How Shall We Escape?

Scripture: Numbers 32:33, Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 22:12
Nothing will be hidden from God. Someday at the final judgment all things will be revealed. Our sins will find us out. There will be a time in which we must all stand and have the secrets of our lives revealed. Our names will be blotted out of the book of life unless we have asked Jesus to cover our sins.
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A very interesting story of the Old Testament is found in Numbers 32. The children of Israel were traveling from Egypt into the Promised Land. All twelve tribes had been instructed to move in and drive out the enemy and possess the land as their own. Before crossing over the Jordan River, two of the tribes came to Moses and requested to have that part of the land as their inheritance. Moses suspected that they were trying to avoid a fight. He thought they wanted to stay on the east side of Jordan and not participate in the battle which lay ahead in driving out the enemy. But they answered, "No", we will come along and fight with all the other tribes, but we'd like to come back here and receive this as our inheritance. To this proposition Moses readily agreed, "but", he said, if you fail to carry out your agreement, be sure your sin will find you out." Numbers 32:23.

Friends, that text of scripture has a tremendous lesson for us today. Sometimes we think we can fool the very God of heaven concerning our sins. You may be able to deceive your friends in this world, your parents, your minister, your husband, your wife, your children. But, God knows the secrets of your life. You can never hide anything from Him. All will be revealed in the Judgment when you must give answer for your life as it's lived here.

A newspaperman in New England was riding along in a buggy many, many years ago on his vacation. As he went along he saw a man walking beside the road and stopped to invite him to ride with him in the buggy. The stranger sat in curious silence speaking practically nothing and whittling on a curious stick. Finally he indicated that he wanted to get off at a certain spot; he stepped out of the buggy and disappeared down a forest path without a word of thanks. A few days later when he came back to his office, the newspaperman heard of a terrible murder which had been committed. Upon inquiry he discovered that it had been committed near the spot where he let the man out of his buggy. In fact, they had discovered the murder weapon which was a strangely wrought hand-carved stick. When he looked at it he realized that it was the very stick of the man who had ridden in his buggy. So with his description of the man the police soon captured the accused murderer. He would confess nothing, and there was no absolute proof until the newspaperman walked into his presence holding the stick in his hand. At sight of the stick the murderer wilted and made his confession. Yes, my friends, we can deceive any human being and sometimes we can even deceive ourselves pretty well, but in the Judgment, the evidence will be clear and there can be no escape.

I wonder if we cannot draw a parallel for this in a simple parable. The parable of course is based upon fact and yet we know that it cannot be literally fulfilled until the Lord comes. But let's imagine that a man, his wife, and two children are living in a small American community. The wife and daughters of this man are very fine Christians. The man himself is a good citizen, a fine moral member of the community. But he has one cherished sin in his life. Perhaps no one even knows about that sin. Maybe it's addiction to a wrong habit. Perhaps he was never baptized, perhaps he was robbing God of tithe, maybe he was breaking the Sabbath. But at least the community looked upon him as a very fine person and wonderfully good neighbor in every sense of the word. He knew what he should do concerning his besetting sin. At times he considered making a full surrender to Christ. He certainly intended to do it someday. But he kept putting it off and one day he died. He didn't expect to, of course, but he died anyway, and since he was a fine respected man the minister said some nice things about him at the funeral services.

But let me ask you a question, friends, "Can God accept that man?" Now we are assured in the Bible that no one has a chance after death of making anything right. The cases of all people are settled at death. In Hebrews 9:27, we read "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment". So this man's death was the end of his probation as far as his salvation was concerned. Some day of course the judgment must take place. That man's life-record must be opened for investigation in the courts above. When does that judgment begin, friends. We are assured when Jesus comes back to this earth he will come to bring his reward with him. In Revelation 22:12, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be." So apparently there must be an investigation of those records before Jesus comes to the earth again.

In Daniel 7:9, 10 we have a biblical description of that great judgment scene in heaven. The judgment was set and the saints were judged out of books. "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." Now notice friends, that those books are opened and every person will be judged and his eternal fate determined by what those books say. Let's imagine that docket No. I will bring on the first individual who died in this world. Abel was that man. He was killed by his brother. He was the first man to die. Abel sinned and his sins are all recorded in the books of heaven, but as his name is called and his case is opened up, Jesus steps forward to offer His own blood in sacrifice for the sins of Abel. Now He is able to do this only because Abel offered a lamb and killed the animal with his own hands showing that he had faith in a sacrifice that would be offered for his sins, even the sacrifice of Jesus. I don't know who might have come next, but finally of course, the name of Cain will be called. Cain's record also was filled with sin. For him there was no defense. Christ would love to defend him also in the judgment, but there was no faith, no blood sacrifice. Cain deliberately refused to slay the animal; instead he brought vegetables and fruit in place of the commandment of a lamb to be offered. So his name is written in the book of death and his name is blotted out of the book of life.

We can come right on down to the man of whom we spoke in the story. The man who was a good citizen, but who had one sin in his life. Many good things may be written upon the records of his book in heaven. The record of his call to be baptized is there, the Spirit and the angels are called to testify that they did everything to move that man to accept the invitation, but he refused. He continued to hold onto his sin until his life was gone. Can God save that man? Absolutely not, his case is lost, he is consigned to destruction in the book of death.

