Summary: Now I realize that whenever the subject of death comes up, many people try to avoid discussing it, reluctant even to think about it. But not all people are that way. (Powerpoints Available - #285)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #285.)
A. Have you ever tried to picture what it will be like right after you die? After you breathe your last breath? After you heart beats its last beat? What do you think it'll be like for you?
As you try to picture that, are the images that flash across your mind frightening, or exciting? Are you looking forward to that moment, or are you facing it with uncertainty & dread?
ILL. As some of you know, I recently read an interesting book entitled "Imagine Heaven" by John Burke, a former atheist who is now a Christian minister in Austin, TX. In his book he tells about his investigation into the reports of over 1,000 "near-death" experiences.
We've all heard of "near-death" or "out-of-body" experiences, of people dying on the operating table or in an accident, but who, within a relatively short period of time, were brought back to life.
Some of them relate that during that time they were floating out of their body, watching what was going on around them, & then they were moving through a tunnel of light towards a place of almost indescribable beauty. Some of them even tell of seeing & being greeted by loved ones who had passed on before.
Now I don't doubt their stories. But what we need to be careful about is the meaning that some have given to these experiences, & to realize that Satan has a lot of ways of getting to us. And one of his tactics is to deceive us about what life after this life is like.
B. What does the Bible have to say on that subject? Well, Psalm 90:10 tells us, "The length of our days is 70 years - or 80, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble & sorrow, for they quickly pass, & we fly away."
C. Now I realize that whenever the subject of death comes up, many people try to avoid discussing it, reluctant even to think about it. But not all people are that way.
ILL. For example, just last Tuesday the New York Post published a news story under this headline: "Dead gambler embalmed, propped up at poker table"
It stated that Henry Martinez, a 31-year-old avid gambler, died earlier this month from booze & an overdose of prescription pills in his hometown of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.
Before Martinez was buried, his dad had undertakers embalm him, dress him in sunglasses & casual clothes & prop him up at a poker table so loved ones could see him one more time, doing what he enjoyed.
CEN reported that a full house of friends gathered around Martinez’s corpse, shared their memories & snapped pictures of him at the poker table, with a full stack of chips in front of him. (New York Post - January 26, 2016)
Now if that seems rather strange to you, how about this true story:
ILL. Jeremy Benson was a very successful English businessman, & for a number of years served as Chairman of the Board of a London hospital. When he died, he left a large part of his fortune to that hospital.
But his Will stipulated that every year for ten years after his death, when the hospital board held its annual meeting, his earthly remains were to be put in a wheel chair & brought into the board room & placed at the head of the table.
And the minutes of the meeting were to state that Jeremy Benson was present as the Chairman of the Board. Now that is weird!
D. Those of us who are Christians should be able to face death with faith & confidence & excitement about the future. After all, it was Jesus who told us that in His Father's house were many rooms, & He said, "I am going there to prepare a place for you."
That's why the Apostle Paul could cry out, "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Cor. 15:54-55)
With that in mind, listen to Revelation 21:1-4. The apostle John writes, "Then I saw a new heaven & a new earth, for the first heaven & the first earth had passed away, & there was no longer any sea.
"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.