Home > General, Questions and Answers > Why not wait to be saved? What’s the rush?

Why not wait to be saved? What’s the rush?

In the previous few posts, I’ve talked about how different it is to be a true believer of Christ. For almost all practical purposes, it sounds a lot more difficult than the prevalent “say the prayer” plan, so I can understand how it would be a turn-off to some. Even believers might ask, “Who’s going to be interested in Christianity if it’s this hard?” Of course, how easy or difficult something is has no bearing on this issue. Truth is truth regardless of whether we like it or hate it.

So let’s accept that being a true believer results in drastic changes in that person’s life, and that their life will become much more disciplined and restrictive in some sense. What’s the rush, then? Why not wait until we near the end of our lives so that we can have all the fun we want now?

Right off the bat, we need to establish a simple truth: there IS such a thing as a genuine “death bed conversion.” People can be truly saved as they near death, even if they don’t have any time or opportunity to demonstrate the fruit we’ve mentioned. This is because salvation truly is by the Holy Spirit, and not by works. Of course, we may not be able to tell if all of them are true because there’s no way for examining or demonstrating the faith. Perhaps the best-known last-minute conversion is the thief on the cross, to whom Jesus promises, “Today, you shall be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43b)

Now, let’s examine some reasons for urgency. Why should we want to become a follower of Jesus Christ as soon as possible?

1. We don’t know how much time we have left.

This is something we all know…”yea yea, we could get hit by a truck tomorrow.” But I think it’s a little more complex than we think. Let’s examine it from a number of angles.

First, even though we might know about our mortality in our heads, in our hearts, most of us assume that we are going to live until a ripe old age. Hardly anyone honestly expects to die anytime soon. But what if you really did get into a car accident and died tomorrow (or tonight)? Even if there is less than a 1% chance that on a given day you will pass away, are you really willing to risk your eternal destiny on that chance? If you keep pushing off your search for truth, you’re not getting any closer to being saved. Those small percentages are eventually going to catch up to you, and you may never get the chance to consider matters of faith consciously on a nice hospital bed somewhere.

Second, there is the very real possibility of Rapture during our lifetimes. I know people have been saying that for a long time, and kooks will claim to know the exact dates (and invariably will prove to be false), but what if it does really happen soon? Things really are starting to come together.

There will be many people who won’t be ready in time, and as a result, they will face great hardship and danger during the time of tribulation. It would be far easier to accept Jesus before this all happens and be assured of heaven immediately. Plus, the Bible makes it clear that after some initial surge of interest in faith, most of the world will fall away and be doomed (and possibly subjected to God’s full wrath, not measured justice). No one can be sure that they will be one of the few who makes it through with their souls intact.

Finally, it’s not all about us. If you decide to wait until your death bed before you consider accepting Christ, what about your loved ones? What about your parents and children? You may find salvation, but you won’t have a chance to tell anyone you love about this saving grace. Your parents may be closed-minded to random strangers with smiles on their faces, but they may be willing to consider what you have to say (or see the evidence of change in your life). Same goes for your friends or spouse. Waiting could be the most selfish thing you end up doing in your life, even if you can’t see it yet.

2. Salvation is not purely a decision of our will.

Let’s say that you could somehow know with 100% certainty that you will die at the ripe old age of 90. Fine. So that gives you more than 89 years to live your way, and then before your 90th birthday, you can just accept Christ then, right? Sorry folks, this is usually very wrong. This is a very dangerous and risky road to travel.

If it were completely up to our willpower or a simple spoken decision, this last-minute strategy could partially work. But the problem is, the more we live our own way, fuel our pride, and reject the gospel throughout our lives, the harder it is for us to come to God. You’re basically distancing yourself from Him with every step, thought, and action. You’re putting up a wall between yourself and God brick by brick, and expecting it to be easy to get to the other side on a moment’s notice. Things simply don’t work this way, and God cares enough to warn us directly.

Ephesians 4:17-19 says: “17So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18being darkened in their understandingexcluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”

Reversing a lifetime of rejecting the gospel is not an easy process. It’s easier to repair a heart of short-term, mild neglect than it is to fix decades of indulgence and excess. People who live by the flesh are decreasing their chances of ever coming around by hardening their hearts and becoming callous. When the end of the road is coming, they will be unable to see the error in their ways. A dying man with a pragmatic mind who hedges and claims to accept Christ “just in case” has not acquired a saving faith.

Consider the thief on the cross. It’s amazing how much theology is packed into such a short space.

Luke 23:39-43: “39One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Notice what the second criminal displayed to find his way to true salvation. He feared God, realized his own sinfulness, and knew he fully deserved death. Then, hanging on that cross, he knew there was absolutely nothing he could do to earn his own salvation. No good works, no rituals, or even an independent decision of his own. He knew that Jesus was the only way, and it is up to Christ himself to allow us in or not. This was not an act of his own volition! It was a desperate plea with the right understanding, and God’s grace showed favor to this man.

