"REJOICE YOUNG MAN"
1. Turn in your Bible to Ecclesiastes 11.9. When you find that verse, please stand for the reading of Godís Word: "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
2. Our text speaks to those of you who are young. So, we have before us a picture of the youthful mind. Cheerful and happy, but with the prospect of a judgment to come, gloomy and awful.
3. Notice how Solomon views things, in their proper perspective and taking note of how things will end. He has in view the shortness of human life, and an awareness that lifeís pleasures, at the longest, will be over quickly and gone forever.
4. You see, though you may live many years, and live a relatively happy life, you still need to keep in mind the days of darkness that lie ahead, because there will be an eternity of darkness at the end.
5. What Solomon is doing here is illustrating the theme he has developed throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. At the end of this life there is nothing. Nothing here, that is.
6. In this verse Solomon turns his attention to the case of the young man whose buoyant optimism and cheerful heart seems to contradict Solomonís awareness that in the end all is vanity.
7. So, instead of calling upon young people to stop a while and think about their future judgment, so they will not run into terrible sin and get nothing out of life, Solomon seems to give up any hope of reasoning with you young people. At least for a while.
8. Why is this so? Because if you are having a good time in life right now, and if you enjoy the pleasures of sin, then you are almost immune to any argument designed to get you interested in the salvation of your soul. What do you want to be saved from? Fun? Of course, not.
9. So, what do you do? Better yet, what does God want you to do? The sad case of a happy and thoughtless young man or woman like you, who sees no danger ahead, should make the rest of us very sad for you. Determined as you are to never give up having fun, the only thing left is to let you go ahead and give life your best shot and face the consequences at the end.
10. So, you live what you think is a happy and harmless existence. Then, when this short course called life has ended, you get to stand before the Judge. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
11. Look. Life is very short and bad things do happen to people. So, no one wants to interfere with your attempts to have fun, so long as there is nothing better to do. But what if what you are presently doing is not safe? What if itís downright dangerous?
12. If your soul is in danger of being lost as a result of what some people call innocent fun, are you willing to listen to a warning from God? Or do you want to be like most people, whose desire is to be left alone on your way to Hell?
13. Yours is an interesting time of life. If a lifetime can be compared to a day, you are in the early morning time of your life, when the seeds of your lifeís crop are being sown. And whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. So, for you, life and death are now depending on the things you do right now.
14. This is also a time of life full of happiness and cheerfulness. Old age will someday cripple your limbs, and a lifetime of pleasure will eventually dull your sense of enjoyment. But while you are young and energetic, now is the time you can just be happy and cheerful to do what your heart desires and go where your eyes find things interesting to do.
15. This is the time to rejoice. Youíre only young once. So, be cheerful and happy. Because in a short time your youth will quickly be over and gone, never to return. And while the world shows to you all her charms to play with and enjoy, God comes near to you this morning.
16. So, a choice must and will be made. You are a moral agent, destined to act for eternity. You will walk either in the strait and narrow way to life, or you will continue to walk in the broad road to death.
17. But nowís the time to rejoice. The Bible says you can engage in play and rejoice with a merry heart. And you can do this and still have confidence that some day you will go to heaven. Not one of you believes that you will ever stand before the Great White Throne Judgment Seat and hear God say to you, "Depart."
18. Youíre of the opinion that all is safe and all is well. Some of you may get spooked at something you or a friend does, and get scared that perhaps youíve gone too far. But after you slow down a little youíll continue on the same way as before without any hesitation. Youíre thinking, "There canít be anything wrong with having some fun, in horsing around, in hanging out with my friends."
19. But this is not what we find in our text in the Bible. You ask, "Canít I be happy? Canít I have fun? Do I have to give up everything?"
1A. LET ME ANSWER BY POINTING OUT FOR YOU THE DIRECTION YOU SHOULD GO
1B. The Bible Says, "Rejoice not in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth." So, There Is A Virtuous Joy That You Can Experience, A Good Kind Of Happiness.
And this virtuous joy has two distinguishing characteristics. It differs from the fun and pleasure you get from sin two ways:
1C. First, there is its nature. Its nature is holy. It comes from a holy heart. Thatís why itís called the fruit of the Spirit: which is love, joy, and peace. Such is its nature. And no one who rejoices in the truth will settle for anything less than that kind of joy.
2C. Second, its object. You see, rejoicing in the truth always, either immediately or eventually, has God for its object. Itís for this reason that the people of God are frequently called upon to rejoice in the Lord. Itís much like a fountain that never runs out of joy. Every other source of joy must fail, eventually.
3C. The happy face must fall, and your youthful body must fade and die. But God remains the same through all else changes. So, on Him your hopes may lie. He is the Rock your joy can firmly rest on. "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice."
2B. Is God The Object Of Your Joy?
