Are you SURE? Are you almost DEPENDING on it? Many brethren have assumed they will live on and on — witness the collapse of this present world — be carried to safety, and remain alive until Christ returns. But will ALL? Will YOU? Here's what the Bible says about it.
FRIDAY MORNING, May 14, I walked across the Big Sandy Ambassador College campus, on the way to the office. It was a refreshing day, enjoyable morning. The campus was beautiful with spring in evidence everywhere. On the way I met Mr. Robert Ruxton, Director of Buildings and Grounds. He was busy as usual carrying out his important responsibilities at the Texas campus. We had a brief and pleasant conversation, and I went on to the office. On returning from a class at 11:30 a.m. I was told that he and Mr. Ray Dick had been involved in a serious car wreck! At 3:30 that afternoon he was dead. He had never regained consciousness from the accident — never knew what had happened to him. This shocking and heartrending event stunned us all! Mr. Ruxton was a man in his prime. No one expected such an untimely death — but it happened! You may think YOU will not die! But don't be so sure! It could happen to you, too, or your loved ones at any time. A few short years ago Mr. Richard D. Armstrong was killed in a tragic and unexpected accident. A few short months ago Dr. Benjamin L. Rea died very suddenly. Many people in God's Church have died in the past few years. Of these, a startling number have been younger people who should have a long life expectancy. And yet they died! God's people do not live "charmed" lives. God has nowhere promised anyone how long he will live or when he will die. And yet, too many of us think, "It couldn't happen to me!" But it too often does.
Bible Chronicles Deaths of God's Servants
Is it strange that God's servants, even in some of the highest positions of responsibility, do die? Some people cannot understand why. They lose faith and wonder, "How can this happen if this is God's Church?" Are you one with such little faith? Are you putting your hopes and trust in men or in God? Have you forgotten that the Bible is in a sense a chronicle of the deaths of God's servants? Where are Paul, James, Peter, John and Moses? They died! It is not in God's Plan for His servant$ to live on and on in this physical life without death bringing an end to their service. It is not necessary for us to continue to live indefinitely after Christ returns, in this life. In the World Tomorrow, it will be in God's Plan for saints to live eternally — but not until then! The "Faith" chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, lists many of the worthy men and women who were faithful servants of God. One thing is common about all these people besides the fact that they had faith — they all died! Have you read, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (I Cor. 15:51) and then thought it means you? Many people at Corinth undoubtedly thought this too, maybe even Paul himself. But did they live forever? No, they are all dead, awaiting the resurrection. Paul also wrote, "It is appointed unto MEN once to die..." (Heb. 9:27). No exceptions are given! This includes you and me. This life, at best, is but a vapor that passes away. It lasts but a moment and then is gone! We should realize as David did. "Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is! Behold, thou hast made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in thy sight" (Ps. 39:4, 5, RSV).
Prepare for Death
We do not know what tomorrow will bring. God has told us there is no promise for tomorrow. We are commanded not to make definite plans about tomorrow. "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (Jas. 4:14). Solomon said: "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bung forth" (Prov. 27:1). With all these scriptural warnings we should be prepared for DEATH! There are things you should do now in preparation for unexpected death. You prepare for other things, why not prepare for death? Death is a fearsome and frightening ENEMY of man (I Cor. 15), and some how, we just don't like to THINK about it! But not thinking about it will not CHANGE anything. Just as sure as we are now living — WE SHALL DIE! Even the instantaneous change at the second coming of Christ of those still living is a sudden DEATH of the PHYSICAL being, and instant REBIRTH of a SPIRIT being! Perhaps not the fraction of a second will he involved in that change — but. brethren, so far as Mr. Ruxton, Mr. Dick Armstrong, Dr. Benjamin Rea and others are concerned — NEITHER WILL THEY BE CONSCIOUS OF MORE THAN A FRACTION OF A SECOND HAVING PASSED! You need to FACE the possibility of death — and practically, sensibly, carefully PREPARE for it! If you are properly prepared for death, then you also will be ready for the coming glorious resurrection! The danger is that too many of you brethren are complacent! You are not prepared for times of trouble. You do not look to the possibilities of the future. When sickness comes, you have little or no faith. When financial problems come many are unable to extricate themselves. If death strikes in the family, many are totally unprepared and cannot understand why it happened to their family! Some are making no preparations to provide for their family in case of their death. If a man does not provide for his family, by working and providing for their necessities, he is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). Should we not also provide for our families in case we die sooner than we may think? Some few people believe falsely that making provision for the family by having life insurance or a will shows lack of faith! HOW RIDICULOUS! God has told us again and again that we shall die.
