Death: Praying in the Will of God

Death: Praying in the Will of God

November 23rd, 1975 @ 10:50 AM

Isaiah 38:1-8

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city. And this shall be a sign unto thee from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.
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DEATH: PRAYING IN THE WILL OF GOD 

Dr. W. A. Criswell 

Isaiah 38, 39 

11-23-75    10:50 a.m. 

 

We welcome you on television and on radio, sharing with us the service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor, bringing the message entitled Prayer In the Will of God.  In our preaching through the prophet Isaiah, we have come to the two concluding chapters before the greatest passage, poetry, prophecy in human literature and in all the Word of God.  Chapters 40-66 of Isaiah are without doubt the greatest speech, the greatest revelation, the greatest poetry, in human speech.  And these two chapters, as the last two chapters of last Sunday, are historical.  They are placed between the thirty-sixth and the fortieth chapters, a story in the life of Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah.  We read, then, beginning at verse 1 in chapter 38:

 

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death.  And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.  

Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, 

And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight.  And Hezekiah wept sore.  

Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,

Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years . . .  

And as a sign . . .  

I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward.  So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it had gone down.

[Isaiah 38:1-8]

 

Now the next chapter, 39:  

At that time Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered.  

And Hezekiah was glad of them, and showed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and gold . . . all . . . his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.  

Then came Isaiah the prophet unto the king Hezekiah, and said . . .  Who are these men and whence came they?  And Hezekiah said, They are from a far country, even from Babylon.  

Then said Isaiah, What have they seen in thy house?  And the king answered, All that is in mine house they have seen: there is nothing in my treasures I have not showed them.  

Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 

Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and all that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.  

And of thy sons that issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, they shall take them away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.  

[Isaiah 39:1-7]

 

. . . one of which was Daniel, a slave and a eunuch; three others of which, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, eunuchs, emasculated men, slaves in the palace of the king of Babylon [Daniel 1:1-7].  

When you read the story of the life of good King Hezekiah, you cannot but think what a marvelous and miraculous thing when God said, "You are to die, set your house in order: thou shalt not live" [Isaiah 38:1], and hearing the sentence of death from the great God in heaven, he prayed and he wept [Isaiah 38:2-3], and out of deference to the prayer of the good king, God added to his life fifteen years [Isaiah 38:5].  And we read that and think, "How marvelous, how miraculous."  

But, instead of praying, "Not my will; Thine be done [Luke 22:42].  If it is better for me to live, give me days and length of years.  If it is better that I die, may God choose what is best for me."  Hezekiah did not pray that.  When the sentence of death was delivered to him by the prophet Isaiah, he prayed that he might live [Isaiah 38:2].  And out of deference and in answer to that prayer, God added to his life fifteen years [Isaiah 38:5].  

But two things, judgment, terrible, awesome things came out of the answer to that prayer and out of those fifteen years.  First of all, in those fifteen years, his son Manasseh was born [2 Kings 20:21].  And there is not one time, but many times, that God says in His Holy Word that "because of the sins and the wickedness of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, I will destroy this people.  I will lay waste this land.  I will send them into slavery and captivity" [2 Kings 23:26-27, 24:3-4; Jeremiah 15:4].  

Now you look in 2 Kings 21: "Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign" [2 Kings 21:1]; that is, he was born in that fifteen years, after three of the fifteen had passed.  In the added fifteen years to the life of Hezekiah, Manasseh his son was born.  "And he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. . . .  And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abomination of the heathen" [2 Kings 21:2].  He built altars for all of the gods of the heathen in the very house, the temple of the Lord [2 Kings 21:3-5].  "And he made his son pass through the fire" [2 Kings 21:6].  He offered his own son as a burning sacrifice to Molech:

 

And Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.  

And the Lord spake by His servants the prophets, saying,  

Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and done wickedly above all which was before him, and hath made Judah to sin;  

Therefore thus saith the Lord, I will bring such an evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, as when a man hears it cannot believe it. 

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.  

