"REJOICE" BUT "REMEMBER"
Scripture Texts: Ecclesiastes 11:9 "Rejoice, O young man , in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." and Ecclesiastes 12:1 "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."
The Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, was written by King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, aside from the Lord Jesus Christ, of course. In the earlier portions of Ecclesiastes, he acknowledges his great wisdom, his great wealth, his great works, and his worldly pleasures. But we also notice that the theme of the book is expressed by the statements "there is no new thing under the sun", and "all is vanity and vexation of spirit." Then just before King Solomon concludes his message in Ecclesiastes, he turns his attention to those who are young, and he reminds them that they will "REJOICE" in those youthful years, but also that they would be wise to "REMEMBER" that eventually they must die, and meet God.
Today, and with the imperative help of the Holy Spirit and word of God, I'd like to direct my message to the readers who are young in years; especially those of you who are teenagers. Yes, God has exercised my heart to bring before the younger readers a Gospel message directly to them from the word of God, the Bible. Furthermore, I'm thoroughly convinced that God's Holy Spirit has caused many young people to read this message today. Why? So that they can be faithfully warned of coming judgment, and the necessity of being "saved", or "born again", in order to escape the wrath of a Holy God.
I'm also convinced that, quite often, preachers tend to forget about the young people in their audiences, and with whom they come in contact. They seem to direct their remarks only to the more mature adults listening to their messages, as though it were not necessary to bring before the younger portion of their audiences the need to be "saved", or "born again". Listen my friend, if you're at the age of accountability before God, and God alone knows for certain when that is, then whether you're 8-10-12-14 or 16 years of age, and you're old enough to realize your lost spiritual condition in God's sight, then you're old enough to accept, by faith alone, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your personal Saviour. And I should also add that the alternative to being "saved" by God's grace, is the same for the teenager who dies unsaved, as it is for the adult who dies unsaved, eternal torment in the place that Jesus Christ called "Hell", and the ultimate "Lake of Fire".
Now friend, please don't reach for your "mouse", or keyboard, to delete this message, or to "log on" to a more appealing web site. Furthermore, I'm not trying to "scare you to death", or to make your youthful years a "time of misery". No, I'm simply trying to bring before the younger readers of this message, the God-given fact that you should be "saved", or "born again", while you're yet tender in years, before the Devil beclouds your mind with the sin-filled worldly pleasures; and before your young heart is hardened to the pleadings of the Holy Spirit, and soul-searching word of God.
I honestly believe that there is someone reading this message right now, and whether you realize it or not, a loving God is giving you your first, or perhaps, your last chance to hear about His salvation for your never-dying soul. Yes, and sad to day, there are thousands of teenagers dropping off into eternity everyday. And again, sad to say, most of them were never "saved", or "born again". Sure, they may have been baptized when they were a few days old; confirmed or dedicated when they were about 10 or 12 years of age; and others may have been received into church membership as a teenager. But that is not salvation, according to the Bible.
Friend, I've known some young people who were very much involved in church activities. They attended church services and Sunday School; they belonged to the Youth Fellowship; Campus Crusade; Youth For Christ; sang in the choir, and taught a class of others who were younger than themselves; and even served as a "Youth Pastor". But, and this is the important fact, they had never been "saved" at all. They had "religion", but no "Christ". These young people, like many older adults, have been deluded into believing that living a good, clean, moral and religious life, is all that is necessary to please God. Yes, they're depending on what they do, rather than having simple faith in what the Lord Jesus Christ has already done for them at Calvary's cross. Is this your spiritual condition today, my friend? Well, I sure hope not! If religious activities could save your soul, then why did Jesus die?
Listen, my young friend, God tells us in Isaiah 64:6 that "we are ALL as an unclean thing, and ALL our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we ALL do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Yes, our sins have taken us away, both spiritually and otherwise. While unsaved, we are separated by our lack of fellowship with our Creator, God. And if we die in that condition, we'll be separated physically and eternally in the place of everlasting torment, called "Hell".
Again over in Titus 3:5 we read, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, in John 3:3, told that most religious Pharisee, named Nicodemus, that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." So if you've never been "born again", by the Holy Spirit revealing to you, through God's word, that you're a sinner who can't work your way into favor with God; and if you have never trusted in the sacrificial and substitutionary death of His Son at Calvary's cross, then you're not "saved" at all. No, and you're still under the certain and condemnational wrath of God.
During my secular employment, including 27 years in 3 leading institutions of higher learning, I served as both a Professor and a Dean of Engineering. I came in contact with many thousands of fine young men and women, whose conduct would make most parents happy and proud. Unfortunately, most of them had inherited the spiritual complacency of their parents, and I must confess that it often took all my will power, not to interrupt my lectures and administrative duties, and to preach to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, most of the many who came to my office for various academic or personal problems were given the true Gospel, and quite a few professed to be "saved", and are even now serving their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in many parts of the United States, and abroad.