1C. If He is then your joy will rise up from a sense of His all surrounding presence. "In thy presence is fullness of joy," the Bible says. And those that remember their Creator in the days of their youth are not happy about ignoring Godís presence. Their joy began with believing in Christ.
2C. Remember, the Philippian jailer who just before trembled, rejoiced, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. And many young people, who were miserably trembling in view of the judgment to come, on believing in Christ have rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
3C. Further, there are particular times in which every young person who pays attention to the glory of God and his own soul will rejoice. Sunday is a special time. Itís a day appointed by God Himself to pay attention to His glory and your own soul. "A day in his courts is better than a thousand," the Bible says. And it also says, "This is the day which the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." And what more fitting application does this verse have than Sunday?
4C. But if you canít rejoice in this way and in this manner and on such occasions as these, then there is nothing in which you can rejoice. For you there is nothing in heaven and nothing on earth but the pleasures of your senses.
5C. The same can be said of cheerfulness. Some call cheerfulness a virtue. And maybe theyíre right. After all, thereís nothing spiritual about being gloomy. So, donít think God is not to be served and obeyed without cheerful obedience. Human beings have nothing to do but duty.
6C. And you do not do your duty for long without cheerfulness. If the doing of your duty is not pleasant and delightful to the soul, however much a sinner may do, God condemns all of it. No duty has been done to God where there is no cheer and delight.
7C. People your age are likely to think of spiritual things as a gloomy subject. And you may feel this way so strongly that the dread of spiritual things makes you recoil even when you feel guilty and convicted of your sins. But do you not realize that even repentance itself is accompanied with joy? Jesus said, "Son be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee."
8C. You see, no amount of joy and cheerfulness is forbidden by the Word of God. On the contrary, every young person is commanded to rejoice in the Lord, and to walk cheerfully on in the path of duty. And whatever may hinder your progress, whether so-called Christians or evil companions, you are freely and cheerfully to forgive them all, and to glory in nothing save the cross of Christ. Itís your duty to be cheerful in this way.
9C. So, you have a choice. You either cheerfully leave all to come to Christ or be content to take whatís coming to you in this world. You either cheerfully leave all to come to Christ or, as with the young man in the Gospel, go away from Christ sad and grieved.
10C. Let those who have really come out of the world and who have really come to Christ walk cheerfully on in the path of duty. In Christ, you have peace like unsaved people do not have. And this is good, since there are many trials and difficulties that await you in life.
11C. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, Christ has overcome the world. So, it is clear that God has no opposition to joy and cheerfulness in the lives of His children.
2A. HAVING POINTED OUT THE DIRECTION YOU SHOULD GO, TURN YOUR ATTENTION NOW TO THE YOUNG PERSON IN OUR TEXT.
You will now see the reason why God is angry and will bring him into judgment for rejoicing and being cheerful. The young man is not a Christian. Would this be you? Then, why is God angry at you and why will God bring you into judgment? There are a number of reasons.
1B. First, Because You Do Not Rejoice In God And You Do Not Believe In Christ
1C. Maybe youíre ashamed to step up in front of your friends and openly profess Christ and speak up for His cause.
2C. Perhaps you turn your back on Christís followers, and prefer the company of the unsaved. Maybe you even gravitate to the unsaved even here at Church. Youíre cheerful and social with your friends, but you say little or nothing to them about the great things of eternity and what will happen to them when they die.
3C. And perhaps you are so far gone that you are unwilling to have your friends think that you have any concern for the God that made you. Maybe you are one who does not look forward to Church on Sunday and you greatly prefer Saturday and play time, instead.
2B. Second, God Is Angry At You Because You Do Not Rejoice At the Repentance Of A Fellow Sinner
1C. You have no delight in seeing a friend come to Christ. Maybe you cry a while in secret. But thatís only because you think you have lost your friend. Because heís determined not to travel down the wrong path, but chooses rather to renounce even you, his dearest friend, so that he might serve God and do right.
2C. And now, since you make no pretense of being saved, you may have gone so far as to justify your wicked conduct, all the while becoming an openhearted and avowed enemy of God.
3C. Whatever your situation is, you are a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. And youíre unwilling to be dragged from your dream of pleasure. Youíre determined not to be alarmed about the trial that awaits you before your angry Judge.
3B. Third, God Is Angry At You Because You Are Now Standing Without A Savior, And Yet You Have A Cheerful And A Merry Heart.
1C. Let your heart cheer you. You can easily be cheerful. You have only to follow your inclinations. Youíre impatient when you donít get your way and you simply cannot endure self-denial. It makes you miserable. When you donít get exactly what you want you feel terribly put out, and youíll shun as an enemy anyone who tries to faithfully reprove you.
