By Timothy Ray Wadlington (1972-1989)
Reproduced is a transcription of the last sermon preached by our 17-year old brother Timothy Ray Wadlington, of Lyon County, KY. Tim delivered this sermon to the 32nd Street congregation in Paducah, KY on July 2, 1989 when he still had the physical strength to stand on this own two feet. He lived for just over 9 weeks after preaching this marvelous lesson on life.
Tim suffered from Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous bone disease, for over five years. During that time, he dedicated himself to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a concerted effort to share his faith with others. During the last two months of his life, and especially during the last days of his life, his teaching and exemplary life led to 13 baptisms and 3 restorations in his immediate community. More will certainly follow. There is no telling how many people have been touched by this fallen soldier of Christ. – Ray Madrigal, 165 Hillington Dr., Paducah, KY 42001.
Good morning! And it is a good morning in more ways than one. First of all, this is the Lord’s Day, and second of all, it is a day when I am feeling much better than last Sunday. It is a wonderful day. This morning, with what little time I have to speak, I’d like to study with you a very important subject. It is not a subject that we are unfamiliar with; as a matter of fact, it is something that we all use; it is something that surrounds us. It is something that we have to put up with, something that we have to deal with, something that we have to learn how to handle. In case you’re wondering what that is, I’ll spell it out for you on the board: Life. That is what surrounds us, that is what we have to deal with, that is what we have to learn to handle.
Some people go through life and never understand exactly what life is all about. Some people go through life thinking that they know all that there is to know about life, and yet when they come to the end of life they have failed.
Some people go through life knowing what to do to get through life, yet for some reason they don’t follow through with that plan and, therefore, they fail also.
And there are a few who understand what life is all about, and travel through life, and make it; they end up with the long end of the stick. For they end up with the prize, the reward that is promised at the end of this life.
Life! That’s all there is, really, for us to deal with on earth. We’re all traveling down life’s road, and we’ve all heard that term, “traveling down life’s road.” Some of us here are a little farther down life’s road than the rest of us. Some of us are just starting out on life’s road, and there are a few of us who are about to reach the end of life’s road.
But let’s take these few minutes that we have this morning to look at life and examine it. To place life ir its perspective. Let’s bring it down to size, so to speak; let’s analyze it and see exactly what it’s all about.
The first thing I’d like to think about when I think about life is how the world views life. The world has such a terribly distorted view about what life is: it’s almost sickening. The world views life in this way: you’re born, you go to school, you get a job, you work that job until the age of retirement, you retire, and that’s it. You live out the rest of your retirement till death. That’s it! For those in the world, that’s life. Surely, that is not what God intended life to be like. Going to school, and getting a job, and working till retirement, is not all that God intended life to be.
These things, in themselves, are not wrong. School definitely is not wrong. We all need an education. And a job certainly is not wrong. The Bible commands a man to support his family. He has to do that with a job. And retirement in itself is not wrong. But God has his own rules about life, and he expects us to follow them. After all, he is our Creator. We are his creatures. He expects us to do the things that he instructs. He would like to see us do the things that he instructs, but he made us free moral agents. And I don’t know that everyone here is familiar with the term, “free moral agent.” But God made us free moral agents, in that we have a choice as to what we want to do in life. There are two ways to go, morally. We can go to the worldly side, if we so choose, and live in the world with its pleasures and its sin. Or we can live on the righteous side; we can live a godly life, working always toward God, being a faithful worker in his vineyard. We have that choice. Two choices.
So it comes down to one question: Are we going to do as he instructs, are we going to take this righteous side as free moral agents? As Christians, we have chosen this right path. We have chosen to do God’s will, to work as faithful workers in his vineyard, so that we can obtain the reward that is promised at the end of life. And it is obvious, in that we have come together today to worship God in spirit and in truth and to go through these five items of worship, that we have chosen that path. But it is sad enough though, that there aren’t very many Christians who really truly do as God expects them to do, as God has instructed.
In Matthew 20:16, Jesus says that “many are called, but few are chosen.” He’s talking about the church. Inside the kingdom, there are many who are going to be called, but there’s only going to be a few of us who are really going to do what God instructs.
One possible reason for a Christian really not to do what God instructs is because he, like worldly people, has a distorted view of what life is. Some Christians say they love God, but they don’t really show it in their actions. They may come to services, they may come in here and sit in one of these pews, they may sing the song, they may bow their head and pray when the prayers are led, and they may go through the Lord’s Supper, and they may listen to the preacher, and they may say “Amen” to the closing prayer and leave. But what about their spare time? That strikes me as kind of funny, “Spare Time.” Let me write that on the board: Spare Time!
That seems somewhat funny to me to hear a Christian say that he has spare time. Do you think for one moment that Christians have spare time? Some might say, “Sure, I’ve got spare time. I’ve got spare time from the time Sunday morning services are over until Sunday evening services begin. There’s my spare time. My spare time is from when Sunday evening services are over until Wednesday evening services begin. There’s my spare time. And from when the Wednesday evening services are over until the next Sunday service begins, there’s my spare time. I’ve got all the spare time in the world.”
The fact is, however, that Christians don’t have any spare time! The Christian’s life is a constant thing, it is a daybyday process. Day by day, practically like a job. It’s your job while on earth. And if all you do is attend services every time the doors are opened, and go out and waste your free time, then your soul is in a sad condition, because you are not doing what the Lord has instructed you to do.
Maybe you do a little more than come to services. You may pick up your Bible at home, and you may read a little bit, for maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour, and set it down. And then you go do other things. Or maybe you may do a little extra, you might even teach a class during services. You might do a little extra, but are you doing enough? Are you doing what God instructs?
The heart of the whole matter of life is that life is short. Job said life is short. In 14:1 he says, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower, and fades away, he flees like a shadow and does not continue.” Life is short! James has his own words, God’s words, about life, and how long it is. He says “Come now, you who say today or tomorrow, we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit, whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that'” (Jas. 4:13-15). A vapor! First, we have Job who compares life to the life of a flower. It doesn’t last very long. And now we have an even shorter view of what life’s duration is from James. Life is a vapor. There’s no one here, except for maybe the little kids, who doesn’t know what a vapor is. All of the women here who have ever cooked know what a vapor is. Just set a pot of water on the stove. As the water heats the pot of water, steam rises up from that pot. That’s water vapor! It only lasts for a second and then its gone. Just a second. And James is comparing your life to a vapor. It’s short.
But most of us don’t seem to view life in that manner. Most of us think that we have our Whole lives ahead of us. Most of us think that we’ve got all the time in the world. But that simply isn’t true. Anyone who has that idea in mind is wrong. If they’re leading other people to think in that way, then they are leading them falsely. We don’t have all the time in the world. We don’t have our whole lives ahead of us. It doesn’t matter if you live to be 85 years old, you would took back on your life and you would say, “Where has time gone? It doesn’t seem like any time has passed since I was 16 years old, getting my driver’s license and running around. And now I’m 85 years old. It doesn’t seem like any time has passed. Where has my life gone?” It doesn’t matter!
We’ve had a “Babes in Christ” series on Thursday nights at home, and I heard my grandfather comment when class was over about his life. Now my grandfater is not very old. I don’t consider him to be very old; he’s around 65 years old. But he was talking about how he could look back upon his life and see all the way from the time of his childhood until now. And he said, “It doesn’t seem like it’s been a day.” It doesn’t seem like its been a day since he was a youngster. And he realizes and recognizes that life is short. He sees life in perspective, in the way that it should be seen. Being a free moral agent, he has chosen that righteous path as God has instructed.
Quality, Not Quantity
Well, what is important is the quality of your life, not the length of it. The quality. The quality, inside. God made you free moral agents. If you live in the world, what quality of life will you have? You’re going to live a life of sin. And you’re going to do this and you’re going to do that which is pleasurable to you. Or are you going to go over here to the righteous side? It’s quality that counts!
What quality Of life are you going to live in service to God? It’s not quantity, it’s quality.
In Luke 12:15 Christ said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” If you choose this worldly path, and gain all these worldly gains, it’s not going to do you any good. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.
Now I have a question for you, my brethren and audience. Have you lived a life worthy of a reward in heaven when this life is over? At this point in time, if life were to end now, would you go to heaven? Have you lived your life worthily? Do you think, since you have chosen this righteous path, that you have lived as God has instructed? I want you to look at it a different way. I want you to pretend with me for just a second, that when the second hand on my watch reaches the twelve, I want everyone in this building to pretend that his life paused, just paused. O.K., that is now. I’m going to give it a minute for your life to pause, and when the second hand comes back around to the twelve, everyone of you is going to wake up and you are going to be told that you only have one month to live on earth. Physically, one month to live. Think about it for a second, think about your past life, right now, and think about what it’s going to be like when the second hand rolls back around and you are only going to have one month to live.
