NOTE: The first part of this article introduces the reader to the Holy Spirit of truth. The middle part of this article is a revelation of the truth about what is commonly called the "Age of Accountability" you hear preached about, talked about, argued about, but never pinpointed. (Prov. 1:23-33) The last part of this article is a real life event, a true story, a heartrending story this writer participated in, in which a dear friend to three generations of my family (John 6:44 & 12:32) fought the Holy Spirit and "won" that battle but "lost" the war for his soul! I know it's true because I lived it with him.
We have to study, learn and stay in God's word before we can live our life according to that word. The Holy Spirit will not lead you in a course of action that is contrary to God’s word. (2Cor. 11:13-15 esp. V.14 keywords: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light- definitions: masquerades, supernatural messenger, make manifest) If you don't know God's word how in the world are you going to know who is leading you?
Read the second paragraph about ignorance in the introduction to this commentary; in the majority of cases we cannot plead ignorance of God’s word because God knows if we (2Pet. 1:2-8 esp. V.5 keywords: giving all diligence) diligently seek knowledge of Him. (2Pet. 1:9-11) The way God sees it is; if a Christian won’t seek knowledge of Him they don’t want to know Him! PLEASE READ (2Pet. 1:2-11 esp. V. 10 keywords: make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall) and note that the word knowledge is used five times in these instructive verses.
It was the last supper Jesus would have with His disciples. (John 13:26-30) Jesus had given Judas food from His own hand and Judas left the gathering to go sell Jesus’ life for thirty pieces of silver.
(John 13:31) Jesus knew He would soon be tortured and killed (John 13:31 thru 17:26) and He launched into a long, loving conversation with His remaining eleven disciples (John 17:1-26) that ended with a prayer in front of them. Jesus’ tender, kindly, loving conversation covered many subjects and He pointed out how the different subjects He covered are all linked together by the Holy Spirit.
This is of extreme importance. In this conversation (John 14:17; 15:26; & 16:13) Jesus three times identified the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of truth.” Jesus said we would “know” the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit would “testify” about Jesus; and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, will “guide us” into all truth. (John 8:31-32) "If ye continue (stay) in my word then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE."
WHEN IS THE BIBLICAL "AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY"
You hear preachers and Bible teachers talk about the age of accountability all the time. Don't get angry and don't stop reading because we must explore the ridiculous, the macabre, the humorous, and the truth about this puzzling concept that is an ongoing argument concerning the age of accountability! Is there some specific age written in the KJV Holy Bible in which a person is accountable for their sins?
In my Christian experience I have seen people from six years old to eighty-three years old accept Jesus as their Saviour. SO: If there is a certain age of accountability, why are there such drastic age differences when people accept salvation?
As soon as a child is old enough to get in some kind of "little trouble" they immediately learn to lie to avoid that trouble. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: It seemed to take forever for us to potty train our youngest son. Once my frustrated wife said to me with great concern; "Jim, we've got either the stubbornest, laziest, or the stupidest child who ever lived!"
Once we were all watching TV in the living room and he pooped his diaper, knew he was in trouble, looked me right in the eye and calmly told me, with grave assurance, that my oldest son had done it; "Jimmie pooped my diaper Dad!"
(Ex. 20:16) The ninth of the Ten Commandments states; "Thou shalt not bear false witness (lie) against thy neighbour." and (Rev. 21:8) all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. ALSO: As soon as a child learns to want something because it has a value TO THAT CHILD the child will take that much desired object regardless of who owns it or who he hurts to obtain it and he will keep that object if he possibly can; even if Daddy goes to jail!
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: The elderly security guard stopped us on the sidewalk outside his store and informed me my middle son, about six or seven years old, had "stolen" a toy. I knew my sons so I didn't disagree, as a matter of fact I didn't say a word.
Disgusted, I frisked him and, sure enough, the search produced a small, 2 or 3 inch, hot wheels car. Well, there we stood; the security guard, an acquaintance, struggling to maintain his composure (he was about to burst with laughter), my middle son looking like a trapped jailbird, my wife looked like she didn't know whether to giggle, cry, or curse; my other sons were looking at each other with worried faces, and me; lit up like a fire truck!
(Ex. 20:15) The eighth of the Ten Commandments states; "Thou shalt not steal" (1Cor. 6:9-10) and thieves shall not inherit the kingdom of God. COME ON, SEND A CHERUB CHEEKED CHILD TO HELL OVER A POOPY DIAPER AND A HOT WHEELS CAR; DON'T BE A JERK! If that's your god I don't know him and I don't want to know him! BECAUSE:
(John 4:8) My "God is love". (Psa. 86:15) He is a "God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth" (Psa. 36:7) and "excellent lovingkindness" (Psa. 145:8-9) and "great, tender mercies."
