Because of God’s limitless grace toward those of us in Christ, we ought to make it our aim to proclaim the excellencies of His mercy, and to proclaim His mercies with excellence. Such excellence requires a constant study of the message of life through Christ found in the Scriptures. If we are to connect well the law which condemns and grace which pardons, we must be careful to expose our hearers to both the primary truths and the secondary truths of Scripture. By virtue of their prominence in the Scriptures, secondary truths may easily escape us. We often do not fail to magnify the great and obvious truths of creation, sin, atonement redemption, etc. Yet the other details which clarify these evade us.
One such evasive truth often missing from our gospel presentations is the brevity and fragility of life. It is important for us to not only impress upon our hearers the urgency of the moment, but more precisely why they should so urgently respond to the gospel. There are at least two reasons why every human being should flee to Christ immediately. These are two secondary truths which may help us to better impress the truth upon believers and call them to response.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. – James 4:13-14
First, as finite beings, we do not know the future. James exposes the pride of those who boast about the future; even the immediate future. No one knows what tomorrow or even today will bring. Unbelievers naturally, often unknowingly, presume upon the grace of God by predicting what they will or will not do in the future. This is pride because no one knows the future. Therefore, for a believer to presume upon God’s grace without repentance and faith is a grave error. He doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring. Without certainty of even another breath, every person who hears the good news ought to repent and believe with urgency. We must impress upon our hearers.
Second, we may press our hearers to respond with urgency to the gospel because they are but vapors. James continues his case by pointing out not only that we do not know what will come to us in the future, but we also do not know what will become of us tomorrow. Peter echoes the sentiment in 1 Peter 1:22-25, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you.” We have a duty to our neighbors to impress upon them the fragility of their own lives, which may be here today and gone tomorrow.
The New England pastor, Thomas Boston: “I testify unto you all, there is no peace with God, no pardon, no heaven, for you, in your natural state [without Christ]: there is but a step between you and eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord; if the brittle thread of your life, which may break with a touch ere you are aware, be broken while you are in this state, you are ruined forever, without remedy.”
Let us strive to make even this secondary truth of the gospel – the brittle thread of your life – a clear and present reality in all our telling of the good news.