Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do not delay! Repent Today!

by Patte Smith on Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 10:29am

"A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

“Listen to Me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness..."
Isaiah 46:12

"Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
Matthew 4:17

"So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
Psalm 81:12

God's extraordinary goodness is revealed through the sacrifice of His Son. There is no higher love than this, than the holy God against whom we have sinned, would offer us a way of salvation, at the cost of the suffering death of His dearly beloved Son. In Romans 1:18-32 we are given a picture of what happens when we remain thankless for the kind gifts of our Creator, neglecting the warning of conscience and rejecting the call of the gospel to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. If sinners refuse to bow their knee to the King in this life, in due time they shall pay the penalty for all of their sins against Him. Who knows when God shall lose His patience with an individual sinner and shut the way of salvation to her? It's a fearful thought, isn't it? There are no more second chances at the judgment. Sinners must be warned that if they hear His voice they should not to harden their heart. Today is the day of salvation! For we are not promised tomorrow and for them, tomorrow may be too late.

Beware then of trifling with God. Beware of continuing to provoke the Most High. He will not be mocked with impunity. The absolute sovereignty of God supplies the key, and nothing else does, to the unpardonableness of any sin. God has sovereignly assigned the limits to which He will suffer each rebellious creature to go--and that limit varies considerably ...in different cases. He has sovereignly determined when any sinner shall be finally deserted by the Holy Spirit and given over to hopeless impenitency. He has sovereignly determined when sin becomes unpardonable in the life of each transgressor. It is this which makes the subject so unspeakably solemn, for men have no means of knowing whether or not their very next act may seal their doom irrevocably. ~ A.W. Pink

The following are excerpts from the excellent gospel booklet entitled 'The Danger of Delaying Repentance' by Thomas Boston (1676-1732)

The delaying and putting off of repentance-work, is a soul-ruining course among gospel-hearers.

This is evident, if you consider:

1. It is directly opposite to the gospel-call; which is for today, not for tomorrow: “Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb 3:7,8). All the calls of the gospel require present compliance, and do not allow sinners to put off till another day. It is true, salvation-work must be deliberate work; but you are not allowed a time to deliberate whether you will come to Christ and be holy or no. It is like the call to quench fire in a house, that must presently be done, yet done deliberately, so as the work be not marred in the making. How then can it be but a soul-ruining course.

2. It is threatened with ruin. The text is very express, “So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man.” And one with a thousand times more safety might venture on a sword-point, than the edge of such a divine threatening. See Proverbs 23:21 and Ecclesiastes 10:18. And this threatening has been accomplished in many, whom their slothful delays have caused to perish; as in the case of Ephraim (Hosea 13:13), and Felix (Acts 24:25). Many have been not far from the kingdom of God, who yet never came to it.

3. Whenever grace touches the heart, men see that it is so. Hence says the Psalmist, “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (Psalm 119:60). When men are in earnest to get into Christ by faith, and to get back to God by repentance, they dare linger no more in the state of wrath, they flee out of it, as one fleeing for his life (Matt 3:7). Their eyes are opened to see their danger, and therefore they are presently determined.

4. It has a native tendency to soul-ruin, which inevitably overtakes them, if they do not at length break off all delays, and come away. This is evident, if ye consider,

1st, The state of sin is a state of wrath, where ruin must needs compass a man about on every hand, “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). To have stayed in Sodom that day it was to be burnt, was dangerous; but to abide a moment in the state of wrath, is far more dangerous. Who would venture into a house that is about to fall? Who would not presently leave it? And will men venture “yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep” (Prov 24:33), in a state of enmity with God? Surely such persons know not God’s greatness, nor the worth of their own souls.

2ndly, The longer you continue in sin, your spiritual death advances the more upon you. Every sin sets you a step farther from God, is a new bar in the way of your peace with him, strengthens your natural enmity against him, and alienates you more from the life of God. And where can this natively end, but in your souls’ ruin? Ah! are we not far enough on in that way already? Why delay more, that we may go yet farther off from God?

3rdly, While you remain in this state, there is but a step betwixt you and death, which you may be carried over by a delay of ever so short a time. All that is your security in this case, so far as you can see, is the brittle thread of your life, which may be broken at a touch, and then you are ruined without remedy. So that every delay, shorter or longer, for repentance, is a venturing of eternity on that uncertain life of yours, which in a moment may be taken from you.

This lets us see,

(a) That delayers of repentance are self-destroyers, self-murderers. Well may it be said to such, “Why will ye die” (Ezek 18:31)? Should a man wilfully neglect a remedy for his disease, which puts him in hazard of his life, he could not be guiltless of his own death; more than one who being called to rise and quench the fire in house, and yet would lie still till it were consumed to ashes, would be blameless of its ruin. Self-love, that is, love of sinful self, is the source of the greatest cruelty; whereby lusts are...to the destruction of the life of the soul.

