"Sudden Death"

By Evangelist Rolfe Barnard

The God of the Bible kills people. Not the popular god of the vivid imaginations of this generation of confused men and women, but the God of the Bible, Who at the same time is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This God Who kills people, Who threatens to do so, Who evinces His character by His wrath in cutting people off--will He have to kill you?

There are two statements I would like to make that nobody can deny now--nobody, wise-acre or humble.

First, this is a day in the once Christian nation of America, that now is a pagan society--this is a day of armed, active hostility to the claims of God for His Son Jesus Christ. This is a day when scientists announce that they believe in God, and everybody claps their hands. This is a day when everybody believes in a "god," but not THE GOD whose character is pictured and outlined and delineated in the Word of God. This generation is dead set against the God of the Bible, because God will not resign from His throne, will not abdicate, will not water down His demands nor His claims.

The second statement is this: The most alarming fact of our day in America is that every time two people die these days, one of them dies suddenly. This nation has become the land of sudden death. Men and women do not bring their children and loved ones about them like Jacob of old and make disposition of one's property, and tell everybody good-bye, and turn your face toward the wall, and go to sleep with their fathers. Men start out to work and have an accident in a car, and wake up in eternity. Men start out to take a bath, and wake up in eternity. This is the day of accidental death. Men die now without doing what they fondly said they would do, take time out to pray. Men die today and they never get the opportunity to do what they said all the days of their life: "Tomorrow I'm going to repent." Tomorrow comes, but instead of that being the time when you have space given for repentance, that is the time when you have space given you to die! Men are always "going to yield" to the claims of God for His Son Jesus Christ, but one-half of the people of America die suddenly. We call it "accidentally," but there are no accidents in the Kingdom of God. Nothing happens that takes God by surprise!

There is a verse of Scripture I want to read, and hundreds of others in God's Word that reinforce this verse. This verse explains exactly what is happening in America, and why America is now the land of sudden death. That verse of Scripture is Proverbs 29:1: "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." What's happening in America? Is this nation that was founded by men and women seeking a place to worship and serve God without compulsion--in this nation where the Gospel has been preached the length and breadth of the land--in this nation that has been smiled upon by Almighty God as no other nation since time began, wonderfully blessed of God--this nation has departed from the faith of our fathers and from the God of the Bible, and is blowing its smoke of outright rebellion and unbelief in the nostrils of a Thrice Holy God. And God is answering that awful rebellious, lawless spirit by cutting men and women off.

If you would just stop to think of it, you may be one of the people that is going to be suddenly cut off and die suddenly, and be hurled out yonder into the hands of a living God! For the Bible speaks the truth when it says in Hebrews 9:27: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Think with me now; I'll meet you at the Judgment with this warning from Almighty God's Word: "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck" -- what is going to happen to him? I'll tell you exactly what will happen to him. He is going to be SUDDENLY CUT OFF. He is going to be destroyed. He is going to be ruined in this life and damned in the next. And God is going to do it, and that destruction is utterly without remedy!

One out of two people in America die suddenly. Why? Because America had been warned, America has been rebuked and reproved. You have been reproved by the Holy Spirit, for this verse of Scripture shows us that God does reprove men. I am not talking about the Hottentot in Africa that lives away out yonder in the jungle a long way from the nearest dirt road. Oh! I am not talking about the man who spends all the days of his sojourn here on this earth and never hears the Name of God or the title of God or the precious Name of Jesus. But I am talking about you here in America with so many churches and with a Bible that can be bought in most of our five-and-ten-cent stores, with the Gospel on the radio here in America, where God's hand has been so blessedly upon us. I am talking to you. God has reproved you. "He that being often reproved" -- but men meet that reproof by rebelling and hardening themselves.

God has always been after sinners and He hasn't quit! He was warning sinners in the days of Noah, and bless God, He warns people today. Every time you go down one of these freeways, and traffic is stopped because of an accident and there is death; that's what I am talking about. That didn't happen accidentally; there are no accidents in the heart, mind, plan, and purpose of God. I am saying to you that those are warning signals put out there by a loving God Who yet is Thrice Holy, Who seeks to call men to stop on their road that leads to destruction, before they are plunged by their own sins into the pit of eternal Hell.

