Are you prepared for eternity

SERMON TOPIC: Are you prepared for eternity

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 4 August 2017


Sermon synopsis: Nate Saint (1923-1956) the missionary pilot who, along with 4 others (including Jim Elliot) was killed while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. He said, “People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives ... and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
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"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away…" (Song of Solomon 2:17)

The story is told of a man who happened to find Aladdin’s magic lamp. On rubbing the lamp, a genie appeared and granted him one wish. So he asked for a newspaper exactly a year into the future. Upon receiving the newspaper, he turned to the section listing stock prices. His plan was to buy stocks that would gain value and thereby become a millionaire. Browsing through the paper, he was very pleased about his sudden turn of luck.


However, he was soon shocked to find his name in the newspaper’s obituary. Suddenly he was no longer interested in the share prices.

People make so many plans, while being unaware of their approaching date with death.


James 4:13-14 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Toward the end of the 19th century, there was an obituary in a newspaper for the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.”

There was only one problem, Alfred Nobel had not died! 

Alfred Nobel (1801-1872)


 Actually, it was his older brother who had died, but a newspaper reporter had somehow gotten it wrong. And so Alfred Nobel was one of the few people who got to read his own obituary. This incident had a profound effect on him and he decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing the means to kill people efficiently and for amassing a fortune in the process. So he initiated the Nobel Peace Prize, the award for scientists and writers who foster peace.

Nobel said, “Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.” 1

Live in such a way that when death comes the mourners will outnumber the cheering section.

1 " Sermons/ Death.htm"> Sermons/ Death.htm


So while funerals aren’t something we enjoy, they do give us a chance to reflect on what is really important in life.

And simply accumulating wealth and possessions is not what is important.


Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal… (Matt 6:19-20 NASB)

I’ve seen many a hearse - never one with a trailer behind it.

Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.” (Job 1:21)

1 Tim 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box. (Italian Proverb)

When we die we leave behind all that we have – and take with us all that we are.


Nate Saint (1923-1956) the missionary pilot who, along with 4 others (including Jim Elliot) was killed while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people of Ecuador. He said, “People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives ... and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”


According to Forbes magazine the world’s richest man from 1995 to 2007 and again in 2009 and 2014 was Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. The net worth of Gates soared over $100B in the 1990’s.

According to " "> if he worked 16 hours a day, every day of the year, Bill would make almost $9M (~R1.2B) per hour. That’s more than most people make in their life.

He earns about $116,000 per minute, which turns out to be almost $3,000 (~ R40k) a second. He makes more in a second than most people do in a month.


But all the wealth of Bill Gates is less than the value of your soul. In fact all the wealth in the world is not worth the price of your soul!

Your soul is the most valuable possession you have.

More valuable than the body – because it is eternal.

Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

More valuable than the whole world:

Matt 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

The value of your soul is measured by Satan’s interest in it. He is after your soul.

The value of your soul can be measured by God’s concern for saving your soul. God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).


Men generally don’t like to think about death, so funerals also give us a chance to reflect on our own mortality.

In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, Benjamin Franklin penned the now famous words, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” 1

Now while some might have managed to evade the taxman, statistically one out of every one of us dies.

There is nothing more certain than death, nothing more uncertain than the time of dying. You must therefore be prepared at all times for that which may come at any time.

1 Re-printed in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817


Every day over 146,000 people will take their final breath and slip into eternity, either into heaven or into hell. Although most of their lives may never have made headlines, the reality of death happens every day.

Current death rate in the world:

8 deaths per 1,000 population per year

53.4 million people die each year

146,357 people die each day

6098 people die each hour

102 people die each minute

almost 2 people die each second 1

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Death is not part of the natural process, but is the judgement of God on sin.

Heb 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once…


By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. (Gen 3:19)

D.L. Moody: “Some one has said that the world is a stormy sea, whose every wave is strewed with the wrecks of mortals that perish in it. Every time we breathe some one is dying. We all know that we are going to stay here but a very little while. Our life is but a vapour. It is only a shadow.” 1

D.L. Moody: “‘We meet one another,’ as some one has said, ‘salute one another, pass on and are gone.’ And another has said: “It is just an inch of time, and then eternal ages roll on;” and it seems to me that it is perfectly reasonable that we should study this Book, to find out where we are going, and where our friends are who have gone on before. The longest time man has to live has no more proportion to eternity than a drop of dew has to the ocean.” 1

1 Heaven ch. 1


The Bible speaks of our body as being a tent

2 Cor 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (see also 2 Pet 1:13-14)

Now a tent is just a temporary living place – not a permanent home!


