Is It Too Late for Me to Come to Jesus?

There are many reasons why a person might be concerned that it is too late to find salvation in Christ.

  • I lived most of my life without Christ. Wouldn’t it be hypocritical of me to seek salvation now?
  • I’ve made some serious mistakes. I doubt that I am worthy of God’s love.
  • I probably do not have much longer to live, and I’m uneasy about an afterlife. Fear does not sound like a respectable reason for faith.
  • I’ve been involved in church my whole life, but I’m not sure that I ever really believed in Jesus. Wouldn’t God be tired of my hypocrisy?
  • By now, I am quite set in my ways. I doubt I have the time or energy left to learn to live like Jesus.
  • I used to confess Christ, but drifted away and have not kept up my faith. Hasn’t that offended him?
  • I used to actively speak out against Christ and Christianity. Why should Jesus make room for me?

How would God respond to each of these concerns? Consider a story Jesus told.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’
So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’
And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
So the last will be first, and the first last.”

A grape harvest can be ruined by bad weather, so it was important to get as much help as possible to pick the grapes when they were ripe. Laborers worked from dawn until dusk, but if more unemployed men became available later in the day, so much the better.
But this story ends with a surprise. Those who came late and worked only one hour were paid the same wage as those contracted in the morning. The men who worked all day in the heat thought this unfair. Didn’t they deserve more than the ones who only worked for an hour? Or perhaps the later ones deserved less?

Jesus used the story to compare fairness and grace. Fairness is getting what you deserve (like the ones who agreed to work a full day for the stated wage). Grace is giving someone more than they deserve because you want to be generous (like the ones who were paid the same amount for less work). Fairness focuses on what someone deserves. Grace focuses on what someone wants to give. Both are good, but the story illustrates how it is much easier to deal with fairness than with grace.

The Living God is never less than fair. Consider his promised coming judgment at the end of history. God promises to match each person’s eternal situation with how faithful we have been to the conscience that he gave us. God will line up what we’ve done with what we, ourselves, believe to be right (Romans 2:6-16). What could be fairer than that?

The problem is, there aren’t many people, if any at all, who go through life with a clean conscience. If you are thinking seriously about God’s salvation, then perhaps you understand that God’s fairness is not a comforting thought.

The good news is that God is not always fair. He is never less than fair, but he is willing to be much more than fair. Salvation is not about what you or I might deserve. It is about what God wants to give. That’s one of the things Jesus was saying in his parable. It’s silly to complain if God is more than fair. Grace is about God’s character, and God can be as kind, forgiving and generous as he wants to be.

If you are interested in Jesus, then you may already have heard of how generous the Lord wants to be. God came to earth as a human being to live the life we were meant to live. He died to voluntarily bear the punishment deserved by people who haven’t lived as they should. He rose again to begin a new life he can share with anyone who wants transforming grace today and amazing grace in eternity. This new life is offered to all who want it. It’s not what we deserve. It’s what God wants to give.

But what about all those questions I listed above? Might it not be too late for me? Jesus dealt with that, too, when he designed the story to include workers who showed up at the last hour. If God’s salvation is a gift of his generous heart, then he is just as happy to give it to someone at the end of the day as at the beginning. It’s true that walking with Christ through life is the very best way to live, but having missed a lifetime with Christ does not mean you have to miss an eternity.

  • I’ve lived my life without Christ. Wouldn’t it be hypocritical of me to seek salvation now?
    Not at all. Everyone who comes to know Jesus started out not knowing him. The question is what you want now.
  • I’ve made some serious mistakes. I doubt that I am worthy of God’s love.
    What we are determines what we deserve. But it’s what God is that determines what he wants to give.
  • I probably do not have much longer to live, and I’m uneasy about an afterlife. Fear does not sound like a very good reason for faith.
    If there is a reason to be afraid, then what’s wrong with being afraid? It means that you are taking God seriously. But remember to take just as seriously his deep and genuine generosity.
  • I’ve been involved in church my whole life, but I’m not sure that I ever really believed in Jesus. Wouldn’t God be tired of my hypocrisy?
    Actually, it sounds like you are tired of it. Surely, you and the Lord would both like to forget the past and move on.
  • By now, I am quite set in my ways. I doubt I have the time or energy left to learn to live like Jesus.
    Nobody gets everything straightened out in this lifetime. But isn’t it better to get started on something you can finish in eternity, rather than never start at all?
  • I used to confess Christ, but I drifted away and gave up the faith. Hasn’t that offended him?
    Salvation is about forgiving our offenses. That’s the point.
  • I used to actively speak out against Christ and Christianity. Why should Jesus make room for me?
    This one hits home, because it describes me. I’ve learned from the Bible that the people God most enjoys saving are those who are the farthest from him.

I should have been paying better attention. For a while now, it’s become hand to mouth. The vineyard’s been hiring all day but I didn’t know. Maybe I didn’t want to know about that kind of work. But now the sun is getting low and I still need cash for a meal and place to sleep. I drift over to the pick up area, wondering how my life came to this.
I turn and come face to face with the Master himself, striding back toward the vineyard. He knows a hungry man when he sees one, and asks if I’d like a job picking some fruit.
“OK.”
I’ve only filled my second basket when it gets too dark to continue. I’m last in line to get paid, wondering what I will do with a couple of dollars. And he puts in my hand a full day’s wage. Before I can say anything, an exhausted guy grumps that I was only there less than an hour, and in the evening cool at that.
The Master just looks at me and smiles. “It’s my money, isn’t it?”
I thought those in charge only cared about themselves. But this Master cares about people. He cares about me.
I’m going back there tomorrow. Maybe he’ll have a permanent opening. I think I’d like to work for him.

It’s not too late to come to Jesus, not until the sun has finally set. Jesus says that God is never less than fair. But if you are interested, he would like to be extraordinarily generous to you.

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