Why does God allow untimely death? What can we learn from untimely death? How should we view fatal accidents?
Over in Psalm 91 verses 1-16 there's a very interesting promise that has been made there. It's a promise which is a prophecy of what God said he would do through Israel. There's a prophecy there which has to do with the time of the end when the 144,000 will be protected from the last years of the raging and horrible times that are there. In this section of the Bible it says that God is a loving Father. He's a God of mercy, comfort, compassion and kindness. These are all words that are found in this particular section, and he's always there and he never forsakes his people it says, he provides, protects, delivers and he is our refuge and help in trouble and he promised long life for those people back in the days of Israel and the prophecies of what would happen in the future.
Yet as a friend of mine said some years ago, he said when I was fourteen years of age a very good friend of mine shot himself accidentally, shot himself in the head. I thought he'd get better, he's in the church, but he didn't. He died. In college he told a story about how they were out swimming, enjoying themselves while camping and fishing. They were both at Ambassador College, he and a friend of his and he said his friend fell and he hit his head on a rock and he died. He drowned in few inches of water, and as my friend said, it hit him pretty hard and he asked the question, where's God? Where's God?
I think probably many of you have gone through this like this, and remember back in 1994 I had the same thing happen in the church where I was pasturing, when we had a fifteen-year-old boy who had a virus that attacked his heart and it destroyed ninety percent of his heart. They waited for almost six months to get a transplant and when he finally got a transplant, everybody thought that was it, that he was going to be okay. It didn't happen that way, it simply did not happen that way. So today I would like to ask some questions, I would like to discuss with you some principles on the subject of untimely death.
This week as you've heard we received some very bad news that I had to read to you about the untimely death of one of our young people, but I ask the question today, dare we ask the question, why? Dare we ask the question and perhaps find the answers to the question, why? I would like to take you today through a sermon that I prepared for that young lad that died, but also what we had talked about before then during that period of time as to the possibility if him not recovering from that particular illness that he had.
You see, brethren, philosophers and theologians and religious men for millennia of time have sought to know the answers to these things, so you and I are not different. We have to ask the question why because we want to find the answers out as to why, but I think we also have to look at the overall picture of the word of God because, obviously, it affects us emotionally, it affects us mentally, it affects us so far as family as you well know, as we worked with many, many people over the years. I think the pastors who are sitting in this room know that it is probably one of the most difficult things that we face, untimely death. So today I'd like to evaluate it, look at it. I'd like to give you a little bit of what we describe as some of the principles and perhaps a few insights.
The apostle Paul answered and he said these words, he said...
I Corinthians 13:12. "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face. For now I know in part and then I shall know fully."
Now what was he talking about? He was talking about so many things in this day and age that you don't always have answers. I don't have answers to. Sometimes we'd like to have answers to when we're asked some of these questions, but Paul went on to say again he said...
Romans:11:33. "Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his decisions and his ways past finding out."
Over in the book of Romans. Moses said it a little differently. He said...
Deuteronomy:29:29. "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children."
So there are things that are revealed and there are some things that just simply aren't yet revealed. We'd like to pique God's brain and find everything. We'd like to know all about a number of things that have to do with the universe, this earth and our lives and other human beings. The question "why" is wrapped up in the mystery. The question "why" is wrapped up in the mystery of this great being we call God and therefore today we'd like to see if we can pique his brain a little bit to come to some understandings of these things.
Now if you begin first of all with the statement that the apostle Peter made in II Peter 3:8-9, you don't need to go there yet because we're going to come back to it a little bit later, but he does tell us that God doesn't want any human being to perish. He wants to make sure that every human being has the best opportunity for eternal life. He is deeply concerned with each and every human being. That's why John:3:16, the golden text of the Bible, is written. Because God so loved the world. That is every human being in the world because he loved them so much that he gave his only begotten son.
When you begin to evaluate that love, then you begin to come to a broader perspective of what God is doing. God knows all. He sees all and yet he is quite able to do whatever he wills. He can stop something; he can start something; he can change something, whatever he wants to do. The book of Isaiah:57:1 says the following...
Isaiah:57:1. "The righteous dies and no one ponders it in his heart. Persons of kindness and goodness are taken away from the evil to come, each entering into peace."
