NO ONE WANTS TO DIE
“What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:12-15.
Our thank-you card to Hannah (not her real name) came back today via return mail with a note saying “deceased.” Hannah, an elderly saint and a faithful friend of our One New Man Call ministry, passed on to glory suddenly. One of the last things she had done in this world was to send us her final donation. Frankly, we are not sure if we will cash this check at all. The eternal value it holds in terms of her faith, hope and love for God’s ancient people
Hannah supported our One New Man Call outreach for a number of years, yet she told us a year ago that due to her diminishing income (we believe she was alone at this point in life), she would have to stop supporting us. However, it wasn’t long afterwards that she wrote again, telling us that somehow she had managed to rearrange her finances and would continue supporting us at half the level she had before. Her support checks kept coming like clockwork, the same amount and the same time each month. Her heart was strong, her faith resolute, and her reward is already a reality for her in heaven.
Why are we telling you all this? Because “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” A greater life always emerges and comes into view when a life of faith is laid down in loving surrender to our King and in service to His Kingdom. Whether dying to self, dying to your dream, dying to reputation, to your self-image or dying physically as when one leaves this realm and transitions into the next - dying in Christ always produces a greater resurrection life. The problem is - no one wants to die!
WHAT IS YOUR TOMB?
If the gospel message teaches us anything, it teaches that a good death precedes an even better and greater life in God. If the life of the Lord Jesus models anything, it models that a life laid down by faith in full surrender to the Father will not only rise again from whatever grave entombs it, but will rise as an everlasting, indestructible and un-defileable life. In fact, the secret of victorious godly living (which sadly is not taught enough these days) is that the only way forward is through dying. Daily, personal and intentional death.
As the Apostle openly confessed, “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” I Cor. 15:31. Adding to this radical lifestyle declaration, Paul further exhorts the disciples, saying, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:11. In other words, the child of God must learn to die while being alive.
Yet, death to self is not a popular concept in this world that teaches its children to celebrate and worship self. Whether self actualization, self maximization, self promotion, self awareness, self pity, self pleasing, self righteousness, self defense, self reliance or self employment, the ultimate focus and glorious goal of this world’s most enshrined doctrine is the preservation and promotion of self.
That, however, is in direct conflict to God’s Word and purpose for humanity. Self awareness, in its core, is the sad state of the human heart that has believed the lie that we can have a viable existence independent of our Creator. Early in the Book, barely created and freshly endowed with God’s calling and glory, man and his wife lost their selfless innocence as soon as they turned away from God. The beautiful ideal of “…they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed,” (Gen. 2:25) tragically and swiftly changed to “…Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Gen. 3:7.
On that fateful day our innocence turned into shame, purity into embarrassment and joy into fear as man and his wife went into hiding and became alienated from one another and from Father God. From that day on, the self life, the human soul without God, sadly passed down and perpetuated through the centuries from generation to generation spawning the never ending misery of a creation cut off from its Creator.
Yet, once the Messiah broke the curse and satisfied the righteousness of God through His perfect life and death, His Spirit is birthing His overcoming life in all of His children who abide in Him through faith. Consequently, from generation to generation across this entire earth, lives continue to be laid down in devotion, obedience and faith in the God who raises the dead. In fact, the more we die to our flesh, to this world and to its passions, the more the life of heaven already blooms within our spirits.
DEATH – THE ULTIMATE SURRENDER
Why is the saints’ death so precious in our Father’s eyes? Because it is the ultimate surrender of the human heart. When a saint dies in faith - either to self, to the world or to life itself, we are truly and totally cast upon God who alone is able to raise us up again, no matter what grave entombs us. This is why Hannah’s last check is so precious in our eyes. It was her farewell gift, her goodbye offering of the life she lived for God. We’ll probably never cash this check… we’d much rather keep her memory alive.
Speaking to us from the Temple courts in ancient Jerusalem, the Master’s voice still pierces through dark veils of deception, fear and ignorance, reminding us that “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25.
Be sure you live well. But even more so, be sure you die well. Beholding in His visions the glorified saints worshipping God in heaven, John declares, saying, “…they overcame him (the adversary) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Rev 12:11. The way forward is always through His blood and by your testimony, cherishing the harvest of resurrection life as far superior to the seed life you enjoy today.
There is still time to join our group of intercessors and worshipers as we travel to the