Those who do not take warning
Autor: Dorina Madaras  |  Album: POCĂINȚĂ  |  Tematica: Pocainta
Resursa adaugata de Dorina1980 in 12/04/2020
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In all worldly things, people are always awake enough to understand their own interests. There is barely a business owner who reads the paper and does not read it in some way or other with a view to his own personal concerns. If he learns that by the rise or fall of the markets he will be either a gainer or a loser, that part of the day's news will be the most important to him. In politics, in everything that concerns worldly affairs, personal interest usually leads the way. People will always look out for themselves, and personal and home interests will generally consume the majority of their thoughts.

In religion, it is otherwise. In religion, people would rather believe abstract doctrines and talk about general truths than the searching questions which examine their own personal interest in it. You will hear many people admire the preacher who deals in generalities, but when he presses searching questions and speaks about specific sins, they are offended.

If we stand and declare general facts, such as that all of us have sinned or that we all need a Savior, they will agree with our doctrine. They might even go away delighted with the discussion, because it has not affected them. But how often will our audience gnash their teeth and go away in anger, because like the Pharisees with Jesus, they perceive, concerning a faithful minister, that He spoke of them. How foolish this is!

If in all other matters we look to our own concerns, how much more should we do so in religion? Certainly everyone must give an account for himself at the day of judgment. We must die alone. We must rise at the day of resurrection one by one, and each one must appear before the judgment seat of God. Each one, as an individual must either hear God say: "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34), or else you must be appalled with the thundering sentence: "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:23) "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels... " (Matthew 25:41)

If there were such a thing as national salvation, if it could be possible for us to be saved in bulk, so that like the sheaves of corn, the few weeds that happen to grow with the stubble would be gathered in for the sake of the wheat, then indeed it might not be so foolish for us to neglect our own personal interests. But if each individual sheep must pass under the hand of God, if everyone must personally and individually stand on his own before God to be tried for his own acts, then by everything that is rational, by everything that conscience would dictate and that self-interest would command, let us each look to ourselves so we will not be deceived and find ourselves miserably cast away from God forever.

A warning might be all that we could expect. If during war an army is attacked and destroyed while asleep during the night, if it had been impossible for them to have been aware of the attack and if they had used all diligence in placing their watchmen, but nevertheless the foe was so careful as to destroy them, we would weep. We would not assign blame to anyone, but we would be sad about what happened and feel compassion toward that army.

On the other hand, if they had posted their sentinels and the sentinels were wide awake and gave the sleepy soldiers every warning that could be desired, but the army was still destroyed, we would likely regret the loss of human life, but at the same time we would be compelled to say that if they were foolish enough to sleep after the sentinels had warned them, if they folded their arms in presumptuous sloth after they had had sufficient notice of the progress of their bloodthirsty enemy, then we cannot pity them in their dying. Their blood must rest upon their own heads.

It is the same with us. If people perish and have not been sufficiently warned to escape from the wrath to come, Christians may pity them even when they stand before the judgment seat of God. Although the fact that they had not been warned will not fully excuse them, it will go far to diminish their eternal miseries which otherwise might have fallen upon their heads, for we know it is more tolerable for unwarned Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than it is for any city or nation that has had the gospel proclaimed in its ears."Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you." (Matthew 11:21‭-‬22)

"He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life." (Ezekiel 33:5) In many places here and around the world, the trumpet sound of God's warning is not heard. There are multitudes of our fellow creatures who have never been warned by God's ambassadors, who do not know that wrath abides on them."He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36) They do not yet understand the only way and method of salvation. The trumpet was not only heard, but its warning was understood. When the man mentioned in Ezekiel 33:5 heard the sound of the trumpet, he understood that the enemy was at hand, yet he disregarded the warning.

In many cases, the warning has been very frequent. If the man heard the trumpet sound once and did not regard it, we might possibly excuse him, but many of you have often heard the trumpet sound of the gospel! Young man, young woman, you have had many years of a godly mother's teaching or many years of a godly minister's exhortations. Truckloads of sermons have been exhausted on you. You have had many life-changing experiences and many terrible sicknesses. Often, when the death bell tolled for your friend, your conscience was stirred up. To you, warnings are not unusual things, but are very common.

