Thursday, 30 May 2013

Repenting Too Late!

Repentance is a Gospel demand for all who will enter into a right relationship with God through Christ. It is one of Christ’s Gospel commandments. If this Gospel commandment is not obeyed, then serious eternal consequences lie ahead. For without repentance, there is no life; repentance leads to life.

When John the Baptist began his preaching ministry, the first message he preached was repentance.  When Jesus started His public ministry, He preached the same message - repent.

Why did these two preachers emphasise the need for repentance? Well, what is repentance? In the Bible, it means to ‘turn’ and change direction. This implies that a mistake has been made which must be remedied, and can only be remedied by a right about turn and going in the opposite direction. You have been living your life in the wrong way. Instead of living for Christ, you have lived for Satan. Instead of loving God with your whole heart, you have refused to love Him at all.

Repentance also means to ‘think again.’ We all have plenty to ‘think again’ about - those things we regret and wish we hadn’t done. Think of your sins against God for a moment. You haven’t loved Him with your whole heart, have you? You had no time for Him or for His death on the Cross for you? You did not even recognise that you are a condemned sinner before a holy and just God.

You need to ‘think again’ and then ‘turn’ right around and come to Christ.  You’ll never come to Christ with your back to Him; you must turn around, and face Him, and then put your trust in Him.

Is repentance an urgent thing? Very much so. Do you know you can repent too late? Are you aware that there is a right time for repentance? What do you mean? Well, let me tell you of three men in the Bible who repented alright, but it was too late. Now that’s very scary. That frightens me. Do you mean to tell me that I cannot just repent when I choose? Exactly. The right time to repent is when God is speaking to your soul, when you feel convicted of your sin, when you realise you must come to Christ alone for salvation.

Remember Cain, Abel’s brother? He murdered Abel, and then regretted getting caught, Gen.4:13. He knew he would be punished for his sin, but that’s not repentance. He missed his opportunity. For him, the day of grace had passed.

Then you have Esau, Jacob’s brother. He deceived his father Isaac and his brother, lost the blessing, and was rejected. Did he repent? Yes, but it was too late. Was he in earnest? Yes, because “he sought it diligently with tears,” (Heb.12:17). This wretched man refused to truly repent because he sold his blessing for a mere meal, and all the tears in the world could not save him. He missed his opportunity to get right with God; he missed the day of grace, and was lost eternally.

Think of Judas who betrayed Christ. He sold Him for thirty pieces of silver, betraying innocent blood. Did he repent? Yes, he did; but he was too late. He had some feelings of guilt for what he had done, so he took the money and threw it back to the Priests. He realised he had sinned, but it was too late.

My friend, there could come a day in this life when you realise you are a lost sinner, but you will not be able to repent. When you stand before God in judgement, you’ll know for sure you are a terrible sinner, but you will not be able to repent. It will be forever too late to reverse your decision. You will be tortured by regrets and recriminations. If only... If only...  If only... You can repent too late.

But today, and while it is still today, you can hear God speaking to you, speaking in your conscience, urging you to trust Christ alone for salvation. To trust in any other apart from, or in addition to, Christ, is not to trust Him at all.

Don’t risk it. Repent NOW. Turn to Christ in faith NOW and get right with God. God requires the past, your past. An account will have to be made to God. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is ready to receive you the moment you trust in His Son, the Saviour of the world.

Don’t throw away your opportunity to be saved. You can repent too late. ‘Too late, too late, will be the cry.’ Don’t risk your eternal soul; come to Christ NOW. ADMIT you are a sinner in God’s sight; CONFESS honestly to God your sin; CRY OUT to God for mercy and forgiveness; ENTRUST yourself to Christ, the only Saviour of mankind. He died to take away your sins. Ask Him to do just that. He died for sinners therefore for you. His love bore your sins away. So come to Him now. No time to lose.

Remember, you can leave it too late.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Good News At A Time Of Bad News

If you get word that you have a bad disease like cancer, ought you to be worried? Many get this ‘bad news’ on a daily basis. Just sit in a cancer clinic for a while and you’ll see patients going and coming constantly, young and old and middle-aged. They are anxious, fearful, worried. What the consultant will tell them will change their lives. 

We sat and waited in such a clinic, and saw two ladies as they were coming out from the consultant; one whispered to us, “Bad news,” and the other left in tears. They were clearly shaken. Our hearts went out to them.  Should they be worried?

Well it all depends upon their relationship with Christ. Nothing else matters. Does someone getting such unwelcome news know Christ personally as Saviour and Lord? If they do, then ultimately there is nothing to worry about. All must die, but we do not know when or how we will leave this world; but die we will. Therefore, the urgent need is to be right with God. 

What is death? Some think it’s the end. Well, it’s not the end, for one thing. It is the end of life in this world, but it is not the end. It is the end of suffering in this world, but it is not the end. People foolishly say, “It’s good for them; their suffering is over at last.” But people who talk like this do not believe that ‘this world is not our home, we’re just a-passing through.’ We are going somewhere because the soul is eternal, it lives forever, and it does not die. So the real ‘you’ does not cease to exist when you leave this world of time. You are going somewhere after death.

Some think (wrongly) that all go to heaven when they die. All Christians go to heaven when they die, but only Christians. What is a Christian, then? A Christian is someone, a sinner, who has realised his lostness, guilt, godlessness, rebellion against God, opposition to Christ and the Gospel, his lovelessness towards Christ, and repents of his sins. He sees sin, maybe for the first time, as the ugly thing it is, and flees from it to Christ the Saviour of the world. And this God-provided Saviour receives all who come to Him in faith (Jn.6:37).

Death is not ‘termination’; death is ‘separation.’ It is what separates us from this world and all that is in it. For those who are not Christians, death separates them from God in His redeeming, sin-bearing love, and separates them unto the judgement of hell forever. When we die we do not cease to exist. We ‘pass on’ to another existence.
Now the good news in this situation is that we can know before we die where it is we are going to. The Gospel of Christ tells us that we can be sure of our destiny after death. That we are going to die is a fact; it’s God’s appointment (Heb.9:27). The big thing is where we are going to when we die. It is the Gospel alone that gives us this knowledge.

The Gospel tells us some astounding things. It tells us God has provided a way for hell-deserving sinners (for that is what we truly are) to be with Christ forever. It tells us that the big thing that will keep us out of heaven is our sins, and that God has found a way whereby our sins can be removed. We can leave this life with all its pain and suffering and uncertainties and go to be with Him forever. The apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John.1:9).

When Christ died on Calvary, God “laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” (Isa.53:6). That means that your sins were carried away by Christ in His death. The price of your forgiveness has been paid in full and God’s holiness has been fully satisfied. He can now look on the sin-bearing Christ and pardon you.

How is this pardon received? By putting your trust in Christ alone. Turn from your sins, and trust Christ to save you. Receive the mercy He freely offers in the Gospel, and rest upon Him alone for salvation.

He has promised “never to leave you nor forsake you.”  He will be your help in time of trouble. You have Someone on Whom you can cast all your burdens, and He will bear you up. And He’s waiting to be merciful to you when you call out to Him.

‘Bad news’ reminds us that we are going to die. It also paves the way for the ‘Good News’ to bring us light and hope and new life. It is there for the asking. Seek it now and go on seeking until you get it.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The LORD Is My Shepherd

The great Baptist preacher of nineteenth century London, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, wrote the following words on Ps.23:1, "The Lord is my shepherd." “What condescension is this, that the infinite Lord assumes towards his people the office and character of a Shepherd! It should be the subject of grateful admiration that the great God allows himself to be compared to anything which will set forth his great love and care for his own people.”

Isn’t that lovely? The Lord’s deep humility is seen in His becoming the One Who shepherds us, pastors us, Whom is “our Shield and Defender.” He places Himself between us and danger, and fends off the enemy. He leads us to where our souls are fed and nourished and restored. This is the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for us (1 Jn.3:16). We sing with Philip P. Bliss, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”

Our hearts ought to know no reserve when we praise and worship such a Redeemer. And His Father, and ours, allows Himself to be compared to a lowly shepherd, one who loves and cares for the sheep. He understands our needs, you know. The care He has for His own children, for you and for me, should be the subject of our never-dying praise and gratitude. Our hearts should be enlarged with the holiest worship of such a great Shepherd. As His sheep, we are owned by Him; if we were wolves or goats or wild animals, then we would have an altogether different owner, one not nearly so loving and kind. He owns us; we are not our own; we were bought with a price – the precious blood of Christ (1 Cor.6:20). Our Owner sets great store on us, views us a precious in His sight, and takes great delight in us.

Brothers and sisters, we belong to Christ. And the One Who is our shepherd is the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us cultivate this sense of total dependence on Him for everything, yea, for life itself. Spurgeon remarks that the sweetest monosyllable in this verse is the word My. The LORD is my shepherd.

Can you say that? Do you know Him as your shepherd? Has He become your shepherd? Have you trusted Him personally? Are you living for Him? Is He your everything, and is He your all? Have you come to Him and asked Him to make you one of His sheep?

If you have, then you will know that He loves you, cares for you, watches over you, leads and guide you, and has your best and eternal interest at heart. Whatever your present circumstances might be, the LORD is with you and by His Spirit lives in you. The words are in the present tense, which means that these things are true for you at every moment and in every circumstance. Did you realise that? At this very moment in your life’s experience, the LORD is with you. You are under His loving and constant care.

When living with cancer, there are few truths that are more precious to the Christian believer. When everything seems to be blackness and gloom, to look up to this wonderful Shepherd is the greatest privilege of all. When you wonder what is going to happen to you, and whether or not you will live or die, this Psalm is the God-provided antidote. When you question what will become of your family and loved-ones, you turn your eyes to Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and cast yourself on Him. Why? Because He cares for you (1 Pet.5:7). Jesus Christ cares for you! He is more than able to supply all your needs both now and forever. That’s our hope and stay amidst life’s troubles.