You Died Last Night
Every day, a man would go to his banker and say, “I died last night. What happened to my estate, to my business, to my family?” The man obviously didn’t die the night before, but he used this as a means to make sure he was doing proper estate planning.
Proper estate planning is important. Unless we have a will, the state will divide up our property the way it sees fit. There are so many good works we can leave money to–the church for mission work, colleges training preachers, orphan homes, etc. It is important to plan our estate for our death, but it is more important to be prepared spiritually.
There is a part of man that lives on after death. The narrative of the rich man and Lazarus shows this (Lk. 16:19-31). “Let your heart live forever!” (Ps. 22:26)–the heart will live forever. Just what is the biblical “heart”? “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7)-It is the thinking part of man. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Matt. 22:37)-It is the loving part of man. “With the heart one believes unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10)–It is the believing part of man.
For this lesson we want to suppose that you died last night. Picture the way you died–perhaps in a car crash, perhaps as a result of cancer. Picture the funeral home-the flowers, the family and friends around your casket, the songs being sung at your funeral.
If you died last night, what would be the concern of your heart?
Perhaps You Will Say, “I Wish I Obeyed the Gospel Last Night”
Jesus will come 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” (2 Thess. 1:8).
How do we obey the Gospel? The Gospel is, in part, the death, burial, resurrection, and post-resurrection appearances of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-5). We re-enact the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4).
God values obedience–He promises to bless those who obey. “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people” (Ex. 19:5). “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).
You might say, “One day I will obey the Gospel,” but you won’t, because you die last night.
Perhaps You Will Say, “I Wish I Had Been Restored Last Night”
The Bible encourages us to be faithful in our lives to God. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42).
Some say that one cannot fall from grace; yet, the Scriptures teach that you can fall from grace. “You have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38). “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
It is worse to die as a backslider than never to have known Jesus. 2 Peter 2:20. Luke 12:47-48. This text teaches degrees of punishment. The Bible does not explain how it works, but it says that those who were once Christians and fall away will be punished more severely than those who never became Christians.
How can those who have fallen away be restored? Acts 8 tells us. Simon the sorcerer believed and was baptized (Acts 8:13)–He was a true Christian. He then saw that the apostles could give the miraculous manifestation of the Spirit; he wanted this power (Acts 8:14-21). In attempting to buy this power with money, Simon sinned. Peter told him, “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22).
Those Christians who fall back into sin must repent of their sins. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Repentance means to change our minds about sin and turn away from our sin and turn back to God; the evidence that one has repented is that he stops his sinful actions.
Those Christians who fall back into sin must pray to God for forgiveness. We must pray-“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). That is what we must do when we pray–confess our sins. “Confession” comes from two Greek terms and literally means “to say the same thing.” Confession pictures a dialogue where God outlines our sins, and we say, “Yes, God, that’s what I did; I sinned.” We can’t be general in our confession to God; we must be specific.
Do you need to repent of your sins? Do you need to be restored?
You might say, “One of these days I’ll be restored,” but you died last night.
Perhaps You Will Say, “Did I Make Life Easier for Anybody?”
You might ask, “Did I help the hurting, the hungry, the orphans, the widows?”
The song probably says it best: “Each day I’ll do a golden deed, By helping those who are in need; My life on earth is but a span, And so I’ll do the best I can.”
The Bible teaches us to make life easier for those around us. Matthew 25:34-40. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). “Weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
There are so many opportunities to make life easier for those around us. We can visit the sick and shut in. We can take food to bereaved families and attend the funeral. We can support homes which care for orphans and widows. We can visit the prisons. We can pray for those dealing with difficult times.
You might say, “Someday I will care for those around me,” but you died last night.
Perhaps You Will Say, “How Will My Children Remember Me?”
We have influence even after our deaths–Speaking of Abel the Bible says, “he being dead still speaks” (Heb. 11:4).
It is important that we leave our children a godly heritage. 1 Timothy 5:8. Paul is telling men to provide for their families’ physical needs. It is important to provide for physical needs, but it is more important to provide spiritual needs. Timothy’s faith first lived in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5). Speaking of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, the Bible says, “he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD” (2 Chr. 20:32). Speaking of Uzziah, king of Judah, the Bible says, “he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done” (2 Chr. 26:4).
You might say, “Someday I’ll lead my children to Christ,” but you died last night.
You didn’t die last night; you can come home.
If you need to come home, come as we stand and sing.