The Death of a Christian

Where O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55

Sunday afternoon I entered the room of a dear brother in Christ. He was in bed surrounded by family who were coming to terms with the inevitable. His wife was sat next to him, hand in hand as she said her goodbyes to her husband of 64 years.

There was a sense of relief as his long battle with Parkinsons was coming to an end.

I read from the book of Revelation (21:1-5) which gives us an amazing window into eternity and a taste of the wonder and the glory of what is next for a Christian when we meet our end (in this life).

John was told to write these things down for these words are trustworthy and true. So we have every right to get excited about them. Paul speaks of his confidence in the truth of what is to come, in 2 Corinthians 5: 8 where he declares that when we are away from the body we are at home with the Lord.

It is a certainty then (if you are a Christian) that when you depart from this life, your next conscious experience will be with the Lord Himself.

So I can say in full confidence, knowing of my late brothers Christian profession and faithful witness to Jesus Christ through the pangs of Parkinsons, that today he will be in paradise (Luke 23:43).

By the Grace of God, our brother has now heard the words “well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). He has now seen the Lord face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12) and now knows more about Jesus, more about the Bible, more about the profound truths of existence than any preacher, theologian or seminary professor ever will (in this life).

Our brother is no longer under the curse of sin (Revelation 21:4), his Parkinsons has gone and he is with Christian friends and family from every tribe and nation (Revelations 7:9) bathing in the glory and wonder of God.

Our brother is now in eternity, worshiping the Lord (Revelations 22:3) and in constant rich and fruitful learning (Ephesians 3:18-19, Colossians 2:3).

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city” (Revelations 22:14-15)

I write with such enthusiasm and certainty about our brother’s current state because of the Gospel that puts salvation in the hands of God and not in the works of humanity.

We are confident because it is Christ who has the victory over death and it is in Him we put our trust!

Our brother is in Heaven now because in this life He accepted with all of his heart that Jesus is the Christ, God the Son, who left the glory of His Fathers embrace to take on this world at its worst, being born in poverty and living a life despised and rejected by His own people.

Our brother is in Heaven now because in this life He accepted with all of his heart that on the cross Jesus took the consequences for the failures (sin) of His people and buried them in His death.

Our brother is in Heaven now because in this life He accepted with all of his heart Christ’s resurrection as evidence of life after death and assurance of a fresh start.

Our brother had faith that Jesus was His substitute, mediator, Prophet, Priest and King and as a result he did not fear death, knowing with certainty that the Son of God was with him (Psalm 23:1). Christ Jesus was his anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19)

As Christians, we know, that in Christ “we are chosen, predestined, and sealed with the Holy Spirit guaranteeing our inheritance to God’s Praise and Glory” (Ephesians 1:11-14). This truth allows us to live a life in this corrupt and fallen world (that is ever increasingly hostile to our beliefs) in the utmost joy and contentment.

Whatever trial, disease, heartache or mocking that we may face we know that we need not fear, for God is with us and will strengthen us (Isaiah 41:10).

In God’s hands, we cannot be beaten, for if God is for us who can be against us (Romans 8:31).

This truth goes someway in explaining why us Christians are joyful in our trial, because we have nothing to fear, not even death, for to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)! And when the worst this world can through at you is of absolutely no consequence, it is truley liberating! Believe you me!

So liberating, that when sat at the bedside of a dying man, we were not in deep mourning and grief (as you see from those lost in the world). No! in Christ we could gather together in utter peace around the word and prayerfully praise God because of the certainty of our brothers future.

As Christians we can all face the last enemy without fear and this gives us greater freedom in this life.

Yes the enemy is fierce, so fierce that the richest most powerful person alive today cannot defeat it (try as they might)!

But in Christ we can say with confidence “Where O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

If you are reading this and are not a Christian, please consider our late brothers faith that got him through life’s trials and let it be an example to you as you remember the shortness of your days and the certainty of your end.

Do not wait until your death bed before accepting the reality of God.  Do not let your pride cause you to meet the end of yourself, before getting to the beginning of God.

Come to Him now! It is the perfect time! Come to God today and accept His Son Jesus Christ as your Saviour!

Come to God today and know the most profound joy, meaning and purpose, that goes beyond anything this corrupt and fallen world can tempt you with.

To find out more about this most amazing truth…..come to church…it is great! There is no place like it on earth! You will meet people of all ages and backgrounds that are bound in the total unity of God’s love. You will be fulfilled as you grow in Grace and see your life transformed as Jesus builds you up, giving you meaning and purpose in the body of believers. A community of sacrificial love.

