SIMPLE TRUTH: Appointments that will be kept

Published 10:35 am Monday, April 7, 2014

By Charles Christmas

I have missed at least five important appointments since Jan. 1.

Monday, my appointment at the University of Montevallo was canceled because of a very sick professor. In January, my appointment with my dentist had to be canceled because of my emergency admission to the hospital. Sickness also caused another cancellation; then my appointment with my ophthalmologist and another for a diagnostic CT scan was canceled on me because of several days of ice and snow.

Various things contribute to our missing appointments, whether one forgets or otherwise. But this article of simple truth relates to three important appointments that will be kept without exception. I will list each and comment on practical challenges.

The first is the appointment we have with death. We did not enter this world to live here forever, and that can be good news. You probably remember the Scripture which speaks with finality, “It is appointed to man once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). The certain end for our earthly life brings challenges to us. The uncertainty of the time of our death stirs consideration. “Our life is like a brief fog that vanishes away. We don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. We ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, I will do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).

The first challenge is to have an abundant and fulfilling journey to ensure that our life, however short or long, will not be a lost life. Jesus said that if we live a self-centered life, we live a lost life; but if we live a Christ-centered life, we shall have found what life is all about and what it was meant to be.

A second challenge of death is concerning readiness for life beyond death. Death is a wonderful thing for a truly saved believer on Jesus Christ. I relive the moments surrounding the death of my darling wife with great joy and thanksgiving. “Absent from the body but present with the Lord,” “asleep in Jesus,” “far better,” “gain” and “all things new” are words which explain part of my experience.

The beginning lines of a poem of long ago are lodged in my mind: “There is a time, I know not when; a place, I know not where; which marks the destiny of every man, to heaven or despair. There a line, by us unseen, that crosses every path: the hidden boundary between God’s patience and his wrath. To cross that line is to die…” Jesus said to those who would not commit their life to him: “You will die in your sins. And where I go you cannot come. You will die in your sins if you do not believe that I am indeed the one I claim to be, you shall die in your sins.” Death is also a challenge to show thankfulness and acts and words of love to family and others, and also a motivation to personally finish well.

The second appointment we will most certainly keep is to be raised from the dead. Jesus said in John 8:28, “The hour is coming when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth: those who have done ‘good’ will rise to eternal life and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” God does not allow us to define “good.” The whole New Testament declares that not one of us is “good.” “Good” in God’s word and God’s sight must begin with the personal acceptance of the fact that rather than being good, you are a sinner, separated from God now and are helpless before him. But you change your mind, and in your sin and from your sin you turn to the crucified risen Christ who will declare you good in the eyes of God.

Then you can proceed in doing the good which God accepts. So never let the lie remain in your mind that death is the only appointment you will keep. You will be raised from the grave (death).

Your third appointment that will be kept is your appointment to give an account to God for your earthly life. Again and again the whole Bible teaches this and our Lord Jesus spoke of it often. But note summary sentences from two of his apostles. Romans 14:12 says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” 2 Peter 4:5 instructs us, “They will have to give account to God who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

To the saved believer, the Apostle Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Peter added, concerning the first certain appointment that not only is it “appointed unto man once to die” but “and after this the judgment” (2 Peter 3:9).

Before I was saved, my mind was often on these desires: “I want to be right with God; I want to know that I am a child of God; I want to be ready for death and I want to know that death will mean heaven for me.” I had this thirst and finally I became willing to come to Jesus for the free gift of eternal life. Jesus said, “Let the one who is thirsty come; and whoever is willing, let him come and receive the water of life free of charge” (Revelation 22:17). When I became willing, my name was written down in the Savior’s Book of Eternal Life. If your name is not written in the Book of Eternal Life, the kindest thing that can be said to you is that you will miss heaven. Our Lord says to such persons, “Yet you refuse to come to me that you might have eternal life” (John 5:40).

For those without Christ, he desires to have a “saving appointment” with you this day. The Bible says, “Now is the accepted time. Today is the day to be saved.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.