In the last blog we considered just how transitory we are, how fleeting this vapor of a life really is. Like grass, green today, withered tomorrow.
We are reminded of this on a daily basis in our over-connected world. I’m amazed at the sudden nature of death, at the weird, even bizarre ways people of all ages die every day, like a plane crash into your house. It happens.
As we look back on this life in eternity, we will be amazed at how short yet significant it really was. We all either spend eternity in the presence of God under His manifest blessing or eternity experiencing the wrath of God for our sins. This is inevitable reality that makes this life so significant.
Every faithful pastor in the world should step into their pulpits each time on the edge of eternity as it were, warning, pleading, teaching, explaining and compelling sinners to turn from their sin and trust the risen Jesus Christ. Why are so many messing around with lesser things? Why are we playing marbles with diamonds? Why are we obsessed with rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic? We can’t save the world, but Jesus can save us.
The two basic promises of the gospel boil down to this: forgiveness of all your sins and the gift of eternal life with God. The first qualifies you for the second. Both are made real only by faith in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, who earned our salvation, paid our penalty and freely gives to all who repent and believe the pure gift of eternal life. As a gift, it can never be earned or deserved or lost.
Yet with this simple news spread all over our land, every day right here in Kerrville people are dying ill prepared for eternity. Grave plots are purchased and caskets picked out, but no thought of eternity! If we plan on stepping out of this world trusting anything beyond Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen, we are in for a most horrific shock of our lives. No wonder Jesus said, “Repent, lest you also perish.”
Yet those who are spiritually prepared can face death with confidence. They know it is coming and they are not afraid. Afraid of pain and suffering along the way? Yes. But not afraid of their earthly exit.
And those they leave behind in Christ are able to grieve with hope of reunion and hope their loved one is eternally blissful.
I recently conducted a burial service for a dear friend and fellow elder in our church. I shared a simple and short message at the graveside. It comforted this believing family as they were struggling with the “what if” questions, the “should have”, “could have” tormenting thoughts of medical decisions when facing a terminal illness.
Here’s the gist of what I said. “We need to understand today that first of all, death is unavoidable. Genesis 3 tells us so. God warned Adam that if he ate, he would surely die. Sin entered the world and so death entered the world. Your loved one’s death was ultimately unavoidable because of Adam’s sin.
Second, we need to accept that the moment of his death was ordained. Psalm 139:16 teaches us that God has numbered and ordained our days. We are immortal until we reach that number. Once reached, there is nothing in all the universe that can keep us alive.
Third, for those who die in Christ, we need to rejoice that death is reversible! I Thess. 4:13-18 and I Cor. 15:50-57 clearly speak of a resurrection to come, where those who die in Christ will be raised first. God will reverse every burial service of believers at the Rapture of the Church! Jesus rose up physically, bodily, and literally and so will we if united to Him! On that day we will mock death and be raised immortal and imperishable, never to die again. O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
By resting all our hope on Jesus, we are prepared to die and can face the inevitable without fear. And in the meantime, live, for there is no promise of tomorrow.
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight