Biblical Evangelism Warns of the Danger of Delay
Biblical Evangelism Warns of the Danger of Delay
Delay has been the downfall of countless individuals and nations. An army delays its attack for an hour and loses the battle. A patient delays an operation for a year and loses her life. An aviator delays his point of descent by fifty yards and loses his aircraft. A man delays his day of salvation for one day and loses his soul. So the tragic story of humanity continues page after page, century after century.
Life at its fullest ends all too soon. One moment’s delay may usher in an eternity of regret. Delay poses so serious a threat to humankind that Christ offers a parable on the danger of delay.
I. The danger of delay is the danger of being foolish ().
No one wants to look like a fool! It is humiliating to wake up to the fact that you have played the fool before God and everyone else.
Seldom does Christ use so harsh a word of condemnation and censorship as “fool” or “foolish.” But one of the rare occasions for which Christ reserves the usage of this word is in relation to a person who knows very well what he ought to do but delays doing it until it is too late (, ).
A. To delay is to be foolish because of a failure to see your present need. These five foolish bridesmaids felt they had sufficient oil to last the rest of the night. Theirs was a present need, but they failed to see it.
Often your present need is overshadowed by other interests. These girls were so excited about the events of the evening that they failed to see their present need. What in your life is overshadowing your need of Jesus Christ as your Savior? Is it the pursuit of education or success in business, pleasure, or perhaps money or family or friends? No matter what it is, and no matter how noble it may be, if you allow it to overshadow your pressing need of Christ, you are being foolish.
Your present need has eternal significance. The fact that these girls did not have enough oil for the moment meant they would surely not have enough for the wedding party later. Jesus said, “He that believeth not [a present need] the Son shall not [a future consequence] see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” ().
B. To delay is to be foolish because of a failure to exercise any forethought. The bridesmaids did not anticipate the possible events of the future. Their failure to prepare for the bridegroom’s delay resulted in their lamps running out of oil.
Forethought is a mark of both wisdom and maturity. Yet many who are wise in every area of life and who plan for all the eventualities of life make no plans for and take no thought of tomorrow as far as their soul is concerned. They are like the man who, when he fell out of a twentieth-story window, waved at a friend as he passed the tenth floor and yelled, “Everything’s all right — so far!”
II. The danger of delay is the danger of being wasteful ().
A. To delay is to waste time. Instead of using what little time they had in which to buy oil and get ready, the five foolish bridesmaids slept and thus wasted time.
I do not know how much time you have left — perhaps a day or a month or even years. But I do know that you cannot afford the risk involved in delay.
The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed;
To lose one’s health is more.
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.
So do not wait until tomorrow
To do his blessed will —
The clock of life may then be stopped;
The hands may then be still.
— Robert H. Smith
B. To delay is to waste life itself. Every moment that is lived without Christ is that much of life that is wasted. In fact, Jesus taught that a life is wasted even if one gains the whole world yet loses his soul.
How old are you — fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty-five, sixty-five? If you have not accepted Christ as Savior and Lord, total your years and write across them, “Wasted.” As far as God and eternity are concerned, your life up to this moment has been wasted — “down the drain”!
The tragedy of this is that your life could be of great value to God. What a waste of life it would have been if Paul had been converted at seventy instead of as a younger man. There have been many great workers for God who were converted at an early age. Matthew Henry was converted at eleven and not at seventy; Jonathan Edwards was converted at eight and not at eighty; Richard Baxter was converted at six and not at sixty.
Those who live without Christ miss the real joys of living. If having guilty feelings the morning after is what you call “living,” you can have it! If living with anxiety and fear and on the edge of an eternity for which you are not prepared is what you call “living,” you have been deceived. The truth is, one does not know what life and freedom, joy and peace really are until he or she comes to live in Jesus Christ.
Several years ago, at the end of a Sunday morning revival service, an elderly man gave himself to Christ. Following the service, the man was asked if he was happy that he had been saved. His reply was something like this: “Oh, yes, I’m glad that my soul is saved, but I’m so sorry that my life is lost!” That is just the risk you run by saying, “Not now. Some other time I will come to Christ.” The danger of delay is the danger of wasting life itself.
C. To delay is to waste influence. If only one of the five foolish bridesmaids would have become concerned about her need and had rushed to buy oil, undoubtedly the other four would have gone also. But the fact that not one of these girls used her influence in this way made the others feel secure even though they were unprepared. Only God knows the number of people you would influence to come to Christ if you simply accepted him today. But to delay is to make some other person feel comfortable who is unprepared for the bridegroom’s coming.
III. The danger of delay is the danger of being unprepared ().
When the announcement was made that the bridegroom was coming and the festivities were soon to start, the lamps of the five foolish bridesmaids went out, and because of delay they were unprepared.
A. Because of a misplaced trust in an uncertain future, you may be caught unprepared. These girls were quite confident that they had plenty of oil if the bridegroom came at a certain hour, if the wedding party lasted only so long, and if they returned home by a certain time — if, if. But life is not made up of “ifs.” The story of life is written in the hard, unpredictable language of reality. Hell has many people in it who intended to trust Christ tomorrow.
You may be saying, “If Christ keeps speaking to me, if I live to be ten years older, if I still have the desire to be saved, then someday I will become a Chris tian — if.” Yours is a misplaced trust in an uncertain future!
B. Because of a misplaced trust in the merits of others, you may be caught unprepared. Could it have been that these five foolish bridesmaids were planning all along to draw from the oil reserve of the other five in case their lamps went out ()? In their hour of need, they discovered what many discover. You cannot draw from the merits of others — be that person a Chris tian mother, a concerned pastor, or a close friend.
C. Because of a misplaced trust in your own merits, you may be caught unprepared. You may be saying, “I don’t need to draw from the merits of others — I’m better than a lot of church members!” And may I say that if you aren’t, you are in pretty bad shape! But your problem is a misplaced trust in your own merits. Jesus warned that many will make this fatal mistake. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” ().
IV. The danger of delay is the danger of being rejected ().
The ultimate danger of saying, “Not now, perhaps some other time,” is the danger of being rejected. These five foolish girls were not only unprepared; they were also rejected.
A. To delay is to be rejected because of the terminative nature of Christ’s coming. Christ clearly teaches that the bridegroom in this parable is an illustration of himself in his second coming.
When Christ comes again, he will receive his own. “And they that were ready went in with him” () — not “they that intended to get ready” or even “they that were in the process of getting ready.”
The physical return of Christ terminates all possibilities of being saved. Emphatically Christ says, “And the door was shut!” (). The Bible does not teach a second chance for anyone at any time after the return of Jesus Christ. You will read this passage in vain if you seek to find that the door was opened even one inch after the bridegroom came!
B. To delay is to be rejected because of a failure to know the Lord. Christ must be known as personal Savior. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” ().
C. To delay is to be rejected because of the imminence of Christ’s return. Christ summarizes his sermon in a sentence when he says, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” ().
“Almost persuaded,” harvest is past!
“Almost persuaded,” doom comes at last!
“Almost” cannot avail,
“Almost” is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail —
“Almost,” but lost!