Greg Laurie - I Don't Want to Talk About It
I heard a story about a man who went to Israel on vacation with his wife and his very difficult to deal with ever nagging mother-in-law. Well sadly his mother-in-law died while they were in the Holy Land. They were trying to figure out what to do with her body. This man went to a local mortuary and was asking about shipping her body back to the United States. The undertaker said, "Sir that will cost you $5,000. But I will tell you what. We can bury your mother-in-law here in the Holy Land for $150.00". The man thought about it for a while and said, "No. I am going to ship her back to the United States". The undertaker said, "Sir I don't understand. This is the Holy Land. Why would you not want to bury her here? Plus it is such a good deal". The man said, "Well sir a long time ago a man was buried here and three days later he rose again from the dead. I can't take that chance".
Apologies to all of you mothers-in-laws out there. You are all wonderful. You know we joke about things like that. But I think it is because many people are very uncomfortable with the topic of death. We try to not discuss it. You know an insurance agent who is selling you life insurance will say something like, "Well if you happen to die". If? Why do you think I am buying this policy? It is not a matter of if. It is only a matter of when. We won't even use the D-word. We will come up with other terms. We will say, "Well someone has passed on". "They are no longer with us". We might use the medical terminology. "They expired". Or we might mask our discomfort with the topic by saying things like, "Well they bit the dust". Or, "They cashed in their chips". Or, "They kicked the bucket".
That is because there is a big discomfort in our culture today to talk about the reality of death. But I want you to know in ancient times it wasn't that way. They thought about it a lot. Maybe because the death rate was higher at that time. People would die at a younger age. I don't know if the death rate was higher. I think the death rate is the same in every generation. 1 out of every 1 persons will die. Right. They didn't have the luxury of a long life like we might have today.
Ancient merchants often wrote the words "Memento Mori" over their accounting books. In large letters "Memento Mori". Those words meant think of death. What it meant was keep things in perspective. You are not going to live forever. But that is not the way it is in our culture. Someone raises the topic, and we will say, "I don't want to talk about that". What if this were your last night on planet earth. Are you confident that you would go to heaven? You say, "Well I am a good person so I think so". I will address that in a few moments. But listen. Only those who are prepared to die are really ready to live. The Bible says, "Prepare to meet your God". I want to talk to you tonight about how to be prepared. I am not trying to be sensationalistic. I am not trying to freak you out. I am just dealing with reality. Someone's name is going to be in that obituary column tomorrow. You say, "Well it won't be me". How would you know that?
A lady posted on my Facebook page recently and told me the story of her young son Jonathan. They had a Harvest America event in the bay area where she lives in her church. When I gave that invitation here at Angel Stadium it was being given in her church as well. Her boy Jonathan walked forward and recommitted his life to Christ. The next day he told his mom he had a headache. It got worse. He went to the doctor. By the following Wednesday Jonathan had died and left this life for the next one. But he had made that commitment to Christ. So you see you may be old. You may be young. You never know when that moment is going to come. This is serious stuff.
There is a new movie out about Steve Jobs. There is another one in production. It reminded me of a statement that Steve Jobs made in a commencement speech at Stanford University some years ago. To the graduating students Steve Jobs said, "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. Yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it". Not even Steve Jobs. If anyone could have created an app to escape death Steve would have come up with it. But even Steve, as brilliant as he was couldn't do that.
Bradley Cooper is a well-known movie star. The star of the hangover movies. Nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal in silver linings playbook. Bradley Cooper was also voted the sexiest man alive by people magazine. They offered it to me. I said, "I can't. I am a preacher. It would be weird". oh no. I dreamt that. That is not true. Right. But he won that title. But even movie stars think about their own mortality. Bradley Cooper's father died two years ago and in an interview with USA Today Cooper said his father's death caused him to address his own mortality. He said in this interview, "Oh right. I am going to die too. It is not in a book. It is not in a movie. It is not in a story that was told to me. It is not driving by an accident or watching it on TV. It is someone you love dying in front of you. I was like OK this is death and this is going to happen to me one day". That is right. "Memento mori". Think of death. It will come to every person. That is why we want to get ready and as we get older we need to really be ready. It seems to me the older I get the faster time goes.
