Calvary Road Baptist Church

“DIE RIGHT”

Hebrews 9.27

 

Do you ever read other people’s mail? Letter writing is a bit of a lost art these days, what with voice mail, e-mail, Facebook, and other ways of communicating with people. However, there was a time when letter writing was a real art form. Remember, most of the New Testament books are letters inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.

I raise this issue of letters and letter writing because I have spent a great deal of time lately reading letters written long ago by a profoundly spiritual Scottish pastor named Robert Murray McCheyne. Let me read one letter he wrote to a man in September 1842:

 

MY DEAR G.,—I was glad indeed to see, by the line you sent me, that though your mind is dark and troubled, you have not gone back to the world. Ah, it is a false, deceiving world! It smiles only to betray. Fain [gladly] would I lead you to taste the peace that passeth understanding, and that it is only to be found in Jesus. You are quite wrong in thinking that I do not understand your misery. I know it well. It is true Jesus does give me peace. He washes me from all sin in His own blood. I often feel Him standing by my side and looking down upon me, saying, “Thou art mine.” Yet still I have known more misery than you. I have sinned more deeply than you. I have sinned against more light and more love, and yet I have found mercy; why may not you? Remember what James Covey said: “Tell poor sailors that none of them need to despair, since poor blaspheming Covey found mercy.” I was interrupted just while writing this, by a very little girl coming to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” Poor thing, she has been weeping till I thought her heart would break. She lives several miles off; but a companion was awakened and told her, and ever since she has been seeking Christ with all her heart. I was telling her that sweet verse: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief” (1 Tim. i.15). It will answer you also, dear friend. Christ Jesus was God’s dear Son. He made all things,—sun, moon, and stars, men and angels. He was from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, and yet He came into the world. He did not say, “I will keep my throne and my happiness, and leave sinners to die and perish in their sins.” No; “He came into the world.” He became a babe, and was laid in a manger, for there was not room in the inn. The inn was like your heart; it was filled with other lodgers, and had no room for Jesus. He became “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” He bore our sins upon His own body on the tree. While we were sinners, “Christ died for us.” Why did He do all this? Ah! it was to save sinners. Not to save good people—not to save angels—but sinners. Perhaps you will say, “But I am too bad a sinner;” but Paul says, “of whom I am the chief.” Paul was the chief of sinners, and yet He was saved by Christ. So Christ is willing and able to save you, though you were the chief sinner on the face of the earth. If Christ came into this world and died to save such as you, will it not be a fearful thing if you die without being saved by Him? Surely you have lived long enough without Christ. You have despised Jesus long enough. What has the world done for you, that you love it so much? Did the world die for you? Will the world blot out your sins or change your heart? Will the world carry you to heaven? No, no! You may go back to the world if you please, but it can only destroy your poor soul. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Tim. v.6). Read these words in your Bible, and mark them; and if you go back, that mark will be a witness against you before the great white throne, when the books are opened. Have you not lived long enough in pleasure? Come and try the pleasures of Christ,— forgiveness and a new heart. I have not been at a dance or any worldly amusement for many years, and yet I believe I have had more pleasure in a single day than you have had all your life. In what? you will say. In feeling that God loves me,—that Christ has washed me,—and in feeling that I shall be in heaven when the wicked are cast into hell. “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand” (Ps. lxxxiv.10).

I do not know what is to be the result of your anxieties. I do not know whether you will be drawn to Christ, or driven back into the whirlpool of a perishing world; but I know that all will soon be settled for eternity. I was in a very wicked family to-day, where a child had died. I opened my Bible, and explained this verse to them over the coffin of their little one: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. ix.27). Solemn words! we have only once to die, and the day is fixed. If you die wrong the first time, you cannot come back to die better a second time. If you die without Christ, you cannot come back to be converted and die a believer,—you have but once to die. Oh, pray that you may find Christ before death finds you! “After this the judgment.” Not, after this purgatory. No further opportunity to be saved: “after this the judgment.” As death leaves you, so judgment finds you. If you die unsaved, you will be so in the judgment. May I never see you at the left hand! If I do, you will remember how I warned you, and prayed for you, and besought you to come to the Lord Jesus.

