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AN APPOINTMENT YOU WILL KEEP ...REGARDLESS
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; Hebrews 9:27
1982 is gone and yet not gone. Though much is covered, all shall be revealed. No matter who we are we shall one day be in each other’s presence because we both possess a never-dying soul. With this soul both of us must appear before God in the great judgment day. “It is appointed unto men once, to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27)
1982 has ended; our lives shall just as surely end. You may do all in your power to put the thought of death away from you. Yet you cannot escape the fact that you must die. You know that you must die and face God. Perhaps you are reluctant to think about death because you also know judgment follows death as surely as night follows day. In all seriousness, therefore, could I possibly press upon you a more significant question than this: What is going to happen to you when you die?
Conscience, common sense, and the Bible all declare to you that there is an eternity you must face. Therefore, don’t avoid this question for your own sake: Are you prepared to die and face God as Judge?
I am sorry to have to tell you that millions today think they are prepared to meet God who shall end in hell following the great day of judgment. This is what God tells us in His Holy Word: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23).
Did you ever consider what a terrible awakening it will be for those who are traveling on in this life thinking all is well with them to hear in that day as they stand before the Most High God, “I never knew you”? Words cannot describe the anguish of soul as this sentence will be passed upon them: “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Shall you and I also be among these disappointed “many” that Christ speaks of in Matthew 7?
Dear reader, please give me a few minutes of your time to try to show you who will end in hell and who will end in heaven.
The Broad Road to Eternal Destruction
First, I must honestly tell you the Bible informs us in Matthew 7 that the vast majority of people will be going to hell. “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Perhaps this sounds cruel to you, but this sad fact is true not because God is cruel; rather, we are cruel to ourselves. We have all earned death and hell. These are the only two things we have deserved, for “we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
What kind of people is included in this vast multitude which is hell-bound?
(1) All ungodly people shall end in hell. Those who openly live wicked lives, doing such things as:
• spending their time in taverns and their money in drink and drugs,
• engaging in unlawful sexual relationships,
• treating Sunday as but another day of the week,
• daily watching the stream of sin flowing out of a TV,
• openly swearing against God by using His Holy Name in vain,
• living a life of rebellion against parents,
shall end in hell unless they are brought to true repentance and conversion by the Almighty power of God’s grace. Are you one of this group? If so, I urge you to seek repenting, confessing, and turning grace before it is forever too late to seek the Lord!
(2) All worldly people shall end in hell. Those who abstain from gross sins, but whose lives are intertwined with the world, who live unburdened when they continually do such things as:
• place self above and before God,
• place the possessions of worldly riches above the riches of God’s grace,
• place the desires of other people above God’s will as revealed in His Word,
• place the needs of daily life above the need of a Savior for their never dying souls,
• feel the consequences of sin to be more tragic than the sinfulness of sinning against a holy and well-doing God,
• feel it is more important what their neighbors and friends think of them than what God thinks of them,
• feel more afraid of the anger of man than the holy wrath of a righteous and sinless God,
shall end in hell unless they are brought to true repentance and conversion by the Almighty power of God’s grace. Are you one of this group?
If so, I must say to you: heaven itself would be no happiness to you if you arrived there, for the Lord of heaven is not your friend—what pleases Him does not please you; what He dislikes gives you no pain. His Word is not your counsellor; His day is not your delight; His law is not your guide. You care little for hearing of Him; you know even less of speaking with Him. To be for ever in His company would be a thing you could not endure; the society of saints and angels would be a weariness for you and not a joy. As far as your practical life is concerned, the Bible means little, Christ means less, and salvation is a needless thing. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ye cannot serve both God and mammon” (Eph. 5:14; Matt. 6:24).
(3) Many religious people shall end in hell. It is possible to be hell-bound though we be faithful church attenders, Sunday school teachers, and even ministers. Religion can be our favorite subject, our mouth can be bubbling over with conversation about God and Christ, and our outward walk of life can be blameless—all without being truly saved from destruction.
We can be as religious as the five false virgins in Matthew 25, possessing the same confession, the same expectation, the same lamps, and the same outward appearance as the five wise virgins—and still go lost. We can be as religious as Esau who sought carefully a place of repentance with tears (Heb. 12:17)—and still perish. We can be as religious as Ahab of whom Scripture says, “Ahab rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh and fasted, and lay in sackcloth and went softly” (I Kings 21:27)—and still be unconverted.
It is possible to experience common convictions of sin and impressions of God and His holy attributes—even to acknowledge sin and be somewhat humbled under it, to weep and pray over it, to be afraid to sin again—and still not be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Think of Cain, Saul, and Judas.
We need more than religion and church attendance. We need the powerful, irresistible, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in order to be born again and converted. Only then shall we be enabled by God’s grace to be prepared to meet the Lord.
How may I know if I am included in this small number of highly privileged people who are heaven-bound?
