On April 21, I read an email update from our District Superintendent, Cal Swan. He wrote, “Just these past few days we have experienced the loss of two pastors who have had a big impact in our district movement.”
One of these pastors succumbed to death after a four year battle with cancer. Bob was one of the Central District’s first church planting missionaries. He helped start new Evangelical Free churches in Earlham, West Des Moines, Indianola, Pella, Story City, Osceola, Charles City, Algona and other churches in Central Iowa.
The other pastor passed away unexpectedly. John was on a mission trip to Africa and was scheduled to preach Sunday morning, April 19. It was discovered that he had passed away in his sleep. Our District Superintendent wrote that “John was a man with a great passion for Christ, a great encourager, a great attitude.”
Would you remember the families of these two pastors in prayer? Would you pray for God to comfort them and carry them through their time of grief?
The manner of their passing was very different: a prolonged battle with cancer versus dying unexpectedly during sleep. The former gives some indication that death is coming. The latter comes with no forewarning. Either way, we must be ready.
God’s Word says that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Appointed to die. In the book of the Psalms, David says to God, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). The days formed for me.
Each of us has an appointment with death. We just do not know when or how. For some there may be clear signs that death is coming. For others death comes “out of the blue.”
Are you ready? You can be.
Listen to what the Lord Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). If you believe in the Lord Jesus, though you die physically—as we all will—you, at that very moment, step right from this world into the Lord’s very presence. Now, that’s living!! In fact, you will never die spiritually—never will you be separated from God, never cast away from His glorious, life-giving presence. Faith in Jesus prepares you for death.
How does that work? Again, see what God says in His Word: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). It is our sin that brings death, physical and especially spiritual. But Jesus died, taking that deadly punishment for our sin in our place. Through Him, then, God offers us full forgiveness for all our sins. And God gives that forgiveness as a gift of grace to all who turn to Christ in faith: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Are you ready for the inevitable? Before the Lord God Almighty, admit that you have sinned against Him. Tell Him you believe that His Son, the Lord Jesus, took your sins upon Himself, died, and was raised back to life. Turn from everything else you relying upon and trust the Lord Jesus alone to bring you to God. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).