Our lives seem to be very complicated, but if we can take them down to a basic level for consideration we would find that they are made up of choices. Man is a free moral agent, he is free to choose either bad or good. The difference between a wealthy man and a man in the depths of poverty can often be traced to choices made.
Since none of us have the ability to read the future, many of our choices are made on the ‘best information at hand’. Investment opportunities, career choices, family decisions, and many other important choices are made without any assurances of the outcome. Note the example of an engineer and his wife who made some choices about family and job. He chose to move his wife and their fourteen children to Indiana, only to be jobless in seven weeks, and now homeless! There are no guarantees on most of our choices. We use the best information available and make our decisions.
Someone said, ‘There are no sure things that we can count on’. But that really isn’t true. We can count on God and His Word never to fail! Someone else said, ‘God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!’ But in reality, when God says it, it is settled; whether we believe it or not!
This morning I want to look at four individuals in the Scripture who made tragic choices. We can learn from others’ mistakes. It isn’t necessary for me to experience all the heartache and misery in this world myself, I can learn from seeing how bad choices effected others, and perhaps, if I learn well enough, I can avoid those same tragic mistakes in my life.
I. The Rich Young Ruler’s Choice. Mt. 19:16-26
A. Earthly riches over heavenly riches.
1. He was a nice, clean-cut gentleman.
2. He made an effort to accept Christ.
3. This in itself is commendable, having a desire to make the right choice isn’t enough.
B. The result of this tragic choice.
1. "He went away sorrowful:"
2. He thought that the price was too great.
3. But, Jesus said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (16:26)
4. He turned away from Christ, thus choosing riches and sin.
5. We have no record of him ever coming again to Christ.
II. Choice Offered at the Trial of Christ. ((Mt.27:16-22).
A. The people’s tragic choice.
1. It was customary for the governor to release one prisoner of the Jews’ choice on each feast day.
2. They had their minds made up in evil.
3. They chose life for Barabbas, and death for Jesus. (v. 20).
4. This was not a rational group of people, this was an angry mob.
B. Pilate’s tragic choice.
1. He knew that Jesus was innocent.
2. His wife advised him not pass judgment on Jesus.
3. He understood the motives of Jesus’ accusers, but still he chose to take the easy way out.
4. Going along with the crowd may initially seem to be easier, but the results are tragic.
5. What stands between you and Christ today?
III. Felix Makes a Bad Choice: Twice! (Acts 24:22-27).
A. Paul had been arrested for proclaiming the Gospel message.
1. He was brought before Felix.
2. Felix initially put off listening to Paul until he had heard from some others concerning the charges.
B. Felix and his wife later decided to listen to what Paul had to say.
1. He was moved by the power of the Gospel; he "trembled and answered, go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee".
2. He chose to put off his decision for a more convenient time.
3. As far as we know, that time never came.
4. The Scriptures admonish us to call upon the Lord now, not to wait.
IV. Agrippa was Almost Persuaded to make the Right Choice. (Acts 26:22-30)
A. As Paul was waiting for a hearing before Ceasar, he had opportunity to speak to King Agrippa.
1. He also was moved by the Gospel message presented by the apostle.
2. Like all of us, he was faced with making a decision.
3. He almost made the right choice but failed.
B. Festus tried to influence his decision by mocking Paul and the gospel message.
1. Paul refused to become sidetracked.
2. He continued his witness before King Agrippa.
3. Once again it came time for a decision to be made, and the king said, "Almost persuaded".
4. But, almost will not prevail!
5. As far as we know this was his final decision.
6. You will make your last decision someday by merely failing to accept Christ.
Each of these individuals made tragic choices which led to tragic consequences for them all.
What will be your decision today? To those who have never been born again, will you accept Christ today? Or will you choose this temporal world rather than choosing eternity in Heaven. Will you accept Christ today, or will you choose to continue in sin? Will you accept Christ today or will you deceive yourself into thinking that there will be a better time? Will you accept Christ today or will you say "Almost"!
We make life changing choices every day of our lives. This morning you will make a choice that will determine where you will spend eternity. Trust Jesus Christ today!
To the Christian, what will your choice be? Will you choose to follow Him in discipleship, or choose to go your own way? Choices we make them by saying yes, be saying no, and by doing nothing! What will you do today?