The Blazing Inferno
Understanding your mission field
Look! That building is on fire! Inside, there are hundreds of families unaware of the danger they are in. While they enjoy the comfort of their upper level apartments, the entire foundation of the building is ablaze.
On the fifth floor a businessman is working on a new project in his home office. Engulfed in his work, he is oblivious to the danger below. On the tenth floor a large family is enjoying a baked chicken meal together. Licking their juicy fingers and immersed in conversation with each other, they give no thought to any calamity.
On the twelfth floor there is a party going on. Dancing, socializing, and a D.J. spinning their favorite disco hits, no one there is even considering the possibility of sudden death. On every floor people are living as they normally do, not even pausing to consider that their lives could end tragically at any moment. The only thing standing between them and a gruesome death is a short period of time. You are a fireman, a commissioned rescuer of lives. Your mission is to enter the building, warn the unaware people of the coming danger, show them the safe exit of escape, and lead them out of harm’s way.
Jesus was praying to the Father in John 17:18 and said, “As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them [His disciples] into the world.” The world is the mission field that Jesus is sending you into. The world is full of people living their lives as they please, trying to remain distracted from any thoughts of death, and unaware or uncaring about the consequences of sin.
Satan provides a wide array of distractions designed to keep these people away from the truth of God’s Word, and lead them to an eternity of pain and misery in the flames of the lake of fire. Jesus wants to send us to reach these people with His plan for rescue, the plan of salvation. We must go into the building (the world), warn the people of the coming danger (the wages of sin is death), show them the safe exit of escape (Jesus is the way), and lead them out of harm’s way (into the Kingdom of God). We cannot hide out in a church, we must go into the world to reach the lost.
I have a good friend named Keith who is a real fire fighter. When he is on duty he lives at the fire house, and is ready at any moment to jump on a fire truck and go fight a fire. When he was in school, training to become a fire fighter, he spent much time studying the nature of fires. I think that it would be a good idea if we take a look at the nature of our mission field: the world.
When scripture speaks of the world as a negative term, it is speaking of a spiritual kingdom upon the physical earth. We know that God would not speak of the earth negatively, because in Genesis 1 we are told that He created the earth and saw that it was good. So, the world is not the earth, but a kingdom upon the earth complete with its own king, people, value system, ambitions and motivations, wisdom, and teachers both spiritual and academic. The world is the kingdom of Satan. Let’s look at the different parts of this kingdom.
The ruler of the world - John 14:30 calls Satan the prince of this world. He is the current ruler of this world, but he’s ruling it illegally. He has unlawful rule of his kingdom. In Matthew 28 Jesus has risen from the dead. He appears to the 11 disciples and says to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus is the legal, rightful ruler of this world, but He is currently away from His earthly throne, seated at the right hand of the Father.
While Jesus is away, the evil serpent Satan is illegally ruling on the earth. It is like the story of Robin Hood. In the story, King Richard the Lionheart is the rightful ruler of Nottingham. King Richard is a good king, but he has been gone for a long time, fighting on the battle field for his country.
While he is away, the evil Prince John illegally begins to rule the kingdom. He puts the people of the kingdom under outrageous taxation, and keeps them in bondage to his evil system, which sucks them poor as he gets rich.
Robin Hood is the hero, who remains faithful to King Richard, and rejects the rule of the sinister Prince John. Robin Hood and his companions travel throughout the kingdom extorting the people to reject Prince John as their ruler and remain loyal to the true king, Richard the Lionheart. Robin Hood also snatches wealth from Prince John and gives to those in the kingdom that have need.
Satan’s rule, like Prince John’s is unlawful. At the cross, Jesus redeemed the world from the dominion of the devil. So we are called to be like Robin Hood. We are to go and convince the people of this world to reject the power of sin and Satan over their lives, and become loyal followers of the true king, Jesus Christ. We are to snatch souls out from Satan’s rule, and lead them under the authority of King Jesus to receive His free gift of salvation.
Demons – Luke 11:15 identifies Satan (Beelzebub) as the ruler of demons. Demons are Satan’s servants that are invisible to the human eye. They are fallen angels that assist Satan in carrying out his evil work on earth. They are used in Satan’s attempt to deceive the people of earth away from God’s truth. They try to stop people who spread God’s truth.
The people of the world – Let’s go back to the burning building illustration. We are called to rescue people out of the building, but Satan is very tricky. He is like a demented building manager who calls each of the tenants in the building. He tells them that they may hear a fire alarm, they may see some fire trucks outside, they may even see some smoke, but not to be alarmed. He informs them that this emergency has nothing to do with them.
In the same way, Satan has duped many people in the world into believing that they are okay because they don’t pledge allegiance to either God or Satan. They believe they are just neutral. The truth of the matter is that you are either under the rule and authority of God or under the rule and authority of Satan, whether you’re aware of it or not. There is no middle ground, and there is no self rule.
The Christian is a citizen of heaven, not the world. The Christian is in the world, but not of the world. (John 17:14-18) You’re either a citizen of heaven, passing through this world, and under God’s dominion, or you’re a citizen of the world, and under Satan’s dominion. So, this kingdom of the world has many people.
The world’s value system – James 4:1-4 says, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come form your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”(NKJV)
The world values pleasure above God. In the world, it is normal practice to lust after things to spend on one’s self instead of using what one has to serve others. It is also normal practice to verbally or physically fight with others to get what one wants, instead of trusting God to provide what one needs.
