Time in this age of the world is important to all of us. It might surprise us to know how much time we spend each day thinking about time. I spent thirty-two years running on a schedule where time was of essence. If I failed to be on time I would hear about it (most of the time), immediately. Other people’s schedule depended on my being on time. Timepieces are found hanging on the walls of our houses, on stoves, microwaves, tables, night stands, in our pockets, around our necks and on our arms. They are at our work places, on public buildings; town squares, and displayed in front of businesses. In front of our meeting-houses, on tracts and handbills the time we gather for worship is clearly stated. Some brethren place starting services at the time announced as being important. My Father often said, “if we announce to the world that we are going to start at a certain time and we fail to do it—we have lied.” When he was alive if we were seconds past the time to begin worship he was seen looking around for the person to start the singing. Attending school activities of my children drove this point home to me, as they seemed to never start on time. It is an insult to have an appointment and be late since it demonstrates that we think the time of others is less important than our own. Often we feel there is not enough time in a day to get done the things we wish to accomplish. Rightly has it been said, “time waits for no man.” Then there are circumstances when time seems to creep by so slowly that it never passes. I wish to direct your attention to some things regarding time.
TIME IS THE HEALER OF ALL THINGS
This statement and others like it, “all things get better with time,” “this too shall pass with time,” “you’ll feel better with the passing of time,” are all foolish. The passing of time forces us to accept some things and we learn to live with them, but they do not get better and we are not better with the passing of time. We may reach the point that we can say as Paul, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11). Yet the language itself and the context show that the pain he experienced and the anguish of his heart did not get better with the passing of time. Obviously, before his face continually were the good things the Philippians had brought into his life but this could not erase the hardships that were his—time did not heal them or remove them from his mind—they were recalled and had to be dealt with on a daily basis. Who cannot relate in one way or another? Just because life is taken on with a smile does not mean that lurking behind it hurt had vanquished.
THE BIBLE SPEAKS A LOT ABOUT TIME
- Redeeming The Time. “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” (Col. 4:5). This admonition is given to Christians in order that the Gospel might have all its force in reaching the lost. To analyze the passage, Walk refers to our moving along as life is never at a stand still for anyone—the Christian included. The manner in which people of the world move about or conduct themselves is regulated by the world and the affairs thereof, but the Christian although living in the world is not of the world, that is, not looking to the world as to what is the standard of governing our life and affairs. While this is true we can never loose sight of those around us spoken of here as them that are without. Those beyond the pale of the church should have no barrier thrown in their way, rather the attractive nature of the church should be exhibited to them, as the life and practice of members of the church is what they especially look at and learn from, therefore, we are admonished to walk in wisdom. This wisdom is more than mere prudence. Of course Christians are to abstain from such sins as disgrace our profession and are to preserve a consistency that will adorn the doctrine of our Savior, but, more than this, we are to maintain the strict principles of the Gospel mixed with a loveliness of temper seasoned with love for our fellowman and brethren and sisters in Christ. The world’s Bible is the daily life of church members as they scan every blot. As we remember this we are to live before them redeeming the time. This means “seizing or purchasing the opportunity.” The Christian is to use his manner of life allowing those without the church to see the reality of true religion. It is not from the mouth out, but exudes from the heart, exposing false religion and glorifying the Gospel. When the opportunity arises then non-members of the church can be told what they should do to be saved. As Christians we should be aware of our surrounding and when the time is right speak the requirements of the Gospel. Overzealousness often repeals rather than drawing people to the truth and the Gospel is mocked rather than accepted. May we all study to redeem the time effectively to win the lost.
- Awakening From Sleep. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:11-12). In the outset, it must be admitted by all serious Bible students that this is a difficult passage. Therefore, it would be silly to be dogmatic about it. However, if we share the results of our thinking there is a better chance of reaching a proper conclusion making it easier to apply the passage to our benefit. I think a key statement that must be dealt with is “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” The passage then has to do with believers in Christ, who had obeyed the Gospel some time in the past, and the “salvation” spoken of had not as yet come to them, therefore is not salvation from sin (see Mark 16:16). Many write and preach that this salvation refers to Christ’s coming for His own, when we will finally be lifted (saved) from this world. Now, to say that is nearer than when they (or we) obeyed the Gospel goes without saying. Then one must deal with the statement in verse 12, “the day is at hand,” which surely means as the statement does in other passages, that it is near or close by, as though one can reach out and almost touch it. This certainly does not comply with the facts, since Jesus did not soon come. I might add; if that is the meaning then the Apostle taught something that was false as it did not occur. I take it the expression is figurative applying to a figurative coming of the Lord, at which time the disciples were to be aware of that their preservation would be more difficult.
