I want to share something that happened early in my Christian journey, something that would define and shape my call to evangelistic ministry. I would like to share a vision I had while I was working at a local factory; it took place a few months after I met Jesus.
I must be upfront and say, over the course of the many years that I have been following Jesus, I have only had a few, what I call “visions” from God; I could count them all on one hand. This particular vision took place while I was running a rotary hammer, drilling through 12 inches of concrete.
To begin, the Bible reveals two people groups on this planet; those who have had their eyes opened to the truth of Jesus Christ and have chosen to follow Him, and those who remain blinded to the truth and cannot see.
The Bible declares that satan (the god of this age) has kept a certain population blinded from the truth . . .
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
Satan has done an amazing job of keeping people in the dark about Jesus. So many people have bought into the lies perpetrated by faulty science; a science which denies the existence of God and attempts to tamp down any knowledge of God in the creation around us. The Bible says a few things about these folks . . .
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
It is a very difficult thing to try to disprove the existence of God, it takes a long, sophisticated, patient process; one thing for sure, the devil is quite patient and has been laying this demonic groundwork for years and has been quite successful!
The second group is those who have heard the Good News and have believed it; however, it is not enough to believe, one MUST follow the One they have believed in, the One who holds the keys to life, and death, heaven and hell. These folks, having heard the Good News about salvation, have decided to follow Him.
There is no middle ground, you can no more be half saved than you can be half-pregnant, you either are, or you are not! To know the truth of Christ and yet refuse to follow Him, places you in a special category, a place despised by God who gave everything, so you could have eternal life with Him!
At the time of my vision, I was not a pastor; I was a welder and maintenance worker at local manufacturing plant called Pennsylvania Pressed Metals.
One afternoon while I was drilling a hole in the concrete floor, a vision flashed through my mind that was so powerful, so strong that I stood there with tears streaming down my face; hot tears dripping in the dust of the concrete floor.
Since I was a little boy, trains have always fascinated me. These machines are so strong, so powerful; they are simply amazing to watch. Growing up in the little Village of Cameron, I would often hike up the mountain behind our house, and if you were on top of the mountain, you could see the whole train go by; from the engine to the caboose, you could see the whole train, it was awesome!
As I stood drilling in the plant that afternoon, I felt transported from the factory, to a high bank overlooking the railroad; it was so real.
Standing there in this vision, I felt the ground began to tremble, and I heard a strong, powerful sound coming down the track. The sound and vibrations grew stronger and stronger.
Suddenly I noticed a train, sleek, streamlined and moving at an incredible speed, careening around the corner coming in my direction. The train was very long and as it sped toward me I began to feel uneasy and wanted to run away, but my feet, fixed firmly to the ground, prevented me from moving!
As the train came into view and began to scream past me, I noticed that it had number on the front and the number was 666 and just above the number, written in large letters “THE BEAST.” I stood motionless, terrified at what I was seeing!
The windows were black as coal, and as the train roared by, sparks were flying off the iron wheels! There was the smell of death and a feeling of despair.
I could sense inside the train were countless souls screaming for release, but they could not get out; bound to a destination that was eternal, a destination bringing fear and torment to their souls.
As I stood there petrified at what I saw, I felt Someone standing next to me; it was the Lord. I asked Him what this all meant. He told me that the train represented the devil and he is taking his own to their final destination.
The Lord told me that the devil is exceedingly angry and is filling the train as fast as he can, with and many souls as he can, because he knows his time is short.
Jesus said that the train was full of those who had rejected His message of salvation. They were the ones, who had heard what He had done for them, who knew the Way, but chose instead, to do life on their own terms and had died without Christ and now were eternally lost.
I saw tears well up in the eyes of the Savior and He spoke these words to me; “some on this train have never heard of what I had done for them; no one ever told them that they could be forgiven, having everlasting life with Me; these are also forever lost, and are on that train too.”
It was as this point I began to weep too and hot tears fell to the dusty floor of that factory! I began to realize that everyone is born with a ticket to ride this long black train! Josh Turner, a Country Western Singer, became popular when he wrote the song “Long Black Train” written about 9 years after my vision!
As I stood there weeping, it became increasingly clear, that the Lord was sorrowful because many who were perishing, did not have to! He was heartbroken that no one was telling them that they could avoid this destruction!
The Bible declares . . .
. . . “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!
People all around us are perishing because they have never heard the Good News! Moreover, did you know, as a follower of Christ, it is YOUR responsibility to share?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . .
This is a direct command from Jesus Himself to you and me, to be about making sure this message gets out; it is not secondary, but is His prime directive!
As I stood weeping with the Lord, He pointed in an opposite direction and told me to look and see!
I saw another train, much different from the first. I could sense that it had much more power than the first train. The earth also shook as this train approached. As it rounded the corner, I could hardly contain my excitement at what I saw!
It was beautiful! The train was silver, adorned with gold trimmings and splashed with jewels of every kind and brilliant flashing lights. On the front of this train was a gold emblem “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” and its Conductor’s name is Faithful and True!
As this train went by, I saw an astonishing thing taking place; as the large golden wheels rolled over the rail, it immediately turned to gold!
The windows were large and clear, I could easily see inside, it was beautiful beyond description, and I could see the people, their faces filled with expressions of joy. I could hear beautiful music and singing of praises.
I felt an amazing sense of peace, joy and wonder. The people on this train, also headed to a destination, a place called glory, a place where their joy and happiness would never end!
The Lord told me that only one thing was required to get on this train; a repentant heart, one touched by His Hand, a heart that carried His Spirit!
Oh how the Lord longs for a repentant heart today! The proud stubborn heart has a guaranteed seat on the dark train; it is time to turn in that ugly ticket to hell and get one stamped Glory!
Time is getting short and tickets are running out . . .
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
The awesome and terrible day of the Lord is drawing near and without a repentant heart, you have no salvation and a black, cold dark train, is bearing down upon your soul!
As I stood there watching this scene play out before my eyes, I saw something terrible and wonderful at the same time!
I realized that these trains were riding on the same track; headed for a collision; one train faces complete destruction, the other would prevail . . . one train would be full of life, the other full of death! One would face an eternity separated from God, tormented day and night forever and ever, the other, unending joy with Jesus!
Today I issue a call and a challenge . . .
First the call . . . there are some reading this today who are unsure of their eternal destiny. Some of you have wanted to follow Jesus, but have been afraid, some have been lulled into a false sense of security, others are fearful of what people may think.
Today the Holy Spirit has uncovered your vulnerability and is giving you an opportunity for life; a chance to get your ticket stamped for glory! Today is the day . . .
For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
Please, I beg you; do not let this opportunity slip by, let nothing get in the way of you and Jesus!
Now, the challenge . . .
The dark train is filling fast; many souls are being lost every day! For those of you who are followers of Jesus, you have a job to do! It is your response – “ability” to share the Gospel of Jesus! Take Jesus with you to work, take Him everywhere you go and ask Him to provide opportunities for you to share!
Finally, one last closing story to illustrate this need . . .
A woman was standing before the Lord on judgment day. As she came near to the Lord, she heard Him say these comforting words; “come over here my good and faithful servant, you belong to me.”
As she stood beside the Lord, she saw an old friend approaching the Lord too. When she stood before the Lord, He looked at her, and with sadness in His eyes, told her, “go away from me, I do not know you” and he sent her to the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth! As the women turned to her fate, she saw her old friend standing by Jesus and cried out; “Why didn’t you tell me about Him? Why?
This is the tale of two trains, one bound for Glory, one bound for Hell, which one are you on?