O.K., the minute is up. Everyone here has one month to live. Somebody might be scared. “I’ve only got one month to live.” Worldly people definitely might be scared, since they don’t know God. They don’t know what to expect after life is over on the earth. Some of them have the idea, “I know what I’m gonna’ do, I’m going to party until my month is over.” But what do you think? Are you worried? Some of you here might think: “Well, I’ve lived a worthy life, and I’m ready. When that month is over, I’m ready to die, and when the judgment day comes, I’m ready to stand before God and give an account of the things that I’ve done. I feel confident that I’ve lived my life in such a way that he will say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord.” There are some of you here who feel that way. Then there are some of you here that feel scared because you aren’t ready to go yet, because you feel that you haven’t done what God has instructed. It’s a little bit scary, isn’t it? You can stop pretending now. You can stop thinking that you just have one month to live. Most of you will, most likely, have more than one month to live. But this pretending is just a little thing to make you stop and think about your life, and life in general. We don’t know how much more time we have to live from this point on. Christ could come at any time. In fact, he could come now! Would you be ready? That’s what I’m asking.
No Pretending For Me
But we just assume that life is going to go on after we leave this building. It is a hard thing to face, I guess you could say, to think that you only had one month to live. For some of us it would be a hard thing to face. Personally, to me, it isn’t really that hard of a thing to face. It is real to me, though, because I am facing a short life, due to a disease that I have which started when I was in the eighth grade. And so, I only have a few more days. I don’t know if it’s a month. I don’t know if it’s three months. I don’t know if it’s a year. All I know is that my life is going to be shortened on this earth. And I want to make sure that I’m doing everything that God instructs me to do. And I’m going to make sure that I’m not using my “spare time” for me. That spare time goes to God. We can do so much with this “spare time” thing. We should be out doing what God instructs. We should be teaching. We should be admonishing people, trying to make the church grow, bringing others to Christ. You know, there are lost souls out there. Lost souls! People who don’t know God. And when they die, they have no hope.
There are things that can happen to you, physically in this life, that can take your life! And they can happen to you any time. When you leave this building, many things can happen to shorten your life, such as a car accident! You can go out this Fourth of July weekend on the lake and drown. There are things that can happen to you, physically, that can take your life, whether you’re ready or not. We have safeguards against these accidents. We have seatbelts in cars to wear. Most people wear them. It’s a law in some states; people have to wear them. We have life preservers to wear out on the lake. That, too, is a law while boating on the lake. Both of these devices can save your life, physically, from death. And there is another thing that can take your life. That is the second coming of Christ. When he comes again, your life as you know it on this earth is over. It is finished! As a matter of fact, Earth itself, as you know it, is over! It will “melt with a fervent heat,” the Bible says. And then we’ll all stand before God in the Judgment and give an account for the things that we’ve done. But we have a safeguard against that. There’s no reason to fear the coming of Christ.
If you’re not ready, you’re going to fear. Because you know that when you get to the Judgment Day, and stand before God, you know that he’s going to say, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you,” because you have not done as God has instructed. You have not lived a life like you should have lived.
But there’s a safeguard against that. And that is living the type of life that you should live now . . . while you have the time! You don’t know how much time you have left.
Living the type of life that you should, so that you will be confident in the Day of Judgment, includes putting God first in everything that you do: attending services, whenever possible, studying constantly, teaching at every opportunity. Now that’s going to take up some spare time.
I give you the Lord’s invitation. Are you living the type of life that you should be living? Now? Because life is as a vapor, it is short, and we don’t know how much time we have left, I want you to make sure that you’re living the type of life that you should be living now. One of these days, you’re going to stand before God. That’s just something we have to keep in mind. Do you have a lot of spare time, where you do nothing but things that you have interest in . . . hobbies and sports and things like that? Are you using every possible moment in service to God? I want you to examine yourself, to see where you stand and to make a change in your life, if needed. Because, it is a vapor. One day, we’ll stand before God and give an account. If there is anyone here who needs to respond to the Word of God, in anyway, won’t you repent of your past life, since you haven’t lived the kind of life that you should be living.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 11, pp. 336-338
June 7, 1990
You have the opportunity, right now, to repent and receive remission for sins. If there is anybody here who has never obeyed the Gospel, then you need to do so now, as you have the time and opportunity. Won’t you come as we stand and sing this invitation song?