Thank God that He does reprove sinners. I can't save anybody; I can't convince anybody; I can't turn anybody. I know that. But God can. I am so glad that God kept after me, that God didn't give up on me. I am so glad that He hasn't given up on the human race. It seems that more men spurn Him and deny Him; and we have preachers that deny the truths of the Word of God. They make fun of the Deity of Christ, put the Bible out as an old scrapbook and junk morality. They junk the Ten Commandments and blow their smoke of rebellion in the face of God. But in spite of these facts, I am glad God's Holy Spirit is still running down sinners, stabbing them in their hearts, and reproving them of their ungodly conduct and warning them of the Judgment and Hell to come, and pointing them to cease from trusting in self and cast all their confidence in the bloody Son of God hanging on the cross!

God does reprove sinners, but you know how people in our day meet God's reproof? They harden themselves. "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck" -- God does the reproving, and man does the hardening. He says, "God is not going to move me. I wouldn't mind being a church member, and I don't mind being converted. I don't mind what they call being saved now, but God is not going to change me! God is not going to give me a heart of flesh, God is not going to plant a holy disposition in me, God is not going to start the work of making me like His Son. No, I will not be changed, so I will fight this business. If God thinks He is going to run my life, He has got another think coming!" That is how men talk today. Men harden themselves -- they can't be neutral, so they harden themselves against the reproof of God. They say, "I don't believe in God," but they go to bed at night and wake up scared. Then they will pray to that God to keep them out of Hell (like I used to do) before morning!

Men harden themselves. Am I talking to you? Every time God warns you, do you grit your teeth and spit in His face, and go on down the road that leads to Hell? You know, you have to harden yourself to do that!

I remember in a certain city after I had brought a message one morning in an evangelistic campaign, I was shaking hands with some people, and I felt something pulling on my coat. So I looked down and there was a little three-and-a-half-year-old girl, curly haired and beautiful, a little gift from heaven. And I picked her up in my arms and she put her little arms around my neck and began to cry, "Oh, Brother Barnard, I want my daddy to get saved!" Now the little girl didn't know exactly what it meant to be saved, but she knew that life in her home was hell, and she knew something needed to happen to her daddy. She was pitiful and she just broke my heart. Her mother soon came and she began to sob, and she took the little girl out of my arms.

Then I said to this wife and mother, "I will be on the radio this afternoon at three o'clock." I said, "Your husband curses preachers, he curses God and he has ordered me and your pastor out of his home. He never goes to any assembly of God anywhere, and he brags about how tough he is; but sometimes he will listen to the radio. You make it convenient, and maybe he will listen to me this afternoon and I am going to preach to him." Well, that afternoon over that radio I stopped about the middle of my sermon and asked the audience to pardon me. I said, "I believe there is a man listening to the sound of my voice now, and I believe God sent him the last call this morning." Then I told over that radio how that little three-and-a-half-year-old girl had come and climbed up in my arms and put her arms around my neck and cried, "Oh, Brother Barnard, I want my daddy to get saved, I want my daddy to get saved." I said, "I believe that daddy of the little girl is listening to me now." I said, "You wouldn't listen to God, you haven't listened to the pleas of your wife and little child. You haven't listened to anybody, but now here is God talking to you through the tears and heartbreak of your little three-and-a-half-year-old girl. If there is a spark of manhood in you, get down on your knees and begin to repent of your sins and cry to God for mercy!"

You know what he did? He got up and turned that radio off, slammed his hat on his head, opened the door and cursed me, cursed the radio, cursed God and cursed his wife. And slammed out of there, and went to the nearest honkytonk, and within 20 minutes after he got out of the house, a man pumped five bullets into his body. You say, "That was accidental." No, sir! Bless the Lord, "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck." What is going to happen to him? Judgment is coming! God is going to get a hold of him as He did that man. God kills people who harden themselves against Him.