They find rest. Now it's talking about people who live and die and sometimes they die perhaps sooner, perhaps they die of what we just simply describe as an untimely type of death. Yet in God's overall plan we can see this great being who is infinitely full of mercy and compassion. You have to realize that God truly understands the feelings that all human beings go through because he can read our minds. It tells us that he knows our sitting downs and our standing up, he knows our every thought according to Psalm 139, and his son died so that you and I could have the reconciliation with him that we needed, but God had to leave his son to die on the cross. He didn't rescue him at that particular time even though he had the power to do so; therefore, we recognize that in the plan of God, the will of God, the mystery of God in order to be fulfilled is broader than the, just simply the situation that we may find ourselves in at any time like I had out in Indianapolis or this particular gentleman, this pastor who was fourteen years of age who lost his friend through being shot in the head and having died.
My point is very simply to begin with that God truly understands the feelings we go through in untimely death for he fills the heavens and the earth and God's not far from any one of us, especially those who are his children and are his very sons and daughters. So today I'd like to take a little bit of time to evaluate this particular topic and evaluate those principles that I just started with and I want to ask the question, why does God allow untimely death among church members and their families? And what I mean untimely, I think you understand that God gave in the book of Psalm:90:10 that he gave man seventy to eighty years. That's the principle that we seem to see throughout the Bible, and I think our ages have moved up and down with that over the years. Sometimes people die earlier at some ages of man and sometimes they die later, but basically the prophecy that was given in Psalm:90:10 was the giving of seventy to eight years.
So I'd like to examine that and take a look at that. Let's go over to Psalm:90:4 for a moment, let's turn there this time because we laid some scriptures out, we're going to go back to some of them in a moment, but I just wanted to lay out for you some principles and then begin to look at these concepts and principles in the light of untimely death. This is found in Psalm:90:4 and we begin to look at time in general. We begin to realize that God has a different look at time; he sees it differently than human beings. For us time seems like eternity. Years can seem like a long time until you get older and then they go by so fast that you wonder where they went, but I think in Psalm:90:4 God has a different view of time. Notice what he says here in Psalm:90:4:
Psalm:90:4. "For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night."
Now we've often talked about this scripture in showing the concept of the seven day cycle and the fact that God has given man basically, approximately six thousand years to do his own thing and the seventh day is the Sabbath, it is the millennial Sabbath of God, but God here in verse 4 has a different view of time. A thousand years seem like yesterday to him. Or to put it another way it would just seem like the year 1004. If we were to go back and look at the year AD 1004, we would find that with God he can do that. It's just like time going by so quickly that it really it means very little in that sense of the word. It doesn't hinder him in all that he wants to do. But at that particular time when you look at the year of 1000 AD, you find that out of the third was ruling parts of Europe; he was the heir to Otto the Great. The third revival of Rome.
In Russia, Vladimir the Saint was ruler and was organizing the Russian church Greek patterns. In Rome, the Pope was John XV. Now those are things that you and I probably studied years ago, but to God it's just like yesterday that that occurred and his remembrance of that going back like that is just like, <snap>, that quickly. That's the way God looks at it. In God's eyes that all happened like yesterday, so we have to understand our perspective is different from God's perspective. That's why sometimes we all have difficult in dealing with death.
It is not easy, it is not simple. It's not just like falling off a log to understand it. It's just simply so final. And it seems so final, so unreal, so permanent. That's the problem with this thing of death, but God doesn't see it the same way that we see it. In God's mind, it's just tomorrow that the person will live again, but yet we don't look at it, we think of time as a long distance between what happened in 2004 and what happened in 1004 when those things did occur. So you have to begin to realize that we must try to begin to look at things from God's point-of-view, from God's point of view. And this is when we turn to II Peter 3:8-9 and take a look at the scripture that I talked about in the early going of the sermon. This is II Peter 3:8-9. He says...
II Peter 3:8. "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Notice what it says in verse 9...
II Peter 3:9. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness..."
Or the inability to understand this thing of time and God in relationship to this, but notice what he goes onto say...
