“So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
The recent death of a friend from cancer made me think again of the salvation and how it can be too late for someone to come to the knowledge of the truth. Not that he hadn’t, my wife pointedly asked him about it and he gave her an affirmative reply. Not that I ever saw the usual Believer’s fruit in him, but the closer he came to his final days I’ll bet the more thought he gave to the teaching of his church. But I’m praying for the salvation of a number of people that I think it would be wonderful if they would right now give their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender to His grace. But, certainly, if not now, then hopefully before the time comes when they can’t.
I mean, right now would be great, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS” (Hebrews 3:15) because while you continue you have the joy of living this life in the blessing of His grace and the joy in His life. Why spend your years on this earth without that blessing and peace of having the knowledge of the things that are real and knowing the vanity of the things that only appear to be real? (2 Cor. 4:18)
But if a person’s salvation doesn’t come until the end does that mean their reward is any less? Does one get less out of salvation if a life is spent more in sin than in grace?
Jesus told a parable to the people that didn’t seem to make sense. A landowner hires laborers all throughout the day, from early morning until almost the end of the day. Working the fields in the hot sun, little time for breaks, keeping busy constantly, getting sweaty and dirty and exhausted. Those that spent the whole day working knew the wage they agreed upon, and I’m sure thought it worthwhile. He’d get a good day’s wage, but looking at those who hired late in the day must have made him think how they could live on the little they’d get paid at quitting time. That is only fair, right? You don’t get paid for working fifteen minutes as someone working 10 hours, right? Imagine the frustration when the short workers got paid the same as him, for far less time trouble and effort! Suddenly what had recently seemed a fair exchange now looked anything but. I’m certain I’d be more than a little steamed too, like those that, “When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner” thinking they should get a lot more. But the landowner’s reply was “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?” So of course it makes sense, if the gift is everything how could one be given less or more than another?
And indeed, how did the dying Jesus on the cross reply to the criminal crucified next to Him, when in repentance He was asked, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42) Jesus didn’t reject him with a “why didn’t you come to Me sooner?” No, He said the most beautiful words a man could hear, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Talk about your foxhole conversion, your deathbed conversion.
The last shall be first. All the blessings that are possibly available, from the first saved person to the last, is available to all. All the blessings and rewards. Come early or come late, you still stand with Him in glory. Just please come to Him before it is too late!
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]