Death–Love Your Loved Ones before they Die!

 

cemetery

Death! Love your loved ones before they die!

Death

Love Your Loved Ones before they Die

Richard Hollerman

Death! Please love your loved ones before they die! Waste no time as you attempt to rescue them from death and hell and introduce them to Jesus who can take them to the delights of Paradise!

A friend of mine just lost her mother a couple of days ago. She and her husband needed to travel across the country to attend the funeral and care for the father who remains after the loss of his wife. I understand that the death was not unexpected, although the quickness of death did surprise everyone.

Everyone must face death—and this includes our friends and family members. Paul reminds us that “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22), and the Hebrew writer adds, “It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). After Adam sinned in the Garden, death has been the common lot of everyone who has lived, for “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Death has always been regarded as “the king of terrors” (Job. 18:14). There is a natural “fear of death” that causes one to be in a form of “slavery” all of life (Hebrews 2:15). Apart from Christ Jesus, there rightly should be a natural fear that repels us when we think of death, especially our own.

In our day, humanistic psychologists and educators try to convince children and adults that death is just a natural part of living. It is not to be feared since everyone must face it. This philosophy may come from an atheistic perspective and, in such a case, some would say that one ceases to exist the moment one dies. There is no afterlife that should bring terror to the heart; therefore, just accept death and the fact that we will be no different from the dog or cat after we die.

It may also come from false religion that wrongly assumes that everyone is spiritually safe; there is no holy God who will hold each person accountable for his or her own sins (Hebrews 9:27). Probably popular religion is the underlying reason that people are told not to fear. As long as a person has been “good” all of his life, as long has he has been a good parent and neighbor, as long as he has had an interest in a church—then God will surely invite the dead person into heaven! We’ve all been to funerals for acquaintances who have died and in almost all of them the preacher effectively “preached the person into heaven” even though he seemed to have little or no interest in the Lord during his lifetime.

Hell

Death! Love your loved ones before they die!

The Bible is clear that the coming judgment should bring fear to our heart. Paul writes, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthian 5:10). After warning his readers of this coming dreadful Judgment Day, the apostle adds, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (v. 11). One translation renders this, “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Do we really have a holy “fear” of God? Does it cause us to do all within our power to “persuade” men of this dreadful reality? There is a reason why Scripture calls this coming august day, “the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7).

If we are totally sure of Christ’s return “in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” and if we are convinced that “these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), then the reality of death should have a deep impact on our heart and life! If we have been truly saved from sin, we are assured that we will not face God’s righteous and holy wrath against sin (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:9-10). However, if we believe the Bible, God’s holy Word, we will also be aware that the vast majority of people on earth are not prepared to meet the Lord on that coming Day of Judgment! This includes most of our friends and neighbors, as well as our immediate and extended family members.

If you are like almost all of us, you do have people close to you who are unprepared to meet the Lord in judgment. They may be pagans in thinking and lifestyle. Or they may be deeply religious and church-going people. They may consider themselves good people who will be saved by their good life and good deeds. Or they may be people who claim that they are following Jesus as the only way to heaven, yet they are deeply involved in false teachings and false religious ways. In the latter case, they may strongly oppose any thought that they are still unregenerate and unprepared for heaven. They might accuse you of being used of Satan to “scare” them and bring them unwanted spiritual distress by your sowing “doubts” into their heart.

We are here on earth for such a short time. We are like a morning vapor or mist that dissipates in the sunlight. We are like grass and the flower of grass that fades away. We are “here today and gone tomorrow.” Many scriptures remind us of our transitory existence here. In contrast, the vastness of eternity stretches out before us. God said to one man who had lived in lovelessness and greed: “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you” (Luke 12:20). We don’t even have such a warning in our own experience. Some people die without warning. One may experience a sudden, crushing pain in his heart and arm, and fall to the floor—dead. Another may be driving down the highway and a drunk driver plows into the car, instantly killing the driver. Another person may develop cancer and slowly die, yet his final days may be in a stupor because of the effects of pain-killing drugs.

Yes, very often people don’t have the time to get ready! Amos wrote, “Prepare to meet your God” (4:12)—but people sometimes don’t have the opportunity to prepare. They waited too long! They thought that they would have yet another “chance” to get right with God, but that opportunity never came. There were years of opportunity—but the time finally came when God said, “That is the end. There will be no more opportunity!” We are to blame if we don’t take seriously the peril of death and the judgment!

Think of your children. Think of your brother or sister. Think of your mother and father. Think of your uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces. Think of your friends, your acquaintances, your next door neighbors, your working associates. We must frankly and regretfully face the truth that nearly all of these “loved ones” are lost. They are unprepared for Christ’s return. They are unprepared to die. They are unprepared to meet God! Scripture says that “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The Bible also warns, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31). How can we go through life, with a “business as usual” attitude, and give no thought to the spiritual welfare of these dear ones who mean so much to us! Where is our heart? Where is our soul? Where is our love?

If you continue to live for some years and if the Lord does not come during this time, I can assure you to there will be family members who will die. People like to use the euphemism, “they passed away,” but I assure you that they will die. They will be defeated by death! Paul was correct when he called death “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). It will be a death that will conquer all of us—physically speaking. We know, of course, that the true child of God “has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). We also know that Jesus promised those who believe in and follow Him, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26). This is a blessed promise in which we can rejoice! On the other hand, we know that this promise is not for the vast majority of people on earth. They don’t have life and the resurrection will not be a “resurrection of life” for them, but rather a “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29).

In all probability, you have many, many dear ones who are not prepared to meet the Lord. What are you doing for these loved one now—while you still have the time and opportunity? Do you pray for your brother and sister, your son and daughter, and your mother and father? Do you pray for other close ones you know? Do you open conversations with them, seeking to introduce them to the Lord and His way of salvation? If they are religious, do you point out to them that they can’t be saved by their good deeds, for it is only through Christ Jesus and a living, obedient faith in Him that can save us (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:9; Titus 3:5-7)? If they are steeped in false doctrine, do you ask to discuss with them the Bible and God’s truth about their particular false teachings and way of life?

I challenge you to be like Aquila and Priscilla who took Apollos aside and “explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Try to discuss any spiritual and Scriptural differences and problems in a calm, gentle, kind, and loving manner so that they may come to see their error and change while they are yet able to repent (cf. 2 Timothy 2:24-26). Always use the Word of God as you guide and source of authority. Let God speak to them, through His inspired and life-giving Word. Do all you can to share your love and interest in them. Let them know that you appreciate them and are concerned about them, especially their spiritual welfare.

I am well aware of the fact that probably most of your friends and loved ones will not have an interest in their own spiritual welfare before the Lord. They are content and don’t want to be bothered by any change in their views and lifestyle. They don’t want their life’s “boat” to be rocked. They will just dismiss your concern as fanaticism, or meddling into their business, or an expression of radical Christianity. They may even say that you are a religious fanatic or have lost your senses. Don’t be dismayed, for they said the same things about our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 3:21; 6:4; cf. Matthew 5:10-12). But isn’t it better to risk their rejection and even anger now instead of experiencing deep regret and remorse when they die and there is no more opportunity?

How can you reach out to your loved ones now, while they are still alive? As we have already mentioned, you can just have a conversation with them and speak of their need of Jesus and His forgiveness. Maybe you can share this concern many times for sometimes people will be open to sincere conversation on an ongoing basis. Perhaps it will continue for years—but don’t give up if you really love your family member or friend. If you live at a distance, you can use the telephone to discuss the matter of salvation with your loved one. One of the chief ways to reach out to them would be by letter. In a well-worded letter, you can share truth in a dispassionate way, expressing love and interest, and pointing out many Scriptural truths that bear on the soul of this dear one.

As a writer, I have always been impressed with the possibilities of Christian literature. Helpful Christian tracts, pamphlets, and books can convey truth in a clear and concise manner, offering Scriptural support for the sincere person who really is a truth seeker. You can send this literature to your loved one or hand it to them with a request that they read it. You can also offer Christian tapes or CDs, as well as direct them to Scriptural websites. If you are part of a believing community, you could invite them to attend a Bible study with you. Perhaps such a means as this can do something to convey the truth to your loved one even if you cannot personally share the truth well in conversation. You could also invite a Christian friend or preacher to help communicate the truth to your loved one. In all of this, remember that a person is saved by the good news of Christ and therein is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16; 10:17).

We know that none of these ways of reaching out to our loved ones is assured to work. Probably most of our friends and family members will remain in their sins and will carry the guilt of those sins to their death. We are aware that most people just don’t want to come to Christ and they will adamantly refuse to repent and change their ways. Coming to Christ will take humility, remorse, sorrow, confession, and much change—and even at death’s door, many people are unwilling to “pay the price” needed to be spiritually born again. Even deeply religious people will cling to their childhood experiences, they will cling to their rosaries and priests, they will cling to an assumed salvation experience of the past, or they will hold fast to their traditional religion, even when death is right before them!

If this happens, we must simply commit the person to God who is “the Judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25) who will render a “righteous judgment” in that last Great Day (Romans 2:5). When a loved one does die, how can we face the fact that he or she refused to repent and change? How can we live with the situation that the dear one continued to cling to their past, their religion, their traditions, and their vain hope? In such a time, we must not pass over the sins like many priests, preachers, and pastors do when they have a funeral. If the person died in their sins (John 8:24), there is no hope (Ephesians 2:12). It is a disservice to everyone in such a setting for an irresponsible and hypocritical clergyman to give assurance that the deceased one is now in heaven!

The Christian can console himself with the fact that God is a merciful and loving creator who knows the person who died. God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of one who refuses to repent (cf. Ezekiel 18:23, 32). He will do what is right with the person. If God is able to punish the unrepentant (and He assuredly will), then we can rest in the fact that the most loving Being in the universe is doing well and that all things will work out for good. Yes, there will continue to be deep pain in our hearts that we will never see the person again throughout eternity, but we must trustfully commit this sorrow to God.

cemetery

Death! Love your loved ones before they die!

May God bless you and me as we do what we can while our loved ones are still alive. Now is the only time we may have, thus we need to “make the most of the opportunity” that we presently enjoy (Colossians 4:5-6). If we don’t use the time at our disposal now, the time may come when you must face the death of your loved one—knowing that he or she was not prepared to meet God. A friend one time confided in me that he constantly thought of his dear grandfather who had died and was not ready to meet God; it was driving him to distraction as he thought of this loved one for whom there was no longer any hope! One time you also will need to go to the funeral of your friend or loved one or you may personally need to make arrangements for such a funeral. How will we be able to contain our grief as we see the remains of our friend or family member, knowing that all possibility of salvation is now gone!

Today is a precious opportunity given by God to show your true love to your loved ones. This may be the only opportunity you have. And, thanks to God, there may be one or more dear ones who will choose to repent and come to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins—and for their eternal life in God’s wondrous Kingdom!


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