(b) By delays the interest of hell is advanced; where many are this day who had resolved to repent, but death did not wait their time, and so they were disappointed. No wonder new grounds of delay be still laid to persons’ hands, for it is Satan’s great drift to get men entangled in the wilderness, that they may not make forward to Canaan’s land. And every new entanglement sets the soul a step nearer to destruction...

(c) No wonder Satan is most busy to ply the engine of delays, when a sinner is somewhat awakened by conviction; as he did with Felix (Acts 24:25)...delays will blunt the edge of convictions, as much as a peremptory refusal. Under convictions, at a sermon, or on a sick- bed, the sinner is awakened out of his sleep; but then nothing can serve Satan’s purpose better than “yet a little sleep”; which if they get, they sleep off the edge of convictions.

(d) They are sinners’ best friends, that give them least rest in a sinful course. And whatever men think of them now, they will think so afterwards (Prov 5:11-13). Everybody loves ease, and therefore faithful preaching and dealing with souls, is a torment to those who love to be undisturbed in their rest in sin (Rev 11:10). But what suits best with our sinful inclinations, is worst for our souls, and will in the end be found so. Flattery has ruined many, when plain dealing and fair warning has brought many out of the snare.

We may lament here the case of many, nay of most, that hear the gospel. They put off their work ...so their spiritual case is going to wreck day by day...They are in a dying condition, the physician comes to their bedside, and offers them a remedy; they do not absolutely refuse it, only they put off the taking of it. In the mean time their distemper increases, and death is advancing apace. The market of free grace is opened, and they are called come and buy; they see the need to buy, yet they are not like to stir till the market be over. O madness and folly to be lamented with tears of blood! Poor slothful creature, that is yet for “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep,” there are four things you know not:

(a) You know not the worth of a precious soul, which you are throwing away...“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt 16:26)?...

(b) You know not the excellency of precious Christ; sleep locks up your eyes that you can not see the ravishing sight (John 1:10)...Zion’s crowned King is making His progress through the city where you dwell; the cry to come out and behold Him, reaches your ears (Song 3)...The royal Bridegroom stretches forth His hand unto you, to espouse you, saying, 'Behold Me, behold Me'...The chariot of the covenant that is driving on to His Father’s house, halts at your door, and you are called out; the ship is to sail to Immanuel’s land, you are called to come aboard; but yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, and all is lost.

(c) You know not the worth of precious time. The apostle will have time redeemed (Eph 5:16); but you squander it away, as a thing of no value: and working time is turned by you into sleeping time. Precious moments slip away, and you regard not ...O unhappy soul, who “knowest not in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace!”

(d) You know not the weight of the wrath of God. It is true none can have a full comprehension of it, “Who knoweth the power of thine anger” (Psalm 90:11)? But all the elect of God get such a notion of it, as rouses them up to fly from it, “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Cor 5:11). And if you had tolerable apprehensions of it, it would break off your sleep and slumber, and cause you to put forth your hands to work. Did you consider what “a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God,”?

There are three things you do not observe.

First, You do not observe what speed your ruin is making, while you lie at ease; how your “judgment lingereth not, and thy damnation slumbereth not” (II Peter 2:3). The avenger of blood is pursuing you, though you are not fleeing from the wrath to come. You are like a man sleeping in a leaky ship, which is drawing water every moment, and within a little it will be full, and sink to the bottom of the sea, if he do not awake and help it. Every hour your debt is growing, the cup of wrath is filling, and fills so much the faster, as you are secure.

Secondly, You do not observe how near your destruction may be. You are like the old world, who “were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matt 24:38,39). Your spiritual lethargy and dead sleep hinders you from hearing the sound of the feet of the approaching stroke. You lie open to the most terrible surprise, to sleep the sleep of death, which you may never awake out of till in hell (Luke 12:19,20; 16:23).

Thirdly, You do not observe how utterly unable you are to ward off the blow when it comes: “The sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites; who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting burnings” (Isa 33:14). “Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it” (Ezek 22:14). Can worm man stand before almighty God, whose patience may be worn out ere you awake? And if mercy and patience quit ... justice will succeed ...and then there shall be no more sleeping, nor ease for ever.

Who has assured you, that ever you shall see the age you speak of? ...And therefore, since you know not but you may die young, repent while you are young.

God commands you to repent presently, and therefore it is on the peril of your soul, that you venture to delay a moment longer.Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb 3:7,8). .. A sinful youth will at length make a sad soul. You know not how soon God may be provoked against you to cut you off, if you delay.

 Wisely said; return then to-day, for it may be you shall die tomorrow.

The longer you delay, the work will be the harder. For sin becomes stronger, as the waters, the farther from the head, the greater they grow. It is observed...“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jer 13:23). Their number increases; the devil who comes alone at first, at length his name is Legion. The heart grows harder, the mind blinder, the will more perverse, the affections more carnal.

A moment’s delay may be an eternal loss, because you know not any moment that may not be your last.

God commands you to repent presently (Heb 4:7). Therefore upon your peril it is, if you delay any more.

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