Norman Frost - Bellflower, California - Sunday, September 10, 2000

Hymn #99, "Life Only Once We can Live It"

This is a hymn that I would recommend for everyone to learn by heart - to just have it in your mind, so you can recall it at any time and think about it! "Life only once we can live it, oh what a great solemn thought, soon will the journey be over, soon will the battle be fought." Then, we will be at the top end of life!  Sometimes I come into a meeting like this and there are a lot of young people. Young people often feel life is pretty great; they have so much time ahead of them, and they just want to get away from home, and out of school, and away from Mom and Dad. They want to get out and do their own thing. I was like that too, when I was a boy, but I am at the top end now. I have lived my three score and ten years, so I am on borrowed time. But, I have learned from that old man, Peter. II Peter 1:14-15, "Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance." Peter was saying, "This old body is wearing out. It is not as fit as it used to be, and someday I will have to put it away because it is wearing out." But Peter said, "Although God has revealed that to me, as long as I am in this body, I will stir you up by putting you in remembrance of these things, even though you know them." Many people that come to meetings like these know a tremendous lot - a lot about these preachers, a lot about one another, and children know what is going on in their homes and schools - it is just common knowledge. But, what are we really doing? "Life only once we can live it, oh what a great solemn thought, soon will our journey be over..."

I was speaking in a meeting in convention (not very long ago) and it was a Sunday morning meeting. I was speaking about the brevity or shortness of life. I mentioned a young man I knew in New Zealand; he was just a young man, full of life, and a very good guitar player. Not everyone can play a guitar and play it well, but he was good! But, it didn't bring very much satisfaction in his soul, so he gave it all up.  He came along and sat in gospel meetings and listened and came to the conclusion:  this is what I need!  I need something that satisfies the soul. He made his choice to serve God. Well, that is the starting point, and he went along a number of years like that. Usually, in the Sunday morning meeting, he would have a little part, a testimony to give because he had a testimony he lived. And usually, he was one of the first in the meeting to speak. But this day, he was not feeling well - he spoke last. He was just young (forty or so). He got up and kind of stood there for a moment, and then he said, "Well, none of us know just how much time we have left in the world." Those were his last words here on earth. He just dropped dead right there! Who would think that a young man who seemed fit and well would just end life like that? But, he did! Apparently, his heart was in trouble and gave out, and he died. I was in India at the time. Because I knew and loved him, I received word of his death. I didn't feel a bit of sorrow or regret because to me, he was a winner! He started right, made his choice to serve God (and he did!), continued on, and now, he is on the top end of life. He didn't even know it, but his words were almost prophetic, "None of us know how much time we have left," and he dropped dead! No regrets for a life like that! His life was in God's hands.  He was just handing over to God what was left. After that morning meeting at convention, we had lunch together. There were a thousand people or more at that convention. After lunch, an elderly couple came to speak to me. I didn't know them, but they introduced themselves, and we talked a little. After lunch, there was another meeting; they were in the meeting, and so was I. I was not speaking and was sitting in the back; they were sitting just behind me. Well, the brother leading the meeting said, "There are a few here who have not given their testimony yet, and we would like to give all an opportunity, so we will start with this side." That couple stood up, and were among the last to give their testimony. Suddenly, I heard a noise behind me, and that lady had dropped dead! She was standing to give her testimony, the very same lady who had spoken to me after the morning meeting. That was a shock to me because she was a younger person than I am! Just a heart attack, and she was gone!

We don't know how much time we have either, do we? Whether young or old! But, the point is that we should think properly about coming to the top end of life, whether it is a short or long time. Some in this meeting are getting on to a big age, maybe closing up toward 100! Not everyone will, but there he is (Eldon Tenniswood), and I talked to him this morning. We talked about this matter of living, what we have and being ready for the top end of life; we were both concerned about that. I believe all you dear friends, gathered here today, are concerned - whether young on the front row or the older ones further back. You are concerned about being ready when the end of life comes. We should learn this hymn, "Life only once we can live it, oh what a great solemn thought. Soon will our journey be over, soon will the battle be fought." And then, "Oh, what shall it profit, riches and pleasures to gain? If your own soul is the forfeit, shall it not all be in vain?"  If your soul is the forfeit, if all the value you are to God is lost, what a tragedy it would be!  Learn that hymn! Sing it over a few times, and you will have it in your mind so you can recall it. This matter of getting ready is what the gospel is about! I have not spoken here before; but I know, I just know, that these brothers have been telling you of things that God approves of and wants you to know so that you will be ready. I love the gospel because it is so simple!  If it was not simple, I couldn't understand it! I meet people who have BAs and MAs. They are clever and brilliant and have all the answers, and very often, have nothing in their heart! But, you know, I am not like that, I don't have that kind of intelligence. But I will tell you what I have: a simple desire to live my life right with God. I can do it, and do it everyday, if I want to! The meetings we go to, help us to do that! I like to speak about the simple stories in the Bible. It is quite a big book:  66 books in it and something like 1,132 chapters. They are all little stories about what we should know, so we can be prepared for the eternity to come. I will give you one or two little samples but won't go into them because there is not time. Look at Matthew 5, you will find Jesus there as the teacher and gathered around him, the pupils. He was teaching them how to be blessed and happy above everyone else! Wouldn't you like to be like that? I feel I would have liked to sneak into that meeting, and sit down, and listen to learn how my life could be blessed or happy. That is what that meeting was about. That is a very simple gospel, isn't it? In John 10, you read of Jesus as a shepherd. This was an Eastern type of shepherd. We see them over in India, and there they are with a few sheep. The sheep will be resting in the corral at night, and the shepherd will open the door and call, "Come! Come!" He will walk out with his rod and call, and out they come. They start out for the day. He leads them out, and they follow him. Jesus said, "My kingdom is just like that! I am the good shepherd, I know My sheep, and they follow Me. I know them by name. I call them, and they follow Me. God has given them to Me." Very simple gospel! He finished that story with, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." I like that teaching. That is Jesus teaching about a shepherd and His sheep - just one fold, and one shepherd, and one entrance into that fold. It is very simple, isn't it?!  He is teaching them how they can be fully satisfied and happy people.

In I Corinthians 12, you will read about a body, just a body! I have one, and you have one. We know what a body is like. I don't see anyone here with two heads! We just have one head, and that one head does the thinking for the whole body. If something goes wrong with one member, the other members are very sympathetic.  I had the misfortune to break my right shoulder, I am not left handed, but my left hand worked marvelously to help my right hand. Why would it do that? Because, it is just part of me. And though awkward sometimes, it does that to compensate because my one head controls. The Lord says, "I am the head of the body." Isn't that simple teaching? You don't hear these things in the religious world around us. They don't listen to those things, because they want to be the head. When you go into their organizations, you see a five-headed monster - everyone wanting to be the head and do all the thinking! God's way is so different! Paul wrote to the people at Phillippi one time and said (Philippians 2:5), "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Have His mind! Do you have His mind? He even spoke to a couple of the sister workers in that chapter-"I appeal that they be of the same mind."

Two people with two minds can go two ways; but He said, "I want them to think alike." The Chinese have a proverb that says, "Two cats, one bag, and no peace." I will tell you why that is, because cats always hunt alone; you put them together, and they will fight! Their nature is like that! Even though enclosed in one bag, they will still fight because their nature is like that. And so, Paul is telling these sisters: we don't want that, we want unity. God wants all of His servants united because they present a united front. I was reading about the Ephesian church. He said (Ephesians 2:19-20), "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." Isn't that nice? They were not always like that. If you read the history of these people, you can go way back in Acts 19, and you will read about the gospel coming there: the real thing! They listened, received a lot and were even baptized, but they didn't have God's spirit. What is the use of God's people trying to live without God's spirit? It is trying to live without love! You read I Corinthians 13 and you will read about the love of God, of Jesus there, and if any man doesn't have it, he has nothing! "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity.. And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." Just nothing!

Some children were talking one day and the one said, "What is zero?" I like the answer the other little one gave. "A zero is absolutely nothing, but it has a line drawn around it to emphasize it!" You know, we could be just like that, we could have a religion and have plenty of it, and yet, have nothing! Love is the first evidence that we have the spirit of God. When Paul spoke to the Ephesians, he said they had learned a tremendous lot, but not enough.  And you know, they had even been baptized and taken steps that maybe they were not ready for. But Paul spoke to them and spoke about Jesus and of the necessity of receiving His spirit. You will read this in Acts 19; it says they believed and received the Spirit. Now, eight years later, Paul wrote them a letter; it staggers you what he wrote. They had professed eight years and had the Spirit of God to be their guide and counselor; but were they listening and learning? Obviously not! There were still a lot of things to do!  When you take a real squared off look at yourself in the mirror, don't worry about the one to the right or left of you. Look at yourself, you will realize there are a lot of things I need to do to have the approval of God. Well, Paul wrote to those people, "Put away lying." They had been professing eight years and still telling lies! You cannot put away something you don't have, and he said, "Put away." Thirty-two years later, he wrote them another letter, or at least God wrote it through John. This is the top end of the journey (Revelations 2:2-4), "Now, I know all about you, how you have struggled and battled.  I know all the struggles you have had, but there is just one thing I have against you." What had they done with the list? Put it away. Put away lies, and jealousy, and hatred. And now, at the top end, God said, "You just don't love Me as much as you did at the beginning; I want you to have a love for Me right into eternity so you and I can be happy for eternity." I am sure they would be moved to do that. They would feel, if I don't love the Lord as much as I should, I will adjust myself. Sometimes coming to meetings I have heard people say, "I don't want to go to the meeting, but I suppose I will have to; or, it is too hot or it is too cold; or, I'm tired." But it is just a lack of love, not quite enough love! I think of one brother who was having a lot of trouble with his wife. He said, "The government is wondering where all the flying saucers are coming from in the world, but they don't ask me! I could tell them! Those flying cups are coming from Delhi!" That night he was coming to the meeting with me, and he said, "I just don't feel like coming, I feel like staying home." I could understand his point because I had seen a few things, you know. In that meeting, there was a lady listening to the gospel and had been for some time. Suddenly, she said to me, "I don't believe that!" This man thought it was very rude for an Indian lady to speak out like that to a European man. I said to her, "I may be wrong and you may be right, but let you and I talk about that afterward," and I just carried on.  I still don't know what it was about. But on the way home, that man said, "I wouldn't have missed that meeting for anything!" This was the same man that said, "I don't feel like coming tonight." Here he is, nothing I said but something he said! He felt glad to be standing by his friend.

Some time you will read another story in Isaiah. Isaiah 1 is a wonderful chapter and you will come to Isaiah 6, and you will find how difficult it was for God to get Isaiah into a place where he could do much with him. He was a man of unclean lips. Well, plenty of men are like that! Things start to go wrong a bit, and they start to shout and a little further on, they start to use bad words, unclean lips. Isaiah is very much like that - an ordinary man - but it tells us, the Lord touched and changed him, and then, he offered for the work. The Lord said, "I want someone to take a message to my people, and it is a message about Jesus." Isaiah just said, "Well, here I am. Use me." Is there any other life in the Old Testament that gives us a clearer picture of Jesus? He told us how and where He would be born, the kind of conditions that would prevail, and the kind of person He would be. It is a wonderful thing, what God can make from a person with the gospel message. He starts off by saying (Isaiah 1:2), "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me." God doesn't want rebellious children, and you wouldn't want that kind of children either - cheeky children like we have in the world today! But, it is quite easy for them to be that way because of what they are by nature.  I could tell you some frightening stories about children raised on their own, and they have turned out to be a disgrace to the country they even live in! Human nature is quite capable of doing that!

But, God said, "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider." All around them are simple ass and oxen. You see those oxen in India working away and then, at the end of the day, the yoke is removed. They go home together to where they are fed and watered, to where they belong. God's servants are like that, too. Then He says, "The ass knows his master's crib."  I have seen those little donkeys and so quickly they fall over. They are pulled up and fall over again. When the day comes to the end, and their load is removed, where do they go? Straight home where the food is - even if it is not much - they know where they belong. But, God said, "My people don't even think about it, don't think they can die in the wrong place and be outside." We should consider. That is why we sing that hymn, "Life only once we can live it." We should get it into our mind and thinking and living.  Well, He said, "From the sole of the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."  It is sad when the Father has to talk like that! I was in the home of a person in Bangalore, India, some years ago. And there was a man who came to see this person, and I was left to talk with him. He was a stranger to me, and I said, "What do you work at, sir?" Well, he said, "I am a criminal lawyer from Burma." Well, a very smart, intelligent man!  I said, "Being in Bangalore, a long way from Burma, are you on holiday?" "No," he said, "I have three sons, but one is a rebel. He is in the security prison here with the sentence of death on him, and he is my son.  I don't want that to happen to him." Well, I hardly knew what to say, but you could see he was in great distress because the sentence of death was on his son. It was his son, and he loved him and had nourished him; but because of his rebellion, death awaited him. He said, "I am here to do what I can to remove the sentence of death." I could only just hope he did.

But you know, God is like that. He sees us all with the sentence of death on us - because of sin, even the minutest sin - and the penalty of sin is death. We have the sentence of death upon us, but God says, "I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against Me."  But, they were religious! They were giving many alms, but God said (Isaiah 1:15), "I won't listen." Special days they were keeping and going through a lot of things like that, but He said, "I won't listen." He gave the reason, "Your hands are full of blood" - the sentence of death. He said just like that Father, "He is my son, and I would like to have that sentence of death removed. I don't want my son to die like that." God doesn't want us to die, either. He wants us to love and trust him, because He is the only one that can remove the sentence of death from us. What did God say? "There is the door, go through it, and close it after you?" No, that is not the Father's language. It was not the father's language from Burma, and not our God's either, but here is His language. "Come, now!" Not "Go!" or "Some other time!" but "Come now, and let us reason and talk these things over. Even though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." He told them  (Isaiah 1:16-17), "You are not doing well, but you can learn." I was in a home one time, and there were two little girls and a little baby. One of the little girls was standing against a wall, and she said, "Uncle! Uncle! Come and see!" Here they were telling the baby, "Come!" She would take a step and fall, and they would say, "No, put her up again!" And she was learning to do well, and they wanted me to see the baby take the first steps. A few months later, I couldn't catch that little one on a run. She had learned! God says, "Come now, and let us reason together." Do you do that?  You are unhappy and not satisfied, but do you do that? Because of your sin and failing in yourselves, do you go to God privately and talk things over with God?