[2 Kings 21:9-12, 16] 

 

Now, they are going to pick this up again in the next chapter, as though that were not enough.  Speaking now about good King Josiah, the grandson of Manasseh, there was none like him, says the Bible: "No king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his might, according to the law of Moses.  Neither after him arose there any like him" [2 Kings 23:25], this wonderful, good King Josiah:

  

Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of His great wrath, wherewith His anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked Him withal. 

And the Lord said, I will remove Judah out of My sight.  I will remove Israel, and will cast off this city of Jerusalem which I have chosen – because of the sins of Manasseh.  

[2 Kings 23:26-27]  

 

And as though that were not enough, the Bible picks it up again in chapter 24 of 2 Kings:

 

In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, 

And the Lord sent against him the bands of the Chaldees,sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He spake by His servants the prophets. 

Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; 

And also for the innocent blood that he shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon. 

[2 Kings 24:1-4] 

 

"Which the Lord would not pardon"; which God would not pardon.  And as though that were not enough, listen to the prophet Jeremiah:

 

Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people: I shall cast them out of My sight. 

And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither will we go forth? 

then thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Such as are for death, to death; such as are for the sword, to the sword; such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for slavery, to slavery. 

And I will appoint upon them four kinds, saith the Lord: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and to destroy. 

And I will cause them to be removed into all of the kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem. 

[Jeremiah 15:1-4] 

 

All out of an answered prayer [Isaiah 38:1-4]; had there not been added to the life of Hezekiah those fifteen years, Manasseh would never have been born.  But out of the answered prayer came this son for whose iniquity God would not pardon Jerusalem, and sent them out in judgment and into slavery.  

Number two: what came out of those fifteen years, out of that answered prayer?  Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, the king of Babylon; that is, the crown prince, the heir apparent, the Prince of Wales, was sent by the king of Babylon to Hezekiah in flattery, in sycophancy [Isaiah 39:1-2].  Assyria was the great empire, with its capital at Nineveh, but right south of the capital at Nineveh on the Tigris River was a province, and its capital on the Euphrates River, and the province was Babylonia.  And there was a king, a prince, a hireling, an appointee, a satrap, there was a governor in Babylon, and he had it in his heart to overthrow the king of Assyria and to build a great world empire himself.  So when he heard about Hezekiah’s illness and Hezekiah’s recovery, he sent his son, the future king of Babylon, to see Hezekiah, to flatter him, and thus to gain his support in his conspiracy against the king of Assyria.  And Hezekiah was subject to that flattery [Isaiah 39:2].  

There was a tremendous Baptist leader when I was a youth, the president of one of our great institutions and the number one leading denominational statesman of the world.  You could turn his head any way you pleased by flattery, flattery.  And Hezekiah, because of the favor of God upon him, was proud and lifted up [Isaiah 39:1-2].  And when this prince came to see him, in his pride that God had given him fifteen years and all of these other things beside, boastfully he showed the prince everything that God had done for him.  

And it was then that Isaiah, the prophet of God, came to him with the word: "Behold, the day shall come when everything they have seen shall be carried into Babylon, and not only that, but the people, and your very sons shall they take away, and emasculate them, and make them slaves in the palace of the king of Babylon" [Isaiah 39:3-7].  

What an awesome assignment have I this day, declaring and expounding the Word of the Lord.  There is a prayer to be prayed in all the vicissitudes and fortunes of our lives, but the prayer ought always to be: "Lord, if it is better for me to die, let me die.  If it furthers Thy kingdom in the earth and thus be chosen, then God let it be; not I, but Thee, O Lord.  Not my choice and will, but Thine."  So we take one phase of this awesome assignment.  Hezekiah, facing death, and to any man and to any family, death is a horrible, horrible ghost, a horrible visitor.  The visage of death is terrible indeed.  

So Hezekiah, as all of us, when the judgment of death was delivered to him by the prophet, he cried unto God, "O Lord, deliver me from this sentence of death" [Isaiah 38:3]. 

