Tag Archives: Ephesians

The Preciousness of Time

hourglass

“Redeeming the time…” – Ephesians 5:16

Reasons Time is a thing that is exceedingly precious:

I. Because eternity depends on the improvement of time. Things are precious in proportion to the importance of them, or according to the degree wherein they concern our welfare. Men are wont to set the highest value on those things that they are sensible, and that they have their chief dependence upon. Other things they may easily part with, but they won’t very easily part with such things. And this renders time so exceeding precious, because our welfare, and interest of it, depends upon the improvement of it….

And hence it is that time is a thing so exceeding precious, because ’tis by that that we have opportunity of escaping everlasting misery and of obtaining eternal blessedness and glory. ‘Tis upon the improvement of time that there depends an escape from an infinite evil and an obtaining an infinite good. And this puts an infinite value upon time.

Eternity depends upon it, for eternity is an infinite or endless duration. And to be miserable through eternity is an infinite evil; ’tis infinitely dreadful. And so to be happy through {eternity is an infinite good}.

II. Time is very short, which is another thing that renders it very precious: the scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set an higher value upon it, especially if it be a thing that is necessary to be had and that they can’t do without, or be that which their interest much depends upon….

Time is so short, and the work is so great that we have to do in it, that we have none of it to spare. The work that we have to do to prepare for eternity must be done in time, or it never can be done; and ’tis found to be a work of great difficulty and labor.

We read of silver being so plenty in Solomon’s time that it was as the stones of the street: it was nothing accounted of; they had more of it than they needed, or knew what to do with. But this is not the case with us with respect to time. And.’tis but a little time that God hath allotted to us, a short space that is soon all of it gone.

If a man loses any of that that he has but little of, and yet is absolutely necessary to him, his loss is the greater. [It is] as if he has but a little food wherewith [to] support his life: if he loses some of it, his loss is greater than if had an abundance. So we ought to prize our time the more highly, and to be careful that we don’t lose any of it, because it is so short, and yet what is so necessary to us.

III. Time ought to be looked upon as very precious by us upon this account also, that we are uncertain of the continuance of it. We know that ’tis very short, but we don’t know how short: we don’t know how little there is of it remaining, whether a year or several years, or only a month, or a week, or a day.

We don’t know but that every day be not the last, or how little of the day we are to have. There is nothing that experience doth more verify than this….

How much more would many men prize their time, if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days more in the world; and certainly a wise man would prize his time the more, because he does not know but hat it is so. This is the case with multitudes now in the world that now are in health, and so [see] no signs of approaching death. Many without doubt are to die the next month, and many are to die the next week; many are to die tomorrow that now know nothing of it, and think nothing about it. And neither they nor their neighbors can say [they] are any more likely soon to be taken out of the world than others. How many have died out of this town at one time and another, when neither they nor their neighbors saw any signs of death a week beforehand. And probably there are various persons now here present, hearing what I now say, that are to die in a very little time, that have no apprehension of it.

This teaches us how we ought to prize our time, and be careful that we don’t lose any of it.

IV. Time is very precious, because when it is past, it can’t be recovered.

Therefore we should be the more choice of it, while we have it; for that which is well improved is not lost; though the time itself be gone, yet the benefit of it abides with us.

It is so with our time, both in whole and in every particular part. When any part of time is lost, ’tis irrecoverably gone. The offer is never but once made us, whether we will improve it or no. Every part of our time is as it were successively offered to us, that we may choose whether we will make it our own or no; but there is no tarry to wait upon us, to see whether we will or not. But if we refuse, ’tis immediately taken away, and never offered more. As to that part of time that is gone, if we han’t well improved it, ’tis out of our possession, and out of our reach. ‘Tis only what is yet before us that we have any opportunity to make our own, whether that be less or more.

If we have lived fifty, or sixty, or seventy years, and han’t improved them, it now can’t be helped. ‘Tis all eternally gone from us. All that we can do, is to improve the little that remains. Yea, if we have spent all our lives, but a few minutes was improved, all that is gone is lost; and ’tis only those few remaining minutes that ’tis possible should be made his own.

But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. ‘Tis utterly and everlastingly gone.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), exert from sermon “The Preciousness of Time” in Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738 (WJE Online Vol. 19), 243-61.

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Our Assurance Rests in the Triune God

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. – Ephesians 1:3-6

Election is a glorious doctrine; yet it makes some people uneasy because it naturally causes them to wonder whether they are predestined or not. Indeed, some people experience high anxiety because they fear they are not among the elect. Their question becomes, how can I know if God has chosen me or not? It is a reasonable question. If salvation depends on election, then it would seem that being sure of my salvation requires being sure of my election.

How then can we be sure that we are among God’s elect? The answer lies in the triune being of God. Here it helps to remember that the elect are chosen in Christ. Election in Christ is the only kind of election there is. What God has chosen to do is to unite us to Christ, putting us together with him for our salvation. Therefore, to ask if we are among the elect is really to ask if we are in Christ. If we want to know whether or not God has chosen us, all we need to know is whether or not we are in Christ. We do not need to read God’s mind. We do not need to climb up to heaven and peek into the Book of Life. The triune God has made himself known to us in Christ. So all we need to know is Jesus Christ, who is the location of salvation. Every spiritual blessing God has to offer may be found in him, including election. If we are in Christ, therefore, we are among the elect, for the elect are chosen in Christ. John Calvin thus warned that “if we have been elected in him [Christ], we shall not find assurance of election in ourselves.” Rather, Christ “is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election.” The way to make our calling and election sure is to be sure that we are joined to Jesus Christ by faith.

Since election is in Christ, it is usually best understood after one becomes a Christian. In fact, the doctrine of election is sometimes referred to as a “family secret” (although it is not really a secret to anyone who knows the Bible). While we are still outside God’s family, we may not hear about predestination at all; if we do, it hardly seems to make any sense. Once we are in the family, however, it makes the most perfect sense in the world. Indeed, it is the kind of fact that helps us make sense of everything else.

The famous American Bible teacher and evangelist Donald Grey Barnhouse often used an illustration to help people make sense of election. He asked them to imagine a cross like the cross on which Jesus died, only so large that it had a door in it. Over the door were these words from Revelation: “Whosoever will may come” (22:17). These words represent the free and universal offer of the gospel. By God’s grace, the message of salvation is for everyone. Every man, woman, and child who will come to the cross is invited to believe in Jesus Christ and so enter eternal life.

On the other side of the door a happy surprise awaits the one who believes and enters. For from the inside, anyone glancing back can see these words from Ephesians written above the door: “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” (1:4). Election is best understood in hindsight, for it is only after coming to Christ that we can look and know that we have been chosen in Christ. Those who make a decision for Christ find that the triune God made a decision for them in eternity past. In the words of an anonymous hymn from the nineteenth century,

I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;

It was not I that found, O Savior true;

No, I was found of thee.

Philip Ryken & Michael LeFebvre, Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One, 28-29.

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