It had been an eventful week for Saul. He left Jerusalem with letters in hand to arrest Christians. On the road to Damascus, he suddenly encountered Jesus in all His resurrected glory. Though Saul was blinded by the heavenly light, Jesus told him “to get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do” (Acts 9:6).
After three days, Saul found a disciple of Jesus named Ananias, who healed his blindness, and preached to him the gospel. At the crucial moment of their discussion, Ananias brought his pitch to a close, saying,
Now why do you delay? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name (Acts 22:16).
Indeed, why do you delay? While Saul’s whole world had been turned upside down, while his head was likely swimming with competing thoughts, the facts were plain, the appropriate course of action was obvious. Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. As promised, Jesus had been raised from the dead, and ascended to His place at the right hand of God. Saul needed to repent of his wickedness, submit to the authority of Jesus, and be washed in His blood! Without pausing for so much as a meal, Saul was baptized into Christ (Acts 9:18-19). From that day forward, he began to proclaim Jesus to all who would listen.
Good Reasons to Wait
When the preacher gives the invitation, there are a handful of good reasons to delay a response.
Perhaps you don’t know the gospel message. There is no shortcut around understanding the good news of Jesus Christ. The gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16). Nothing else will serve to convict the heart, nothing else will substitute as a good reason to join the body of Christ.
If a lack of knowledge is the problem, then don’t answer the invitation yet. But, sit down with a preacher immediately and open the word of God. Discover the gospel message. Learn the truth. While the Bible is a big book that rewards a lifetime of searching, the basics necessary for salvation are not complicated (1 Cor. 1:18-31). They don’t take more than an evening to grasp (Acts 16:33). Within a few hours, you’ll have all the information that you need to make a decision for or against the Lord.
Perhaps you are not ready to make a commitment. Now, I’m the sort who can’t even hit “Buy Now” without sleeping on it. So I appreciate it when people stop to think about big decisions—like whether or not to get engaged, to join a ball team, to take a job in a new city. Jesus Himself cautioned people to “count the cost” of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33) before rashly following Jesus. But Jesus’ point is not to paralyze every prospective disciple, but rather to make us appreciate the gravity of the decision. So, sit down with a Christian immediately and ask about the yoke of the cross (Matt. 11:28-30), the need for repentance, the diligence required. Find out what are the sacrifices that go along with the blessings. When you do, I am confident you will be ready to make the right decision.
But hurry! With every passing day, you miss out on the great blessings of being a part of the kingdom of God. With every passing day you run the risk that the patience of God will come to an end—that you will draw your final breath, or that Judgment will be upon us (2 Pet. 3:14-15, 1 Thess. 5:1-3). With every passing day, your mind wanders to distraction and grows lethargic, as your circumstances change. Alarm slowly dissolves into comfort. Procrastination is spiritually deadly (Acts 24:27). If you know what to do and why, there’s no reason to delay!
Bad Reasons to Wait
Most of the time, however, our reasons for delaying a commitment to Jesus are just excuses. I’m reminded of the three men who refused to attend a feast—one was surveying his land, one was trying out his oxen, one was newly married (Luke 14:15-24). These were excuses, not reasons. In anger, the homeowner dis-invited the excuse-makers and turned his attention to others.
Don’t worry about what other people will think when you make a commitment to Christ; God alone is your judge (Matt. 10:32-33).
Don’t say, “I am too busy right now,” offering to deal with salvation during a more convenient season. Nothing is more important than God’s kingdom (Matt. 6:33, 13:22).
Don’t say, “I want to live a little first; I’ll get serious later.” This is the wrong attitude toward sin and toward grace (1 Peter 2:11, 4:3).
Don’t say, “I am waiting for a sign from God.” It’s already been given to you (Matt. 12:39)! —John Guzzetta