When we become friends with someone, we bond with them and begin to share values and practices of life with them. God’s word tells us that if we become friends with the world, if we begin to share the values and practices of Satan’s kingdom, we make ourselves enemies of God the Father.
The world’s evil motivations and ambitions for people’s lives – 1 John 2:15-16 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.”(NKJV)
These three categories of sin, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, motivate and drive the world’s people through life. The lust of the flesh drives people by producing an attitude of seeking to satisfy the appetite of one’s sinful nature at any cost. The lust of the eyes drives people by producing an attitude of acting upon anything one sees that pleases one’s self in a sinful way. The pride of life drives people by producing an attitude of doing whatever will give one status and reputation with other men, causing him to boast about what he has and what he does. All of these attitudes come from Satan’s kingdom, not from the Lord.
The world’s wisdom – 1 Corinthians 1:20-21 says, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”(NKJV)
The kingdom of Satan has its own wisdom which tries to justify the sinful ways of the people of the world. By this wisdom, ungodly men and women of the world write books and proliferate messages that go in direct opposition to God’s truth. Many times the pseudo-knowledge they present appeals to a man’s logic, for the sinful heart of man is always wanting to justify his own will, but their message goes in direct opposition to the revelation of God’s Word. Therefore, their ideas are foolishness.
When I was in my last year of university training to become a history teacher, I had to take a class called theory of history. According to the professor, every student in this course was beginning from a view of history called modernism. Modernism is the idea that a person can uncover historic truth, or any truth for that matter, by use of reason.
The professor’s goal was to bring everyone in the class to a view of history called post-modernism. Post-modernism is the idea that truth can’t be unveiled by reason, and therefore there is no absolute truth. In post-modernism, truth is something personal that you fabricate for yourself, something unique to each person.
The professor was brilliant, but he was a brilliant fool because he rejected the revelation of God’s Word as absolute truth. I remember him dedicating a large portion of one class to the attempt of making God’s Word look like a fairy tale. He spewed out a bunch of lies about the Bible, never once saying where his information came from. Everyone except me seemed to swallow everything this man said hook, line, and sinker. I hated going to that class. There were times that I would stand up for truth in that class. The professor would act like what I was saying was foolishness. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”(NKJV)
The Word actually teaches that if we want to receive the wisdom of God, we must first become fools in the world’s sight. God will never reveal the truth to a self righteous, intellectually arrogant sinner. He unveils the truth to those who humble themselves before Him. So, there are many people in the world that are stuck in darkness because they remain blinded from God’s truth by the false wisdom of the world.
Spiritual teachers – 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”(NKJV)
Though the people of Satan’s kingdom do not worship God, they will worship something or someone because they were created by God to worship Him. So, if they choose not to worship God, they will still have some other object of worship. In light of this, the world has a myriad of spiritual teachers that teach falsehoods about spiritual things. We call them false prophets. They may teach people to worship idols, themselves, or they may teach lies about God the Father or Jesus Christ.
Deceivers – 2 John 7 says, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”(NKJV)
Deceivers are the people in the world that write books and teach falsehoods that lead people away from God’s truth. They may not claim to be spiritual teachers. For example, there are many deceivers in modern academics that do not instruct people in spiritual things. However, they do spread ideas that they formulated using the wisdom of the world, and these vain ideas lead people away from the truth revealed in Christ.
Are you starting to visualize your mission field? Are you becoming aware of the world- wide conspiracy for human souls that Satan has so cleverly designed? Do you see how complex a structure the evil one has set up in order to keep people’s minds blinded from the truth of the gospel?
Don’t be intimidated or frightened. You are safe with your Father who loves you desperately. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, (evil spirits) because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV) God the Holy Spirit now dwells in you, and His power is infinitely greater than Satan’s.
All of the different parts mentioned in this chapter help to construct the kingdom of the world. Satan’s kingdom of the world is temporary. 1 John 2:17 says, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (NKJV)
Think back to the burning building illustration. Just like the building, Satan’s kingdom will eventually be destroyed. Nobody wants to be in a building when it goes down in flames, so how should you relate to your mission field?
The following scriptures tell us how a believer should relate to the world:
John 3:16 Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 15:19 Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
John 17:16,18 Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. … As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”
As believers we are supposed to have love for the people of the world. If you don’t have this love currently, you can still receive it. It comes from God, it is actually His love, and you can receive it simply by asking for it. It is a love that calls us to action just like God’s love which caused Him to send His Son on our behalf. Like a fireman, we should be moved by our concern for the people in danger, and attempt to rescue them. We also need to be aware that we are not part of the world.
Imagine for a moment that you spot a fireman about to enter a burning building. He rushes up the fire escape above the flames that have engulfed the bottom floors of the apartment complex. He reaches the tenth floor, enters a vacant room, takes off his suit, kicks off his boots, reclines on the couch, grabs a remote, and flicks on the television.
That would be ridiculous and a fireman would not do that. The fireman spends time in the burning building but he does not take residence in the burning building. In the same way, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are to be in the world but not of the world.
Jesus has sent us into the world to spread His gospel, but the world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven (Eph 2:19), passing through this world, inviting others to change their citizenship and join us at our place. As believers, we should never adopt the ways or principles of the world. To do so is to become an enemy of God.
Hopefully by now you have an understanding of your mission field. Maybe you feel intimidated and are thinking, “Wow! That is a blazing inferno for true. How can I possibly make a difference?” Don’t worry; God is going to use you to impact this world for Jesus Christ! You are a hero. Heroes need effective weapons to carry out their mission. The next chapter will focus on equipping you to fight the flames and rescue souls!