Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Death of the Christian

"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:6–7).

Every man and woman on earth must face death. Only those alive when our Lord returns will escape the moment of physical death. Thus, the question that comes before each of us is: Will we die in faith or in sin? But what does it mean to die in faith?

Faith is a word that has become cheap in our day. For some people, faith is almost the same thing as magic and superstition. In the Bible, however, faith means trust. It is one thing to believe that there is a God, but it is something else to put your trust in this God for life and for death. True faith expresses itself in a life lived as a warrior for God. Notice how Paul expresses this in 2 Timothy 4:7. First he says he has fought the good fight. Of course, the Bible makes it clear that Christians are not to be belligerent people, but at the same time there are certain struggles in which we are called to engage. We are to struggle against the world, the sinful flesh, and the Devil, for instance. And, when we get a serious illness, God is honored when we fight it tooth and nail.

Then Paul shifts to the imagery of a race. Anybody can be a Christian for five minutes or five years, but the recurring theme in the Scriptures is that he who endures to the end is the one who experiences redemption (Matthew 24:13). The race Paul speaks of here is not a 100-yard dash, but a marathon.

As Christians we want to die trusting God, not abandoning hope in Him. The New Testament tells us that the just shall live by faith, but it is also clear that the just shall die in faith. Paul was given a sense that he was about to die, as these verses show. Job was not given such a sense of impending death, but he demonstrated what it means to die in faith when in his awful agony he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15).

How do you want to be remembered? What on your tombstone would you like to be a teaching reminder for all who pause to read it? If you died today, would the memory of your life match the message of your epitaph?