"ARE YOU READY?"
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come" (Rev. 22.17)
INTRO.: A song that extends the invitation of the Spirit and the bride for sinners to come is, "Are You Ready?" (#608 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by J. W. Slaughenhaupt. I have no further information about this author. The tune was composed by Edmund Simon Lorenz (1854-1942). A minister, college president, songwriter, and music publisher among the United Brethren who spent most of his adult life in Dayton, OH, he produced many hymns which we still sing, including "Tell It To Jesus Alone," "Wonderful Love of Jesus," and "Thou Thinkest, Lord, of Me," and tunes for "Give Me the Bible," "Come, let us all unite to sing God Is Love," and "So Tender, So Precious."
"Are You Ready?" was copyrighted by Lorenz in 1878. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ during the twentieth century, it is found in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1) edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1940 Complete Christian Hymnal edited by Marion Davis; and the 1944 Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by Will W. Slater. Today, it may be found in Sacred Selections, but I have not seen it used in any hymnbooks published among us since Sacred Selections.
The song focuses our attention on death and judgment and the need to be ready for them.
I. Stanza 1 talks about death.
"Soon the evening shadows falling Close the day of mortal life;
Soon the hand of death appalling Draws thee from its weary strife."
A. The poets often use evening to symbolize the end of life’s day, even as Jesus said that night comes when no man can work: Jn. 9.4
B. When Adam and Eve brought sin into this world, God ordained that there would come a close to the day of mortal life for each one as the dust returns to the ground: Gen. 3.19
C. This time is referred to as death because the spirit is separated from the body: Heb. 9.27, Jas. 2.26
II. Stanza 2 talks about judgment
"Soon the awful trumpet sounding Calls thee to the judgment throne;
Now prepare, for love abounding Yet has left thee not alone."
A. Since the spirit world is not bound by time as we know it, it may well be as if soon after death the trumpet sounds to herald the Lord’s return: 1 Cor. 15.52, 1 Thess. 4.16
B. Then we shall be called to the judgment throne: Rom. 14.10-12, 2 Cor. 5.10
C. However, we can prepare for that day because of God’s love for us: Jn. 3.16, Eph. 2.4-10
III. Stanza 3 talks about the danger
"Oh, how fatal ’tis to linger! Are you ready–ready now–
Ready, should death’s icy finger Lay its chill upon thy brow?"
A. It is fatal to linger because those who are unprepared will receive eternal punishment: 2 Thess. 1.7-9
B. We need to be ready since we do not know when that day is coming: Matt. 24.36, 2 Pet. 3.10
C. Therefore, we need to make sure that we are ready now, while we have the opportunity: 2 Cor. 6.2, Heb. 3.15
IV. Stanza 4 talks about the provisions
"Priceless love and free salvation Freely still are offered thee:
Yield no longer to temptation, But from sin and sorrow flee."
A. Jesus came to bring salvation to mankind by God’s grace: Matt. 1.21, Lk. 2.11 & 19.10, 1 Tim. 1.15, Tit. 2.11
B. This salvation is offered as a free gift: Rom. 5.12-21
C. However, to receive this free gift, we cannot continue in sin but must turn from our sins and obey God’s will that we might be forgiven: Mk. 16.15-16, Acts 2.38
CONCL.: The chorus continues to ask if we are ready:
"Are you ready? Are you ready? ‘Tis the Spirit calling: why delay?
Are you ready? Are you ready? Do not linger longer: Come today."
In one congregation where I labored several years ago, I led this song. Apparently it had not been sung there previously because one of the elders came up to me and said that he had never heard it before but really liked it. He told me that if a person truly thought about the words, he would be forced to consider his condition and the need to be prepared. Certainly, each of us should desire to be right with God as the Spirit, through the word, continues to ask us, "Are You Ready?"