This one is somewhat personal for me. Personal in that I started to preach because I was, firstly, called to preached by the Lord. Secondly, I’ve always felt that my calling to preach was for those of my generation and younger. (That is not to say that I was not meant to preach to those who are of older generations.) In the times that we now live in, I find myself being both saddened and even depressed that many are still putting off coming to the Lord. This, again, is personal to me because I don’t want anybody to wait until it’s too late to come to the Lord.
There is a lack of urgency when it comes to moving spiritually for which I do not fully understand. We understand urgency because I have seen people move with urgency before. For example: When you have to clock in for work, everybody rushes off to work hoping to get there on time. If you live in Atlanta, with our traffic, you know that you cannot wait too late to leave home when you’re trying to get to work! We treat our work life with more urgency than we do our spiritual life.
You know, the same thing happens when you’re trying to go out somewhere (going out to eat, catch a movie, or to a ballgame, etc.). If it’s a good restaurant, you either make reservations or you try to go when it’s not so busy. You wait too late, and you may not be able to get a seat for an hour or so, right? Nowadays, we get online to buy our tickets as fast as possible because we know that if we wait too late, none may be left. If some are left, they’re certainly not going to be good seats.
This same type of urgency is hardly ever shown when it comes to faith and the spiritual. There are many people who go decades before even considering coming to the Lord. Waiting so long is like playing with fire while soaked in gasoline because you never know when your time in this world is up. Waiting to accept the offer of His promised salvation is incredibly dangerous! Then there are others who just don’t bother to consider coming to Christ. Why do we play so loose with our life? (Not this physical life but the one coming after – the eternal life) In today’s sermon, I want to focus on waiting too late to get right spiritually.
Why do people wait?
Perhaps people do not truly understand or accept the idea that “tomorrow is not promised”. For many people there is no ticking clock on time and life as we know it. I believe that this happens because we live in a world of routines and become so used to the clockwork of things. The sun rises over the horizon and it sets over the horizon – it’s clockwork. We have four seasons that come and go like clockwork. We go through our everyday routines so often that we begin to feel like we are machines, right?
The very idea that there is a clock ticking away on life can become alien to some. Any talk of something that could be considered “out of the ordinary” also comes off as something foolish. Talk of the Lord’s return the apocalypse, the Great White Throne, or a clock ticking down on life as we know it all fits up under the bubble of “foolish talk”.
There is this general idea that because it has not happened yet, there is nothing that we should worry about. So, some become comfortable with the idea that there’s no deadline to meet when it comes to making a decision on their faith in the Lord. You see, we only act with urgency when there is a deadline for us to meet. We did this in school when it came to assignments; we do it now when it comes to clocking in, taxes, getting concert tickets or tickets to a game, etc.
The idea that there is no deadline
The reason that many people do not act with urgency when it comes to having faith in the Lord is because they assume that there is no deadline with God’s arrival. They are kind of like the members of your family that show up late to Thanksgiving dinner. (I promise I’m not picking on anybody.) Or, maybe they are like the people who show up to the movie after the movie has already begun. Some folks are this way because they believe they can show up whenever because no matter how late they are, “they won’t miss anything”.
One thing that this thought does not take into consideration is that none of us may actually live to see the day when the Lord returns. Christ is certainly going to return, but truthfully, none of us may be living to see the day of His return. We may be the saints who are dead in Christ, and rise first to meet Him in the air. This is something that we must also take into consideration. Two things: we do not know the day of the Lord’s coming and we do not know the day of our passing. These two things are both true!
IF these two things are true (and they are), then we must understand that there are two pressing deadlines and that both of them are urgent. Christ has a deadline for His return of which no man knows the day nor the hour (Matt. 25:13). At the very same time, we ourselves have a date that we will one day have to come face to face with. Again, no man knows the day nor the hour in which his or her day will come. That day could become for Christ’s return and if you have not chosen to follow Him at that point, it will be too late.
There must be urgency given to our lives spiritually that many of us simply do not bother to live with. We are urgent in temporal (earthly) matters, but matters of eternity gets shoved to the backseat. Christ, we will see, even preaches to be urgent.
The call of Jesus
In our passage of scripture for today’s sermon (John 7), we see Jesus in Judea for the Feast of Tabernacles. At this feast, there was much confusion over whether or not Jesus was good or a deceiver. So Jesus decided to sneak into the feast because the Jews sought to kill Him (John 7:1, 10). While at the feast, He began to teach and the people begin to marvel and wonder whether or not He really was Christ (John 7:25-26).
