“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, ESV)

You won’t be late

I have had punctuality bred into me, even now, if I am meeting my sisters, I know they will be at least 10 minutes early and sometimes I am even earlier.

Some people are habitually late, I am habitually early.

Oscar Wilde said that he was always late on principle, the principle being that punctuality is the thief of time. Evelyn Waugh believed punctuality to be the virtue of the bored, those who have nothing better to do than to be on time.

The writer of Hebrews says that there is an appointment we will all meet, none will be either early or late:

“Man is destined to die once” (Hebrews 9:27).

The context here is that Jesus Christ the man, died only once. His death did not have to be repeated, like the Day of Atonement annual ritual, Jesus died once, “to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself”(v26), “sacrificed once to take away the sin of many people”(v28). Jesus’ death was effective once and for all, no need for it ever to be repeated.

It is the destiny of every human to die once!

We like to disregard this truth, cover it up and never talk about it, but death is a reality we must all face. Death sometimes strikes whole groups but mostly in ones or twos; this week a murder in Hornsby, one in Penrith and Ronnie Corbett dies in England.

It is a sign of the grim secularism of Australia, that more and more of those in the prime of life are turning to death as a solution to their problems, by committing suicide. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that death is no solution, because it is followed by judgement, and to stand before the Tribunal of the God whom we have ignored and to account for the disregard of the gift of His Son, is a dreadful prospect. Death was not the end for Jesus and death will not be the end for us (Acts 17:31).

Just as the High Priest emerged from the Most Holy Place and was greeted by the people, so Christ’s death, will be followed by a second appearance (v28) not to deal with sin but “to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Here are incontrovertible truths:

All who live will die.

All who die will be judged.

Waiters for Christ will be saved.

Non-waiters will know only judgment and condemnation.

When I was a student at Moore College, our evangelism class was to read Michael Green’s book, “Evangelism in the Early Church”. From that book we were encouraged to place gospel signs in the windows of our homes. One of the College Terraces had a large blank wall facing down City Road in Newtown. The College paid for it to be painted with the words:

“God has fixed the judgement day.

Flee to Jesus, he will save you!”

The appointment is made. You won’t be late. Will you be caught unawares like the rich fool of Luke 12 or are you waiting expectantly, like Paul, “the time has come for my departure” (2 Timothy 4:6), (departure is the same word used for setting free an animal from its yoke after a hard day’s work)?

Christ’s death takes the sting out of death, so the believer can say with the Puritan, “when I go it will be with the enthusiasm of the school boy, bounding away from school”.

Rt Rev David Cook

Posted 6 April 2016