|Volume 22 Number 4 April 2020||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
If not now, when will you obey the Gospel? Yes, that’s right. Those who do not obey the Gospel will remain lost. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter warned that those who do not obey the Gospel will be lost eternally. Second Thessalonians 1:8 teaches that Jesus will return at His Second Coming “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV). First Peter 4:17-18 presents a warning to Christians that also declares the consequences of not obeying the Gospel. “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Both passages of Scripture paint a dreadful picture of eternity for anyone who does not obey the Gospel.
There will never be a more “convenient time” to obey the Gospel than the present. The Roman governor Felix heard the Gospel proclaimed, but he put off to some later time to become a Christian. “And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you’” (Acts 24:24-25). As far as anyone knows, Felix never found a “convenient time” to obey the Gospel. Regarding salvation and Governor Felix, “If not now, when?” was never!
Certainly, after one dies, it is too late to answer the question, “If not now, when will I be saved?” The rich man in Luke 16 waited too late to become interested in salvation.
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us. Then he said, I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent. But he said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead. (Luke 16:19-31)
For this rich man regarding his salvation, the answer to the question, “If not now, when?” was never! Only the living can choose to be saved.
Not only must one choose to be saved in this life, no one knows when this life will be over. No one knows when Jesus Christ will return at His Second Coming. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). However, neither does a person know how long he will live. Typical lifespans may extend to 70 or 80 years, according to Psalm 90:10. Yet, babies die, too. Older children die, and people of all ages die. No one knows when he will die. Therefore, wisdom and commonsense calls upon a person to be saved now. Scripture says, “…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Pertaining to the salvation of souls, the question—“If not now, when?”—the answer needs to be, “Now!” After death, it will be too late to obey the Gospel. With the apostle Paul, we need to be willing to say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). Furthermore, we do not dare to wait for a more “convenient time” to obey the Gospel; the “convenient time” never comes. In addition, anyone would be foolish to put off becoming a Christian because no one knows either the time of his death nor when the Second Coming of our Lord will occur. We only have the present available to us, and momentarily it also becomes part of the past. Our future in this life is not guaranteed.
If not now, when will you obey the Gospel of Christ and become a child of God? If not now, when will you return to the Lord if you are an erring Christian? “If not now, when?” is a question that we desperately need to consider seriously. The answer needs to be, “Now!”
Love Not the World
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Possibly one of the greatest temptations for Christians is to become enamored and captivated with the world in which we live. Worldliness is surely a sin that will take many Christians to a devil’s hell when eternity dawns. John’s admonition was so clear. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of the Father abideth forever” (1 John 2:15-17). Through the pen of the apostle John, the Holy Spirit set forth five important points for our consideration.
The Prohibition: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…” The “world,” as is used here, refers to the sphere of evil that is so very present on this terrestrial ball. Sin abounds all around us, and it seems as though little good and few righteous things are part of this world today. The “prince of the power of the air” certainly has left his sinful mark upon much of what we encounter every day!
The Possibility: “…if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Some flirt with this world as though they could never fall from Christ. It is very possible for any Christian (regardless of the role in which he or she serves—elders, deacons, preachers, etc.) to fall in love with the world and its influence. Sadly, some Christians even defend worldliness as though it is not all that harmful. I remember numerous “debates” with those who have been redeemed attempting to defend social drinking, sinful movies and TV shows, as well as other worldly practices. Are we trying to see how close we can live to standards of the world and still go to Heaven?
The Power: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” The three avenues of sin listed here are the ways by which Satan makes the world look appealing. This is not a new method, but rather, it is as old as Eden itself (Genesis 3:1-6). Satan even used this same method, but to no avail, on our Lord (Matthew 4:1-11). Is there a powerful draw in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life? Ask the children who are now the product of a divorced home because dad just “couldn’t help himself” with his female coworker. Ask the frazzled wife whose husband is addicted to pornography whether these avenues are powerful. Ask the drunkard who struggles every day because of his addiction to alcohol and drugs. Worldly influence is powerful, and we are foolish, at best, if we do not recognize its influence!
The Pain: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof…” Falling in love with the world will never bring reward or joy! Somehow Satan has duped so many today into thinking that living a life of corruption is where life is at its best. False! Living a life ruled by Satan and the world is a life that will end in misery and destruction—not some of the time, but all of the time. A person who loves the world will always suffer pain and affliction and have nowhere soothing to turn! “Where could I go but to the Lord…”!
The Prize: “…but he that doeth the will of the Father abideth forever.” Living in opposition to the world ends in joy and peace. Christians are thankful to not belong to this world, neither are they sad that they do not fit here. Darkness hates light, and so, those who are doing the will of the Father should not be surprised when the world persecutes and hates them (John 15:18-19; 16:33; et al.). Heaven is our true home; this world is not. We are sojourners and pilgrims longing for our eternal home prepared by our Father and made possible by His Son.
Are you friendly with the world? Do you flirt with sin and the darkness of Satan? God calls us out of that darkness into His marvelous light (Colossians 1:13). Christians, we plead with each one to not love the world. Learn to despise sin and its influence. Take a stand against immorality and evil. There is a choice before each accountable person—the fleeting world or the eternal way. Choose carefully because your soul depends upon it!