Come to Jesus,—He will in nowise cast you out.—Your affectionate friend, etc.[1]

 

What a potent letter. As I read the letter my thoughts turned to a number of you who are here today, as well as my many loved ones and friends who are not here today. As my eyes passed over McCheyne’s words, particularly the line where he writes, “If you die wrong,” I felt strongly moved to bring a message from God’s Word to you this morning titled, “Die Right.”

Turn to Hebrews 9.27, which will be our text for this morning’s message. When you have found that verse in God’s Word, please stand and read along silently while I read aloud: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”

McCheyne pleaded with the recipient of his letter that he not die wrong. My plea to you this morning is that you die right. Decide now that, no matter what it takes, you will die right, understanding that you can only die right if you die a Christian. Your response to my plea may very well be what most people’s responses are, “Why should I? Why should I be different than most people? Why should I concern myself?”

There are at least four reasons why you should decide, before you walk out of here this morning, to die right:

 

First, DIE RIGHT BECAUSE YOU CANNOT AVOID DEATH

 

Death and your body becoming worm food is the fate that awaits everyone. You have never known anyone who either has not already died or will someday die. It was no stroke of philosophical genius that led the early rebel motorcycle gangs here in California to write “Born To Die” on their leather jackets and to tattoo themselves with the same phrase. You do not have to be smart to recognize that you were born to die, you have to be a moron not to recognize the fact at an early age.

I know that someone will say, “Not everyone dies. Enoch did not die. Elijah did not die.” However, those two examples of men who have not died are not valid. For one thing, those who do not believe the Bible are disqualified from using two characters in the Bible to dispute a point they disagree with. For another thing, those two men are simply exceptions that prove the rule, two men excepted from the general principle, two men granted immunity from God’s law.

Keep in mind that even God’s Son, Jesus, died. Why did He die? He died because all sinners die. Not that Jesus was a sinner either by nature or by experience, for quite the opposite of Him is true. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews accurately describes the Lord Jesus Christ as “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” in Hebrews 7.26. Yet Jesus died. Why did He die? “The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6.23. Second Corinthians 5.21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”

Jesus took upon Himself our sins, making Him a sinner judicially, if not by either His nature or His experiences. Being a sinner by having our sins imputed to Him, He had to die as a punishment for those sins that were imputed to Him. Thus, if Jesus died without ever being sinful, and without ever actually committing a sin, can you not see the absolute certainty of your own death some day? You cannot avoid death. Therefore, decide right now that when you do die you will die right.

 

Next, DIE RIGHT BECAUSE YOU WILL ONLY DIE ONCE

 

Recognize that there are certain experiences that can only happen once, because that experience forever changes you. If you have been born once, you cannot be born again. That is, you cannot be physically born again. Any birth subsequent to your physical birth must be, can only be, a spiritual birth, as the Lord Jesus Christ pointed out to Nicodemus in John chapter three. If you murder once, you are a murderer. There is no logic by which someone is a murderer only when murder becomes a habit for him. A murderer becomes a murderer when he takes the life of only one person. Thereafter, because of that experience, he is a murderer. The same thing is true with respect to someone’s virginity. A man or woman is forever changed as a result of one sexual experience. There is no such thing as anyone being a virgin after having experienced sex. As well, if that experience was voluntary, and it occurred prior to marriage, not only is that person no longer a virgin, but that person is by that behavior a fornicator. So you see, there are a number of experiences that forever change a person. Death is such an experience. Once you die, you will never die again, because once you die you are dead.

Yes, there are several examples in God’s Word of people who have died and been brought back to life, only to die once more. Such was the case of the young daughter of a man named Jairus, in Mark chapter five and Luke chapter eight. Such was also the case of a man named Lazarus, in John chapter twelve. There are other examples of those who died being raised from the dead to die another day. However, again, do not think you can plead examples from the Bible while denying that you believe the Bible. It shows a lack of integrity to try to use as evidence what you deny as evidence. The fact is that those who repudiate the Bible have a stronger case for my assertion that people only die once than Christians do, since believers have to explain the examples that run counter to the general rule. So, how do we explain those in the Bible who died, were raised, and then died again? They are more examples of the Law Giver, God Himself, being sovereign and not bound by any law He imposes on His creatures, and well within His rights to make exceptions as He sees fit.

Who would argue with this? Do you know anyone who thinks people generally die two or three times? To be sure, there are those who embrace the notion of reincarnation, such as Hindus and Buddhists. However, the burden of proof is on them, and it is a burden they have never succeeded in defending in any logical or scientific way.