Readers, if a person hears the Gospel only once, his blood would be upon his own head for rejecting it, but how much more severe punishment will you deserve if you have heard it many, many times! I may very well weep when I think of how many sermons many of you have listened to and how many times you have been cut to the heart. You have gone up to the house of God a hundred times every year, and even more than that, and you have just added a hundred pieces of wood to the eternal fire. A hundred times the trumpet has sounded in your ears, and a hundred times you have turned away to sin again, to despise Christ, to neglect your eternal interests, and to pursue the pleasures and concerns of this world.

Oh, how foolish this is – how insane! If someone had poured out his heart to you only once concerning your eternal interests, and if he had spoken to you passionately and you had rejected his message, even then you would be guilty. But what should we say to you on whom the arrows of the Almighty have been exhausted? What will be done to this barren ground that has been watered with shower after shower and that has been nurtured with sunshine after sunshine? What will be done to him who has been rebuked repeatedly and still hardens his neck in pride and rebellion? Will he not be suddenly destroyed without remedy?"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Proverbs 29:1). Won't it then be said,"His blood lies at his own door, and his guilt is on his own head"?

I ask you to remember one more thing. This warning that you have heard so often has come to you in time."God never considers man," an unbeliever once said."If there is a God, He would never take notice of men." A Christian minister who was sitting across from him said,"The day may come, sir, when you will learn the truth of what you have just said." "I don’t understand your statement, sir," the unbeliever said."Well, sir, the day may come, when you might call and He will refuse. You might stretch out your hands to Him, and He will not pay attention to you, but as He has said in the book of Proverbs, so He will do." "Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out My hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all My counsel, and would have none of My rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on Me, but I will not answer! They will seek Me diligently, but they will not find Me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, they would have none of My counsel and despised My every rebuke." (Proverbs 1:24‭-‬30)

If you are now reading this, then your warning has not come too late. You are not being warned on a sick bed at the eleventh hour when there is little hope of salvation. You are being warned in time. You are warned today, and you have been warned for the many years that are now past. If God would send a preacher to the damned in hell, that would only add to their misery. If one could go and preach the Gospel through the fields of Gehenna and tell them about the Savior they had despised and of the Gospel that is now beyond their reach, that would be taunting their poor souls with a vain attempt to increase their unspeakable woe. But to preach the Gospel now is to preach in a time of hope! I plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain, for God says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation!" (2 Corinthians 6:1‭-‬2)

Warn the boatman before he enters the current, and then if he is swept down the rapids, he destroys himself. Warn the man before he drinks the cup of poison. Tell him it is deadly, and then if he drinks it, his death lies at his own door. In the same way, let me warn you before you depart this life. Let me preach to you while your bones are still full of marrow and the sinews of your joints are not loosed. I will have warned you in time, and because of this, your guilt will be increased. The warning was timely. It was frequent. It was earnest and appropriate. It was more than enough to wake you out of your sleep. It was continually given to you, and yet you still did not seek to escape from the wrath to come.

Some say,"Well, I did not pay attention to the warning because I did not believe there was any need for it." You were told that there was judgment after death, and you did not believe there was any reason you should be prepared for that judgment. You were told that "by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight (Romans 3:20) and that only through Christ can sinners be saved, and you did not think there was any need for Christ. Well, you should have thought there was a need.

You knew there was a necessity in your inner consciousness. You spoke very boldly when you stood up as a professed unbeliever, but you know there was a still small voice that betrayed your tongue as you spoke. You are well aware that in the middle of the night you have often trembled. In a storm at sea, you have been on your knees to pray to a God whom on the land you have laughed at. When you have been sick and near death, you have said,"Lord, have mercy upon me." When you faced difficult circumstances, you quickly looked to the God that you earlier mocked. So you have prayed and you have believed it after all.