Now, what about our facing death?  Is this something that we are to dread so that we don’t cry unto God, "Lord, Thy will be done"?  Is this something that we wrestle with before God and demand of God and importunately knock at the throne of God: "Lord, death, interdict it.  May it not be.  Lord, spare, give us years and years yet to come."  What about our attitude toward the sentence of death?  

First, we look at the children of God in the Bible, facing death.  "And the Lord God said to David, The son born of Bathsheba shall die.  And David set himself in an ash heap, and in sackcloth and in tears cried unto God, and the child died" [2 Samuel 12:14-18], despite the intercessions of David.  "And David arose and said, ‘I shall go to him; he shall not return to me" [2 Samuel 12:23].  Death is a gathering to our people in glory.  In the Old Testament it will always speak of death like this, "He was gathered to his people [Genesis 25:8].  He was gathered to his fathers" [Judges 2:10].  

And the Lord Jesus used that as the great basis doctrinally for the resurrection of the dead.  The Lord said, "God says, I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."  And, "God is not the God of the dead but of the living" [Matthew 22:32].  And on the basis of that, the Lord, expounding the Word of God, said that when we die, we are gathered to our people.  We are gathered to our fathers.  We are numbered with the redeemed. 

Again, the attitude of your Lord Jesus toward death, He said of His own coming expiration, He said, "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Paraclete, the Comforter, will not come; but if I go away, if I die, I will send Him unto you" [John 16:7].

We have a God who is not just on a throne in a Jerusalem, but He is in your heart [John 14:23].  He is in your house.  He is wherever you are, and you can come before Him and lay before Him any cause, any decision, any turn.  You can talk to Him, and He can talk to you.  The Comforter is come because Jesus died [John 16:7].  

Again, the apostle Paul, in the dungeon, in the prison in Rome, facing execution, he wrote to his beloved church at Philippi, saying, "I am in a strait betwixt two, for to depart and be with Christ is far better.  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is better for you" [Philippians 1:23-24].  "For me to live is Christ, and to die is a gain" [Philippians 1:21].  "The only reason," Paul said, "that I would choose to live is that I might be your servant, that I might help and encourage you.  But to depart and be with Christ is far better."

This is the attitude of the children of God in the Bible.  What shall our attitude be toward death?  Is it something that we cringe before?  Something we pray against?  Something that we dread?  A terrible and an awesome sentence in our lives?  Is this to be our attitude toward dying?  God says to those of us who look in faith to Him, God says it is better over there than it is here.  God says that we shall have a new body, a new house, a new tabernacle, a new and resurrected and glorified body in that world, beyond the gates of death [1 Corinthians 15:51-54; Revelation 21:4-5].  

There won’t be any blind eyes anymore.  There won’t be any crippled bodies anymore.  There won’t be any lame and halt anymore.  There won’t be any sick anymore.  There will not be any old and senile anymore.  There’ll be no graves dug on the hillsides of glory.  There will be no funeral wreaths on our mansions in the sky.  There’ll be no processions down the streets made of gold, behind which follow those who weep and cry; God, having prepared some better thing for us [1 Corinthians 2:9]. 

Two days ago the governor of the state of Texas called me, and said, "The legislature has turned to me the care of the blind and the crippled of our state of Texas."  He said, "We would like for you to serve on that board of ministry to these people who need us so much."  I have all that I can put my arms around and more beside, but how could I say no to an appeal like that?  Our lives are filled with so much sorrow and tears and regret, sickness and blindness, the sentence, the continuing sentence, the day-after-day sentence of obstacle and impediment and hurt and injury.  That is this life, but in the life to come, there are no more boards appointed by the governor to take care of the blind and the crippled and the halt and the lame.  

Not only that, but we shall be with these who have been redeemed out of all of the ages.  We shall sit down, said our Lord, with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, with the apostles, with the prophets, with the children of God through all time and all the centuries [Matthew 8:11].  And best of all, we shall break bread at the table of the Lord [Matthew 26:27-29; Revelation 19:6-9].  As the song we sing in our book, the Lord Himself shall gird us, and manna shall we break bread with Him, manna, all around; the favor and the blessing of the Lord God, seeing Him face to face, and live [Revelation 22:3-5].  

