1999-11-24 - Death-Bed Repentance
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Robert Bruce is one of those old Scottish ministers I love to read. He lived in the late 1500's and served Christ faithfully until the end of his life. On the last day of his life he sat eating breakfast with his family. Having eaten a boiled egg he asked his daughter to bring him another. He then paused, and added, "Hold daughter, hold! My Master calleth me!"
At this moment his sight failed him and he called for a Bible. He requested that his daughter place his finger on the passage from Romans, "I am persuaded that neither life nor death shall be able to separate me from the love of god which is in Christ Jesus my Lord." He then said, "God be with you, my children! I have breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ this night!" These were his last words; and, without a groan, he at once died and entered glory.
Death is often sudden. It often sneaks up on those who least expect it and have failed to see it coming. There are examples of unexpected deaths from violence every day in the news. There are examples of unexpected deaths from natural causes every day also that we seldom hear about.
Throughout life we all make foolish decisions. These stupid decisions might be financial, locational, relational, career, health related, or a host of other types. However, the most foolish decision a person can make is to fail to prepare for eternity.
I have met many people who have told me that when they are older they will follow God. The cares of the world are just too much right now and there is not enough time to serve the Lord. When they are older, working less, and have fewer pressing concerns, they will then have the time to attend to the things of God.
This is senseless thinking. As in the parable of the rich man who had a great year (Luke 12:16-21), many of us think we have many years left in this world. We may not. To put off forsaking sin and serving Christ, for any reason, is foolish. However, to put off forsaking sin and serving Christ, because we can do it later in life, is to provoke God.
Years sneak up on us. It was only a short time ago that the year 2000 seemed like it was far away, now it is six short weeks away. Time spent in service to Christ, time spent in prayer, time spent in fellowship, repentance, and Bible Study is time that we will never regret having spent. But time spent procrastinating in these things is time that eats away at our conscience and saps its power to convict and stimulate us towards these things. As the years add up we become simply confirmed in what we really are.
And that is why death-bed repentances are so rare. We do become set in our ways. They do happen and many have escaped the wrath of God by genuine repentance and faith at the end of their lives, but it is not something to plan for. "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts …" (Hebrew 4: 7
Today is the day to begin to plan for eternity and each day is a day to live in the light of the eternal realities that face us. May we be those who live with this view. Someday we will dwell with God in heaven. Let us live as if we may be with him this evening, for who can say we shall not be.
Soli Deo Gloria,