If you did not believe it, you should have believed it. There was enough in reason alone to have taught you that there was life after death. The Book of God's revelation was clear enough to have taught it to you, but if you have rejected God's Word and rejected the voice of reason and of conscience, your blood is on your own head. Your excuse is worthless! It is worse than that; it is profane and wicked, and your everlasting torment will be on your own head.

"But," cries another,"I did not like the trumpet. I did not like the Gospel that was preached." Someone else says,"I did not like certain doctrines in the Bible. I thought the pastor preached doctrines that were too harsh sometimes. I did not agree with the Gospel. I thought the Gospel should have been different and not have been just what it was."

You did not like the trumpet? Well, God made the trumpet, and God made the Gospel. However much you did not like what God made, it is an empty excuse. What should it matter to you what the trumpet was, as long as it warned you? Certainly if it had been a time of war and you had heard a trumpet sounding to warn you of the coming of the enemy, you would not have sat still and said,"I believe that is a brass trumpet. I would like to have had it made of silver." No, the sound would have been enough for you, and you would have been up to escape from the danger. It must be the same with you now. It is an foolish excuse that you did not like it. You should have liked it, because God made the Gospel what it is.

You say,"I did not like the man who blew the trumpet." Well, if you did not like one messenger of God, there are many others in this city. Could you not find one you did like? You did not like one man's manner because it was too theatrical. You did not like another's because it was too doctrinal. You did not like another's because it was too practical. There are plenty of people blowing the trumpet, and you can take whichever one you do like, but you make a poor excuse for each one.

If God has sent the men and told them how to blow the trumpet, and if they blow to the best of their ability, it is all in vain for you to reject their warnings because they do not blow the trumpet exactly the way you like. We do not find fault with the way a man speaks if we are in a house that is on fire. If the man calls,"Fire! Fire!" we are not particular what tone he takes and we do not think about the harshness of his voice. You would think anyone to be a confused fool who would lie in his bed to be burned because he said he did not like the way the man yelled "Fire!" He should have been out of bed and down the stairs at once, as soon as he heard it.

Another says,"I did not like the man himself. I did not like the man who blew the trumpet. I could hear him, but I had a personal dislike for him, so I did not pay attention to the trumpet sound." God will say to you in the end,"You fool! Why lose your soul because you did not like that man? Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls (Romans 14:4). Your business was with yourself."

What would you think of a man who falls overboard from a ship, and as he is drowning, a sailor throws him a rope, but the man makes excuses as to why he does not grab hold of the rope? First, he says,"I do not like that rope. I don't think that rope was made by the best manufacturer. There is some tar on it, too. I do not like it." Next, he says,"I don't like that sailor who threw the rope over. I am sure he is not a kind-hearted man, and I don't like the look of him at all." Then comes a gurgle and a groan, and he is down at the bottom of the sea. When he drowned, they said that it served him right. If he refused to grab hold of the rope, but instead made such foolish and absurd objections when it was a matter of life and death, then his blood was on his own head.

So shall it be with you in the end! You are so busy criticizing Christians and their doctrine, that your own soul perishes. You may be so busy criticizing the Word of God, that you never see its truth. You may get into hell by criticism, but you will never criticize your soul out of it. You may try to make the most of it. You may be there and say,"I didn't like the minister. I didn't like his manner, and I didn't like what he said," but all your dislikes will not get one drop of water to cool your burning tongue nor serve to ease the intense torments of that world of agony.

Many other people say,"Well, I did none of those things, but I believed that the trumpet sound would be blown for everybody else, but not for me." That is a very common notion. Edward Young, a good poet once said: "All men think all men mortal but themselves"! I say "all people think all people need the Gospel, but not themselves!" Let each of us remember that the Gospel has a message for each one of us.

