Job interviews, dentist and doctor’s appointments and haircuts are appointments you must keep.
Visits to the vet, premarital and post-marital counseling, automobile repairs, the cable guy are appointments you must keep.
However, there is one appointment that we all must keep and it will never be one second early or late. The Scripture says, “It is appointed unto a man (and woman) once to die…” While we may not want to think about it, unless God intervenes, the ratio of people born to people who die is 1 to 1.
This past week we had another funeral at our church. At least six people I know from West Virginia, Utah and Canada have passed into eternity.
One of my earliest recollections of childhood was the death of my grandmother and her open casket in her home. I was sitting with my dad in the living room of his house watching television and talking; the next moment a massive heart attack took him to heaven at age 51.
I can’t count the number of relatives and friends whose funerals I’ve attended.
As a pastor, the first funeral I ever conducted was for a 2-year-old girl. Since then I’ve shared God’s Words of comfort and hope many times, at the death of infants, young people, middle aged and older. The fact is that people all die: rich and poor, old and young, all cultures, religions and nationalities.
It is an appointment we must all keep.
For too many, death is greatly feared. I’ve read that the number one fear of most people is public speaking and the second is death. Since death is the natural end of mankind, ever since Adam and Eve first sinned, it would be natural to fear it. But we don’t have to.
The one thing that changes our view of death is our relationship with Jesus Christ. It was He, who as Perfect God and Perfect Man, went to the cross, bore the sins of the world and paid the full price for them, died and was buried. Three days later He rose again, bodily, and in so doing, He conquered sin, death, Satan and hell.
The Psalmist said, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15) And how do we become one of His saints? The Bible gives the answer: “…that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) “He that believes in Him is not condemned…” (John 3:18) “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31) “For by grace are you saved through faith; and it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (Titus 3:5)
It couldn’t be clearer.
The fear of death is absolved by our salvation. Our salvation is a gift from God. We cannot deserve it; we cannot earn it. It doesn’t come by any work, charitable, philanthropic or religious. It comes by complete and full faith in the finished work of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. When we come to Him in faith believing who He is and what He’s done, He forgives our sin, saves us, and brings us to repentance and Sonship. And death is no longer the enemy.
To the Christian, though we don’t want to unnecessarily hasten our death, we welcome it. We would not want to live forever in a world of sin, disease, hate, crime and pain. We long to be with the Lord Jesus and gather with the saints of all the ages in His presence. And that is a glorious place, described by John as a place “where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain…” (Revelation 21:4)
I don’t enjoy funerals. I’m not a fan of cemeteries. I have some friends who are funeral directors and I don’t envy them their jobs. And with each passing day and year, I know death is coming. But, death isn’t even a good term to use for that time in our lives when God calls us home. “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.” My prayer for each reader today is that you know Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior. If you do, death is not to be feared. If you do not, He’s calling to you today.
“Some day the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but, O, the joy when I shall wake within the presence of the King.
“Some day my earthly house will fall, I cannot tell how soon ‘twill be, but this I know – my All in All has now a place with Him for me.
“And I shall see Him face to face and tell the story, saved by grace.” (Fanny Crosby)