“Are You Prepared For That Day?”
Preparation is important. Whether you are talking about being prepared for a class, a job, or even to cook a meal, you must have all of the books, tools, or ingredients necessary to be successful in the task. However, what if you are not prepared? Obviously, unpreparedness does not help you succeed. In some instances, unpreparedness actually causes you to completely fail in your task. Or as we like to say in my family, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
What about death? How are you preparing to die? Now at first, that may seem like a strange question. “How can anyone prepare to die?” On the other hand, there are a number of ways to prepare for death. You can make sure that you have an end-of-life plan, a will, and an executor. Some people even visit funeral homes while they are alive to pick out their own coffin. However, that’s not the kind of preparation that I have in mind. I’m asking if you are prepared for the actual moment of death, the moment when you leave this world and stand before your Creator.
As a pastor, I have the privilege of walking with people through some of the most important parts of their lives. I get to visit newborn babies in the hospital, step into the waters of baptism with those who are professing their faith in Christ, and witness the first moments of a marriage as I proudly pronounce the happy couple man and wife. These are only a few of the great joys of the pastorate. However, I also must walk with people through sickness, despair, and even to that moment of death.
Last week was rough. A member of my church family left this world and entered into the next. Morty Van Haren has been a member of Maranatha Baptist Church for over 30 years. He has been a friend, mentor, teacher, role model, and is my brother in Christ. While many people will miss him, one thing I know for certain is that although that day caught me off guard, Morty was prepared.
You see, death is something we all know is coming one day. It could be today, tomorrow, or years from now. However, you can be certain that one day you will die. Yes, it’s not a thought we usually like to linger on, but I truly believe we should. I believe we should consider our own death because we can be prepared for the moment. How? Only through faith in Christ.
If death is merely an ending, then there would be nothing for which you must prepare. Yet death is not just an ending, but a beginning of a new kind of existence. Even the most irreligious or apathetic person tends to believe that something comes after death. The problem is, most people simply make something up, some idea of an afterlife that they believe would be happy for them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to gamble on something as important as my existence after my physical death. I would prefer to have a more stable footing in reality. This is why the truth of the Christian faith is so immensely comforting as we prepare for death. I can know what is to come because I know one who has gone before me.
I don’t do well with roller coasters. I never really have. My wife, on the other hand, loves roller coasters. Standing in line, I may calm my fears by asking those who are getting off the ride, “How was it?” They went before me so I can learn from their experience. If I can get some sense of what is to come, I feel better about the unknown.
One of the central claims of the Christian faith is the death and resurrection of Christ. He really died and He really rose from the grave three days later. Now these amazing facts have so many implications in terms of the redemption and justification of God’s people; however, the point I want to focus on is that Christ went before us. Therefore, He can know what is to come. What then is to come? God’s Word tells us, “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
Are you prepared to give an account of your entire life to God? How do you think that’ll go? Have you been good enough? Do you think you deserve heaven? I often hear two common responses to these types of questions. First, an irreligious person, those who simply don’t have time or concern for things of God, tend to think that God will simply overlook sins. “I mean… God is love, right? Does He really care about sins?” Or “religious” people, quasi-Christian or otherwise, tend to think they’ve done enough good to deserve heaven. “I’ve done so much work, so many good things that I’ll definitely earn heaven.” Folks, both of these sentiments, and those of similar stripes, are simply wrong.
No, God will not simply overlook sin. God is good and just, He will make sure justice is served. Even the words we speak will be judged (Matthew 12:36). No, you will never be good enough to earn heaven. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Then how can anyone be prepared for death? By faith alone in Christ alone.
God knows that we will fail in our own strength. This is why He did something about it! One of the most well-known Bible passages states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). How do we prepare for death? By believing in Christ. Believe that Christ, God in the flesh, came to Earth, lived a perfect life, and died a sacrificial death for sinners. Believe that He rose from the grave and defeated sin and death once and for all. Believe He has called you to live your life for His glory as you serve and worship together with His body, the church. Believe that He has given us His perfect, inspired Word, the Bible, so that we can have everything we need for life and godliness. This is how you prepare for the life to come.
I will miss my friend Morty. But I am thankful that I will get to see him again as we gather around God’s throne. Morty was prepared for that day. I am preparing for that day. Are you prepared for that day?