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A Lesson in Dying, Part One

From Series: The Hand of God, Volume 2

Now, if you’ll take your Bible and turn with me again to Genesis 47 and pay particular attention to verse 29 and the opening phrase: “When the time drew near for Israel to die.” It’s a striking phrase, is it not? Anyone who is reading the text carefully will, with any sensitivity, be caused to wonder at such a phrase certainly not simply because it speaks to the history and destiny of this man, Jacob, but because we find ourselves mirrored in such a phrase. Because although we would rather on many, if not most occasions, distance ourselves from this awful truth, the fact is that for each of us there will come a day when it will be apparent that the time has drawn near for us to die. And whether it is happening suddenly, without any sense of premonition or warning, or whether as a result of the onset of a protracted illness, there will be those who whisper behind their hands and walk from our rooms and remark to one another, “Surely, the time has come for him or for her to die.”

Now it is not an immediately appealing subject, death. It is a very necessary subject, but it remains one of the most removed considerations from late-twentieth-century culture. Indeed, one could argue that we have done our level best over the last fifty years to anesthetize all of us from the actuality of the one event for which we need all to prepare.

A bioethicist—a doctor—writing concerning this says,

Despite what you were told, the last taboo in polite conversation is not religion or politics; it is death. If you hang around hospitals, you don’t need convincing of this fact. Families bravely soldier on, refusing to discuss death with a dying relative. Doctors can’t bring themselves to tell patients that the end is in sight, and they find refuge in euphemisms and false cheer. Our society seems to share a universal belief that Newsweek will come out next week or soon after that with a cover story, “Found: A Cure for Death.” But the figures are in and won’t change. The death rate sooner or later is one hundred percent.[1]

In 1991, in an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, a doctor from California included this poem, entitled “How Will I Die?”:

I’ve often wondered—
How should I die?
Should it be gently
As in a return
To my mother’s arms?
 
Or will it be
With rage, and will
I fight bitterly
Against that which
I know nothing of?
 
Or will I
Embrace deep darkness—
Battered and broken—
In sudden, head‑on, crushing
Collision?
 
Or will I—
My body a ballroom
For an anarchic diastral dance—
surface from opium haze, and plead
Please read my living will.
 
Or will I,
Unknowing recipient
Of “life extending” ingenuity,
Voicelessly shout—let me go—
From endless gray to total dark?
 
Or should I
With my last breath
Murmur platitudes
That might make my
Survivors happy?
 
Or should I
Cry to myself—
I should have gone
To church
Oftener?
 
Or should I
Smile, and wonder—
At the memorial service,
Will they say good things
Of me?
 
Solemnly?[2]
The great question of life is not, “How do we face life and live in this world?” The real question is the one which is beyond that, in that final exit sign on the motorway of life. The question is: “How will I face death, and where will I live in the next world?”.

“When the time drew near for Israel to die.” When the time draws near for you or I to die. You see, death is the great leveler. Irrespective of how athletic one might have been in one’s youth, or how successful, or otherwise, in the middle years of business; how attractive to other people in terms of the externals of who and what we are; how engaging in conversation; how diffident in company; whatever the characteristics of our life, there is one event which levels us all out immediately and completely. And that one event is here before us. For you see, the great question of life is not, “How do we face life and live in this world?” The real question is the one which is beyond that, in that final exit sign on the motorway of life. The question is: “How will I face death, and where will I live in the next world?” And indeed, no pastor has ever done his job properly, nor prepared his people effectively to live life in all of its fullness, unless he has prepared them to fight that final enemy and to make that final passing journey. And yet, despite that, the preoccupation of so much, so many sermons, has to do with telling people, “Don’t worry about that, let’s concentrate on now. Let us enjoy this, and let us experience that, and let us be concerned about all of these temporal, ephemeral, transient elements of life.” Not that they are irrelevant—they are vitally important—but they are not ultimately the issue, for no one, as we have said with great frequency, knows what it is to live unless they have learned how to die. And Jacob serves as a wonderful illustration of how to die.

Now, at the risk of oversimplification, I want to try and gather this breadth of material under three simple headings concerning Jacob’s passing: first of all, that he knew when he was leaving; secondly, that he knew what he was asking; and thirdly, he knew where he was going.

