A FEW months ago, a Boeing 707 jet — on its way to San Francisco — developed serious engine trouble over the Pacific. In the minds of many, it was very doubtful that the plane could pursue its journey safely without having to return to Hawaii, where the flight had begun. Even some of the members of the crew expected the captain to turn the plane back. But it couldn't be done. "We have already passed the point of NO RETURN" the captain said with finality; "we can't go back!"
Here we find a firmly established LAW in flying that no captain dares to defy. It is an extremely logical one. Once the distance ahead is shorter than that already traveled, a plane can no longer turn back to its starting point — however serious its mechanical difficulties may be. Literally speaking, it is supposed to have severed its ties with the point of embarkation. This Boeing jet had just PASSED the point of no return; therefore, it had to pursue its journey, whatever the cost. There is a great lesson here that we, in God's Church, can learn; there is a striking similarity between the plane's journey and the course we ourselves have taken in CHRISTIAN life. If we are deeply converted, we too, should have passed the point of NO return. We, too, should have severed all ties with our point of embarkation — the world! Have you? Some time ago, a young man in the church decided to go back to the world because his unconverted father had died, leaving him with the management of a business which was open seven days a week. This young man had not reached the point of no return in his spiritual growth. In his case, he let the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the Word of God (Mat. 13:22).
"To Whom Shall We Go?..."
The parable of the sower shows that the vast majority of those who hear the Word of God don't really bear fruit; they never reach the point of no return. This was true in Christ's time — and it is true in our day. When the Jews heard Christ say that He was "the bread of life," and that no one could come to Him unless the Father drew him, they were astonished, vexed and outraged. "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" they said among themselves, and took offense at Him. But notice! Those who got so upset and protested were not all Pharisees — your Bible says that even some of Christ's disciples took offense at Him. "This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" they exclaimed (John 6:60). Can you imagine this? Had you thought of it before? These were disciples who had been called out of the world to follow Christ — all the way. Many of them had probably left families and friends behind. But all at once they changed their attitude before "a hard saying" — perhaps a difficult task or a responsibility they couldn't or didn't want to shoulder. What then did they do? "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66). Yes — they WENT BACK to the world, to its cares, its glittering lights, its lies and lusts. As you can see, these disciples had not reached the point of no return in their growth. When Christ saw them walk away He turned to the twelve and said: "Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, lo whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." (Verses 67-68,)
How About You?
Have you ever wondered if YOU yourself have reached the point of NO RETURN in your spiritual growth? Meditate this seriously because your eternal life depends upon the answer. There are "members" of the Church who — even though they have been baptized years ago — have not even "taken off," let alone having reached the point of no return. Consequently, their eyes, hearts and minds are still attached to the world. They are still attracted to this world's fashions, its fads; still trying to "keep up" with whatever is the current "thing to do." Some of them even wish they had never heard the TRUTH! Can this be your case? Do you slumber and wait rather than keep vigilant and persevere, being determined to reach the goal? Do you realize that you — a baptized member of God's Church — should by now be way past the point of no return? Not only is this true, but it is almost TIME FOR LANDING! Whether you think that you have just begun because you are newly baptized, or whether you feel safe perhaps in your own mind to slumber yet a few more years, the fact remains that the point of no return is way behind — that we are about to land. Are you ready? Have you "girded your loins" with the truth — your safety belt? Have you taken the "whole armor" of God to withstand the difficult days which are yet ahead? (Eph. 6:13-18.) Or do you want to act like the five foolish maidens who slumbered and slept, only to find the door SHUT when Christ returned?
Every Day Is a Special Day
Here, in California, one of the large drug store chains advertises the following slogan: "Every day is a special day at Thrifty Mart." I don't know how true this is as far as they are concerned, but I know that — in GOD'S CHURCH — every day is and must be a "special day" for all of us. Every day, indeed, gives us the opportunity to GROW in grace and knowledge; every day allows us to drink in more of Gods Word, to converse with our Creator, to pray to Him, to commune with Him, to grow more and more toward perfection. Just imagine! Every day takes us farther away from the point of no return and brings us CLOSER to our destination. Can you now see why every day must indeed be a SPECIAL DAY for God's begotten children? But is it for you? Do you pray daily, with all your heart for God's Kingdom to come? Do you really mean it? Would you be happy — and ready! — if it came tomorrow? Do you feel in your heart that every Sabbath that comes and passes takes you seven days farther away from the point of no return, and seven days closer to your landing in the KINGDOM OF GOD? Do you really pray to God having these thoughts in mind — or are you like those who haven't reached "the point of no return" — or perhaps who haven't even yet "taken off?"
