Almost Out of Time

Gleanings from Jonathan Edward’s sermon “The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It” made by Donald S. Whitney.

1. Use Time wisely “Because the Days Are Evil”

Ephesians 5:15-16 – “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

2. Wise Use of Time is the Preparation for Eternity

Whitney warns, “During time (that is, in this life) you must prepare for eternity, for there will be no second chance to prepare once you have crossed eternity’s timeless threshold.”

As the general shouts, “Brothers, what we do in life… echoes in eternity.”

3. Time is Short

James 4:14 – “You are a midst that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

4. Time is Passing

1 John 2:17 – “The worlds and its desires are passing away.”

Whitney writes, “We speak of saving time, buying time, making up time, and so on, but those are illusions, for time is always passing. We should use our time wisely, but even the best use of time cannot put pages back on the calendar.”

5. The Remaining Time Is Uncertain

Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

Whitney warns, “There are thousands who entered eternity today, including thousands who were younger than you, who yesterday had no idea that today was their last day. Had they known that, their use of time would have become far more important to them.”

6. Time Lost Cannot Be Regained

John 9:4 – We have the day for work but a night is coming when no one can work.

Whitney says, “If you misuse the time God offers to you, He never offers that time again.”

7. You Are Accountable to God for Your Time

Romans 14:12 & 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 – We will all give an account for how we use our time.

Edwards resolved to live each day as if at the end of that day he had to give an account to God of how he used his time.

8. Time Is So Easily Lost

Proverbs 24:33-34 –A little wasted time here, a little there and soon all will be gone.

Whitney reminds, “You don’t have to do anything to lose time.”

9. We Value Time at Death

Proverbs 5:11-13 – Regret comes at the end of a wasted life.

Edwards determined, “Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

10. Time’s Value in Eternity

Luke 16:19-30 – The parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

Richard Baxter asks, “Does it not tear their very hearts for ever, to think how madly they consumed their lives, and wasted the only time that was given them to prepare for their salvation? Do those in hell now think them wise that are idling or playing away their time on earth?”

-Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, (NavPress, 1991), 125-133.

Are we true to the gospel?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:31-32

The gospel is in these verses: “. . . as God in Christ forgave you.”  The rest of it is how we are to be true to that gospel, how not to be a living denial of the very gospel we profess, how to be living proof of that sacred gospel.

Faithfulness to the gospel is more than signing a doctrinal statement.  That’s a good thing to do.  But faithfulness to the gospel is more.  Far more.

Faithfulness to the gospel is also treating one another as God in Christ has treated us.  It is not that hard to sign a piece of paper or take a vow that we stand for the gospel.  Again, that’s a good thing to do.  But it is far more demanding to bear living witness to the gospel by denying the demands of Ego and treating one another with the grace God has shown us in Christ.

When the gospel actually sinks in, we change.  Winning no longer matters.  Getting in the last word no longer matters.  Payback no longer matters.  We now perceive such things as contemptible, compared with the display of God’s grace in Christ.

Unbelieving people are not impressed by our official positions on paper.  They will not pay attention – nor should they – until they see the beauty of the gospel in our relationships.

Jonathan Edwards, observing his wife under the influence of the Holy Spirit, noted this about her:

“There were earnest longings that all God’s people might be clothed with humility and meekness, like the Lamb of God, and feel nothing in their hearts but love and compassion to all mankind; and great grief when anything to the contrary appeared in any of the children of God, as bitterness, fierceness of zeal, censoriousness, or reflecting uncharitably on others, or disputing with any appearance of heat of spirit.”

Jonathan Edwards, Works (Edinburgh, 1979), I:377.”

Thanks to Ray Ortlund,

Edwards and Time

A great reminder from Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions about time management.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year.

40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.

41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.

50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world.

51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.

61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc.

What Must I Believe to Be Saved?

What must I believe to be saved? Which truths are necessary for conversion? Here’s what Jonathan Edwards taught:

“It is essential to Christianity

that we repent of our sins,

that we be convinced of our own sinfulness,

that we are sensible we have justly exposed ourselves to God’s wrath,

that our hearts do renounce all sin,

that we do with our whole hearts embrace Christ as our only Saviour;

that we love him above all, and

are willing for his sake to forsake all, and

that we do give up ourselves to be entirely and forever his.”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, 334;

The Goal of Preaching

“In the midst of debates over the Great Awakening, Edwards, made a revealing comment about the effects of preaching. During intense periods of awakenings, evangelists often preached to the same audience daily, or even more frequently. Opponents of the awakening argued that people could not possibly remember what they heard in all these sermons. [Jonathan] Edwards, responded that

‘The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered.’  Preaching, in other words, should be designed primarily to awaken, to shake people out of their blind slumbers in the addictive comforts of their sins. Though only God can give them new eyes to see, preaching should be designed to jolt the unconverted or the converted who doze back into their sins (as all do) into recognizing their true estate.'”

-George M. Marsden, The Salvation of Souls (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2002), 11-12.
Complements of:

Affections for Jesus

[I]s there anything which Christians can find in heaven or earth so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ?… God [has] disposed things, in the affair of our redemption, and in his glorious dispensations, revealed to us in the gospel, as though everything were purposely contrived in such a manner, as to have the greatest possible tendency to reach our hearts in the most tender part, and move our affections most sensibly and strongly. How great cause have we therefore to be humbled to the dust, that we are no more affected!

-Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, 52-53