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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

By Denny Smith

The title here is taken from part of the lyrics from the theme song for the TV show "Cops". It is a catchy tune but it raises a question we all have to deal with like it or not and most of us don't like it. The undertaker and his helpers are coming for us, no doubt about it, one of these days. What are we gonna do?

In life we confront things that are coming for us. We see it coming and we do not like it but being rational people we do what we can to prepare for the arrival of that which we expect. It could be anything from a job loss we anticipate, a relationship going sour, a child heading for trouble, or whatever, but we see it coming. Whatcha gonna do? We are confronted with reality.

Often we say why? Why me? Why this? Why now? And, often, there are no answers to be had. It is just that things come into our lives we have to confront. Whatcha gonna do? I am pretty certain of this, that even though you may feel helpless you will not just set and mope but you will try and do something to alleviate the situation and to make things more tolerable and less disastrous. You will give it your best shot and that is what you ought to do.

For most people the most fearful thing that is seen coming is death and yet we often fail to make preparation to meet it. I overheard an older couple awhile back conversing with an older gentleman and in mentioning the topic of death first one then another said they just did not think about it. I doubt the total truthfulness of those statements for how does one just completely erase the thought from the mind? Nevertheless, trying to not think about it is a way many have of coping with that which is inevitable.

The Bible teaches clearly that one needs to make preparation for death. The Hebrew writer says, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." (Heb. 9:27 NKJV) A few verses later in chapter 10 verses 30 and 31 we read, "And again, 'The LORD will judge His people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Paul says it this way in 2 Cor. 5:10-11 (NKJV), "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." Death is coming and we must either go prepared for it or unprepared. Put another way we must prepare to meet God in judgment. Whatcha gonna do?

Daniel Webster, the great statesman, said, "One may live as a conqueror, a king, or a magistrate; but he must die a man. The bed of death brings every human being to his pure individuality, to the intense contemplation of that deepest and most solemn of all relations - the relations between the creature and his Creator."

We came into this world alone and we will go out of it alone. There were people there when we were born and they may well be people there when we die but we go alone even if a thousand others were to die with us in our presence. I think this is one of the things that makes it frightening for us. There is no one to go with us, no one who can help us, we must do it alone. When the day comes it will just be us and God. It will not be me and my family but me alone with God. The same will hold true with you.

If this is all very depressing with you it is the same with all of us. No one likes to contemplate that which is inevitable for us all. Life, life, life, that is the thing we want and desire, that is the good thing, not death.

The burden of this article is to declare preparation for life eternal and not dwell on death but without facing up to facts we will never prepare for that which we must prepare if we are to have it - a life in heaven. In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses one through thirteen we have an account of ten virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom after the manner of the customs of those days when Jesus lived. None knew exactly when the bridegroom would arrive but some made adequate preparation for a long wait while the others did not.

When the time came at midnight, when the bridegroom arrived, the 5 foolish virgins found they were unprepared and their lamps were going out for they had not taken sufficient oil. The other 5 virgins who had prepared adequately for a long wait had sufficient oil but none to spare. The Bible says, "those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut." (Matt. 25:10 NKJV)

This parable is all about being prepared versus not being prepared. There are consequences to those who do not prepare. The Bible says, "the door was shut" with direct reference to those who had not prepared.

Why would we be surprised if we were to find, as we do, that we must prepare if we want to go to heaven? Do we not prepare for everything in this life if we want it? What is going to college all about? What is physical exercise all about? What is a job all about? Each is preparation for that which we want whether it be a good job, fitness and health, or money. One could probably think of many more examples.

But, please note in the parable of the virgins that the Bible says, "those who were ready went in." If we are shut out of heaven it will be our own fault. No, we cannot save ourselves by ourselves but there are things we must do if we want to go to heaven. The idea that there is nothing we can do is not taught in the Bible.

I am reminded of the Philipian jailer who fell down trembling before Paul and Silas and asks them "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30 NKJV) In Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost when the first gospel sermon ever to be preached was preached by Peter many who heard were "cut to the heart" (convicted of the truth and of their sin) and the bible says they say to Peter and the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37 NKJV)

What shall we do about what? Obviously, about sin, about forgiveness, about salvation. Peter did not tell them there is nothing you can do, there is no preparation a man can make to meet God in judgment. We know he did not tell them that but rather gave them an answer. The sermon had already made believers out of them so he says nothing about faith but says, "repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38 NKJV)

In further proof of this point that man can do something for himself to be saved, can make preparation that makes a difference in his salvation, I quote here Acts 2:40, "And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.'" (ESV) Some versions say "be saved" rather than "save yourselves" but it is all one and the same.

There is something you can do is Peter's message. You can be saved, you can save yourselves. Well, how? By doing just what I (Peter) have told you - repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins.

So, a man can prepare to meet God in death by hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel which includes not only faith but also repentance, confession, and baptism for the remission of sins. This many have not done and thus wait unprepared for the bridegroom.

In Matt. 24:35-44 Jesus is speaking to his disciples and says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (NKJV)

The Bible says that when Noah and his family entered the ark God shut him (them) in (Gen. 7:16 NKJV) Do you think there might have been any knocking on the door after it became obvious to all that they were in the midst of a disaster? Had they prepared? It was too late. There always comes a time when it is too late.

Peter called Noah a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) Based on Genesis 6:3 some think Noah preached to the people of his day 120 years. Be that as it may it is certain Noah did preach else Peter did not tell the truth. This preaching if heeded would have spared those who believed and obeyed it but they faced the day of the flood unprepared for what they heard had no affect upon them. Man prepares to face God first by hearing his word but then by believing it and acting upon it.

But, Jesus says when he comes again it will be the same as in the days of Noah, suddenly and unexpectedly. When he tells us to watch for that day what does he mean? When he says if the master of the house had known what time the thief was coming he would not have allowed his house to be broken into what is he telling us? Is he not saying prepare, be prepared? He most certainly is. "Therefore you also be ready," he says.

That was the problem with 5 of the 10 virgins when the bridegroom came, they were not prepared. But, I want you to note one other thing here. In Matthew 24 who is Jesus addressing? His disciples. Being prepared to meet God is not just a matter of preparation on the part of those who have never obeyed the gospel but also upon those who are already his disciples. It is not once saved always saved as some teach. One must live a faithful obedient life if he is to be prepared to meet God.

Do not be deceived. Even if the Lord was to not return for another thousand years you will meet him in just a matter of years, you will not have to wait long. For all practical purposes the day of death is the day you meet God. Even for the very young that is just a very few decades off.

And that is to say nothing of those who are young and think they will live to be old. How mistaken many of them I have known have been in that matter. I have been around the public schools many, many years. How many there have been who I also thought would outlive me as I was the teacher and they were the students. Some have been dead for many years now already. Just about every year there is two or three who generally very suddenly and without warning are gone often the result of car accidents but sometimes other things as well.

Jeremiah, in another context, writes, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!" (Jeremiah 8:20 NKJV) As I said, I am taking that verse out of context but what a sad day if that can be said of you or me on the day we depart this earth.

Perhaps as scary a passage as one can find in the Bible is 1 Thess. 1:7-10, "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be admired among all those who believe." (NKJV)

In conclusion there is a great force coming our way which we cannot avoid - death and judgment. We cannot avoid it but the Bible teaches we can prepare for it. It teaches if we will we can be saved and have life eternal in a place far better than this where there will never again be death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain. What a wonderful place heaven must be. Why not make preparation? The question for us all is whatcha gonna do when death comes for you? I hope you will be prepared. Will you hear and heed God's word?

"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2 NKJV)

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