We get a glimpse of the longsuffering of God in 2 Peter 3:9 where we read, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." That tells me that God wants to see all people saved. However, it is up to each individual to accept or reject God's gracious offer of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In our text this morning we see calling us to follow Him and be His disciples. He speaks of the foolishness of any who would exchange their soul for what this world has to offer. And yet, that is exactly what millions of people have done and continue to do each day of their lives.
In the gospels we find three men that Jesus talks about. Each of them represent various stages of those who would reject Christ and choose the things of this world. Notice the first stage is:
I. Opportunity. Mark 10:17-22
A. Every person has the opportunity to accept or reject Christ.
1. You have that opportunity today!
2. When I finish this message today I will give an invitation for any who want to come to Christ, to do so.
3. Today the door of opportunity is still open to all who are alive.
B. Note some things about this man who had opportunity to accept Christ.
1. He was sincere..."came running"
2. He was humble..."kneeled to him"
3. He showed willingness..."what shall I do"
4. He had a worthy desire..."that I may inherit eternal life"
5. He was a moral man..."All these have I observed from my youth"
6. He had opportunity..."Jesus beholding him loved him"
7. He would not put God first..."One thing thou lackest"
8. He sadly rejected Christ and went away grieved.
C. Notice that the opportunity wasn't withdrawn, but it was rejected!
1. God longs for lost men and women--boys and girls--to accept His gracious opportunity to be saved.
2. But so many reject His offer and choose the things of this world.
3. This man had great possessions.
II. Hardening. Luke 12:16-20
The second stage of a man who rejects Christ is 'hardening'. He has passed up the opportunity for salvation and turned to the world for comfort. He becomes so entangled with the things of the world that the thought of God has long since left his mind.
A. Concerning the rich.
1. Jesus' statement in Mt.19:23-26.
2. Paul's statement in 1Ti. 6:10.
3. The problem isn't the possessions or the amount of money...it is the attitude toward it and the resulting attitude toward God.
B. Note some things about this man.
1. He was a successful farmer by the world's standards.
2. He was selfish with that he received, there was never a thought about others who were in need.
3. He made plans for a long and comfortable life, but he failed to include God in any of his plans.
4. He faced God unprepared (he had rejected the opportunity for salvation and had followed his own plans for his life).
5. Everything that he had placed his trust in was useless to him now.
C. So many have hardened their heart toward God and His Word.
1. People tell me that they just don't have time for the things of God.
2. Too busy with other pursuits.
3. One day they will face God as this man did, unprepared for eternity.
4. God said he was a fool!
III. Beyond Hope. Luke 16:19-31
The next account we find a man who is beyond help. He has rejected the opportunity for salvation through Christ. He has turned to the world to find satisfaction and fulfillment through things. Now he is dead...and in hell separated from all the things that he loved. He is beyond hope...lost for eternity.
A. Notice his riches.
1. He had the best clothes to wear.
2. He fared 'sumptuously' which means lavishly or luxuriously.
3. Not just once in a while, but every day!
4. He is contrasted with the poverty of Lazarus the beggar.
5. He lived the lifestyle of the rich and selfish.
B. He died as he lived his life...without God!
1. Death is inevitable to all, whether rich or poor.
2. As death finds you, so does the judgment.
3. Even with all of his wealth, when he died he awoke in hell!
C. After death, there is no hope.
1. There are those who teach that we will get a second chance after we die...don't believe it!
2. "It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment"
3. He cried out for mercy but received only torment. v24-25
4. He made some startling discoveries, but it was too late!
a. He discovered that death does not end it all.
b. He discovered that wealth does not buy it all.
c. He discovered that friends were no comfort at all.
Conclusion: What a tragic result. He had opportunity, hardened his heart toward God, and went out into eternity with no hope. Three stages of a man without Christ. If have rejected Christ today you still have the opportunity to be saved. If you have hardened your heart toward the things of God you can repent and accept Christ this morning. But if you go out into eternity without Him there will be no hope! Come to Christ today.
Christians, perhaps you know someone who is without Christ today. Pray that they will take the opportunity that God offers them. Pray that the Holy Spirit will melt their hard hearts and that they will be saved!