Search And Rescue

Albert E. Farley

 Tragedy again visited the southern coalfields of West Virginia on Monday, April 5, when twenty-nine miners lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch coal mine near the Raleigh and Boone County line. Four intensive efforts were made to find the last four missing miners, but poisonous and explosive methane and carbon monoxide gases – along with smoke – caused them to be turned back. Finally, on Saturday, April 10, they were found dead.

 Our prayers were and are with the miners’ families and friends, and for the thousands of others who make their living in the mines. My father, William H. Farley, retired after working over 30 years for the Semet-Solvay mine at Harewood. My brother, Steve, is a miner in the Cannelton mine, and our son, Scott, works in the Shonk mine, located about 4 miles from the fatal explosion. He called us soon after the explosion to let us know he was safe.

 This tragic event causes us to reflect on the dangers and shortness of life. Physical life is precious, and we seek to rescue and preserve it whenever it is in danger. Jesus taught this in His story of the Good Samaritan. If physical life is so precious to us (and it is), spiritual life ought to be so much more precious! If we are ready to go to all lengths to search and rescue all of those who are physically lost and in danger of dying, we ought to be more ready and willing to search and to rescue all of those who are spiritually lost!

 The world is lost in sin. Today, there is a great “Search and Rescue” effort being made by God to save the souls of every man and woman on earth. “For all have sinned …” Rom 3:23. “ But your iniquities have separated between you and your God …” Isa 59:1, 2. “ The wages of sin is death …” Rom 6:23. Alienated sinners are without Christ, have no hope, and are without God in the world. Eph 2:12, 13.

 Jesus Christ is the captain of God’s rescue team. God knows all who are lost and where they are. He so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son to come to seek and to save that which was lost. Jn 3:16; Lk 19:10. He is the chief leader – the Captain of our salvation. Heb 2:9, 10. God made Him a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death and, through His death, by the grace of God, He was made perfect. He is the only way of salvation. Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12.

 The church is God’s rescue team. Jesus built His church. Mt 16:18, 19. He purchased it with His own blood. Acts 20:28. It is composed of the saved. Acts 2:47. Christ called and prepared His apostles, set them in the church, and sent them into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature. Mt 28:18-20. The church is in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among which they must shine as lights in the world. Mt 5:14-17; Philippians 2:15. 

 The gospel is our only means of salvation. As Captain, Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mk 16:15, 16. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Rom 1:16, 17. If the lost will obey the gospel through faith, repentance, confession of Christ, baptism into Christ, and faithfully walk in the light of the gospel, they will be saved.

 Some rescue efforts succeed; many fail. Many are called, but, tragically, few are chosen. Mt 22:14. Some gladly receive the gospel and obey; many do not. Mt 7:13, 14. The book of Acts records the rescue of thousands of lost souls. Acts 2:36-47, etc. The same gospel can save us today if we will “receive with meekness the engrafted word.” However, we must be doers of the word and not hearers, only. James 2:21, 22.

 Herein lies the difference in rescuing lost miners and lost sinners. So many souls are lost and do not know it; so many are lost and do not care. Would a lost miner refuse rescue when the rescue team reaches him? Today, when we reach the lost in sin with the saving gospel message, we are often refused and turned away. Every lost soul must make an individual decision and choose to obey. We cannot be forced; we cannot be carried against our will. 

 The Lord does not want a single soul to be lost. Ezek 33:11; 2 Peter 3, 9, 10. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest …” Mt 11:28-30. The greatest tragedy of all time is that hundreds and thousands of souls continue to be lost every single day – without headlines and “news coverage” – when they could be saved!

 Have you followed the Captain of your salvation? Are you on His Search and Rescue team? -Editor.

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