An Appointment with Fate
I love the verse in Psalms Chapter 122 vs. 1 which says “I was glad when they
said unto me; let us go into the House of the Lord.” Isn’t it wonderful to be in
the House of God this morning where there is always a welcome sign above the door?
I remember during my childhood my mother and father would take me to
church and we would sing songs of Zion that would just thrill your soul; “Oh I
want to see Him look upon His face, there to sing forever of His saving grace.”
When we all get to Heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be, when we all see
Jesus we’ll sing and shout the victory. What a glorious time of singing.
And I remember our pastor preaching messages that would make you hunger
and thirst to know more about Jesus Christ. I thank God for the souls that were
saved, but even though hundreds of souls are saved every year for Christ, there
are still countless numbers of souls that are going to be ushered into eternity
without hope, without a savior, and without hope of eternal life.
The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed unto men once to die and after
this the judgment.” We all have an appointment with death, and how we have
lived our lives will determine the destiny of our souls.
The 1950’s were said to be a time of leisure, a time when there seemed to be
plenty of everything, and to some people plenty of time. But in 2005 some 55
years later, time has erased in people’s minds their need for God.
Before 911, the American public rested comfortably in a cocoon of peace, but
when disaster struck on September 11th America dropped to her knees asking
God for help. Why were they not praying for America before? A recent poll
said that 83% of the American people believe in God. That leaves 17% that
doesn’t believe in Heaven or Hell or just doesn’t believe in anything. May I say
to you today that we are not living in the last days or the last hour, but we are
living in the last moments before the tribulation. The stage is set, the curtain is
being drawn and the final act is finished. All prophesy has been fulfilled. The
Archangel is poised with the trumpet of God awaiting the signal from God the
Father for Jesus to come and take His children home. When that trumpet
sounds the Bible says all the dead in Christ will rise first then we which are
alive and remain will be caught up to meet Him in the air and so shall we ever
be with the Lord. When the trumpet sounds millions of Christians will in a
moment be missing from this earth. Children will be taken from their parents
and babies snatched from the womb. There will be mass confusion as you have
never seen before and for that 17% that does not believe in anything the Bible
says in Philippians chapter 2 verses nine through 11 that every knee shall bow
of those in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and every tongue shall
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, including Satan himself.
I have been watching the Christian channels and even on the radio it talks
about the new European Union that has been formed that the Bible speaks of. It
has completely taken God out of its constitution and bi-laws. One day I look for
“One Nation under God” to be removed from our pledge of allegiance and “In
God We Trust” to be removed from our currency. The Ten Commandments
are being viewed as guidelines on how we may choose to live instead of the Law
of God on how we will live. The sanctity of marriage is being challenged by
homosexual marriage, our halls of justice are corrupt and our government of
the people, for the people, and by the people is no more than a lie because the
voice of the people in this country is not heard but overlooked.
We are living in a world so pre-occupied, and so hurried that God has been
traded for survival and paying bills, but I tell you this morning that there is
coming a day of reckoning, a day of judgment when we will all stand before the
living God and give account for all that we have done, and all these will be
weighed in the balances and found wanting. I wonder this morning which side
of the scales you will be found. What will the outcome for you be? You have a
choice this morning. You can leave this place a new person, saved by the grace
of God and on your way to heaven, or you can walk out facing an appointment
Ralph W. Stockman said; “Time is the deposit in God’s bank account, and no
one knows the balance”. It is said that history often repeats itself, but time once
spent is gone forever. It becomes history that can never be retrieved. You can
never get it back.
Open your Bibles this morning to Luke the 16th chapter beginning with verse 19. READ SCRIPTURE FROM BIBLE.
In this passage of scripture we recall the story of a man, a rich man paving his
way to destruction through his own selfishness, his own greed and his pride of
life. We find that he was dressed in purple which in his day was a very
expensive material because the dye to make the color purple was derived from a
type of snail that was common to that area. And only the rich could afford this.
The color purple was a sign of royalty. After Jesus had been taken to Pilot, they beat him; place a crown of thorns on his head and a robe of purple on his back.
The rich man was very powerful, very selfish. He cared only for himself and his
well being. Because of his wealth, he had many friends, and because of his
pride, he cared only for his riches and social standing in society. And the Bible
goes on to say that he fared sumptuously every day. He had plenty of food,
plenty of wine and all the luxuries of life, yet he never once gave any thought for his own soul.
In Matthew Chapter 6 verse 26, Jesus asked a very important question, possibly
the greatest question ever asked even unto this day. “For what shall it profit a
man if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give
in exchange for his soul.” Think about it for a moment! What if you had all the
money in the world? What if you bought all these fine things and just lived a life
of luxury but never gave one thought about God and at the end of your life, you
lost it all. Because you see, when that hearse takes your body to that grave, it is not going to pull a u haul. You will not take one of those things with you.