Verse 9. "...but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
So we begin to realize that in God's overall purpose all human beings who have ever lived and have died and all human beings who will love and will die will then be worked with at some particular time in the history of this world when God opens their minds and gives them the ability to understand his wonderful plan. You and I sit in this room because we have a wonderful opportunity to understand it and yet there is a world outside there of 6.4 billion human beings who don't have the slightest idea about the plan of God.
Some are going to heaven, some are going to nirvana, some are going to go to an ever burning place where their souls will finally be crisped up enough so that they can move from there, from the limbus or from the situation that they are in and finally go to heaven after their souls have been refined. Those are all those ideas that are sitting out there and yet none of those are true. None of those are true. What God is saying here in II Peter 3:8-9 is profound. What it is actually saying is he wants to make sure that every person has the best opportunity for eternal life. He is concerned for each individual. That's why he tells us in Romans:11:32 that he shut them up in blindness that he might have mercy on them all. Wouldn't it be a terrible thing for people to be given the opportunity to see and then because they don't have all of the wherewithal and the capacity within their society to live that way, to simply reject it and then to lose out on eternal life.
Isn't it much better for these individuals that we see sitting outside of the room who do not have the understanding of God to wait until such time as God gives them opportunity to live. Creates a society into which these individuals can live and move and have their being in Christ in the way that God has given to a few people. So he's concerned. This is what it tells you in verse 9...
Verse 9. "...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
So we begin to realize that our thinking has to evaluate a broader perspective. The Bible says that we sorrow, but not as others who have no hope. That's the beautiful statement that is found in I Thessalonians 4:17. It says that we sorrow, but not as others who have no hope. It is not wrong to sorrow. It is not wrong to hurt. It hurts so bad. Yes, it does. Not just for the people that it happened to, but their friends and brethren and people. I think that's what the book says in I Corinthians 12, does it not? That when one member of the body suffers the whole body suffers with it.
And we all did at the time that we were talking about some of these examples. We all did. We all went through that. It was a very, very difficult time. It's a time of rallying around those people who have gone through these terrible situations that they sometimes have to face. Over in Psalm 127 if you'll turn there with me for a moment. Psalm 127. We see here in Psalm 127 a very important principle and that is the fact that God begins to look at man from birth to death. He has a perspective as he looks at us because he says that each human being is a heritage from God. And with that in mind I think it's so nice to know that when you read John:3:16...
John:3:16. "For God so loved the world..."
...that you begin to understand that he loves every human being. He loves their being. He recognizes that some of them may not be ready now for what needs to be given to them and so he says over here in verse 3 of Psalm 127...
Psalm:127:3. "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward."
So we recognize that each human is first and foremost God's child. By creation Adam was a child of God. By creation Eve was a child of God. By creation you and I sitting in this room are children of God and secondly then we come to the begettal spiritually that makes us very spiritual sons of God as well. Now God sees all, Gods knows all and he is quite able to do whatever it is in his plan to do. That's where you have to go and you have to stand, sit, work, operate. You have to go there because many, many times you have to realize that you don't always know. You don't always know the answers to some things. So you go on the basic promises, you go on the basic principles, but then when you finally come back, you have to come back to this particular statement that children are the heritage of the Lord, that is God sees, he knows all and he's quite able to do whatever in his plan is necessary to do.
It takes faith to believe that. Even Job said that, yeah though he slay me yet will I trust him. So Job had a concept of God and his relationship with him that allowed to him to have a broader perspective of what he was going through and the terrible, terrible pain and suffering that God permitted him to go through during that period of time, so I think we have to go back and look at that perspective as we think of time, we think of this principle about God, but let's go to another one over in Romans:8:32 and again it's a part of just drawing a broader perspective in the hurts and in the feelings that we have for one another. I don't think there's any question, there is no question in our minds that we hurt terribly today among those of us who know the family.
Romans:8:32. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
And the realization is God the Father experienced the loss of a child when he saw his son die. I think we must understand that in its broader perspective, but also you have to understand that he knows what it is like, that's the point. He watched the created human beings kill their creator. He had to leave his son on the cross to die. He did not rescue him even though he had the power to do so and he let him die, so can he understand? Yes, he can. Does he know? Yes, he does. Is God capable of doing what ever he has to do? Yes, he can. But notice verse 33...
