About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Life, Death, And Regret

I write the following because of the sorrow and guilt my brother in the Lord is experiencing over the death of his sister.  Maybe my words can be a bit encouraging.   


We often think that Adam's sin introduced death into life, and that it did. (Romans 5:12)  We should know however, that death did not originate with Adam.  God said, " when you eat from it you will certainly die". (Genesis 2:17)  There's no doubt, death originated with God.  Of course we do live beyond death, which brings us to the topic at hand.  


As Christians we realize that when we die we pass from this earthly existence into the presence of the Lord.  Death may feel like the end of the matter when we see a loved one pass away, but it's not.  For those of us who have trusted our lives with Jesus death is the entrance into paradise.  Psalm 116:15 states that God views the death of His saints as being "precious".  We may shed tears when our loved ones leave us but Jesus rejoices to see them enter the place He has prepared for them. (John 14:1)   


Here's how the apostle Paul understood death in his own life.  "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?   I do not know!  I am torn between the two:  I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body". (Philippians 1:21-24)  It may sound strange to us but Paul preferred death over life.  The only reason why he wanted to hang around here was to serve those Jesus called him to serve. 


Passing into a heavenly existence with Jesus is comforting for Christians when a saved loved one dies.  What isn't so comforting is when an unsaved loved one dies.  Being a father, the thought of my sons spending eternity in the Lake of Fire is heart wrenching, but it does drive me to prayer.    


My friend's sister recently passed away.  Prior to her death he shared Jesus with her one last time.  She said she'd think about it.  A few days later she was gone.  Now he wonders.  Did she come to Jesus?  Now he feels guilty.  Did I pray enough?  Did I share Jesus enough?  These are tough questions and feelings that haunt many of us at one time or another.     


I don't believe all believers are called to the ministry of intercessory prayer, but I do believe we're all called to intercede in prayer, especially as the end of this age draws near.  We should ask Jesus for a spirit of intercession to be poured into our hearts.  Intercessory prayer stems from the burden Jesus gives us for those who don't know Him.  Such a burden may be expressed by us in various ways, but a burden is a burden.  It weighs heavy on our hearts.  This heaviness may come and go as the Lord sees fit, but the residue of the burden lingers.  It's this heaviness of heart that drives us to prayer.   


When thinking of these things we know that no one can come to Jesus except the Father draws him. (John 6:44)  This makes intercession important.  We can share Jesus all we want, but unless the Spirit of the Father introduces a person to Jesus, he or she will not meet Jesus in person.  That's why we intercede until our dying breath.   


So what if we haven't prayed enough?  What if we haven't shared Jesus enough?  Are we doomed?  Do we have to feel guilty forever?  Must we live in constant regret?  Is their forgiveness for our failure?  There is certainly forgiveness upon our genuine repentance, and in this case, I'm sure repentance would be genuine.  We may still fight with feelings associated with guilt after repentance, but these feelings aren't guilt.  Guilt is a place in which we stand before the Lord whether we feel guilty or not.  If the Lord has wiped our record clean, we are no longer guilty.  Lingering feelings associated with guilt will fade with time and with the heart felt understanding that Jesus doesn't hold our failures against us.  How grateful we are for that.  


The Bible says that eternity with Jesus will be a glorious and joy filled experience.  I used to wonder how that could ever be if we knew our loved ones were spending eternity in the Lake of Fire.  The very thought of this would suck the joy out of my system.  It hurts me to think of such things now. 


Jesus said that all things will be made new in the next life. (Revelation 21:5)   He also said that when it's all said and done He'd wipe away our tears because everything associated with our present life will pass away. (Revelation 7:17 and 21:4)  We will have no tears because we will have no remembrance of the heart wrenching things that makes us cry now. We will have no regrets due to our failures in this life.  They'll all be forgiven and wiped out of our memories.  If any of our loved ones don't make it, we won't know.  We may not even know there is a Lake of Fire.  This fact may not bring much comfort to us right now and probably for good reason, because it drives us to prayer.  In the mean time we pray.  If we don't pray enough, we know Jesus forgives our failures as we live a life of repentance before Him.  


To my good brother in the Lord, may your sorrow bring you closer to Jesus.  Know that your responsibility is to simply share the gospel.  After that, it's in Jesus' hands.  In the final analysis, those who hear the gospel are responsible for their own decision. 

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