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by C. L. Cagan, Ph.D., M.Div., Ph.D., Deacon

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, July 28, 2002

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

This sermon is titled, "Will You Waste Your Youth?" This morning, I am speaking especially to the young people here, people under the age of 30, and especially people under the age of 25. If you're over 30 years of age, I hope you will listen in, and come to the same Jesus Christ about whom I will preach to the young people - people who are in college or in high school, or working people of college age.

It is very easy to waste your youth, to use up your time without doing anything important, and especially without becoming a Christian. To you, it looks like you have lots of time left. In one sense, your life has been going well. You've been seeing your power increase from year to year as you move out of childhood towards full adulthood.

Every year you get smarter, especially as you move forward in college. Every year, you get physically stronger. Every year you become more able to earn money. Every year you become less dependent on your parents and more able to do things for yourself and to decide for yourself. Some of you are already living the way you decide instead of the way your parents or other older people decide. Some of you haven't reached that time yet, but you've certainly been thinking about the time when you will be your own man or your own woman. Time is on your side, or so you think.

You may be optimistic about your life. You've been thinking about having a good time, about going to parties or dances or the mountains or the beach or Las Vegas and enjoying yourself. You've been thinking about the person you're going out with, or about someone you'd like to go out with. You've been planning to build a life for yourself, with a good education, a good job, lots of money, your own car, your own place to live - you've been thinking about having a great future.

But if you think your future will be a steady moving up until you die, you are wrong. The different stages of life are not the same. You will never be as free as you are now. And you will never have the same level of opportunity to know God as you do now. The Bible says:

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

What does this mean, "the evil days"? It means that soon time will turn against you. Later in your life will come the "evil days" - when you won't have the kind of pleasure that you do now. Soon the "evil days" will begin to come upon you.

Very soon, your body will begin to run down physically. Right now your body is in good shape. But very soon, after you reach the age of 25, certainly after the age of 30, your body will be weaker. You won't be able to do everything you can do now, physically. And you'll have more aches and pains, and you'll be weaker, until you become sick, and one day you will die.

We all know that even the best athletes have to stop playing professional baseball or football or basketball soon after the age of 35, and certainly after the age of 40. Their bodies just aren't the same.

Let's face it. You won't get stronger and stronger every year until you die. The "evil days" will soon come for you. Soon you will be much weaker physically than you are now. Even the strongest of you will be weak. And all of you will die. It comes much more quickly than you can imagine! That's why our text says,

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

The rest of your life will not be like the life you are living now. Very soon, your life will change from a life of freedom to a life of obligations. Right now you are thinking about how to enjoy yourself and what to do with your time. You have a lot of time - so much that some of you don't know what to do with your time. You are thinking about movies to see, places to go, and people you'd like to be with.

Very soon your life will be different. It'll hit you! Very soon you will be out in the working world. You will have to pay for yourself. You'll have to pay for rent and food and gasoline and a hundred other things. Instead of wondering what to do with your time, you'll be thinking about things you'd like to do, but you can't do because you have no time and no money. What? No time and no money? That's right - you will come into a life of limits and obligations just like your parents did before you.

And it gets worse! Soon you will be married and then you will have children. Your life will be almost totally filled with demands and obligations - with things that you have to do for other people. There will be bills to pay - and they never stop coming! One thing after another will take up your time - and you won't have much time for yourself. Other people - your children - will depend on you! You will go from one week to the next and from one paycheck to the next. You will fight to survive, as demands and obligations pile higher and higher on top of you. You will never be as free in your life as you are now, in your youth.

As you get older, you will be less and less free in your mind, your character, and your habits of life. Humanly speaking, we know that people get set in their ways as they get older. People form their habits of life and thought when they are young, and when they are older it is very hard for them to change their ways and their thoughts. People who study hard and work hard when they are young will do the same when they are older. People who learn how to manage their time when they are young will do the same when they are grown up. People who learn how to take care of their money when they are young will do the same when they are older. On the other hand, people who are sloppy and lazy when they are young will be the same, or worse, as they get older. People who don't do their chores at home and don't do their homework at school will be irresponsible when they get older. People who make a mess of their life when they are young will keep on making a mess of their life when they get older. And it will be harder and harder for you to change.

As you get older, you will be less and less free to change the direction of your life. When I was teaching mathematics at UCLA, I noticed year after year that a lot of college freshmen, students in their first year at college, were searching for the meaning of their lives. Some experimented with drugs and sexual sin. A few became political revolutionaries, even Communists. A very few - not many - became real Christians. I was one of them.

