“This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in the city, as well as the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin”
Not every nagging message is a bad message. It was early morning of my first night in Oslo, Norway two years ago that I first heard a fire alarm ring. I grew up in the rural countryside of Uganda, we often had our evening meals served while seated on logs at a fire camp. We grilled fresh corn, cassava and sweet potatoes at such fire places. Our kitchen depended on wood fire to cook our food. Fire was in every way part of us, we never needed a fire alarm because we used the fire all times in all places. I had read about fire alarms, heard stories about fire alarms, seen a fire alarm at my university dormitory but never heard it ring. As such, I had never known how nagging a fire alarm warns of the danger of fire.
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I will never forget that morning when my comfort was disturbed by a nagging message that was in a way giving me a warning—that there was a possible fire in the house. This warning was good news, to save my life from a possible inferno. I just took my first oversea flight. Curious about this voyage, I kept awake throughout the flight. Even the few hours of waiting for a connection flight at Ataturk Airport—Istanbul were sleepless hours. My friend Aaron, whom I had just met at the departure airport in Entebbe gave me a good tour as we waited for our next flights at Ataturk. Besides, I kept pondering about this city which was once called Constantinople—a Christian Empire, but now Istanbul—a Muslim Empire. Finally, at about 14:00 hours, I took my flight to Oslo. I was in my room at the students’ village not later than 20:00 hours. It was summer, the sun was going down after 22:00 hours, my windows had no curtains, it remained as bright as noonday until 21:30. I couldn’t sleep despite the travel fatigue until after 23:00 hours.
At about 5:00 hours, I was woken up by a strange awful noise. I had no idea about what it was. Confused not knowing what to do, I woke up, tried to put on the lights but the noise continued nagging. Finally, I imagined this must be the fire alarm I have been reading about in my housing contract. I had to leave my bed, and my room to save my life. Little did I know that this was going to be a regular routine in all my two years stay in Oslo. It even became worst when I moved to a thirteen storeyed high students house which housed several hundreds of students with more than 40 kitchens. The fire alarm nearly rings every day, sometimes in the middle of the night, the alarm nags. Had there been a button to switch it off or at least snooze it, I would be swift to do that. If there is ever any nagging yet very important message I have ever heard, it must be the message of the fire alarm. It nags, yet giving a good warning.
When Jerusalem was at its apex of falling to the Chaldeans—the Babylonian Empire, the prophet Jeremiah faithfully proclaimed a warning message from the Lord to the king and his officials. The message appeared nagging and yet if they were to heed to it, it would save their lives. The LORD God told them through prophet Jeremiah that Jerusalem will fall, that those who will surrender to the ruthless king of Babylon will survive. This was the Lord’s message;
“Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine and plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylonians will live… This city will certainly be given into the hands of the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it” (Jer. 38:2-3).
This good message was not received in good faith politically. The officials of the king were furious at Jeremiah, that his message was discouraging the people from taking their weapons to fight against Babylon. Jeremiah’s message which in fact was a good warning was a nagging message to them as the fire alarm has always been to me. In response, they persuaded the king to have Jeremiah executed saying;
“This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in the city, as well as the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin” (Jer. 38:4).
What a reward to a messenger who brings a good warning? Must I pull down my fire alarm because it’s alarm nags me? Isn’t the disturbing alarm of the fire alarm less dangerous than being caught in fire? The men did not heed to Jeremiah’s message. They saw his message was very discouraging, very nagging. They never wanted anymore of his message. They would rather have him executed than having him to warn them.
The Gospel, that we have always known to mean the Good News has a warning that often can sound very nagging. The Gospel is not just about the Golden Rule—Love Your Neighbour as You Love Yourself, it also is about warning the world of the dangers of not believing in Christ Jesus. The message of the Gospel is very plain, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That men and women who don’t turn away from their wickedness will perish in eternal fire. Jesus revealed to John as recorded in the book of Revelation that:
“The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murders, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
The message of the Gospel has been well put by one of the most memorised verse of the bible, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The Good News of the Gospel is that; God in his Love has prepared a way of salvation to All Mankind. Those who accept it will have eternal life. BUT those who will not accept it will perish. There is already a warning message in John 3:16. Sin presents a great danger—the danger of eternal fire. The Gospel is incomplete is this warning is left out.
The apostles knew this very well. There writings and sermons were never short of this warning of the danger of hell as opposed to what it is in this era. At the birth of the Church, thus on the day of Pentecost, speaking to thousands of people gathered in Jerusalem, Peter concluded his sermon with this warning by saying: “Save yourself from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40), because he knew the ways of the corrupt generations leads to receiving the full wage of sin—which is death. In the last days, Jesus said when he returns the sheep will be separated from the goats. That the goats will go to eternal punishment (hell) while the sheep will go to eternal life (paradise) – (Matthew 25:46).
We cannot believe in heaven without believing in hell. “When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news.” Heaven and hell are real. Knowing this very well, Evangelist D.L Moody said; “I cannot preach on hell unless I preach with tears.” The Gospel brings us the good news of how we can be saved from the latter to eternal life in the former. The Gospel warns us of the reality of hell. The warning might sound very nagging but heeding to it saves. The default fate of all mankind is hell because all have sinned. However, when we heed the warning of the Gospel by believing in the Son of God, we will have eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The message of the Gospel must disturb mankind in their comfort zones of sin as a fire alarm at dawn does disturb one from the comfort of his bed. Without a fire alarm, no one will know that a building is on fire until when it might be too late to escape. The Gospel must disturb our worldviews, our way of living, our practices and habits until we take refuge in Christ. In doing so, the Gospel is not just nagging, it is warning. Thank God for the message of the Gospel, the good news warns us of a possible danger of neglecting the great salvation offered to us by God’s Grace. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?” (Heb. 2:3 NKJV). Amen! Rev. J
 Christian Quotes accessed from http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/christian-quotes_ochristian.cgi?find=Christian-quotes-by-D.L.+Moody-on-Hell
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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV). Rev. Julius Izza Tabi is a pastor in the Anglican Church of Uganda, Ma’di & West Nile Diocese. Julius served as an assistant Chaplain and lecturer at the Arua Campus of the Uganda Christin University. He is a graduate of Master of Philosophy in Religion, Society and Global Issues at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet alias the Norwegian School of Theology, in Oslo, Norway. He is an author of the Popular Triumphing Over Odds . For pastoral assistance you can contact him here and you can also help to support this site and his ministry by donating here.