Though these words of warning were spoken by the prophet Amos to apostate Israel in the 8th century B.C., they are just as applicable to us today in the 21st century A.D. Here are 7 reasons why we should also take these words to heart:
1. Our Meeting with God Follows Death, and It Is Sure and Certain
Dear friend, according to the Holy Scriptures, you and I are destined to have a meeting with God, and the meeting cannot be avoided. It is sure and certain, according to Hebrews 9:27,
"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
Further, the Judge at this meeting will be the Second Person of the triune God, the Lord Jesus Christ, according to Acts 17:30-31,
"God commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
In view of the certainty of this confrontation of judgment with the holy, all-seeing, all-knowing eternal God, should not the reader Prepare to meet thy God?
2. The Awesome God We Are Destined To Meet: What Is He Like?
God has been pleased to reveal Himself in the Holy Scriptures, and since we will all soon be required to appear before Him, it would behoove us to diligently search the Bible in order to find out what He is really like. Volumes have been written on the nature and attributes of God, yet none have exhausted or fully expounded this teaching as set forth in the Bible. Here we can only give a brief overview of the subject, which we trust will give the serious reader an earnest desire to learn more about the awesome God who is the Creator, Ruler, and Sovereign Lord of the universe!
God Is a Spirit
The Triune Nature of God
The work of the Trinity
The Biblical Basis for the Doctrine of the Trinity
God Is Infinite
He Is Infinite With Regard to Space
He Is Infinite With Regard to Time
God Is the Creator of All Things
God Is All-Powerful and Sovereign
God Is All-Knowing
God Is Holy and Just
God Is Love
God Is Merciful
God Is Gracious
The Wrath of God
3. The Terrible State of Those Who Are Not Prepared To Meet God
The Word of God gives a vivid description of every member of Adam's fallen race who is not prepared to meet Him on this great Judgment Day.
They are enemies of God, the sovereign Lord and King of the universe. The Word of God gives a vivid description of every member of Adam's fallen race who is not reconciled to God through the shed blood and atoning substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. This description is given in Romans 8:7-8,
"the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
What an awful thing to have a mind which is hostile to and at enmity with the sovereign Lord and King and Creator of the universe!
They are lost, guilty sinners in the sight of a holy God. The following passages further describe the dreadful condition of those who are facing death and future judgment unprepared to meet God:
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the 'god' of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." (Romans 3:19)
They are under the wrath of a sin-avenging God who must and will punish sin. According to Psalm 7:11,
"God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day."
Romans 1:18 further states,
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."
The same truth is set forth in John 3:36,
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
4. The Uncertainty of Life
You and I have no guarantee of tomorrow. As noted above, the sentence of physical death rests upon every one of us (Hebrews 9:27). Many are dead today who were only yesterday making great plans for their lives and had great hopes for a bright future. Listen to these words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
"Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: 'The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, "What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?" So he said, "I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.'" But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'" (Luke 12:16-20).
Dear friend, the sovereign Creator-God of the universe has committed the destiny of every human being into the nail-pierced hands of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3,14; 17:1-3, Romans 14:9, Philippians 2:9-11). Since you and I are in the hands of the Crucified One, we would be wise to heed these warnings from God's Holy Word:
"Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." (Psalm 2:6-12)
"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Proverbs 29:1)
Sudden destruction may come unexpectedly to some who are now reading this tract. Therefore, dear reader, you are urged to heed this warning to Prepare to meet thy God!
5. The Eternity Beyond Death
Man was created a never-dying soul. My friend, while your body is rotting in the grave, YOU will continue to existyour spirit, the real you, will live on, in either an eternity of joy in the presence of the triune God, or in an eternity of woe under His wrath. The Bible clearly teaches this great truth:
The Believing DeadThe spirits of believers redeemed by the precious atoning shed blood and substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross enter eternity at death, and go immediately to be with the Lord Jesus whom they love, according to these words written by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian believers:
"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Again, Paul wrote to the Philippian believers,
"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better" (Philippians 1:21-23).
See also Luke 23:39-43.
The Unbelieving DeadHowever, the eternal destiny of the spirits of unbelievers who die outside of Christun-sheltered by His atoning blood shed on Calvary's cross for sinnersis a different matter altogether. The story of the rich man and Lazarus as told by the Lord Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 teaches that the departed spirits of lost sinners consciously exist beyond death in a place called Hell, in a condition of unspeakable anguish and woe. They experience torment in an unquenchable fire (Mark 9:45-47), and an accusing conscience as they continually remember their past life on earth and the many lost opportunities to repent of their sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, Hell is only a temporary holding place for the departed spirits of the lost while they await the final Judgment Day, the Great White Throne Judgmentconducted by the glorified and exalted Lord Jesus Christas described in Revelation 20:11-14. It is at this time that their bodies will be resurrected and rejoined to their spirits in the "resurrection of damnation," according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 5:28-30.
In the light of these sobering truths, dear reader, the warning comes to you from God's Word, the Holy Scriptures, "Prepare to meet thy God!"
