Facing Death With Confidence.

In recent weeks I have conducted three funerals of close friends.All three were committed christians and active in their churches.What happens after death for the believer?Is heaven a real place?Is heaven more than a place?Should a believer fear death? Many people are afraid of death,and their fear takes much of the joy out of living.In the Bible death is called an enemy and rightly so;but in a sense it is our friend,and if we could be assured of that,life would be so much fulfilling and happier.

John Bunyan was once being pestered by a sceptic who kept asking him silly,unanswerable questions about heaven in the hope of making Christianity appear ridiculous.The Puritan pastor eventually transmuted his irritation into good advice by telling his questioner to trust Christ and live a holy life so that he could go to heaven and find out the answeres for himself.The Bible is written to enable to do just that.It is not meant to satisfy our our curiosty but to call us to faith.Much about heaven that we might like to know is not revealed in scripture,but this is not because the human writers were incompetent,trying to describe heaven and failing.It is rather because their purpose was evangelistic and pastoral.Scripture reveals to us all about heaven that we need to know at present.{Biblical teaching on the doctrine of heaven and hell,Edward Donnelly.The Banner of Truth Trust.Page,48}.

Christians down through the ages have believed that the Bible teaches that heaven is a place..Jesus said in John.14:2b.I go to prepare a place for you.

Charles Allen,in his devotional book,”When you lose a loved one shares “,the following testimonies of those who gave witness to heaven as a place.

He writes,”Recently,I was visiting a dear old lady in the hospital.Through the years she had developed a marvelous Christian faith,and now,as the shades were swiftly being drawn for her,she said to me, “Dr.Allen,the Fathers house is mighty attractive to me now.” She has suffered much,and,instead of dreading death,she looks foward to it as the greatest blessing of her life.She is not the least bit afraid.On the contrary,as she is coming in sight of the other shore there is a radient joy in her heart.”

One of the greatest scientists this world has ever produced is Thomas Edison.He was a very exact man and was never satisified until he had full and final truth.His statements  were always based on proven facts.When Mr.Edison was dying,he was heard to whisper,”It is very beautiful over there.”Thomas Edison,a genuine scientist and scholar,would never had said that had it not been true.”It is very beautiful over there”———he was reporting what he saw.

As Robert Louis Stevenson came to his last moment on earth,he whispered, “If this is death,it is easy.”Alfred Lord Tennyson was convinced that this life is the “dull side of death.”

Of course,the best and surest testimony that we have is in the Book that is the truest and surest of all books.The Apostle John was exiled on the Island of Patmos——a foul place,where he was seperated from those he loved and from the work so dear to his heart.But there are always compensations for our sorrows and disappoinments and,to compensate dear old patient John,God rolled back the curtain and let him look over to the other side.What a marvelous report he gave us! “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;and there shall be no more death,neither sorrow,nor crying,neither shall there be any more pain:for the former things are passed away” Rev.21:4).After he had seen that,John was never afraid again.And on the basis of his sure testimony no one of us should ever fear going to a place like that.{Charles Allen}

Adoniram Judson,the great Baptist missionary to Burma once said, “I am not tired of my work,neither am I tired of the world;yet when Christ calls me home I shall go with the gladness of a school boy bounding away from school.Death will never take me by surprise;I am too strong in Christ.”

Another illustration of what death should mean to the Christian comes from John Quincy Adams.It is said that one day in his eightieth year as he walked slowly alomg a Boston street he was accosted by a friend who said, “And how is John Quincy Adams today?” The former president of the United States replied graciously, “Thank you,John Quincy Adams is well sir,quite well,I thank you.But the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated.It is tottering upon the foundation.Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it.Its roof is pretty well worn out,its walls are shattered,and it trembles with every wind.The old tenement is becoming almost uninhabitable,and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon;but he himself is quite well,sir,quite well.”And with that the venerable statesman,leaning heavily upon his cain,continued his slow walk down the street.{Immortality,by Loraine Boettner}

As General Stonewall Jackson lay dying,he faced death with a certainty that all was well.

Reverend Lacy, the 2nd Corps Chaplain, came in during the morning (Sunday). He looked at Jackson’s stump and exclaimed,” Oh General, what a calamity.” Jackson would have none of that. He wanted to rationalize the loss of his arm in terms of his understanding the relations of a true believer to his God. He insisted he was not depressed or unhappy. He was certain that the Heavenly Father had designed the affliction of the loss of his arm for his own good. He felt in this or the future world to come he would discover that what seems like a calamity was actually a blessing. He told Reverend Lacy he felt that so strongly that if he had the power to replace his arm he would not do so unless he knew the replacing was the Will of God.Yes,Heaven is a definite place,but the Bible’s favorite way of describing heaven is not  hard to undersand.In the New Testament,heaven means being with Jesus.Heaven is a Person as well as a Place.