Back upon the earth let us imagine that the mother and her daughters also die. They sleep in their graves through those last terrible times of trouble upon the earth. The plagues are poured out and then finally Jesus returns in power and glory. I Thessalonians 4:16 we read, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." He will call his sleeping saints out of their dusty graves. That mother will come up with her children who had been so faithful to the Lord Jesus. They will look around and miss the father and husband of that family. They may weep momentarily as they realize that he is not with them. But God will wipe all tears from their eyes. They will be caught up to heaven for a thousand years in the beautiful holy city of God.

The Bible says, "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." Revelation 20:5. So the wicked simply remain in their grave. They do not come up to meet Jesus when He returns but they remain until the end of the thousand years, during which time the righteous are all in heaven. But after the thousand years there is a great commotion in heaven. The moving day has come. The Holy City of God is going to descend to this very earth. In Revelation 21:2 John describes it, "And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

Zechariah describes the Mount of Olives and how the feet of Jesus will touch that great mountain. It will split in two and move outward to form a great vast plain. The wicked will be resurrected at that time, and the man will come up of whom we have spoken, the man who would not accept Christ because of one sin in his life. We see him with all the rest of the wicked going up to surround the holy city. Revelation 21 describes that encounter, friends, how the Devil leads up his vast host of the wicked to try to capture the city in a final bid for supremacy. As this man is raised he looks upon the open grave of his wife and children. He sees no one beside him. Then suddenly he remembers one thing. The memory of that besetting sin arises before him and he can see nothing else. The realization of his lost condition dawns upon him with startling force. And as it sinks into his heart that he is forever shut out of the city of God, he will never be able to be with his loved ones again, the man cries out in agony, remorse and fear.

My friends, Christianity is just as simple as that story, "Behold your sin will find you out." By neglecting truth we are actually guilty of rejecting truth. God says in Isaiah 1:17, 18, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Christ did everything possible to make salvation available for us. He did everything but force us to accept His provision for our eternal life. But obedience friends, must be based upon genuine love. It's only love that will lead us out into those paths of self-denial, service, and sacrifice. He is able to save to the uttermost those who come unto Him through Christ, but we must come. Only as we do as the Bible says, only as we follow that great Love Letter to us will we be able to find the way to heaven. We mustn't go by feeling. But friends nobody will be lost until God, Christ, the Spirit and the Angels have exhausted their heavenly resources in our behalf. If Christ loved us enough to die for us, He will certainly do everything else possible to make a way into the kingdom of heaven for us.

Some people say, "Well, I'm going to wait for my wife or husband." But that's not right friends. Is that what Christ said to do? We must answer individually for ourselves before the judgment. Jesus gave a certain parable described in Luke 13:6-9 "He spake also this parable; a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit theron, and found none. Then said he, unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Notice that God is the owner of this vineyard, Christ is the keeper, we are the vine. He did everything possible. Some people think the way is too straight and restrictive. They do not choose to be saved because it requires too much self-denial. My friends, the way to heaven is no straighter than Christ made it. He said, "Straight is the gate that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it." We cannot afford to make it any different than what Christ made it. There is power with the straightness that enables men to obey the truth.

In Luke 14:16 we read about a great supper that was described in one of the parables of Christ. The man who gave the supper invited a large number of guests. But one after another they began to excuse themselves with the most foolish rationalizations. There was no particular reason behind their excuses. But they went into the detail of explanation to the master when he approached them. One man said he had bought some land and he had to go see it. Can you imagine a person buying ground that he never even looked at before? It's perfectly absurd. Of course we hear the same excuses today as far as that's concerned. This man has a farm. That man has a job, and he must go to the job. Or they've got to work on their farm, and they have no time for Christianity. Another man in the parable had bought oxen and he said he had to go prove them. Have you ever seen anybody hitching up oxen to plow at supper time? Here's a man who had evidently bought oxen without even proving them before hand. What a foolish excuse, friends. He was simply trying to get out of the invitation. He had no valid reason for not being present. We hear people these days excuse themselves because of new automobiles or worldly pleasures.

Another man said he had married a wife and he couldn't come. But friends, the fact is that the wife was also invited. These are not valid reasons. They are only excuses used by these people who did not show up at the supper. Finally the owner said, "Go out and bring in the lame and the blind and compel them to come in." So the supper was supplied with guests. Now notice how the guests will be examined. "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 22:11-13. Here the king himself appears on the scene at the very last moment before the feast. One man was without the garment, the proper robe, and he was ordered out of the feast. He was bound hand and feet and thrown out into the darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Friends, special garments had been provided for those who came to the feast, but this man had refused to put on the garment, and so at the last moment the king looked and saw one guest without the required garment. "Be sure your sin will find you out." The most unanswerable question in all the world is found in Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation." God will take one last look at those who are candidates for the kingdom of heaven. Any deliberate spot of sin will be detected at the last moment. Individuals will lose their eternal life because of harboring one sin in the life. The robe of righteousness has been provided for all. The perfect robe of obedience through Christ has been Made available to every believing child of Adams. If we will accept it, friends, we may have eternal life. If we refuse it, then God will see at last the sin of our life and we will be shut out of heaven for eternity. We cannot afford to lose that joy, that privilege. May God help you to make your decision now, and to choose now while there is yet time.

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