6. The Great Sorrow You Will Experience If You Die and Enter Eternity Unprepared To Meet God
Words cannot adequately express the sorrow and horror which you will experience if you are brought unprepared before the Judgment Bar of God. That future scene of judgment is graphically described by the Apostle John in Revelation 20:11-14:
"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
This passage teaches that at God's appointed time, the spirits of all of the unsaved dead will be taken out of Hell, rejoined to their resurrected bodies in the "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28-29), and stand before the Lord Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment. After this judgment exposes every detail of their ungodly lives, they will then be cast into the Lake of Fire, the final Hell, to suffer eternal punishment for their sins. Profligate sinners and religious hypocrites alike will hear the Lord Jesus Christ speak these terrible words to them,
"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity!" (Matthew 7:23).
They shall be "cast into the furnace of fire: there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" according to Matthew 13:42,50.
In Matthew 25:46, the Lord Jesus contrasts the eternal destiny of both the saved and the lost in these words:
"These will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Dear reader, I urge you to heed the exhortations set before you in this tract, andbefore it is too latePrepare to meet thy God!
7. God Has Prepared the Way For You To Meet Him With Great Joy
(1) God's Way of Salvation is the Way of Grace. Many speak of the grace of God, but few understand its true meaning. What does the Word of God say about it? The truth is that the word "grace" stands out above all other words in the Bible in describing God's great salvation, appearing 130 times in the New Testament alone. The prominence of grace in God's way of salvation is seen in the following passages:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
"To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:6-7)
See also: Titus 2:11-14, Romans 3:21-26, Titus 3:3-7.
The above passages demonstrate the centrality of the grace of God in salvation, but how can we define it? What does it really mean? We believe that the Biblical concept of the grace of God has been most clearly defined by this writer:
"The first and possibly most fundamental characteristic of divine grace is that it presupposes sin and guilt. Grace has meaning only when men are seen as fallen, unworthy of salvation, and liable to eternal wrath . . . Grace does not contemplate sinners merely as undeserving but as ill-deserving . . . It is not simply that we do not deserve grace; we do deserve Hell! . . . Grace ceases to be grace if God is compelled to bestow it in the presence of human merit . . . Grace is treating a person without the slightest reference to desert whatsoever, but solely according to the infinite goodness and sovereign purpose of God."Dr. C. Samuel Storms, The Grandeur of God
Dear friend, most of us are familiar with the words of the popular hymn, "Amazing Grace." God's grace IS truly amazing, and no less so because of its transforming power in the lives of those who truly experience it. This life-changing and life-transforming aspect of the grace of God is clearly expressed in the following passage:
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-14)
(2) Because of His Marvelous Grace, God has provided a Saviour for lost, guilty sinners. The following are some of the many passages which set forth the gracious provision of the triune God for the salvation of sinners:
The Words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:14-18).
The Testimony of the Apostle Paul:
"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15).
"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:6-11).
The Testimony of the Apostle John:
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10).
The word "propitiation" in this text has been defined by one theologian as:
"The work of Christ wherein He removed God's anger and wrath by the covering over of our sins through the substitutionary sacrifice of Himself to God, thus securing our acceptance before God. ....Christ accomplished His work of propitiation when He was consumed by God's wrath and anger as He was lifted up on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice for the people of God."Studies in the Atonement, by Dr. Robert A. Morey.
(3) God has issued a summons of grace and mercy to you to seek Him, to come to Himin faith and repentanceto receive pardon, forgiveness, and restoration to His favor, according to Isaiah 55:6-7:
"Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; and to our God, For He will abundantly pardon."
(4) This summons from God calls you to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to Him as your Lord.
"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:9-13, ESV).
The above passage teaches that there must be a verbal confession of Jesus as Lord, and the Lord Jesus Himself specifically taught in Matthew 7:21-23 that such verbal confession must also be accompanied by an obedient heart submission to Him as Lord of your life to rule over you:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity!"
On the subject of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in salvation, we conclude this tract with a quote from Dr. John MacArthur, pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA:
"I do believe without apology that real salvation cannot, and will not, fail to produce works of righteousness in the life of a true believer. There are no human works in the saving act, but God's work of salvation includes a change of intent, will, desire, and attitude that invariably produces the fruit of the Spirit. The very essence of God's saving work is the transformation of the will, resulting in a love for God. Salvation thus establishes the root that will surely produce the fruit.... no one can be saved who is either unwilling to obey Christ or consciously, callously rebellious against his lordship. True salvation produces a heart that voluntarily responds to the ever-awakening reality of Christ's lordship."
"Because we are sinful creatures, we can never respond as obediently as we would like. In fact, we often experience pathetic failures and extended periods of spiritual dullness and sin. But if we are true believers, we can never again fall into the cold, hardhearted, determined unbelief and rebellion of our former state. Those who live like that have no reason to think they have ever been redeemed. Moreover, the message of salvation includes a call to surrender to Jesus as Lord. Those who would come to Him for salvation must be willing to acquiesce to His sovereign authority. Those who reject His right to rule cannot expect to lay claim to Him as Savior."From the Introduction to The Gospel According to Jesus
For more information about God's Way of Salvation, please contact John Roden: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit The Sovereign Grace Home Page
See also "The Sovereign Grace of God in Salvation", a 188-page book available free on-line at this link: http://www.angelfire.com/va/sovereigngrace/SovGrace11.pdf