Young man or young woman, whether you realize it or not, you're living in a world of superficiality. A world where gross sin abounds, and where the values of life and death have been lowered to a position of relative unimportance. Yes, and it is a world which is quickly ripening for the judgment of God. And if you, as an individual creature of God, continue to reject God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your personal Saviour, you'll have nothing to look forward to but the wrath of God, in the eternal flames of the "Lake of Fire".
I believe that some of you who are reading this message today have been fortunate enough to be born, and nurtured under the spiritual influence of Christian parents. Your Mom and Dad are truly "saved", or "born again", AND YOU KNOW IT ! They have sought to bring you up in the "fear and admonition of the Lord", but because of that sinful nature with which we are all born, you have rebelled against God and your parents, and you're still on the broad and crowded road that leads to eternal torment.
Friend, you may have sat under the sound of the Gospel many times; you may have experienced such deep conviction of your sinful condition, and your need of salvation, that you could hardly eat or sleep. Perhaps you've even sobbed yourself to sleep, and with the fear that the Lord might return for those who are "saved", and you'd be left behind. Well friend, the reason that you're still on the "broad and crowded road" that leadeth to eternal torment, is found in our first Scripture Text, Ecclesiastes 11:9. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
Yes, you are still rejoicing in the life that you are living as a young person. You love your worldly pleasures and worldly companions, more than you love true Christian activities and fellowship. You love your card playing, dancing, and sporting events, more than you love the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who loved you unto death, even the death of the cross. You love your tattoos, your multicolored hair, your body piercing, and the sexual and profanity-laden "rap", "rock", and "roll" concerts, more than you love your soul. You love your harmful drugs, your tobacco, your alcohol, and your filthy, sex-filled pornographic magazines and T.V. programs, more than you love God, the One in Whose hand is your every breath.
Friend, please don't let the enemy of your soul, the Devil, rob you of God's salvation. No, don't let him rob you of eternity in Heaven, and your fellowship with God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The solemn warning is given in our text; that if you go out and have a so-called "good time"; REJOICE while you're young; follow the desires of your deceitful heart; go where you want to go, and see whatever satisfies the lust of the eyes, the lust of the heart, the lust of the flesh; do whatever you want to do; sure, go out and "live it up"; "BUT, know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
You'll notice how we're reminded of how the HEART plays such an important role in how young people, as well as older people, choose to behave. In Matthew 15:19, we hear the Lord Jesus Christ declare, "For out of the HEART proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." We also read a most significant statement in Jeremiah 17:9,10, "The HEART is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the HEART, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." Unsaved friend, you may be in good physical condition today, but if you are still not "saved", then you have spiritual HEART trouble. Yes, and because of the life you've chosen to live, you're only a HEARTBEAT from experiencing the solemn edict in our text, "know thou, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment."
Friend, I'm sure that you'll agree with me when I say that conditions throughout the world are getting worse and worse. Aside from the worldwide terrorism, obviously conducted by certain religious extremists, we also see gross sin and iniquity abounding in every country on earth, including our great United States of America, which has been so favored by God down through the years. Sins which were formerly reserved for the town drunkards, harlots, and homosexuals, have now been elevated to the realm of social respectability. Some young students in our grade schools these days are learning to dance so that they can go out in the evening and join their parents, or older siblings, in revelry. Others, under the influence of drugs, have obtained guns and killed their classmates or teachers. Many teenagers are participating in sexual acts which result in ill-legitimate births, and unwed motherhood. Increasingly more young people have been infected with the dread disease called AIDS, which is now the plague of over 45 million people throughout the world, especially in Africa.
Personally, I can honestly thank God for the fact that my parents, both of whom were "born again" Christians, claimed the promise of Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Yes, even though I wasn't "saved" until I was almost 31 years of age, nevertheless, the early childhood training which I received in our home, continually brought before me my sinful condition in God's sight, and the fact that I had to be "saved", or "born again", if I ever expected to escape the justifiable, and eternal wrath of a Holy God. My parents are in Heaven today, and it won't be long till I join them.
Now friend, God hasn't provided His salvation for any particular age group. And the reason is simply because we're told in Romans 3:23 that there is no difference, "For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And furthermore, I believe that it is easier for a young person to get "saved", than it is for a sin-hardened old person. Older people seem to be all wrapped up in their worldly pleasures, unsaved associates, and sinful habits, and so they seldom, if ever, take the time to think about eternal matters. Some older people, however, when they are ill and facing possible death, all of a sudden they get "religious", and hope that God will overlook their sinful lives and welcome them into Heaven. True, an elderly person can get "saved" on their death bed; and we have the conversion of the one thief who was crucified with the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary, which proves that fact; however, the other thief also knew that he was dying, but he never got "saved".
