Preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle in downtown Los Angeles, July 17, 2001.
"HOW TO DIE"
1. Almost 4000 years ago lived a man of God named Isaac, the son of Abraham, the friend of God. In Genesis 27.2 he is recorded as saying to his son Esau, "I know not the day of my death."
2. The same is true of you, as well. You do not know the day of your death. Not a one of us here knows the day of our death. Now, you may to live to a ripe old age, or you may be shot in a drive by shooting tomorrow, or be in a fatal accident. But whenever you die, you do not know the day of your death.
3. Iím going to spend this evening telling you how to die. Perhaps you are like most, who donít want to deal with the subject of death, who donít want to consider it or discuss it. But Psalm 49.10 reminds us that "wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others."
4. So, if you are a timid soul who tries to cover your fear of death by laughing and joking about it, or if you are so stupid as to not treat this as a serious subject, I would suggest you take a hint from the more mature and intelligent here, and just try your best to conceal your fear by paying attention.
5. Understand that I have no intentions of being morbid. Neither will I try to tug at your heartstrings. I simply want to do the best job I can to get you ready for a day that must certainly come, the day of your death. A day that may come later than you think, or a day that may come much sooner than you think.
6. You have an appointment with the grim reaper, though you donít know when that appointment happens to be. The Bible declares that "it is appointed unto man once to die," Hebrews 9.27.
7. On the other hand, you may be like an increasing number of people these days who have a rather neutral and benign attitude toward death. Letís end that nonsense right this minute.
8. The Bible has a lot to say about the shadow of death, the snares of death, the pains of death, the power of death, the sorrows of death, the bitterness of death, the instruments of death, the pangs of death, the terrors of death, the ways of death, the sting of death and the fear of death.
9. You see, death is no manís friend. Death is your enemy, a necessary evil exit from this fallen world that you live in. To shed some necessary light on this dark subject, consider death in a way youíve probably never considered it before.
1A. FIRST, CONSIDER THAT DEATH IS AN EXPERIENCE
What you think you are experiencing is life. And, in a way, you are experiencing life, in a limited and brief way. But youíre only experiencing physical life in a limited and brief way. When considered in its totality, the life you are presently living isnít really life at all. You are living, or should I say you are experiencing, death and dying.
1B. You See, You Are At The End Of A Very Long Family Tree That Traces Its Beginnings All The Way Back To A Man Named Adam And A Woman Named Eve. Created By God And Placed Into A Garden Named Eden, Your First Father And Mother Were Alive In Every Sense Of The Word. They Were Alive Spiritually And They Were Alive Physically, So Alive That They Might Have Lived Forever Had They Not Died. Let Me Explain:
1C. When God created Adam He gave to the man complete freedom of action and choice, with one exception. He was forbidden to do only one thing, under penalty of death the day he disobeyed, Genesis 2.17.
2C. Well, Adam did the forbidden thing. Eve was tempted by the serpent and she ate the forbidden fruit. In turn she gave to Adam and he did eat, and their eyes were opened to their nakedness, Genesis 3.7. They sinned. The entire race, embodied in that one man, Adam, fell into sin.
3C. "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life," Genesis 3.22-24.
4C. The human race died that day, since death actually refers to being separated from that which gives life. The immediate death was spiritual death and alienation from God. The physical death of Adam occurred years later, and was the inevitable result of being spiritually dead.
2B. And Whatís The Result Of Adamís Spiritual Death? Adamís Spiritual Death Has Resulted In Every Member Of Our Race Going Through Spiritual Death On The Way To Physical Death. So, Your Life Is Actually A Journey Of Spiritual Death On The Way To Physical Death.
1C. Why else would the Psalmist have written, "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?" Psalm 89.48.
2C. A more familiar verse is Romans 5.12, where Paul explains this journey of death we call life: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
3C. So you see, this death experience of yours is so common to you, and you are so completely unfamiliar with anything other than this death experience, that you donít know that itís death you are really experiencing and not life. Physical life, to be sure. But physical life in the midst of spiritual death, on the way to physical death.
2A. SECOND, CONSIDER THAT DEATH IS AN END
Death is not only an experience that lasts through the course of a human lifetime. Death is also the end. When you die (notice I did not say if you die), it will mean the end of some things.
1B. First, Your Death Will Mean The End Of All Physical Existence As We Know It
1C. Death means being separated from that which gives life. Spiritual death is separation from God. Physical death occurs when your soul is separated from your physical body, resulting in the physical death of your body.
2C. What happens to your body when you die? Job was in touch with reality when he acknowledged, in Job 19.26, that worms would someday destroy his body. Face it. The critters are, eventually, going to lunch on you, just as Job knew they would lunch on him.