I read an interesting thing about what time it is in your life. Sort of like on a clock. If your age is 15 it is 10:25 in the morning in your life. If you are 20 it is 11:34 in the morning. If you are 25 it is 12:42. If you are 30 the time of your life is 1:51 P.M. If you are 35 it is 3:00 in the afternoon. If you are 40 it is 4:08 in the afternoon. If you are 45 it is 5:15 in the evening. If you are 50 it is 6:25. 55 is 7:34. If you are 60 the time is 8:40 p.M. If you are 65 it is 9:55 p.M. If you are 70 it is 11:00 at night. I don't know where that puts you but I am around 8:42 in the evening. The drag is I go to bed at 10:00. Ok. So wait. What time is it in your life right now?
What happens after death? According to the Bible the only reliable book on the afterlife when we die we enter eternity. The Bible teaches there are actually two deaths. One is the physical death. The other is spiritual death. Jesus warned we are to fear the second death more than the first death. He said, "Death and hades are cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death". Here is the good news. If you are born once you will die twice. But if you are born twice you will die once. Let me explain that. Applause some of you get that. Some of you don't. If you are born once you will die twice. Meaning you are born physically. You are going to die physically. Then you are going to have that second death. You will die spiritually separated from God. But if you are born twice physically and then you are born again by believing in Jesus you will only die once. Only physically because then you will go to heaven. That is why Jesus said, "You must be born again".
You know, medical science seeks to add years to your life but only Christ can add life to your years and give you a life that is worth living. A life that is full and meaningful and you don't need drugs. You don't need alcohol. Then you have the hope of life beyond the grave as well. This is the hope of the Christian. And when we die we go to heaven. What is heaven? Heaven is where God dwells. The Bible describes heaven as a paradise. A city. A country. Heaven is a real place. For real people that believe in a real God. Jesus said, "I have gone to prepare a place for you". Really heaven for the believer is home.
I have four granddaughters and one grandson. One of my granddaughters is named Allie. She is two years old. She will come over to our house and play. We have lots of toys because we love the grandkids to come and play. She will be playing with the toys. It is a funny thing. She will just stop right in the middle of playing and just open the door and walk out. We will say, "Allie where are you going"? She says, "Home". Just home. have you ever felt that way? Almost not home where you are at. There has to be something more. Maybe you have reached a lot of goals you set in life. You are saying, "There has got to be more than this". There is. Deep down inside you are longing for a place you have never been to before. Deep down inside you are longing for heaven.
Like the little boy who was flying his kite. The kite was out of sight. Someone asked him where his kite was. The little guy pointed up to the sky. They say, "But son you can't see your kite can you"? He said, "No but I can feel its tug". You can feel the tug of heaven deep down inside. This is where you are meant to go someday. When we get to heaven we will not only see the Lord there. We will see our loved ones that have died and gone on before us who also believed in Jesus Christ. Heaven will be a time of great reunion and we will pick up where we last left off. Isn't that great?
I have friends going back to my high school days. I will run into them every now and then. Maybe I haven't seen them for four years. We will pick up where we last left off. "Hey remember that time". They are one of those friends you have had forever. When we get to heaven, when we see those loved ones we missed and longed for then we will just pick right up again.
When my son Christopher was a little boy I would carry him around on my shoulders. He was a curious little guy. He would point at things. He would point at a bird and say, "S'at"? That meant what is that. He couldn't say, "What's that"? He just said "S'at"? I said, "Well topher". That was his nickname. Topher. I would say, "That's a bird". "S'at"? "That's a car". "S'at"? "That's another bird". "S'at"? "That's a tree". Always with the little "S'at". It was very cute. One day when I get to heaven he has been there for a while now. Five years. I will be blown away. I will be looking around. I will say, "S'at"? He will say, "Dad that is the sea of glass over there". "S'at"? "That is the throne of God dad". "When's dinner"? "Soon dad. Be patient". He will catch me up. This is only the hope of the Christian. Heaven is not the default destination of every person.