First of all then, he knew when he was leaving. Now, clearly, he didn’t know the exact time that he was leaving, but he had a sense that his diminishing powers were such that he probably shouldn’t, as they say, be buying green bananas; that his shelf life was nearing its end; that stamped on him that expiration date seemed to be coming up awful fast. And there is about the descriptive material here concerning Jacob many indications of the fact that he knew himself to be treading, as the hymn writer puts it, “the verge of Jordan.”[3] He hadn’t waded out into the stream of death, but he knew himself, at least, to be on the fringes of it. His feet were in the water, if you like, and there was a chilliness about the waters that had begun to come around his ankles, and it was apparent to him—and indeed clearly apparent to others—that he did not have long left in which to pursue his earthly pilgrimage. He knew, largely, when he was leaving.

Well, what, then, are the factors which point to this? And in asking this, we seek to learn a little of certain factors which actually will become apparent in the lives of those around us who are confronted by the actuality of this experience. Not all of them and all the time, not necessarily in this exact way, but certain of these factors, irrespective of a time of the onset of death, will become apparent to the people themselves and to others who are looking on.

The Fact of Jacob’s Age

Well, let me just give to you one or two factors that are in the text. Number one: the fact of his age. You don’t have to be brilliant to deduce that. Verse 28: “Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years.” Remember he had arrived there, reunited with his boy Joseph, when he was 130. A hundred and thirty is a pretty good innings, I would say, and he had never anticipated that he would have experienced all of life since, but he’s had another seventeen years, and he’s now approximately 147. In other words, he’s aware of the fact that he’s gone into extra time, that he is, if you like, beyond the ninth inning; he’s in the tenth or the eleventh inning, and the clock is ticking. His experiences in the past have served to introduce him to the faithfulness and the character of God, and now, as his days begin to close in around him, as the various features of his life begin to dwindle, he is aware, simply by his looking at the fact of his existence, that he’s about to die.

Jacob’s Diminishing Physical Powers

Now secondly, and correlatively, he was aware of the fact of his diminishing physical powers—his diminishing physical powers. Chapter 47 and verse 31: “Swear to me,” he says, encouraging Joseph to promise him these certain things, and then we’re told that he “worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.” Now his staff was simply there for him to lean on, and he would have leant on it as an elderly person would lean on another for support. But when he would not have leant on his staff was when he was worshipping, because when he worshipped, he would have bowed down before God. He may actually have prostrated himself flat out on the ground, and so the fact that we’re told at the end of 47 that he worshipped leaning on top of his staff is an indication of the fact that he no longer is as supple as he once was; he can’t guarantee that if he gets down and lies flat out on the ground that he’ll be able to get back up again. And so he worships leaning on top of his staff. The variant reading is that “he worshipped, bowing his head on his bed.” That would be an indication of the same thing. Indeed, the Hebrew is so very similar that you get this disparate reading. Either way, it doesn’t alter the essence of what is being conveyed—namely, that whereas before his worship had a physical dimension to it insofar as he would have laid himself out before God, now he no longer is able to do so. And this little passing comment that he worshipped leaning on the top his staff, or he bowed down at the head of his bed, is an indication of his diminishing physical powers.

As I was thinking about it this week, I recalled my roommate in college back in ’72 in London. A fellow from Rhodesia—most excellent chap—and when we became roommates he was very, very diligent about having his quiet time, or his devotions, in the morning, and I can remember waking up, sorry soul that I was, to the sight of him kneeling down by his bed and having his devotions, and of course it jarred me into action, and I was both encouraged and embarrassed by him. And he made it through September and into October still out kneeling down by his bed and then one morning, one cold morning in November, I awakened only to discover that he wasn’t by his bed, but as I looked through the blur of my eyes, I could make out this weird form in his bed, and it was apparent to me that he was still bowing down, still kneeling, but he had determined that it was too jolly cold to get out of the bed, and so he had put himself in a kneeling posture within his bed. He’d pulled all the blankets and the covers up over his head, and it looked as though there was a large hound dog underneath the blankets, and he had a flashlight under there and he was reading his Bible and praying. He still wanted to be in the posture, but now he bowed with his head on the bed.

There’s something about that here. He is indicating something by his posture. At the same time, you will notice in 48:10, his “eyes were failing because of old age and he could hardly see.” These are little indications of the fact that he was about die. The diminishing of his physical powers.

Jacob’s Fading Mental Capacity

Thirdly, the fading of his mental capacity—the fading of his mental capacity. He just was not “on it” all the time. Now, I hope I’m not reaching too far, but as I read these verses, see if you can follow along with me. Look at verse 5 of chapter 48, where he is very lucid concerning the sons of Joseph, and he is very detailed about his expectation for them in terms of the blessing that he plans to give them and the destiny which they will face. And then in verse 8: “When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, ‘Who are these?’”[4] Now, this will be no surprise to anyone who has cared for elderly people, because this dimension of disorientation is not unusual. One moment, they’re able to tell you how they remember the birthday party and the events that you had enjoyed way back in 19‑you‑know‑17; and then the next minute, they turn around and they ask you who their grandchildren are. “Who’s this?” “These are your grandchildren, Dad.” “Oh yeah, that’s right.” Now some of you are a bit concerned by this because this has actually been happening to you last week, and you’re not out of your forties. And so, you’re gonna put two and two together; your wife’s nudging you, “Hey, you’re on your way out, Buddy! You were doing that last week”—and it may be true—but the fact of the matter is age, the diminishing of physical power, the fading of mental capacity, this kind of disorientation is often an indication of demise.

Jacob’s Onset of Illness

Fourthly, the onset of illness which holds little prospect of recovery. 48:1: “Sometime later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’” Now, let me try and say this to you the way it needs to be said. This isn’t: “Hey, your dad’s not feeling good.” This is not: “Hey, your dad has a bad back.” This is: “Excuse me, do you have a moment? I need to tell you; your father is ill,” and in the very enunciation of the phrase, there is that chilling awareness which creeps into the very core of the individual as they acknowledge that what is being conveyed to them by a loved one, a friend, or a doctor is something far more than simply an indication of the onset of the flu or of a cold or of whatever it might be. “Your father is ill”—and there is little prospect of recovery.

Jacob’s Reminiscence

Fifthly, there is the indication that is represented when individuals in their later years begin to reminisce about the telling moments in life. Now, we all reminisce—some of us have started it way too prematurely and could be cured of it yet—but what we’re talking about here is something a little different. And again, if you take the balance of the text, in verse 5, here you have Jacob, and he is very lucid, and he is describing these things, and he is talking about what the future will hold for these boys. And then in verse 7, what you have is essentially a soliloquy. If you were setting this in a dramatic form—if I were directing the drama—I wouldn’t have Jacob enunciating this in this seventh verse in the same way as he does verse 5 and verse 8. Rather, I think the picture is of him drifting off. As he thinks about the future, he thinks about the past. And he says, “You know, it was when I left Paddan that dear old Rachel died. Man, I loved Rachel. I loved her memory. I remember we stopped at the side of the road on the way to Bethlehem, and we dug out that grave and we laid her there.”[5] And then he sort of shakes his head, and he turns around, and he says, “Who are these?” Coming back into it, you see? Lucid, reminiscent, disoriented.

Have you visited elderly people much? Perhaps you have one in your home. It’s not easy to deal with. Because in the moments of lucidity, you cherish great hope that this is what it’s all about. You endure the frequent reminiscing, and you’re disappointed by the obvious disorientation. But it is an indication—it is a God-given indication—that time is passing, that life does not go on forever, that we will not always be together in this way, and God in his grace and in his mercy provides for some in going into old age these indications which they may cherish to themselves, which they may make a matter of prayer, which they may share with those who are nearest and dearest to them, but which are signal blessings from God to prepare us for the fact that there is a dimension that is different from this so that we will not hold on unduly to that which represents life now. You can’t see the way you once are.

“Am I making adequate preparation? When the epitaph reads for me, what will it mean?”.

I was talking to a friend the other day, we had been—the other day is a euphemism for “in the last few months”—and as we got out of the car to play golf, this chap said to me—he’s about fifty-six—he said, “You know, I’m seeing it in my legs.” I said, “Seeing what in your legs?” He had shorts on. I looked at them; I wasn’t seeing much in his legs, but that is the pot calling the kettle black, believe me. And he said, “You know, just in getting out of the car, I’m starting to see it. I would just always get up from chairs, I’d get out of the car, but now when I go to get up, it’s different. Now there’s just a dimension that I never knew.” And the Lord is saying, “Hey Bill, you’re closing down, Buddy. You’re not going to be here forever; you’re not supposed to be here forever. Don’t worry about it. It’s better where you’re going. You’re going to get new legs. If white men can’t jump, you’re gonna disprove that.” The fading, you see, of our physical frame, the diminishing of our mental powers, are not things to be railed against, they’re not things to be fought off; they’re things to be understood as indications of God’s signal blessing to us so that we might recognize, “Am I making adequate preparation? When the epitaph reads for me, what will it mean?”

