Tim Keller who was well known in evangelical circles as an author, preacher, theologian and Christian apologist died last week.
The Daily Citizen reports that his wife, Kathy, was with him at the end. His son Michael tweeted that he kissed Kathy on the forehead and before he breathed his last breath said these final words
“There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.
”These words reflect the sentiment of the Welsh minister and physician Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. “I think the way we go out of this world is very important and this is my great desire now that I may perhaps be enabled to bear a greater testimony than ever before.” Jones then added, “Death is not something to slip past, it should be victorious.”
This attitude is reflective of God’s greats in scripture. From Abraham to Joseph. And from Moses to David. And from Jesus himself to the apostle Paul, we see them facing death with courage, confidence and hope. This spirit is succinctly stated in Paul’s words: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
The apostle sought to glorify and honor Christ whether by living or dying. Although, he was imprisoned for preaching Christ, and could at any moment either be released or executed, Paul was not afraid. He was willing to live and carry on his ministry and mission to benefit others. However, he saw no downside in death. In fact, he saw death as a gain.
In recent months, we’ve been reading the posts of a fellow Christian and preaching colleague, Matt Bassford, who’s fighting ALS. He’s been very transparent about his condition and the prognosis. However, his writing has resounded with faith, courage and eternal hope, which has blessed countless lives to remain strong in the Lord. The other day Matt shared these thoughts.
I can’t beat ALS.
I can’t beat ALS, but I can win small victories. I can show courtesy, patience, and kindness to all who care for me. I can despise the indignity of my life as Christ despised the shame of His suffering. I can turn outward instead of inward. I can live with hope, not despair.
The opportunity to do these things is a gift from God. As my mother’s dementia progressed, it robbed her of the chance to win any victories. I mourn for all of the good people who have not been allowed to finish their race with joy, and I am determined to make the most of what I have been given.
I can’t beat ALS, but I can win victories that are far more important than it is.
Like Paul, Matt is saying that he can magnify Christ in life and in death. Currently, he is writing a book about his journey with ALS, Dying in Faith. Matt quipped, “I suppose the book will be finished when I am.”
In the meantime our brother is doing what he can do. And encouraging those of us, regardless of age, circumstances, or physical infirmities to do the same. He opined, “I still have work to do. When I am unable to work, it will be time to die.”
It is that attitude which embodies the sentiment that there’s no downside to dying. It boldly proclaims, “faith is the victory that has overcome the world” (1 Jn. 5:4). It sees a bright future where “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). And it will allow us to approach our final days on earth and echo the confident words of Paul.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
4 responses to “When There’s No Downside in Death”
Ken, a beautiful blog and such encouraging words from Matt Bassford. May God continue to bless him through his struggle with ALS.
Love his teaching. Didn’t realize he just passed aways. Thanks so much for this heartfelt and informative piece.
Brother Ken, such a timely message, as you well know Lois is battling cancer, she was in hospital last week for five days and was inspiring so many people with her attitude and handing out photos, several of the nurses gave her there personal numbers and just like brother Matt, Lois said last summer I have to many projects to finish to think about dying.
A quote from Lois just this past week
“When all is said and done be a GOOD MEMORY “
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