Before the Great White Throne
Romans 14:12—“So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Some one is saying now that the preacher is going to give us some death-bed talks—he is going to try to scare us with death. No, I am not. I do not believe so many are afraid of death as they are afraid to meet God. There is not a man or woman in this audience who does not believe that some day he must stand before God and give account of himself, but if you thought you were going to die you would immediately send for a preacher, priest, or some one whom you thought knew God, and who could tell you how to prepare to meet Him.
If I were to ask if it is a good thing to know you must face God, you would say it is a good thing, but if you knew you were going to die soon, you would begin to get scared.
May Deceive Yourself
While you may deceive yourself with an excuse you cannot deceive God, for you must give account of yourself to Him. How easy it is for us to deceive Mother, too. I remember when a boy, many times I went down to a poolroom, and would come home at three o’clock in the morning. Fearing I would awaken her, I would take my shoes off and creep up the steps to my room. You can fool Mother like that, but cannot always do it with even Mother. She will find it out some time and it will crush her old heart and bring her down to the grave.
May Deceive Others
You can deceive even your wife. In Philadelphia where I once worked, when we got our pay checks we would get our heads together and wonder what we would tell our wives, for we were always short in our pay. We would blame the old time-keeper, saying he had made another mistake, and that it would be made up the next week—but it never was because we did not have it coming.
There are men in the city of Chicago who are living double lives and are untrue. Perhaps you have been able to deceive your wife, but the time will come when she will find it out and you will break her heart, break up your home and family. The time will also come when you must stand before God and give account of yourself before Him.
You must give account of your influence. You may not have much education, you may not be famous, you may think you do not stand high in the world, but there are those whom you are influencing. There is not a man or woman in the world who is going to hell that is not dragging someone else with them.
There was an old squire in Pennsylvania, whom I knew well. We were holding meetings in the town; one evening the old squire came. I wanted him to become a Christian and went and talked with him about it. He was mad, but all the time we kept the wires burning that connected us with Heaven. About a week later, I saw the squire get up, with a boy on either arm—one of the boys being a bartender.
The father and two sons together knelt in the sawdust and gave their hearts to God. Then they arose and testified to His saving power. Just a short time later I saw the squire on the train. He said, “Bill, do you know that I just buried one of my sons, the one who was a barkeeper?” How would he ever have given account to God for his sons had he not led them to the Lord Jesus Christ? You, fathers, who have never put your arm around your boy, how will you give account to God for your boy?
Some people think they can cover their sin by church membership, and somehow that will help them to account for themselves before God. You may have the cloak of the church about you, but God will know you when you stand before Him.
Then, again, we must give account to the Law. A lot of folks who are professing Christians think they can do just as they please because they are under grace, but God has never taken away law, and when the foundation of this old world is gone, you will have something to stand on.
“Though shalt have no other gods before me.” Tell me what your desire and ambition is and I will tell you what your god is. Just a short time ago while in a city of the East, they told me of one of the men who, during the war, was making such big wages, said, “If the war would last just a few months longer I could pay for my property.” Think of it! This is what happens when money is your god.
While in Panama, I met a contractor who had charge of a large job with many men under his control. I talked with him and he invited me to his home. He said, “It is surprising what you have done for the men. They used to get drunk, lay off for a day or so, were careless and indifferent. Now they are more conscientious, more efficient, and they don’t drink as they did before.” I said to him, “Why don’t you give your heart to Christ?”
He dropped his head; tears filled his eyes as he replied, “I cannot do it. I do not believe I can keep that contract, for I have some scruples about making shells for foreign countries.” Later I returned to this country. This man was struck by an automobile in one of our large cities and taken to the hospital. They did not know whether he would live or not. I wrote him a letter; wish you could have seen the letter he wrote in reply. It was a disheartening one—there he was very ill; he had not given his heart to God; the love of money was his god. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
The Lord’s Day
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” I do not agree with those who say it is none of our business what is done on the Lord’s Day. It is our business to keep the Lord’s Day, and our nation must see that this day is kept. I believe the United States has been blessed because the forefathers of this country reverenced the Sabbath day. They were willing, and did go for miles, to keep the Sabbath day.
Some cities in Pennsylvania you will find very clean; no ball games, no poolrooms or theaters open, but in other cities you will find these amusements desecrating the Sabbath day. As an American, I am willing to welcome the foreigner who wants to come to this country, and who is willing to respect the laws of America, but I say send them back when they are not willing to abide by the law.
Honoring Our Parents
“Honour thy father and thy mother.” When sickness comes into the home, we expect mother, and when we get financially embarrassed, we expect father to help. I look into the face of my dear old mother and remember she was the first one who came into my life. When sickness came, she was the first to come, and as I see the wrinkles in her face, I know they are there because of all these things. God bless that dear old face.