Verse 33-35. "Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
That means you can die for some of the things that you believe at the time that Paul was writing this. It was probably one of those worlds in the Roman empire that you just simply was not a safe period. So we see that as a result God perceives and understands and discerns all of these things. God raised Jesus from the dead, evidence to all that he raised and will raise everybody in their own order. The principle that we find in the book of I Corinthians is the fact that because he let him die and then he resurrected him from the dead, the principle is that in our own order, we're going to come up in the resurrections plural. Notice the word I just used in this particular case. Notice verse 38. It says...
Verse 38. "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, or height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
So we realize that God has compassion on his creation. He knows, he understands, but he also has a plan and a purpose for each person and some times as human beings, we don't know all the answers. I've learned in forty-four years of ministering that I know less than when I graduated from Ambassador College. I got a whole lot smarter as I was out in the field dealing with human beings who had questions and needs and problems and I learned to be able to say, I don't know in a few cases and then I began to say that in a few more cases and I learned to realize that we simply don't know and we don't have all of the answers. Well, preacher, how come you don't have all of the answers? That's because He hasn't told me, but I figure one of these days when we see completely then he'll answer a lot of those questions for me and he'll answer them for you. Therefore, during this period of time you have to have faith that God does, that God does know what he is doing. And the reality of those things will ultimately come. II Corinthinas 4:16, let's notice what it says here. In II Corinthians 4:16 it's saying the same thing that I was saying before, but it means that we have to look at the unseen. We have to look to the future; we have to realize how God sees events for the moment and is working what we describe as an eternal wait of glory. You have to operate from that premise, otherwise you can be nipped with overmuch sorry. Notice...
II Corinthians 4:16. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing..."
Meaning that as a human you're getting older and the body is wound up like a clock and now it is wearing down, and so one of these days your clock stops. It's called death. You're out of time. That's basically what it means to die. You're out of time, and so this is what he's saying here.
Verse 16. "...though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day."
And you begin to learn and grow in an understanding of many of these things, but he said...
Verse 17. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."
It answers in the future so many questions of why. Philosophers, religious-man, everybody has asked those questions, why? I think we have a few more answers in God's church, but they're still there; these are questions that we will face, so he said...
Verse 17. "...we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
So we can see from the word of God that we can learn something about untimely death. You can learn to determine what lessons you're going to be willing to face so that you can understand as a human being why we're here as living and what we can learn from going through many of the experiences of life that we go through. Let's go over to Isaiah 57. I touched on it in the beginning part of the sermon, but let's go there again because it has a profound meaning for us in understanding God's involvement in our lives. This is Isaiah 57. I think you all agree that the prophecies of the Bible say that we are headed for some terrible, horrendous times.
The Bible, it's very simple to tell us that we will be engulfed in war, famine and disease, but I also know and you know that God is full of mercy and he has promises of both protection from that and also he recognizes that some will die in doing the work, but also sometimes we find that he may say that it would be best for a person not to live through the coming trauma. The world is now a dangerous place and you know that. A person is free from Satan's influence, his culture, his violence and the headache and the heartache that we do face, and so Isaiah 57 talks about that. We do miss our loved ones, yet God is there and knows for some of those people who will come up in the resurrection that that will be a better time for them and God permits these things to occur.
Isaiah:57:1. "The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil."
So we have to realize that you and I face this particular concept as well within our thinking and understanding of God's mercy and compassion and his timing of concern for all human beings, so we read that and it's a part of what we say in sermons, many times at funeral, but it also is very much a part of the principle that God is working from. Now you and I have all faced death with relatives, friends and family. Death occurs to all. I think I remember there was this principle that I remembered with so many people, especially with the young man who at age fifteen died, even though he had a heart transplant, yet his father and his mother have continuously remembered in the right way their son because it's their purpose now to be ready to meet that time.