What was Jesus’ message? Firstly: He wanted the people to know on whose behalf He worked for (John 7:28-29). Secondly: On the last day of the feast, we see that His last statement was a call for the people to follow Him. Jesus said (John 7:37), “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” He is encouraging the people to come to the fountain of Christ. One who drinks from the fountain of Christ will have drank of living water (John 7:38).
When we minister, we should certainly minister Christ. It is not about following a certain man or woman of God, it is about following Christ. I don’t need nor want anybody to follow in my way, but follow the way of Christ. Our message should be to drink from the fountain of Christ, not the fountain of another man or woman!
Drinking from His fountain
Let’s notice that Jesus says, “IF ‘anyone’ thirsts”. I imagine that there were many people drinking from other fountains back then. No different from the fact that there are many today who drink from different fountains today, right? Some drink from the fountain of wealth. Others drink from the fountain of their religion. Notice that we all can choose the fountain from which we choose to drink from.
Personally, I choose to drink from the fountain of Christ. The water that I drink from Christ is cool to my tongue and, most importantly, it quenches my thirst. The water from the other fountains were simply not all that satisfying to me. Some were too hot, nobody likes drinking hot water. The water from the other fountains smelled funny and I don’t care much from drinking smelly water. That said, all of us have free will in being able to choose.
Many people end up going from fountain to fountain, trying to find something that will quench their thirst. Who knows, maybe they are realizing that the water smells coming from some of the fountains or that the water is hot. Jesus gives an offer to anybody to drink from His fountain and that choice belongs to the person – free will.
There is a deadline
Let’s notice the urgency that Christ speaks with in His message. Jesus says (John 7:33-34): “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me and not find Me.” Jesus knew that He would not be there physically with the people for long. This was a call for the people living in that day to take advantage of the time He would physically be there. After a little while, the people would no longer be able to follow Jesus because He would be crucified, resurrected, and ascended to glory. (So, there was an urgency to follow Him at that time because He had a deadline to meet.)
Someone will smartly state that Christ is not physically in the world today – this is true. However, what is also true is that the fountain of Christ is still present in our world today. We preach of this fountain; urging others to drink of the waters of Christ to be born again and gain eternal life. Christ is certainly still alive and well!
The call against Jesus
Now I want you to pay very close attention to what was occurring throughout Jesus’ call to follow Him. You will notice that as Jesus spoke, there were challengers there to challenge His authority and to question His calling. This first began with some of the unbelieving people genuinely asking questions out of curiosity (John 7:25-27). Some of these people even became believers (John 7:31). But then we see the Pharisees move in to stir up trouble (John 7:32). They begin to repeatedly ask the same question over and over again about where Jesus intended to go; believing that Jesus could not hide from them (John 7:35-36).
The devil, I believe, was busy that day just like the devil is busy today. I believe that the same evil is at work in our world today. The Pharisees were moving in a way to corrupt the urgent call of following Christ. You see, the devil knows full well just how fragile we are as temporary beings, and he also knows that God has a deadline. His goal is to keep us away from the Lord.
Anything or anybody that can interject its way into corrupting the call of Christ is of a spirit of anti-Christ. The devil is anti in the sense that he does the most to pollute and corrupt this world from seeing and following after the Lord. The Pharisees were being anti in that they were too concerned about maintaining their power. To keep their power, they did not want the people to listen to the urgency of Jesus’ message.
Again, I say that the same evil is ever present in our world today. We like to think that the devil quietly sneaks around and does his work, but this evil is blatantly out in the open – there is no hiding it. The devil is corrupting our world and those in it because he knows very well that times are becoming more and more urgent. We can see the times for what they are now, but the devil still wants people to believe it’s OK to procrastinate.
The Holy Spirit is Busy
As busy as the devil is, I tell you that the Holy Spirit is even more busy. There are many of us who are genuinely concerned for the souls of others who are preaching our hardest against this evil. We want you to know of the fountain of Christ and we urge you to drink from that fountain today! We say, “don’t you wait too late because the day of the Lord draws near!”
No, I do not know the day nor the hour of the Lord’s coming, but I can take a look around and say for a certainty that tomorrow is not promised. There are two deadlines and we draw closer to them everyday. If this sermon sounds bleak, I do not intend for it to sound bleak. We must acknowledge the truth that one day all of us will meet the Lord. I rather you meet the Lord standing in His good graces rather than standing on the opposite side.
Consider today with some urgency your eternal life. With as much going on in our society and in the world today, tomorrow is not promised. Christ was crucified so that you can stand in the good graces of the Lord one day. He rose with all power in His hands so that you can drink of His living waters. There is a fountain that is satisfying to drink from, do not wait to go to that fountain. Drink from that fountain while you can because tomorrow might be too late.