Millions of people spend millions of hours each week watching dead people on TV. From Elvis, to Lucy to Jimmy Stewart, the faces of folks who no longer exist, entertain us. Time not only snatched their looks, it snatched their lives. Today, good-looking Hollywood stars are making movies so that tomorrow’s generation can also pass the time by watching dead people on TV.
Recently someone asked how old I was. When I told him that I soon turned fifty he said, “I thought you were younger.” I said, “So did I!” Time makes today, tomorrow’s memory. Each weekend seems to pass me by like blurred telephone poles flashing passed the window of the speeding train of life.
If I purchased a new car and saw in the owner’s manual that it had a certain type of engine, I shouldn’t be surprised to lift the hood and find the engine to be exactly as the manual said it would be. The maker’s handbook gives me insight into the unseen workings of the vehicle. This is also true with human beings. The Maker’s manual tells us how each of us thinks and why we react the way we do. It lifts the hood and reveals the inner workings of Homo sapiens.
In doing so, the Bible discloses an often overlooked tool that we can use to reach the lost. That tool is the “fear of death.” For the Christian who may find such a thought to be a little negative, it may be looked at in a positive light. The tool may also be called, “the will to live.” Every human being (in his right mind) has a fear of death (see Hebrews 2:15). He doesn’t want to die. He sits wide-eyed, staring out the window of the speeding train watching life pass him by.
Here is how to use that tool when speaking to an unsaved person: “Let’s surmise that the average person dies at 70 years old. Then if you are 20 years old, you have just 2,500 weekends left to live. If you have turned 30, you have 2,000 weekends left until the day you die. If you are 40 years old, you only have 1,500 weekends left. If you are 50 years old, then you have just 1,000 weekends, and if you are 60 years old, you have a mere 500 weekends left until the day death comes to you.”
Even as a Christian that thought frightens me. I somehow can relate to “weekends,” while “years” put death into the distance. It shakes me enough to ask myself what I am doing with my life? It sickens me that I am doing so little to reach the lost. It also deeply concerns me that I have dry eyes when I pray. My train will take me into the presence of God. For those trusting in Jesus Christ, death has been defeated. But the train of the unregenerate will take them to horrific disaster. Their end will be eternal Hell. In the light of such terrible thoughts all my activities outside of warning the world of their destination seem trivial.
It has been wisely stated that every one of us is uniquejust like everyone else. In truth, each unique individual is uniquely predictable. This was so aptly illustrated recently when I was preaching open air in Santa Monica in Southern California, to a crowd of about 150 people. A self-confident and fast-talking atheist had my “heckler’s microphone” and for about 40 minutes we did battle. At one point, I looked directly at him and tried to appeal to his sense of reason by saying, “God gave you a brain” to which he butted in and screamed, “‘God’ did not give me a brain!” I paused for a minute looked directly at him and said, “I guess you are right. That’s the first truthful thing you have said all night.” The crowd roared with laughter. The poor man suddenly looked bewildered, so I said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. God did give you a brainO.K.?” He looked meekly and me and said, “O.K.”
The man had no choice. His foot was in his mouth no matter which way he went. So it is with the sinner and his fear of death. Who is his right mind wants to die? He has a fear of death. He can’t deny that he has a will to live. Therefore, it makes sense to confront him with reality by reminding him that he has an “appointment” to keep. Bluntly tell him how many weekends he has left. Then appeal to his reason by saying, “If there was one chance in a million that ‘Jesus Christ has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel,’ you owe to your good sense, just to look into it.” Charles Spurgeon said, “Men have been helped to live by remembering that they must die.”
Discover more about how to share your faith with Ray’s latest book, How to Win Souls and Influence People (Bridge-Logos), at your Christian bookstore. Also, feel free to visit www.raycomfort.com