There was a time when I didn’t appreciate reruns. But today, since there are very few worthwhile shows on television, I find myself more and more enjoying reruns of the old westerns, Little House on the Prairie, Adam-12, and of course The Andy Griffith Show. So this week, I hope you won’t mind if I recycle a story I’ve used before, an old story from the Middle East. But I’m going to update it and make it local.
Steve and Fred work together in an office in Conway. One day, Steve took an early lunch to run to the store. As he loaded his cart, Steve noticed a strange looking character among the shoppers. As he looked closer, he realized that character was Death! Although taken aback, Steve saw there were a lot of shoppers in the store, so he felt he was safe.
In a few minutes, as he walked down the dairy aisle, Steve came face-to-face with death. Death looked surprised; he stared at Steve and seemed perplexed. But then walked on.
The way Death looked at him concerned Steve greatly. He felt a cold chill run up his spine and many thoughts raced through his mind. He decided he needed to get out of the store and away from Death. So, he checked out and hurried back to the office.
When Steve walked in, Fred saw that he was a ghostly shade of white and seemed to be shaking. Fred asked what was wrong and Steve explained his encounter with Death. Then Steve told Fred that he was going to leave early and get out of town. He thought he’d run down to Charleston for the weekend. And off he went.
On his way home, Fred also stopped by the store and as he entered, he saw Death exiting. Fred stopped Death and asked why he was looking so quizzically at his co-worker. Death responded, “I was just surprised to find him in Conway. You see, I have an appointment with him this evening in Charleston!”
This simple, yet profound story relates a very important truth. In Hebrews 9:27 we read these somber words: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, death has been the destiny of every human. The ratio of people who live to those who will die is 1:1. Someone said that for all of us, the last item on our bucket list is to “kick it”.
While there is only one way we get on this earth: sexual conception via a male and female and the birth process, there are a whole number of ways that we can leave this world. And none of us knows exactly when that time will come. But like the man in our story, we cannot escape death no matter how hard we want to or try to.
This past week we had a double funeral at our church. A father and son died on the same day, in different places and of different causes. Within five miles of my in-laws’ home in West Virginia, at least three people were killed in two traffic accidents in two days, in one it was a father and son. And no one in the fallen condo in Florida knew when they got up on that fateful day it would be their last. Disease, accident, crime, natural disaster…they happen each day and thousands die across the world each day.
The big issue is not death; we’re all going to die unless the Lord intervenes, as I believe He will one day. The real issue is where will we be that one second after this earthly body ceases to live. Because you see, the real us, that part of us that dwells in our “human tent” is everlasting. From conception, the soul and spirit of the human never ceases to exist. So, the big question is, where will you spend eternity?
The Bible clearly speaks of only two possibilities: for some, eternity will be “with the Lord” and with the redeemed of all the ages. For the rest, eternity will be “away from God” in a place the Bible calls a “lake of fire” and we often refer to as hell.
Heaven and hell are real places. They are eternal places. They are prepared places. And which of these will be our eternal abode is decided before we die. Once we pass through death, there is no longer any possibility to pass from eternal judgment to eternal rest. Our eternity is sealed on this side of the grave.
I have no fear of dying. While it isn’t something I look to do today, I know that is a possibility. But as an 11-year-old boy, back in 1963, I became “adopted” into God’s family and He sealed my reservation for eternity. I didn’t deserve it; I didn’t work for it. I simply trusted in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, called on His name in faith believing and in repentance of sin became His child. You can do the same. The writer of Hebrews who told us that death is inevitable added in the next verse: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” That’s you and me.
You may not want to die; that’s not your choice. You will, one day. But you do not want to go to hell. I’ve heard people talk flippantly and callously about hell as though not afraid to go there. That shows how little they know. Albert Einstein said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” It is absolute stupidity to go into eternity without Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
So, on this July day, I’m asking you to examine yourself. Do you know absolutely and positively for sure that when you die (and you will) you will be “with the Lord”? I do. But if you don’t, you can today. In fact, the Bible tells us “today is the day of salvation” because like our friend Steve in the opening story, we have no way of knowing the time of our death.
How can you know? Because the Bible tells you. “These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life…” (I John 5:13)
“He that believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears My word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and it not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The Philippian jailer said to Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:30-21)
This is not a head knowledge or believing facts about Jesus. This is a heart realization of your sin and the finished work of Christ; it is accepting Christ as Savior and believing with all your heart that He, and He alone, can and will save you. This leads to repentance of sin, a new life in Christ, forgiveness and a home with the Lord. And when death comes to knock, you’ll realize that it in itself is a gift.
You don’t deserve eternal life. You can’t earn it. There are no works, either religious or philanthropic that can get you to heaven. You cannot be good enough. It’s all the work of Christ; we can’t take anything away from that and we don’t dare try to add anything to it. Just accept it. Don’t put it off. Accept the Lord Jesus today! He’s calling you!
A Day of Hope
The Seventh Annual A Day of Hope, will be held Aug. 7. If you know families with school-age children (K-12) in need of back-to-school supplies, please have them call (843) 438-3247 to set up an appointment to register (registration is mandatory).
There will be a volunteer meeting on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. Contact Sheila at email@example.com.
CAP (Churches Assisting People) invites you to join in a community celebration of its 35th Anniversary of helping needy people in our area.
This will take place Sept. 18 from noon-4 p.m. at Thompson Farm, 100 Brickyard Plantation in Conway.
This is a free event to thank the churches and the community for their support and prayers for the past 35 years. (You must sign up on Eventbrite.)
There will be food, a petting zoo, corn maze, cakewalk, entertainment and a special guest. Don’t miss it. But also continue to support and pray for the ministry of CAP! Phone (843) 488-2277.
Praying and Helping!
Many things are starting to get back to “normal” after a year and a half of “pandemic life”. But two things are still necessary, necessary in good times and bad times…prayer and giving!
I Thessalonians 5:17…
Read More:Don’t Wait Too Late!