back from their doom. You see, if you forbear, the greatest crime in the world is found in us in verse 11. He says "if you forbear".
In other words, if you see them tottering to the slaughter and you don't try to hold them back, you don't ever speak up, you don't ever tell 'em what you know about Jesus and His grace and His goodness, you don't ever reach them and witness to them, If you don't try to hold them back from their doom, we're guilty of the world's greatest crime. He said that there would be people who had a message of life. They could hold people back from their doom. They could stop them from stumbling to the slaughter. But they said, "Hey, I didn't know". Well, you know now. You're listening to an old-fashioned message right now. And I'm telling you that God wants to use you. God wants you to begin to share your witness on the job.
Share your witness wherever you are. Tell people boldly about Jesus Christ and leave the results to the Holy Spirit. But if you plant the seed, the harvest will come. Deuteronomy 32:22 said the wicked go to "the lowest hell". Job 26:6 said that hell is a bottomless pit. Psalms 55:15 said that when wicked people die, instantly they go to hell. Isaiah 5:14 says "hell has enlarged itself and opened her mouth wide to receive them". Matthew 7, Jesus warned, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction", listen, "and many there be that enter in".
Oh, we're just lulled to sleep and we're just watching people stumble to the slaughter. But Jesus didn't. He understood why He came to save men and women from being lost and going to hell. The Lord is wanting us to understand what hell is like. In Isaiah 14:9, He said, "Hell from beneath is moved to meet thee at thy coming". When a new person stumbles to the slaughter, when they stumble into eternity, unprepared, the Bible said that demon spirits awaken. They're so weak. They awaken those who are in hell and they go to the gates of hell and watch the new people coming in.
I have often wondered what would it be like. Hell from beneath is moved to meet thee at thy coming. The scripture said, "It stirreth up the dead". You see, it forces them: Maybe a father led his child in the way that he was living, to drink and to be a drunkard and to live an immoral life. And when that child comes to hell, hell stares up that relative and makes them watch. Maybe you have an influence on your little brother or little sister. Maybe you're living life and you've said to yourself that "this is the time in my life; I'll come to God later, but right now I'm going to live life, I'm going to do what I want to do".
There'll come a day that you could wake up in hell; but not only you, but you will see those that you influenced by the things that you did. Can you imagine being a father, can you imagine being a friend, can you imagine being a brother or a sister who influenced someone in that lifestyle and watched them enter into the same place you are? "Even the chief ones", it goes on to say, "of the earth, the kings" and princes and presidents "of nations, when they enter into the gates of hell, they inhabitants say these words: have you also become weak as we"?
I don't care how powerful you are. I don't care how wealthy you are. I don't care how much money you have. I don't care how educated you are. The wicked are turned into hell and they stumble into the slaughter. And even princes, even presidents, even mighty people that we see on the news every day, if they don't bow their knee, there'll come a day when they will look so weak as they enter into that place. Money can't help you. Fame can't help you. Prestige can't help you.
It's impossible to read about the life of Jesus and not realize that He was moved with compassion for the lost. That's why He went and found the wealthy Zacchaeus, who had climbed up a tree, and He said, "Come down from that tree, for salvation has come to your house today". That's why He walked 36 miles to reach the woman of Samaria who had been married five times and was living with her lover, unmarried, shacking up with her boyfriend. And Jesus said, "She's worth saving. I can't let her totter to the slaughter. I know she has a past. I know she has things that are wrong and bad. But I love her enough that out of all of the people, I'll go win that woman because she's valuable to Me".
Now, I want to take you, to the book of Ezekiel, and I want to preach for a few moments right here. I want you to open up that Bible. If you don't have it, fake it. Amen. But look in Ezekiel 3. I realize this is a sober message. I realize this isn't a "bless me" message. I realize today that you probably aren't going to leave here just feeling. But sometimes we need the word and the reality of why we are here to hit us hard and hit us deep. And for me, this verse touched my heart this week in Ezekiel 3:17. He said, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me".
I've come today to warn the wicked. I've come today to warn the lukewarm Christian. I've come today to warn the men who are playing with sin and the women who are playing and compromising with sin. I'm giving you warning. Why? Why should we give them warning? "When you say to the wicked, You shall surely die, and you give him no warning nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity", listen to this, "but his blood will I require at your hand if you don't warn them".
Do you understand the greatest crime ever committed is the crime to know what truth is and to have a message of life that you've been given directions from God to save that life and you don't warn them because you don't want to be pushy or you don't want to be taken wrong or you're a little bit ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's the only thing that can fix America. It's the only thing that can set the alcoholic free. It's the only thing that can cause the man who beats his wife to stop and the man to be a daddy to his children and the mother to their children. The answer is the Bible and the word of God.
And He said, "Warn them". But notice what he said. If you don't warn them, their blood will be on your hands. "Yet", verse 19, "if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul". In other words, you won't have bloody hands because this verse tells me that there will be people who will stand before the throne of God on judgment day and have bloody hands because they were not on fire enough, bold enough, filled with the Holy Spirit enough to be a witness when God said "be a witness".
