Three Classes and Three Messages

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 5
"For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people... the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."—Jer. 8:11 and 20.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? and they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spoke unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."—Acts 16:25-34.
“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."—Rome 13:11.
WE have in these Scriptures, three different states of soul, and three entirely different messages. They are addressed respectively to the procrastinator, the anxious enquirer, and the believer. Let us look at them.
1. the Procrastinator
Procrastination, that is a long word. “What does it mean?” you say. Well, the English dictionary makes it quite plain. Putting off till to morrow. Young, in his "Night Thoughts,” tells us "Procrastination is the thief of time,” but I will give you another version, “Procrastination is the thief of souls." Rowland Hill says, “Procrastination is the recruiting officer of helms" Not sin, not open unbelief, not gross open wickedness, but procrastination. Had I asked you at the beginning of last year, Do you think you will be a Christian before the year is out? You would have said, “Surely, I am not going to wait until the year is out,” but you have. You have not come to Christ, you are not on the Lord's side; heaven knows you are not; earth knows you are not; hell knows you are not; and you know you are not. Oh, unsaved reader, wake up now—at once, else the closing words of this 8th of Jeremiah must be your experience, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
And why are you not saved? “They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace." Satan has whispered in your ear, “It is all right." You have had anxious thoughts about your precious soul, but it has all been healed over. Man has dealt falsely with you, the devil deals falsely with you, but God deals truly, and what does He say, "There is no peace.”
There may be a false peace, but, unless you have been brought to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, do not deceive yourself. You have never been converted, you hive never been brought to God, you have never been, like the jailor, on your knees before God, and until you have been brought into living contact with Christ, everything is wrong. How tan there be peace if you are not born again, if you are not brought to God?
Oh, unsaved reader, no longer deceive your-self. The coming of the Lord is very near.
Even as you read this His voice may be heard in the air, and what then? The Lord's people will be caught up, and you will be left without.
They within, and you without.
You have talked about the Lord, and the Lord's day, and you may have taken the Lord's Supper, but, though all this may be true, what will He say? “I know you not, depart from me." Will He ever say that to a soul that knows Him? Never! These are they that have never known Him: they have the shell without the kernel. They knew there was something they needed but put off getting it; they thought they must wait for the strivings of the Spirit, but they were only heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. It is true you read your Bible. It is true you said your prayers, but the Lord. Jesus Christ you never loved, and, “If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha." Oh, procrastinator, be warned, in time. Let not this language be the wail of your soul in the last day—" The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
I do not wonder Jeremiah said, “Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people." No tears rolled down your cheeks when on earth; but, oh, what tears will roll down your cheeks in hell, and, worst of all, you will remember your lost opportunities and say, “I might have been saved, but I was not.”
“But why were you not? “an angel might ask. "Was there no salvation?" “Oh, yes, and I had it offered to me. I meant to be saved, but while I was hesitating I was cut off by death. "Or," I just deferred it for a week and the Lord came." Oh, that terrible coming of the Lord! While you delayed the Lord came.
Oh, poor, irretrievably, helplessly, lost soul, see what is before you. 'What is there for the Christless soul? A Christless life, a Christless death, a Christless resurrection, a Christless standing before the great white throne, and a Christless eternity. Do not let this be your ending; and it must be, it shall be, unless you turn to the Lord.
Unsaved reader, halt no longer. Make it an impossibility that this Scripture should ever come from your lips. Read it once more, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." Many a Christian can say, “The harvest is going on, and I am, saved," and, troubled, anxious one, you may say the same now.
2. the Anxious Enquirer
Look at the 16th of Acts. It has a peculiar charm, for it was the first time the Gospel was ever preached in Europe, and Satan, as he always does, raised great persecution. In the brutal, ruffianly jailor you have a thorough picture of a man under the power of the devil.
“He having received such a charge thrust them into the inner prison, and. made their feet fast in the stocks." You will notice that word "thrust." The magistrates had commanded to keep them safely, but with all the venom of his brutal nature he thrust them into jail. He had not a bit of compassion.
But what does God say? “I will have that guilty soul," and so, we read, those blessed servants of God were not overwhelmed by sorrow. They sang songs in the midnight hour, and the prisoners heard, them, “and suddenly there was a great earthquake," and this wretched man wakes up and draws his sword. What for? To kill his prisoners? No, but to kill himself, to hurl his soul into eternity.
But out of the darkness comes a sweet voice, “Do thyself no harm; for we are all here,” and that broke his heart. The sweet voice of God, through His servant, broke in on the sinner, “Do thyself no harm." “Then he called for a light," and that is the first thing a sinner wants; he wants light. “And he sprang in trembling." Yes, this sinner trembles now, and he brings out Paul and Silas, and what does he say? I am very sorry for having put you in the stocks. No, but, “What must I do to be saved?" A wonderful question this. Do you ask this question? Do you tremble to think of your sins? Then listen to the answer, God's answer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." “But," you say, “must I do nothing? I do not think people can be converted so easily." You are not asked to think. What does God say? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”
You could not put away sin, but Christ has done it. “The Lord has made the iniquities of us all to meet on him." He charges Himself with your salvation, and you give up all your work, and now where does the believer stand? If such, you have Christ for your peace, and Christ for your portion forever. You are saved. Let us, therefore, now look at what belongs to.
3.—the Believer
“Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." But you ask," Were we not saved when we believed?" Surely, "Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace." But there are two salvations spoken of in Scripture, the salvation of the soul, and the salvation of the body. The moment you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you receive the salvation of your soul; but, as to your body, it is still here, but the salvation of it is nearer now than when you believed; and, do not forget, unconverted reader, that YOUR damnation is also nearer. OUR salvation, but YOUR damnation.
The truth is that, when a soul is brought to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that soul is bound up with Christ; but when the Lord. Jesus Christ comes, that soul will be caught up to meet Him who shall “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”
The moment after we are taken up, I shall see you in the beautiful similitude of Christ. The sleeping saints, too, will be raised, and appear in the beauty of Christ. If you have laid one you love under the sod, what a comforting thing to the heart, to know that the one you laid down in corruption, shall be raised and changed into His likeness.
“It is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed." Yes, the day is at hand, the bright day of the revelation of Jesus, when everyone shall have his reward according to his work, and meantime, what should a Christian be? A light in a dark place, a glowworm, a star. Again, a Christian is like the moon, but whence does the moon get her light? It is all from the sun, and is reflected, but it gives light through the night. Hence the exhortation. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ." What a lovely garment is this to put on.
And now, dear reader, how does this paper leave you? As a procrastinator, an anxious soul, or a happy believer.
Procrastinator beware, lest those words be yours, “The harvest is past; the summer is ended, and we are not saved." Anxious soul, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Christian, "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed," "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”
W. T. P. W.