Everyone has appointments. Most we keep… some we miss. When we miss an appointment, we have a garden variety of justifications: we might be sick, we might be late, we might have a higher-priority appointment, we might not feel like it, and so on.
There is one appointment that everyone has in common… and it will be kept:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
No one likes to think about death, much less discuss it. It is mind-boggling to understand that few people proactively plan for it, given its utter certainty. People put far more energy in both thought and action into the manifold activities of life, as if to stave death off; it is far too unpleasant to dwell on. It is, however, always waiting in the wings from the moment that we draw our first breath until the moment that we exhale our last breath. It is a transitional moment that we will all have; you cannot run from it, try as you may.
Witness a tale from Erwin Lutzer’s ‘One Minute After You Die’:
In the Middle East a fable is told of a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to the marketplace to run an errand. When the servant had completed his assignment and was about to leave the marketplace, he turned a corner and unexpectedly met Lady Death.
The look on her face so frightened him that he left the marketplace and hurried home. He told his master what had happened and requested his fastest horse so that he could get as far from Lady Death as possible – a horse that would take him all the way to Sumera before nightfall.
Later the same afternoon the merchant himself went to the marketplace and met Lady Death. “Why did you startle my servant this morning?” he asked.
“I didn’t intend to startle your servant – it was I who was startled,” replied Lady Death. “I was surprised to see your servant in Baghdad this morning, because I have an appointment with him in Sumera tonight.”
Did I mention certainty??
At the risk of sounding morbid, it is my contention that death is not to be feared. Holy Scripture as much as exults in this view:
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
There will be an appreciable number of people who will, agreeably or otherwise, disagree with me on the testimony of 1 Corinthians 15:55, saying that life is all that there is, and when it is over, how can there be any valid testimony that death is not victorious? A verse away is the reason for my contention, and the exultation of Holy Scripture:
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Please bear in mind that, when I state that death is not to be feared, that is true only for those who are believers in Jesus Christ:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:26-29)
Do you believe (as many do) that you can live a life away from God, do nothing other than what pleases you, be your own god and moral/ethical authority, and that all you have to do is make it to the grave when life is over, and you are “home free”? A compelling refute is offered in the words of Jesus Christ:
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28-29)
Jesus Christ told us plainly what we should be doing to please God:
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
Of course, Jesus Christ can be ignored… ever since there has been humanity on earth since the first coming of Jesus Christ, many people have chosen to ignore His message outright, or have listened to and then deliberately decided to reject His message. I tell you here and now, my friend… if you are among these, you reject Jesus Christ at the peril of spending an eternity in hell’s fire.
It has been said many times that Jesus Christ spoke more in the Gospels regarding hell than He did regarding heaven. His words regarding hell are indeed sobering:
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (Luke 12:4-5)
Remarkably, and indeed incredibly, there are still those who scoff, there are still those whose necks are stiff and unbending, there are still those who cannot and indeed will not submit themselves to the authority and commandments of the Living God. The Apostle Peter was quite aware of this:
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the LORD a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The LORD is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:3-9)
If you die without faith in Jesus Christ, you will face the Great White Throne Judgment… the final judgment of unbelievers:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
You do not want to be among those present at the Great White Throne Judgment!
It has been established that ALL OF US have an appointment that will be kept. It is a guaranteed certainty that you will live throughout all eternity… the only question is where your eternity will be spent.
THE TIME IS SHORT. STOP DOUBTING… AND BELIEVE.