ARE WE BORN UNREGENERATE? (Titus 3:5) We are regenerated when we are saved so HOW AND WHEN DID WE BECOME UNREGENERATED? Regeneration means (the act or state of spiritual rebirth, or a spiritual renovation) and renovation means (tear out the old and put in the new). (Rom. 8:9) We are physically born unregenerated because we are born with a carnal (human nature with its frailties and weakness, desires of the flesh) mind (soul).
(2Cor. 5:17 keywords: new creature) In essence, during the born again salvation event, a personality (an unregenerate soul) spiritually dies (tore out the old) and a new creation, (put in the new----spiritually "born again" as a regenerated soul) is brought forth. AND: (1Pet. 3:21) "Baptism is the answer of a good conscience toward God." BECAUSE:
#1) (1Pet. 3:21) Water baptism (complete immersion) represents that spiritual, born again event that has already happened; because: the physical immersion represents spiritual death and the physical rising out of the water represents spiritual rebirth (a new spiritual creature, but in the same old physical body);
#2) (Rom. 6:3-5) Baptism represents our faith (conviction of the truth of God) in Jesus' resurrection;
#3) (1Cor. 15:42-55 esp. V.46) Baptism represents our faith that we will be resurrected from the death of our physical body to a new eternal life in a glorified body, sometime in the future, just like Jesus was resurrected into His glorified body.
(1Cor. 15:21-23) "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
So, it is obvious each person is physically and spiritually born an unregenerate person-->(carnal nature of the flesh, unregenerated-->Adam like) and each person must be spiritually regenerated-->born again, renovated-->Christ like) (Gen. 2:8 through 3:24 and Rev. 20:11 through 22:5) to be able to return to God and go live with Him in a place like the Garden of Eden (to be soft and pleasant and to live voluptuously in delight).
In the sacred context voluptuously means (to live in full and appealing luxury characterized by strong visual and tactile delights). That definition sure sounds like the beauty and goodness that awaits Christians which is described in (John 14:2, Rom. 8:14-18 & 1Cor 2:9) if you want to read about it.
PROOF: That Adam nature (unregenerate), handed down to us from Adam and Eve's fall in the Garden of Eden, just like the personal experience examples given above, is why we naturally (by nature) sin just as soon as we can. My Granny told me that Mom, when she was a little girl, was a born liar and thief and even picked up cursing from some of the roughneck men Papaw worked with. One day a preacher came to visit my Great Grandfather and Mom "cussed him out" and totally humiliated the whole family!
My children were born thieves and liars; how about yours? According to my Mom I was a born thief and liar; have you talked to your Mom about your childhood? SO: IT IS OBVIOUS WE ARE BORN WITH AN UNREGENERATE SOUL.
NOTE: NOTE: NOTE: Before anyone goes off the deep end concerning a child going to hell for its poopy diaper and stolen big wheels car please read the commentary Is God Fair after you finish reading this article because we all know, or know of, a child who died before it's soul could be regenerated (born again).
OK! WE'RE BORN UNREGENERATE SO WHEN IS THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY? Some preachers and Bible teachers believe and teach a child is accountable at twelve years of age because Jesus was that age when he was listening to and asking questions of the doctors (teacher, master, instructor) of Jewish Law.
(Luke 2:41-52 esp. V.46-47) When Jesus was twelve years old His family went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. It is Jewish custom to celebrate a male child's twelfth birthday with a ceremony called the bar-mitzvah that signifies his childhood is over, he is starting his thirteenth year and it is time to start learning to be a man. (Luke 2:46-47) That event must have happened at this time because Jesus went right to work learning what He needed to know concerning the scriptures.
(Luke 2:51) Jesus went back home and was under His family's supervision where (Matt. 13:53-55) He was obviously taught the trade of carpentry by Joseph as was the Jewish custom of the time and (Mark 6:3) He works as a carpenter until He starts His ministry. (John 8:46 & Heb. 4:14-15) Jesus was without sin. (Luke 3:23) Jesus is thirty years old when (Luke 4:18) He starts to preach (Num. 4:3, 23, 30, 35, 39, 43 & 47) and that fulfills the Law of Moses because (Heb. 4:14) Jesus is our great high priest.
(Matt. 5:17) Jesus did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill that law. SO: THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY BEING EITHER 12 OR 30 YEARS OLD IS A FALSE TEACHING because both are about Jesus and the rest of mankind is not mentioned.
