This Was Your Life
By Pete Garcia
While the world was fixated on the national elections, the Democratic scandals, the World Series, earthquakes, wars and rumors of war around the world, evangelical Christianity lost another one of the greats this last week with the passing of Jack Chick. There was no national outpouring of grief. No press coverage that I could discern. No tributes aside from what few believers shared on Facebook and Twitter. Yet, I bet heaven’s reception party was such that it dwarfed anything we simple mortals could have put together.
If we were to try and quantify the impact of Jacks’ tract ministry, I would easily put him ahead of Augustine, Charles Spurgeon and Billy Graham. Truth be told, we won’t know this side of heaven how many lives his ministry has touched, but if I were a betting man, it would probably be in the hundreds of millions of lives saved, lives touched, and with outreach in every nation on the planet. I even used this same title in the second article I’d ever written for the Omega Letter back in July of 2011 as a tribute of sorts to Jack Chick and his ‘Chick Tracts’, which have had a profound influence in my own life.
Fearless in their messaging, Chick Tracts were unafraid to tackle even the toughest of topics like the occult, homosexuality, abortion, hell, Roman Catholicism, and prophecy. Yet, despite their boldness in proclaiming truth, they were also uncompromisingly sincere in their presentation of the Gospel at the end of each story. The artwork was compelling, oftentimes capturing the tiniest of details and nuances people make when confronted with both truth and error. Also notable was their citing of sources, whether a statistic or Scripture, in order to validate the message they were presenting.
The earliest Chick tract that I can remember was called Back from the Dead, and it told the story of a man who had clinically died and went to hell. In the hospital, the doctors and the medical team had given him up for dead, but he came back, with quite the story to tell. Being a young boy, I was fascinated by monsters, and I remembered the pictures from the scene where the man is in hell. I carried those frightening images with me locked in my mental filing cabinet for decades to come. That picture, probably more than any sermon or teaching, motivated me to never want to go there, or let anyone else go there.
Chick tracts was one of the few ministries I recognized and respected early on for its reach and imagination in terms of trying to reach everyone they possibly could. Furthermore, every born-again believer who has ever been called into some type of ministry, should only ever have as one driving goals, that their work continues on even after they are gone. Jack Chick, having now passed on to glory at the age of 92, spent the last fifty years working in a ministry, and leaves behind a legacy which will continue to impact this world until the Lord returns (and perhaps even beyond the Rapture).
If there were any detractors that I could think of regarding Chick Ministries, it was in their overzealousness in promoting the ‘KJV-only’ view. Personally, I do not begrudge anyone who holds that view, but I also don’t champion that position myself. I believe there are far too many other pressing issues currently trying to undermine the Gospel to be hung up on which translation I use, or don’t use. Still, it was a position they were unwavering on, and should be commended at least for their consistency and doing so in an age of compromise and capitulation. The bottom-line though, is that they tempered their truth with love, and they always presented a clear message of both the Gospel and that Jesus Christ is, was, and will only ever be the only means of salvation.
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:9-11
Part of the reason I began writing, was that I too wanted to leave something behind should sudden-death beat old-age to the punch. Granted, my own ministerial scope and reach are microscopic compared to Jack’s, but I believe in my heart that thus far, I am doing what the Lord has called me to do. When we are doing what He has called us to do, that is all we can do until He has calls us to do something different. We each have our place in this world to accomplish something that was tailor-made for us. We grow, we learn, we share, we love, we teach, and we write…all in the hopes that we can make an eternal impact on someone whom the Lord has placed in our path.
But not to be discouraged, God has not called us all to be Charles Spurgeons, Jack Chicks, or Billy Grahams. If you think about all the potentialities, all the possible scenarios, with all the theological heavyweights out there;
Is it better to be a Billy Graham…or the person who led Billy Graham to Christ?
Is it better to be a Charles Spurgeon, or the person who led Charles to Christ?
The beauty of our salvation, is that we never know who or what our own impact will have this side of eternity, or what impact that it will have later on down the line. But there are some common misconceptions about our eternal future, and that is that we are all going to be the same. Another misconception is that all of our sins are going to be laid bare at the Bema Judgement, in which we will have to answer for every little thing we’ve ever done which detracts from our reward. Both of these views are incorrect.
