DO YOU ALSO DEFER?

The Whole Thing began in one of my favorite haunts, a secondhand bookstore. Years ago while rummaging in one I was fortunate to find a small paper-covered booklet priced at five cents. I quickly scanned it and bought it since it had possibilities for a weekday network radio program I conducted then in Texas as the “Crossroads Counselor.” When I read it over the air it was well received and many listeners wrote in for a copy.

The message of "Anytime" had to do with a young man who was given a book to read by a friend who told him that the book contained a message for him, a message which would open his eyes to much he had not seen, open his ears to much he had not yet heard, and open his heart to much he had not yet felt.

The man was eager to read it and promised to attend to the message at once. But Business clamored for attention, then Love captured him, then Children compelled him to defer reading the book, then Sickness laid its hand on him and he could not read, then Old Age enfeebled him, then Death was adamant when the man pleaded that he had not yet read his book. He was told that in all time there was no time for "anytime."

Truly there is no ANYTIME for making friends, no ANYTIME for the kind letter you should write, no ANYTIME for the visit to that shut-in you fully intended to make, no ANYTIME for attendance at 'Worship services, no ANYTIME to attend classes devoted to the study of the Sacred Scriptures.

Indeed, for the believer there should be no spirit of ANYTIME for anything, since for everything there is a time and a season (Eccl. 3.1). Now is the time God invites our heart and mind to be occupied with His Image and Word. Now is the time God entreats us to walk worthily for all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the realization of God. Now is the time God enjoins us to become unashamed workmen seeking approval alone, studying His sacred scrolls which give us His intention for the entire creation.

Though His scrolls play the preeminent part in history, yet other scrolls also have played their part in history which forms a part of His story. We are reminded of one scroll in particular. Julius Caesar on his way to the Senate simply said, "The Ides of March have come." One of his friends replied, "Yes, but they have not yet come!” When Caesar entered the hall he was handed a scroll by Artemidorous and was urged to read it immediately. He deferred doing so, and the hinge of history moved.

The conspirators crowded around Caesar on the pretext of wishing to present petitions. His attention thus being diverted, Casca drew a dagger from under his cloak and stabbed Caesar. He managed to grasp the arm of his assailant but was stabbed by others. When he saw Brutus also raise his dagger he exclaimed, “Et tu Brute!” Folding his mantle about him he offered no further resistance, falling dead at the foot of the statue of his rival, Pompey.

The slender thread that might have unhinged the course of history lies just here. In his hand as he fell was the scroll which had been handed to him when he entered the hall. The scroll contained a detailed preview of the plot to take his life; if he had but read it at the insistence of Artemidorous.

In the Scriptures God gives us sixty-six scrolls of His plan and purpose He wills to carry out through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ In them He reveals all that we need for our sojourn on earth and entices us with a preview of our celestial citizenship.

Yet herein lies the tragedy. With the scrolls of the whole purpose in his hands the saint too, being urged to read, like Caesar, defers to do so. The procrastinating saint allows the Adversary to dismantle his soul with tradition, religion and philosophy, as well as the vagaries of men. The non-vigilant saint allows the vitalizing scrolls of God to be supplanted by the devitalizing books of men. He allows worldly attractions, trivialities, tinsel, pressing affairs of business or family life, demands of unspiritual friends to draw him away from the obedience to God's command to study His scrolls and show himself approved to God unashamed workman, rightly dividing the word of truth.

What a tragedy this is! Saints dying beneath the foreboding shadow of question marks, saints pondering problems that perplex all thoughtful and thinking persons, saints fearing while holding in their hands the scrolls which they defer to read. Dying, questioning the goodness of God. Dying, querying the destiny of man. Dying, too busy to seek the answer His word supplies to questions which sear the brain and sorrow the soul. Dying, with the scrolls containing the answers in their hands, unread; how many, with the scrolls of the whole plan, defer to read what God says about His eonian process and His ultimate goal for His entire creation.

For those who would not defer to read and search out the answers in the Scriptures, there were and are helps which continue to be published whose aim is to maintain a regular ministry devoted to the truths found in His Word. When hungry hearts and muddled minds seek a place where satisfying answers from God’s Word are given, it should be our earnest prayer that they may be blessed at our meetings where a full complement of saints regularly can gather for worship, fellowship, study, and service to one another who comprise the household of faith.

We say we believe that these truths are the very life-blood of the believer today. If this is true, then we should let nothing except serious illness or sudden death stand in the way of our regular attendance at worship and study sessions. Beyond the satisfying of our personal spiritual needs should be our earnest desire to be available when needed by those seeking a warm welcome and solid instruction in God's Word. Believers need believers for their mutual encouragement and growth. Personal and literary evangelism is useful; personal and literary teaching is also needful by those who through toil have had their faculties exercised to discriminate and who have a sense of fitness about how and when and what should be stressed and should be suppressed. This does not mean that "For their tender minds he served up half a Christ" should be our motto. Rather that minors require unadulterated milk by which they may grow and the mature require solid food that they may grow thereby.

Whether milk or meat, realization of the truth which accords with devoutness is Paul’s concern in his letters; he inveighs against those who are avowing an acquaintance with God, yet by their acts are denying it, being abominable and stubborn and disqualified for every good act (Tit. 1:1,16). Having a form of devoutness, yet denying its power to order the life to agree with a realization of the truth, is reprehensible and not condoned but condemned by Paul (2 Tim. 3:5). It is this general intention of a godly life that the goodly fellowship of the saints helps to make a reality.

These words by William Law in A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE are pertinent and powerful: "And if you will here stop, and ask yourselves, why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you, that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it. You observe the same...worship that they did; and you are strict in it, because it is your full intention to be so. And when you fully intend to be like them in their ordinary life, when you intend to please God in all your actions, you will find it as possible, as to be strictly exact in the service of the Church. And when you have this intention to please God in all your actions, as the happiest and best thing in the world, you will find in you as great an aversion to every thing that is vain and impertinent in common life, whether of business or pleasure, as you now have to any thing that is profane. You will be as fearful of living in any foolish way, either of spending your time, or your fortune, as you now are fearful of neglecting public worship."

We reiterate: let us make certain that we regularly attend services and classes where God is glorified, Christ is exalted, the inspired scrolls are scripturally taught, faithfully believed, and willingly behaved. We recommend a reading of His scriptures, and after a reading, also a frequent rereading of His word where we find doctrine we are to believe, and deportment which we are to exhibit.

Let us redeem the time because the days are evil and remember there is no ANYTIME to redeem the time, there is no ANYTIME to begin the reading of His scrolls, for the time is now, not anytime.

Frank Neil Pohorlak (Treasures of Truth, Instalment Three, December 1971)