“That Day” And Its Disclosures
“The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that day.”
2 Timothy 1:18
GRATITUDE is never failing in Christians. When they have received a benefit, they are sure to acknowledge it. When Paul was at Rome, Onesiphorus found him out very diligently, and was not ashamed of his chains, but ministered to his necessities and, therefore, Paul felt bound to him and to his family in perpetual thankfulness. Let none of us ever be accused of ingratitude–it is one of the worst of sins. Paul, no doubt, would have done all he could for Onesiphorus in other ways, but he added to all other ways of showing his gratitude, that of praying for him–praying the prayer which we have here put on record in the Book of Inspiration. Learn hence that if we can do nothing else for our benefactors, we can bless them by our prayers. Let us be abundant in pouring out supplications before the Throne of God for all those who in any way have done us a service. We also learn from the text that the best of men have need to be prayed for. I cannot doubt but that Onesiphorus was saved. He seems to have been a most decided follower of Christ, for when others did not know Paul because he was a prisoner, Onesiphorus knew him. He sought him out–he sought him out diligently–even into the poorest quarters of that great city of Rome. He hunted him out, though probably the population at that time was not less, but perhaps far more than four millions of people. He found the Apostle and he ministered unto his need. He was a good man and yet Paul prayed for him–prayed for him a prayer which would be appropriate for a bad man, too, “The Lord grant that he may find mercy from the Lord in that day!” The best of us needs to be prayed for! Let us be thankful if we have anybody to pray for us. Let us count the prayers of the faithful to be our truest riches. He is the happiest man who shall have the most of God’s people lift up their hearts in prayer for him!
I call your attention, tonight, however, to none of these surrounding particulars. I want to fix your minds upon one thing. I desire, anxiously desire, that we may all be led to look forward to that day of which the Apostle here speaks. And our first point shall be that day. First, then–
- “THAT DAY.”
Paul speaks of the Day of Judgment here. He does not specify it, because it was so commonly believed in and expected among Christians, that it was quite sufficient for him to say, “that day.” From the earliest times, wherever there has been Divine Light, that day has been expected. Enoch, also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord. And his prophecy, though very early, was so clear that the Jew, who almost closes the Book of Inspiration, quotes it–feeling, I suppose, that he could not use words mode expressive than those which came from that ancient Prophet. All along the pages of Scriptural history you read of men raised up to tell of “that day.” Asaph, in the Psalm we read just now, gave a most accurate description of that day when the Lord shall judge His people. And Daniel, when he saw the Throne of God set and the Ancient of Days come, perceived that day for which we also are now looking. Nothing, perhaps, is more often spoken of in Scripture than “that day.” The New Testament teems with allusions to that Day of Judgment, when the Lord shall be revealed with flaming fire. I say it was so commonly understood that Paul had no need to say anything except, “that day.” Questions will be asked tonight by some, “When will that day come?” to which I would answer, it were better for us to be prepared for it, come when it may, than to be anxious to fix its date! We can give you no information, because “of that day and of that hour knows no man–no, not even the angels of Heaven.” After trying to discover what I can of the future, I arrive at this conclusion from Scripture, that the Lord would have us be in a state of perpetual vigilance and expectancy and, therefore, He has studded the Scriptures with phrases to the effect passed and these are the latter days–and we might to be looking for and hastening unto the coming of the Son of Man. He may come tomorrow! He may come tonight! He may delay His coming, but He shall come at such an hour as the mass of men think not, and at an hour when they are not aware! That day shall overtake them as a thief in the night, and come upon them as pain upon a woman in childbirth. Some may curiously ask whether the Day of Judgment will be a natural day or not. Will it be a day of 24 hours? To which we again reply, we have no information–but we know that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. It will be a definite period. Whatever its length or brevity, it will suffice for an accurate judgment and a judgment of all mankind! Whether it shall occupy a thousand years or a single day, the work will be done–done thoroughly, done effectually, done forever–for all the race of Adam. Let us rest assured of that.
It is far more important for us to know these things about that day–first, that it will be ushered in as no other day has been. The day began in Eden with the rising sun. And when the sun’s first beams had lit up the sky, the birds began to sing right joyously among the trees. But “that day” shall be ushered in, not by the rising sun, but by the Sun of Righteousness Himself! He shall arise with all the Glory of His Father and the holy angels shall come with Him. There will be sights and sounds on that tremendous morning such as never were seen or heard by mortal men before! Even Sinai’s tremendous pomp, which made Moses fear and quake, shall be outdone in that dread day when the Lord shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel, and with the voice of God. It will be a day of days. Its dreadful surroundings are spoken of in Scripture, but, after all, words can but feebly describe them. It will be a day especially notable for the Revelation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! As yet He is hidden among the sons of men. He was as oneconcealed incognito. He traveled through this world and they counted Him a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. He has gone into His Glory, but He is concealed at the right hand of God from the gaze of men below. They see Him not. They know Him not!
But in that day He shall sit upon the clouds of Heaven and every eye shall see Him–and they, also, who crucified Him. Then shall they say that He is Divine, and no longer shall they dare to dispute it! Then shall the Jew see that He is the Messiah who was to come and then shall the Gentile perceive that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! The flashings of His Glory shall convince all mankind–and the wicked shall stand speechless before His Judgment Seat! Pilate then shall not ask Him, “What is truth?” for he, alas, too late, shall perceive it! They shall bring no accusation against Him, then, for to their confusion they shall see that He was no traitor, but a King! Judas shall not sell Him, then, for he shall perceive, then, that he who sold Him was the son of perdition, to perish forever! Oh, what a day shall that be when, coming out of His chamber, rejoicing like a strong man to run a race, the Bridegroom of the Church shall appear, and all His saints shall appear with Him! It will be a day remarkable for its wonderful convictions. There will be a general assembly held on that day such as never has been held before! For, first, the Son of God shall be the center of all eyes, andaround Him shall be His Father’s angels. Heaven shall send her pomp to swell His train. He shall come and His saints, also, shall come with Him. The glorified shall come to sit with Him and then, as in a moment, the dead shall arise. I shall go into no minute questions or particulars, now, but certainly at that moment there shall stand upon the earth all the dead, both small and great–they that were on the earth buried in it and they that were in the sea shall all arise–and as the trumpet rings out clear and loud, the whole multitude of men that lived and died shall start up from their tombs to see their God upon His Throne! And those who are alive at that time–all shall come and live again–and the raised bodies of men and the spirits of the just! There shall come up from the infernal pit of Hell, lost spirits, too, and the chief foe of God and man, long scarred by Jehovah’s lightning–he shall come and lift his brazen front once more, and the saints shall judge the fallen angel who long had persecuted them! He shall receive his final sentence and begin the utmost Hell which God had reserved for the devil and his angels, so that there on this poor planet, little compared with greater stars, and yet in God’s sight most glorious of them all, there shall be a convocation of the three worlds! Heaven, Earth and Hell shall meet together, and Christ, in the midst of them all, shall judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity. Oh, what a day will that day be!
And it will be a day, in addition to the general convocation, of universal excitement. Next week the day of thanksgiving will move London from end to end, but there will be tens of thousands to whom it will be no day of thanksgiving, but perhaps of bitter sorrow. There will be nothing that could make them thankful in the pageantry of that day. So of all the days that have ever happened to the sons of men, there have been some unmoved thereby. Let us speak as though our soul were in every word–some of our Hearers will slumber, or their minds will wander. But on that day there will be no indifferent spectators of that tremendous pomp! The wicked shall wake up–their indifference shall have gone and they mountains to conceal them. The righteous shall not be listless, either, for theirs shall be boldness in the Day of Judgment, and joy, and triumph, and acclamations of welcome with which they shall hail the King of Kings sitting upon His Throne! There will be a general excitement. Hell will howl its loudest howl and Heaven will resound with its loftiest songs on that closing day of the drama of time, that day of which the Apostle speaks!
