The Peril of Procrastination

 

Introduction Text Hebrews 3:7-19

7Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

The letter from which this text is taken differs from the majority of the New Testament epistles in that it was written to a people who had been born in the light of the revealed religion given Israel by Moses, and had been brought into a fuller light, by obedience to the gospel of Christ.

It was addressed to a people who had lived in light of the hope to be accomplished according to the covenants made with the fathers. These Hebrews were addressed by the writer as — "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling"

Every difficulty of those to whom the letter was addressed was one of apparent conflict between the old and the new economies. Profoundly convinced of the divinity of the religion of their fathers, but constrained by the preaching of the gospel to accept Christ as their promised Messiah. But now under strong influences of the Jewish brethren they were rethinking that decision. Fear of persecution, and fear that they had made a mistake, in accepting Christ and abandoning the covenant of the fathers.

This is quite understandable, for what a change was wrought by the coming of the Messiah. The types and shadows of the ceremonial law were all fulfilled in Christ and gradually withdrawn. The purpose of the letter then was to show these that the taking away of the old, was to move on to the new, a covenant that had been promised in their own prophets.

In Jeremiah 31:31-34 and quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12, we read

8Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:11And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

The purpose of this letter was one of urging faithfulness to Christ. This wavering of their faith expressing itself in abandonment of the Christian faith to which the writer argued "let us not forsake the assembling of our selves together…." "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins," Chapter 10 verses 25,26

Thus in order to bring them back again into that living way, back to Christ and the New Covenant promised by their prophets this letter was written.

To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

This particular quotation from one of their Hebrew writings, was to urge these Hebrews Christians on to faithfulness, and to warn against ¾

THE GRAVE PERIL OF PROCRASTIONATION.

This subject is of the widest application, and might be illustrated on every plane of human activity. But we are immediately hindered in our study, by the fact that we do not consider with the same earnestness and sincerity sacred things that we bring into our ordinary affairs. In every realm of life, we admit the absolute importance of immediate action, and the peril of delay in life's everyday affairs..

Some of the phrases coined by our fathers "No time life the present Never put off till tomorrow, what can be done today." And many other similar proverbial utterances, were expressed to stress importance upon immediate action, and to guard against procrastination. The message of our text -

7Today if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts,

Is not such a message necessary? There are multitudes of men and women today who lack but one thing, a personal and actual surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. How many over the years, are there who have been wooed by the gospel, attracted to it's appeals, convinced of its message, but remain disobedient.

I have said multitudes, I believe there are those every assembly of the saints, both men and women, exactly in this situation, ever willing to listen, ready to attend and worship, yet are not Christians, or at least faithful Christians.

In this message of which it is my responsibility and profound privilege to deliver, - I speak with love and yet with an earnestness, I speak of the awful peril of prolonged postponement of that decision. The grave peril of postponing a decision which in the deepest conviction of your own life you know ought be made at once.

-THE MESSAGE OF THE HOUR THEN -

7Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts

In attempting to understand this message and it's urgency, we should first understand certain things the text takes for granted.

Namely: Human responsibility begins with the hearing of the voice, and secondly when the voice is heard, every man is left with the freedom to obey or to disobey. -First then, responsibility created by hheaaring of the voice Let us make no mistake, God speaks to us today in His Holy Word. There is really nothing mysterious about Christianity or becoming a Christian today. Christianity is a simply affair, where men hear and learn.

44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me John 6:44-45

As we study, the word of God always creates in the soul of man the consciousness of responsibility. Therein is the difference between the Word of God and the Word of Man. And this is one of the final arguments for the divinity of the Written Word, We cannot study, or hear the Bible without being brought face to face with personal responsibility. I can study American History, without that sense, I can lecture on the moral drift of America and then go out and be immoral. I can read or lecture from any book in our public libraries, and then go out and violate the principles taught therein.

But, I cannot preach on the word of God and then continue in disobedience to my preaching and God's appeals to me. As the Hebrew writer witnesses: Hebrews 4:12-13

12For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of

Him to whom we must give account.

I look into the Word of God, it tells me -

"It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment" Heb 9:27, tells me "for we must all appear before the judgment seat of God" 2 Cor 5:10. And from the lips of the Savior I hear -

"Every idle word that men shall speak , he shall give an account of, for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." John 12:48 , "As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me and every tongue shall confess the Lord Jesus that He is Christ to the glory of the Father.." Phil 2:10

And in reading the Word of God, it creates a sense of responsibility. Our text says: To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts

 

This assuredly means that we can that we can harden our hearts, we can disobey, we can see the light, yet obey darkness. We can gaze upon the truth, and yet, turn our backs to that light.

