Pastor-teacher Don Hargrove
Faith Bible Church
Monday, April 12, 2010
DOCTRINE OF DEATH, Part 9
CHRIST’S 5 LESSONS ON HOW TO DIE
#2: The Right Time
This doctrine is also available in note and audio format @ http://fbcweb.org/doctrines.html
Before we begin our Bible study there are three issues that are imperative to understand.
First is salvation. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation is 100% a work of God which can only be received by man through faith. Faith is the only non-meritorious system that eliminates all human works and puts all men on an equal footing. Note both Paul’s and Luke’s response to the most important question of life,
Acts 16:30 and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household."
Second is Biblical spirituality. Spirituality is not about praying, seeking God, feeling religious, or any other mystical activity about immaterial things. Spirituality is about God the Holy Spirit. Only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit can a person understand and live in true spirituality. Only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit can a person overcome his own wretched old sin nature,
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Third is spiritual maturity. Biblical maturity is not about learning hard lessons, human wisdom or gaining a certain amount of knowledge through experience. True biblical maturity is maximum amount of Christian doctrine in the soul from which one understands God, self, the spiritual life, and ultimate truth. Apart from spiritual maturity, the believer will continue to be tossed about by the evil one, the kosmos, and the vicissitudes of life.
Ephesians 4:11-14 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
If you are not a Christian all you need to do is believe in Christ to gain salvation. If you are a believer, you need to make sure that you do not have any unconfessed sins in your life that hinders the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If you are an immature believer, it is imperative that you study this doctrine carefully so it adds to your bank of doctrinal knowledge and biblical frame of reference. If you are a mature believer, you understand all of this and I would urge you not to allow this or any doctrine to become too familiar and thus lose your grip on its realities. As you know it is very easy to be distracted and start slipping. The Bible and all of human history is filled with examples of great supergrace believers who took a nosedive into reversionism simply by starting to neglect the Word little by little. I would almost venture to say that I cannot think of a single spiritual hero in the Bible who did not fall into this trap. If this is true then you are likely to slip as well.
Doctrine of Death: Christ’s lessons on how to die: #2: The Right Time
Christ died at the right time. He was very well aware of the exact time of His death and was in full control of the situation. The night of His betrayal Christ chose to eat the Passover with His disciples. I always find a great deal of comfort in the fact that the people Christ most wanted to be with right before His death were His own believers. Those you want around you when you die are the ones you love the most. If you lived during the time of Christ as a believer, a disciple that is (a believer serious about Bible doctrine), then He would want to be with you right before He went to His horrible death,
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
Christ knew He was on God’s timetable and until “the hour” arrived, His enemies, all enemies, were powerless against Him. His hour was completely in the Father’s hands – a point totally lost on the human viewpoint around Him,
John 7:30 They were seeking therefore to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.
John 8:20 These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come.
There was not the slightest possibility that Christ, or any believer, would die sooner than God planned!
As far as Christ’s death on the Cross, He died more quickly than most others who were crucified. The soldiers, you recall, did not break his legs because “they saw that He was already dead” (Jn 19:33). He died between three and six in the afternoon, just as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. He died at the hour God planned, a striking reminder that He was indeed “the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world,” Jn 1:29.
Christ was only thirty-three years old, young by today’s standards and even by those of ancient Middle Eastern culture. Why not fifty-three, or sixty-three, or eighty-three? Just think of the “good” He could have done with so many more years of healing the sick, training more disciples, and teaching more Bible doctrine! No doubt people in those days wondered, even as they do today, as to why the righteous often die young whereas the wicked live to a ripe old age.
Even the ghastly crime of crucifixion as the manner of death was part of God’s good - no Great Plan. The fiends who crucified Him could not have acted until God’s clock struck that hour.
Acts 4:27 "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur [i.e. as per Isaiah 53].
Christ died young, but His work was finished. We don’t have to live a long life to do all that God has planned for us to do. Some of God’s best servants have died at an early age – early from our standpoint, at the right time from God’s. They too have finished the work God gave them to do. Consider John the Baptist of whom Christ said was the greatest (Lk 7:28) – his ministry only lasted about six months after which he was beheaded. His ministry was over because his ministry was to be the announcer or forerunner of Christ. Once he announced that the Messiah had finally come, his work was over and God called him Home. When your work is over God will call you home too.
What about the death of a child? It certainly seems unfair since it appears that God is taking a life before the child has the joy of accomplishment. However, a child’s short life most certainly can and does fulfill God’s will. Though we do not understand it, that little one has finished the work of God and in fact continues his ministry both in heaven and in the life of parents, relatives and friends who are left behind. Heaven is filled with those who have died before the age of accountability (which doctrine I will cover at a later time). If God Almighty wants to reach down and take a child Home, He has that right. We think it cruel only because we do not have all of the facts and cannot see behind the Curtain.
What about those who are cut down in the prime of life - victims of evil murderous men? If Christ, who was brutally murdered by jealous religious leaders, died as planned by God, why should we think that a believer who is gunned down in a robbery is any less under the care of the Almighty? The immediate cause of our death is neither haphazard nor arbitrary. The One who knows the number of hairs on our head and sees the sparrow fall has absolute sovereignty over our destiny in every single day with every single event.
Matthew 10:29 "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 "Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Our death is just as meticulously planned as the death of Christ – either it will be filled with peace, confidence and happiness in dying grace or misery in the horrible Sin Unto Death. At any rate, there is no combination of evil men, disease, or accident that can kill us as long as God still has work for us to do. It is God’s timetable – not ours!
Understanding the sovereignty of God should rid all believers of any guilt they might have where they feel responsible for someone’s untimely death. The mother who thoughtlessly answered “Yes” to her little daughter who asked “May I cross the street?” only to see her hit by a truck – that woman through Bible doctrine can understand that her little one also died under the providential hand of God. Could the Almighty not have arranged that the truck come to the intersection a moment later or earlier? Or could not the mother have detained and arrived at a different time? Yes, even accidents occur within the circle of divine providence.
With doctrine – that is by collecting and categorizing all of what Scripture says on death and the providence of God – the believer is able to go beyond the immediate cause of death and realize that they might include a number of things but in the end the ultimate cause is God Himself. The immediate cause of Christ’s physical death was wicked men who had nailed Him to the Cross, but the ultimate cause was God Himself – as He was involved in every detail of His life – and yours (at a later time I will develop just how freewill and divine sovereignty work together; in the meantime just understand that God, not you, is ultimately in control),
Note God’s involvement in Christ’s life, ministry and substitutionary sacrifice – and in everything else,
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. 3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
Acts 4:27 "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur.
Acts 2:22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- 23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Psalm 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
Daniel 4:35 "And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What hast Thou done?'
Job 14:5 "Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with Thee, And his limits Thou hast set so that he cannot pass.
Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
Someday God will take you and take me! Are you ready? As an unbeliever you are not ready. As a carnal believer you are afraid and do not want to give up certain things here – i.e. job, home, family, friendships. As an immature believer you still have many questions and consequently many reservations. As a mature believer you realize that death will be the LAST single greatest blessing you will ever receive on planet earth as you step through the door of heaven into eternity and move to the very presence of Jesus Christ Himself!
Christian doctrine matters!
Safe and Sound in Him,