The words accountable and accountability are not in the KJV Bible. There is no written, "set in stone age", in the Bible when sin starts being counted against a person. SO: THAT TEACHING IS ALSO FALSE.
BUT: Since an unregenerated sinner is not allowed in heaven there must be a "something" if anyone is ever going to achieve salvation! (John 18:11 & Rom. 3:23) THINK ABOUT THIS AND PLEASE REMEMBER: *A JUDGMENT in the definition given below: In various scriptures throughout the Bible the word account is used and the Hebrew and Greek definitions of account are (a tally, a record, an inventory, a reckoning, *a judgment). Remember this: We get saved from being LOST, sin must be cleansed away by Jesus' blood then we can be saved (salvation- born again) from being lost!
(Rom. 3:23) As we live our lives each of us builds up an "account" of sins; A SPIRITUAL SIN ACCOUNT caused by our emotional attitude, values and physical activities. When God brings that sin account due it results in a *judgment of the individual sinner and his "spiritual sin account" must somehow be paid.
HERE ARE TWO PHYSICAL ACCOUNTS TO ILLUSTRATE THE ABOVE SPIRITUAL ACCOUNT: #1) Mom used to say; "Jimmie, Son, its time to give an account for your actions!" *Judgment was set and my rear end skin paid the cost of my account. #2) The bill collector or banker says; "It's time to pay your account." *Judgment is set and your money pays the cost of your account. Look up the various usages of the word account in your concordance if you don't believe the definition.
Before you go on think about (2Cor. 11:3 keyword: simplicity) and please remember this simple statement. According to God's word wherever Jesus was that was where the action took place! JESUS HAD TO BE THERE FOR ANYTHING TO HAPPEN! That statement is so simplistic that many times people never think about it BUT: if Jesus, in His Holy Spirit personality, is not present at a salvation event that salvation event cannot happen! That makes it easy to understand.
GOD PRESENTS THE RULES OF *JUDGMENT FOR SIN ACCOUNTS FROM HIS HOUSE. The scripture states; (1Pet. 4:17) "For the time is come that *judgment must begin at the house of God:" #1) (John 4:3, Luke 11:23 & 1Cor 2:14) The only things that come from the carnal, secular, heathenish world are criticisms, scoffing, denial and outright attacks which question Jesus' word, purpose and even His existence.
#2) (John 4:2 & Luke 11:23) Recognition that Jesus is the Son of God, that His death was a sacrifice so believers can be spiritually cleansed from their sins by Jesus' physical blood (your sin account paid for, in blood, by Jesus), that Jesus rose from His grave (resurrection) and taught His disciples forty days before ascending into Heaven, AND:
(John 14:15-18, 1Tim. 3:16, 1John 5:6-7 & Acts 2:1-41 esp. V.32-33) Jesus came back as the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire and empower authentic Christians to build a church and to convert other people to eternal salvation (1Cor. 6:11 & Titus 3:4-5) through Jesus' Holy Spirit (James 1:18 & 1Pet. 1:23) according to the word of God.
Truth concerning Jesus comes from "the house of God, the Church", not a particular congregation or denomination but groups (local churches) of blood washed, born again, word of God obeying, Holy Spirit led believers. (John 12:48) Jesus said; "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the words I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." SO:
Since "the house of God" as defined above is the only true source of truth concerning Jesus THE RULES OF JUDGMENT FOR SIN ACCOUNTS DO BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD because God's house, through the Holy Spirit, is the only source of truth; not society, not a government and not a Holy Spiritless religious organization. If Jesus, His sacrifice, His teachings and the Holy Bible are not the centerpiece of a religious organization run from that thing (Rev. 20:2) like it's a poisonous snake (1John 4:1-6 & Rev. 12:9) because it is.
NOTE: If you want to go on an amazing, high speed, spiritual rocket ride look up, read and think about every scripture, they are all in the New Testament, in which the words mysteries and mystery are used (1Tim. 3:16) BECAUSE THIS IS THE KEY MYSTERY:
(John 1:1-5 & 1John 1:1-3) Jesus IS the living, breathing Word of God. (John 14:5-9 & 1Tim. 3:16) Jesus IS God manifested (appear, to show self) in the flesh. (John 14:15-18 & V.23) Jesus IS the Holy Spirit. (1Pet. 1:21 & 2Tim. 3:16) The Word of God (both testaments, the whole Bible), not just those words highlighted in red, was given to man by Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
(Matt. 23:24) It is an odd characteristic how some people strain much harder to misunderstand than they strain to understand THUS: THE ABOVE STATEMENT IS LIKE A LIGHTENING ROD SO: before anybody flips and stops reading please read this: For a complete study of Jesus' identity please read the article Who is the Holy Spirit in this commentary AND: the complete Jesus commentary because it is much easier to understand the rest of this article if you understand Jesus' identity.
