The message you are about to read is based on a brief text found in the Bible. God says, “Therefore thus will I do unto thee O Israel; and because I will do this unto thee, Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). This verse states an eternal principle with God. The words are an invitation and a warning to every generation—Prepare to Meet Thy God.
Nearly one hundred years ago, the largest railroad company in the United States saw the danger and death that so often resulted from the collision of their steel locomotives with cars and trucks at railroad crossings. And so the company offered a prize of $2500 to the person who would suggest the three best words to be used as warning words at railroad crossings. The person wise enough and fortunate enough to win the prize offered three words which you have often seen: Stop, Look, Listen. Each of these three words cost $833, but the words are of no avail whatever for the safety of persons crossing railroads, unless they are obeyed. What good is the word “stop” if people don’t stop? What protection does the word “look” offer if one doesn’t look? What warning does the word “listen” give if we don’t listen? And just so you can come in contact with lots of teaching about preparing for Heaven, and still go to Hell, unless you prepare.
1. Note the Simplicity of the Words
Every word of the text is extremely simple. The Bible says, “Prepare to meet thy God.” To “prepare” simply means to “get ready”—get ready for death, get ready for the judgment, get ready for the coming of the Lord. The Scriptures are saying that people are not ready to meet God when they are born into the world. God says that every person is born in iniquity. This means that our sins must be covered in order to meet God in peace. And the Bible is clear in declaring the fact that nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ can remove sin. First John 1:7 says “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
The word “prepare” is very simple. It is not a mystery to any one. The words of the text are not a problem in mathematics. Everyone knows exactly what they mean. “Prepare to meet thy God” means “get ready to meet God”—that’s as clear as a path of tar scattered across a field of snow. And yet these extremely simple words are seemingly misunderstood. People get ready to marry. Some get ready to go on vacation trips. Most get their children ready for the first year in school. Many get ready for old age by taking out pensions. In fact, most people get ready for everything and anything—except for the most important thing in this life and in eternity—and that is to meet God. Listen to these simple words of the Bible, “Get ready to meet your God.”
2. The Certainty of Meeting God
There is one thing certain—all must meet God. The rich and the poor, the old and the young, the learned and the unlearned—all will meet God. You may have canceled lots of appointments here in this life, but there is one date you are going to keep. You’ll have to face the God who made you. The Scripture says “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
You might die suddenly and be ushered into the presence of God without any advance notice. An old preacher in Scotland who was rather eccentric, went to the shop of a man in his community one day. The shopkeeper says, “I was busy in my shop, when right into the midst of my work—in stepped the preacher without knocking and without giving a word of announcement.” The preacher said, “Did you expect me?” “No sir, I didn’t,” the shopkeeper replied. The preacher paused a moment, and then said grimly, “What if I had been death?” And then he turned and departed as quickly as he came. The shopkeeper (when telling this experience) says it caused him to stop and think, and as a result of the incident, he turned to the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith.
For the Christian to meet God will be a thrilling experience. The Apostle Paul, near the close of his life, said, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). Death came shortly after he had uttered those words. But for the unbeliever, meeting God will be a frightening experience. The Bible says “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). And again, “The Lord is longsuffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression,” but by no means will He “clear the guilty” (Numbers 14:18). If you resist God’s love and refuse His salvation and despise His warnings—the day you stand before Him will be a dreadful day.
3. The Absurdity of Procrastination
Every one of us has offended God many times. God’s justice demands that we be punished for our sins, but God’s love has provided a remedy. That remedy is the death of God’s own Son. Isaiah says “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” And in order that Christ’s death becomes effective as an atonement for our sins, we must receive Him into our hearts. The tendency however is to procrastinate. To “procrastinate” means to “put off until later.” The Bible tells how Paul preached to Felix (the Roman governor of Judea) about God’s plan of salvation, and Felix answered, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (Acts 24:25).
Any of us might die before 10:30 tonight. We never know when our moment of death is coming, but when God calls our number, we’re going to go. Some people have the idea that they are going to wait until the eleventh hour before they give their hearts to the Lord. But most people who plan to wait until the eleventh hour, die at ten-thirty. They never get it done. It’s always a dangerous thing to procrastinate.
“The clock of life is wound but once,
and no man has the power
to say just when the hands will stop,
at late, or early hour.”
4. The Folly of Rejecting Christ
Salvation is a gift. It is not something that can be earned. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). Sin is pictured as a master who pays wages. And the awful wages of sin are the separation of body and soul from the presence of God forever. But if “the wages of sin is death”—we would be rather inclined to think that the second part of the verse should read, “the wages of holiness is life.” But it simply says, “The gift of God is eternal life.”
Eternal life is a gift. God absolutely refuses to sell salvation. On the last page of your Bible you will find this final invitation: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). Salvation is the free gift of God. Many are hoping that by works, and good deeds, and ceremonies, and lots of church activity—they’ll be prepared for this meeting with God. But the Bible says we are saved “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy” (Titus 3:5). No person can ever stand up and say, “I’ve done so and so, and God owes me salvation.” Good works are extremely important in the life of the Christian, but they’ll never atone for one’s sins. We are saved through faith in Jesus who came to the earth, shed His blood on Calvary, and took our sins upon himself. By this act, He secured pardon for our sins. This is a favor that God did for us—and God offers this salvation as a gift to you.
I am sure that you are aware of the fact that a gift is not a gift unless it is accepted, and that a pardon is not a pardon if it is refused. One of the strangest cases in American history centered around a man named George Wilson. He was sentenced by a U.S. Court in Philadelphia (back in 1830) to be hanged for robbing the mails, and for murder. Andrew Jackson was president of the United States, and at the request of many of George Wilson’s friends (three weeks before he was to be hanged), Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson. But Wilson startled the world by refusing to accept the pardon and insisted that he be hanged according to the court’s decision. George Wilson declared the pardon was no pardon unless he accepted it. This was a point in law never raised before, because whenever a pardon was issued previously, it was always joyfully accepted. Should the sheriff accept the court’s decision and hang Wilson, or should he accept the Presidential pardon and release him? Since the law was silent on the point, President Jackson called on the Supreme Court to decide the issue at once. The decision read like this: “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that one under the sentence of death, would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must hang.” And George Wilson was hanged.
Most people would agree that Wilson was a fool for refusing to accept the pardon, and yet many of these same people daily reject the pardon which God has provided for them. If you are unsaved today—you are a sinner under the sentence of sin and condemned to die eternally in the outer darkness of Hell. But today God is offering a pardon! He is saying that you don’t need to die, because Jesus died for you. It is hardly to be supposed that any person in his right mind would reject the pardon of God’s love which Jesus purchased on Calvary—but if you do reject that offer, it is no pardon. Then you will have to bear your own punishment and pay the penalty for sin yourself.
God in His Word pleads, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ . . . repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 16:31; 2:38). Won’t you do it today?