Hezekiah was king of Judah in Jerusalem about 600 years before Jesus was born. God sent the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah to tell him he would die very soon. The king prayed very hard that he should not die because he had a lot that he wanted to accomplish for God. God sent Isaiah back to Hezekiah with the news that he would live for another 15 years.

The Apostle Paul was in different circumstances. He was in prison in Rome and had a preliminary hearing before the emperor that did not go well for Paul. He would have another hearing before the emperor very soon that would most likely end with the sentence of death. He wrote a letter to the Philippians during this time. He wrote: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain . . . I want to depart and be with Christ which is better”. (Philippians 1:21-23)

Few of us look at death as being a gain, as being better. We do not have such an immediate death sentence hanging over us. Our intentions, our interests are focused more on living rather than on dying. And that is as it should be. But the time will come when we will have to face the fact that we are about to die.

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Eldon, a good friend of mine, developed Leukemia late in life and he had numerous treatments for it. They were not pleasant and after a while he told me he was tired and did not want to go on anymore. Other cancer patients often come to the same conclusion. I shared these words of Paul with those people.

We, like Paul, have the same confidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God who died on the cross to take away the sins of the world; and by His perfect life, and in the stead of all people, He has provided the righteousness that God demands by law.

All who in their heart believe that Jesus has died for all people and confess with their mouth that Jesus is the Son of the living God are saved. That confidence, that faith is not our production: It is the gift of God.
Forgiveness of sin and life with God is a present reality given to us by the word of the eternal God. So also is the gift of eternal life with God a present reality. In John 5:24 Jesus said: “Whoever believes in Him has eternal life.”

Elmer Schiefer
Pastor. Family of Christ Lutheran Church