HOW DOES GOD'S DRAWING FIT IN WITH THE "SO CALLED" AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND GOD'S *JUDGMENT OF SIN ACCOUNTS? DON'T FORGET THE "NOTE" PARAGRAPH ABOVE THIS ONE THAT IDENTIFIES JESUS.
(John 6:44) Jesus said; "No man can come to me, except the Father (God) which hath sent me draw (pull toward) him: and I will raise him up at the last day (resurrection). (John 12:32) Jesus said: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth (crucifixion, resurrection and ascension; lifted up three times, three, the Biblical number of completion), will draw (pull toward) all men unto me." SO:
(John 14:16-23, John 16:8 keyword: reprove, & 1John 5:7) JESUS/GOD MUST BE PRESENT IN HIS HOLY SPIRIT PERSONALITY TO DRAW A PERSON BEFORE A PERSON, OR ANY PERSON, CAN BE SAVED as is stated in the above paragraph. JESUS' PRESENCE IS HIS DRAWING!
In the four gospels Israel was full of sick, devil possessed, sinful, frightened people but only those to whom Jesus gave His attention were healed. You never, ever, ever hear about someone who was healed without Jesus giving that person His attention! That's why a person cannot just decide to get saved any old time, all on your own, without Jesus being there.
THE DRAWING (PULL TOWARD) IS GOD/JESUS' PRESENCE AND ATTENTION THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOUR LIFE IF YOU ARE LOST and you cannot get saved if God/Jesus is not there to draw you!
EXAMPLE: If you think about going to church, if you think about reading the Bible, If you wonder about the words written in the Bible, if you wonder about yourself and hell and dying, if you wonder "what's the point of me, why am I, what's the point of my little life", if you wonder about God, salvation and Jesus, if you recognize God's work in the natural world and many more:
THOSE THINGS ARE CAUSED BY GOD DRAWING YOU; FOLLOW THAT DRAWING WITH EVERYTHING WITHIN YOU. IT'S YOUR CHANCE TO DECIDE YOUR ETERNAL DESTINATION!
Do not forget this: You must follow God's drawing by reading His word or by listening to His word, praying and going to church and as you do God will reveal more and more of Himself to you and (Rom. 10:8-14 & Eph. 2:8) that is how God gives you the faith to get saved.
(Matt. 20:16) Jesus said: "for many be called, but few chosen." You must understand that God's drawing is a gradual process of calling, revealing and reproving and it will be hampered or aided by your personal beliefs and values. If you absolutely refuse to believe in the God/Jesus/mankind process of salvation and steadfastly believe in something else you will miss God's drawing because that is your decision.
If you "kind of" believe in God you might recognize God's drawing if you listen to what God's word, His people and the Holy Spirit are saying. Your interest can rise to the point where you decide, by your actions, that you really do not want what God offers and then God's influence in your life will begin to wane until it is gone.
If you follow God's drawing you will reach a decision time, a pinnacle of God's drawing, when you decide to either accept or refuse God's salvation. If you accept God's offer of salvation according to scriptural directions you will be born again (regenerated spiritually).
BUT: If you refuse God's offer of salvation His influence will wane rather quickly until it is gone. Compare God's drawing to developing a relationship with another person; it's an acceptance thing; you meet a person and start from there and the relationship will rise to whatever level you are willing to commit OR: it will dwindle out until the two of you won't mean anything to each other.
(James 5:9) Draw closer to God with your thoughts and actions and He will draw closer to you; that is God's word, His promise, His guarantee. People talk about grabbing the brass ring as a measure of success, WELL, GRAB THE BRASS RING OF FOREVER THROUGH JESUS, IT'S THE GREATEST SUCCESS YOU CAN EVER OBTAIN! HERE'S HOW TO DO IT.
REMEMBER IN THE *JUDGMENT DEFINITION that an account is (a tally, a record, an inventory, a reckoning, *a judgment)? God/Jesus must be there with you in His invisible Holy Spirit personality communing with your personality (soul) to exert His drawing (to pull toward) influence that attracts you to Him. The purpose of God/Jesus' drawing is to bring you to the *judgment of your sin account in this lifetime so, because He loves you so much, He can pay your sin account for you with His blood because you have nothing with which to pay it!
