Death; July 12, 2018

John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

We tend to agonize over “What is God’s will,” when here Jesus states it very clearly. When we have this much firmly in our hearts and minds, nothing can shake us. As Jesus warned us in John 16:33, in this world we have all sorts of junk thrown at us, but when our hearts are fixed on the finish line that Jesus has already provided for us, we can rejoice in the middle of it all. A brother in the Lord just contacted me via the Internet to ask for prayer for a health situation that his doctors aren’t sure how to label. Such things aren’t easy to deal with, because of our perspective in the middle of it all. However once we have God’s will, as expressed in this verse, ingrained in the depths of our being, everything else pales in comparison. That’s why Paul could call such things “light and momentary troubles.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) He said that in the context of beatings, shipwreck, and martyrdom! He himself had a physical issue that really bothered him, but God used it to make it very clear the power was from Him and not from Paul. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) It was the early Christians’ assurance of what Jesus said in this verse that caused the Romans to note that “They really know how to die.” When you know to the depths of your being that death is no more than a transit point, regardless of how much suffering might be involved, then you can face it with peace and even joy. That’s not at all to say we are to seek physical death, but it is very much to say we aren’t to be in the least afraid of it.

I was not physically present for the death of either of my parents, but I do know how they died, and it was with great peace. I have been present at the death of several other people, and some of those have been very different from my parents indeed. I have seen that without faith, death is torture for the one dying, but that with faith it is often a relief. The same may be said for those left behind who mourn the one who has died. Separation isn’t easy, and the closer the relationship, the less easy it is. However, without faith it is devastation. I am sometimes mystified at the response to death of people who claim to be Christians, because they certainly aren’t demonstrating faith that what Jesus said in this verse is certainty. I am already well past the age at which my father didn’t wake up from heart surgery, and my wife has a laundry list of significant medical issues. Each of us wants to “hang in there” for the sake of the other, and to accomplish that for which the Lord has sent us here, but otherwise, we certainly identify with Paul when he said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:21-24) Sometimes in the middle of things, our feeling is, “Any time would be fine with me, Lord!” At the same time, we experience His grace and blessings in various ways, and rejoice to be used by Him. In the final analysis, to use the words of Jake Hess, “Death ain’t no big deal!”

Father, thank You indeed for this assurance. I see so many around me who don’t have it, nor do they have reason to. I ask You to use me more and more to draw people to repentance and faith so that they may have that assurance because they have indeed received Your eternal life, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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