Therefore, no thinking person would argue with the facts: You are going to die. Who would argue with that? Many do not want to discuss that, but no thinking person would deny that he will die. As well, unless you embrace some illogical and absolutely unprovable eastern religion that thinks people die and come back as goats and monkeys, there is no denying that you will only die once.

Since you will only die once, do you not think that it is in your best interest to die right?

 

Third, DIE RIGHT BECAUSE DEATH ENDS YOUR OPPORTUNITIES

 

If you do not mind, I will set aside any consideration of eastern religions, since their beliefs simply do not merit our consideration at this time. No one here believes in the notion of reincarnation, that dead people come back to this world as chimps or kittens because of their karma. Though the rationality of the west is rapidly degrading, we are still, for the most part, too logical and coherent in our thinking to seriously consider something like reincarnation. Whatever opportunities exist in this life, death brings those opportunities to an end. Thus, if a sinner ever had any exposure to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ during the course of his mortal life here on earth, death would end any opportunity to respond to the gospel.

Years ago, some would have argued the Roman Catholic doctrine of limbo, or purgatory, as a provision for those who did not die in a state of grace to have a second chance at salvation. However, not even Roman Catholics take that money-raising scheme of paying priests to pray sinners out of purgatory seriously any more. Many thinking Catholics find their church’s teaching on purgatory and its history of using purgatory as a device to raise money by selling indulgences to fund the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to be an embarrassment.

Thus, we are left with the recognition that this life you are now living is the only opportunity you will ever have to deal with your personal sins, the only opportunity you will ever have to respond to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the only opportunity you will ever have to come to a loving and gracious Savior to find the forgiveness of your sins and the cleansing not only of your sins but also your guilty conscience.

 

Finally, DIE RIGHT BECAUSE DEATH SEALS YOUR FATE

 

What you are when you die you will be forever. Where you are headed when you die is where you will end up for eternity. Once you die you have arrived at your fate, you have met your end, for death is the gateway to forever, the door to eternity, the place past which there is no return, the period that ends your sentence here on earth and begins your sentence in the hereafter.

The great tragedy of the human race is our death in Adam, our father, who sinned against God in the Garden of Eden and plunged the entire race into the depravity of death and sin. Therefore, the descendants of Adam have all been born dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2.1, very much in need of a life-giving and sin-forgiving Savior.

If you die apart from the life-giving and sin-forgiving Savior, you will be in eternity what you were throughout your life here on earth, dead in trespasses and sins. Only in death you will have begun the punishment for your estrangement and animosity toward God and your rebellion and refusal of Christ’s offer of salvation full and free.

Those of you who drive cars will appreciate something about driving on the freeways that those of you who do not drive will not appreciate at this time. It happens when you get on the freeway and you find yourself driving past the place you want to go, only there is no way to get off the freeway. There is a church in the Dallas area so situated that you have to get on one freeway, then to another freeway, and end on a third freeway, to go to a restaurant that is about two hundred yards from the church house. Death is somewhat like the freeway experience, in that once you die you cannot un-die, there is no exit because death itself is the exit from this life. To state the matter in quite another way, death seals your fate. Once you die, there is no turning back, no second chance, no opportunity start over, no such thing as a reboot.

Sometimes parents give their children so many second chances without holding them accountable to behave in an adult fashion that their children never learn that some situations in life so affect you that once it is done it is simply done, and cannot be undone. Your fate is sealed. So it is when you die.

 

My friend, please consider how important it is to die right, understanding that the only way you can die right is to die a Christian. To die a Christian is to die right because death for the Christian is the gateway to glory. To die lost, however, is to be forever doomed to damnation and eternal punishment for your sins.

It is likely that you will not die immediately. It is likely that you have some time to prepare to die. Therefore, I urge you to use that time to prepare to die right. Come to Jesus and be saved from your sins. He did leave heaven’s glory to take your sins upon Him and die for you on Calvary’s cruel cross. He did suffer the wrath of God the Father as your divine Substitute, to enable you to be saved from your sins by grace through faith in Him. In short, He made it possible for you to die right. If you die without Jesus as your Savior you will not die right. You will die wrong, and you will forever be denied any opportunity to make it right.



[1] Andrew Bonar, Memoir And Remains Of R. M. M’Cheyne, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1966), pages 316-318.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org