I love a story about a little girl in Vietnam. She was giving her testimony and not very old. She said, "I was so naughty, I felt I couldn't pray, couldn't talk to God." Well, that is sort of tragic. That is how she felt, but she said, "I was so naughty, I felt I couldn't talk to God; but I went to God, and just knelt there, until God talked to me." And God assured her: whatever it is; it is gone and forgotten. That is the kind of Father we have. Our God says (Isaiah 1:18), "'Come now, and let us reason together,' saith the Lord, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'" Isn't that nice? Then, He said, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." Now, that is two things, isn't it? We could be willing. I am willing to listen and come to the meeting. I am willing to a do a lot of things, but am I willing to go to God? Am I really willing as an individual to go to God and talk to God? Am I as willing as that? Am I willing to separate myself from all the things that distress? Well, God said, "If you are willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." The best is yours! I was inside the same prison where that boy was sentenced to death. I was there to visit that jail, and I went with the Senior Superintendent of the jail. We came in through the big steel gates, and there were a lot of ladies there happy and laughing. I said, "You have some pretty happy people here." He said, "Yes," and looked at his watch. "In just another quarter of an hour, they are all going free through the gate; they have paid their penalty." God wants us to be like that, not held captive and in bondage. But, I saw other people there drawn up. If you said, "Good Morning," they would say, "Be quiet!" They were not happy, paying their penalty. At the top of the prison, I said, "What is that big triangle there?" The superintendent said, "Twenty-six men are with the sentence of death upon them; we will pass that way directly." I will never forget that scene. I passed that way, and there were those men; and they were all waiting behind the steel bars. They were sad, sorrow and regret was all there. And just because I was a European, walking with the superintendent of the jail, they thought maybe there was a little ray of hope. But, what could I do? Nothing!!  I wish I hadn't gone, but God is not like that. Supposing I could have put my hand in my pocket, and brought out a great brass key, and opened the door and said, "Now you can all go free. I will die for you and pay the penalty for you." Do you think they would have gone far? I don't think so. I think they would hold me by the feet, to think that here is someone prepared to pay my penalty for my sin so I can go free. That is exactly what our Lord has done. Not like me. If I died for those boys, it would be a sinner dying for sinners. That is all it would amount to. But our Lord is the one without any sin, and He has taken my place and yours as condemned sinners just so we can go free. What He says is, "'Come now, and let us reason together,' saith the Lord, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.'" No matter what they are like, just come. He said, "If you are willing and obedient, the best is yours." But, do you know how He finished?  "If you refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword." He said, "If you refuse." The whole choice is ours, isn't it? If you refuse, you can expect the worst! What a tragedy!

I have spoken a little too long for a gospel meeting, but you will probably forgive me.  These are simple things. Our whole Bible is filled with little simple stories of how we can be a people blessed and in favor with God, forever and ever. Isn't that how Jesus started His gospel? I will tell you what the kingdom is like. You ladies know something about cooking. Do you take your three measures of meal and leave it there? No, you take the leaven and mix it in until the whole is leavened. The kingdom is just like that.  What are you prepared to put in? Anything or nothing? Are you prepared to be obedient and put in your whole soul, and body, and spirit? One time a man said, "I am glad you came to this place," and he pulled out a 100 rupee note.  I said, "I have not come for your money, put it back. I want you to come to the meeting and listen." He said, "No, but I am with you in spirit." He is with me in spirit, but not body, but that is not putting in the three measures of meal. Three measures of meal is the whole of what I am. I am prepared to put it in, prepared to love and serve God. He said, "If you be willing and obedient, the best is yours, but if you refuse and rebel, expect the worst."

These are just a few simple things I enjoyed as I was thinking about this little meeting. I pray God will help us because Jesus is still the same. There is no different gospel. Jesus sent His servants to the lost sheep of Israel. Then, after the resurrection, He sent them throughout the world and said, "I am with you till the end of the world." That is what gives our brothers courage to keep speaking these things to others, because they have the authority of God behind them. All we are telling you is the simple things in God's mind for your life. If you love Him and are obedient, the best is yours. But, if you rebel, you can expect the worst. But, Jesus is still the same!

Hymn #11, "Jesus is Still the Same"

 - The last gospel meeting he spoke in before passing away on September 19, 2000 in Ajmer, India, due to heart trouble, age 83.