And the reminiscing there, the wonderful picture in 48:11: “Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.’” If it was late twentieth century, he would have a couple of photographs, and when you went to see him in the nursing home or when you went [with] him into McDonald’s when he got that senior coffee for a ridiculous, small amount of money and when he sat there with The Plain Dealer just kind of looking at it, but not turning the pages, any occasion he would get he’d bring out his wallet and he’d say, “Here, let me show you these boys. You know, I never expected to see my son. He was in Vietnam, and he was posted missing, and for twenty years I thought he was dead, you know, and he came back—and not only did he come back, but he brought me these boys. I never thought I’d see him again and I never thought … Aren’t those lovely boys? Look at these boys, see?” “Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange, to be seventy” and eighty and ninety, to become “old friends,”[6] to become that person we’ve observed, to walk like a grasshopper, to be unable to hear the telephone and yet to become an insomniac because of the sound of the birds. How can that be? You can’t hear the phone, and the birds wake you up?

Jacob’s Concern to Put His Affairs in Order

And sixthly, and finally, he displays a heightened level of concern about putting his affairs in order—a heightened level of concern about putting his affairs in order. People who have died—from an earthly prospective—prematurely have in many cases, I think, had a premonition of their demise. We don’t know because they never were here long enough for us to ask them, but it becomes apparent as people put the jigsaw puzzle of the last few weeks of their lives together that somehow or another they had taken care of a lot of business. Unbeknown often to the spouse or to the children or the siblings, they had actually been dealing with situations that needed dealt with. They had been making telephone calls, they had been writing notes, they had been making plans, they had actually lived a month of their lives with a heightened awareness of the need to take care of certain essentials. And you see this here, don’t you? Verse 29 of 47: “When the time drew near for Israel to die, he calls for his son and he says to him, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh.’” What does that mean? It was a symbolic gesture; it was a significant signal of solemnity in the making of a pledge or an oath. It was all of that. “Show me kindness and faithfulness,” he says.[7] Joseph presumably says, “You’ve got it, Dad. What do you want?” And then he says, “Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”[8] You see, when the time comes for our departure, if God is gracious to us, he will often heighten our awareness of taking care of essentials. For example, in verse 20, in giving the blessing to these boys, in chapter 48, he is very clear that the younger is to receive the blessing over the older. He is in absolutely no doubt concerning this, and he is aware of all that is represented in it in terms of the unfolding of God’s covenant and his plan throughout all generations; so although he can’t really see and although his physical powers are diminishing, God grants to him the ability to rally and pay attention and grant blessing in a way that is going to be representative of God’s grace and favor in the lives of countless generations.

In the same way, in verse 1 of chapter 49: “Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather around so that I can tell you what will happen to you in the days to come.’” Here’s an old man; his life is ebbing out. Does he really have time for this? Does he really have the energy for this? He has a heightened awareness of the essentials. “I want you to get here, boys, and I want to tell you certain things that are pressingly important.”[9] And again at the end of chapter 49 in verse 29: “He gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. This is where I want you to bury me. I want you to know the cave, I want you to know the field, I want you to understand why this important,’”[10] and to that we’ll come, probably next time.

But for now, notice that there is a lesson here in learning how to prepare adequately for the time of our death. You see, we do not know when—we may be given indications—but we do know that. And it sufficient for us to know that, in order that we might plan for then. Most recently, we conducted here the funeral of Diane Circelli, she passed away after the onset of an illness which was in part triggered by the debilitating scleroderma which had marked her life since the age of seventeen. And in these last few weeks, as her life ebbed away and as members of our pastoral team, and many of you as friends and loved ones ministered to her, each one was struck by the awareness that possessed Diane of the actuality and reality of life beyond death. And it came out most clearly—actually some time ago—when, on the Fourth of July in 1995, Diane wrote an open letter to her mom and dad and her friends which she wanted me to have—one of you delivered it to me personally. And this is how it reads; I thought you may find it instructive:

