Luke Is Dead, but Never Forgotten

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Luke Is Dead, but Never Forgotten

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The name I have used in the title of this article is an alias. I did have the permission of "Luke" to tell about his life. He gave me that permission and asked me to use his example when he lay on his deathbed.

Meeting Luke

It has always been an important event for me as a pastor to meet a person God is obviously calling. Jesus said in Matthew 22:14 Matthew 22:14For many are called, but few are chosen.
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that many are called, but few are chosen. The Bible tells us that only the Father takes the responsibility to draw people to Christ (John 6:44 John 6:44No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
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). Thus, when a person I meet for the first time is clearly coming to the understanding of God’s truth, I am excited and pleased.

Luke was such a man. Our first meeting was unusual in the setting and circumstance, but not unusual in the pattern of the conversation. Luke invited my wife and I to spend the night in one of the finest hotels at his expense. I told him it was not necessary, but he would not hear of that and insisted.

As I found out, he worked in the hotel. He had arranged to have a private meeting room available, and so the setting was unique in my experience. We launched into his concerns in a straightforward manner. His questions had everything to do with the theme of Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Growing Tall Spiritually

Luke began attending church and within a short time became a most loved and respected person. He towered near to 6 foot 7 and was easily the tallest man in our congregation.

Luke was tall in more ways than just height. He grew tall spiritually. He was an ardent Bible student. Soon it was obvious that he was contributing much in enthusiasm, warmth and spiritual conviction to the members. Later I found that Luke had great courage and determination in his character. Everyone loved Luke. We wondered why such a well-spoken, well-traveled, gentle, kind, interesting and handsome man was not married. Luke had never been married, though he was in his mid-30s.

Luke had many questions as he grew in the understanding of God’s Word. It was a delight to see the zeal and joy reflected in his eyes and demeanor as he found answers to questions that had plagued him for years. He came to know a loving and caring God who had a plan to save all of mankind.

The next two years passed smoothly and Luke continued to be steadfast and pleased with his exciting new beliefs.

A Deadly Diagnosis

That was when Luke became very ill. I anointed him and helped him get to the hospital. James 5:13-15 James 5:13-15 [13] Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. [14] Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: [15] And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
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were verses we discussed a lot over the next few weeks. It did not take long for the doctors to diagnose Luke with AIDS. Luke was ashamed of himself and told of some things he had done before he came into the Church, some wild weekends that he hardly remembered. I reassured Luke that the blood of Jesus Christ had washed away all of his sins. We talked about the fact that his deeds before baptism had come back to haunt him. Luke asked me: "Why did God let this happen after I had repented and was baptized?"

I visited Luke often, and it soon became evident that his body was wasting away quite dramatically. I encouraged him to let his mother and sister know. He felt so bad about his condition, that at first he refused. After we talked a while, he did change his mind.

I recall so clearly the day I met Luke’s sister at the train station and went with her and an interpreter (she spoke only Italian) to Luke’s apartment where she could stay and then to the hospital. It was obvious that she loved her brother deeply. I tried to explain gently and carefully what the illness was and what it seemed the outcome must be. I told her of Luke’s repentance and the wonderful loving man that he was. I also told her that Luke was at ease with this sickness now and at peace with God. It was obvious that Luke was loved by his family.

Bible passages like Psalm 102 were topics of our discussions. Luke indeed was losing so much weight that verse 5 had special meaning for him. Finally he accepted the possibility that God would let him die. Facing the shadow of death (Psalms 23:4 Psalms 23:4Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
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) became reality for Luke.

Through his suffering and the haunting look I often saw in his sunken eyes, there was burning brightly a confident reassurance that he would not be forgotten. If death was to come, Luke was prepared to face that. Luke did not want to die. He abhorred the thought, just as almost every human being does. But there came a time that he was so ill and so weak, that death seemed a refuge.

Lessons We All Learned

Luke was dead—that was the message I had to give to the members of the congregation. There were great lessons that we all learned from this man. We learned that God is in charge of every life. God can call whomever He wishes and make that person into a saint.

In 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 [26] For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: [27] But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
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Paul explained that God does not call many noble and mighty people. He looks on the heart and chooses those who would obey Him and change their way of living now. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 [9] Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, [10] Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
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, Paul goes on to say that some of the members of the Church were fornicators, adulterers or homosexuals before conversion. That was past tense. That was the case with Luke. His past was forgiven and put aside by God, but it was obvious that the effect of his past was not cancelled.

We realize that if a person loses a leg and then becomes converted, the leg does not reappear. If a person has abused his body with smoking or bad eating habits, the penalties may not be taken away. Luke accepted that. He wanted his story told—a story of deep regret and sorrow for that which had caused an early death and much pain and suffering for his family. Luke wanted people to know that the road of sin leads to death (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Luke is a man I will not forget. But whether I remember him or not was not what was important to Luke. His concern was whether God would remember him. With all my heart I believe the answer is a resounding yes. Luke will receive a new body—a spiritual one—that knows no sickness, weakness or pain. He will be a spirit being—a son of God. That was his joy and his hope. That was the source of his strength and acceptance. Luke is dead, but he will live again! UN