There is an almost endearing quality of ignorance in people today, concerning their eternal state! Lulled by unbelieving bishops, rampant worldliness and the tea-and-a-laugh method of the Alpha course, they no longer understand the seriousness of their position. Thus, when presented with the true Gospel, they glibly and honestly say, “Oh well, then, maybe I’ll repent on my death bed.”
This is the answer of someone who is not yet called by God to repentance. This is a person who thinks that maybe there is a God, so for insurance purposes, he will take out a policy just before he ‘croaks it’. But, he also seriously thinks that he will ‘croak it’ in his own time! Oh dear, what a miscalculation. Life can end abruptly, with no time to lay on a death bed!
God gave him life to begin with, and it is God who decides when he will die, not himself, or a disease, or old age, or an accident, or any other factor. And how does he know when he will die? Over the past 18 months alone I have been with nearly 80 people as they have died. To my knowledge only one of those people knew he was dying. Generally, when it came to the time of their death, not one of them was aware of it! Some were ‘out of it’ for days or even a week or two, or months, before they died.
Very often, people think they will die in some kind of romantic way. But, few die like that. Most sink into an unconscious state and just fade away until God decides to remove the essence of life from them. If you are relying on being aware to the end, then maybe you ought to spend time with the dying and see just how it really is. Then, maybe, you will reconsider the reality of making a last-minute act of repentance, ‘just in case’ there really is a God. The most likely scenario is that you will not know you have a few minutes left. You might not know you are heading toward death for hours, days, weeks, or even months!
Even if you are aware and know exactly when your last breath will come, it still will not guarantee you a place in heaven, if you repent in time. This is because who gets into heaven depends on God, not you. As my late mother might have said, you can repent until the cows come home... but it is meaningless if God has not elected you to be saved.
God says that the time to repent is right now. Immediately. Once He calls you, you should not delay a response. Indeed, when you have truly been called of God, you will find delay impossible, for the Holy Spirit will overwhelm your heart and mind with a sense of your own sin and need. For most people, this is a time of fear and dread, for to realise how sinful you really are is a devastating experience. It causes you to be afraid to die, for you know that once you die, you will have to face Almighty God, Who will place you in hell for eternity if you are not saved.
That is why few people repent on their death-beds. If they reach that final point without ever bothering with God, it is not very likely He will bother with them, when that time comes! Forget all those stories about God being ‘ever-loving’. Yes, He is ever-loving – to those who belong to Him. But, to those who reject Him, He will prove to be their worst nightmare, for He will publicly judge them and pronounce the sentence of an eternity in hell. All the pleading and tears one can muster at the final stage of life will not move God the Creator. If you are unsaved when you die, that is that. No second chance. No rethink by God. No possible way to ever again repent and enter heaven.
So, friend, if your idea is to eat, drink and be merry for your whole life, and then to ‘get religion’ on your death-bed, you will be sorely disappointed. No, that is too mild a word to use: you will be terrified for all of eternity, crying and wailing night and day, in a place inhabited by Satan and his evil angels... the same Satan and angels who deceived you into thinking you had all the time in the world to repent!
Even though I am telling you the blunt truth, do not think that a night or two of anxiety is enough to save you from this miserable and horrific end. This message you are reading might indeed cause you a few sleepless nights. It might even start you thinking, and make you call to God. But, even that will not save you!
Salvation is a most peculiar thing. It is what God says you must have to enter heaven. Yet, He makes no provision at all for you to get it for yourself. There is no door you can open to obtain this most precious of states. Roman Catholics claim that if you pay the Roman church enough, you will escape the worst of purgatory and enter heaven quicker, no matter what you were like on this earth. My friend, this is rotten advice! The Roman Catholics have no more idea of what it takes to enter heaven, than a squashed earth worm!
Muslims think all they need to do, is comply with the Koran. They are woefully wrong. Even Jews, the people chosen in the first place by God, have no idea about how to enter heaven. They reject Jesus Christ and continue with their laws and rites, when God Himself said He is sick of their rites!
No man, group, or religion, can help you to be saved, to be ‘born again’. The answers you need are found in God’s word, the Bible. As I write this article, I am not giving you a formula. I am not trying to get you to follow me. I am not asking you for money. I am not trying to foist my own religion on you, or get you to join our church. I am simply telling you what God says about salvation and repentance.
God says, in His word, that He has already chosen who will be saved in eternity. In terms you might understand, it means that God elected those who would enter heaven, even before He made the world and the universe! That is why no man or woman can ever choose to be saved by using so-called ‘free will’ (which is an illusion anyway).
God says, in His word, that His Spirit speaks to a man or woman some time in their own lifetime. This will probably come in the form of a growing sense of one’s own sin. It might mean fear arises in the mind and heart, because of this sense. If it is real, it will lead one to the right source of information, the Bible itself, a church, an individual... at some point you will hear or read how to be saved. You will come to know and accept that you are a sinner bound for hell simply because you were born. God cannot accept you as you are.
God says that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross. Jesus died willingly, as a sacrifice to His Father. This had to be done, because God demanded the blood of every single person on this earth, because they are sinners. But, Jesus died on our behalf and God accepted the sacrifice. That is why belief in Jesus Christ as your Saviour is the very core of salvation. You must accept that He died for you, and that He rose again, bodily, and went to heaven. (If you need to know more, contact us).
Once you know these things and realise how sinful you are, you will be led to repent by the Holy Spirit. You will say sorry to God for your sin and ask Him to remove its hold on you, and its penalty of everlasting hell and will turn away from your old life and towards holiness. You will ask him to give you His strength to carry on as a new convert. Then, you will be saved (born again). You will be a Christian, bound for heaven. But, you will be able to do nothing to get salvation by your own choice or effort.
So, you see that having a vague idea of repenting on your death-bed is, well, rather naive and silly. The strangest fact is this: when God calls, you will repent! You will be saved! You will not choose to be saved, you will simply accept His gift of salvation. It is a gift, not an offer. Those who reject the call are those who were not elected by God in the first place. But, none of us knows who will be saved, and that is why when the call comes you must respond. This response is an act of the will, prompted by God, but it is not an act of ‘free’ will, because ‘free will’ does not exist. It is a figment of the imagination of sinful men.
Those who truly repent are those who God has called in eternity. Those who reject His Gospel are those who were never chosen in the first place. We do not know which is which until we are saved! Some unsaved folk think this is just a cheap con trick. But it is not. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You will only repent and be saved if you are meant to be saved. The others will reject it anyway.
So, if God is really calling you and you are already experiencing the terrible dread one has because he or she is a sinner bound for hell, you must act now. Not because your actions can save you, but because He demands you to act. You will call out to Him for mercy and ask Him to save you. And He will, right away. That is all you need to know right now. The rest He will supply as time goes on: a church to attend, new Christian friends to meet, and so on. Forget your death-bed - when God calls, you will know it and respond, in His time!
© June 2001
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Make a Donation to support the work of Bible Theology Ministries