Summary: In our western culture we have developed an attitude of uneasiness whenever the conversation gets around to the subject of death.
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE
ILL. An ancient story is told about a slave who traveled with his master to Baghdad. As he walked the busy streets he found himself in the market place where he saw Death in human form. Death looked at him with such a piercing look that it frightened the slave, & he interpreted that look to mean that Death was planning soon to take his life.
He quickly rushed back to his master & told him what he had seen in the market place & asked if he might ride his camel to Samara, 15 hours away, because he was sure that he would be safe there, for Death would not know where to find him. The master gave him permission, & quickly the slave was on his way to Samara.
A few hours later the master was in the market place where he also saw Death in human form. He walked up to Death & asked, "Why did you look at my slave with such a threatening look?" Death answered, "That was not a threatening look. That was a look of surprise. I had a date with him tonight in Samara & I was surprised to see him here in Baghdad."
APPL. Now, we may question the imagery of this story, but the truth is very clear. Death is inescapable. The time of our death is unknown, & the means of our death, perhaps, is uncertain. But ready or not, willing or not, death is one great certainty that we all face.
B. Now in our western culture we have developed an attitude of uneasiness, of feeling uncomfortable whenever the conversation gets around to the subject of death.
ILL. Someone we know is diagnosed as being terminally ill, & it tears us up inside. We wonder, "Have they been told?" "Should we try to keep it from them?" "Do we just pretend like nothing is different, or that we don’t know the seriousness of it?" "Maybe we ought to keep the conversation light & breezy, & leave as soon as we can."
And there is almost no way that we are ever going to bring up the subject first. You see, most of the time we feel very, very uncomfortable when someone starts talking about death.
But uncomfortable or not, we need to talk about it. And not just about death, but about eternity, too.
ILL. John Tillotson said, "He who provides for this life, but does not take care for eternity, is wise for a moment, but a fool forever."
PROP. Now I have no desire to be "a fool forever." So I want to know. What does God expect of me? What does He want me to know about the eternal destiny that is awaiting me?
I believe that He has already answered these questions in His Word. So this morning, as you may have already noticed in your bulletin, I’ve printed a list of scriptures for us on this subject.
While most of them are very familiar, I think you’ll be surprised at some of the things we’ll discover as we look at them together this morning.
I. WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE JUDGED BY GOD
A. First of all, the Bible tells us that we’re all going to stand before God in the judgment - not just some of us, but all of us.
Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed unto man once to die, & after that the judgment."
Romans 2:12-16 tells us that if you live under the law you’ll be judged by the law. If you live out of the law you’ll be judged outside of the law. But either way, God is the judge of us all.
B. Now if God is going to judge us fairly, just what will He use as a basis of judgment? What will He judge us on? I think that the next few verses will tell us rather clearly.
Jeremiah 17:10 says, "I the Lord search the heart & examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."
Proverbs 24:12b says, "Does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?"
Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."
C. But I want you to notice something. Even though those verses talk about being judged for our conduct, our deeds, & for what we have done, the Bible clearly teaches that we are not saved by our works. We are saved by God’s grace, by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, "not by works lest any man should boast."