We’re approaching the end of another year. Soon we’ll be “crossing the deadline” for 2017 and entering 2018.
Here’s a question: Can a person spiritually pass the point of no return? Can he or she so stubbornly and arrogantly sin against God, be so willfully rebellious, that God will give up on them? The answer is yes, and that’s what this study will examine.
Joseph Addison Alexander described it this way in his poem “The Hidden Line.” Here are the first two stanzas:
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.
It is a gripping poem, and you can read the rest of it here: bit.ly/19OQqU8
But more important by far is what God has to say on this subject.
1. Turn to Proverbs 29:1. This verse is terrifying in some ways. We are going to study 4 specific elements of this passage carefully:
“He that being often _____________ and ________________ his neck shall suddenly be _____________ and that without ____________.”
You say, “But, Pastor, God is a God of infinite love.” Yes, He is a God of love, but that’s not all the truth—only part of the truth. When you take part of the truth and make part of the truth all of the truth, that part of the truth becomes an untruth. We need to see all of what God says on the subject.
The Niagara River, rushing down to Niagara Falls, is at first placid and slow. But it reaches a point where it rises and picks up speed. Those who are wise to the ways of this river say you can be in the river for a long time, but there is a spot called “the point of no return.” When you come to that place, you’re not going to turn around and go back. You’re going over the falls if you pass that point. It is the point of no return.
Four Definite Truths of Proverbs 29:1
Truth #1—God Speaks Through Spiritual Conviction
"He that being often reproved..."
God does convict us. We are often reproved. Nobody goes to hell unloved, unwarned, or unconvicted. No one will stand before God in accusation.
2. Do you recall a time when you sensed strongly that the Holy Spirit was convicting you about something? What was the situation and how did you respond?
God strives with us, knocks on our heart's door, reproves us, calls us over and over again. If He had only warned us just one time, God would have shown us glorious mercy, wouldn’t He? God speaks, bringing spiritual conviction.
God has several ways of speaking.
Through His Holy Spirit
Here are three wonderful verses (among many) about the Holy Spirit’s role in speaking to us:
3. Turn to John 16:13
“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not ___________ of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He _______ and He will ________ _______ things to come.”
He is the Spirit of what?
4. Turn to 1 Timothy 4:1
“Now the Spirit ______________ expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
5. Turn to Genesis 6:3
“And the Lord said, My _________ shall not _________ strive with man, for that he also is flesh…”
The Holy Spirit speaks—His Spirit to our spirit—convicting our hearts.
6. Judging by these verses, we can say that one of the Spirit’s roles is to ___________ us.
Perhaps you've been driving along or doing dishes. Maybe you've been out on the football field or about to go to sleep. You feel the Spirit of God speaking to you.
The lost person feels the tug of the Holy Spirit. He knows he’s a sinner, he knows he’s doing wrong and needs to be saved. God's Holy Spirit is gently but strongly speaking.
7. Turn to Psalm 119:67. David confessed,
“Before I was___________, I went astray.” (Psalm 119:67)
Sickness can be a messenger from God to tell us how temporal our life is. Sickness brings our thoughts into focus. We realize we’re not going to be on this earth forever.
Through the loss of a loved one God speaks to our hearts. Perhaps when you went to the graveside of your mother you didn't know the Lord. You thought, “I'll never see my godly mother again unless I get saved.” Maybe God has spoken to you through the death of a child or some financial reverse. God speaks through sorrows.
8. Whether you are saved or lost, God speaks through His goodness.
Or despisest thou the riches of His ________________ and __________________ and longsuffering; not knowing that the ________________ of ______ leadeth thee to repentance? Romans 2:4
No one can ever say that God did not go out of His way to spare you from crossing His deadline.
9. Do you recall a time when you felt the voice of God through His goodness?
God will reprove by something so simple as the smile of a baby, the beauty of a flower, the glory of a sunset.
Through His servants
God has reproved the lost person. He loves them too much to let them go to hell without being reproved.
Maybe you heard a gospel message that deeply moved you. Someone witnessed to you or shared a Gospel tract. God speaks through His soul-winners. God sent a special messenger of love to you.
There's not a person who has not been spoken to by the Holy Spirit. God has spoken to you, over and over again.
Truth #2—Beware of Stubborn Rebellion.
“…reproved and hardeneth his neck."
What does this look like? It’s saying “No” to this prompting of the Holy Spirit, jutting out your chin saying, “I will not do what God would have me do.”
There is more than one way to say “no.” Do any of these seem familiar?
10. “One of these days I'm going to give my heart to the Lord. I'll do it tomorrow.”
A CLOSER LOOK AT PROCRASTINATION
The story is told that a convocation of demons met together one time to cook up better schemes for damning mankind.
One demon said, “Let's tell them there's no God.”
Another demon answered, “That’ll never work—the fact of God is so obvious, only a few would believe that.”
“Well, then let's tell them God isn’t a God of love.”
“No—God's handiwork, God's love is shown everywhere.”
“Well, let's just tell them there's no hope.”
“No, the Gospel has been preached around the world!”
Then one crafty demon, known for his cunning, stood up and said, “I know what to do. Let's tell them there is a God, that He's a God of love, that He has made provision for people; that they need to be saved; they ought to be saved. But tell them just simply to postpone it.”
Applause broke out. “Yes!” they said. “We'll get more people by procrastination than any other way.” People harden their neck by procrastination.
But God's Word says (turn back just 2 chapters to Proverbs 27:1)
"Boast not thyself of ______________, for thou knowest not what ___ _____ may bring forth"
Dr. R. G. Lee once observed, “Tomorrow's a time only found on the fool's clock.” It never gets here.
11. Turn to Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goeth before _______________, and a ___________ ________ before a fall.”
