How will You Die?
When Napoleon’s life was passing away he insisted that his boots should be put on. He would die like a soldier––in his boots. A great church dignitary expired in the splendid robes of his religious office. Queen Elizabeth I died crying “millions of money for a moment of time”. How will you die?
Sad indeed if that word comes true of you which was thrice repeated to some very respectable people a long time ago: “ye shall die in your sins”* (John 8: 24). One second after your death, it will be a matter of no consequence whether you died in a palace or in a cellar. Little will you care whether you had a national funeral in Westminster Abbey, or whether your poor body was tossed by unceremonious hands into a pauper’s grave. Such trivialities will be of no consequence then, for eternity will stretch before you, and your whole eternity will hang upon the state in which you die. How solemn to die “in your sins”! If sin works such havoc, and sins have such fearful consequences in this world, what must they entail in the next? Men reap as they sow in this world, but God does not definitely execute judgment upon sins in this life. It is certain however, that after death there is judgment: “forasmuch as it is the portion of men once to die, and after this judgment” (Heb. 9: 27). In this world you can, in a sense, avoid God, and many live “without God in the world” (Eph. 2: 12). Death, however, dissolves all connection with the things of time in which God can be excluded and forgotten, and beyond death you must have to do with God.
How will you die? The Spirit of God speaks in Heb. 1: 28 of one who “dies without mercy”. Do you not shudder to read his epitaph?
DIED WITHOUT MERCY
Mercy! Friend you need mercy! An innocent man might plead for justice, but the sinner’s hope is mercy. The guilty one can only escape by the door of mercy. If the offender does not receive the due reward of his deeds, it must be on the grounds of mercy. The transgressor can only be pardoned at the mercy–seat. The penitent’s cry is “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18: 13 AV)––he knows that nothing but mercy will do for him. Your only chance is mercy. Blessed be God that mercy is available! Why should you die without mercy when there is a God who is “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2: 4)? God forbid that any of my readers should breathe their last without having availed themselves of the mercy of God! Oh how sad, how complete, how irretrievable will be your ruin, if you die “without mercy”!
There is another epitaph, short but blessed, in Heb. 11: 13:
“ALL THESE DIED IN FAITH”
Though the persons thus spoken of lived in a dispensation of comparative darkness, though they had no finished redemptive work to rest upon, yet in the dim light of types, symbols and promises they trod the path of faith, and as they lived so they died––“in faith”. How about you? How will you die? How blessed to have “faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20: 21)! How blessed to live and die in faith! I ask you again, How will you die?
Now God has not been indifferent to the ruin of His creature, whose sin has brought death upon him. There is no denying the fact that “the wages of sin [is] death”, but it is equally true that “the act of favour of God” is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6: 23). Elsewhere I read that “Herein as to us has been manifested the love of God, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4: 9). The Son of God has come and
DIED IN LOVE
upon the cross. Yes, “God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us” (Rom. 5: 8). Divine love would bless the sinner, but divine holiness could not make light of the sin. The full penalty of guilt––the wages of sin in all its dark and dread reality––passed upon the sinless substitute. He took our place in death and judgment that we might have His life and His place of acceptance and favour before God.
You may die unsaved, you will not die unloved. The Son of God is for you, Christ died for you, eternal life may be yours. The love of God, the work of Christ, and the Spirit’s strivings, all urge you to turn from the world and its delusions, which end in death, to the Saviour of sinners, whose soul–assuring words are “he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life” (John 5: 24). The joys of heaven, the endless festivities of the Father’s house, the love of the Father’s heart, and eternal glory in companionship with the Son of God may all be yours.
Let me ask you one more time, “How will you die?” If you die in your sins, there remains for you “a certain fearful expectation of judgment” (Heb. 10: 27). Where death leaves you, judgment will find you, and the issue of that judgment will be final and for eternity.
How much more blessed to die in faith, to fall “asleep through Jesus” (1 Thess. 4: 14), which is “very much better” (Phil. 1: 23). Best of all, the Lord is coming soon to receive His own to Himself, and at His shout the dead in Christ shall rise first, and then we which are alive and remain shall be changed and caught up to glory without dying at all! (see Phil. 3: 20, 21; 1 Cor. 15: 51; 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17).