[slide]By Rob Pue, Publisher WISCONSIN CHRISTIAN NEWS
The clock. Is ticking. None of us are getting any younger, whether we are 9 or 90, time speeds on. In fact, the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is God’s way of reminding us that life is short, and we are to make the most of it.Ephesians 5:16 tells us to “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.”
It is my hope that this message serves to make us all think more deeply about the things that really matter, the things of eternity. Because this world will pass away, and WE will pass away, and all of us will live SOMEWHERE for eternity, whether in heaven or in hell. Scripture tells us that it is “appointed unto man once to die, and after that, the judgment.” In other words, there are NO second chances. Using your God-given freewill, which will you choose? Peace with God, a place in His Kingdom? Or eternal separation from Him, with unending sorrow, torment, misery and regret?
TODAY is the day of salvation. You don’t even know if you will be here tomorrow. None of us does. Our lives can be snuffed out instantly, like a vapor at any time. Today you are sitting here listening to this message. Have you considered that TODAY something unexpected could happen? And that within three or four DAYS from now, you could be gone? Six feet under ground, the door of opportunity to “get right with God” gone forever as well.
Today I am 53 years old. When I was 18, a schoolmate was killed in a hunting accident. When I was 21, my girlfriend fell asleep while driving and was killed instantly — just before Christmas. When I was 30, another friend my same age found himself in financial trouble with his business and committed suicide. Five years later another friend’s 14-year-old daughter was killed while getting the mail when she was struck by a van.
Why am I telling you this? What do all these premature deaths have in common? I was a Christian. And I never witnessed to any of them. I remember my Mom’s haunting question after my girlfriend was killed… “Was (she) ready to meet Jesus?” The truth is, I didn’t know. I did not know! Today, many years later, I still don’t know. I am convicted in my heart by my lack of Christian witness, my non-existent testimony to these friends and loved ones. I HAD the opportunities — GOD GAVE them to me…but I never spoke up.
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How many of you are the same way? Why don’t we speak up and share the Good News of God’s grace with our friends, family, loved ones, co-workers? We, as Christians, have the information. At least we SHOULD. We should all, as we read in Timothy, “study to show thyself approved, a workman, who needeth not to be ashamed.” And 1 Peter 3:15, “…in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you, to give the reason for the hope that you have…”
I HAD studied. In my self righteousness and pride, I believed I had shown myself to “be approved, a workman that need not be ashamed.” But by not being PREPARED (or courageous enough) to give that answer, to share the Word of God with the lost and perishing, I AM also ashamed. I should have said something. I should have spoken up. Yet I remained silent. Until it was too late. As a follower of Christ, even as a teenager, I had my marching orders. I was called out by GOD to be Salt and Light. Yet, my cowardly, treasonous heart kept my mouth silent. Yes, I am ashamed. And so I should be.
No more. As Christians, we cannot afford to remain silent. Occultism, Wicca, Buddhism, New Age Spirituality, Transcendental Meditation, Islam, “Chris-lam” — all these things are out there. All THEIR disciples are preaching, unashamedly, their false doctrines, while those of us who name the name of Christ are too ashamed of our King to say a word. Yeah. My heart is convicted by that truth. How about yours?
So let’s get to the heart of the matter. Friends, loved ones… If you are currently NOT a Christian, or if you currently have ANY DOUBT as to where you will spend eternity, I plead with you now to listen. I AM going to tell you God’s honest truth. You don’t know what tomorrow holds, or even what the rest of today holds for you. You do not know the number of your days. TODAY could be the end for you. Are you ready for that? Have you even considered that?
Today, many follow the lies of false gods and false religions — and even apostate so-called “Christianity” — trying to live “spiritual” lives, but they will have nothing to do with the only ONE by whom they can be saved. They choose to worship “comfort” and fleshly, worldly desires. Money, entertainment, sex, drinking, drugs, recreation, relaxation, etc. But Satan doesn’t care what you worship, as long as you don’t worship Jesus.
But WHY do they treat Jesus (even His NAME) with such disdain? Simple: because He is the ONE and ONLY TRUE Savior, the only One through Whom we can return to God. And Satan, the enemy of our souls, has blinded them to that truth. It’s fine to embrace ANYTHING else, but say the name of “JESUS” and it makes peoples’ skin crawl. I guarantee you will never get that reaction from the name “Buddah.” Why? Because Buddah is a lie. They also have that reaction because Jesus REQUIRES something of them: repentance and a heart-change. And Jesus convicts hearts of their own sin — because instinctively, we all KNOW, deep within, that JESUS IS the ONLY, way, truth and life. Still, many will trust in their own good works to get them to heaven, and say things like, “I do the best I can, I live a good life and try to be honest and fair with everyone. I’m a good person and I am sure if there is a God, He will understand.” That’s just plain delusion. Willful ignorance.
Others are so enamored with the things of this world, they’d rather remain comfortable. Some will cite the hypocrisy of nominal Christians they have met, and quite frankly, I can’t blame them. And sadly, some will flat out deny the existence of their Maker, their Creator and decide that once you die, you’re just dead. There is no eternity, only the here and now. And still others just don’t care at all.
I’m not going to argue the point that the Bible is God’s Word, or that any part of it is not true. As 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The Bible IS God’s Word. The fact that the majority of people HATE it — even though it contains the history of the universe, even though it is filled with precious ancient wisdom, even though it contains the very KEYS to the Kingdom of God — ought to be proof enough that it is the ONLY Book of truth that Satan attacks and men violently rebel against.
