Can I repent on my deathbed?

Many people today feel that life is hopeless and meaningless and the best thing to do is to enjoy yourself as much as possible, to party, go wild and live it up, because what else is there to do? You may as well have fun while you can, and if there is a God, then you can always repent when you get older, or better yet, just before you die. There is no point living a boring Christian life now - it merely restricts the fun you can have. It's probably best to get all you can out of life now, do what you want and don't waste it - save all the religious stuff for the last minute when you need it. That way you can have the best of both world's - enjoy yourself down here and be sure of heaven if you repent just before you die! Unfortunately, this is based on a misunderstanding of two important truths of Christianity, namely, how we turn to God and what a Christian life is all about.

Firstly, yes it is true that at any stage a person can turn to God, repent for the things they have done and be forgiven, therefore guaranteeing them a place in heaven. There have been some very genuine cases of last minute or "deathbed" conversions to Christianity. But the idea that we should put it off until later has two main problems

a ) No one ever knows when his time will come! Only God knows how long a person's life will be. If you don't know when you are going to die, how can you repent just before it?! You may never have a death bed - sorry to be morbid, but NO ONE knows how and when they will go: "For man also does not know his time: like fish caught in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them." (Ecclesiastes 9v12). Putting it off is not an option . Only once is there a "deathbed" conversion in the Bible and that person was the thief on the cross beside Jesus (Luke 23v39-43) and few of us will have (or would want!) the certainty that he had that time was nearly up. The Bible says that NOW is the t ime to become a Christian - why risk anything by putting it off?!

b) Not only does no one know how much time he or she has left, but also repentance can be seen to be an act taken just to safeguard a place in heaven. God, who sees everyone's hearts and min ds knows whether or not a person has genuinely turned to accept Him as their Lord and God or whether they are just "going through the motions". You can fool others, even yourself, but you cannot bluff God.

Secondly, although there are some things a Christian would not be expected to take part in, it is a completely false notion that somehow Christianity is a dull, boring lifestyle that requires you to sit in the corner with a sad face while everyone else is enjoying themselves! Some people see young Chr istians and almost feel sorry for them "wasting" their lives while they could be enjoying themselves, but let's consider some more points here.
Far from being an inactive boring life, the Christian life involves, firstly and foremostly, a return to what we were originally created for - a relationship with God. Of all the people you could pick to have as a best friend, wouldn't it seem like the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth would be quite an interesting person to have a friendship with?! And as the Creator, He is the one who created joy, happiness, fun, etc and also the one who can provide for all our needs, including the elusive satisfaction which many people try and find in other things. How many people spend endless hours trying to entertain the m selves and distract themselves from the aching emptiness and dissatisfaction they find in everyday life? How many people realise that life is essentially meaningless and empty and try and cover it with as much fun as possible, when all along, the One who gives us our meaning, the source of all joy, the One who wants to give us "abundant life" (John 10v10) stands beside us wishing we could only see the joy that there is in knowing Him?
Many Christians would be only too happy to tell people of the joy that there is in knowing Jesus (including some of the friendships and activities He provides for us). Perhaps the most famous Christian of all time, Saint Paul, once spoke of what it was like to be a Christian. Before becoming a Christian he was a popular, gi fted, eager and respected member of the Jewish society. He had it made! But he said about those things, "But all those things that I once thought worthwhile - now I've thrown them all away...Yes everything else is WORTHLESS when compared with THE PRICELESS GAIN OF KNOWING CHRIST JESUS MY LORD! I have put aside all else, counting it as worth less than nothing (some versions say rubbish and the original means dung), in order that I can have Christ." (Philippians 3v7-8)
Christianity is not always an easy o ption but it is the best option (as many Christians will agree with) and an option that should be taken as soon as possible. For all the peace, love and joy it provides, are the so-called "fun" things worth clinging on to? Is it really worth risking an eternal future of perfect joy and a present experience of some of that peace and joy, by putting off until some tomorrow what you can do today, especially when tomorrow isn't promised to anyone?

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