Monday, May 19, 2008

The Best Day of My Life - Part 1

In Ecclesiastes 7:1, Solomon wrote these words, “A good name is better than good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”

I was born on February 24, 1965, but the day of my birth was not the greatest day of my life. I married my wife on May 23, 1987, but my wedding day was not the best day of my life. My daughter was born on February 3, 1990, and my son on October 22, 1991, but these were not the best days of my life. According to Solomon the best day of my life will take place on the day that I die (I’d like to be preaching at that time…wouldn’t than be an exclamation point to the sermon!).

But wait. Let’s be honest. We spend most of our life trying to avoid that day and even dreading it. How can something we dread and try so hard to avoid be the best day of our life? What will make it so great? The truth is that we all have some sort of anxiety and fear regarding death. For the believer, this is not a fear regarding eternity. We know for sure where we will spend eternity. That was sealed the day that we put our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sin and for our eternal home in heaven. But even knowing of this great hope, we would have to admit that anxiety grips us in regards to death, especially as more and more years pass us by. We who have trusted Christ know that we are going to heaven. That’s in the bank. But what will the actual reality of death be like? None of us have passed that way before. The unknown element of what the reality of death will be like brings anxiety, which is normal. So how can the day that includes my death, with all of its uncertainty, be the greatest day of my life? The Bible does give us some insight on what the moment of our death will be like.

In Acts 7, Stephen has preached a very powerful and convicting sermon that revealed the truth of Christ and the error of the religious leaders of his day. As a result, these same religious leaders became violently angry. Stephen, realizing that it was apparent that violence was going to come upon him, gazed into the sky and in His grace God opened Stephen’s spiritual eyes and allowed him to see the glory of God and the Savior, Jesus, standing at the Father’s right hand. Moments later, his enemies dragged him outside the city gate of Jerusalem, a gate where I stood a little over a year ago when we were in Israel, down into the valley, where they stoned him to death.

We learn from this account that shortly prior to the moment of Stephen’s death, God gave to him a measure of dying grace, enabling him to see the Savior. I believe the same happens today. As we who are His children by faith move very close to that moment of death, no matter what the circumstances might be, I believe that God allows us a measure of dying grace that calms our anxiety and gives us perfect peace. I do not know exactly what we will see or what we will experience in those moments prior to death, but I believe that this grace will result in our being at total peace as we pass from this life into eternity. His Spirit will bear witness with our spirit that we are a child of God. For those who know Jesus, the day of our death will in fact be the greatest day of our life. More on this in tommorrow's blog entry!

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