An Earthly Death Is No Big Deal
Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
October 23, 2016
Central Passage
2 Timothy 4:6-8
Attached Document
Open Document

An earthly death is no big deal for a Christian…but it can be a real big deal for an unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul epitomized just about everything a Christian ought to be…and here’s what he said as he neared the time of his own earthly death.  The passage comes from 2 Timothy 4:6-8.  At that time, Paul was writing to his young protégé, Timothy.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

In the brief time we have here on earth…it’s important to pay close attention to the way that Paul viewed the prospect of his earthly death.  I believe that by understanding how Paul viewed his own death…we can be helped to understand how any Christian person should view the prospect of his or her death.

Paul says that when we think about death, we should look at it realistically.  He says, “…the time of my departure has come.”  Paul wasn’t actually on his death bed when he wrote this.  He simply had the good sense to recognize and face the fact that he would face death in the near future.  You’ll note that he didn’t ignore it.  He didn’t deny it.  He didn’t euphemize it.  He faced it…squarely and head on.

When talking about your earthly death…”if” is a pointless word.  You can and should always use the word “when.”  That’s because the only certainty in this life is your earthly death.  It’s not just a possibility…it’s a sure thing.

None of us enjoys speaking about death…but in order to prepare for it we have to speak about it.  Paul understood that fact and left a worthy example for us to follow.

This doesn’t mean that we have to fixate on death.  To the contrary, we should live life to the fullest.  But a part of living life to its fullest is by measuring what we do with it…and by understanding that it will come to an end.  Unless Christ intervenes in some way…you and I will all come to a place and time when we face death.  The funeral will be ours.  The eulogy will be for us.  The flowers will have our name on them.  And, the music and sermon will be in our honor.

While we may not see that as a joyful prospect…it’s a realistic one that each of us will face…so we shouldn’t face it morbidly, but realistically.

Paul tells us that when we think about death…we should also take a backward look.  He says, “…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…”

As he looked back over his life as a Christian…he understood that in spite of all the opposition he had faced…all the ups and downs…all the successes and failures…all the joys and sorrows…all the victories and disappointments…that he had kept his faith in Jesus Christ.  And because he had placed his full trust in Christ Jesus…he had assurance of his salvation

According to the Bible, keeping faith in Christ is what this life is all about.  In a real sense Paul viewed his earthly life as only a staging area for his next eternal life with Jesus.

This life is a vapor…the next is eternal.  So it’s during our earthly life when we are forced to make the decision as to where we will spend eternity.  And there are only two destinations available…either heaven or hell.

Obviously, none of us have lived…or can live perfectly.  None of us deserve God’s grace.  But by sincerely placing our faith and trust in Jesus Christ…God has provided the perfect place for us…one where there is nothing but joy and never sorry.  And because of his belief and faith in Christ…Paul knew that’s where he was headed as he neared the end of his life…which is why he had such confidence.

Paul compared his earthly life here to a fight and a race.  He credited his opponents in the fight with being strong and powerful…and he described the race as being long and hard.  He called attention to the fact that there were plenty of temptations along the way that caused many people to simply give up…to simply go with the flow of the current culture…to join the majority of people who did little other than drift lazily along.

But Paul had chosen to stay in the ring for every round…even when he was being battered by his opponents.  And, he had chosen to continue the race…no matter what obstacles were placed in front of him.

He was bruised…and he was tired.  But he had finished the course set before him.  He had kept the faith.

Hopefully we can all say that when we’re at death’s door and get our report card.  Hopefully we will have an “A” from having kept the faith.  There are no greater words to utter in the face of death than these: “I have fought the good fight…I have finished the course…I have kept the faith.”

We can’t go through this earthly life without some bruises…and none of us can claim to be perfect.  As in any fight or race…there are times when the outcome of our fight or race against evil may be jeopardy.  But no matter how tough the opposition…we will be judged by how we finish the course…how we keep the faith.

