You’ve heard the cliché, “Better late than never.” I submit to you, when it comes to doing what we’re told, it’s better to show up late than not at all. In today’s Scripture passage, we read the parable of the vineyard owner who unsuccessfully tried to enlist his sons as vinedressers.

The first son’s response is typical of most people who are invited to accept Christ as their Savior. They immediately turn down the offer. Some dismiss the gospel as a message too simple to be true. Others reject its moral implications. A few take issue with the facts concerning Jesus’ virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection.

But later some of these same people experience a change of mind and come to embrace the gospel. Then they work in the vineyards to serve their Savior.

The second son’s response is typical of many “religious” people who hear the gospel preached Sunday after Sunday, and yet continue to rely upon their works for salvation. They give assent to the gospel, but reject salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ. Instead they rely upon daily penitence and making a commitment to live for Christ.

While these people say, “Yes,” to God with their lips, their hearts deny Him. Their works of service are nothing more than filthy rags in His sight, because they are offered with the wrong motive. Unless they obey the gospel by believing on Christ, their end—eternal judgment in Hell—will be worse than their beginning—dead and empty works.

Do you know someone who gives mental assent to the truth of the gospel, but has not accepted the free gift? I challenge you to pray for that individual. Perhaps God will give you an opportunity to reach him or her before it’s too late.

A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world. — C.S. Lewis

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.