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Comfort at the end

June 18, 2015

lilyMinistry to those near death is often very informative. The conversation with ones drawings near to the close of life often looks back on how their life was spent. Fond memories, fascinating bits of personal history, disappointments faced and difficulties overcome give a deeper look into a life of which I have often only known a small part. As death approaches, many will speak of the things that give them comfort and peace in their dying hours. Many look back across their lives and find comfort in the things they had accomplished.

Some may speak of their work as Sunday School teachers, some may speak of their many years of service in a church and some may speak of how much money they gave in support of a church or other ministry. Some speak of how well their kids turned out and how many were serving in ministry capacity. The details varied, but many times the comfort found at the end of life was the comfort of a life well lived. Many find comfort in death from a good life, a life of obedience and service to the Lord. At first glance, this sounds very good. The Christian should live a life of faithful service to the Lord in all capacities of life and such a life does offer a measure of peace in the waning days of life. A life of sin, laziness and disobedience should cause a professing Christian concern about the genuineness of his profession, but a life well lived is not the believer’s ultimate comfort in death. For a Christian to find dying comfort in one’s life work reveals a significant problem. In fact, such comfort is little better than the one who comforts himself with the knowledge that he is going to heaven because he has been a good person.

I make such a strong statement because of the truths of salvation. If we are saved by the grace of God alone, if we are fully forgiven by the work of Jesus on the cross, if I add nothing to my justification by any work I do before or after salvation, if I will stand before God stripped of all my filthy rags and robed only in the righteousness of Jesus, then the greatest comfort of life and death will be the work that Jesus has done. True comfort is found in the death of Jesus and its full efficacy to cover all sin and bring the child of God joyfully into the presence of the Father for reward instead of retribution. The believer’s comfort in death is found in the one who has conquered death, not the work He has enabled him to do.

In times of severity, when our heart quakes and our eyes falter, we naturally turn to those things which bring us greatest comfort. We don’t look to secondary comforts in those times (which is why I have never had anyone on their death beds tell me how much time they spent watching TV), we look to the source of greatest comfort. If the greatest comfort in life is a life well lived our theology is off. We don’t really believe salvation is completed in Jesus. We don’t really believe one will stand guiltless before the throne because, and only because, he is covered in the blood of the Lamb. We believe Jesus did the saving and then my good deeds showed I was worthy of it. Don’t try to earn your salvation. Don’t try to be worthy of it. You’ll never earn it. You’re never worthy of it. Instead, live it out. Live now in a fashion fitting to your great salvation, but put no trust, no comfort and no faith in your subsequent obedience. Put all your hopes, security and comfort i n the eternally finished work of God the Son.

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