Summary: A message on salvation and living the Christian life.
TWELVE HOURS TO LIVE
INTRO: Jesus was the most effective preacher who ever lived. He knew how to grip the attention of His congregation, and how to make His sermons interesting. He filled His messages with down-to-earth illustrations. On one occasion He was talking about covetousness, about those who thought more of the world than about the things of God. He was saying that it was not what men had, but what they were, that counted. So He used a striking illustration. READ TEXT. Notice what He called the man. "You fool."
God said, “this night you’re going to die and leave all these worldly things behind.” Then Jesus made the application. “So is everyone, who thinks only of things down here and leaves God out.” They are not necessarily rich—they may never be rich. Yet they are giving all of their time and energy and attention to this world and forgetting God.
Well, this man had just about 12 hours to live. Yet he spent those hours as he had lived, grasping the things of the world and not looking to God. Suppose you had just twelve hours to live, what would you do?
ILLUS: H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds.”
I. WE WOULD WANT TO BE SURE OF OUR SALVATION.
Are you sure that you have been really and truly saved? Are you certain that you are a child of God and have had a saving experience with Christ? Paul could say so. (2 Timothy 1:12). He was not trusting in his church membership, his baptism, his preaching, his good works, but he put his trust in Jesus. If we had to trust in our own goodness or our own works we would be on the road to hell.
Are you sure you are saved? Some of our church people don’t live like it. If they would only judge themselves by their fruit they would have reason to doubt their salvation. What are the conditions of salvation? (John 5:24) The only thing that will matter when you get to the end of your way is your salvation. If you knew you were going to die tonight you would want to be sure of your salvation.
II. WE WOULD WANT TO BE AFFILIATED WITH A NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH.
Some people come to Christ in one place—they become members of a church in that place, then they move to some other place and live outside the church for years. When you ask them if they have been saved they say, “I hope so.” They are really telling the truth. They have gotten so far away from God that they have lost the assurance of their salvation.
I believe that you can’t keep a person out of a church fellowship if he has been really and truly saved. They will know that Christ saved them to serve in and through His church and they’ll get in one as quickly as possible when they move from one place to another.
Do you want your life as a Christian to count for Christ? Then you should plant your life in a N.T. church. How can you know which church is a N.T. church? Just read your N.T. and see what the churches back there believed and practiced. Then find one like that today.
But someone says, “There are so many hypocrites in the church.” This is true, but you’ll also find the best people there. You don’t let hypocrites keep you away from anything else (doctors, bankers, teachers). Angel Martinez said that he bought a dozen eggs and two of them were hypocrites. They were not what they ought to have been. But that doesn’t keep us from eating eggs.
For nearly 2,000 years the good and the bad have been in the church. But in spite of the bad, (the hypocrite) the church marches on. One of Jesus’ disciples, the treasurer, was dishonest. The chief disciple denied Jesus with an oath. But the church went on. So if you were going to die within 12 hours, you would certainly want to be a member of a N.T. church.
III. WE WOULD WANT TO MAKE RESTITUTION FOR OUR WRONGS.
If we had only 12 hours to live I am sure we could think of some restitution which we should make. If a man really wants to get right with God he must make things right with others. One day Zacchaeus, a publican and a sinner, met Jesus. This experience completely transformed his life. How do we know that? Look at what he said (restore fourfold). He was just beginning to live, up to that time he had simply been existing. If you are not right with your fellow man your not really living, just existing.
Would you like to go out into eternity 12 hours from now, knowing that you had cheated someone? That you had hurt someone with your gossip? No, you would be as busy as could be trying to straighten out these matters before going out to meet God.