By Mark Mayberry
The Lord invites all men to share in the blessings of Christianity. He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). The book of Revelation closes with the same basic thought: “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). Yet, many refuse to obey the gospel’s call. Some people attend the worship services week after week, year after year, but they never respond to the Lord’s invitation. Why is this so?
Some People Think God Will Not Forgive Them
Sometimes we really mess up our lives, and the guilt of sin can be overwhelming. We think, “God could never forgive me for the terrible things I have done.” That’s not true! As long as we are genuinely sorry and repent, God will forgive us.
Many of those present on the day of Pentecost had crucified Jesus only 50 days earlier. Peter closed his sermon by saying, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, our lives, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost . . . Then they that gladly received His word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:36-38,41).
Prior to his conversion, Paul persecuted the church. Acts 8:1-3 states that “Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen’s MM) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” Later, he would say, “I am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15:9). In 1 Timothy 1:15, Paul said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
Members of the church at Corinth had been guilty of the vilest of sins. Paul said, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Romans 5:6 says, “. . .Christ died for the ungodly.” The Lord said, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). The Lord wants all men to be saved! Peter said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). The only unforgivable sin is the one you refuse to repent of!
Some People Fail To Respond Because Of Pride
Some people robe themselves in the cloak of Christianity to gain the respect of others. They give an appearance of being religious, but their character is corrupt. Such individuals refuse to deal honestly with their sinfulness. Pride keeps them from coming forward and confessing that they have not lived as they should. Their ego is too big for them to admit they have sinned. The writer of Proverbs said, “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord . . . There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Prov. 16:6; 30:12). Humility is an essential characteristic if we are to be pleasing unto Him. In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:3-4).
Some People Fail To Respond Because Of Procrastination Some people intend to obey God someday, but they are not sure when. So many are like Scarlett O’Hara who said, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” For now, they are living for self and sin, but someday they plan to change. Do you remember the response of Felix, the procurator of Judaea, to the preaching of Paul? Acts 24:25 says, “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 win call for thee.” There is no indication that Felix ever obeyed the truth. Procrastination is one of Satan’s most effective tools. He tells us, “You have plenty of time. . . Don’t rush into anything . . . … We must reject his counsel. If we delay long enough, we may reach the point of no return. Peter spoke of those who “cannot cease from sin” (2 Pet. 2:14). If we say “no” to the gospel too many times, our heart will become hardened. What if we don’t love God’s saving truth enough to obey it? Paul said, “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a he: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:10-12).
Let us realize the uncertainty of tomorrow. Job said, “Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:25-26). James asked the question, “What is your life?” He answered, “It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14). Obey God today, while you have the opportunity! In 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Guardian of Truth XXX: 14, pp. 422, 439
July 17, 1986