I leave you with the lyrics of In Christ Alone (see below)

death

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm,
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save,
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again,
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny,
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Songwriters: Keith Getty / Stuart Townend

 

 

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David Bowie “Look up here, I’m in heaven”

As a young sprog (over twenty years ago), my Auntie Jeannette (Jean Genie) introduced me to the work of David Bowie – I instantly fell in love. A passion for his art stayed with me through my adolescence, teenage years and into adulthood. The man’s talents were remarkable and I was looking forward to hearing his new album “Black Star” released on his 69th birthday.

As we now all know, just two days after the album’s release, David Bowie died after an 18-month battle with cancer.

This period of David’s life must have been agonizing as he came to terms with his pending fate (one that we will all have to share). But to us “fans” David’s death was “sudden,” as nobody knew about  his diagnosis. Such secrecy (you could argue) gave David time to plan his affairs outside of the media gaze and made his death, in many ways, a final artistic expression.

When the news broke the media was filled with tributes.

His face was all over the National Newspapers. The Sun, the Star and the Daily Express were of particular interest to me as they referenced on their front pages a lyric from David’s new track “Lazarus”, where he sang “Look up here, I’m in heaven”.

Some have said this track is a “goodbye” from David to his “fans”. It is clear that the mind behind such a track was obviously in turmoil, dealing with the truth of eternity and the vanity of life. Again something we will all have to ponder at some point.

David Bowie

In truth none of us can say where David Bowie is today. His public life (and his work) did not allude to any saving faith. With that said, the Lord could have graciously met with David in his final moments (as He did the thief on the Cross). With repenting heart David could have put His trust in Jesus Christ and thus now be in Heaven as an adopted Son. I pray (for his sake) that this is the case.

What has encouraged me through this shared experience of mourning is how; in an age where churches are at best poorly attended and even closing, where Christianity is ostracized and atheism praised, the papers where still happy to publish “Heaven” on their front pages and that there has been no retaliation from the public ( in light of David’s sad passing). Several known figures from the world of entertainment and politics have also publicly shared their condolences and have  agreed with the concept of David now being in “Heaven”.

It would seem that “Heaven” is clearly still accepted by general consensus to be a reality. (Praise God).

The same people who would otherwise reject the teaching of Jesus Christ and His church, who would dismiss me at any other time as being “a nut” for believing in the Bible, are now all in chorus agreeing with the Biblical concept of Heaven.

Yet, this should not surprise me, human beings are body and soul, we are all spiritual beings and the Bible does tell us that God has put such knowledge in our hearts.

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end“(Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).

David’s death has once again proved that at times of sorrow and in times of grief, the general populous do concede to this knowledge and this is because it is true.

However, we do also learn (with great sadness) that the general populous believe that everyone (including themselves) will be joining David there, without thinking through the logic of such a position.

Yes! They are right, Heaven does exist and  it is a perfect place. So why (you may ask) do they then think they have any right to go there?

None of us can claim to be perfect? Paul himself writes “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

If we all went to Heaven, our imperfections would be amplified throughout eternity, Heaven would cease to be perfect, because we are in it! Your very presence would ruin it!

If you (rightly) judge yourself not to be perfect and are by your own admittance an imperfect judge. How damming do you think the verdict will be against you when you come to meet the perfect God, who has perfect judgement?

Where do you think He would put you? Heaven? I don’t think so!

I know I am not perfect, I know that I do not meet the standard to enter Heaven. So before God, I could never sing in my own strength as David did, “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. It is illogical and un-Biblical!

This is the sad state of man! We are lost by our very imperfect nature!

BUT! There is some good news! The same book that tells us of Heaven also tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

It continues … “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned

Hope! Hope in our imperfections!

In Christ Jesus we can sing “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Because in faith, in Him my sins are forgiven and forgotten.

God says “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25.

Jesus lived the perfect life that I never could and He took the punishment, the justice I deserve for my crimes against God on the Cross.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

This should be front page news today and every day!

By coming to Jesus, repenting of my sin and asking Him to save me, I can  go to the mercy seat saved and justified. Not because of my good deeds, but because of His, Jesus Christ. For God the Son is my advocate before my Father, it is in Him that I trust my salvation. I mourn my failures, my crimes against God and  I know there is no way I could get to Heaven without Him.

What blessed assurance we have in Jesus!

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

In our sin, none of us have any right to sing “Look up here, I’m in heaven” but in Christ we can and we will!

What is for sure is that David Bowie has met his maker, as we all will one day. I pray He had Christ with Him at the time.