And that will be a day of wondrous revelations. On that day we shall detect the hypocrite. See him yonder? The maskhas fallen. See the leprosy on his brow? Then shall we see the men who were misrepresented, who were counted the offscouring of all things, though of them the world was not worthy! The filth with which men pelted them in the pillory of scorn shall fall off and their garments shall be whiter than any fuller can make them in the Glory of the Righteousness which Christ shall put upon them! There will be a resurrection of reputations in that day. And at the same time there will be the judgment of mere profession. Perhaps in that hour we shall understand the Providence of God infinitely better than we do now. Then we shall see the evil of men’s hearts as we never saw it, for every idle word that man has spoken shall be published there, and transgressions of midnight that were covered up with curtains of lies shall suddenly stand revealed as in the noonday sun–and the men who scorned the righteous and were themselves guilty of abominable sin! Oh, what a revealing day! The housetops, then, shall ring with secrets that have been hidden in the closet, and men shall read the writing, as it were, upon the sky, the dark sayings and the hidden things which were of old.
And then when the revealing shall have come, it will be a day of final judgment. From almost any court on earththere is an appeal. Even after the judge puts on the black cap and condemns the criminal, he yet appeals to public opinion and to the mercy from the nation, and perhaps an unworthy life may yet be spared. But from that Judgment Seat there shall be no appeal! Forever and forever fixed is the fate of men whom Christ has judged. “He that is filthy, let him be filthy, still, and he that is unrighteous let him be unrighteous still.” No change can take place, and no appeal can ever be made. ‘Tis done, 'tis sealed, 'tis inevitable. 'Tis over forever and forever–forever saved, or forever lost! That day, then, ought to be a matter of personal interest to everyone of my Hearers, yes, and to everyone beneath the sun. It will be the last day of time! Then there will be no more counting of rising and setting suns, no reckoning by waxing and waning moons. Then there will be no revolutions of the year to mark the period of time, nor will men count by centuries. It shall be eternity–one ocean of eternity without landmarks by which to say, “Thus far have we gone, and thus far have we yet to go.” Oh, wondrous day! Oh! marvelous day! The last day of time, a day forever to be remembered–remembered by the wicked in Hell, to whom it shall be said, “Son, remember,” and remembered, I think, by the righteous in Heaven forever, for they shall look back to that day when Christ appeared and they were declared to be the blessed of the Father to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from before the foundation of the world! Oh, how I blame my tongue and chide myself that I cannot speak upon this theme as I would, but nevertheless may the solemn facts make up for my lack of speech and may they tell upon your souls! Now I must turn to the second point, and speak upon–
II. THE MERCY OF THAT DAY.
The mercy which is prayed for in this verse, “The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that day.” Will that prayer be heard? Will that prayer be heard for me, for you, each one of you in this area, in these galleries? Will God have mercy on you in that day? I will tell you–
First, He will have no mercy in that day upon those who had no mercy upon others. If you cannot forgive, neithershall you be forgiven! If you cannot kneel down and sincerely pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive them that are indebted to us,” then the gates of Heaven are fast barred against you! If you take your brother by the throat and say, “Pay me what you owe me,” the great Master of us all will commit you to the tormentors, because your great debt hasnot been paid! Relentless, malicious, revengeful men, take heed of that! Lay it on your pillow tonight and let it pierce your heart–if you forgive not every man his brother, your heavenly Father will not forgive you!
Next, God will have no mercy in that day upon those who lived and died in wickedness. Here is the proof of it, “Thewicked shall be turned into Hell,” and Hell means not mercy, but misery! The men that have lied in the breaking of God’s Law from day to day, from childhood to manhood, perhaps from manhood to old age, and have died still sinning–for them there shall be no mercy whatever! There shall be no mercy for those who neglect salvation. Again I give you God’s words for it, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” These people had not done any particular mischief to anybody else. They had not persecuted Christ. They had not reviled His Gospel. They had not been heretics–they simply neglected the matter. “How shall you escape if you neglect so great a salvation?” You shall not escape at all! If you neglect His mercy, here, mercy will neglect you forever!