Why is it then that we dread the death, and the sentence of the grave?  Why should we?  I am afraid it is because we don’t believe.  Our lack of faith blinds our eyes, hardens our hearts, and fills us with dread and foreboding and fear.  And instead of looking forward to those gates by which we enter into the glories of the world to come, we dread them and are fearful of them, and dare not even speak about them.  Why, if you speak of death, you are morose.  If you speak of death, you have shared a melancholia, and a downness in life by which we should never at all be guilty.  Let us hide it out of our eyes.  Let us never mention it in our speech.  Let us never think of it in our language.  

I remember one time an old, old pastor, when I was a youth, an old, old country preacher saying to me, "Son, so many times when older people want to talk to you about heaven and about the land that is yet to come, a young man will turn aside, as though it would be something not appropriate.  And see, these are older people and they’re facing a long journey, and they want to talk to you about death, and about heaven, and about the grave, and about the resurrection.  And the tendency of a young man," he said to me, "is not to talk about it, as though you thought they were going to die soon or something."  And the old preacher said to me, "Son, don’t do that.  If you were going on a long, long journey, wouldn’t it be interesting to you for somebody to talk to you about who’d been there?  Tell you some things along the way?  Wouldn’t you be interested if you are going on a long journey?"

And the old preacher said, "These are going on a long, long journey, and they’re interested, and if they talk to you about heaven and about the glories of the world to come, talk to them, listen to them, read to them, say things to them that God has revealed in His sacred Book, and it will comfort and strengthen their hearts as they face that great and final hour."

We ought not to be that way.  Death has in it for us the glories of the blessedness of the life that God has promised to us who have looked in faith to Him [1 Corinthians 2:9].  I see so many things that deny that faith, as though there were no heaven, and no resurrection, and no healing, and no blessing of God in the world beyond the grave.  How many times have you seen somebody whose life is lived, the day is done, the task is completed, and time has come to enter into the joy of the Lord [Matthew 25:21, 23], and instead of their being allowed to die and to be with Jesus, all kinds of gadgets and all kinds of instruments are brought there by the latest achievements of science so-called?  And there are things hanging here and things hanging there and things all around in order to keep the protoplasm alive just a little while longer.   

There was, in the youth of my days, there was a great scientist and doctor by the name of Alexis Carrel.  And Dr. Alexis Carrel kept a chicken heart alive for twenty-seven years.  And the only reason he stopped the experiment after twenty-seven years, was the doctor found he could keep it alive forever, feeding it and taking away the waste and the heart beat and beat and beat for twenty-seven years.  Science can do the same thing about the protoplasm in our human bodies.  They can keep it alive and keep it alive and keep it alive.  You know, to give vent, place, to that has in it a sort of overtone:  "It is terrible to die.  It is horrible to fall into the grave.  And we must keep this protoplasm alive just as long and as long and as long as ever we can, because death is a horrible thing."  

And in the headlines of these papers, there is a girl who has died, and these instruments are keeping that protoplasm alive, day after day, week after week.  Can you believe that God has so forgotten us, and heaven is so blotted out against us, and the treasures and the good things God hath in store for us have been so denied us, that with my last breath, I must strive to breathe one more time?  When God says, "Eye has never seen, and ear has never heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of a man what good things God hath prepared for those who love Him" [1 Corinthians 2:9].  

If there is work I can do and a task that I might be able to offer unto God, then may God give me health and strength and wisdom and length of days to do it.  But when my task is finished, and my work is done, then Lord, could it be that I rest in Thee?  For to the Christian, death is not a horrible thing.  "O Death, where is thy sting?  O Grave, where is thy victory?" [1 Corinthians 15:55].  Thanks be unto God, who hath given us every treasure, and every blessing, and every assurance, and every hope, and every promise in Christ Jesus our Lord [1 Corinthians 15:57].  

In this church was a devout woman; in her age, died.  And through the genius of instruments, they brought her back to life in one of our hospitals.  And when she opened her eyes again, brought back to life, she said, "O God, O God, that I have to die all over again." 

I must hasten.  What is it to the Christian to die?  It is two things.  Number one: it is a falling asleep, this physical frame, in Jesus [1 Thessalonians 4:14].  The whole New Testament ever presents the death of the Christian in those terms:  a falling asleep in Jesus.  In the last verse of the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts there is described the martyrdom, the death of Stephen.  And the Book says, "And Stephen kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."  And then it concludes, "And he fell asleep in Jesus" [Acts 7:60].  And he fell asleep in the Lord.  That is the New Testament description of what happens to this mortal frame:  we fall asleep in Jesus.

There’s a Greek word koimao, which means "to sleep."  And with that Greek word koimao, there is built koimeterion, "a sleeping place."  And the Christian people took that Greek word koimeterion, and applied it to the place where they laid aside their beloved dead.  When you take that Greek word and spell it out in English, it comes out "cemetery," koimeterion, "cemetery," "sleeping place"; it’s a Christian word.  The world never heard it, never used it, until the Christians did.  As they laid their beloved dead away; they called it a koimeterion.  It’s a sleeping place, until the Lord shall awaken us in the resurrection [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].

Haven’t you heard of the catacombs in Rome?  Miles and hundreds of miles are those subterranean passages.  I think also you’ve heard this too:  that those were places where the Christians hid when they were persecuted by the Roman Caesar.  There’s not a word of truth in that, not a word of truth.  Somebody may have hid down there, I do not know.  Why were those catacombs built?  They were dug out of the rock on which the Eternal City is built, in order that the Christian could have a place lovingly, tenderly to lay away his beloved dead.  For the Roman Empire, as the Greeks, as the pagan Japanese and Chinese, as all the rest of the world, they burned their dead, they cremate their dead.  They take their dead and put them in the furnace, and burn them.  That is the pagan, heathen way of putting aside the body in which the soul is lived.  The Christian felt somehow it was not beautifully appropriate to take a house that God would raise from the dead and to burn it.

I have watched them burn their dead in India by the scores.  They call them "burning ghats," "burning ghats."  They take the body and put wood all around it; and you can watch them there by the river burning, burning, burning.  That is a heathen custom; it is a pagan custom.  But the Christians took their beloved dead, and because they refused to burn them by Roman edict and mandate, they dug those subterranean caverns, and they lovingly laid their dead away.  That is the Christian persuasion that this body, though it falls into decay and into corruption and finally turns to dust, but it will be raised, resurrected in glory [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], like to the beautiful body of our immortalized and risen Lord [1 John 3:2].  That is Christian.

And the idea of death being asleep from God has entered into the whole imagery, poetry, of our Christian people.  William Cullen Bryant, when he was but eighteen years of age, wrote the first great poem on American soil: "Thanatopsis" – thanatos, the Greek word for "death"; opsis, the Greek word for "looking"; "looking at death, a view of death, a consideration of death" – and you listen to the imagery as he closes this beautiful poem:

 

So live, that when thy summons comes to join

The innumerable caravan which moves

To that mysterious realm, where each shall take

His chamber in the silent halls of death,

Thou go not, like a quarry-slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed

By an unfaltering trust – in God – approach thy grave

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch

About him, and lies down to pleasant sleep.

 

That’s Christian.  It’s a sleeping in the Lord until God shall speak life to the dust that once was we.

One other thing:  what is death to the Christian?  It is a sleeping of this house in which my soul abides [Acts 7:60; 1 Thessalonians 4:14].  Number two: it is a translation to our eternal home.  The old time Christians used to sing in the house of the Lord:

 

I am a stranger here,

Heaven is my home;

Earth is a desert drear,

Heaven is my home;

Sorrows and dangers stand,

‘Round me on every hand,

Heaven is my fatherland,

Heaven is my home.