2C. Donít nobody tell you what to do. Never will you hear the call to any sense of duty. Donít tolerate anyone trying to awaken your fear or alarm your conscience by pointing you to the consequences of your life, either. Leave you alone. Thatís all that you want to be perfectly happy. Let your heart cheer you. And then we will all see that your joy and your cheerfulness springs from doing only what you want to do.
3C. To do be happy you have only to contemplate and then pursue whatever is pleasant to the eye, and on whatever the imaginations of your evil heart delights to dwell. Regardless of the consequences, your imagination focuses only on what grabs your attention.
4C. A stranger to the delights of serving God, you seldom think of duty and therefore you frequently engage in activities which to the Christian would have no meaning. And if anyone ask you the reason for your joy and cheerfulness, youíre either silent or you blush to tell it.
5C. Your greatest fun comes from doing mindless things, engaging in childish play. Next to immediate gratification everything to you is dull and lifeless, and has no meaning.
4B. Fourth, God Is Angry With You Because It Is Your Supreme Delight To Forget Him.
Solomon implies this in Ecclesiastes 12.1: "Remember now thy Creator."
1C. The presence of God actually chills your soul. And when you reflect on it for just a moment, the thought of Godís presence strikes your pleasure dead in its tracks. Your best amusements are with worthless things, usually done with the lighthearted and thoughtless people of this world, where nothing of God is heard, except to blaspheme His holy name.
2C. You can make jokes about spiritual things, but you intend no harm. Youíre only trying to have fun and get people to laugh. Perhaps youíll dabble with spiritual things at a distance. But you want religion in your life to know its place, and not intrude to interrupt and spoil your fun. You say to God in effect, "Depart from me, for I desire no the knowledge of your ways."
3C. All your joy and cheerfulness arises from the pursuit of pleasure, or in the indulgence of your own pleasures. Which means, you walk not after the Spirit, but after the flesh; not by faith, but by sight. But to be carnally minded is death. "And if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die," the Bible says.
4C. And so, despite the fact that youíre a cheerful guy, death is inscribed by the finger of God on your soul and on all your soulís delights while you continue to walk in the ways of your heart.
5B. But This Young Man Is Determined Not To Yield, But To Get The Most Out Of His Pleasures.
Is this you?
1C. Youíre not satisfied, but neither will you yet believe that all is vanity. Solomon concluded that youíd not be convinced of your folly until youíve come to judgment. You may experience pangs of conscience at first. But when youíve found your way through some difficulties, you gain strength and find the way of cheer and merriment easier because your conscience is seared.
2C. You wish others would leave you alone. You love darkness, and youíll run from the light of conviction. But this cannot always be done, and so you work hard so as not to be convinced of sin and to come to repentance, but to silence your fears, and to soothe your conscience.
3C. There are times we can hear you plead your cause and justify your pursuit of pleasure. And since no one ever yet set himself to prove directly that sin is a duty, you give your conduct the soft names of "harmless" and "innocent." You oftentimes use the example of others as justification or excuse, and youíd love to be able to prove that your selfish pursuit of pleasure is necessary and approved by the Word of God. Letís call it "family time."
4C. You think yourself no worse and perhaps not as bad as many others. As a matter of fact, you see little or no cause for repentance. Were you assured that your pleasures would soon be over, that within a few days you must lie down in eternal sorrows, in the horrors or despair, you would change your cheerful disposition into the cries and shrieks of the damned. But not before then.
5C. Your heart would cry out a mournful complaint. "Who can dwell with devouring fire? Who can inhabit everlasting burnings?" But this isnít the case with you, is it? So what if you live without God in the world? So what if you still stand outside the ark of safety? You feel yourself too young to be a Christian; and too young to die.
6C. You now believe that Christ has spilt His blood to purchase for you the pleasures of sin for a season, and the joys of heaven when your youthful time of play has ended. But should guilt, death, and judgment stare you in the face, it would end your fun at once.
7C. At first sight, isnít it insane to rest short of being saved? And is it not also insane to rejoice and make merry before you have fled to Christ for refuge? But you are charmed with your pleasures, and while your soul is in danger you will, perhaps, be angry if anyone interferes with your well ordered life and attempts to get you to deal seriously with sin and salvation.
8C. You are willing to regulate your amusements and to conduct them with great propriety, only so long as you can hold on to that thing itself which is the joy and delight of your heart. You see, you cannot be brought to a sense of the worth of your soul, and to see that youíre are lost and dead in sin. And here you will rest till you view your conduct in the light of eternity.
9C. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to you that perish. And you must continue without a Savior and forever perish unless you are brought to renounce and hate every evil way and deed. If you insist on fun and enjoyment before you come to Christ your case is serious. Because youíre pleading for your own destruction. Now God warns you where your danger lies. "Rejoice, O young man, and be cheerful, but know thou that for this delightful conduct, I will bring thee into judgment."