BECAUSE: #1) (Matt: 16:26) Even if you owned the whole world you would still have nothing valuable enough to purchase salvation. #2) (Rom. 3:23) You cannot live good enough, by counteracting your unregenerate nature, to deserve salvation because you have nothing to cancel out your past sins; AND: #3) (Eph. 2:8) You cannot generate enough faith to just take salvation because you can't regenerate your unregenerate soul!
God's drawing consists of three things which all happen at the same time, all mixed together, in a magnitude to exactly fit your personality, in a span of time which exactly fits your need.
(Luke 5:32) #1) A calling in which God shows you the reality that nothing of this earth will ever fill that little, nagging, constantly empty place of wanting within you that no earthly possession or person can permanently fill because you were (Col. 1:16) made by God and for God. God wants you to come on home to Him and He is waiting for you with open arms; yes you, the magnificent God of glory is waiting for precious, precious, precious you with His arms opened wide to love you and hug you into His presence!.
(Luke 10:21-22) #2) A revealing in which God reveals His personality of love, grace, goodness, mercy and the reality of Himself. The revealing, through His word, in which He gives you the gift of enough faith to get saved by the reality of His presence as stated in (Eph. 2:8) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
(Prov. 1:23 & John 16:8) #3) a reproving in which God reveals the reality that you have committed sins, the reality that you are lost (unregenerated) and separated from Him, the reality that you are going to hell and (Rev. 20:11-15) the reality that it is TIME for you to make a DECISION to settle your sin account (YOUR *JUDGMENT) here in this life while you have a chance to obtain redemption and salvation from your unregenerate condition FOR FREE, NO COST TO YOU, by having your sins washed away through the cleansing power of Jesus' shed blood.
When Jesus' blood is applied you will be saved from being lost by the regeneration (born again) of your soul, (John 14:18 & 23 & Eph. 2:22) God/Jesus will come and live within you, in your soul, in His Holy Spirit personality and your name will be entered into Jesus' book of life, ALL THIS WILL BE DONE THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT AS IS SET FORTH IN GOD'S WORD.
If you wish to read all about the when, where, why, how and the process of salvation please read the commentary Breath of Life and you will understand much better. SO: YOUR TIME TO SETTLE YOUR ACCOUNT IS WHATEVER AGE YOU ARE WHEN THE TIME COMES, SOMETIME IN YOUR LIFETIME, THAT GOD/JESUS OFFERS YOU SALVATION.
If you refuse to face YOUR *judgment in this life, if you refuse God's drawing so he can give you redemption and salvation at no cost to you, if you refuse to have your name entered into Jesus' book of life (Rev. 20:11-15) you will face YOUR *judgment after you die and there is no chance to obtain salvation BECAUSE: ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE: **(Proverbs 1:22-33 esp. V.25-31)** if you refuse God's drawing, at a time in the process that He considers fair to all of us, God will stop His drawing and He will not extend the offer of salvation again.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: I have personally experienced the **(Proverbs 1:22-33 esp. V.25-31 keywords V.28 "but I will not answer")** event as it happened to a dear friend and it was the most saddening, sickening, frightening, gloomy darkness I have ever experienced; worse even than the time I was staggering around, wounded and bloody and filled with that awful, numb sickness of being trapped in a surrealistic world.
The rest of them had left by med-evac and I was gathering my dead friend's blown apart body, with its parts here and there, on a ripped, torn, stinking, unbelievably dirty, smoking, bloody, early morning dawning Vietnam battlefield. You might say; "How in the world can anything be worse than that?" There are worse things than that, there really are!
Hershel lived up the same "holler" (Hillbilly slang for: the valley, the hollow, between two mountain ridges) where we lived. Though he was three or four years older, he and my Dad had grown up together, served in WW2 together and he was Daddy's good friend. As far back as I can remember Hershel was always around. He and his wife, Audrey, never had any children and they lived about 1&1/2 miles on up the road from us. She was my 1st & 2nd grade school teacher in the old, 1 room school up Lick Fork Holler.
Hershel was always good humored and loved to fox hunt with dogs and with his buddies; not the kill the fox kind of hunting, they liked to go to the top of a ridge someplace, build a campfire, listen to the dogs run, eat and tell yarns. Hershel always had an amusing story or anecdote and he would joke and pick at me. He was a good feller and he always seemed to be bursting with life.
Time went on; I went on my yondering with the Marines, got out, got married, went to trade school, went to work, fathered three sons and accepted Jesus into my life (got saved, born again) when I was thirty-three years old. I'd been a Christian four or five years and I heard Hershel was in the hospital. The first night I visited him there were three or four fox hunters visiting him and between their yarning and laughing I didn't get to say much.
