by William J. Stewart
Several years ago, we had a visiting preacher with us for a weekend meeting. Following the Saturday evening study, while driving one of our visitors home, our enthusiastic evangelist asked how long she had been a member of the church. She confessed that she was not a member, but had been attending occasional Bible studies with us.
“That’s the river down there, isn’t it? he asked of the over occupants in the vehicle. Having received an affirmative answer, we veered off the main street we’d been travelling, down a dark, bumpy side street. As we sped toward the river, our anxious guest gingerly inquired, “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to heaven, and I’m taking you with me!” was the quick reply. It sounded more like an ominous threat than an invitation to obey the gospel. She was momentarily horrified and returned home that night without obeying the gospel. So you know, the experience did not scar her for life; she eventually did obey the gospel.
Having given a fragmentary account of the context which makes for our title, let’s consider a few things from it.
This Life Is Preparation For The Next
We’re not here to do our own thing. Certainly, the Lord has given us the freedom to pursue the things of this life, and the capacity to enjoy such. There is nothing wrong with enjoying hobbies, participating in social and service clubs, and the like. However, as the children of God, we need to always be aware that our goal is heaven. Each day as we prepare to go through the tasks before us, we must be diligent to make preparation for eternity.
Jesus said, “…what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Our place in eternity needs to be at the forefront of our thoughts and actions. It should direct our what, where, when, why, how and who in life.
The Bible tells us we can have assurance if we are the children of God that we have eternal life (1 John 2:25; 5:11, 13). Throughout the text, John reveals that this hope of life everlasting is dependent upon our faithful obedience to the Lord. Can we firmly declare each day, “I’m going to heaven…”?
Feel Compelled To Compel Action
The apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your conscience. … For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15).
Do you see the urgency in Paul’s words? All men will appear in judgment before the Lord. Peter says that those who are saved in Christ Jesus are scarcely saved (1 Peter 4:17-19). That being the case, we need to be persuading men and women to obey God. We need to be compelled by the love of Christ to compel others to obey Him.
Let it be proclaimed that a Saviour has died. He died so that He could give us life, that we should no longer live for ourselves, but to glorify God in Christ Jesus.
Time Is Short.
Again, from the pen of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, we read, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Though the unexpected, bumpy trip down a side road toward the river was quite eccentric, and perhaps too much so for the taste of some, it acknowledged that “Today is the day of salvation.” An opportunity was presented to compel one who is outside of Christ to remedy that through obedience to the gospel. How often have we passed up opportunities to do so because “the timing wasn’t right” or “they just weren’t ready” or any number of other reasons? Is it possible the occasion passed because we weren’t ready or concerned enough?
When we made such excuses, we should consider whether we are indeed workers together with God, or if Satan has infiltrated our minds and confused the mission. Jesus came to “seek and to save,” and we are commissioned to do the same. That requires us to constantly be looking for opportunities to teach people about Jesus, and to compel obedience to the gospel.
The examples of conversion given in the New Testament show urgency. At times in our modern day, weeks or even months will pass between the time we first contact someone and they finally obey the gospel. Granted, part of that delay may be on the part of the prospect, but sadly, I believe in many cases we might cause the delay. We want to be sure they understand the commitment they are making. We want them to understand certain things about the church. Some even feel compelled to “investigate” the prospect’s marital status prior to conversion. We seemingly want them to know the entire Bible before they even become a babe in Christ. If a person acknowledges who Jesus is, has a penitent heart and is willing to be baptized for the remission of sins, they are ready to obey the truth, and we are unjust to impede them.
Will they know everything perfectly? No, of course not. That’s the way it is with newborns. They know very little. This world is new to them. But they have a wonderful desire for milk, that they might grow thereby. So it is with a newborn in the faith. Very little knowledge of the things of God, but a hunger and thirst for the Word.
Friends in Christ, let us arm ourselves with an attitude. An attitude which acknowledges time is short and that today, not tomorrow is the day of salvation. We can’t make the decision for those we meet, but may it be evidence by our dealings with them, that we desire to go to heaven, and we want them to join us there!