When the Lord spoke of Jerusalem’s destruction He declared, “he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved” (Mt. 24:13). The end here was not the end of the world, nor to the second coming of Christ, it was enduring to the end of that awful time being considered. The salvation which was nearer than when they believed and was close even at hand was that terrible situation that marked the beginning of the mass opposition of the heathen world against the church. But it may be objected that the Romans were not Jews (generally speaking). That is true, of course, but the Roman Christians would immediately feel the vengeance of Caesar whose thirst for blood would not be quenched. Thus, in this time preceding mass persecution they were not to sleep but awake to the time they had to present the truth to others and put on the armour of light bracing themselves for the suffering which would be theirs kindled by the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jews who had persecuted the church would largely cease, but something worse was coming. It was not a time for indifference.
There is a lesson here for us to glean. We in the United States live in an era of the greatest liberty and prosperity the world has ever known. Before us are manifold opportunities to proclaim the glad tidings of Jesus, yet we sleep. There seems to be an air about the country suggesting if we support preaching on television, then we have done our duty. While the fact is, we have sinners in our face daily who have never considered God, Christ, the church, or true worship. We need to awake!!! The nation is sinking rapidly into immorality and sin. Police officers are openly attacked, others are killed in drive-by shootings, and little children are abused while churches worry about having a place to get together to eat or attending some area wide meeting where we can say, “hi, how are you” 250 times in three days. We had better awake out of sleep and cast off the works of darkness. Indifference is killing Christians and sapping the strength out of the Church. While there is time we must heed the warning given a congregation long ago, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” The Lord then admonished, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:15,16,19).
- Time is no more. “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven. And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.” (Rev. 10:5-6). All of us need to be aware that there is a time coming when time shall cease and time will no longer be reckoned for our benefit. There are two things we shall consider in this regard.
First, time will end when Jesus makes His second appearance. Some people in Apostolic Days were mocking the preachers who proclaimed that the Lord would come again, asking, “where is the promise of his coming?” Peter answered them, writing in regard to the Lord’s promised Second Coming and the end of the world. He declared. “beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” As far as promises are concerned it does not matter whether the Lord made a promise yesterday or a thousand years ago; time has nothing to do with its fulfillment. He keeps His promises. Therefore, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” More than likely if you have lived very long in this world you have had individuals and companies make promises to you but have been slow in keeping them, some to the point that it was necessary that they had to be compelled to honor their promise. We should not judge the Lord in that way, because his delay in coming is for our benefit. He suffers long with man so that we will consider our fate and repent before it is too late—while we have time. When Jesus comes that is a demonstration that longsuffering is no more, which means the opportunity to be saved is gone, “And account that the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation.” (II Pet. 3:4,8,9,15). The writer to the Hebrews affirmed that Jesus came to die for our sins the first time, but His second coming will be to judge not to save. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:27-28). As Christians we view the wickedness of this world and wonder how long can it be until Christ comes again and ends it all? But with patience we wait and we try to live as an example to the erring as well as attempt to tell others about the need of salvation. We must ever be thankful that the Lord waits so that people can have an extended chance–time to repent.
Secondly, when we die as for as we are concerned it is the end of the world. Death is everywhere about us. Constant reminders speak of death and the dying. Elaborate funeral homes bespeak of a thriving business, cemeteries fill to overflowing and preachers criss-cross the country conducting funeral services. The old must die and the young do too. Yet in the face of all this (and more), people conduct themselves as if they will live forever. Apparently many think they can live a life of pleasures, carelessness and sin then in the final moments they can call on the name of Jesus and all will be well. Attending a memorial service for one of the most wicked men I have known the preacher said, “I visited him in the hospital and he said the name of Jesus, so he will be saved by the Lord in Heaven.” Such a preacher is not worthy to stand before the people with a Bible in his hand. Jesus plainly said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.””(Mt. 7:21). Why not prepare for the inevitable? Death is going to come—let us get ready for it. Waiting for a convenient day like Felix can spell our doom (Acts 24:25). Being almost persuaded like King Agrippa is insufficient (Acts 26:28). These are two who heard the Gospel preached and believed it but failed to act upon their convictions. They went so far but obviously felt the requirements to follow Christ were too much. My wish today is that you will not be so easily dissuaded by Satan and will render obedience to the word of truth which demands repentance, confession of Jesus Christ and baptism by His authority for the remission of sins. Then death will hold no fear for you. Now is the time to be saved. If I can assist you in any way, take the time to contact me. Barney Owens 1609
One day of contentment is worth two days of sadness