To say the least, they had some colorful language. There, there at the beginning of it, when I asked Hershel what was wrong, he said when he tried to get up from a sitting position he'd fall backwards; "It's like my hips 'n legs give out on me. No I don't hurt none." He looked and sounded like the same old Hershel and none of us could see that death had spread his black cowl over him and death was already sucking the life from Hershel's body.
When I got ready to leave I asked Hershel if he wanted to pray. With that smiling, kindly, affectionate, condescending attitude he had toward talking about Christianity he told me to go ahead if I wanted to. "Hershel, you know it don't work that way, you've got to want it." "Aww, I know it Jimmie." That went on almost every night for two or three weeks, He was getting skinny, he didn't feel good and his buddies, the fox hunters, quit coming to see him.
Daddy wasn't much for visiting hospitals; the only time I ever remember him visiting a hospital patient was when he came to see me the time I had a pretty tough surgery when I was around forty years old; and no, he didn't visit Hershel, not even once. Daddy had been a medic and a bronze star for valor winner when he was in the war and he was rather fatalistic.
From then on I was the only company Hershel ever had, I'd stay three or four hours every night so Audrey could go home, wash-up, rest, eat, just whatever. We, no I, talked about the Bible and salvation during those precious hours, a little bit. I'd start and Hershel would interrupt and tell a yarn, an anecdote, or change the subject. I'd eventually veer back to Jesus and he'd veer right back off the Jesus subject.
He didn't take offence and we had a pretty good time considering the fact Hershel was getting more and more sick as time went on. On weekend days that I didn't have to go to work I could stay longer. One night Hershel showed me a place on his right side. "Jimmie, they put the awfulest needle ye ever seen right there in my side and it hurt like h---! They stuck it in deep enough t' go plumb through me!" He was getting skinnier and weaker all the time. Liver biopsy.
All we had, at that time, was a small local hospital with no lab. A few evenings later Audrey said she wanted to talk to me out in the hall "right now." I hadn't even had a chance to say "howdy" to Hershel. We went out in the hall; "Jimmie, those lab reports are back from Lexington; Hershel's filled up with cancer; bones, every organ and there isn't anything they can do for him. It's the fast kind and that's why he's losing weight so fast. Don't you dare tell him what's wrong with him." "But Audrey, I---."
"You heard me; I said don't tell him! If you can't keep your mouth shut go home!" I promised I wouldn't tell Hershel so I kept my mouth shut about the cancer but I felt like, in my heart, he ought to know he was dying and maybe he'd get serious about getting saved.
By that time, even though he didn't know what it was, Hershel knew he was in bad trouble, he was scared and a few nights later he asked me to pray. I got down by his bed but the most eerie, darkening thing happened; it felt like my prayer was a big, black balloon that filled the room, went empty, then collapsed down on me and left me in cold, cold darkness.
My prayer never left the room and I knew it! I was used to getting through to heaven and that prayer backfire terrified me. What was wrong with me? What had I done wrong? Had I in some way offended God and was I too stupid to know what I'd done? I mumbled a few words to Hershel but he didn't seem to notice; he was drifting off to sleep. I left in a hurry, went home and called my Pastor.
The next night Pastor and I met in the parking lot, went up to visit Hershel, he'd taken a turn for the worse and he was worse off than I'd ever seen him. I introduced them and let Pastor do the talking. After a while He asked Pastor to pray. My Pastor is a mightily blessed man of God and I knew we'd get results this time but the same thing happened to Pastor's prayer that had happened to mine; that great, depressing, sinking darkness. We visited a few more minutes and left because Hershel was very weak and tired.
In the parking lot I asked Pastor what was wrong. "Why Brother Jimmie, Hershel's been cut off. He can't get saved because he's turned God down sometime in the past. Read the first Proverb when you get home." That night I read the first Proverb.
I'd heard about people being cut off from God and I simply had not paid much attention. On the surface of my soul I didn't believe it but deep, deep down where I'm most tender, inside my soul I knew; I guess I just didn't want to accept it about my friend. I hurt for me, I hurt for Hershel and I prayed for him. Nothing!
The next day I called Daddy and asked if Hershel had ever gone to church. "He sure did Son; when we was young men Hershel went to church a whole lot, he even sung with the choir but he never did get saved and I don't reckon he ever went to church much, if any, after that. Why do you want to know that?" "I was just a wondering Daddy." I changed the subject.
Sheer terror! What about Daddy, what had he done in the past? Had he also rejected God? We all physically die but was my Daddy a walking "forever" dead man? Daddy's story is in Part 2 of this article.