Then, again, they shall have no mercy who said they needed none. Are there not some here who fancy that they needinto Heaven through their good deeds. You seek no mercy, you shall have none! You proudly reject it. You trust to your own righteousness–you seek to have what you merit–you shall have what you merit–but that will be to be driven forever from the Presence of God! There cannot be mercy to those who will not confess that they need mercy. There shall be no mercy in that day for those who sought no mercy here. Prayerless souls? You are graceless souls and mercy shall be denied you then! You will pray loudly enough then! Oh, how they pray in Hell! What tears and groans send they up to Heaven! They would gladly have mercy there, but Mercy’s day is over–Justice has turned the key and hurled that key into the abyss where it can never be found! They are prisoners forever beneath the wrath of God! They who will not ask for it deserve not to have it. When mercy is to be had for the asking, if man turns upon his heels and refuses to ask, what shall God do but say, “Because I called and you refused–I stretched out My hand and no man regarded–I also will mock at your calamity. I will laugh when your fear comes”? There shall be no mercy for those who ask no mercy.
Further, there shall in that day be no mercy for those that scoffed at Christ, denied His dignity, railed at His people,broke His Sabbath and altogether abhorred His Gospel. Oh, Sirs, you fight a desperate battle against Him who made the heavens and the earth and who is the darling Son of God! In fighting against Christ, you dash yourselves upon the bosses of Jehovah’s buckler! You cast yourselves upon the point of His spear! Be wise and stop your rebellion. “Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perish from the way when His wrath is kindled but a little.” How shall the wax contend with the fire, or the thistles wage war with the flames? Yet you are doing this, O you that rebel against Christ! You shall either break or bow. Bow, I pray you, for if not, He shall break you with a rod of iron! He shall break you in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Beware, you that despise Him, lest in the day of His coming He despises your image and you utterly perish.
There shall in that day be no mercy for those who refuse the Gospel. And I am sorry to say there are some here of thatsort. Those cannot be said to refuse the Gospel who do not know it, but most of you do know it. I was thinking this afternoon, as I prayed God to let this subject get into my own soul, about some of you who do not lack for light and instruction, who do not need to know more about the way of salvation, or about the penalty of neglecting it. What you need is a new heart and a right spirit! You need your will subdued! You need decision of character! You need to be made thoughtful–you need to be made prayerful! I cannot do this for you, but I can warn you over and over and over again that they who go to Hell from under the shadow of the pulpit wherein there is an earnest ministry, go there with an emphasis! They that fall from the heights of privilege fall, indeed, into the Lake of Fire! God grant that not a solitary one of the many hearers who gather here may know what it is to have it said, “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you. They would have repented had they heard the Gospel, but you heard it and repented not.”
I must add to all this that there shall be no mercy in that day for those who have sold their Lord. “Where are they?"you ask. "Does there live on this earth a miscreant who has sold his Lord?” God have mercy on the man–he not only lives on earth, but he is here! He was once a professor, but he found it more profitable to cease from religion, and he has done so. He once came to the Communion Table, but he fell into lustful habits and he is no member of Christ. He has defiled the Temple of God–and God shall destroy him! He could sometimes pray in public–at the Prayer Meeting, but he dares not pray now–he has enough conscience left to let him cede from such hypocrisy! He sold his Lord for pleasure. He sold his Lord for money. He sold his Lord for the fear of man. “Verily I say unto you, he who is ashamed of Me and My Word, of him will I be ashamed when I shall come in the Glory of My Father and all My holy angels with Me.” You know who spoke those words! They were spoken by Him whose hands were pierced! He has said it, and oh, note, you apostates, note it well, “He that denies Me before men, him will I deny before My Father who is in Heaven. Verily I say unto you, I never knew you! Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity.” Oh, where is this unhappy man? May God have mercy on him, tonight, for He will have no mercy upon him in that day if he dies as he now is!
