By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
In a previous post I told about the day my mother found my cigarettes. I was maybe 13 years old at the time, and we lived in Minneapolis, MN, on Pillsbury Avenue South. Some time after Mom found my cigarettes, we moved to a different location in Minneapolis, on Lyndale Avenue South. We lived in the upper half of a duplex at that location. Both renters had more room in the basement, which was divided in half by a wall. At first, my bedroom was upstairs. But then my parents gave me permission to move into the basement. This meant that the other renters lived between me and my parents. One of my bad habits at that stage in my life was smoking marijuana. And I found a convenient place to hide it: in the pocket of a flannel shirt. The shirt had two pockets that had a button-down flap on each pocket. My closet was small, and crammed full of clothes on hangers. So, it seemed a safe place to keep that shirt with the marijuana in one of its pockets. I did not just put the marijuana in the pocket and button it. It was kept in one of those clear plastic containers that hold nose plugs used when swimming. My hiding place worked well, for a time. Dad was suspicious that I was using marijuana. So, one day when I was not home he went looking through my room for marijuana. When I got back home, I went into my room as usual, only to find something very unusual: there lay Dad on my bed reading the newspaper and wearing that shirt with marijuana in one of its pockets! He said nothing to me about what was in the pocket, so I did not know if he had taken out the plastic container to have a look at it. Not knowing what else to do in that situation, I went over to the bed, took out the container of marijuana from the shirt pocket and left the room. Here is, perhaps, the most remarkable aspect of this whole event: Dad never said one word me about it. He put on that shirt in 1968 or 1969, died in 1976, and never had said anything to me about it. It is now 2015, and I still do not know for sure if he knew what was in that shirt pocket. But my guess is, he did know. I think that was his unique way of telling me he knew that I was using marijuana.
One thing to be learned from this remarkable experience is that, sooner or later, the facts become known. We might be able to fool others for long periods of time, but we can’t permanently hide the truth about ourselves. Eventually it will catch up with us. If not in this life, it will do so in the next life. We might be able to hide our real selves from other human beings, but not from the all-knowing God who will one day hold us accountable for our lives. God’s infallible Word, the Bible, teaches that those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior cannot lose their salvation. They will never perish. They will make it to heaven. (See John 10:27 – 29.) But Christians will be held responsible for how they have lived since they became Christians. We shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account to him. (See, for example, 2 Corinthians 5:8 – 10.) And God’s infallible Word, the Bible, also teaches that those who live and die as non-Christians will be judged for their sins. They have not been forgiven because they have not believed in Jesus Christ, and must, therefore, pay the penalty for their sins. This penalty is confinement in hell, which is a place of conscious, eternal punishment. (See, for example, Revelation, chapter 20.)
In Acts 17, the apostle Paul plainly speaks of the future time when the world will be judged, and it says Jesus Christ will be the judge. Here is what Acts 17, verses 16 – 31 say. Pay close attention to verses 30 and 31: “16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (These verses are quoted from the King James Version because in the USA it is in the public domain. They are taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com. To read these verses in modern English, go to that website and click on the New King James Version. )
Now, since God knows all about us, and since he will hold us accountable for how we live, here is what should be done: Wayward Christians should immediately make things right with God by confessing and forsaking their sins. (See, for example, Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:9.) Non-Christians should immediately believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. (See, for example, Acts 16:30 and 31.) We have no guarantee that we will live another day, or even another hour, so do it at once! The opportunity to do what we need to do could end vey soon!