But most people just fooled around for a while and then settled into the same old life as everyone else. Even most of the people who went through a time of searching came to settle down after a year or two. After people had been at college for a couple of years, I noticed that their faces were different. They weren't looking for answers. They had lost interest in trying to change themselves. They were just going on with their lives. As time goes by, it will become harder for you to change the direction of your life.

Most important, you will lose the freedom to change your relationship with God. I have mentioned that people become set in their ways as they get older. At UCLA, I saw many young students who were curious about religion and about God. They were willing to spend hours talking with other people about the Bible and about God. They were open to visiting churches, and even thought about becoming Christians and belonging to a church for the rest of their lives.

But as they get older, people become less and less open. Often they won't even give their name or telephone number to a Christian who invites them to a meeting of the church. They act like the church is something bad instead of something good. They certainly aren't interested in being converted.

Humanly speaking, it will be harder and harder for you to be converted as you get older. But there's another reason why it will be harder. The time will come when it will actually be impossible for you to be converted. The day will come when God Himself will stop speaking to you. One day, perhaps very soon, God's Holy Spirit will withdraw from you and never speak to you again in the way He is speaking to you now. God says:

"My spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3).

God Himself will give up on you. Speaking of people before you, the Bible says,

"God gave them up" (Romans 1:26).

"God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28).

When God gives up on you, you can't ever be saved, even if you want to be. You might go on living physically for years - perhaps for many years. You might call yourself a Christian, or think about God from time to time, but you will never be able to come to Christ for conversion. Physically, you'll live as long as you live, but spiritually you will be dead for ever, as sure for Hell as though you were already there. The Bible says,

"She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth"
  (I Timothy 5:6).

That's why it's important to come to Christ now, while you still can. It's a mistake to think you can wait and be converted just before you die. Yes, a few people have been converted in their old age, but only a very few. Ninety percent of all conversions occur before age of thirty. The great majority of all conversions happen before the age of twenty-five. I myself came to Jesus Christ at the age of twenty-three. You must come to Jesus Christ now, while you are still young. The Bible says,

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth"
  (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Don't wait any longer to become a Christian. Don't waste your youth!

This morning I want to show you four ways you can waste your youth forever - and then plead with you not to waste it.

I. First, you will waste your youth if you die without Christ
while you are young.

Most young people think they are immortal! That's why many young people take drugs or get into fights or drive their cars in a wild and crazy way - they don't think they could die!

In theory, you admit that one day you will die just like everyone else. But you think and act as though you were never going to die. You live your life as though it was impossible for you to die while you are still young.

But the Bible says you can't be sure even about the next day! The Bible says,

"Boast not thyself of to morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David said, "There is but a step between me and death" (I Samuel 20:3).

Have you ever had a close call with death? Almost everyone has. There was a time when you were sick, or when you had an accident, or almost had an accident - and you almost died. Almost everyone has come close to death.

When I was ten years old, I was running around in a playhouse. I didn't watch where I was going, and fell down through a trap door and hit my head. My brother ran and told my mother, "Chris fell through a trap door and hit his head, and he isn't moving!" Thank God that I had only fractured my skull and had to spend three days in the hospital. That was bad - but if I had died that day I would have gone to Hell forever.

When I was eighteen years old, I was walking across Vermont Avenue here in Los Angeles. I was in the crosswalk and the light was green. But out of nowhere a car came driving right through the intersection and almost hit me. Somehow I pulled my body back and felt the car go right in front of me. It touched my shirt, but not my body. If I had died that day, I would have gone to Hell forever.

Everyone has a close call with death - usually many of them. If you've been on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles, you've had some close calls. You could die very soon.

I can remember a fellow I knew in high school. He was good-looking and popular. He was elected president of my class. He didn't expect to die in his youth. But when he was only 21 years old, he was driving across a bridge. He wasn't driving wrong - but someone else was! I can still remember when another friend came to me and told me, "He was killed in a car crash." He had wasted his youth.

I can remember another young man, a man named Carlos. He wasn't my personal friend. He was a wild fellow. He smoked marijuana and hung out with people in a gang. Today, people think it's cool to be a gangster - or at least to dress like one, talk like one, and listen to gangster music. That's what Carlos thought. He lived right here in Los Angeles. But we were never personal friends. I only met him once.

I met him for the first - and the last - time when I heard shots one night, and went out into the street and looked down. He was lying there with round holes in his body and blood coming out of him. Some gang people had driven up in a car and put six bullets into him. I spoke into his ear about Jesus, but I don't think he heard me. Carlos died that night. His gangster friends sprayed his name on the wall where he died, but that didn't do him any good. It was too late for him.