3. True belief in Christ leads to an abundant life.

It’s a flat-out myth that true Christians have lives to be pitied. “Ignorance is bliss,” others suppose. What they don’t know is how much purpose and fulfillment believers can have that makes their earthly lives better immediately. A true believer would never, in a million years, trade his joy in the Lord for that Ferrari or a vibrant sex life with beautiful people. Even persecuted Christians or martyrs consider it joy and an honor to suffer for Christ.

The so-called restrictions or hardships we encounter can become a pleasure. James 1:2-4 says: “2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Sure, the teachings of the Bible may be painful to follow sometimes, but it produces greater rewards that are both immediately experienced and enjoyed in the long term. With the Holy Spirit’s help, it doesn’t always feel as hard as you might expect anyway.

Since this may sound far-fetched or even masochistic to some, consider these two analogies.

Some people love working out at the gym regularly. Others can’t even begin to comprehend why or how. Those who are active and fit will tell you that even though it’s hard, sweaty, and sometimes painful, they love doing it. The short-term “joy” is the rush of endorphins, filling them with relief or even a slight euphoria. The long-term pleasure comes from the clean and healthy way your body feels. No pain, no gain. Life is just better overall, and it’s worth the price of gym membership and sacrifice to achieve that kind of fulfillment. That hour on the couch or the chocolate cake, while appealing, are worth giving up.

Another analogy for our relationship with Christ is a healthy, happy marriage. There may be swinging bachelors out there who urge you not to get married, not to take on that ball and chain. “Say goodbye to your freedom,” they might say. Why would you give up your ability to do whatever you want? Stay up as late as you want, play video games all night, or sleep around with whomever you want? To some people, it’s impossible to see the appeal of a “restrictive,” monogamous, and committed relationship.

People who are happily married know all too well the cost they paid, but the reward is great enough to justify it all. Giving up “freedom” and a “fun” lifestyle is rewarded with a different level of happiness. What once seemed so appealing as a single person becomes dull or even repulsive to your eyes.

The same is true of entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Sometimes it seems to make no sense to give up the appealing world around us. The cost of entry may seem unattractively high, but the longer you wait, the more you miss out on what true satisfaction is on this earth.

4. The kingdom could always use more workers, and it’s our privilege to take part.

God is doing work in this world, and He chooses to use us to do some of it. Wouldn’t you want to contribute and be a part of the movement?

Imagine if everyone had this last-minute mentality. Who would be spreading the message of the gospel to people? Who would be the one coming to your hospital bed to instruct you and pray with you? I, for one, don’t want to be a leech that benefits from the work of others. I want to do my part, and I think deep down, most of us feel this way also. The good news is, God always has room for more workers, more soldiers.

5. God promises eternal rewards for the faithful.

OK, so the last one wasn’t really a “what’s in it for me?” reason, per se, but this one is.

God promises rewards for those who do his work and are faithful. Sometimes, the reward can manifest during our lives here on earth, but every time, we are assured to receive eternal rewards in heaven. (By the time you enter into a relationship with God, you may not need much extra motivation anyway.)

Matthew 5:11-12 says: “11Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 6:20: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;”

What are these rewards that God promises? The Bible doesn’t say specifically, but my guess is that if God is the one rewarding us, it’s something we would enjoy. Granted, we’re not going to be lacking or covetous when we’re in heaven, but again, if God is giving it out, I want it. It’s eternity we’re talking about here. It’d be wise for us to plan ahead and make the ultimate investment while we still can. Like any good investment, the end result will be better the earlier we get started.

Conclusion

This post was just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope it’ll get some people thinking about treating their salvation with more urgency. There is literally nothing to gain by waiting, and there is everything in store for those who take the plunge. Finding Christ can sometimes happen overnight, but it may also take months (or even years). It’s safer to get started NOW, don’t you think? Don’t be like the virgins in the parable who aren’t prepared and are locked out from the feast. Don’t prepare too late.

If there are things you are afraid of losing or giving up, let me assure you that no true believer regrets the trade after it happens. No one ends up saying, “I’ve found Jesus, but I sure wish I could go back to my old ways again.” Besides, depending on what you’re holding onto, there’s no guarantee that God will ask you to give it up completely anyway. Perhaps He will refine it for his glory, or just push it down on the priority ladder. Maybe you will have to give it up. Either way, you won’t be sorry.

Advertisements
  1. July 8, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Great article joe. I really like your perspective. Keep writing… I love it!

  2. July 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you for your encouragement! Don’t worry, I’m not going to stop anytime soon haha. I have about 20+ topics waiting to be written about, and the list keeps getting longer…

  3. May 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Im getting a little problem. I cant get my reader to pick up your rss feed, Im using bing reader by the way.

    • May 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

      Hmm, I’m not sure what the problem is. I’ll try to look into it, but in the meantime, I’ve tried adding more sharing features (e.g., Digg, Google+, Tumblr) so that it can show up in more feeds. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. dee
    April 19, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    rthanks for this word soooooo true.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: