The Apostle Paul tells us that according to the commandment of God AND revealed by the Scriptures of the prophets AND the preaching of Jesus the Christ, the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past has been revealed to all nations. Romans 16:25-26 The secret has been revealed.
What has been kept secret for long ages past?
Since the creation of man, God has had a plan for man. Through the writings of the prophets and according to Gods command He has NOWmade this eternal mystery known to all nations. What is this eternal mystery? Through the sacrifice of God’s own Son and His defeat of death, God has delivered His redemption plan for man. Paul has unpacked through his writings to the Romans and shared the secret for all men in such a powerful way.
“Do you fear death? This is not the typical question you get at a business lunch. The Sales Manager of one of our key material suppliers was visiting our facilities today. They are a major supplier and I have had the privilege to get to know him at industry best practices conference where he also has joined me at a small breakfast that I host to discuss the best practices in leading your company according to biblical principals with other industry leaders.
Today, I joined he and my team for lunch. After they asked me to give thanks for the meal, the conversation jumped to current events and catching up on family. We all have aging parents and the question was asked, “Do you fear death?” Quickly all eyes turned to me and the question was reframed, “Seriously, I am afraid of dying. Don’t you all want to hear what Jeff has to say about death?” Not prepared, I stumbled and fumbled around and came up with a few comments about fear of the unknown, missing loved ones, watching my grandfather in his last few weeks embrace the inevitable with grace and confidence, and my own confidence in the Scriptures. (Which I could not come up with off the top of my head) I thought about my clumsy response, reflected on my true convictions, and sent an email to clarify. This is what I wrote:
I did not do a good job explaining my reasoning for why I am not afraid to die. First let me admit that the other side of death is mostly unknown and would cause anxiety for everyone. The feeling of loss in leaving family, friends and world that we know behind is a significant factor.
BUT, the Holy Spirit has revealed to me in a real and supernatural way a faith, knowledge, and experience to firmly trust in Him for all aspects of my life, my health, my family, my career, His provision for my needs, and my confidence in His providence in the midst of suffering. The Word of God given to us in the Bible is trustworthy. In the end, as death approaches, I believe that He is faithful to His Word and that I will be judged, but by the grace provided to me through the death and resurrection of Jesus, I will live with Him for eternity. He has been faithful to me for my entire life, how could I not fully trust Him with my future and, therefore, I am confident of the promises given to us in Scripture and do not fear death.
P.S. My faith has been tested as I faced a brain tumor, a pulmonary embolism, and melanoma that all brought me to recognize the brevity of life and the realization that death is immanent. There was a sense of regret or sorrow of what I would miss or responsibilities I would not be able to fulfill, but there was no fear. The emotion that was present was an overwhelming desire to communicate my love to my family. Similar to those on the doomed flights on 9/11 when the planes were going down, the priority for those destined to die on those flights was to call their loved-ones to tell them they loved them. Fear was overwhelmed by love.
Thanks for challenging me to think through this. A few Scriptures to contemplate. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Ecclesiastes 12:7, Luke 23:43, John 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Matthew 10:28, John 11:25-26, Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 14:13, Romans 8:38-39, 1 Corinthians 15:22, John 11:25, John 5:24, John 14:6, Matthew 11:28, Romans 8:17,
In 1999 my mother went to Israel and asked me if she could bring anything back. I asked her to bring me back some stones from the ground because I had a plan for a specific occasion. Often in Scripture rocks are used as a symbol to mark and proclaim great things God has done in the lives of His people.
The nation of Israel had finished crossing the Jordan when the Lord spoke to Joshua: Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, and command them saying, “Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight…” Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, “What do these stones mean to you?” then you shall say to them, “Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord: when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So, these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever…” that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:2, 3, 6, 7, 24)
At the beginning of our marriage I selected 1 Peter 2:5 – 9 to be the verse that we would use in leading our family. It says, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house…a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” As part of our Rites of Passage that we planned to teach our children and celebrate their progress, Living Stones was the last marker. It was the time to pass the torch of faith to declare God’s faithfulness to the next generation. So I had the great privilege to present this rock that my mother selected from the place where Jesus taught the Sermon of Beatitudes to give to Drew and Sydney.
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in truth. 3 John 1:4. The Lord gave us the privilege to lead these lives for a very brief moment in time. We pray you will follow the truth of Jesus Christ to provide clear values that guide decisions and seek to live out these values in your marriage and in leading your family.