Carlos wasn't expecting to die that night - but he did. Now it is too late for him. He did not obey our text:

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth"
  (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

II. Second, you will waste your youth if you destroy it by wrong living.

Jesus told a parable about a young man. He wasn't talking about any person in particular. Instead, he gave a parable, which is a story that illustrates a spiritual truth. In Luke, chapter fifteen, verse eleven, he said this:

"A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him" (Luke 15:11-16).

This young man took his father's money and lived a wild life of partying - for a while. When he ran out of money, his friends left him and he wound up in the pig-pen. That's the story of most people's lives today - a big flash for a little while, and then a life in the pig-pen.

Later in this parable, the young man woke up and came to salvation. But I'd like to ask you a question: "What if he didn't wake up?" He probably wouldn't have died right then. But he would have had a miserable, ruined life for as much time as he did live - without real friends, without money, without hope for getting out of his troubles, and especially without God.

That's exactly what happens to most people in this city. You start out with a body, a mind, and hope for the future. Your body gets stronger and so does your mind. You have a plan for your life.

But you go wrong. You waste your youth. You listen to your "friends" and the music and the movies and everything else. You get wild. And in just a few years, you've messed up your life and you can't put it back. You have wasted your years. You have wasted your opportunities. You have wasted your youth.

It's hard to keep on the straight road when you are young. It's hard to put your nose in the books, and then work hard, and make something out of your life. It's easy to stay away from Christ, to stay out of church, to get wild for a few years - and waste your youth. You'll have a couple of wild years, and then all the rest of your life will be unhappy until you die and go to Hell. You might live on until you're old, but you'll never fulfill the plans and hopes and dreams you had when you were starting. You messed up and lost your way just like everyone else. You will live out an unhappy life until you die without Jesus Christ and go to Hell.

I can remember a young high school girl. She liked to talk to people. She was good-looking. One day she decided to stop coming to church. A few months later someone saw her riding around in a car with a bunch of friends. No, she didn't die that day - but she wasted her youth just the same. She found a boyfriend. That's not hard for a girl to do. A few months later she wound up with a baby just like thousands of other girls before her. It's the same old story. The girl is still alive, but she's not having a good wild time now. She'll never have much or do much in her life. And she's not interested in becoming a Christian. Although she is still alive, her life might as well be over. She wasted her youth.

I can think of one young girl after another who was planning to have a professional career - but fell in love and got physical with a boy. You can guess what happened after that. Now their lives are going nowhere. This sort of thing happens so often that when my wife and I hear it about still another person, my wife and I say to each other, "The story goes on." "The story goes on." Please don't waste your youth!

I can remember a young man who thought he didn't need to come to church. Instead, in simple words, he "spun out" into a life of sin. Today he has a job, but he is divorced and his children are somewhere else. His life is going nowhere. And he's not interested in being converted. There are so many people like him that his story is almost universal. "The story goes on." "The story goes on."

Will that be your story? Will you refuse to come to Jesus Christ? Will you waste your time in wild living instead of coming to church? Will you throw away your life in a short time of flash and pleasure - and then live as a nobody going nowhere until you finally die and go to Hell? Will you waste your youth?

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth"
   (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

III. Third, you will waste your youth if you put your selfishness
ahead of the call of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you won't die in your youth. Perhaps you won't destroy your future in a burst of savagery. But you can, and probably will, waste your youth by putting your life plans ahead of Jesus Christ.

You have plans for your life - and you have no time to come into a Bible-believing church, get converted, and live as a serious Christian. Your plans take up all of your life and leave no real room for Jesus. But Jesus warned against putting your own plans ahead of His call to you when He said:

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever
will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it"
  (Luke 9:24).

You may agree that it is a mistake to throw yourself into a life of drugs, partying, and illicit sex, but for the wrong reason - because it would interfere with your plan for your life. When I was in college, there were students who got high every day, by smoking marijuana or using some other drug. There were other students who got drunk every night. I briefly thought about what they were doing and decided not to live like them. My real reason for not getting drunk and high was that it would interfere with my plans to get a lot of education, do a lot of work, and make a lot of money. My real reason was selfishness.

Many of you are just like I was. You feel good about yourself because you don't take drugs, you aren't in a gang, and you're planning to do something with your life. You say, "Right now, I don't have time to come to church every Sunday. When I finish school, or when I get my bills paid, or when the problems in my life are fixed, then I may come back to church. Really I'd like to be a Christian, but I just can't do that right now." And so you will waste your youth with excuses, until you aren't young any more. You are saying "no" to the call of God's Holy Spirit, and you are building the habit of saying "no" to Him. Years from now, you will continue to say "no" to God as you always have - until the day when He says "no" to you.

