Pastor-teacher Don Hargrove
Faith Bible Church
Monday, April 19, 2010
DOCTRINE OF DEATH – PART 11
CHRIST’S 5 LESSONS ON HOW TO DIE
#4: FOR THE RIGHT PURPOSE
This doctrine will also available in note & audio format @ http://fbcweb.org/doctrines.html
Preparation for Bible Study. Before we begin our Bible study there are three critical issues to understand before one can grasp the true essence of Christianity.
First is salvation. Pure Christianity, that is Christianity that is free from the mixture of religion, teaches that man is born spiritually death and unable to save himself and so God became man to save him by grace (Jn 1:1-18). One of the best and most accurate descriptions of grace is from the late Lewis Sperry Chafer, “Pure grace is neither treating a person as he deserves, nor treating a person better than he deserves, but treating a person without the slightest reference to what he deserves.”
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it…. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16 For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
Second is spirituality. Pure Christianity teaches that man is totally incapable of fulfilling God’s will so Christ sent the Holy Spirit to enable man to live the supernatural way of life, and Christ provided the Word of God, which is alive and powerful, for edification – i.e. the transformation of an otherwise diseased and immature mind,
Galatians 5:17 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.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Third is spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is the filling up of the soul with epignosis doctrine (metabolized Christian doctrine characterized by becoming a living and active part of the stream of consciousness) so that it becomes your frame of reference and viewpoint. In Christian doctrine your life is grounded in objective ultimate truth, objective propositional truth revealed by God Himself – rather than speculative, subjective, errant, and arbitrary human viewpoint, i.e. the Zeitgeist, Rom. 12:1-2.
Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world [Zeitgeist], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Only in maturity can the believer both really understand the will of God and accept that it is intrinsically good, perfectly acceptable/reasonable, and Perfect – you cannot add or subtract one thing from the Plan of God to make it better. Only in maturity does the believer get his eyes off of himself and embrace the will of God for what it is: perfectly good, perfectly acceptable, and perfectly perfect.
Christ Died for the Right Purpose.
Christ’s death was not the tragic end of a magnificent virtuous life. In accordance with God’s perfect will, Christ’s spiritual death on the Cross accomplished the work of redemption for mankind,
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree "--
John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Christ refers to believers, those who would accept Him, as gifts given to Him from the Father (John 17:11). When Christ bore the penalty for every sin of every person who would ever live, He cried out “It is finished!” – the magnificent work of salvation had been accomplished – completely, uniquely, and forever, John 19:30.
Obviously our death does not accomplish redemption but we are to glorify God in our deaths just as we are to glorify Him in our lives. Furthermore, the moment of our death is indeed a huge step forward in our glorification as we leave behind our old-sin- nature-ridden bodies. Death is the grand entrance, the door that swings open into eternity. Eventually that door will swing open for us all (except Rapture generation). That door will open in God’s time and in God’s way to let another one of His children come home where he or she belongs. The right purpose of death is to free us from the mortal sin-ridden body and to bring us into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. The “right purpose” in death is also that it is the final accomplishment of this life. Once the purpose for our earthly life is over, it is time for our souls and spirits to leave our bodies and move on to the next stage of life where we will be with Christ.
Knowledge of these Christian doctrines and the consequent confidence underscores the importance of Christian doctrine. Bible doctrine is the ONLY basis for objectivity regarding death or Ultimate Truth. Only Bible doctrine can provide us with the most fantastic truths regarding dying, and only the Holy Spirit can instill this wisdom into our souls. We have noted on several occasions the Apostle Paul’s understanding of the right purpose of his death. He desired to glorify God in his life as well as in his death,
Philippians 1:20-24 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
In this DDR let’s take a look at another Apostle - one who had failed terribly, feared for his life (before he got with doctrine), but recovered completely: the Apostle Peter. We all know how Peter due to fear of death denied the Lord three times. Let’s take note of Peter near the end of his life. Note his attitude towards death now that he had been, learning, teaching and growing in Bible doctrine for many years. What a stark contrast to his former self.
2 Peter 1:12-14 Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 And I consider it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my tabernacle is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
Peter looks at his impending physical death and refers to his body as simply a tabernacle (skenoma = σκήνωμα = a tent; used metaphorically of the human body as the dwelling place for the soul); Peter understands that his physical body was simply a tent that houses his soul. Peter recognized that his human body was but a temporary shelter and that as long as he was alive that God still had a purpose for his life. But when God’s purpose was over he would go be face-to-face with the Lord. He knew that to be absent from the body was to be face-to-face with the Lord. He knew that his soul and spirit simply occupied his tent body and when that body died, he would be released to be with the Lord.
In the above passage Peter said that the Lord made this “clear” to him. The word clear is deloo (δηλόω) which refers to something that is crystal clear – without any doubt whatsoever. There is no question about it! Christ was very perspicuous when He taught Peter that the body was just a tent to be laid aside someday after which the soul and spirit would be reunited with the Lord. This would occur when the Plan of God for his earthly life was complete. In the meantime Christ was preparing a place for every believer,
John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Here is Peter near the end of his life desiring to glorify God in his death - just as desires to in his life. He did not want his life to be in vain; he did not want to die in vain either. Peter failed many times during his earthly life with Jesus - even after the resurrection; however, he always recovered - learning once again that the Plan of God is all about God’s grace and power and not man’s ability. The only ability God seeks in man is availability. Peter became a great believer whose last words in Scripture were “continue to grow in grace and epignosis knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet 3:18.
Peter is a wonderful example of how any believer can survive any type of difficulty, shame, shock or disaster and actually come out better afterwards and even because of the hardships. Peter became a most fantastic believer only because he returned to the Lord by returning to Bible doctrine. Peter learned through Christian doctrine that there was no need to fear anything in life or death – for both are in God’s hands. Peter learned that each person is given a certain amount of time on this earth and that THIS TIME MUST BE USED WISELY! God has a plan and purpose for your life to the end and even through the very end in your death. There are at least four discernable purposes in your death. First it marks the completion of your work on earth; second, it is your final opportunity to glorify God on earth; third, it is to release you from your old sin nature; and fourth to grant you as a believer the single last and greatest blessing you will receive on earth as you are transferred to be with your Lord.
Peter learned the hard way that every believer must base his reality on Bible doctrine and not human experiences. When Peter relied on his own emotions, machinations, and “strength” he ended up denying the Lord who bought him. It is not “about” your feelings and experiences about the reality of life or death or the hereafter. The issue is what you know through Bible doctrine – through God’s infallible Word! Peter learned that anytime there was a contradiction between man’s experience and the Word of God that the Bible is ALWAYS RIGHT! The sooner you learn this the better. Only then can you live in God’s realities and purpose for your life up through the very act of dying and through it all be free from the enslavement of fear – a fear that the world lives in, though it tries ever so hard to live in denial about it.
Hebrews 2:14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
Christian doctrine matters!!