Jesus said to the dying thief on the cross,”Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”Luke.23:43.Heaven is being with Jesus in a land{place} that is brighter than day.Jesus said to his troubled disciples, “I will come again and receive you to Myself;that where I am there you may be also.”John.14:3.What a marvelous statement! ‘In the world to come,you will be with me’,is all he tells them about heaven.

Edward Donnelly in his book, “Heaven and Hell” writes, Jesus,in His high—priestly prayer makes a request on behalf of His followers,’Father,I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am'(John17:24).’With Me’—here is the fulness of blessing,the sum of glory.Above and beyond everything else,heaven means being with Jesus.

It is interesting that the New Testament nowhwere speaks of believers going ‘to heaven’ when they die.Instead ,they go to be ‘with Christ.Paul writes from prison to the Christians at Philippi,explaining how eager he is for the life to come,’having a desire to depart’from his present existence.But what,or who,is the attraction in that future realm?Not so much,apparently,heaven itself.The Apostle’s great desire is ‘to depart and be with Christ,which is far better'(Phil.1:23).

In heaven we will behold our Saviour.Job,one of the earliest figures in the Old Testament,was convinced not only ‘that my Redeemer lives’,but that ‘in my flesh I shall see God'(Job.19:25-26). Isaiah promised that ‘Your eyes will see the King in His beauty’ (Isa.33:17).Paul anticipates a more distinct future vision than present faith affords:’Now we see in a mirror,dimly,but then face to face’ (1.Cor.13:12).AndJohn in the classic text on this subject,assures us that ‘We shall see Him as He is’ (1.John.3:2).Heaven is where you and I will see Christ fully and clearly for the first time.We shall gaze into his face and look upon his matchless beauty.)Donnelly,page,85).

The account of General Stonewall Jackson’s dying moments is an example of how believers can face death with convidence.

 

He said to Chaplain Lacy, “You never saw one more contented than I am today.” Reverend Lacy asked what happened? Jackson told him. He said at the moment the litter fell he experienced exquisite pain. Where? Arm–abdomen or both? It seemed a moment of death –and he knew perfect peace in the thought that he was approaching his Heavenly Father and could do so without fear. Jackson said, “It has been a precious experience for me that I was brought face to face with death and found all well.” Jackson doubted whether anyone who had not made his peace with God would have the same experience. Dr. McGuire ordered the conversation stopped.

Stonewall Jackson was a devout Presbyterian;his faith in God was the cornerstone of his life.Anna,his wife,was told that her husband would not live through the day and she asked him,” Do you not feel willing to acquiesce in God’s allotment,if He will you go today?” Jackson replied to her, “I will be an infinite gainer to be translated.” Later,Jackson called for his doctor,saying to him,” Doctor,Anna informs me that you told her that I am to die today, “That is so.”Jackson replied,”Very good,very good,it is alright.”Later,when his strength was slipping further away,Jackson spoke, “It is the Lord’s day;my wish is fulfilled.I have always desired to die on sunday.” At 3:15 in the afternoon on May 10,1863,Jackson paused with a smile,”Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.(nelliware.com)

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Explore posts in the same categories: Heaven a place and a person, How to face death, Stonewall Jackson, The mystery of suffering., Uncategorized

3 Comments on “Facing Death With Confidence.”

  1. Jim Whitaker Says:

    Beautifully expressed!

  2. Jim Cooke Says:

    The John Quincy Adams story: “the house in which he lives . . . becoming dilapidated” is also told of his father, John Adams. Perhaps they both said it? In any case, either would have said it with more brevity and less blather. The usual conclusion of the Adams quote is: “From all I have learned, my landlord does not intend to repair it.”
    I am fond of Ernest Hemingway’s remark on the approach of the Grim Reaper: “People are dying this year who never died before.”

  3. Ephrem Hagos Says:

    Whoever accepts Christ’s commandments and follows up on them until the fulfillment of his promise of Self-revelation as “I Am Who I Am”, i.e., eternal life, in his once-and-for-all, perfect and transfigurative death on the cross, will come not only to believe in him but also to share in his immortal life.(John 3: 1-21; 8: 21-32; 11: 25-26; 14: 15-21)

    Therefore, facing death with confidence begins at “looking at him whom they pierced” (Ibid, 19: 30-37). PTL!


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