As believers, our sins were paid for at the Cross. All of our sins. In fact, every sin you and I have ever committed, was thousands of years into the future from the 1st century when Jesus of Nazareth hung on that old cruel cross to bear the wrath of God for you and I. He just didn’t die for some of your sins…He died for ALL of them. He knew about the sins you and I would commit millennia before you and I were even conceived. So to be clear, salvation is by grace, through faith, NOT of works, lest any man should boast. (Paraphrase of Eph. 2:8-9) So either Christ paid for all your sins, or He didn’t, and if He didn’t, then you and I would be doomed forever because we are incapable of ever earning our own salvation through our own efforts. Let’s just be glad that He did and move on to the work laid before us. So then notice what is being tested below…is it works for salvation, or because of salvation?
For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15
So we understand that only Jesus Christ can lay the foundation, which is our salvation. ANYTHING we do beyond that, is added on top of that foundation which is already laid…these are works because of salvation. When believers stand before Christ at the Bema Seat Judgment, we are judged for what we did or didn’t do for Christ in the time we had available. If we were doing what God had called us to do, our intentions (not our results) are what is put to the flame. That will either be the gold, silver, precious stones, or it could be the wood, hay, stubble…depending on what we were trying to get out of it.
Were we doing it for our own glory? Were we more concerned with growing our congregations or classes by size, or by maturity? Were we more concerned with the budget, or with the giving? Were we envious because someone else got the book deal, or the radio spot, or the television interview? Were we jealous because the neighbor has a nicer house, car, husband, wife, etc.?
Intent, not results, is what is what’s brought out at the Bema Seat Judgment. (Rom. 8:27, Rev. 2:23) I believe many on That Day will expect a lot, but receive little. I also believe that many who do not expect much, will receive great reward for the faithfulness in the calling in which God has called them. In other words, it isn’t the size of our church, our budgets, or our ministries that God rewards, it is the intent of our hearts, and whether we were good stewards of the talents and opportunities He has placed before us in our appointed times.
Although it might seem paradoxical that I mentioned the enormous influence of Jack Chick’s ministry in terms of global reach and impact as being a good thing, while also saying that it isn’t about the size or budget of our ministries, reach, and scope as being what is important to God, it is not. If we are faithful to God’s calling, whatever that is, He can do the miraculous through us. In Jack’s case, it was monumental. In yours or mine, it may not even be noticeable. Either way, God judges the intent of the heart, not the results…those belong to God and He can do with them whatever He chooses.
Perhaps your calling was to be a godly mother. How many of the Christian greats look back to their mothers as the inspiration to become a Christian in the first place? And because they did, these men and women go on to impact the world?
Perhaps your calling is to be a mechanic, store clerk, truck driver, fry cook, missionary, preacher, or teacher? Whatever it is, be faithful and God will bless your efforts. He may not bless your results in any way that is discernible in your life now, but your efforts may be the reason that someone else turns to Christ because they saw the love of God in you. Or perhaps it was because you were bold enough to share with them the plan of salvation. They may not turn now, but somewhere down the line that seed that was planted and will spring forth by the convicting of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord will bring to their remembrance that time when you laid out the plan of salvation without fear and without hesitation.
While it’s not a popular message these days to remind people that we may not see results instantaneously, we keep it in mind because you and I are prone to discouragement because what we are doing seems to be bearing no fruit.
Remember, God is in charge of the results, not you or I. Also keep in mind that you are a sinner. I am a sinner. Born-again as we might be, we are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. (1 John 1:8-10) It is as inherent and instinctive to our fallen nature to want to sin, as it is for dogs to chase cats, or for birds to fly. It is the fleshly nature that currently encapsulates our souls in a cocoon of corruption. It very much desires us to be in synch with this fallen world, and not with God.
The sin nature works double time, all the time, to keep us silent and distracted from doing the things of God. But one day soon, the Lord will come to redeem His bride, and give us our new, immortal, sin-free bodies that we can worship and rejoice in the glory of the Lord in. But until that day, remember…
… since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2