10C. The pleasure you insist on is the very thing pointed at and condemned by the Word or God. It would not be difficult to redirect your from your present course were it not delightful to your heart. And in this the danger lies. Every step which you advance by following your heartís desires carries you farther and farther from God. The more you indulge in sinful pleasures, the less you fear, and the stronger your wicked habits become.
11C. It would not be strange for you to continue in your present course, walking on the broad and downward road. You are only walking according to the course of this world. Itís expected that you will become more hardened in sin and more resistant to conversion over time. Itís quite common for you to continue filling up the measure of your sins with a joyful and a merry heart.
12C. You see, when sinners have for a while defended and excused their sins, itís common for God to give them up. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." Because God has called and you have refused, now you shall eat of the fruit of your own way, and be filled with your own devices.
6B. So, Now The Season Of Your Youth Will Someday Be Over, And You Will Have Gained Nothing.
1C. The evil days will come when you cannot rejoice and be cheerful in walking in the ways of your heart. And how few of those you know will forsake their youthful vanities, who will choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, and who will someday die in the Lord?
2C. And how many young people have gone from their happy lives to judgment with all their sins upon their heads? Our verses tells us that while your energy and health remain you will rejoice and make merry, until God lays His hand upon you and brings you unto judgment.
3C. But you may live on after you have spent the best of your days in sin. Spend your youthful days in vanity, and then you will be confirmed in your sins. And afterwards youíll live only to ripen for a more dreadful judgment hereafter. In other words, you think youíre going to get saved later, but you wonít.
4C. Did you know that the great revivals of days gone by were known to be generally confined to those about your age? People your age were called by God at the very time when they were just entering the time of life you are presently at. At the moment in time when their hopes and expectations to have fun and commit sin were raised to the highest pitch, suddenly they were stripped of everything. But, of course, the great majority remained unsaved to have fun and make merry, cheerfully storing up judgment for their sin, until wrath came upon them to the uttermost. And they never did truly repent of their folly, until it was too late.
5C. "But after their hardness and impenitent hearts they wilt continue to treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." It turned out that their better days in which they rejoiced, were wholly spent in gathering fuel for their own eternal torments. But letís leave them in the hand of God. After death, comes the judgment.
1. Young people, you and I will shortly open our eyes on a world where everything is new. Where every work will appear in its proper light. I tell you now that you are preparing for eternity. You will then believe it.
2. Once more, life and death are set before you. Dare you rest a moment while you are yet unsaved? God is calling. Will you not stop your fooling around and listen to His voice?
3. What can be more insulting to the majesty of heaven than your refusal to respond? Christ is calling. And will you not stop your sinful stalling to hear His dying groans and see the wounds which your sins have made? Will you change the day of salvation into a day of playing around while your eternal destiny is depending on this point in time?
4. Yes, this you will do. But I hope not every one of you. The Spirit of God may convince some of you of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. If not, then I am pleading with you in vain. Still, I am commanded to preach the Gospel, hoping that God has yet much people among the young.
5. In past years many of your age have been called from their joy and play to tremble in view of a judgment to come. Their times of merriment were soon turned into mourning, and their joy into heaviness. Nothing could sway them from asking the solemn question, "What must I do be saved?" Not a smile of joy could be seen, while they saw that they did not know Christ and that their eternal soul might be lost the next moment. The unimportant events of time were lost in the awful concerns of eternity.
6. And so could it be with you, my friend, should the still small voice of Godís Spirit whisper conviction to your conscience. You would then be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. You would then see that heaven is no place for carnal joy, that you must be born again, or there is nothing in heaven in which you can rejoice. You would then see how awful a thing it is to live without a Savior, that God out of Christ is a consuming fire, that nothing but the brittle thread of life, supported by the hand of an angry God now holds you from dropping into the flames of Hell.
7. "Because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed, therefore the hearts of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
8. If you have never believed in Christ and turned from your sins, you are already under sentence of condemnation. And all the dreadful threatenings contained in Godís Word are now ready to be executed. And should the unseen hand of death suddenly approach and find you as you are, you are gone and lost forever. Is this a time to rejoice and make merry? You must die and go to judgment.
9. I know that you have no intentions of dying unsaved. But so did every young person who is now in Hell. Not one had decided to die lost in his sins. And you are now heading in their steps. What then are your prospects? I will tell you. All your resolutions about getting saved some day are worth nothing.
10. Such resolutions are a part of the ways of your heart for which God will bring you into judgment. They are necessary to quiet your conscience and to help you onward to rejoice. Such a resolution may be made by that person whose heart is now fully set in them to do evil. It is made for the very purpose of escaping the righteous judgment of God, and now you can once more rejoice in sin.
11. Tomorrow will find your hearts farther from God, more hardened in sin, and difficulties will certainly increase at every step which you advance. But what is your life? Has God promised you, young person, that He will not bring you into judgment before tomorrow? At such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man will come.