Dear Mom, Dad, family and friends,
 
First and foremost, I want to tell you how much I love you and how grateful I am for the love and care you have given me. It isn’t easy thinking about leaving you, but since we know the time is approaching, I would like to share some requests with you, and trust that you will carry them out. My hope is that this will make a difficult time a little easier for everyone, and it will help you knowing what pleasure it gives me. I would like my memorial service to be a reflection of me. I have requested that my pastor, Alistair Begg, conduct a simple memorial service at Parkside Church. If the church hall is available, I would like to have a reception there following the service. Although I would prefer not to have a wake at all, I know that this may be important to you and I respect that. However, I would like a closed casket, perhaps with some pictures.

You imagine writing that down? I’m not talking about writing it down out on a football field somewhere in the afternoon where a bunch get together and go, “Hey, you know, well, we’re never going to die, but let’s just put some stuff together.” No, this is somebody looking death in the face and saying, “Incidentally, don’t leave my casket open; just close it up. Be nice though, to have one or two pictures.”

It’s difficult expressing all that this life and my future eternal life mean to me. This verse expresses a little of my feelings and my gratitude to God for the life, the family, and the friends he has given me.

And she quotes Job 10:12: “You gave me life and showed … kindness and in your providence watched over my spirit.” And then she concludes in this way:

It is strange, yet appropriate, that I am writing this to you on Independence Day, for I am anticipating the day when I will truly be free in the Lord. Please celebrate my homecoming with me.
 
I love you.
Diane

When the time came for Jacob to die—when the time comes for you and I to die—what then? Have you made plans? Can I ask you, do you have a will? And is it up to date? And if not, why not? And does it simply contain information regarding the functional, financial, real estate, taxation elements of life? Or does it actually contain this kind of important information which will, in our passing, leave a testimony to our faith and make things a whole lot easier for those that we leave behind? Do you realize how difficult it is going to be choosing, for some of you, your funeral hymns ’cause you love so many songs? So if you don’t write them down, we may sing the wrong ones. And do you have Scripture readings that you want read? And do you have a message for each of your children that you want opened on that day? You see, the real issue on that day is not going to be when the attorney sits at the table and everybody gets around and says, “And to my first son I leave ‘X,’ and to my second child I leave ‘Y,’ and to my wife I leave the balance of my estate,” and all those kind of things. That’s all froth; that’s all nothing stuff. The real legacy has to do with the blessings of the covenant‑keeping God, which is what takes us to our second point which we can’t get to this morning.

And in seeking to help those who are facing the prospect of death, let us remember that, as we have said before, it is absolutely imperative to balance hope with reality, to encourage each other to prepare for the worst while at the same time praying and trusting for the best. And where this morning death has not reached out to us, it would be good that we heard it rattling its chains to stir us into action and to call us to faith in Jesus.

When the writer to the Hebrews describes the wonder and grandeur of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and of his work, he does so in many different ways, but one of the classic expressions of the triumphant work and ministry of Christ is there in Hebrews 2, and let me just quote it to you: “Since the children [are] flesh and blood, he”—Jesus—“… shared in their humanity.” Why? “So that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”[11] You see? “Well, how does she get this Independence Day analogy?” Because she’s been set free. She was freed. She was freed from the chains, the enslavement, the notion that death would come like some grim reaper, that she would die and go we know not where, that she would go to this faceless bourn where there is no more recognition, where there is no possibility of hearing the voice of loved ones—she was freed from all of that! And, bless her, she wrote it down so that I would have such a wonderful illustration with which to conclude my message this morning.

Do you have a letter like this? Could you write a letter like this? Have you been freed from the slavery which comes from the fear of death? Some of you sitting here this morning have to go to sleep with the light on; you’re afraid to die. Some of you have to go to sleep with the radio playing; you’re afraid of the silence. Some of you go to sleep very, very little in the night because you are afraid that if you sleep for too long, it may be a sleep from which you never wake, and you’re wondering, “Why is this?” And you’ve gone to psychologists and to psychiatrists, and you’re asking them for the help. I want to tell you: here is the great psychiatrist, here is the great answer, here in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, here is the one who frees from the slavery of the fear of death. Because you see, death came by one man, Adam, and when sin entered into the world and death came,[12] then came all of that hell and all of that hopelessness and all of that fear and, consequently, all of the jolly silliness which surrounds death in the Western world: plastic flowers and silly music and stupid statements and bogus references to things that aren’t true. And everybody has this horrible sense that the minister or the priest had a black book and he looked it up and it said on the top of the page, “A Funeral Service for a Single between the Age of 35 and 42,” and he read it out, and it had all the passion and all the compassion of somebody reading from the Yellow Pages; and it was hopeless, it was absolutely hopeless, and we ran out of the building and said, “Wherever there is an answer, that man does not have it.”