Examine yourself to find the answer. Put yourself under the test — a very simple one at that. Frankly speaking, the day you were baptized, you should already have reached the point of no return in your life. Ask yourself in all sincerity and honesty if you are growing every day in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Examine your heart to see if anyone in the world — whether it be a mother, a son, a husband or a wife — pulls you back so strongly that they prevent you from ever reaching the point of no return. Christ said: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Mat. 10:37-38). Did you count this cost before you were baptized? Search your heart to see if anything in the world — riches, glory, fame or lust — pulls you back so strongly that you cannot even "take off." Christ said: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it" (Mat. 13:45-46). Examine yourself to see whether you have severed your ties with the world, or whether you love the glittering and deceptive lights of the world more than the truly bright and eternal LIGHTS of the Truth. Under God's inspiration the apostle John wrote: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:15-17). The Bible warns that there will be some in this condition at the time of the end. "Let him which is on the house top not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field RETURN BACK to take his clothes" (Mat. 24:17-18). Will you be guilty of this? Again, ask yourself: Is there ANYTHING in the world that can make you yearn to go back? Is there ANYONE you miss so much, or you want so badly to be with, that you would like to go bad — for his sake — to the ways of the world? Some, in God's Church, are extremely slow in growing because they have unconverted relatives who take most of their thoughts and prayers and time. Is this your case? If so, then you have not reached the POINT OF NO RETURN on your journey to the Kingdom of God — even though it is soon time to land. What will it take to shake you up? What do you need to wake you up? God says: "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we [first] believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:11-14).
God's Great Promise
Occasionally, in talking over the problems with members of the Church, we ministers feel that their discouragement is mainly due to the lack of confidence or TRUST in God's concern for them. Some people even think and act as though God were trying to make it impossible for them to enter the Kingdom. This, of course, is utter nonsense! God truly wants each and every one of us to SUCCEED; it is His will and desire that we BE SAVED. He will bend backward, so to speak, to help us out. What then is there to fear? If God is with us — and HE IS with us — whom shall we fear? Are your "trials" or "tests" — when the going is really tough — more than you can bear? This, too, is an impossibility. To find your life "unbearable" is to make God a liar, for it is written: "There hath no temptation [trial or test] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted [tried or tested] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation [trial or test) also make a way to escape" (I Cor. 10:13). What a magnificent PROMISE! Take God at His Word. Have courage! Live your life with a strong, cheerful and positive attitude. God does not expect of you what you aren't able to give, do, or make. But He certainly expects you to make the best and the fullest use of whatever He has given you.
The very fact that you know the Truth — and that you are a member of the Church, Christ's body — should be already a positive proof in itself that you must have Passed the point of no return. Act on it then — accordingly. It doesn't take more effort to believe than to doubt. It doesn't take more power to go forward than backward. In fact, oftentimes, the contrary is true! If you are constantly faithful to God's Word, then you have His absolute GUARANTEE that you will succeed and gain ETERNAL LIFE. Always keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, knowing perfectly well that He wants you — more than you can ever want — to make the Kingdom. Instead of looking back to the world behind you, look forward to the WORLD TOMORROW, and rejoice that every passing hour brings you closer to God's Kingdom. When you consider the reward, no sacrifice whatever can be too high a price to pay. The apostle Paul wrote under divine inspiration: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18). And again: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (verses 35-39). Remember therefore that, whatever trials and tests you may encounter now, you truly have already passed THE POINT OF NO RETURN. Your difficulties may be compared to the "engine trouble" of a "crippled" plane, but our journey — as true Christians — is quite different from the hazardous and perilous journey of a plane. Ours is an absolutely SAFE and MAJESTIC one, and we can all anticipate, with joy, a perfect landing in the near future — not just on any field, but in God's own Kingdom!