"Well," says another,"I was so busy. I had so much to do that I couldn't possibly tend to my soul's concerns." What will you say about the man who had so much to do that he couldn't get out of the burning house, but was burned to ashes? What will you say of the man who had so much to do, that when he was dying, he didn't have time to send for a physician? You will say,"Then he shouldn't have had so much to do." If any person in the world has a business that causes him to lose his own soul for lack of time, let him pose this question to his heart: "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). But it is false! People do have time! It is the lack of will, not the lack of opportunity. You have time, despite all your business, to spend in pleasure. You have time to read your newspaper. Have you no time to read your Bible? You have time to listen to music. Have you no time to pray a prayer?

When one farmer met another farmer in the market one day, he said to him, “Farmer Smith, I can't understand how you find time for hunting. With all that sowing and mowing and reaping and plowing and all that, my time is so fully occupied on my farm that I have no time for hunting." His reply was: "Farmer Brown, if you liked hunting as much as I do, if you could not find time, you'd make time" So it is with Christianity. The reason people can't find time for it is because they do not like it well enough. If they liked it, they would find time. Besides, what time does it need? What time does it require? Can I not pray to God while I am at work? Can I not read a passage of Scripture at breakfast and think over it all day? Even when I am busy in the business of the world, can I not be thinking of my soul and casting myself upon the Redeemer's blood and atonement? Lack of time is no good excuse! There may be some time required for my private devotions and for communion with Christ, but when I grow in grace, I will think it is right to have more and more time. The more I can possibly get, the happier I will be, and I will never make the excuse that I have no time.

"Well," says another,"I have plenty of time to follow Jesus, but you don't want me to be too religious in my youth, do you? I am still young! Can't I focus on fun now and sow my wild oats the same as anybody else?" Well, yes, but at the same time, the best place that I know of for happiness is where a Christian lives, in God's presence! The greatest happiness in all the world is the happiness of a child of God. You can have your pleasures, but nothing will satisfy you like the blessings of God! You will not have things that those of the world call pleasures, but you will have some that are a thousand times better, called blessings.

Consider this sorrowful picture. There, far away in the dark gulf of woe, lies a young man. He cries,"Ah, I meant to repent when I finished my apprenticeship, but I died before my time was up." "Ah," says another by his side,"and I thought, while I was a journeyman, that when I came to be a master at my trade, I would then think of the things of Christ, but I died before I got enough money to start my own business." Then a nearby merchant cries out with bitter woe and says,"I thought I would turn to Jesus when I had saved enough to retire on and was living in the country. Then I would have time to think of God after all my children were out of the house and married and my concerns were settled around me, but here I am shut up in hell. What are all my delays worth now, and what is all the time I gained for all the miserable pleasures of this world? I have lost my soul over them."

We sometimes get irritated if we or others are not punctual, but we cannot conceive what must be the horror and dismay of those who find themselves too late in the next world! Friends, if I knew there was one here who said,"I will repent next Wednesday," I would honestly wish for him to feel in a dreadful condition until that Wednesday came, because what if he would die before then? Would his promise of a Wednesday repentance save him from a Tuesday damnation?

The sinner will certainly perish, but in the end, he will perish without excuse. His blood will be on his own head. When a man is bankrupt and says,"It is not through reckless trading. It has been entirely through the dishonesty of someone I trusted that I have ended up what I am," then he takes some consolation and says,"I cannot help it."

However, if you bankrupt your own souls after you have been warned, then your own eternal bankruptcy will lie at your own door. If a great misfortune comes upon us and we can trace it to the hand of God, we bear it cheerfully; but if we have inflicted the trouble upon ourselves, then how fearful it is!

Let everyone remember that if he perishes after having heard the Gospel, he will be his own murderer. Sinner, you will drive the dagger into your heart yourself. If you despise and reject the Gospel, you are preparing fuel for your own bed of flames. You are hammering out the chain for your own everlasting bondage. When you are damned, your mournful reflection will be this: "I have damned myself. I cast myself into this pit, for I rejected the Gospel. I despised the message and messenger. I trampled underfoot the Son of Man. I accepted none of His rebukes, and I despised His Word. I would not listen to His exhortations, and now I perish by my own hand – the miserable suicide of my own soul!"
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