Hershel lasted a couple more weeks or so after that. I went every night, we prayed every night and I watched Hershel melt away until his skin hung down and I could see the outline of his teeth through the skin of his shrunken cheeks. He was afraid and it showed through his sickness and pain but he never mentioned his growing worry and fear and neither did I. My prayers went no place and I knew it; it was an exercise in futility but I couldn't let Hershel think I had given up on him. I couldn't desert my friend.
That last night, the last time I saw Hershel alive, I was helping him to the bathroom. I held his IV high with my right hand and he had a death grip on my left arm with both his hands and he was bent far over my left arm so I could support his weight. It was a torturous, painfully slow trip. He was a bag of bones covered with sagging, brownish, mottled skin.
He could only scoot his feet three or four inches at a time and that was the length of his slow steps; like I said, Hershel was all bent over my left arm as he clutched it; a big, long string of sticky snot dangled straight down from his nose six or eight inches and it wouldn't fall off. He was crying and his huge tears hit the floor tiles and burst into droplets. I felt so sorry for my friend I could have died; I wanted to scream!
This was my friend, he'd given me advice when I was child, teenager and man, he'd played and joked with my children like he had with me when I was a child, he'd watched me grow up, he was closer to me than my uncles and, as a boy and as a man, I'd always admired him!
With a wild, clutching desperation I gritted out; "Hershel! Hershel, can't you pray?" He swung his thin, wasted, saggy, grotesque head up; that string of snot swung back across his thinned down lips and beard stubbled chin, great tears poured down his face. He looked at me out of his sunken, rheumy, dying eyes and he softly and clearly said, with absolute certainty, in a gasping, miserable, hopeless, forlorn, far away voice; "Jimmie, Buddy, God's right here and He won't hear me! I've missed it!"
Yes, I helped Hershel do his business in the bathroom, we slowly tortured tears tracked back to the bed, I lifted and helped my nearly fleshless friend back into bed, lifted his yellowish, skinny, stick-like feet and legs up and I helped him get adjusted and covered him up. While he gasped and cried I got down on my knees by his bed and petted on him and tried to comfort him with some kind and tender words like I did my boys when they were hurt, or sick, or scared.
He shortly drifted off into a shallow, just breathin' now and then, I'm somewhere else kind of sleep and he lay there so still, busy with his dying. Hershel was no longer aware of me; I stood there looking at him for a while, silently crying; I knew what was coming and I crept silently away; my tears were still pouring as I softly shut the door and that was the last time I saw my friend Hershel alive.
Even now, even after all these years, I can't help but wonder what great things God would have accomplished through Hershel's testimony and works for God if Hershel had just gotten saved when he had his chance. He had a lot of natural gifts like his gift of gab, his magnetic personality, humor, wry outlook on life, and, well, I don't guess there's any use of talking about it; it's like Hershel said; "I've missed it."
I can still see Hershel, smiling there in my memory, his pickup truck pulled up in front of our house on a summer evening, his door opened, one foot out on the running board, sitting in his seat, smoking his cigarette, one elbow on his knee, the other arm on the steering wheel and joshing with Daddy and me there on our front porch.
It will be good to get to heaven so I won't have those sad, bittersweet memories ever again. No, I don't hold it against God. God gave Hershel a fair chance to settle his sin account here and get saved through the spiritual rebirth process and that's all Hershel got, no more and no less of a chance than the rest of us, even you.
God could have forced Hershel to love Him or He could have created Hershel to love Him but neither way would have been Hershel's free will giving of love. A forced, arm twisted "I love you" would have caused Hershel to hate God and created love would have made Hershel robotic, just another pop up toaster with no real feeling to it.
God wants us to love Him for who He is and what He is; just like we want someone to love us for who we are and what we are. When they don't love us like that, even though we love them, sooner or later, we simply go our way and they go theirs.
That's the way God is too (Gen. 1:27) because we're made in His image. (Matt. 26:37-38 keyword: exceeding sorrowful-->to be intensely sad; John 11:35 keyword: wept-->to shed tears and Eph. 4:30 keyword: grieve-->to be sad) God can get His feelings hurt too and it makes Him sad. (Rom. 8:6-17 & Rev. 22:1-6) God is building a loving family for Himself and God gave His beautiful Son, Jesus, to die on a bloody cross at a place called Calvary so Hershel could get saved and be a part of that family.
Hershel refused God when God drew him and, in reality, by his decision, Hershel told God he didn't want to be part of God's family and to go away and leave him alone. God is infinitely loving, fair, merciful and just; God is a gentleman too and that is exactly what God did; He left Hershel alone and Hershel died lost and alone.