Not only is death a certainty, but so is God’s judgment:

Heb 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.



John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

People make all sorts of preparations when they go on a journey. But there is a final journey we are all destined to take and many people fail to prepare for that journey.

Luke 12:19-20 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’


Cesare Borgia (1476-1507) was the illegitimate son of the notorious Pope Alexander VI and his mistress. He was feared by his own father and murdered those who stood in his way. He is believed by some to have murdered his brother. One of his enemies, Astorre III Manfredi was drowned in the Tiber river by Cesare’s order.

Killed in battle at age 31, Cesare’s dying words were: “I have taken care of everything in the course of my life, only not for death, and now I have to die completely unprepared.” 1

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Cesare Borgia


It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day. Christians must live their lives packed up and ready to go.


John 14:1-2 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

But he also spoke of a PREPARED PLACE for an UNPREPARED PEOPLE:

Matt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”


Are you




Live so that when death comes you may embrace like friends, not encounter like enemies.

As a result of God’s judgement on sin “all their lives” those who don’t know the Lord are “held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Heb 2:15)

In 1 Cor 15:26 the Bible speaks of death as “the last enemy”. And it says that death has a sting – but the sting is only for those who die in their sin:

1 Cor 15:56 The sting of death is sin…

For the child of God death loses it’s sting:

1 Cor 15:54-55 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”


Death is not something for the child of God to fear:

Heb 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.


A child of God doesn’t have to fear death – because they don’t have to fear God’s judgment:

1 John 4:16-18 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Death for the Christian is an honourable discharge from the battles of life.

Death to a saint is nothing but the taking of a flower out of this wilderness, and planting of it in the garden of paradise.


Adoniram Judson (1788-1850)

Take care of your life and the Lord will take care of your death.

No Christian has ever been known to recant on his deathbed.

Shortly before the renowned missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson, died he said: “I am not tired of my work, neither am I tired of the world; yet, when Christ calls me home, I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from his school.” 1

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The agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, when standing at the grave of his brother, said “Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the height. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word.”

On his deathbed Ingersoll is reputed to have cried, “Oh God, if there be a God, save my soul if I have a soul.” 1


Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (1833–1899)


Contrast that with Ingersoll’s contemporary, the famous 19th century evangelist, D.L. Moody, who said, “Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal - a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever.” 1 1 Source: " ">


Eyewitnesses recorded of Moody’s death:

God was magnified again in his marvelous triumph over death, but what we call death had absolutely no terrors for him. He calmly looked death in the face and said, “Earth is receding. Heaven is opening. God is calling me. Is this death? It isn’t bad at all. It is sweet. No pain. No valley. I have been within the gates! It is beautiful. It is glorious. Do not call me back. God is calling me.” 1

For four hours Mr. Moody faced death without a tremor. Nay, he rejoiced in it and welcomed it… Later he said, “This is glorious. This is my coronation day, I have long looked forward to it.” 2

1 “The life & work of Dwight Lyman Moody” by the J. Wilbur Chapman 2 Source: " stream/ lessonsfromlifed"> stream/ lessonsfromlifed


King David wrote these comforting words in his Shepherd’s Psalm that have been a source of strength to many a Christian as death approached, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Psalm 23:4)

The famous London preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father’s palace. To the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing from his sins and infirmities. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory.” 1



Dr. Wernher von Braun, well-known for his part in the US space program, said he had “essentially scientific” reasons for believing in life after death. He explained: “Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation. If God applies the fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of the universe, doesn’t it make sense to assume that He applies it to the masterpiece of His creation--the human soul? I think it does.”


The apostle Paul said of death: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. (Phil 1:21)

So death has no sting for the child of God.

But not all are children of God!

Q: How can I become a child of God?

A: By being born into his family.

John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--


We need to believe in Jesus.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

“Believing” doesn’t simply mean accepting God’s existence (remember even the demons do that) – it’s putting our faith and trust in Jesus.

We must confess him with our mouth.

Rom 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.


We need to admit that we have sinned.

1 John 1:8-9 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

We must confess our sins.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

We must repent of our sins (i.e. not just be sorry for your sin, but turn your back on your sin.)

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”


Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)


Then we can face death like the Apostle Paul, who said:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.


 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim 4:6-8)



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

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