But the rich man gave no thought about this or his own soul. He spent his life
foolishly, securing the here now and now, too busy living for today instead of
securing the sweet by and by and may I say to you today that the only way to
secure the hope of eternal life and a home in heaven is by putting your faith and
trust in the nail scarred hand of Calvary, Jesus Christ. But the rich man had no time for God and little did he know that his appointment with fate was at hand.
In verse 20 the scripture tells us that there was a certain beggar named Lazarus
who was laid at the rich man’s gate. He was an outcast with no home, no
financial support; his only earthly possessions were the rags on his back. He
was diseased, hungry and weak and the dogs in the neighborhood would come
by and lick his sores which left Lazarus open to infection, for you see these dogs
were wild and ate from the garbage dumps and dead animals. Lazarus desired only the crumbs from the rich man’s table.
But the rich man stood prideful in his fancy palace, wallowing in his riches,
enjoying the pleasures of this world. He paid no attention to a weak dying
beggar. Lazarus had no social standing, no friends, he could not contribute
anything to society. The rich man was very secure in his sin. Many people today
are secure in their sin and the Bible says there is pleasure in sin for a while.
Before September 11th America was enjoying a time of peace and leisure, but
when tragedy struck America dropped to her knees, but now since there seems
to be a glimmer of peace many of the same people who asked God for help now
just simply roll over and yawn in God’s face.
Nothing escapes God’s eye. The Bible says; “Be sure, your sins will find you
out.” Even though Lazarus was considered poor in an earthly since, he was rich
because of his love and admiration for God. I tell you this today that if you are a
Christian you are the richest person on earth because of Jesus death on the
cross. You are rich because through His shed blood and acceptance of Him as
Lord and Savior you have been afforded the hope of eternal life and a home in heaven.
I wonder this morning for those here who are not Christians how many will
walk out this door facing an appointment with fate, how many will follow the
path of destruction with the rich man, how many will join the countless number
of souls in the cemetery who have said, “I’ve got plenty of time.” I’ll worry
about God later and how many will leave this building today as death stalks you
every moment of every day desiring your soul. Matthew 10:28 says; “And fear
not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear
him who is able to destroy both body and soul. It also says that Satan is like a roaring lion, running to and fro, seeking whom he may devour.
I wonder if you were to die this hour, are you prepared to meet God. Only those
who are prepared for death are really prepared for life.
The Bible goes on to say that soon the beggar died and was carried by the
angels to Abraham’s bosom. He didn’t have any money, he couldn’t pay for a
nice tomb and I suspect that his body was probably dumped outside of town in
a shallow grave somewhere. In verse 22 and soon after that the rich man also
died and was buried. I can imagine the funeral procession he had. There were
probably friends, dignitaries, high priest, Sadducees, Pharisees, and family. He
was probably dressed in purple attire, and buried in the finest tomb money
could buy. Now remember Lazarus was carried away by the angels but the rich
man was buried. At that moment of death he was stripped of everything he ever
had on this earth, and we see in verse 23 that his suffering really begins when he sees Lazarus comforted in the bosom of Abraham.
And in hell he lifted up his eyes and being in torment seeing Abraham afar off
and Lazarus in his bosom. Now here is a man being used to all the luxuries, all
the finer things in life, being stripped of all these things and now we are seeing
the tables turned where he is tormented and Lazarus comforted. For a moment,
picture this rich man in hell, surrounded by fire unquenchable. You could not even begin to imagine how hot the fires of hell are.
If you took all the lumber in Maine, poured on this lumber all the coal in
Pennsylvania, poured on this coal and timber all the oil in Texas and set it on
fire and waited until it was burning its worst and took a man out of hell and
placed him in the midst of that fire, he would literally freeze to death. And I
guarantee today that the rich man would give anything to be in the midst of that flame.
Picture the rich man in hell surrounded by flames thousands of degrees hotter
than any fire known to man, by smoke and brimstone and worms eating his
flesh, surrounded by sorrow and gnashing of teeth, experiencing thirst and
excruciating pain and the constant memories of all the past opportunities he
had to serve God and in the midst of all these torments he cried; “Father
Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his
finger in water and place it on my tongue for I am tormented in this flame.
Now remember the rich man would not even give Lazarus a crumb from his
table. As I think of all the countless thousands of people who go to hell because
of their stubborn pride, their strong will, their greed and power and their cold
bitter angry hearts, failing to recognize their need of a savior, totally rejecting
God, I think of all those who were too busy to cry out for mercy during their
lifetime, but now cry for grace too late to receive.
You see, the rich man did not go to hell because he was rich; he went to hell
because he rejected God. In verse 25 Abraham said “Son remember, now there
is that word remember. The rich man will spend an eternity remembering.
Remember that you in your lifetime had good things and likewise Lazarus evil
things and now you are tormented and he is comforted. And besides all this is a
great gulf fixed so that they which pass from here cannot and those that come
from there cannot. There was no escape for him. He was eternally separated from God.
When I was 18 years old, I was stationed at Fort Ord California doing my basic
training and sometimes on the weekends I would go into San Francisco and
different areas I had never seen before and a few years ago I went back to
retrace my steps and from San Francisco. I took a ferry to Alcatraz prison
which was closed in 1963 but we were allowed to tour certain areas such as the
cell area, warden’s house, infirmary and the dining area. But the most
interesting part, I believe, was the courtyard where the prisoners were allowed
to get some physical exercise. From the courtyard the prisoners could see San
Francisco and all the activity that was going on. They could see everything they
had left behind because of the crime that had separated them from society and sin had totally separated the rich man from God.
May I say to you today that if you die without Christ you will be eternally lost
in the flames of hell forever, separated from God and all your loved ones now in Heaven.
After hearing this, the rich man said; “I pray thee therefore father that you
would send Lazarus to my father’s house for I have 5 brothers that he may
testify unto them lest they come to this place of torment.
It never ceases to amaze me how the devil keeps us deceived. He keeps our
minds clouded with the cares of this world, instead of our eyes on Jesus. He uses
computers to take people to areas they should not go and television to
preoccupy us to keep us from having a healthy relationship with our families.
He keeps us in a hurry, fast paced, on the move, never slowing down to consider
the most important things in life. Then before you know it, life has come to a
close, the curtain is drawn, the stage is empty and you are there all alone without a clue about what lies ahead for you in eternity.
The devil says, sure accept Christ but do it later, you have plenty of time. I
plead with you today not to walk out of this building without making things
right with God. Jesus said; “Today is the day of salvation.” Why did He
emphasize today, because tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us.
Tomorrow may never come for you. How ironic it is that people go to hell when
all they have to do is confess their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and ask His forgiveness,
Jesus did all He could do for you by taking your place on the cross and paying
the price for your sins and in doing so gave up His life that you may have a
chance for eternal life. And as He hung there bleeding and dying, He had each
and every one of us on His mind. If there was just one person that Jesus had not
died for, He would gladly go back to the cross and die for that person. If that
doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then I don’t know what part of love you do not understand. When death comes, every one will meet God.
Many people have more insurance on their home and car than they do
assurance for their souls. They take care of everything but the most important thing they possess, their souls.
What does the Bible say about hell?
Hell is a prepared place: It was never intended for man. It was prepared for the
devil and his angels. The Psalmist David said; “The
Wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations
That rejects God.
Hell is a place of punishment: There will be torment night and day. Jesus said
The worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.
Hell is a place of pain: People in hell will have all their senses. They will hear,
They will smell, they will feel and taste and remember.
Hell is a place of prayer: Prayer in hell? Oh, yes. There is probably more
Praying in hell than there is on earth. The rich
Man prayed in hell and many pray to escape that
Place of torment.
Hell is a place of parting: Matthew 25:46 says; “And these shall go away into
Everlasting punishment but the righteous into
Hell is a place of pleading: There will be much pleading for mercy, but God
Will not hear their pleas.
But God is so gracious this morning and gives us a warning about hell and a
way to escape. John 3:16 says; “For God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
Jesus said that whoever trusts Him will not face the judgment but will pass
from this to eternal life. God has given you a choice this morning. Jesus paid the
pardon of sin for you on the cross. He took your place.
Abraham said to the rich man; “Son, remember and this man did remember
and the memory of his misspent life simply added fuel to the fires of hell. If you
go to hell you will remember some things too. You will remember every sermon
you ever heard, every invitation ever given, every prayer your mother prayed
for you, all the gospel songs you ever heard and all the times someone cared
enough to witness to you about Christ. You will remember every time you
turned your back on God. You will remember, but it will be too late for redemption.
2000 years ago Jesus was brought before the Roman governor Pontius Pilot for
trial. Pilot could not find any fault with Jesus but seeing that the Jewish mob
was angry and not wanting to incite a riot he asked them, who do you want me
to release, Jesus or Barabus? They all said give us Barabus. Then he asked the
most important question that echoes throughout eternity even today, a question
we should all ask ourselves. “What, then, shall I do with Jesus who is called
Christ/” And they all said; “Crucify Him”? Then Pilot sentenced Jesus to die on
the cross, walked over to a bowl of water and said; “I wash my hands of this innocent man’s blood.”
There was never anything ever recorded in the Bible where Pilot accepted
Christ as his personal savior and now he walks the highways and byways of
hell, his hands dripping with blood. And as he looks at his hands I can hear him
say: “My hands, I wipe them off but the blood just keeps coming back.” Oh, if I
had only listened, if I had just taken the time to get to know Jesus, if I had just
accepted Him as my savior, I wouldn’t be in this awful place, lost forever, without hope for all eternity.
And last of all and I’ll close with this, I have a brother there. One New Year’s
Eve in 1971 my brother who was not a Christian came home drunk from a
party. He staggered down the side walk and as he opened the front door his wife
met him with a shotgun and shot him in the head where he died instantly. He
was ushered into eternity lost without hope forever. Now he joins Pilot and the
rich man and countless others saying; “Oh if I had only listened, if I had only
trusted Jesus as my savior, I wouldn’t be in this terrible place of torment lost forever without hope. Oh, if only, if only.