December 8, 2019
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Crossing God's Deadline.
Soon we’ll be “crossing the deadline” for this year’s end and beginning a new one. Here’s a question: Can a person cross a deadline return spiritually? Can you so stubbornly, arrogantly sin against God that He will give up on you? The answer is yes. You can.
The poem “The Hidden Line” describes it like this:
There is a time, we know not when,
A place, we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.
There is a line by us unseen
That crosses every path,
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and His wrath.
But far more gripping is what God says on the subject. Proverbs 29:1 is a terrifying verse: “He that being often reproved and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
You say, “But God is a God of infinite love.” Yes, He’s a God of love, but that’s only part of the truth. Partial truth is an untruth. We need to see all God says on the subject. Yes, you can reach the point of no return.
"…being often reproved..."
God reaches out numerous times to get our attention. We are often reproved. Nobody goes to hell unloved, unwarned, or un-convicted. No one can accuse God of that.
God strives with us, knocks on our heart's door, reproves us, calls to us over and over. If God stopped with just one warning, He would be showing us great mercy. God speaks through His Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said in John 16:13: “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…and He will show you things to come.”
The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit, convicting our hearts. One of His roles is to warn us. Perhaps you've been going about your day when you feel the Spirit of God speaking to you. Even an unsaved person feels the Holy Spirit’s tug, knowing they’re a sinner, doing wrong, needing to be saved. God's Holy Spirit is gently but strongly speaking.
This is to tell us how temporal life is. Sickness brings our thoughts into focus. We realize we’re not going to be on this Earth forever.
Perhaps you heard His voice standing at the graveside of a loved one, through the death of a child, or a great financial loss.
Whether you’re saved or lost, God speaks through His goodness (Romans 2:4), by something as simple as a baby’s smile, the beauty of a flower, the glory of a sunset.
A gospel message deeply moved you. Someone witnessed to you or shared a Gospel tract. God sent a special messenger of love to you.
God reproves everyone. He loves you too much to let you go to hell without being warned. Everyone has been spoken to by the Holy Spirit, over and over again.
“…reproved and hardeneth his neck"
Rebellion takes many forms. It can be saying “No” to this prompting of the Holy Spirit, jutting out your chin saying, “I will not do what God would have me do.”
“I’ll give my heart to the Lord…tomorrow.” Dr. R. G. Lee observed, “Tomorrow's a time only found on the fool's clock.” It never gets here. One of Satan’s cleverest tricks is not to challenge your belief in God, His love, and His salvation, but simply convince you there’s plenty of time—just postpone it. You can harden your neck by procrastination.
When God’s Holy Spirit says, “Come, accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and make it public,” the devil will say, “Hey, you're going to make a fool of yourself. Don't admit your need.” Pride will escort you to hell in chains forged on the anvil of a hard heart.
“If I come to Jesus, look what I’ll have to give up.” Sin’s pleasures are real—but they last only for a season. Don't get the idea that when you come to Jesus you give up something. The Bible also speaks of the pleasures of righteousness and being in God’s company:
“…shall suddenly be destroyed…”
When a person crosses the deadline, God brings judgment. He is a God of love, but He is also a God of wrath.
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).
God gave them truth over and over. But they made their choice: they believed not the truth, “but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Here’s the progression: Truth confronts the lost person often. If they receive the truth, they'll have to turn from sin. They harden their neck, refusing the truth so they can embrace their sin. Because they chose sin over truth, God says, “All right, with your sin, you’ll be given strong delusion.”
You can't be saved anytime you get good and ready. You can’t one day just whistle and say, “God, come save me.” No one can be saved without the active work of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). Unless the Holy Spirit brings you under conviction, you'll never be saved. The Holy Spirit must bring you under conviction.
You can so insult God, you can say no to the Holy Spirit so many times, He will cease to work in your heart. Twice, Romans 1 says, “God gave them up.” Finally, it says “God gave them over.” Genesis 6:3 says, “My Spirit will not always strive with man.” There’s an expiration date on God’s willingness to call you.
“…and that without remedy."
No one dies, stands before God and asks for a second chance. There won’t be one. (See Hebrews 9:27.) After death, you face judgment. In Luke 16, starting at verse 19, read the account of one who wanted a second chance.
God reminded this man who had crossed His deadline, “Remember all the things that happened in your lifetime—how good I was to you—and you didn't repent? Now it’s settled.” Nowhere does God grant a second chance after physical death.
God loves you with infinite love, speaking to you over and over again. He’s used conviction, circumstances, and His messengers. But only here in this life. He’s speaking to you today. He says if you continue to harden your neck, you'll be destroyed. Then there will be no second chance. It will be without remedy, without hope. God reproves you because He loves you so much. He wants to save you.
If you call upon Him, you haven't. A person who’s crossed the deadline has no desire to be saved. But if you have that desire, it’s because the Holy Spirit is still working in you. If you want to be saved, you can be. I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, He'll save you today if you trust Him. "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21).
As you read this, you may be safe and secure—you gave your heart to Jesus long ago. But you know people who are not—people you fear one day soon may be caught in the web described in Proverbs 29. I pray this helps you show them how to secure a settled destiny—with Christ in Heaven.