Archives For death

If we are to take our heads out of the sand, and hit the hard questions head-on, so that we can be prepared for suffering, as we plan to do in the book of Job on Sunday, then we need to be sure about what we believe to be true.

In explaining how to begin considering what we believe to be true, Ravi Zacharias points out that every thinking person must confront four basic questions: the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.

  1. How did life come to be in the first place?
  2. To what purpose is my life?
  3. How may I choose between right and wrong?
  4. What happens to me when I die?

Ravi goes on to explain that the answers we arrive at and give must correspond with reality and fit with one another. Ravi encourages us that “Answers that correspond with reality and fit into a coherent system provide the individual a world-view by which all of life’s choices may then be made.”

*Ravi Zacharias, Deliver Us From Evil, 219.

See also:

Hitting Hard Questions Head-On

Would You Agree That Time is the Hard Part?

Job: Preaching Propositions

Current Questions for the Study of Job

Ash Helps Us Move to the Heart of the Matter on Job

9 Reasons Tim Keller’s Book on Suffering is Superb

Andy Naselli’s interview of John Frame regarding the Problem of Evil

Men seek an understanding of suffering in cause and effect

Job: A Writer of Superb Genius Has Erected a Monumental Work

When Suffering Avoid “I Hate Thee” and “I Hate Me”

Job is a Fireball Book

Does the Book of Job Offer An Explanation for Why People Suffer?

Christian Books on Pain and Suffering

If You Never Did Anything in Advance, There is Relatively Little You Can Do At The Time

Once You Are In A Crisis, There is Not Time

Four Wrong Answers to the Question Why Me


Can a Christian Commit Suicide?

Chris —  October 29, 2013

TGC Nunez

Pastor Miguel Nuenez interacts with an important pastoral question.

This controversial topic has unfortunately often been addressed in emotional ways, not through biblical analysis. Those of us who grew up Roman Catholic have always heard suicide is a mortal sin that irretrievably sends people to hell. Influenced by the arguments of Augustine and Aquinas, this belief dominated through the Reformation. However, for Luther, the Devil is capable of oppressing (not possessing) a believer to the point of pushing him to commit the sin of suicide (Table Talk, Vol 54:29). As the salvation became better understood, many Reformation thinkers and theologians distanced their views from the Church of Rome.

Besides this traditional position of the Catholic Church, we encounter three others:

a) A true Christian would never commit suicide, since God wouldn’t allow it.

b) A Christian may commit suicide, but would lose his salvation.

c) A Christian may commit suicide without losing his salvation.

So what does the Bible say?

Let’s begin by talking about those truths we know as revealed in God’s Word . . .

Read the rest here.

Denny Burk considers Hugo Chávez’s final words:

The head of Venezuela’s presidential guard was with Hugo Chávez during his final moments. His report on Chávez’s last words paints a picture of a man desperately clinging to life. According to this report, Chávez said: I don’t want. . .

Read the rest here.

The well known atheist Christopher Hitchens died Thursday night. Doug Wilson, who debated Hitchens numerous times reflects in a Christianity Today article:

Editor’s Note: Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62. A statement from Vanity Fair said that he died Thursday night at cancer center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer. CT asked Douglas Wilson to weigh in on the life and death of the prominent atheist.

Christopher Hitchens was a celebrity intellectual, and, as such, the basic outlines of his life are generally well known. But for those just joining us, Christopher Hitchens was the older of two sons, born to Eric and Yvonne in April 1949. He discovered as a schoolboy that probing questions about the veracity of the Christian faith were part of a discussion that he “liked having.” His younger brother, Peter, followed him in unbelief. But unlike Christopher, Peter publicly returned to the Church of England, the communion where they had both been baptized.

Christopher spent some time in the 1960s as a radical leftist, but of course that was what everybody was doing back then. Somehow Christopher managed to do this and march to a different drummer, doing his radical stint as part of a post–Trotskyite Luxemburgist sect. He graduated from Balliol at Oxford, and soon became established as a writer, the vocation of his life, one in which he excelled. As a writer and thinker, he was greatly influenced by (and wrote about) men like George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson, while as the same time reserving the right to attack any sacred cow of his choosing—and the more sacred, the better. He is widely known for his scathing attack on Mother Teresa, and when Jerry Falwell passed away, he spent a good deal of time on television chortling about it.

Read the rest here.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Chris —  October 5, 2011

Justin Taylor considers what may be said with certainty regarding Steve Jobs:

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”

“Death . . . is Life’s change agent.”

—Steve Jobs, Commencement Address at Stanford University (June 12, 2005)

Much will be said tonight and in the days ahead about this entrepreneurial genius. . .

Read the rest here.

Free from the fear of death

Chris —  August 25, 2011

Jesus delivers us from our fear of death.