And so I think we find that there are a number of people who come to that conclusion that while they may lose a family member as we had a widow who was visited regularly, she kept a picture of her eight-year-old daughter on a mantel, the little girl died from a childhood illness, but the widow kept that picture to look forward to what? Her being their with that child and it was what we describe that picture kept her going until her death and sometimes you find that this is what has happened to a certain number of people, so that no matter what trial they face, we recognize that God gives us strength to bear up under that trial. Sometimes the death of a loved-one is a great trial. Husbands losing their wives; wives losing their husbands. Sometimes losing you're children. It has happened on occasion here and there within the body of Christ, and I think you all being in the church for twenty-five, thirty, forty years know that that does sometimes happen.
But the reality of needing to be there for that time in the future drives many, many people to realize I've got a job to do and I've got to be prepared to do that. I think there are those of us who feel like we need to see some of our relatives in the second resurrection because we've got to straighten out some things that we've done wrong. You know, as we say, we've got to have a little discussion and I think that, I look back on that with my own family and say that's got to be done. So I want to be able to be there for that particular time.
Let's go over to Hebrews 11 and see this in a little different light than perhaps we've seen it before. Hebrews:11:37 begins to talk about the heroes of faith, and think we see here that sometimes death is a great motivator for those of us who are alive because we recognize that there were people who went through tremendous trials and difficulties and these are our heroes. These are people that we look to as the, as what we would call our hall of fame spiritually in the church of God, and it talks about how in verse 37...
Hebrews:11:37. "They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented."
We see what occurred to these individuals and it talks about how without us they have not yet received the promise that God has given to them that they without us should not be made perfect, but notice verse 1 of chapter 12. I think this is most interesting. Sometimes death is a great motivator to help us realize that we also as a result of what we see with these people stiffen our resolve and cause us to feel that we have something that we need to be working on in order to be prepared to be there.
Hebrews:12:1."Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
So you see that, you recognize that. My minister friend told me that his mom died when she was 50 years of age, and he was telling me, he said, you know, I was twenty-one years of age and I was a junior at Ambassador College, and he said, it moved me to change, and I thought that was most interesting. He said, I decided I better quit fooling around and make sure I was my part in my life so that I'd see her again. I thought, isn't that interesting and of course, he's continued. He's one of our ministers today in United and he continues to strive to do that, but I thought his example that he gave to me in discussion really pointed out that you know you look at what these people went through and then he saw that he needed to do something about it, so death sometimes is a great motivator that sometimes draws us closer to God.
Verse 2. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
So we see a tremendous concept, then in verse 3...
Verse 3. "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls."
And I think sometimes you realize that these things do happen and you simply, as we say, bite down really hard and begin to work toward the ultimate end of being prepared for the time that is going to come. Over in II Timothy 4 beginning in verse 6. The apostle Paul realized that his physical life was coming to an end that he had fulfilled that purpose God gave for him, and he just simply put himself in God's hands and he trusted God with his life. This is II Timothy 4:6. He said...
II Timothy 4:6-8. "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."
So while living we human beings need to live with a purpose. We need to be organized and thinking about those things just like the woman who kept the picture of her daughter on her mantle, it was a reminder of what she needed to do, and I think all of those things become important drivers for all of us as members of the church. I know what the death of the fifteen year old boy did to me, and I know that I haven't forgotten it. It's very much a part of my thinking as you probably noticed in the early part of my sermon. It was a very emotional time for me. Let's go over to Ecclesiastes:9:1. This is Ecclesiastes 9; it says in Ecclesiastes a very simple set of statements: live with purpose and do the will of God. That's basically what he is telling us here in Ecclesiastes:9:1-2. Let's read what the man Solomon said here.
Ecclesiastes:9:1-2. "For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them. All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; To the good, the clean, and the unclean; To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath."
Meaning that the very fact is that you simply have to recognize death is not easy to face. It is an enemy. It is an enemy that won't disappear until Christ returns and initiates the resurrections upon human beings, but you begin to see in verse 5 that again the principle of recognizing that death is a very much apart of life and then of course in verses 9 and 10, he tells us...
Verse 9-10. "Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."
So I think that we must begin to understand that there has to be a solution. There has to be a solution to the six thousand years of human life, and that's what we've talking a little bit about today. Notice the words of Christ concerning all who die. Listen to what Jesus said. You don't need to turn there. This is found in the book of John. He says...