The result of hardening yourself under the reproving, convicting, pleading, persuading power, and the Person and Presence of God in the Holy Ghost, is sudden death. God warns. He said, "I kill and I make alive."

The Scripture tells us about how God killed people in the days of the flood. Scientists tell us that maybe as many people lived on the earth in the day of the flood as live now -- nearly three billion souls. You know how many people God killed and sent to Hell? God did it! This God you say you believe in and live like He does not exist. This God that preachers make fun of, this Holy God. This God Who says, "I warn you: I kill and I make alive." This God Who is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know what He did? He wiped off the face of the earth nearly three billion souls with a flood and sent them all to Hell. That is the God of the Bible! That is the God that kills people; is he going to have to kill you?

The Scriptures say if you keep on hardening yourself, you will not get by. No! I warn you. I warn you. God knows I wish I knew how to warn you! God kills people! What kind of people does He kill? People who harden themselves when He calls them, like those people who listened to Noah for 120 years and didn't pay any attention to him. God just wiped them off the face of the earth!

The pastor of a church in a certain place asked me to come and hold meetings. Before I got there seven deacons of that church had come to the pastor and said, "Now Brother Pastor, we are not going to oppose anything, but we don't believe in what you call evangelistic campaigns. So we will not be back until this preacher is gone and the meetings are over." The pastor said, "Well, I hate to see you take that attitude, but if that is what you want to do, I appreciate you coming and telling me." Well, if they had done what they said, it would have been all right. But we couldn't get a crowd for a few nights and we were hitting it pretty hard. So those fellows were glad and got to bragging about how we weren't getting anywhere in the meetings. They violated their word that they wouldn't oppose us.

The pastor came to me and he was brokenhearted, and he said, "Brother Barnard, this is killing me, what can we do?" I said, "I don't know. Are you game for us to get down on our knees and ask God to save them or kill them?" He agreed, and we got down on our knees and said, "Lord, You know what these fellows are doing. They are ruining the meeting, they are making fun of the Gospel, the church, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God's preachers." (They were just filling the town with this, and everybody was talking about how the meeting was no good, and those seven deacons making fun of it.) And so we said, "Lord, save them or kill them!"

Neither of us was supposed to tell about that prayer, and I don't think I did, but somehow those deacons heard about it. They just heard half of it, though, and so they just had a big time. They said, "The preachers there are praying for God to kill us!" But we were praying for God to SAVE THEM or kill them, to get them out of the way. They were bucking God, they were hardening themselves against God. I think that is dangerous. They just laughed and had a big time about it. But in four days time, the pastor had seven different funerals, and they were the funerals of those seven Baptist deacons! Every one of them died a horrible, sudden death! God kills people who harden themselves against His claims for Jesus Christ!

You had better stop making fun of Christ's church, and Christ's Gospel, and Christ's people, and Christ's Bible, and Christ's Spirit. You had better stop refusing to believe the truth of God, for God hardens people, God kills people, God cuts people off who harden themselves against Him (Romans 9:17-18).

I am going to tell you the day you are going to be cut off by God. Acts 17:28, "For in Him we live and move and have our being...." This statement is true of this preacher and everybody else. Do you know what that means? That means this preacher is depending upon God for his next breath, and that means you also are depending upon God for your next breath. One time God sent a flood and destroyed people, and started over again. But God won't have to do that to cut you off. All God would have to do is not to give you the next breath. That's right. Our breath is in His hands.

How does God cut people off? He does it without any remedy (Proverbs 29:1). Oh, I will meet you at the Judgment and you will hear again my voice, and if you are sent to Hell, you will be without excuse. Thank God, I am praying that you have heard, and maybe there is somebody that is a little bit scared. I tell you, I don't think it's nice to be sent to Hell! But God says, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17). Will you be one of them? You will be if you do not change your hardening yourself, and surrender to God in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!

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