And I shall close that list by saying in that day God will have no mercy for false professors. He will have no mercyupon preachers who could talk glibly, but whose lives were not consistent with their own teaching. What a condemnation shall await me if I am not found in Christ after having preached so continuously to so many thousands! Oh, whatever a man shall be in Hell, may God grant he may never be an unfaithful minister of Christ, condemned out of his own mouth! But what shall I say of unfaithful deacons and Elders, and Church members? Their condemnation will be as just as it is terrible! Why needed they to add to their other sins the sin of a false profession? If they loved not Christ they need not have been traitors. There was no necessity for them to come forward and be baptized into the Triune name! There was no demand upon them to come to the Table in remembrance of Christ’s death if they were not His! They voluntarily thrust themselves into a profession which was a lie and into the midst of a Church with which they were not akin. Surely be the unquenchable fire, for it was once upon the Lord’s threshing floor! For this dross there shall be consuming flames, for it was once in alliance with the precious gold which the King calls His own. I feel inclined to stop preaching and to pray for myself. The Lord have mercy upon me in that day! And then to take you all by name, if I could know you all, one by one, and kneel here and say, “The Lord have mercy upon this man–this woman–this child–in that day.” But I beg you pray it for yourselves! Now, in the silence of your souls, let this prayer go up vehemently to Heaven, “O God, have mercy upon me! Have mercy upon me in that day and to that end have mercy upon me now.”
I close, but I never like to close a sermon when it looks like Jeremiah’s roll–written inside and outside with lamentations. Let us have a sweet word or two to finish with. We spoke of that day–for a moment let me speak of this day–of this day! You have not come to that day yet. Today it is not judgment, but love that rules the hour. Now the GreatWhite Throne is not yet set, neither is there a trumpet that rings in your ears, but it is an affectionate voice which speaks to you and says, “Mercy is still to be had! Mercy is to be had by false professors! Mercy is to be had by apostates! Mercy is to be had by the very chief of sinners!” This is a night, this very night, in which prayer will be answered! God has said, “Seek and you shall find.” This is a night in which Christ waits to be gracious! He is exalted on high on purpose to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins. This is a night in which sin may be forgiven! You are on praying ground–you are still on pleading terms! The sentence is not passed. The wax is still melted and it is not stamped and cold. There is hope for you! Better than that, there are kind invitations for you–there are loving exhortations! How long these may stand good, I cannot tell. As far as any one of us may be concerned, the Judgment Day may come tomorrow. It may come to all mankind–but as far as the practical fact is concerned–it may come in death to any one of us tonight. I look round me, now, and I remember a month ago certain seats in this place that were occupied by those that are now gone–gone to their account. If it were right, I think I could point my finger to some of you that are sitting in the places of dead men. They were their seats. They used to sit there, some of them, and they rejoiced in every word they heard! Is a sinner filling a saint’s place?
There are some, again, that are gone out of this company who gave us no evidence of Grace. Alas, is there no sinner sitting in the place where one sat before him who forgot God? You are all passing away–I am passing with you. We are all shadows. We fly like an arrow through the air. We are a wind that passes and it is not. Oh, make sure of eternal things, Brothers and Sisters! Whatever you lose, lose not Christ! Whatever you miss, miss not salvation! May God impress you with this thought. May He impress you, moreover, with this thought–that, “today is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation”–and may some of you be unable to sleep tonight until you have found the Savior–
“For should swift death this night overtake you,
And your couch become your tomb,”
then tomorrow, if unregenerate and unforgiven, you would be shut up where hope can never come to you! Oh, seek His face tonight! Dare not permit yourselves to feel the image of death upon you in sleep unless you have felt the scepter of Christ, touched by faith, communicate life and pardon to you! Seek Him! Oh, seek Him! Seek Him while He may be found! Call upon Him while He is near! The Lord bless you, everyone of you, and may we meet in Heaven without exception, for Christ’s sake! Amen and Amen!