It seems that, as we get older, it isn’t difficult to be reminded of the reality of dying. Some of our friends or family are not with us this year because they have passed away. We remember grandparents or other family members who left a mark in our lives but are now gone. We celebrate traditions left to us by generations that have gone before us. We wonder who will be gone from us the next time we celebrate.
Death is real. There will be no escape for any of us unless Jesus returns to take us away. Many generations have thought that they would be the ones who would be spared dying to rise with Him in the air, but none have been right so far. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Rapture will happen and I suspect it will happen soon, but it is far more likely that we will die as all those before us have died. The only question is whether we will die well.
It has been my privilege to minister to many people before their death. I have been greatly touched by the confidence of some of those who have had a lifelong relationship with the Lord. Even as their memory fades, they often remember Him and His love.
I remember hearing about the last days of Del Fehsenfeld, a young man who died of a brain tumor. They said that he lay on his deathbed reciting Bible verses as he died. He didn’t seem to know anyone or anything, but he knew the words of his Master.
That probably won’t be me. I shudder to think what I will say in that day when I ramble. I have heard people say crazy things, make accusations toward people they loved, and use language they had overcome in life. The process of dying is not usually that neat and nice.
How will we die? Will we die well? This morning I want to suggest that we should ask the Lord for dying grace. You see, dying is the ultimate loss of control for most people. So often there is just nothing to do. What an opportunity to allow the God of grace to reach down and supply our need! Of all the times in our life when we want Him to be in control, our final testimony seems most important. Our last words, our last actions, our last thoughts. What a blessing if they would all be His.
I have always liked the words of Moses as he addressed the people of Israel with his last words. He said,
“Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth” (Joshua 23:14)
He understood that death was inevitable. He understood that all things must come to an end. David understood also and said much the same thing to his son Solomon as he gave his last instructions:
“I go the way of all the earth”
Fanny Crosby understood as she wrote her special song, “Someday the silver cord will break and I no more as now shall sing…”. Those who trust in the Lord are able to look death in the face with confidence and even joy. They know that staying here isn’t an option, nor would it be a blessing. To leave this world, no matter what kind of pleasures it represents, for the glories of Heaven is an easy thing for those who know their Master and trust Him.
You see, it is true. There is eternal hope for those who belong to Jesus. There is eternal joy in the presence of the Lord. There is no more pain, no more tears, just as the Scripture says. Those who die in the Lord receive the blessing of Heaven.
As a young man, D.L. Moody was called upon suddenly to preach a funeral sermon. He hunted all throughout the four Gospels trying to find one of Christ’s funeral sermons, but searched in vain. He found that Christ broke up every funeral he ever attended. Death could not exist where he was. When the dead heard his voice they sprang to life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life.”
Life is the promise of our Lord, eternal life and eternal joy. This is His promise for those who will trust Him. We have nothing to fear.
Yet, many believers, men and women who say that they believe these things, still are afraid. They still hold on to the things of this world. They still do everything they can to stay here, to avoid death. It is right, of course, for us to seek to serve the Lord as long as we can. We should not seek death, but we also should not be afraid of it. Many Christians are afraid of death.
That’s why we need dying grace. My goal with these messages has been to show some very practical applications of the wonderful grace of God. We have seen how He has called us, how He has saved us, how He has cleansed us, how He has done all these wonderful things in our lives. We have seen how He is ready to love others through us, to keep us faithful in our service, even to pray through us. All that we have as Christians is from Him. Now we see that even the end of our lives is His and the ability to die well is a blessing of His grace.