There is no reason why you can't go to college, or have a job, and be a Bible Christian at the same time. All the young people in our church are going to college, or have jobs, or both! The real reason you don't have time to come to church, and aren't interested in becoming a serious Christian, is that you want to have the final word in your life for yourself. Your selfishness is the real obstacle.

I have worked in different cities in Orange County for the past six years. There I have met many people who have reached the goal you are trying to reach. They are college graduates and have professional jobs. They have expensive cars and the other things that people have. They often go away on the weekends. They go shopping at fancy malls. But they have no time to come to church regularly. They are too busy taking care of themselves. They were too busy when they were in school, and they are too busy now. They were selfish then, and they are selfish now.

You are trying to become just like they are now! You have no time to come to church, to seek your conversion, or to become a serious Christian. You are trying to protect your life and your plans. If you succeed in all your plans, you might get to be like those people are now, with their cars, their weekend getaways, and their shopping trips. Then you will have no time for real Christianity, just as you have no time for it now. You will seek to "save your life" then, just as you seek to "save your life" now. You certainly won't seek to "lose your life" for Jesus' sake, and put Him first in your life, after spending all that time trying to save it! No, you won't reverse your direction later on. You will go on in your selfishness until you die without Christ, and hear the words, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee" (Luke 12:20).

Please, change your priorities now - before it is too late! Make time for God, even if you have to rearrange your schedule. Make it your top priority to seek your conversion. There is nothing more important than making sure that your sins are forgiven and that you are going to Heaven. Don't wait any longer!

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth"
   (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

IV. Fourth, you will waste your youth if you reform outwardly
without an inward conversion to Christ.

Some of you who are here this morning are coming to church every week, but you are not converted. Some of you have grown up in this church. You have been brought here by your parents. But you yourself are not converted. Some of you have been coming to church for a few weeks or a few months, and you enjoy being with the people here, but you yourself are still not converted. You are in danger of making the biggest mistake of all. Jesus said,

"Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom
of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

You know mentally the basic facts of the gospel. You have heard that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sins. You mentally believe that Jesus shed His Blood to wash your sins away. You have heard that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven. You mentally believe that Jesus is up in Heaven now and calls you to come to Him.

But you yourself are still a lost sinner, and you know it! In your mind, you know that you still have your sins on your record before God, and that you are going to Hell with your sins not washed away by the Blood of Jesus. But in your heart you are content with yourself, and pleased with yourself for being in church with the Christians and not committing some of the grossest outward sins. You would like to hear about salvation as a formula. You may be curious to hear the illustrations and stories in the sermons from week to week. But you do not seek to have the burden of your sins removed through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, Himself.

You are like a religious young man who said to Jesus, "All these things [God's commandments] have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (Matthew 19:20). Like the rich young ruler, you are content with yourself as an outwardly "good" person. You may be curious enough to talk with me after the sermon, or even to ask a question - but you are not desperately earnest about being forgiven, about being accepted by God.

After all, you have heard gospel sermons before, and you expect to hear them again. And so you let the weeks and months and years of your life pass by - and you waste your youth! Some of you have let months go by. Some of you have let years go by. You heard me say earlier in this sermon that it will get harder for you to be converted, and the day will come when you can't be converted at all. But you applied that only to other people, people who haven't been going to church, when you should apply it to yourself.

You are in the deepest danger of all. You are like a man named Agrippa who said to the Apostle Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28). He was "almost" ready to come to Jesus - but he never did.

I beg of you - don't lose your soul like Agrippa! Don't waste your youth until you are so hardened that you never find peace with God through Jesus Christ. It is time for you to remember the God who will judge you - if you do not come to His Son. It is time for you to seek your conversion until you have found the Saviour - before it is too late!


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ecclesiastes 12:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Give of Your Best to the Master" (by Howard B. Grose, 1851-1939).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



by Dr. C. L. Cagan

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

(Genesis 6:3; Romans 1:26, 28; I Timothy 5:6)

I.   You will waste your youth if you die without Christ while you are young, Proverbs 27:1; I Samuel 20:3.

II.  You will waste your youth if you destroy it by wrong living,
Luke 15:11-16.

III. You will waste your youth if you put your selfishness ahead
of the call of Jesus Christ, Luke 9:24; Luke 12:20.

IV.  You will waste your youth if you reform outwardly
without an inward conversion to Christ, Matthew 18:3;
Matthew 19:20; Acts 26:28.