INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
Lord willing, in 2022, I plan to spend time reading and learning from sermons and writing of past spiritual giants. Then, hopefully, I will apply what I learn to live a life more pleasing to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. One of those giants is Charles Spurgeon. A website entitled The Spurgeon Center for Biblical Preaching at Midwestern Seminary (link: The Spurgeon Library) contains many of Spurgeon’s sermons available for free.
This post is the first of five blog posts entitled, “Your Time is Short: Some Reflections on Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon “The Time is Short” (1 Corinthians 7:29). The link to the sermon is The Spurgeon Library | The Time is Short. In addition, these posts present my takeaways in the form of questions.
I very briefly discuss the text in this post and Spurgeon’s introduction to his sermon. Each of the following posts will discuss one of the four points in the sermon: the expression “the time is short” warns, suggests, inspires, and alarms.
I hope you take the time to read this blog. But, if time is short for you, at least consider and answer the below questions.
First, do you appreciate that the time you have left on this earth grows shorter every day? Do you realize that your life could end before you finish reading this post? Have you considered that your life is running out like the sand in an hourglass with the top half concealed, so you don’t know when the final grain of sand will fall?
Second, are you living your life as you will always have tomorrow? If you do, do you realize how foolish that is? If you do, do you realize that you are essentially bestowing upon yourself an attribute of God, i.e., eternality?
Third, do you realize the preciousness of your time? Do you squander more of your time than you appreciate on things of no eternal consequence?
Fourth, after pondering the text and what Spurgeon preached in his introduction, are you willing to make necessary changes, so your life reflects that you believe the truth that is beginning from birth, a person’s earthly life is continually becoming shorter?
THE TEXT – 1 CORINTHIANS 7:29
The default English translation is the New American Standard Bible 1995 update (NASB95). 1 Corinthians 7:29 (NASB95) reads:
29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;
You will note that the operative expression, i.e., “the time has been shortened,” in the NASB95 translation differs from the Net Bible (NET), which reads, “The time is short.” It also differs from the English Standard Version ( ESV), which reads, “the appointed time has grown very short,” and the New Living Translation (NLT), which reads, “The time that remains is very short.” Louw et al. (See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 644). United Bible Societies) expresses the meaning as, “the time is coming to an end.” “Little Kittel” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (p. 1075). W.B. Eerdmans) addresses this verb usage:
3.a. In the NT Paul says in 1 Cor. 7:29 that the time remaining for us is short. The point may be that by Christ’s coming God has shortened the time of apocalyptic expectation, or perhaps Paul is simply adapting a popular saying to the imminent expectation of his generation.
In discussing 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Pratt (Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 121). Broadman & Holman Publishers) writes:
His concern caused him to ponder the conditions of life faced by all believers—married, divorced, widowed, engaged, and single alike. He began and ended with acknowledgments that this life is fleeting: time is short … this world in its present form is passing away.
In reference to the interpretation, the single, definite, and fixed meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:29 is beginning from birth a person’s earthly life is continually becoming shorter. This interpretation transcends time from the 1st Century to the 21st Century.
This interpretation generates the first series of questions. Do you appreciate that the time you have left on this earth grows shorter every day? Do you realize that your life could end before you finish reading this post? Have you considered that your life is running out like the sand in an hourglass with the top half concealed, so you don’t know when the final grain of sand will fall?
In his introduction, Spurgeon pointed out that most people do not live in such as way as to demonstrate they comprehend the principle that “the time is short.” He pointed out that while we appreciate the mortality of others, we do not carry out our life like we believe our life will someday end. The pertinent part of his sermon reads:
This is a truth which everybody believes, knows, and confesses. It is trite as a proverb on every tongue; yet how few of us act as if we believed it! We are conscious of the precariousness of other people’s lives; but, somehow or other, we persuade ourselves that our own time is not quite as limited as theirs. We think we have “ample time and verge enough;” but we wonder that our neighbours can be so careless and prodigal of days and years, for we observe the wrinkles on their brows, we detect the grey hairs on their heads, and perceive the auguries of death in their mien, and we doubt not they will soon have to render in their account. “All men think all men mortal but themselves,” is a “night-thought” that may well startle us, as we rest from the business and the bustle, or the waste and wantonness of each succeeding day. Why hide ye from yourselves the waning of your own life-work, the weakening of your own strength, the weaving of your own shrouds? As a creature, you are frail; as an inhabitant of the world, you are exposed to casualties; as a man, there is an appointed time for you on earth. You must be swept away by the receding tide; you must go with the rest of your generation.
Later on, Spurgeon contrasted God’s existence with that of mankind:
Enquire at the mouth of the Lord; take counsel of the eternal God. Remember how it is written, “A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” “He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers,” ephemera, insects of an hour, compared with him. Like the grass we spring up, and like the grass we are mowed down. Compared with the lifetime of the Eternal, what is our life? Nay, there is no comparison; it is almost too insignificant for contrast. “My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. But thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.”
Spurgeon’s introduction generates these questions. Are you living your life as you will always have tomorrow? If you do, do you realize how foolish that is? If you do, do you realize that you are essentially bestowing upon yourself an attribute of God, i.e., eternality?
Spurgeon counsels his audience not to waste time:
Be parsimonious of minutes now, though you may have been, at one time, prodigal of years. At the end of life, you have no time to parley and postpone; to resolve, and yet to trifle with resolutions; to waste and squander golden opportunities. “The time is short.”
This generates these questions. Do you realize the preciousness of your time? Do you squander more of your time than you appreciate on things of no eternal consequence?
As a final comment, after pondering the text and what Spurgeon preached in his introduction, are you willing to make necessary changes, so your life reflects that you believe the truth that is beginning from birth, a person’s earthly life is continually becoming shorter?
IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT YOUR SALVATION
If you are unsure about your salvation, you need to check out my new (published in October 2021) book, The Salvation Meter: Biblical Self-Diagnostic Tests to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth (book link at Xulon Press: https://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781662828638 ). At Amazon, the book link is https://www.amazon.com/Salavation-Meter-Biblical-Self-Diagnostic-Spiritual/dp/1662828632 . I also have a website on which I am updating the content in the book. The link to my website for the book is https://thesalvationmeter.com .
IF YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, your eternal destination is hell unless God intervenes. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation.
Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved and a more concise description at my (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
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