I once visited with a lady in her home who had polio during the terrible Rockford Polio epidemic in 1945.  It was an awful time for Rockford.  There were over 380 cases in Winnebago County alone.  Over 30 people died that year, most of them children.  This lady I visited missed a year of school and was separated many months from her parents.  She told me what it was like to lay in her bed at the age of 14 asking God over and over again to allow her to live.

This was not the first I’ve heard of the Rockford polio epidemic.  Another lady remembered her parents not allowing her to go to the end of World War II celebration in downtown Rockford because of the threat of polio.  Administrators postponed the start of some schools.  Here in Stillman Valley, nurses checked the temperature of children on a daily basis at others.

My wife’s father had polio.  He survived, but lost the muscles in his stomach from the awful disease.

Even President Roosevelt had polio and was crippled.

The worst of the Rockford polio epidemic was in 1945, over 60 years ago.  Yet, people still remember it.  I wonder how Northern Illinois would handle another such epidemic today.  Are we prepared to deal with something that threatens our children and strikes fear in the hearts of every parent and grandparents?

The second chapter of Hebrews 2 tells us that Christ became humanity to defeat Satan and deliver His people from their fear of death so that we can find mercy and receive grace to help us in our time of need.  Those who know Christ, need not fear a polio epidemic, or the bird flu or terrorism.

Thom Rainer (President and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources) reflects on the race of life:

When my son, Art Rainer, began work on the book we co-authored, Simple Life, he spent a good bit of time in a cemetery.

That’s right. A cemetery.

He found a cemetery near his home in Boca Raton, Florida, and simply walked from grave marker to grave marker. Listen to his simple explanation for this strange type of research.

“I came to this cemetery to gain perspective. I could not think of a more inspirational location than to be surrounded by those whose earthly story had come to an end. If they could, what would they tell us? Now that their lives are over, what wisdom would they want to pass on? What were their regrets? Where did they get it right? Though the sands of time in my life’s hourglass are still running for me, with every breath I breathe, I am moving toward my physical closure.

“My body will become like theirs.

“On each grave marker is a dash between two years. The dash is time, and that is where we are, in our dash. And before there is some year placed on the other end, we need to figure this thing out.”

The Dash Hits Home

This past week was tough. My older brother, Sam Rainer, had open heart surgery. The surgery went well. The road to recovery looked great. But two days later he had a stroke.

As I sat next to him in the intensive care unit, I reflected about our family. Our parents died years ago. Our sister died as an infant. In our original family, it’s just the two of us. And there he was with a newly repaired heart dealing with the aftermath of a stroke in the intensive care unit.

The dash got really rough for him this week. . .

Read the rest here.

I called on one of our older people today at a rehab center which is also a nursing home.  Pop music was playing over the sound system and the first song that caught my attention was John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no heaven . . .
It didn’t seem to me like “Imagine there’s no heaven” was a popular thought at the nursing home.

The next song spinning on the nursing home juke box was, “I had the time of my life,” and that one didn’t look like it was going to climb the nursing home charts either.

I understand that people loved I had the Time of My Life in Dirty Dancy.  Imagine went platinum for all I know.  But, neither song works very well in the nursing home.  I didn’t interview the people sitting about in wheel chairs, but my guess is that not a lot of them are dreaming that there’s no heaven.  Nobody looked to be having the time of their life.  Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were nowhere in sight.

So. I decided to go with the Apostle Paul rather than a meditation on John Lennon. I read aloud to the person I was visiting 2 Cor 4:16-18, “Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all . . . For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Should Christians be cremated?

Chris —  July 23, 2010

Justin Taylor points to a helpful article considering the ethics of cremation.

David Jones, professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has an excellent article in the latest issue of JETS on the topic of cremation, which I’ve received permission to post. It’s called “To Bury or Burn? Toward an Ethic of Cremation” (PDF).

Here’s the purpose of the essay:

In light of the growing interest in cremation, this brief work will attempt to summarize some of the key historical, Biblical, and theological considerations that have been a part of the moral discussion of cremation within the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Read more here.

Jayber Crow is the barber in Wendell Berry’s recommended fictional community of Port William.  As such he witnesses how life and circumstances sometimes transform people . . .And, in that sense, there is a parallel between Jayber Crow’s job of being a barber and mine as a pastor.

But you could not be where I was with experiencing many such transformations.  One of your customers, one of your neighbors (let us say), is a man know to be more or less a fool, a big talker, and one day he comes into your shop and you have heard and you see that he is dying even as he is standing there looking at you, and you can see his his eyes that (whether he admits it or not) he knows it, and all of a sudden everything is changed.  You seem no longer to be standing together in the center of time.  Now you are on time’s edge, looking offing into eternity.  And this man, your foolish neighbor, your friend and brother, has shed somehow the laughter that followed him through the world, and has assumed the dignity and the strangeness of a traveler departing forever.  Jayber Crow, page 129. 

See also, “We’ve all got to go through enough to kill us.”’ “Living long won’t kill you, not for a long time.”  And, “Take a rest in Port William fiction.”