ARE YOU PLANNING A DEATH BED REPENTANCE?
(MAYBE THAT'S NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA)
(MAYBE THAT'S NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA)
PICTURE THE SCENE: There YOU are lying dying either at home or in some hospital ward. The doctors have done all they can for you and it is left to the nurses to make you as comfortable and as pain free as they can. Your grieving family have been assured that you will "die with dignity" and they gather with tear filled eyes around your death bed. Even though nobody says anything, yet you get the general drift that your days are seriously numbered and so you start thinking, perhaps for the first time in years, about God, ETERNITY and the need to be saved. Funny how the nearness of death somehow silences all those objections and excuses which a hale and hearty lifestyle can so quickly throw up.
You send for a clergy man and in the privacy of a few moments, you let it be known that you want to make your peace with God. You make no mistakes in your choice of spiritual advisers. You manage to avoid the heretical ones (I'm thinking now of Roman Catholic priests etc.,) and the compromisers who try and tell you that since you have lived a pretty decent life and did some good then you really haven't much to worry about. You get a real good Bible man. And he is faithful to your soul. Nice and kind but firmly, he tells you what you already know i.e. that you are a sinner and you need to be saved and that only Jesus Christ can save you. The kind of message we have on this blog.
And maybe even you do get saved because there is mercy with the Lord and if you really do repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15) then all your past will be pardoned and you will die and go to be Christ which is far better (Philippians 1:21).
BUT JUST BEFORE YOU START THINKING:'GOOD! THAT'S THAT TAKEN CARE OF' PLEASE READ ON!
Actually, please read back a little. I put the conditional clause (..."if you really do repent and believe...") in italics for a very good reason. Sorry to upset your plans, but it is a very big "if" and in the matter of the eternal welfare of your immortal soul, you must avoid any "ifs" big or otherwise. Here are some things you should think about while the matter is still fresh in your mind.
 YOU DON'T KNOW IF YOU WILL HAVE A DEATH BED OR NOT:
In your dreams, you picture your old hoary head with fevered brow lying on a snowy white pillow. In your dreams, you can hear your tired rasping voice confessing your sins to God in the presence of your spiritual adviser as above. In your dreams, the clock is ticking away and you make it to God and salvation with about 5 minutes to spare. A bit like the old westerns on the television. But this is the problem! It is all in your dreams and for all you know, you might never have a dying bed like that at all. Your deathbed might be the bonnet of a car or the cold uncompromising concrete of the road. You might just drop dead in the street or quietly but suddenly leave this scene of time in your sleep. You might not have any time say goodbye to your loved ones, because death doesn't always give you 30 minutes notice. If your deathbed repentance exists only in your dreams, then it won't keep you out of hell.
 YOU MAY NOT EVEN BE CONSCIOUS ON YOUR DEATHBED:
You could lie for weeks or months on end in your deathbed, but not be able to speak to anyone or even think. And while some preacher man might come to your bedside and pray and read the Scriptures, it's not so much for you but for your grieving family. Because you're out of it. Your day has come and gone and with it your hopes of a deathbed repentance. Who are you fooling?
 YOU CANNOT SAY THAT YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DECIDE TO COME TO GOD WHEN YOU WANT:
Do you remember when Pilate interrogated the Lord Jesus? When the Lord Jesus declined to answer him, proud arrogant Pilate said, "Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?" (John 19:10) Pilate carried the germ of a thought that is in your head at this moment as you plan your deathbed repentance. It is this: I can do what with God. And I do what I want and when I want. I can keep God waiting until the moment of my choosing and then, when it is convenient for me, I can in effect snap my fingers and God will be there waiting for me. Looks bad in cold print, doesn't it? The Lord Jesus gave a reply to Pilate which shattered his pet theory. "Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above..." (John 19:11) This idea that you are in the driving seat and that God is a back seat passenger is a bit of a myth. God warned so long ago: "My spirit shall not strive with man" (Genesis 6:3) What did He mean? Well, you need the Spirit of God to convict you of your sin and to bring you to Jesus Christ for salvation (John 16:8/1 Corinthians 12:3) but God is not obliged to tender to you the Spirit's help. He can leave you alone in your sins and never bother you again. If this happens, then you're finished. Your door of mercy is slammed shut and your deathbed scenario is worse than the final scenes of a Greek tragedy.
 DEATHBED REPENTANCE'S ARE OFTEN DONE IN A HURRY, AND THINGS DONE IN A HURRY ARE NOT OFTEN DONE RIGHT:
Supposing you do get a bit of breathing time at the end. Supposing you are comfortably propped up on your dying pillow and the preacher man with his message of life and salvation makes it to your bedside. The matter is only really beginning. Salvation from sin is the fruit of repentance towards God and repentance is a lot more than a few tears after the stirring of a guilty conscience. The Bible warns about a sorrow which is worldly in its character and leads to death (2 Corinthians 7:10) Not much good to you as the grave closes in quickly around you. Judas Iscariot got himself worked up when the full consequences of his sin came home with a vengeance, but it was not a real godly sorrow unto repentance and therefore of no advantage whatsoever. I think in this death bed scenario of yours, there is a great danger that you will run out of time. Events will overtake you and all your good intentions and carefully worked out plans will evaporate before your doom laden eyes. Salvation is much more than merely nodding the head to a few evangelical propositions. It is with the heart that man believes unto righteousness (Romans 10:10) and that is not something that can be worked up or turned on at will.
 THE ONLY TIME GOD PROMISES YOU SALVATION IS HERE AND NOW:
You can bank on God's promise of salvation here and now but you have no warrant from the Bible to bank on anything for tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. Tomorrow is always a future event. Tomorrow is just eternity hidden from your view. That's why the Bible says: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) That's why the Bible says: "To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. (Hebrews 3:15) The Lord is to be sought while He "may be found" and called upon "while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6)
If you come to Christ and receive salvation now, if you ever have a deathbed, then it can be a glorious one. You can die knowing that it is well with your soul. You can die with a lifetime of knowing and enjoying Christ personally, having experienced the reality of His salvation. This is a far different cry from slipping in at the end i.e. if you do manage to get in at all. One is certain while the the other is frightenly uncertain. Why take the risk?