Summary: Death is inevitable for those now living. The sole exception will be should the Lord return. Christ offers life for all who receive Him. Our responsibility is to prepare for the inevitable, trusting Him.

“The other [thief] rebuked [the first], saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise’” [LUKE 23:40-43].

“As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” [ACTS 7:59-60]. [1]

Death fascinates us. We cannot avoid speaking of the last enemy, this final scourge of all mankind. Though death is the last thing we talk about, it is nonetheless inevitable. The Word of God speaks of some who die only to be condemned to eternal separation from the love of God. As an example, recall that Jesus related an incident that occurred when two men died. One of those men was a poor man named Lazarus. The other individual was a rich man, and though we are not given his name, it is obvious that he was well-known in his community. The Master related at the appropriate point in the account, “One day the beggar died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In the afterlife, …he was in constant torment” [LUKE 16:22-23 ISV].

In another week, we will celebrate the conquest of death! We’ll celebrate the Resurrection of our Master, Jesus, who is the Christ. He conquered death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Today, preparing our hearts to rejoice in Christ’s victory over death, hell and the grave, I ask you to focus on two men as they entered Heaven. We’d be inclined to say that one of those men should never have entered into the precincts of Heaven; the other man, we’d likely agree, surely merited being received into heavenly mansions.

Truthfully, no one deserves Heaven, no individual merits Heaven. We do not go to Heaven based upon our achievements or based on how we lived life, we are accepted into the glory of the Father solely on the merits of Christ the Lord. I daresay that most of us give little thought to dying, though we should meditate on what follows this life. The child of God should be aware of what God has promised and make preparation for that eventuality.

A gracious Christian woman was in a former congregation which I served. She loved God and longed for those about her to know the grace of Christ the Lord. Following the death of her first husband, she had married a gentleman some years later, a man who knew the language of Zion, though he seemed unable to sing the melody. Visiting in their home one evening, this gracious woman spoke to her husband, “Garnet, are you going to Heaven?” He was obviously startled by the bluntness of the question, but he recovered quickly and responded, “Of course.”

“Garnet,” she said again, “if you were going to Montreal, I would see you preparing for the journey. You’d gather your clothing and the things you needed. You’d pack a suitcase. You would plan your journey. You say you are going to Heaven, but I never see you making preparation for the journey. You never read your Bible and you never pray. It doesn’t look as if you are planning on going there.”

That was certainly blunt enough. She had really placed her finger on the issue that should touch each follower of the Christ. Her husband could only stammer until he had recovered enough to say, “I’m okay. I’ve done what I needed to do.” I performed his funeral about a year after that conversation. The only thing to which I ever heard him appeal was his membership in the Lodge. I could not speak of his faith; I was able only to point those who were in attendance at his memorial to the fact that all must give an account to the Living God, appealing for each one to ensure that they had made preparation for the inevitable journey.

I do invite you to consider the death of two men, deaths which are recorded in the Word of God. While I propose to examine in greater detail the death of one of these men in a later message, it is sufficient for this message to consider the response the One to whom these men looked in the message presented today.

DEATH IS INEVITABLE — Death is inevitable, but the manner of death is seldom evident beforehand. The statistics on death are amazing—one out of one die. I understand that people don’t want to speak of death; in fact, it is the last thing we talk about. I’ve certainly been condemned by some for speaking of death from the pulpit. My standard response is, “When people quit dying, I’ll quit speaking about death. But so long as they insist on dying, I will continue warning that death is coming.”

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