John:5:28. "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves..."
...not just part of them...
Verse 28-29. "...all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth..."
So we recognize that as we focus on the reality of what God is doing, we have to take a little bit of time to look at the fact that there is a promise of the removal of death forever, but it comes through all that are in the graves shall come forth and hear his voice. The apostle Paul states it this way...
1 Corinthians:15:22. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order..."
A lot of times people don't think about that, but we have to understand what does it mean every man in his own order? I think you have to realize that there were men who walked this earth who recognized that there was something that was going to happen to the human race. Winston Churchill once said, and you've heard it said a dozen times that one must be deaf, dumb and blind who cannot see that there is a great purpose being worked out here below. We understand that; we understand it better because we recognize the great purpose that God has for man to take a human being and to develop him in human life to become a part of his very family and government.
God has given man time. Somewhere along this plan of time in six thousand years is the calling of God. It is the time when God begins to deal more directly with a human being. God is not willing that any should perish. God is merciful; he's a compassionate God, but he is the master builder. He is the potter. You and I are the material clay that he is shaping through what we describe as this experience of life and the calling of the holy spirit of God. Sometimes death takes an individual, sometimes prematurely. Sometimes a baby dies. Sometimes a child dies in an accident. Disease takes someone before their time. It's an untimely death. I hate it, and I think most of us do because we realize how hard it is, it's not easy, but it is a fact of life that we simply have to recognize does occur.
We do not know why sometimes these things happen. They just do. Can you understand that? Can we live the concept that we don't always know sometimes why these things happen; they just do, but we do know that the work of God was not yet finished in those individuals like that young man fifteen years of age. I know that God's work is not finished with him. God has decried within his plan a society which is more conducive to growth. There's some people who can't live in this society and live God's way of life because it's just too difficult, so there's going to be a time for them to learn where God can finish his work, which he began, to set us free from the shackles of the world that we now live in. It's not easy to be a Christian today ladies and gentleman. It's getting harder all the time.
All you've got to do is look at your newspaper and realize what's going on, but we see in the plan of God that he's not willing that any should perish and that all should have an opportunity to come to eternal life. As I said before, it is through the resurrection that God's going to destroy death, the last enemy to be destroyed in God's plan. Now I'd like you to turn with me if you would over to I Peter 1, and I want to say a couple of things in closing in the sermon today about simply the realization that there are some things that are very, very difficult and it is a test. It is hard. It's a trial that sometimes we go through, but I Peter 1 beginning in verse 3. It says...
I Peter 1:3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..."
Of course, we went through the scripture in Romans:8:32-39.
Verse 4. "...to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you..."
Again, remember that whole concept of the vision that we do have of that time.
Verse 5-6. "Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials."
It does happen. These things do happen. You can't explain it any other way, but the fact that some of these things do happen from time-to-time.
Verse 7. "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory..."
As in any trial, you have to forge ahead. You learn from the experience. You grow in God's character. That's a part of what we have to come to realize. It is a severe, sore trial that one faces. We in the church have to be supportive and helpful and kind and empathetic. This is what I Corinthians 12. If one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. We need to give support, comfort those who mourn. Christ came to do that. And there are times when you just simply, it's going to be hard and it's hard to come up and talk to people sometimes when you've gone through something and sometimes you want to talk to them and you don't know how to bridge the gap, but you have to do it. It's a part of us, but I think the point is that we have to realize it's all a part of this Christian life. It's all a part of the set of principles that I gave you today in the sermon. I'd like to go to a final concluding scripture in Isaiah 25. It's a topic for the future. It's God's statements that remain true. He is loving; he is kind; he is merciful; he provides protection, deliverance, life and most of all, he will help us in time of trouble. But I think we share in the sadness and we realize that God understands the feelings that we experience and the fact that he gave his son for us so that the enemy of death can ultimately be conquered and destroyed through the resurrection from the dead. Now notice in conclusion then in Isaiah 25 beginning in verse 7.
Isaiah:25:7. "And He will destroy on this mountain The surface of the covering cast over all people, And the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
I think you ultimately have to come to that as we face a very great trial for one in our midst at this time.