The Narrow Road to Eternal Life
All those who shall arrive in heaven will confess their salvation to be a great miracle of God’s free grace. They shall all be souls that have been truly born again by the Holy Spirit (see John 3). They are people who have been converted by God. In their conversion they experience three things: misery, deliverance, and gratitude (See Roman 7:24-25; Psalm 50:15).
(1) When the Holy Spirit begins preparing a sinner to meet God He does not begin with Christ. There is no room in our hearts by nature for Christ. Rather, He uncovers to the elect sinner his tragic misery and the dangerous state of sinnership before God. The sinner is brought to experience:
• deep mourning over his innumerable actual sins in thoughts, words, and actions before an all-knowing God;
• deep mourning over his dreadful original sin through his deep fall in Adam, being taught his whole heart is nothing but a fountain of pollution and corruption;
• deep mourning over the inescapable truth that his whole heart is evil and his whole life is sin, so that self and sin become identical in his eyes;
• deep mourning not only because the burden of sin becomes too heavy to bear, but also because he finds it impossible to free himself of his burden;
• deep mourning when he is brought to the point of salvation being both an impossibility and a necessity simultaneously so that he cries out, “Lord, Thou art righteous and just to cast me away forever, but is it possible that there is a way in Thee to escape Thy Divine punishment and be restored into Thy favor?”
Have you also become such a concerned sinner, a miserable sinner, and unworthy sinner, a guilty sinner, a lost sinner, a total sinner, and a cut-off sinner in your own souls’s experience?
(2) When the sinner experiences he has no future but hell, and casts himself upon God as the only place of refuge, God opens up His unspeakably rich way of deliverance through the blood and satisfaction of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner is brought to experience:
• his need for Christ;
• a glimpse of Christ in His beauty, fullness, and suitability;
• a revelation of Christ in the soul wrought by the Holy Spirit through which God’s elect child learns how Christ has fully obeyed the law and fully born the punishment of all the sins of His chosen people;
• an application of Christ, if it may please God, by which a poor sinner may embrace Christ with unspeakable joy.
Have you also experienced something of Christ as the great Door of deliverance through the power of the Holy Spirit applying God’s Word to your soul? Has it caused you to desire to know Christ more and more as your All-in-all—to know Him more in His benefits, natures, offices, states, and Person?
(3) Finally, God’s truly prepared people experience a wholehearted gratitude for such a great deliverance: “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?” (Ps. 116). They desire to surrender everything, soul and body, for time and eternity into the hands of the Lord, lay at His feet in true submission, and confess, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Dear reader, examine yourself.
Which Road Are You Traveling?
Are you traveling the broad road to eternal destruction or the narrow road to eternal life? In this physical world there are many different roads, but in the spiritual world there are only two, and these two roads never intersect each other. They are as opposite from one another as darkness from light, Satan from God, nature from grace, and hell from heaven. Only God, in His free grace, can steal us from the broad road to destruction and place us on the narrow road to everlasting life.
Sinner, we beseech you, turn from your sinful and evil ways. Seek grace to cry for true conversion from Him Who not only said, “ye must be born again,” but Who also testified of Himself, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.” May God show you the lost state and miserable condition of your soul, so that room may be made within you for the gospel message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Allow me to leave you with a final warning. In the 27 books of the New Testament hell is mentioned 234 times. If life’s road were 27 miles long, and there were 234 billboards along this route which all read, “This road leads to hell,” would you still stay on the same road? As long as you are an unrepenting, unbelieving, Christless, or self-satisfied and self-religious sinner, you are on this road to hell. Hell is the end of a worldly or religious life which remains Christless.
This short message is still another billboard sent by God to you on your pathway of life to warn you that all the ways of man end in death. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call ye upon Him while He is yet near.”
How many more billboards will the Lord send your way before His patience comes to an end, and He fulfills His own Word: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”?
Make haste, sinner, for your life’s sake. The thread of your life is not yet cut, but it becomes increasingly narrow. The Lord still calls to you, “As I live saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ez.33:11).
The door of grace is still open. You have been allowed to enter 1983. The throne of Christ is not yet shut. Will you hear His voice before it is too late?
All those who lived without God and His mercy on earth shall be without God and His mercy in hell. How terrible it shall be if Christ shall have to describe us one day with the same description He gave of the rich man in Luke 16, “In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and he cried, I am tormented in this flame.”
Sinner, I desire to warn you with love. You cannot escape death. It is an appointment you will keep . .. regardless.
Are you prepared to die?
The substance of this meditation may be purchased in pamplet form for distribution purposes at lOt each from Netherlands Reformed Book and Publishing Committee, 1020 N. Main Ave., Sioux Center, Iowa 51250.
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van zaterdag 1 januari 1983
The Banner of Truth | 20 Pagina's
Bekijk de hele uitgave van zaterdag 1 januari 1983
The Banner of Truth | 20 Pagina's