But whether you like it or not, truth is truth. Truth doesn’t change just because it makes you uncomfortable. It’s still the truth. And here it is: there is ONE God, in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God, the Holy Spirit. He is the Creator of all things. He is your Maker.
Secondly, God is not fair. If He were fair, He’d give us all the punishment we deserve. No, God isn’t fair, God is gracious, patient and kind. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9).
Some will argue that a “loving” God would never send anyone to hell. The truth is, He DOESN’T. If you end up in hell, YOU GO THERE by your own choice. Not God’s. If you end up eternally separated from God, DO NOT BLAME GOD. You see, God has put stumbling blocks and warning signs in your path over and over and over again to KEEP YOU from going to hell. In order to end up there, you have to ignore EVERY Christian billboard you’ve ever driven past; every Christian radio broadcast you’ve ever stumbled across; every Christian meme on Facebook. You have to despise every prayer of a Godly mother, father, grandmother or grandfather on YOUR behalf. You have to ignore every Christmas carol you’ve ever heard. You have to ignore the magnificence of God’s amazing Creation — ALL of Creation — including your own body and soul. You have to scoff every time one of God’s children spoke TRUTH to you, out of their love and concern for you. You have to snub your own nose at ALL of that. You see…The choice is heaven or hell — life or death — is YOURS.
People today are more self-indulgent, more narcissistic than ever. Most everyone BELIEVES they are a “good person.” But the truth is, we have all sinned grievously against our Creator. We have all broken His commandments. As descendants of Adam, we are born sinful. We come this way. “All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). And what happens to sinners? “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). Death is ETERNAL separation from God, and ETERNAL punishment. OR it CAN BE the gateway to ETERNAL LIFE! Again, the choice is YOURS to make.
Many will claim to be a “good person,” and therefore DESERVING of Heaven. But Scripture says otherwise. “There is none that doeth good. No NOT ONE.” Sorry, not even you. Not even me. (Psalm 53:3). “All our righteousness is as filthy rags,” before God. (Isaiah 64:6). Even the apostle Paul had to admit, in light of God’s holiness, he was the “chief of sinners.”
“But nobody can live up to the expectations of the Ten Commandments,” you say. “So why did God give us His law? He knows we can never live sinless lives!” Correct. God is not surprised when we sin. But He gave us His laws, His Ten Commandments, to show us His requirements. To show us His standard of holiness. To give us a righteous “moral compass.”
Then, because He knew that none of us could ever merit heaven on our own, He Himself – the Creator, YOUR Maker – left His throne in heaven, assumed human form in the life of Jesus Christ, and gave Himself up to be horrifically murdered as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of those who repent. There is no greater love.
Before the “fall” of mankind, before sin entered the world, the Bible tells us that all Creation was “good.” AFTER sin entered in, Scripture tells us the ground was cursed, and bore thorns and thistles, which Adam (and all of us) now have to contend with as a result of that sin. I find it interesting that after beating Jesus to a bloody pulp, His murderers went one step further: they placed upon His holy head a crown of THORNS. You see, when sin entered the world, the world was “cursed.” But when Christ bore our sins on that cross, he WORE those thorns — and by doing so, He REVERSED the curse. Through His sacrifice, we are ABLE now, to come BACK into right relationship with God; we are ABLE now, to have all our filthy rags washed white as snow — IF we choose life in Jesus Christ. But the choice is ours, and the clock is ticking….
You cannot earn your way to heaven – you’ll never be good enough. You cannot buy your way into heaven – God doesn’t want your money; He owns it all already. Things won’t just all “come out in the wash.” This is not a matter that will resolve itself on its own. This is a matter that demands your immediate attention.
Living the Christian life is HARD. Only a few — the Bible tells us — will choose that narrow, rocky road that leads to life. You have to truly understand, you’re a lost sinner, a law breaker, someone who has not simply broken a law of man, but you’ve broken ALL the laws of God Almighty! But the Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In essence, He wipes the slate clean. NOW, we can enter His gates.
It has nothing to do with being baptized as an infant, or being declared a Christian by a church or a minister because you recited a prayer or walked an aisle, or coming from a “Christian” home. It has EVERYTHING to do with your heart. In order to enter heaven, you must turn your heart back to God and make Him LORD of your life. When you humbly repent, He will graciously welcome you into His arms as His child. Until you do so, the TRUTH IS, you remain a child of your father, the devil. No matter how “good” you think you are.
Noah preached for 100 years and never made one convert. For 100 years the people had a chance to repent. God made a way of salvation in Noah’s building of the Ark. But then one day, that opportunity was lost forever. He was gracious, kind, patient and longsuffering, even though the world was infinitely sinful. The offer was there for salvation. Until it wasn’t. There came a day when the rain began to fall, and GOD HIMSELF shut the door to the ark and those outside were forever lost. There were no second chances.
Friends, please take this seriously. Forsake the things of this world and embrace this incredible gift of eternal life with your Creator. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father, but by Me.” Accept no substitutes. No false “gods” that you create in your minds that are more to your liking, more accommodating to the sinful, selfish lifestyle you prefer to remain in. The time of YOUR salvation is NOW, today. “So as the Holy Spirit says, ‘today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’” (Hebrews 3:7). Turn to Him, accept His offer and live. Will you use your God-given freewill to make that choice now? The clock… is ticking.
WISCONSIN CHRISTIAN NEWS
PO Box 756
Marshfield, WI 54449
Audio versions and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at Wisconsin Christian News, (715) 486-8066. Or email [email protected] Ask for message number 257.