A third thing Paul says is to take a forward look.  What do people have to look forward to who don’t know the God of heaven…or who refuse to acknowledge Him?  They can only look forward to the events of this earthly life…because that is all they know for sure.  It’s all they believe in.  So when the prospect of death presents itself…it’s seen as the great spoiler…and, it always comes too soon.  Life is always too short for the unbeliever.  Few unbelievers are ever really “finished” with living when they die.

The Christian’s life here on earth is much different.  His or her greatest hope and assurance is yet to come.  Paul says, “…in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…”

In the mind of the unbeliever this earthly life is all there is…so he or she tries to grab all of it they can.  But for the Christian…earthly death is just the beginning…a prelude to the main event…which is a glorious eternal life.

Notice how confident Paul was about his condition and his future.  He speaks of the “…crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me…” He didn’t say the crown which the Lord might award to me.  He was fully confident of his reward.  It was not a might for him…it was a sure thing.

How can a person really believe and know what Paul knew?  After all, no one lives perfectly.  How do we know that when we get there God won’t turn us away because of all the times we have messed up?  Well, God didn’t save us to lose us.  So it’s because of “the faith” that Paul says he kept that he’s assured of heaven.  It’s designed to get us there…and to get us through this life in spite of all our mess-ups.  Keeping the faith is our insurance against being rejected by God.

Finally, when we think about death Paul says we should take an outward look.  He wrote: “…and not only me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

This firm confidence isn’t something conferred upon only a select few.  According to Paul, it’s available to “…all who have loved His appearing.”

I have been called a fanatic for taking a biblical position on sanctity of life and homosexuality…even to the point of being accused of hate speech.  But the fact that I point abortionists and practicing homosexuals to biblical truth about the consequences for their actions is not an act of hate.  It is, rather, an act of Christian love…really a prayer that not any suffer eternity in hell.

The problem is that a majority of people on earth would rather embrace a perverse culture… created by satanically inspired unbelievers…than to believe in Jesus Christ.  They prefer the instant gratification of what they perceive to be joy and pleasure now…however temporal…to the eternal joy of the Jesus world…which is heaven.

For any Christian the most important event in all history was the appearance of Jesus Christ in this world.  Before His appearance it was a world alienated from its Creator and held captive by sin.  The Jesus story is about a loving Creator who cared enough to offer up His own Son as a ransom for those captives of sin.  It’s a story about the awful treatment of that Son by those who rejected Him.  But it’s also a story about the loving reception of that Son by those who love His Father.

The story isn’t just about the death of God’s Son…it’s about His victorious resurrection and promise to raise others from the dead.  So, even when believers face death…the story doesn’t end for them.

For those of us who are believers…Jesus is our Savior and Lord when we’re in the womb…when we face our earthly death…and when we cross over to the other side.  Jesus is God’s message of love to the entire world…the alpha and omega…the beginning and the end.

So I can’t add to…or take away from the Jesus story.  And I can’t add to…or take away anything from the Bible.  It’s God’s truth about life…and it’s God’s truth about death…and it’s God’s truth about eternity.

God is a good and righteous judge…but the truth is that He has given us the tools with which we can actually judge ourselves.  Our jury is the Scriptures…the inspired word of God.  That jury speaks to you through the Holy Spirit.

He’s speaking to you right now…presenting Jesus within a context that forces all of us to think…if only for a little while…of our own earthly death and how we will face it…whether we will face it as a believer in Christ or as an unbeliever.

If you have kept the faith…it will be no big deal.  You will be stepping from the temporary into the eternal with Jesus Christ.  You will be stepping from aging to ageless.

Once your earthly life is over…there are no second chances to accept Jesus as Lord.  In the eternal there is only heaven…and there is only hell.

You have one vote as to where you will spend eternity…so make the wise choice and choose Christ.  This is a one-time election…and there will be no such thing as voter fraud.

So today, if the Holy Spirit speaks to you…harden not your heart.  Commit yourself to Christ.  It’s the only way to properly prepare for your own earthly death.

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