["I Am a Stranger Here"; Henry Bateman]

 

Not here, but there.  Our rewards are not here, they are there [2 Corinthians 5:10].  Our inheritance is not here, it is there [Romans 8:16-17].  Our home abiding and eternal is not here, it is there [Philippians 3:20].

Sweet people, if you live long enough the day will come when you will live alone in this earth.  Every member of the family gone, every friend you’ve ever known gone, and you will live here in this earth alone.  All the rest have gone over Jordan:  they’re in Canaan’s fair and happy land.  And you will live alone.

One of the saddest things I ever saw, I buried a dear member of my church who was one hundred three years of age.  He had one request – he was a poor man – he had one request:  he wanted to be buried by his wife who had died so many years before.  But when time came to lay him to rest, there was no man living who remembered where his wife was buried.  He had so outlived them all that the place of her burying had been forgot. So they went to the side of the cemetery by the fence, and they dug a grave for him by the fence, and buried him there alone.  I would think that the old man, having loved his wife, wanted to be by her side in the great resurrection day, that their dust intercomingle.  But he so outlived all who ever knew him, he was buried alone by the side of the fence.

"Do you mean," you would say to me, "I want to live like that?  All of my family gone, all of my friends gone, these dear people that I loved as though they belonged to me in the flesh and in the blood, all of them gone, when just over there beyond the gates of death there is the Lord, there is the redeemed, there are those friends, there’s the family, they’re all there waiting for me."

"For me to live is Christ" the faith, the hope, the assurance, "and to die is a gain" [Philippians 1:21].

 

Safe in the arms of Jesus,

Safe on His gentle breast

There by His love o’ershaded,

Sweetly my soul shall rest.

["Safe in the Arms of Jesus"; Fanny Crosby]

 

Jesus came to destroy the power of death, to take away its sting and its victory [2 Timothy 1:10]; and death now to the Christian is just God’s entrance into glory [1 Corinthians 15:55-57].

So, Master, as long as there is work for us to do, give me strength, Lord; give me health, Lord; give me length of days, Lord, to do it well, as unto Thee.  When the assignment is finished, and the task is done, and my life is lived, then, Lord, may I rest in Thy gracious arms.  May the nail-pierced hands that open for us gates of grace, open for us also the gates of glory, dying in the faith as a Christian.

We make our appeal now to your heart.  Does God speak to you words of invitation and welcome?  Answer Him with your life:  "Lord God, today I give heart and life in faith and trust to Thee, and come."  "Pastor, this is my family; we all are coming today."  "Pastor, this is my wife; the two of us are coming today."  Or just one somebody you, make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand up to sing, stand responding, answering with your life.  In the balcony round there’s a stairway at the front at the back and on either side, come.  In the press of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, come.  On the first note of the first stanza, come.  And may angels attend you in the way as you say, "Here am I, pastor, I’m making it today; I’m coming now."  Do so, while we stand and while we sing.

DEATH:  PRAYING IN THE WILL OF GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Isaiah 38, 39

11-23-75

 

I.          The story of good king Hezekiah

A.  Hezekiah asks for more days, years to live

B.  Results of the fifteen years that are added

1.  Manasseh was born (2 Kings 21:1-16, 23:26-27, 24:1-4; Jeremiah 15:1-4)

2.  His boastfulness to Babylon

 

II.         Attitude toward death of the people of the Bible

A.  David

      1.  Gathered to our people (2 Samuel 12:15-23)

      2.  Doctrinal basis for resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:32)

B.  Jesus

1.  That the Comforter may come (John 16:7)

C.  Paul

      1.  To die is gain (Philippians 1:21, 23, 24)

 

III.       Our attitude toward death

A.  God says it is better over there than here

B.  Why are we reluctant to go?

      1.  We do not believe

      2.  The gadgets and science we use to keep us alive

      3.  If our work is done, better to go

C.  The Christian view of death

      1.  Falling asleep in Jesus

      2.  Our eternal home – this point is on sermon notes, but sermon cut off before he hits this point.