Well, I want you to know, I’ve got it. And I want you to know it’s in this Book, and I want to share it with you. And I want no one to leave this building this morning enslaved by a fear of death because in the story of Jacob and in the fullness of Christ is the opportunity for you and I to be set free from the chains that ensnare us: For “the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law,”[13] and we read the law and we say, “I’m not getting ten out of ten on this; I’m a dead man. I’m a dead girl. If this is the standard, there is no hope. How, if I lived all of my life now could I ever get righteous enough?” It’s about going into a library and saying, “If I read a book every day for the rest of my life, I still couldn’t read all the books in the Solon Library, let alone all the books in all the world.” And that’s how you feel. “Oh, I need to be so righteous if I’m going to go to heaven, for only the perfect go to heaven, and I am so horribly imperfect. There is no hope for me in this life; I think I’ll just go out and get smashed. I think I’ll go fix up. I think I’ll buy a pickup and move to Los Angeles. I think I’ll get a Harley and drive off into the night. I got to do something, I’ve got to get out of this place.” Let me tell you the place to which you’ve got to get: the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. And there your burden goes, your vista’s open, your life is changed, and you too, in Independence Day number one, can look forward to Independence Day number two. You see, that’s why when the shuttle Challenger went up and Reagan came on and did that stuff about the poem, you know: “and we will fly as the birds into” the thing, you know. It’s high-sounding and it’s good and it makes you feel good for about fifteen milliseconds, but you then say, “On what is this based?” And the answer is nothing, clouds. But here, it’s, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me even though he die yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in me is never going to die. Do you believe this?”[14] That was the question he asked. “Yes, Lord,” said Martha, “we believe that there will be a resurrection in the last day.”[15] Jesus must have smiled to himself and said, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Watch this. Hey, Lazarus!”[16] And that’s what it’s going to be at the resurrection:

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound,

And time [will] be no more,

And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;

When the saved of earth shall gather

Over on the other shore,

And the roll is called up yonder,—[17]

You gonna be there? See, there is a roll. It’s called the Lamb’s book of life. Either your name’s in it or your name’s not in it. Your name doesn’t get called unless it’s in the book. If I were you, I’d want to make absolutely certain that of all the mailing lists, and of all the places they have my name and my social security number, that they got it in that book.

Let’s pray together:

The Word of God says, “if you confess with your mouth, [that] ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and [you] believe in your heart that God [has] raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”[18] Saved from what? Saved from sin, saved from the judgment that will fall on sin because it has been borne by Christ, saved from the terrors of death and hell, saved from the fear of the grave, saved unto all eternity. And just where you’re seated this morning, in your own words, and in your own way, why don’t you cry out to God for his mercy and for his grace? Ask him to save you, to forgive your sins, to fill you with his Spirit. Father, hear our prayers as we cry to you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 


[1] Source Unknown.

[2] Allan Benson, “How Will I Die?” New England Journal of Medicine 324, no. 6 (Apr. 18, 1991): 1140.

[3] William Williams, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” (1745).

[4] Genesis 48:8 (NIV 1984).

[5] Genesis 48:7 (paraphrased).

[6] Paul Simon, “Old Friends” (1968) (paraphrased).

[7] Genesis 47:29 (NIV 1984).

[8] Genesis 47:30 (NIV 1984).

[9] Genesis 49:1–2 (paraphrased).

[10] Genesis 49: 29–32 (paraphrased).

[11] Hebrews 2:14–15 (NIV 1984).

[12] See Romans 5:12.

[13] 1 Corinthians 15:56 (NIV 1984).

[14] John 11:25–26 (paraphrased).

[15] John 11:24 (paraphrased).

[16] John 11:43 (paraphrased).

[17] James M. Black, “When the Trumpet of the Lord Shall Sound” (1893).

[18] Romans 10:9 (NIV 1984).

Thankfulness: A Mark of Grace
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