Wrong Attitudes Must Be Changed!
There have been a few people who have expressed themselves this way, "If I die, the Church will take care of my family." The Church may care for your family in a financial way if you die — as long as it can. But the support must come from the third tithe that faithful servants of God send to the Church. Such funds are in short supply and are not inexhaustible. There is always a need for more third tithe to take care of the many demands. In some cases it might not be possible to take proper care of a widow or fatherless child. If the third tithes are insufficient, what then? We cannot take God's tithe for the spreading of the Gospel, to take care of widows of men who made no preparation for the family! The attitude of, "I won't provide for my family in case I die, the Church will do it for me," is a selfish attitude.
Here Is What to Do!
What can we do in preparation for death? The first thing to do is to have a right attitude about it. Realize that someday YOU may die! Resign yourself to this thought. Realize that your life is in God's hand and that whatever happens, or whenever death does come to any in your family that it will work out for ultimate food! (Rom. 8:28.) Work, study, pray, and serve as though Christ were coming tomorrow, or that you may die tomorrow. DO these things to the best of your ability. Perform work of QUALITY that will last! Work that may even last longer than you do. Prepare in a physical way for death. Do you have a suitable up-to-date WILL? If you are the man of the family and you do not, you may cause your widow untold difficulties because of your negligence! What do you want to happen to your property, personal affects, bank deposits or any other assets? Do you want your unconverted relatives to fight over your estate because you have no will or a poor one? What would happen to your children in case of the death of both parents? Who will care for them? Relatives, friends, an orphans' home? You should always include plain and specific instruction regarding this important point in a will! Are your bank accounts or safety deposit boxes subject to seizure in case of your death? In most places they are, at least for a time. There are perfectly legal ways to make proper preparations ahead of time so that someone who is competent, and converted may take care of your affairs in case of your death. In whose name is your property or car? If they are only in the name of the husband, and if he dies, it may cause difficulties for the wife to change title or to sell such a vehicle. You may wish to have your bank account in the name of both husband and wife. This will simplify things in case of death. You should definitely have some group life insurance with your company, or carry personal life insurance. Do not involve yourself with so much that you are "insurance poor," but do carry adequate insurance, depending on your income, the needs of the family and other individual circumstances.
The most important thing is to BE PREPARED SPIRITUALLY! Maybe you will not have opportunity tomorrow to overcome that problem you know you have today! Tomorrow you may not have opportunity to "grow in grace and knowledge." Today may be your last opportunity! NOW is the time to show love and kindness to others. NOW is the time to be REALLY close to God! Death is coming. Prepare for it in physical and spiritual ways today. Be prepared for death so that you will be ready for the first resurrection! For those of us who have had God's calling and enlightenment, this is the day of salvation (II Cor. 6:2). Right TODAY, during this 24-hour period and what few others God graciously gives us the breath of life for, is our day of salvation! Because of the great sins of modern Israel today, God has given certain dire prophecies. One of these prophecies is found in the book of Amos. The instruction is good for us, too, and we, too, ought to heed it. We ought to think seriously about this and do so often. "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD, O Israel" (Amos 4:12). Are you earnestly, with your whole heart preparing for that great meeting with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in God's soon-coming Kingdom? If you are, you will THINK about what you have read in this article, and apply it PERSONALLY! You should take steps NOW to provide for the unexpected. And you ought to do it TODAY! Because tomorrow may be too late.