“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
Here is a wonderful promise and a gracious invitation. Despite this divine assurance, some would-be “seekers” of God, who are “not far from the kingdom”, are unwilling to take Him at His Word. Like those C.H. Spurgeon described, they “have come right up to the wicket gate which stands at the head of the way of life” but have not taken “the great decisive step.” In these articles, I want to address specifically, though not exclusively, those who are standing at the gate of life, but have not yet entered upon the road to heaven. I want to begin by referring to the gospel message itself.
The Call Delivered in the Gospel Message
It is a call to repentance and faith. Many examples of this twin call are given. “Repent” was an oft-sounded cry in the New Testament. Christ Himself preached, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” This was the message of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:2), of Peter (Acts 2:38), and of Paul (Acts 17:30). “Believe” was likewise a much- heralded word. The Gospel of John contains over 100 references to believing and related terms. The Philippian jailor asked how he could be saved. The answer was “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…”
The Compliance Demanded by the Gospel Message
Of course, repentance and faith are sovereignly bestowed by God. It is “given” to men “to believe” (Philippians 1:29). Faith is “not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). In Acts 11:18, it says God “granted repentance unto life.” God gives “repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25).
Yet, the gospel is a command to be heeded. Sinners are exhorted, “Seek the Lord”, and “Call upon Him.” Thus the Bible speaks of the “obedience of faith”, and some who “obey not the gospel.” The message demands a response. You will not be saved unless you actually come to Christ. You must repent (Acts 17:30). “Except ye repent, ye shall…perish.” You must believe. John 6:29: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” 1 John 3:23 states: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ…”
The Comfort Derived from the Gospel Message
It is a message from God for all who will receive it. The offer of mercy and grace is sincere. C.H. Spurgeon said: “The Gospel is preached to you, and God has not sent it with the intention that after you have heard it you should seek mercy and not find it. God does not tantalize. He does not mock the sons of men. He asks you to come to Him. Repent and believe, and you shall be saved.” God assures sinful men that He may be approached, for “He is near”, and He may be apprehended, for “He may be found.” (Isaiah 55:6) It would be an awful thing to die just outside the gate of life. Puritan Thomas Boston said: “Hearers of the gospel who perish are inexcusable; the door was open, but they would not enter in.” Linger no longer! Seek the Lord today!
Rev. Stephen Hamilton is the minister of Lehigh Valley FPC, Pennsylvania