3C. Though death spells the end of your physical existence in one sense, in another sense you will someday have some kind of physical existence again. The Lord Jesus spoke of a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation that will occur someday. Thatís in John 5.29. And in Acts 24.15, Paul made reference to a resurrection of the just and the unjust.
4C. Revelation 20.5-6 refers to the first resurrection, and implies a second resurrection. The first resurrection, the resurrection of life, the resurrection of the just, will be the resurrection of those who will live forever in heaven. Their bodies will be, not so much physical bodies, suited for life here on earth, but heavenly bodies, suited for an eternity in heaven.
5C. But for you there will be no such resurrection of glory. Your resurrection will a resurrection of shame, providing for you a body suited, not to heaven for eternity, but suited for an eternity in outer darkness, in the lake of fire.
2B. Death Is Also An End Of All Human Relationships
1C. Will God let you have the comfort of acquaintances when you die? No. Will He allow you to keep your friends? No. Will families be maintained after you die? No.
2C. Understand that your mother can only mother you in this lifetime. After you die you will be alone. No brothers or sisters then. After you die you will be all by yourself. The relationships you now enjoy, you see, are for time and not for eternity.
3B. Thirdly, Your Death Will Also Be The End Of All Opportunities To Get Right With God
1C. Eastern religions have fabricated reincarnation in the futile hope that death only means a another in a long series of chances to attain Nirvana. Nonsense.
2C. Roman Catholicism has invented a clever money making scheme called purgatory, or limbo, where a sinner supposedly gets a second chance to make restitution for his sins, making death something other than what it most certainly is. This is also nonsense.
3C. Let the Word of God speak, once and for all, and letís put to silence the silly inventions of wicked men. The Bible says "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." So, there is no second chance after death comes. Death is the end of your opportunities to reconcile with God. Once you die, your opportunity to get right with God is gone forever.
4C. In the Bible we see this with the rich man and Lazarus. When righteous Lazarus died he was immediately carried to Abrahamís bosom. But when the rich man, who like you was not righteous, died he was dispatched immediately to Hell. No second chance for that rich man. No second chance for you. What is done must be done in this life, or there will be Hell.
3A. DEATH IS AN EXPERIENCE. DEATH IS AN END. DEATH IS ALSO A BEGINNING
What begins at death? Of what is death a beginning of?
1B. Death Is The Beginning Of Real Suffering
1C. People sometimes gripe and complain about life on earth so much that they say this is all the Hell there is, because suffering couldnít possibly be worse than what they are experiencing.
2C. Nonsense. After you die the wrath of God will be poured out on you. And no amount of suffering that results from poverty, or from physical affliction, or from any kind of abuse, can possibly compare to the punishment you will receive from God,
2B. Because Death Is The Beginning Of Godís Wrath
1C. To be sure, Hell is nothing like the lake of fire is going to be, since Hell is only a temporary assignment of torment until the judgment of the great day. But make no mistake about the fact that Hell is the real beginning of Godís wrath for you.
2C. And when does Hell begin for you? It begins when you die. Death is the passage from physical life to physical death. Death is the door from here to eternity. Death is the great divide between Godís long-suffering and Godís wrath.
3B. Death Is Also The Beginning Of Unending Eternity
1C. Youíve heard all the illustrations of eternityís duration. A man with a tea spoon empties the worldís oceans, one spoon full at a time. And when the oceans are empty eternity has only barely begun.
2C. But eternity is really existence outside the boundaries of time. Time has no meaning in eternity. Eternity is actually something about which we can only speculate, since there is nothing in our experience with which to compare it. Suffice it to say that it will not end.
1. So, unless youíve blocked out my words from your mind, weíve considered death as an experience, death as an end, and death as the beginning.
2. Now let me spend just a couple of minutes telling you how to get ready to die. After all, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished," Proverbs 22.3.
3. Perhaps youíve been simple your whole life. If so, now is the time to turn things around. Now is the time to be prudent. Since you are already spiritually dead and are certainly going to die a physical death, who knows when, why not take a few moments this evening to listen very carefully to find out how to get ready to die?
4. In John 5.40 Jesus said, "ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." What He said so long ago applies very much to you. If you would come to Jesus He would not only forgive your sins, He would also give you life, eternal life, thus preparing you for the death you must inevitably face.
5. In John 10.10 Jesus again referred to life. He said about such as you, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." But until tonight you scorned the inevitability of death, and you refused Jesus Christís offer of life. I pray that you will reconsider.
6. Finally, at the end of Johnís Gospel, in John 20.31 to be exact, we find these words: "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
7. Youíre going to die. You know that. Youíve never met a person who hasnít died or who isnít going to die, sooner or later. And you donít know when you are going to die. I urge you to prepare to die tonight by coming to Jesus tonight.