The Final Hours of a Christian
In early October, 2000, Dr Joel Beeke of Grand Rapids buried an elderly Christian. He gave the following letter to her children after the funeral (on 1 Tim. 1:15-17), detailing his last visit with her:-
The last visit I had with your dear mother last week was quite special for me, so I wrote out her comments afterward, and thought to share them with you, for your encouragement and to show you why I must preach to you from 1 Timothy 1:15-17.
When I entered the room, she immediately began to speak of the goodness of the Lord and the preciousness of Jesus Christ. “The Lord is so good, so good,” she said. “And the nurses are so kind. I see behind their kindness the preciousness of Christ. Oh Jesus – He is so precious, He is my Lord, He is, yes, He is my everything.”
When I affirmed what she was saying, she raised her arms and said, “Oh yes, He has done everything for me. I was thirsty but there was a nurse to give me something to drink, but He had no nurse. He said, ‘I thirst,’ and received vinegar to drink. And that all because of my sins. Oh my sins, how they cost Jesus so much! He had to be cast away for me-yes, even for me.”
She paused, then frowned deeply, and said, “Oh, how I have sinned, how I have sinned. I have backslidden so many times for so many years.”
“Yes, Mrs. Doorn,” I replied, “but soon you shall backslide no more. Soon you will be in that church triumphant where there are no denominations and no divisions and no more sin-only peace that passes understanding.”
“And there to be with Jesus,” she said, with an affectionate smile, then added, “no more confusion, no more disappointment. And do you know what will be the greatest wonder of all? No more sin. No more sin.”
I then quoted First Timothy 1:15 to her. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
“Oh yes,” she said, “oh, don’t ever stop preaching that text, that gospel that Jesus saves sinners. May God go with you and bless you and use you. He has used you, also for me. Under your ministry my soul came to freedom and liberty.”
“Yes, Mrs. Doorn,” I replied, “the Lord has been very good to you. I have felt your love for the gospel’s sake. I love you in the Lord Jesus Christ. And if I never see you on this side of the grave again, I hope and trust I will meet you on the other side crowding around the throne of the Lamb, to praise God forever. “
“The other side, the other side,” she repeated. “Oh, I am going to my Savior. Yes, there I will meet you and all God’s dear people. How I love to be with God’s people. I love everyone who loves the Lord Jesus.”
After a pause, she added, “You are my beloved Pastor who has shown me the way to that precious Jesus. Keep preaching him. Sometimes when you were preaching, I would say to myself: ‘Now when is our minister going to get to Jesus.’ And then, sure enough, it would come. Not always soon enough to suit me, but you would always get there. Oh, what is a sermon without Jesus? It is no sermon.”
Her voice, having now become tired, and her breathing appearing to come harder, I said, “Mrs. Doorn, I would love to talk with you further, but I don’t want to wear you out. Let me read a few verses and pray with you.”
I then read Psalm 34. When I read verse 6, “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles,” she cried aloud, “all my troubles, yes, He, precious Jesus, saved me out of them all.”
Then she gazed intently into the distance, and lifted up her arms again. For a moment, I thought she was dying. “What do you see?” I asked. “Oh,” she said, “I only want to be with Jesus. Soon I will be with Him. Soon I will be with Him. He is everything. He is everything. Oh, tell the people that He saves sinners, even chief sinners. “
After assuring her that I would do that with God’s help, I prayed with her, then said farewell to her with tears. I encouraged her to speak with everyone who visited her as she had spoken with me, expressing the wish that her bed may continue to be a pulpit.
God has fulfilled that wish. Your mother was given a wonderful deathbed. She has “preached” to many from her bed of the altogether lovely Savior and His wonderful works. Dear family, treasure these memories. Fly to the same Christ in whom she found the joy of her life. And that she, being dead, may yet speak to every one of you. May you be an undivided family, reserved for glory above.
Living in the World 6 November 2020
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When coming to consider plagues throughout history and some Christian responses, it is appropriate to begin with this extract from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: O Almighty God, who in thy wrath did send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in […]