I look into the face of my father and remember how he used to work up in the old car shop twelve long, hard hours a day; how he endeavored to educate me and save a bit. No wonder God tells us to honor him. There are men today in high positions who are dishonoring mother and father. The only way we can bring honor to our parents is to live a righteous and pure life.
While talking to a sergeant in the army about God and the Bible, he said to me, “Don’t talk Christianity to me because I don’t want to hear it.” I said, “You take only one phrase out of the Bible—you don’t take the whole Book.” A week later his honor stripes were taken off. Upon inquiring as to the reason of this action, I found he had gotten drunk; his officers had found it out; he had an old mother down South, and she was broken-hearted.
The husband who is leading a life that is breaking the heart of his wife will stand before God some day. I believe there are fathers and mothers who are dripping in the blood of their own offspring because they have not taught their children the way they should go, and some day those fathers and mothers must account to God for this. There are more ways of committing murder than by the sword or pistol.
Sin of Impurity
“Thou shalt not kill.” “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This is one of the worst sins we have today. It was because of this that God sent the flood of fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah. How many there are who think they can get away with this sin. Listen to me, young men. You think you can defy this commandment. Some day you will see that sin in your own son and daughter, and it will send you down to the grave in shame and sorrow. That sin will find you out; you have to give account to God for yourself.
“Thou shalt not steal.” The gambling spirit spreading over America today is caused by men and women who do not want to work. I believe the man who gives the short weight, the man who has only a thirty-five inch yardstick, is a thief. I believe the man who will corner the markets and take advantage of the American people is just as much a thief as the highwaymen who will hold you up with a gun and take money from you. He can avoid the law here, but he must meet God some time.
You say you have not hit me, for I have been living a pure, clean life. God says that if you have offended in one point of the law, you are guilty of it all, and if you sit there and say you have not defiled it, you are wrong. How are you going to give account to God when you stand before the Great White Throne? It seems to me this is the great question for every man and woman in Chicago tonight.
Christ, Our Hope
You say, “I heard that Buddha is a great religious teacher and that he has many millions of followers—maybe he can tell me how to meet God.” But one day he falls and goes into the grave and is dead, so he cannot help me any more. Here is Confucius, and I say, “Maybe he can tell me.” I put my hand in his and he too goes into the grave and is dead. And so with Muhammad, and many others who I thought could tell me how to give account of myself to God.
Jesus, Who loved His home in Glory, the very God, Who came down into this old world of ours, Who went about doing good—perhaps He can tell me how to give account to God. We see Him as He preaches to the multitudes; we see Him at the bedside; we see Him as He raises the dead; we see Him as He cleanses the leper; we see Him as He tells His disciples that He must go to the Cross. We see Him in Gethsemane, and we hear Him saying, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” He took the sins of the world upon Him, and as He saw the approach of sin, oh, the agony of the soul that it must have caused Him!
Christ, Our Sin-Bearer
I remember many years ago in New York, I experienced awful agony of soul, and I wanted to get away from it all. What agony Jesus must have gone through! I see Him as He stands in the judgment hall; I see Him as they mock Him and the thorns press down upon the brow and the blood comes forth. I see Him bearing the cross as He goes toward the hill, and I see Him as He struggles under the heavy burden to Golgotha. There I see them stretch this man upon the Cross; I see the blood spurt as they drive the nails into His hands and His feet, and thrust the spear into His side.
Why was it that He was nailed upon the Cross? We wait a bit and we find that He cries out with all the agony that is in His soul, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?” He is forsaken of men and of God. Why? Because He has taken the sins of the world upon Him. Out of that darkness I hear Christ say, “It is finished.” What is? My redemption—Mine, Praise God! He paid for it, Praise God! He met every demand. He died “the just for the unjust” to bring us back to God. men and women, sinners, your sins of the past, of today, and of the future, were heaped upon Him! He bore them in His own body upon the tree.
There was one in that crowd who was more interested than anyone else. It was Barabbas, for I can hear him say, “If it had not been for that man, I would have been there.” My friends, that Cross was for you and for me. He redeemed us from the curse.
You say, “But He is dead.” No, He has arisen! I see Him as He stands at the tomb! I talked with Him today; my agony of soul is gone and I am walking along the pathway with Him!
The time will come when I must go from my loved ones, but I will not go alone. He will step down into the tomb with me. The devil has left me and I stand before the Great White Throne in the presence of God, but I have no account to give, for Jesus is there and He accounted for me on the Cross at Calvary.
If you have His righteousness upon you, the devils of hell can stand before you but cannot harm you, for God sees in you the righteousness of His Son. If there is one class of people to whom my heart goes out, it is the class that says, “I don’t need Him.” Will you take this Righteousness? This is the only way to give account of yourself to God.