In past years, I've been asked by other Christians to visit certain relatives or friends of theirs who are in the hospitals, and who are evidently dying. The concerned Christians have reason to believe that the sick person is not saved, and therefore, they want me to visit the sick person to present the Gospel to them, and to pray for their soul's salvation, as well as their physical condition. In most cases, where I've visited the unsaved people who were about to die, they were more concerned about their physical condition, than they were of having to meet God.
Friend, once you pass out of time into eternity, it will be too late for you to prepare to meet God. And if you're not a child of God BEFORE you die, then there's one thing sure, you'll never be a child of God AFTER you die. No, it will be too late then! That's the reason God tells us in our second Scripture text, "REMEMBER NOW thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." In this verse, God makes it quite clear that He wants people to get "saved" while they are young, why? so that they can live a life that will bring honor and glory to Him. He wants them to live a life in fellowship with Him, as living testimonies resulting from their faith in the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Friend, the least a "saved" person can do, is to live for the One Who died for them at Calvary's cross.
Now you'll notice that God wants you to accept His Son as your Lord and Saviour BEFORE you are old, feeble, and no longer able to experience the sinful pleasures of this life. To you young people reading this message, I wonder if God is speaking to you as an individual sinner, today. You're in the prime of life, and looking forward to a long life of good health, pleasures, success and achievement. Perhaps you feel that when you've lived a successful life; when you're old and gray; retired from your employment; and occasionally aware of the impending article called DEATH , then you'll get "saved", and start living for God; then you'll step from a life of spiritual complacency into the gates of glory. Friend, you're being deceived by the enemy of your soul, the Devil. And only the Devil would allow such a diabolical thought to enter your mind, and to give you a false sense of security. In Luke 8:12, the Lord Jesus Christ reminds us, that after a person hears the true Gospel, "then cometh the Devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved." Friend, is that what is happening to you right now? Oh, I hope not!
If you're an older Christian reading this message, the likelihood is that you were "saved" while you were yet young in years. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us in Mark 10:14, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God." Friend, God is able to save people of few years, or many years. Yes, whether you're 9 or 90 years of age, the blood of Jesus Christ can still cleanse you of your sinful condition before God. However, the chances of an older person accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour is greatly diminished, due to the hardness of their sinful HEART. This fact, I know, from personal experience.
Many years ago I knew a man, a relative of mine who was raised in a Christian environment, but he refused to accept God's Son as his Saviour because he was "too busy" earning a good living, and the unusual respect he received from others in his chosen field of endeavor. He worked for a well-known auto maker, and it was not unusual for him to be "called out" at any time of the day or night, to solve various problems on the assembly line. At age 65, he retired with a special award and the highest acclaim by all who knew, or worked, with and for him. Unfortunately, the sudden change in life style after retirement, caused him soon to be stricken with the dreaded Alzheimer's disease. He was placed in an institution near our home, and I visited him regularly to remind him of his need for being "saved". Bottom line; he died, apparently unsaved, but with a Gospel tract in his hand ! I think of what we're told in Proverbs 29:1, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Young friend, as sure as you are reading this Gospel message today, you are going to meet God ! You're either going to meet God as your Heavenly Father, or else you're going to meet God as your Judge; but meet Him you must ! So why not prepare to meet God right NOW, by accepting His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your own and personal Saviour? He said, "REMEMBER NOW thy Creator in the days of thy youth." In Hebrews 4:7 we read, "TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your HEARTS." Again we're reminded in II Corinthians 6:2, "behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation."
Well, that's it, my friend. Whether you're young or old, if you end up in "Hell" and the ultimate "Lake of Fire", you'll have no one to blame but yourself. God has done all He can; the Lord Jesus Christ has done all He can; the Holy Spirit of God has done all He can; and I've done all I can to warn you to flee from the wrath to come. We're told in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Then at the end of that chapter, in verse 36, we're reminded, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Friend, in which part of that verse are you found, the first or last? And don't forget that "destiny is determined by decision", and you may be making a decision right now, which will determine whether you go up to "Heaven," or down to "Hell". I'd love to meet you in "Heaven" someday, my friend !
So in closing, I plead with you, in love for your soul, and in view of eternity, to acknowledge that you're a sinner, then repent of your sin, and trust in God's Son alone, as your own and personal Saviour. If you'll do that right NOW , the word of God, which cannot lie, and which gives the assurance of salvation, says that you'll be "saved" for time, and thank God, you'll be "saved" for all eternity. AND REMEMBER, MY FRIEND, THIS IS FOR ETERNITY !
Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk