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YOUR APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, November 11, 2012

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”
(Hebrews 9:27).


One of the greatest needs of this hour is evangelistic preaching. When I was a boy you could hear it everywhere. It was the most common thing in the world to hear a man preach the Gospel. But that is no longer true. There is a great deal of Bible teaching today. There is a great deal of so-called “music” and so-called “worship.” There is a great deal of entertainment in many churches. But evangelistic preaching is seldom heard in our pulpits today. There are many reasons for this, but I cannot go into them this morning. It is enough to say that what I am going to give you is an evangelistic sermon. I believe that every born again Christian needs to hear evangelistic preaching – and hear that kind of preaching often. Why do I say that? Because evangelistic preaching confronts us with the great issues of life and death. It is also preaching that reminds us of the very essence of the Gospel. And all of us need to be reminded of the life and death issues of the Gospel. It keeps us close to Christ to hear Gospel preaching.

The lost need to hear evangelistic preaching as well. “Expository preaching” so-called does not confront lost people with their sin, and their need for Christ. One of the judgments God has sent to this sinful age is a famine of Gospel preaching. The prophet Amos quoted God. He said, “I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). He did not say there would be a famine of the words, but a famine of “hearing the words of the Lord.” Matthew Henry said, “They shall have the written word, Bibles to read, but no ministers to...apply it to them.” It is through evangelistic preaching that the words of the Gospel are applied to the hearts and minds of men. Mere Bible teaching cannot do that. Only evangelistic preaching can do that. Evangelistic preaching catches the attention of the lost, and makes them hear the Word of the Lord. And there is a great famine of that kind of preaching today! It is a judgment from God on our nation and our world.

This sermon is very simple, as all true evangelistic preaching is simple. In fact, this sermon was adapted from Simple Sermons on the Old-Time Religion, by Dr. W. Herschel Ford (Zondervan, 1972 edition, pp. 105-112). It is a simple sermon on death – the death that every person faces who is listening to me this morning. The text says,

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

I was in San Francisco last Friday. I went there to attend the funeral of a dear friend. She had died from cancer a few days earlier. As I approached her casket, I noticed that the funeral director had painted her face, giving it a lifelike glow. They had placed her body in a satin-lined casket. They had put beautiful flowers all around. They had done their best, but death is never beautiful. It is always horrible. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t! Death is man’s enemy. The Bible calls death “the last enemy” (I Corinthians 15:26). And yet it is an enemy you must face because “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Since you are going to die, you need to know what the Bible says about death.

I. First, the Bible tells us the origin of death.

The Garden of Eden was a beautiful, perfect place for man to dwell. Sin and death had never entered there. Then God said to Adam,

“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

But Adam and Eve disobeyed God, ate of that forbidden fruit, and died spiritually in that very moment. Then physical death began to work in their bodies.

God later listed nine men from Adam to Noah. Enoch was translated to Heaven. But what does the Bible say about the rest? “He died.” “He died.” “He died.” “He died.” “He died.” “He died.” “He died.” “He died.” God was telling us what He meant when He said, “Thou shalt surely die.” Then read the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. “They lived...They reigned...They died.” God said to Moses, “Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” (Deuteronomy 31:14). God said to King Hezekiah, “thou shalt die” (Isaiah 38:1).

Jesus often spoke of death. He told of a rich man who died and went to Hell (Luke 16:19-31). He told of a rich man who died in his sleep (Luke 12:13-21). He told the Pharisees that they would die in their sins (John 8:24).

The Bible tells us that death comes because of sin. When the first man sinned death passed down to all of his descendants. You and I have the seeds of death already in our bodies. Teeth decay. Hair begins to fall out. Then it turns gray. Our eyes grow weaker. Cancer cells begin forming in some, heart muscles weaken in others, blood pressure goes up. I have seen little children die from cancer, leukemia, and other diseases. Whoever you are, death is headed your way. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Much of a florist’s business comes from furnishing flowers for the dead. The life insurance salesman sells his policies by proving that we die. Crosses along the highway speak of traffic deaths. Thousands of all ages are killed every year in various kinds of accidents. Thousands more commit suicide. In olden times architects followed this rule, “Make all the doors large enough to admit a coffin.”

But you may say, “All these facts don’t scare me.” They don’t scare me either, because I have placed my hope on Christ, who has conquered death. But if you have not yet become a born again Christian you ought to have enough sense to be scared! Death will end all of your opportunities to be saved. And remember this – death may come upon you very soon. Your silk-lined coffin may be waiting at the funeral parlor right now! I knew a young man who laughed at my sermons. He sat at the back of the church reading a comic book, concealed in a large Bible, while I preached. A day or two later, I saw his cold, stiff body lying in a coffin. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). An old song says it well,

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
   Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, death beds are coming,
   Coming for you and for me.
Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home;
   Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
   (“Softly and Tenderly” by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909).

II. Second, the Bible tells us what happens after death.

What happens to a born again Christian at death? The Apostle Paul said that to be “absent from the body” was “to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8). When a Christian dies, his body goes into the grave, but his spirit (his soul) goes to be with the Lord. Jesus said to the dying thief, who was saved, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). So death does not terrify a born again Christian. The lady whose funeral I attended last Friday knew she was dying of cancer when my wife and I visited her a few weeks ago. But she laughed with us and smiled a lot. We saw the peace she had because she was a real Christian. It was my privilege to read her life story at her memorial service, with hundreds of people present, last Friday evening.

But what happens to an unconverted person at death? In the sixteenth chapter of Luke, we read, “The rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:22, 23). Conscious torment in Hell comes after death to those who reject Christ, and are not born again. Their bodies go to the grave. But their souls go to the place of eternal suffering. Jesus said, “These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). They “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night...” (Revelation 14:11).

Is there another chance after death? The Bible clearly gives an emphatic “no.” Abraham said to the man in Hell,

“Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26).

The lost man in eternity will be on the wrong side of the gulf between Heaven and Hell. Christ calls you to come to Him now. After death there will not be another chance according to the Bible.

III. Third, the Bible warns of sudden death.

More than one half of all deaths are sudden deaths. Automobile accidents, murders, suicides, war, and heart attacks are all sudden. The vast majority of those who die this way have no time to repent and trust Christ. They go out of this life to face God unprepared. The Bible says,

“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1).

I have been preaching for nearly 55 years. Again and again, across the years, I have seen people die suddenly who were unprepared to meet God. Again and again I have been called on to conduct funeral services for people who died unsaved. It is always difficult to conduct such services. It is impossible to give any hope to grieving relatives in tragic situations like this. All I can do is preach the Gospel to those who are still living.

If you were to die suddenly in the coming days, what would happen to you? Would you be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”? (Philippians 1:21). Or would you go out into eternity with no hope of being with Christ? Will it be Heaven or Hell for you? That is a serious question, the most serious question you will ever face, because “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Jesus died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for your sins. He shed His Blood to cleanse you from all sin. He rose physically from the dead to give you eternal life. But you must be made to feel your sin, and your need of Christ. You must turn away from a selfish and sinful way of life. You must encounter Christ in a life-changing conversion. If that happens to you, there is hope. If not, you have no hope – none at all. Therefore I caution you to be here in church every Sunday morning and every Sunday night to hear the Gospel, to have Christian people pray for you, to enter into the fellowship of the church, to enter into a real relationship with Christ, and with the church. The Bible says,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).

How we pray that you will be one of those that Jesus saves from a hopeless life and a hopeless death. Amen.

I’m going to ask you to come and stand here in front of this pulpit if you are not sure that you are saved. When you have come, Dr. Cagan will lead you to another room where we can speak with you, pray with you, and give you some literature to read. Please turn to hymn number seven on your song sheet. While we sing get out of your seat and come and stand here at the front, and come quickly.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
   Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
   Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home;
   Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
   Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
   Mercies for you and for me?
Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home;
   Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
   Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, death beds are coming,
   Coming for you and for me.
Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home;
   Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised,
   Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
   Pardon for you and for me.
Come home, come home, Ye who are weary, come home;
   Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
    (“Softly and Tenderly” by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909).

Dr. Chan, please come and pray for those who have responded this morning (prayer).

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here) – or you may
write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Kyu Dong Lee: Hebrews 9:24-28.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Softly and Tenderly” (by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909).


THE OUTLINE OF

YOUR APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”
(Hebrews 9:27).

(Amos 8:11; I Corinthians 15:26)

I.   First, the Bible tells us the origin of death, Genesis 2:16-17;
Deuteronomy 31:14; Isaiah 38:1; Luke 16:19-31; 12:13-21; John 8:24.

II.  Second, the Bible tells us what happens after death, II Corinthians 5:8;
Luke 23:43; 16:22, 23; Matthew 25:46; Revelation 21:8; 14:11;
Luke 16:26.

III. Third, the Bible warns of sudden death, Proverbs 29:1;
Philippians 1:21; I Timothy 1:15.