Summary: In the brief moment we call now, we may either accomplish some great thing for the cause of Christ, or we may exist. If we choose the latter, we sacrifice marvellous opportunities to serve with distinction.
â€œI am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.â€�
He was already an old man when I met him. He had driven an ammunition truck across Europe, having seen constant combat from the invasion of Normandy until at long last the war had ended. During the period of our acquaintance, his attention was almost exclusively focused on a fraternal order to which he belonged, though he proclaimed faith in the Son of God. His wife, on one memorable occasion, challenged him, â€œWhy are you not getting ready for meeting God? If you were planning a holiday, you would make preparations. If you were going to Montreal, you would pack a suitcase and make certain you had accommodations waiting your arrival. If you were going to New York you would have your passport in order and make certain your tickets were in hand. You say you are going to heaven, but I never see you getting ready. I never see you pray; I never see you read the Bible. Why do I never see you preparing for what is a certainty?â€�
His wife was blunt, but her question was legitimate. If an individual says he is going to heaven, wouldnâ€™t you expect that that person would give evidence that he was anticipating the journey? If he has no interest in his destination, surely there is a problem. After all, each of us is moving inexorably toward a meeting with the True and Living God. Either we are meeting Him in repentance now, or we shall meet Him in terror after this life.
You have heard me say, â€œThe statistics on death are amazingâ€”one out of one dies!â€� Death is inevitable, should Christ tarry. It is what follows death that should give us pause. Solomon cautioned that â€œthe dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave itâ€� [*Ecclesiastes 12:7*]. Though the Apostleâ€™s words are specifically directed to those who know God, in the broadest sense they hold true for all mankind. â€œWe must all appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evilâ€� [*2 Corinthians 5:10*]. Only redeemed saints will appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ, but those who are unsaved must stand before the Great White Throne where they will receive eternal sentence. We each will give an accounting to God for the decision we made concerning His Son and for the manner in which we have lived.
One of the primary tasks assigned to any preacher of the Word is preparing people to die. Without apology, this is the purpose of the message for this day. I propose to equip you to victoriously enter a safe harbour at the conclusion of this present life. To accomplish this goal, I invite you to join me in exploring Paulâ€™s testimony to a younger pastor.
*What is Inevitable* â€” â€œI am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.â€� At the time he wrote these words, the Apostle was incarcerated in the Tullianum, or lower chamber, of the Mamertine Prison situated on the northeast side of the Capitoline Hill in Rome. He was condemned to die because of his faith in the Living Saviour. Few people know when they are scheduled to die, but all people know they must die. The only exception to this dark knowledge is the fact that some will be transformed at the return of the Master. Before we invest time thinking of the dark inevitability of death for the most, turn your mind to the Blessed Hope, the return of our Saviour.
John encourages believers to live in anticipation of the return of the Master when he writes, â€œNow, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
â€œSee what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are Godâ€™s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pureâ€� [*1 John 2:28-3:3*].