So what happens after we die? Jesus gives us a behind the scenes look at life after the grave in Luke 16. He tells a story of two men who died on the same day. One man was wealthy. The other man was poor. One man was famous. The other man was unknown. One was a believer. The other was a nonbeliever. Death knocks at every door. It is no respecter of persons. The man who believed who was named Lazarus was carried by the angels straight into the presence of God. I find that to be a very comforting thing to know that when our loved ones leave this world that they are carried by the angels into the presence of the Lord. But the other man was separated from God.
We have this hope of reunion one day. I heard the story of a Christian father who was terminally ill. He called his three sons to his bedside. Two of them were believers. He said to them, "Good bye my sons. I will see you in the morning". Well the third son who was not a Christian was very concerned because the father turned to him and just said, "Good bye son". That boy said, "Dad why did you say just good bye to me? "You said to my brothers, 'I will see you in the morning.' To me you just said good bye son. Why"? He said, "Son because you haven't believed in Jesus Christ and I will never see you again". The boy said, "Well dad I want to see you again". The father said, "Son you need to believe in Jesus Christ and if you do our family will be reunited in eternity". That boy did believe right on the spot. You can believe right on the spot tonight and be reunited with loved ones who died in the Lord. That is what happens to a believer.
The Bible says, "To be absent from the body is to "Be present with the Lord". Let me tell you something else. What could happen even before death is the Lord could come back and call us all to heaven. That is a promise the Bible has for Christians. That we will be caught up to meet the Lord in a moment. In the twinkling of an eye. It could happen tonight. That would be fantastic. What happens to the nonbeliever? This is quite scary. Revelation 20 deals with it.
In revelation 20 we read, "I saw a great white throne and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them". Speaking of the nonbelievers "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire".
This is an ominous scene. It is one of the most sobering serious and tragic passages in all of scripture. In Dante's poem known as Inferno are the words, "Abandon hope all who enter here" that are written above the gates of hell. John sees a great white throne. Now judgments are going to come from it. There is going to be no debate over guilt or innocence. There will be a prosecutor but no defender. An accuser but no advocate. There will be an indictment but no defense mounted by the accused. The judgment is binding through all eternity. There is no appealing the verdict. Who will be there? The answer is everyone who has rejected God's offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Listen the most important decision that you will ever make is the decision about Jesus Christ. That is the choice that is before you right now. Listen to this. Jesus said, "You are either for me or against me". You know when I heard that as a 17-year-old kid I looked around at other people at this little meeting I went to. This little Bible study where a preacher said that. I thought to myself, "These other Christians listening to this they are definitely for him". Then I thought, "Well I am not one of them. Does that mean I am against him"? Well actually I was.
You can't be neutral about Jesus. This is a yes or no proposition. Jesus Christ came to this earth. He lived a perfect life. Then he voluntarily went to the cross and died in our place. Why did he do that? Because we are all sinners. We have all fallen short of God's glory and we have all broken God's commandments. But the good news is Christ died for our sins. He absorbed God's wrath. He paid the price for the wrongs we have done and he rose again from the dead and he is standing right now at the door of your life and he is knocking. He is saying, "If you will hear his voice and open the door he will come in".
You might be thinking, "How do you open the door of your heart"? You do it through prayer. I would like to lead you in a simple prayer where you would be asking God to forgive you. Where you would be asking Jesus to come into your life. It is the most important choice you will ever make. If you would like to choose Jesus Christ right now, if you would like to be forgiven of your sin and go to heaven when you die, why don't you just pray this prayer. Out loud even after me. Right now.
Just pray this with me. "Lord Jesus I know I am a sinner but you died on that cross for me because you love me. And then you rose again from the dead. I am sorry for my sin. I turn from it now. I ask you to come into my life and be my Savior and Lord and be my God and my friend. I choose to follow you Lord from this moment forward. In Jesus' name I pray".
Hey listen if you just prayed that prayer and meant it in your heart Christ himself has come to live inside of you. You have made the right choice. Your choices on earth or binding in eternity. And because of that choice if you now follow Jesus Christ you can now have the hope of one day seeing him in heaven. Thanks for tuning into our program and until next time God bless you.