And my message today to you is He set watchmen on the walls and if you open your mouth and you warn them, their blood will not be on your hands. Even if they don't accept Christ, if you warn them, their blood will be on their hands. But if you don't warn them... and I'm going to tell you something. I'm going to say something bold. Preachers better get back to this message because what we're preaching, this feel good stuff all the time. There's a balance. God wants us to have joy and be blessed. But that is not the ultimate purpose of Christianity. Christianity is this: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe on Him", listen, "should not perish", stumble to the slaughter, be doomed for eternity in hell, "but that they should have everlasting life".
The Lord told me to interrupt my regularly scheduled sermon and bring a warning from the Lord. Backslider, it's time to come home. I'm saying to every man, you better get your eyes sanctified, you better get your heart circumcised, you better get your ears anointed again. I'm saying to every woman, I'm saying to every teenager, eternity is real and I'm warning you, you cannot keep going like you're going. "God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap".
And I'm just the delivery boy. I don't feel bloody hands anymore. I felt 'em coming in, but I don't have 'em anymore. And if we say, "I didn't know it". Well, you can't say that anymore. And God wants to use you. And if you're a Christian, you need to get broken this morning. You need to say, "Give me a burden for the lost. What am I doing just getting up and going to work every day? Do I not have a purpose and a divine spiritual reason for being on this earth"?
You talk about a purpose driven life; that's a purpose driven life. I deliver people from the totter to the slaughter. That's what I'm called to do. I don't care if you're a banker. I don't care if you're a doctor. I don't care if you're a lawyer. I don't care if you're a mechanic. I don't care if you work in a factory. The bottom line is God can use you. You are God's weapon. And if you win one soul, if you stop one soul, if you live your whole life, 60, 70, 80 years, and you reach one person, your life has had eternal value. You have stopped someone from their doom. And He's calling you to carry that burden.
Don't commit the greatest crime ever known to man, not being committed by criminals but by Christians who are ashamed, ashamed to stand up. When everybody else is doing it, you stand in the middle of that mess, because that party is going to end, that affair is going to break up and they're going to be broken. And when they do, God help there to be somebody in their life that they'll know "there's a distinct difference in you than all my other friends". I don't want to be like the world. I see Christians compromise, compromise, compromise, compromise, compromise; living just like the world, getting drunk just like the world, partying just like, getting divorced just like... I don't want to live like the world. I want to reach them. And I can't reach them if I'm like them.
Stand to your feet all over this room, at every campus. Just bow your heads; and I need intercessors right now at every campus. "Pastor, pray for me. I know I'm not right with God. I know I'm backslid. I know I'm cold. My heart is... I don't even know why I came today". I know why you came. The Holy Spirit is touching you one more time. "Pastor, pray for me. I need to get right with God today". If that's you, lift your hand high. Lift your hand high. Hands are going up all over this room. Wonderful.
Every one of you that lifted your hand, look up here at me. You're going to have to trust me. I won't embarrass you. I won't humiliate you. Nobody's going to put you on the spot. But Jesus said, "If you draw near to Me". He's a motion-sensitive God, just like you've got motion-sensitive lights. You move and it clicks and it moves. If you move, God moves. If you respond, God responds. If you take action, God has a reaction. And you raised your hand and the Spirit of God stood at full attention.
Now, I'm telling you to get out of that seat where you're standing. I don't care if you're on the top row of the balcony, if you're in the overflow. Wherever you are, in every campus, get out of that seat and walk boldly because we can't be ashamed of the gospel. Walk boldly. Walk boldly, and come down to the front. Here they come. Here they come. Church, pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray. This could be your son. This could be your daughter. This could be your friend. This could be your cousin. This could be your nephew. Come on. They're coming. They're coming. They're coming. Wherever you are, at whatever campus, get out of that seat. Humble yourself. He won't turn you away. Come on. Come on. Come on. I need somebody to agree with me that no lost...
Look at this. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Come on. Come on. You've been waking up at night. You've been waking up when the sin was over. When the party was over and you hear a little voice in the middle of the night saying, "What are you doing? What are you doing"? You're stumbling to the slaughter. Turn around. Turn around. Get in this altar this morning. Get broken. Fall at the cross. Come on. Come on. Time is running out. Come on. It'll be worth it all when we stand in eternity. Someone else needs to come. Someone else needs to come.
Those of you watching me by television, Church, I want you to stretch your hands toward this prayer I'm about to pray because I sense that there are many watching by television. When this telecast goes forth, you're sitting there in that bar, you're sitting here in that hotel, you're sitting there in your home or in your apartment and you know that you're lost, some of you raised in church, but you're so far from God. The Lord has sent me to warn you. Time is running out. It's high time to awaken those that are asleep. Pray this prayer.
Lord Jesus, I give You my life. I surrender everything to You. I believe that You died on the cross and You rose again on the third day. You did it for me. You carried my sin. You carried my addiction. You carried my shame to that awful cross. and because of You, I am forgiven. I am loved. I have grace. I have eternal life. I'll never go to hell. I have a home in heaven, because of Jesus.