So many today are prideful. When God’s Holy Spirit says, “Come, accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and make it public,” the devil will come and sit next to you saying, “Hey, you're going to make a fool of yourself. Don’t humiliate yourself. Don't admit your need.” Pride will escort you to hell in chains forged on the anvil of a hard heart.
Pleasures of this world.
12. Turn now to 2 Timothy 3. The apostle Paul is preparing Timothy for what he will encounter in people in these “last days.” (Verse 1: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”)
Paul goes through a list of behaviors of people who do not know Christ:
2 “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of ______________ more than lovers of God;”
The lost person thinks, “If I come to Jesus, look what I’ll have to give up.” The pleasures of sin are real—but the Bible says they last only for a season.
If we’re honest with ourselves, each of us has stood at some crossroads in life and had to decide between on the one hand a worldly pleasure we knew was wrong and on the other, what we knew our Father wanted us to choose. Do you recall such a moment in your own life? What was your decision then?
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:
“At Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore."
“The Lord thy God is the sun and a shield, no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."
“God gives us richly all things to enjoy."
Truth #3—There Will Come a Time of Sudden Destruction
"…shall suddenly be destroyed."
There comes a time when a person crosses the deadline. God will bring judgment. He is a God of love, but He is also a God of wrath.
It may come through delusion.
13. The destruction may be in your head. God will destroy your ability to think right.
Turn to 2 Thessalonians 2 :11-12.
“For this cause ______ shall send them strong _____________that they should believe a ____ 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ”
Who sent the delusion? ________. “Pastor, I thought God was here to teach us the truth. Do you mean God would delude a person? God wants people to believe the lie? Why would God send people strong delusion?”
Answer: “12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had _______________ in ______________________.”
Normally we would rightly say that the opposite of truth is error. In this passage here is where some “Digging Deeper” must occur. The opposite of truth in this context is not error, it is sin!
A CLOSER LOOK AT TRUTH VERSUS SIN
God spoke to them; God gave them truth over and over again. But they made their choice: they did not believe the truth, “but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Here is the progression:
—A person is faced with the truth
—They are often reproved
—They love not the truth
—They know if they receive the truth they'll have to turn from their sin
—They have pleasure in unrighteousness
—They harden their neck
—They refuse the truth so they can embrace their sin,
Then the opposite of truth here is unrighteousness.
Because they chose sin over truth, God says, “All right, with your sin you will be given strong delusion.”
There may be the destruction of the mind through delusion.
It may come through desertion.
14. Did you know you can't be saved just anytime you get ready to be saved? Don't get the idea that one day you'll just whistle and say, “God, come save me.”
Turn to John 6:44. Who is speaking? _______
“No man can ________ unto _____ except the ____________ which sent Me _________ him.”
How many people can be saved without the active work of the Holy Spirit? ______ Unless the Holy Spirit of God brings you under conviction, you'll never be saved. It’s not preaching that puts you under conviction. The Holy Spirit must bring you under conviction.
The Bible teaches that you can so insult God, you can say no to the Holy Spirit so many times, God's Holy Spirit will cease to work in your heart.
Turn to Romans chapter 1 for a moment. Starting in verse 16 and following, how many times does it say “God gave them up”? ________. And verse 28 in enlarges on this point to say, “God gave them _____.”
We looked at Genesis 6:3 before ("My Spirit will not always strive with man") for the truth that the Holy Spirit does the convicting. But look again. Is there an expiration date on God’s willingness to call?
Truth #4: Past the Deadline, There Is a Settled Destiny
“…and that without remedy."
No one dies and stands before God and asks God for a second chance. There'll be no second chance.
15. Turn to Hebrews 9:27. How many times is it possible for a person to die?
a. After death, what occurs? ________________________"
b. Turn to Luke 16. Begin reading with verse 19, Jesus’ description of a rich man who died.
In verse 22, the rich man died and was buried. What were his circumstances immediately after death? (v. 23)
Whether this is literal or physical makes no difference. God describes the place called hell as having fire.
c. What did the rich man beg for?
God, through Abraham, reminded this one who had crossed God’s deadline, “Son, just remember in your lifetime all of the things that happened, how good I was to you and you didn't repent. Now there's a great gulf fixed. Lazarus can't come where you are and you can't go to where he is [heaven].”
d. Who is telling this story?
e. Is there anywhere in this story where God allows a second chance after physical death?
Some say: “Well, I may land in hell, but I'll behave real good and it’ll be my stepping stone into heaven.” Friend, hell is described as a “bottomless pit.” How could you use a bottomless pit as a stepping stone? How could you ever get out of a bottomless pit?
God loves you with an infinite love.
He has spoken to you over and over again.
He’s used Holy Spirit conviction, circumstances, and second chances.
But only here in this life.
He is speaking to you today.
God 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 today.
“What if I've crossed the deadline?”
If you call upon Him, you haven't.
Anyone who wants to be saved can. The man who crosses the deadline has no desire to be saved. But if you have a desire to be saved, that's because the Holy Spirit of God is still working in you. If you want to be saved, you can be saved.
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21
If you were to show me one time, one place where anybody asked Jesus to save them and He didn't, I'd close my Bible and never preach again. I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, He'll save you today if you trust Him.
As you read this, you may be safe and secure—you gave your heart of Jesus long ago. But you know people who are not—people fear one day soon may be caught in the web described in Proverbs 29. We pray this study helps you show them how to secure a settled destiny—with Christ in heaven.
This study is based upon the message of the same name and can be heard on radio December 28 -31—or at www.lwf.org/broadcasts
If you would like to own a copy of this message for your own personal study or to give to a friend or loved one, call 1-800-274-5683 and request CD #2037, “Crossing God’s Deadline.”
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