The time must come when you, as well as others, must go down the dark valley of the shadow of death. The hour must come when you, like all your forefathers, must sicken and die. The time may be near or far off. God only knows. But whenever the time may be, I ask again, What are you going to do? Where do you plan to turn for comfort? On what do you plan to rest your soul? On what do you plan to build your hope? From where will you get your relief?
I plead with you not to ignore these questions. Allow them to work on your conscience, and do not rest until you can give them a satisfactory answer. Do not play with that precious gift, an immortal soul. Do not defer the consideration of the matter to a more convenient time. Do not presume on a death-bed repentance. The most important business surely ought not be left to the last.
One dying thief was saved that men might not despair, but only one that none might presume.
I repeat the question. I am sure that it deserves an answer. “What will you do when you are sick?”
Now large crowds were going along with Jesus; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
“Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).
You need to weigh in on the cost factor and count the costs of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It will cost you popularity. It will cost you promotion perhaps at times. It will cost you an easy life. You will have to discipline yourself. You will have to buffet your body. You will have to say “No” to temptation. You will have to say “No” to this world. You will have to break with the crowd. You will have to be willing to stand alone for Christ. You will have to be willing to walk to the beat of a different drummer and to step out of the crowd even if no one follows after Jesus Christ. You will have to be willing to stand even if you were the only person in the world for Jesus Christ. That’s the cost factor.
Friend, do you see eternity from where you are standing?
The Lord knows I have no desire to make your condition worse than it is by asking this question, nor to bring you any unnecessary fear or trouble. But you would call me a treacherous enemy, and not a good neighbor, if I should flatter you and not tell you the truth. If you visit a doctor when you’re sick, you expect him to tell you the truth, even if the diagnosis is grim. Sure, the knowledge of your disease may increase your fears; but you must know it or else you can never recover from it.
It is the same way with the spiritual sickness that brings eternal condemnation. I’m concerned that you are a stranger to God. For if you were a believer in Jesus Christ, your very heart would be set on God and His purpose for your life and the life to come. You would make it your chief concern to follow Christ now and prepare for everlasting happiness. You would not live in any willful sin, or neglect any known duty. You would joyfully live for Christ, knowing that He has prepared a place for you in heaven.
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” — Romans 12:18
One of the most beloved hymns of all time is John Newton’s Amazing Grace, not only among Christians, but also among many non-Christians. Its widespread acclaim crosses all boundaries of the belief spectrum, it seems. Most notably, Judy Collins’ version of the hymn was released as a single for the Christmas season of 1970, peaking at number 15 on the U.S. Billboard 100, and became an even bigger bestseller in the U.K., staying on the British chart for a remarkable 67 weeks. Her version is considered “one of the most notable recordings of the song for its spontaneous popularity.”
The Christian’s interest is clearly understandable, but why do unbelievers find it so compelling? Some suggest it is the familiar and beautiful melody that draws the ear, regardless of faith; but surely the distinct biblical expressions of doctrinal truth cannot be ignored. In fact, some singers, who find the term, “wretch” (Romans 7:24), to be objectionable for its quality of self-loathing, will purposefully change the words to “That saved and strengthened me,” “Saved a soul like me,” or “That saved and set me free.” Despite the occasional offense, however, the overall theme of divine favor can still stir the most hardened heart during those low times of life.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Please read those words carefully and take them to heart. This is the loving message of Jesus Christ who asks those who are burdened by sin to come to Him in faith with a promise of forgiveness and rest.
Who is Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is both fully God and fully man, born in human flesh to walk among us and show the world His righteousness, His obedience to the Father, and His amazing love. More importantly, this flawless, sinless Son of God came to give His righteousness to those who seek a perfect standing before God. In order to accomplish this, Jesus went to a cross and was there lifted up to die in the sinner’s place. There upon that cross, the sins of everyone who would believe in Him were transferred to Him so that he would take upon Himself the wrath of God. This was the great exchange of the cross—the sins of many laid upon Him, and His righteousness laid upon sinners as He shed His blood upon that cross.