I guess that's about it, I'm sad now, but, through the Holy Spirit, I'll finish what God told me to write. God's word, common sense and the Holy Spirit tell us THERE IS NO CHRONOLOGICAL AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY. THERE IS ONLY A TIME "SOMETIME" IN YOUR LIFE WHEN GOD DRAWS YOU. HE BRINGS UP YOUR SIN ACCOUNT AND YOUR UNREGENERATE STATE OF BEING LOST TO BE JUDGED and it doesn't matter if you are six years old, or eighty-three years old, or any other age either.
All the time, every day, people from all walks of life routinely refuse God because they don't want to be burdened with going to Church and living a Christian life. They love what they are doing better than they love the idea of a personal relationship with God. It's their decision and God eventually removes His drawing. They go on living their life then they finish it and die just like Hershel and that's just the way it is.
BUT: The most pitiful situation is when people are being drawn but they put off their decision and suddenly they get very sick very fast and can't comprehend getting saved. Sometimes, in hospitals people are so sick, partially conscious, drugged, or in terrible pain that they don't care about getting saved, OR: they know it's too late and they just hump up and silently die.
The final realization of your drawing can take a few seconds, a few hours, or simply however long it takes; that's why you sometimes hear about end of life salvation events in hospitals or at accident scenes but there aren't many of them, not many of them at all, and those people who experienced the end of life salvation event were being drawn by God when death took hold of them. There are lots of people, even in those circumstances, who refuse God's drawing and they go ahead and die lost.
I know, I know because I've seen that too and no, I can hardly believe my own eyes and ears either. I know you are wonderin' about it too and the only answer I can give you is that it's just the normal, hard-hearted, cantankerous, boneheaded, human stubbornness, pride and unbelief; but still, (Luke 11:23 & John 5:22-29) to choose Satan instead of Jesus and to choose death instead of life is almost unbelievable but astonishingly enough (Matt. 7:13-14 & Isa. 5:14) people choose hell over heaven all the time!
It's like my dear, close friend Theodore said on his death bed; "I've lived the way I wanted to without calling on God 'n I ain't starting now". Don't put it off; please, please, when God draws you don't push Him away, run toward him just as fast as you can because YOUR forever is the result.
WHEN YOUR SIN ACCOUNT IS BROUGHT UP IN YOUR TIME OF DRAWING THAT IS THE TIME TO FACE YOUR *JUDGMENT. FACE YOUR *JUDGMENT HERE IN THIS LIFE AND, IF YOU ACCEPT JESUS' BLOOD PAYMENT FOR YOUR SIN ACCOUNT (your salvation) (Heb. 2:9-11) JESUS HAS ALREADY TASTED DEATH FOR US HIS SANCTIFIED ONES (CHRISTIANS).
(Acts 7:54-60) Jesus will remove the sting of death from you just like He did Stephen, (Heb. 13:5) JESUS WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU and you will always live with Jesus in the glory and joy of forever.
OR: (Heb. 9:27 & Rev. 20:11-15) YOU CAN WAIT AND CRY AND STRUGGLE OUT YOUR DEATH ALONE AND THEN FACE YOUR *JUDGMENT FOR YOUR SIN ACCOUNT ALONE AFTER YOUR LIFE HERE IS OVER.
(Luke 16:19-30) You, the unregenerate soul with all the physical attributes and emotional reactions of your natural life in your natural body (Rev. 20:10-15) WILL STAND THERE BY YOURSELF, ALONE, SO TERRIBLY ALONE, TERRIFIED, CRYING AND YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY YOUR OWN SIN ACCOUNT WITH YOUR OWN ETERNAL LIFE, FOREVER, yes you, precious, precious you, worth the life of Jesus, the Son of God, you, forever dying IN THE FIRE, just like my friend Hershel.
YES, IT SOUNDS LIKE A MIGHTY TOUGH, COLD PROPOSITION BUT IT ISN'T, IT ISN'T WHEN YOU MEET GOD ON THIS SIDE OF DEATH, GET SAVED AND FIND OUT JUST HOW LOVING, KIND, MERCIFUL, TENDERHEARTED, GRACIOUS AND DELIGHTFUL GOD REALLY IS AFTER YOU GET TO KNOW HIM.
THAT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS BECAUSE GOD SET IT ALL UP THE WAY HE WANTED IT AND GOD IS FAIR. HE GIVES ALL OF US A FAIR CHANCE. (Eph. 2:8-16 & Rev. 20:11-15) YOU WILL FACE YOUR *JUDGMENT FOR YOUR SIN ACCOUNT EITHER HERE OR THERE!
GOD BLESS YOU.