Under the Wire!

 

'Today you shall be with Me in Paradise', Lk23:43

 

Is there such a thing as a 'last minute or last second reprieve, getting 'saved just in time before you draw your last breath and meet your marker? Almost every professed Christian I've ever known will immediately sight the Gospel of Luke's version of the Thief on the Cross and say 'see, he made it, he had no works and was saved at the last minute'. But I think we can also say to them definitely; 'you're not the thief, you're far more responsible for what you know NOW than he'. But if you need a dear 'loved one lead in a death bed sinners prayer or preached into heaven at their funeral, it won't be difficult to find a congenial local pastor who will be happy to do so. It really doesn't matter to them how the person may have lived, whether or not they ever acknowledged God in their lives or made any attempt to serve Him. The grieving family will be given full assurance by some pastor; they're passing through the Pearly Gates into Paradise. I've even heard professed Christians discussing this subject say such outrageous things like: 'how do you know Hitler didn't make it, he could have received Jesus at the last minute' , yeah, right before he blew his brains out! But this is how far the professed will go to get that 'last minute reprieve signed and seal in their minds. As they do not understand repentance for remission nor have they any comprehension of Covenant and Mercy. Forgiveness to them is bought and paid for with no strings attached. They have no real concept of Christís death on the Cross or the Purpose thereof. Therefore since everybody can't be the 'Thief' I think we can rule out the 'expectation of last minute or death bed confessions for the most part and say those who put their hope in them are on shaky ground with the Lord.

 

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Matt20:1-16, could indeed support the concept of a conversion occurring later in life, but not at the last minute. Every worker regardless of the amount of time they spent working in the Vineyard received the same wage at the end, although it didn't seem fair to those who had labored through the heat of the day, the agreement with the Master was final. No one was favored above anyone else, all received the amount agreed upon at the beginning notwithstanding the effort put forth. I think this Parable also rules out the fallacy of 'rewards' (greater and lesser) many professed believe are dispensed at the Judgment Seat as additional benefits in the Kingdom for those who were more faithful in their service to the Lord than others. (Crowns, many call them) But such a notion makes God a respecter of persons, showing personal favoritism to some and not others. (which Scripture declares definitely He is not: Rom2:11, Gal2:6) The 'Reward' (not rewards) is eternal life, as shown in this parable and: And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Rev22:15 This corresponds also with the Parable of the Talents, Matt25:14-30, in that 'each one is given according to their own ability, five, two or one' and expected to Produce an increase. Although not everyone is of equal strength and ability, but they are equal in Responsibility and therefore cannot claim ignorance in the end being under the present degree of Light available to all. In contrast I think the 'Thief' could have 'lacked in knowledge and was given such consideration thereof in his death, but itís a rare occurrence in history and virtually unfounded in our time under the present light. The only reason people still buy into it is due to their flawed beliefs either in the 'sinners prayer' or the Catholics who believe saving grace can be dispensed through a Priest in the rite of 'extreme unction'. (Last Rites)
I highly suspect the 'death bed' conversion prayer is more for the living than the dying, giving the family some kind of 'assurance the suffering loved one will pass into the loving arms of Jesus. For the one soon to draw their last breath any consideration or solace they may be feeling is solely based their own beliefs about the after life or some false notions about God they had embraced in life.

 

I'm not saying its entirely impossible for someone to repent and come to a genuine salvation on their death bed, but there are many factors to consider in waiting this long to get right with God. Motivation and intention come into play, certainly fear is a strong motivator in a time like this, but is that enough to sincerely empty the heart of guile and deceit Ö it was enough for the thief you might say Ö but again, he was a rare event and I really don't see fear playing into it. He freely admitted he was getting the Just deserts of his wrong doing, not asking for a last minute pass. The Lord who 'searches the heart and tests the mind' knows the level of sincerity involved and gives accordingly. It's the Fox Hole conversion I'm questioning, who wouldn't cry out to God when the shells are coming in and who wouldn't also respond in kind to some 'loving pastor or concerned loved one standing at their side in the last moments leading them in prayer. The Rich fool, Lk12:13-21 comes to mind here, he spent his entire life in luxury building bigger and bigger barns to store up for his ease, but found only that his 'soul was required of him at a moment he did not expect. The same holds true in this discussion, no one knows WHEN their soul will be required of them by God, so putting it off until the last minute has a definite element of conceit involved that doesn't fit into a sound conversion experience taking place when the end is at hand. Unfortunately itís the 'bought and paid for' salvation so widespread in professed Christianity that makes this a significant issue. I've seen people running around hospital wards with a Bible praying the sick and dying into glory totally convinced they are doing a great service for God! That's what makes this 'last minute' notion so dangerous because it lacks any understanding or consideration into the heart of a true conversion. We can't 'pray anyone into heaven nor can they 'repeat some words and be magically 'saved, Redemption is a miracle of God with the deepest matters of the human heart (mind-soul) involved. If the Lord truly says to a heart, 'Today you will be with Me in Paradise', I think it will be more than apparent to all present with an air of genuine peace surrounding it. Not a false peace based on false hopes (fallacies) but a 'Witness of the Spirit unmistakable by its very nature as from God. The parables plainly show us that every servant who has faithfully done his Master's Will is welcomed into the Kingdom with joy and gladness, while those who were slothful and uncaring were sent away in sorrow. It has to ring true to the conscience of every person as they approach their final hours, that opportunities lost and time spent unwisely cannot be counted as ignorance, its what could have been known AND also improved upon in life that will haunt the mind with doubt. The Lord is indeed merciful but how many times can you spurn His mercy and then expect to receive it in the end. Its not like He has kept Himself hidden and inaccessible, His word is very near and presence known, is there really a valid excuse for 'not knowing' when He has freely given you the breath of life, natural strength and the ability to choose. Why must you 'presume upon His Mercy in the final hours when you have never given it a second thought in life. How can the heart be made right in a few moments that never intended to be right, until it is too late. The Thief didn't have any 'preconceived notions about a last minute reprieve, there weren't fifty million preachers running around back then selling Grace as a magic cover and God's forgiveness as repeat after me. He was an anomaly in time, not an example anyone should try and imitate. Its absolute foolishness for anyone to put their hopes in last chance salvation and those who promote it in the churches are tempting fate, because no one knows when or how they will face their final hour or if their will be time enough in that moment for contemplation.

 

Aside from the vast majority of professed Christians who believe God's forgiveness is dispensed like sugar coated candy, I've noticed that most people go through life with a 'what will be will be' attitude toward death, not overly concerned about any consequences of their actions in life. (this is of course with the exception of various world religions' views of the after life) But in the 'Christianized West there is little if any fear of God exacting Judgment on the wicked or casting anyone into an eternal abyss of suffering, other than perhaps the devil and his minions. They will preach 'anyone into heaven unconditionally, as the thief, thinking they've done God a great service by consoling the family that no one will be excluded who 'believes in Jesus. Although it never seems to enter their minds that 'everyone can't be the thief', as much as they want it to be so, sadly its just not the case Ö 'the devils also believe' Ö
and you can't stand on a life time of excuses, disregarding His counsel and despising His reproof through stubborn neglect and then expect Him to answer you when calamity is at hand. God will not be mocked and nothing is hidden from His sight, you reap what you sow, presuming upon His Mercy at the end is an insult to the Spirit of Grace. The precious blood shed to Redeem you from the corruption of sin is not
a cheap covering or substitution, itís the means by which a soul is cleansed and purged and made FIT for present service! Wake up, Now is the Day of Salvation, tomorrow may be too late.

 

Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? Heb2:1-4


 

 by Mike D