Note: Due to the continuing recovery from the recent ice storm and some other factors, posting has slowed considerably.
One of the most striking things about how we as individuals are, is our capacity to deny the immediacy or urgency of an issue. We tend to “stick our heads in the sand” when it comes to certain issues. This is almost universally true when it comes to the issue of death and dying — particularly our own death. We all would like to cling to the belief that we will somehow escape the inevitable fact that we will die at some point in time. The sad fact is that we are delusional in this respect — and this even applies to a lot of fundamentalist Christians.
The fact is that we are expressly told in Scripture that we will all die at some point in time — and it will be sooner rather than later. Moreover, we are not guaranteed to draw the next breath. Nowhere in Scripture does it state that you or I or anyone else is guaranteed to live a certain number of years. What we are given is a generally applied average life-span of “three score and ten” (70 years) and possibly “four score” (80) with some folks living shorter lives, and others, longer than that. However, that statement does not apply to any express, certain person. Thus, each of us is subject to leave this earth at any moment, as our longevity here is entirely in the hands of the LORD God.
Worse yet, we (speaking collectively) tend to really shove away any thought of what awaits us when we cease to function here on earth and our soul departs this body. Though we may know it, we really do not fully grasp the import of the following statement:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: . . . (Hebrews 9:27)
We do not really care to understand that this means the life we have here and now, is the only opportunity we will have to be reconciled unto our Creator, the LORD God. Instead of confronting this head on and dealing with it, we shove it away, and put if off for another time, another day. Sadly, we also fail to realize that we are already condemned, and we are playing “Russian roulette” with our life by putting off dealing with this. When the Lord Jesus Christ dealt with Nicodemus, he expressly told him that the default position of man is condemnation before God:
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
Therefore, for one to put off dealing with the issue of the day of their death, and what will happen to them upon their soul leaving the body, is truly taking a risk of the greatest magnitude, especially since we have no guarantee what the next few moments will bring. Nonetheless, there are those who believe that they can deal with this anytime they want, just not today. Moreover, most of those who have heard the gospel have the very same attitude of Agrippa:
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. (Acts 26:28)
And of Felix:
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:24-25)
The problem is, a “more convenient season” may never come, and being “almost persuaded” is not good enough. You see, it is not left entirely up to man as to when he can, or cannot, have the invitation to come to Christ for salvation. Nor is it left to the individual to come to Christ for salvation anytime the notion strikes. Even though the LORD God does desire for every individual to be reconciled to Him through Christ and His sacrifice, the invitation is still the LORD’s, and He can withdraw it whensoever He pleases. Moreover, we are warned about coming when we are invited, and not putting it off:
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. (Hebrews 3:7-15)
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:1-3)
As is plainly seen by the above passages, the invitation is strictly of God, and the Scripture indicates plainly that if one has the gospel presented to them, then TODAY is the day to be saved – not tomorrow – that we are not to put it off. The fact is that no one is guaranteed that the LORD will present them the opportunity. The LORD God will and does try to present to each person the gospel. But if an individual rejects the very thought of God, what can the LORD God do? After all, the LORD will not force an individual to believe anything concerning Him. One cannot harden their heart and then expect the LORD to keep working to “cause them to believe” as the Scripture is also plain:
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)
Thus, responding to the invitation and believing is the responsibility of the person, but the invitation is the LORD’s. If He does not invite, then no matter what one does, salvation will not be available. One such example of this is Esau:
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17)
No matter how much Esau wanted it, Esau’s rejection of having Christ come through his lineage (He sold his birthright saying “Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Genesis 25:32a)) sealed his destiny as he totally disbelieved the promise of God, and despised it, making it equivalent to a bowl of beans. It is not as if Esau didn’t know. Rather, Esau knew of the promise of God and his grandfather Abraham’s obedience to the LORD in offering up his father Isaac:
And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. (Genesis 18:16-19)
And, of Abraham’s absolute confidence that if he killed Isaac in sacrifice, the LORD would raise Isaac from the dead:
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
Hence, Esau had NO EXCUSE for his equivalent to spitting in the face of the LORD God by unbelief in the promise of the LORD (Having the Saviour of the world come from your lineage is only worth a bowl of beans?). Because of this, the LORD withdrew any opportunity for Esau to repent, and thus withdrew the invitation to be saved as well.
This is only one such example of rejecting the LORD and refusing His invitation. Though refusing the invitation to come to Christ may not be as egregious as what Esau did in selling his birthright, it is still denying that the LORD can do what He promises to do. Thus, the LORD is under no obligation to extend the invitation again – and may not ever. One cannot demand the LORD extend His invitation for salvation, as the provision of salvation, and the invitation thereof belong solely to the LORD God.
Therefore it behooves us — if the LORD God invites, come. Don’t tarry – come, and come to Christ TODAY. Not tomorrow, not next week, not when it is convenient – NOW! If you tarry, there is no guarantee that the LORD will invite again.
As it is written, “To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.” (Psalm 95:7b-9)
TODAY is the day of salvation.