Let us solemnly attend to the warning of the text. Today if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts

 

That is the initial word  "TODAY" is the supreme word of the text, which brings us to a sense of the immediate, and consequence to a revelation of: THE PERIL OF PROCRASTINATION. The word of God is heard, he who hears intends to obey that call. There are other matters pressing and there is postponement. To obey now will involve a change of plans, I heard the gospel call three months ago, it came clearly, I consented with it, I determined that I would obey and become a Christian , but to have obeyed then, would have been to rearrange all my life, my priorities, therefore I have not obeyed it yet.

 

Look again  "There is time enough yet; I will postpone obedience. I have this thing pressing, and at some more convenient season, I will answer the call." Beloved if the cemeteries could talk, what tragedies could they tell of this attitude? I do not think that any Lord's Day assembly passes, but that some man or woman goes through this business of postponement , procrastination! I want to say this through a conviction of many years of preaching the gospel of Christ I am convinced that many miss out on that high and noble calling, not by antagonism to the gospel call, but by agreement, feeling a need to respond yet postponing to a more convenient season. Hence the warning from the Word of God

7Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

In order that we may understand this, let us consider carefully what are the perils of procrastination. To refuse to obey is presently to lose the sense of urgency. To refuse to walk in the light of the gospel is to fail to admire the gospel, to linger when the Master beckons is to lose the attraction of Christ, the awfulness of SIN. There are thousands of men and women who have come into the presence of the Savior, who have felt the attractiveness of forgiveness, the wooing of the Cross, who have earnestly desired to follow Christ -who have determined that they will do so, But they have waited, postponed, and with what results? The attraction has passed away, and today they see no urgency, feel on desire, thus the ideal of Christianity is dead within their souls.

This attitude is not always produced by open rebellion to the law of Christ, It is produced by PROCRASTIONATION by POSTPONEMENT it is the reaction of refusing to walk in light of the gospel call when first heard.

In the words of our text - To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, That is the peril of postponement - of procrastination.

But finally let us listen to the gospel, the good news of our text Again it is suggested in the one word - "TO-DAY" To many there is no music, no cheer in the word, but to those who realize the Bible know there is much. There is a day of reckoning coming, but it is not here yet, it is still TODAY - When the Hebrew writer made this quotation from the Psalm 95, he was conscience of its possibilities. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts,

That word TODAY is full of hope, full of immediate possibility as well as a stern warning. TODAY- Christ calls us - It is the voice of one tenderly calling - "come unto me" That is His voice that calls - To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts,

To delay is to lose the power to appreciate the verses of God's love John 3:16

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. It is to fail to appreciate the words of Romans 5:8

8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. To delay is to lose the power to read and understand sin and it consequences Romans 6:12-14; 23

12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you:……. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

Therefore there is but one time for action, that that is TODAY. You have listened to me, and yet may be in danger of missing the call of Jesus - Hear His words

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 — 44No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me John 6:44-45

 

28Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

- Matthew 11;28-30

1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3

These then are the words He says generally speaks to men, Just what He is saying to you specifically I cannot tell. But I know that He says to each of us "FOLLOW ME" To the young ruler it was, "Sell all that thou hast, distribute to the poor and come follow Me." Not to every man does He say this. Jesus looks into your heart, He sees the idol that keeps you from following, and He says, "Put it away, and come follow me. "

The voice is speaking, HEED IT. Answer it.

12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; 15While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts

If you believe in your heart that Jesus is the Christ, Matthew 16:13-16- Romans 10:9-11

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

If you are willing to repent of your sins Luke 13:3-5 –Acts 17;30-31

30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead

If you are willing this day to confess the Blessed Savior —Matthew 16:16

16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Acts 8:37 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

 

The importance of our confessing the Savior us revealed in the words of Christ in Matthew 10:32-33, hear it.

32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

And finally if you are willing to submit to baptism, to have your sins washed away, remitted in the act of obedience, you can become a Christian, a member of the Lord's church. The very last words upon the lips of the Savior before ascending to the Father —

15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16;15,16

When Peter preached the first recorded gospel sermon Acts chapter 2, the people believing his message and cut to the heart cried out Acts 2:37, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins Acts 2:38

Please contact us if we can assist you in study or obedience to the Lord.

 

Ron Cope minister

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658