Live Like You Were Dying (Part 1)
The following teaching is another look at what happens when we die. It’s recommended that you first explore the teaching “What Happens When I Die?”[to be posted latter Sept 2018] and then read through Live Like You Were Dying.
Live Like You Were Dying – Part 1
Tim McGraw’s song provides us with an outline for our series.
Let’s watch--- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiOcW_YR1G8
The titles for the message today is One Certainty. Then during the rest of the month: Speak Sweeter, Love Deeper, and Give Forgiveness. Today we need to think about one of the certainties of life. Taxes? No, taxes might make for an interesting discussion but we need to talk about death. At the close of our session today, I want you to leave here with a sense of urgency. Knowing that you have no idea as to how long you are going to live, so you need to live your life to the full every day. Like the song says: live like you were dying. I also want to share my opinions with you about what happens when we die, in hopes that I can remove some of the fear from that appointment that we all face alone.
First here’s the bad news. Unless the Lord Jesus Christ returns, you are going to die. You are going to experience the death of your physical body. It is a fact, life is terminal. It is a one-way ticket. It is a journey that has an end. The predictable death rate in our congregation is 100% - not one of us is exempt. The mystery to this certainty is that we don’t know when our breathing policy will be canceled.
Ecclesiastes 8:8 (MSG)
No one can control the wind or lock it in a box. No one has any say-so regarding the day of death.
We have no idea when our time will come. Even if you have the best genetics, not many people make it past their 120th birthday. One of these days you are going to die dead; six of your best friends are going to be carrying you by the handles of a very small box; they will make their way to a hole in the ground where someone is going to say kind words about you and then while everyone else goes back to the church to eat potato salad a hired hand is going to bulldoze dirt all over you and replace the sod, and the dandelions are going to start to grow over the top of your final resting place.
So what happens when I die?
I created a chart during my study of the book of Revelation of what seems to be the
course of things.
Now let me preface this with a warning that this is only my opinion. This is not dogma, this in not even doctrine, this is just my thought on the topic, which is open to discussion and modification.
The chart starts out with being born. Then there are two types of people. Those who reach the age of accountability where they must answer the question—How am I going to respond to Jesus? And those whom I call non-cognitive innocents, which would include babes, those too young to make a decision of Christ or those mentally incapable of making such a choice.
Following down the left-hand side we have the group that rejects the gospel. Death comes. There is an intermediate state, but please do not think I am speaking of the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Jesus symbolically described this intermediate state in his parable of the poor man Lazarus. Your scripture reference for that is Luke 16:19-31. The man who lived a lifestyle of selfishness ends up in a place of torment, while Lazarus ends up in a place next to Abraham’s side.
In an attempt to harmonize this parable with other verses in scripture, I suggest that we call this intermediate state, Sheol or Hades. Sheol or Hades has two parts separated by an impassable gulf. One side is Non-Paradise possible referred to as the Abyss in Revelation. The other side I suggest is Paradise, the place Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that he would meet him by the end of the day. The one who rejects God reconciling grace ends up in the non-paradise side of Hades that the scripture describes as a place of torment. (Luke 16:23).
The reason why I believe this is an intermediate state is that the book of Revelation tells us that there is a bodily resurrection even for those who refused God’s grace.
Revelation 20:12-13 (MSG)
And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there—before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way, they had lived. Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived.
Unfortunately for these people, what awaits them is the judgment with an eternal destination of Gehanna, or what we popularly think of as Hell.
The road to perdition is rather straightforward. The road of the righteous is just a little more complicated.
To the right side of the chart, those who are accepted in Christ and the Non-cognitive innocents have three possible destinations. The first destiny is to die a normal physical death. Those who die a normal physical death get to meet Lazarus in Paradise. The second destination is for those who die a martyr’s death. You gave up your physical life in service to the Jesus. Martyr’s go to a place oddly called, “Under the Altar” (Revelation 6:9). It is an intermediate state with more honor than Paradise. The third possibility is to be alive at the time of the Second Coming, you don’t die, but you are transformed.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NIV)
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Together all three groups of believers are resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:50-56). The resurrected righteous, give an account of how they lived out authentic Christianity (Romans 14:12, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The righteous are citizens of New Jerusalem, participants in the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:1-5).
So to sum up, those who during their earthly life rejected the invitation of God to be saved, go away into eternal punishment. [See Teaching—“How Can A Loving God Condemn People to Hell] While those who die in Christ, will inherit an eternal reward (Matthew 25:31-46). With that said, what do you think is the most important preparation you can make for the certainty of death?
I suggest you consider The ABC’s of the faith as a starting point—Accept the fact that you need a savior. Believe that the savior you need is Jesus. Commit yourself to live out Authentic Christianity. Ask God to accept your faith.
Unless the Lord returns you and I are going to die. We have a little glimpse of what happens after we die. For the believer, it’s good, for those not living a life of authentic Christianity it the worst possible fate imaginable.
Regardless of our eternal dispositions, we do not know how long we have. We’ve talked about death now let's consider life.
To live your life to the full, to live like you were dying, you need to live what out what time you have remaining with a sense of urgency, with a sense of priority and with a sense of eternity.
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY.
Romans 13:11-12 (MSG)
But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed.
Life gives us an illusion that we will always have tomorrow. We can get caught up in the “Someday Syndrome”. Someday, tomorrow, I’ll get to that, maybe next month I’ll do that, next summer I’ll see to that, someday.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the believers in Rome says the someday syndrome can lull you into a false sense of security. “Some Day” can rob you of “This Day.” To live with a sense of urgency means to live with an awareness that you aren’t promised “Some Day.” You have no rights to a tomorrow, all you have is right now. Make your plans for the future --sure, but live your life to the full today. Don’t put off to some later date the fulfilling of your God-given passion, the joy of doing your calling, don’t say next time, do it this time. Love and be loved—today. Embrace today and squeeze the best out of it.
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF PRIORITY
Matthew 6:27-31 (MSG)
"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. "If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving.
The past is gone – we cannot retrieve it or relive it. Tomorrow is an unknown – it is not promised or guaranteed. All we have is right now and that makes time a precious commodity. As something grows scarce its value increases. Today has more value to it than yesterday because you have less time now than you did then. Since you have no idea if you will have any time at all in that illusion we call tomorrow, right now might be the most valuable time you have.
His teaching about worrying about tomorrow, Jesus gives us a lesson on priorities. How are you going to invest the valuable time you have? Are you going to invest your time today in what the world chases after? Stuff like fashion, like image, like making someone else wealthy with your labor? How are you going to invest your time?
Maybe you should prioritize, purchase with your time today what you think is most important. It is of higher priority to mature spiritually than playing video games, going to a movie, or reading a novel. It is of higher priority to love than to be selfish. It is of higher priority to create and cultivate and strengthen relationships that it is chasing after the financial success. I’ve told you before when it’s all said in done the only thing that will matter is not the size of the estate you leave behind, but rather the quality of the relationships you built.
Romans 13:12-14 (MSG)
The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
To live like you were dying you need to spend your time on the right priorities, the best way I can think of to properly prioritize your life is to ask the Holy Spirit to show you what those right priorities are.
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY. LIVE WITH A SENSE OF PRIORITY.
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF ETERNITY.
Hebrews 9:27 (MSG)
Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.
I’ve told you how to prepare for eternity. You prepare for eternity by living out the ABC of the faith. But to live with a sense of eternity, you have to move your eyes from worldly values to eternal ones.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The way you fix your eyes on the eternal is through the practice of the 7 spiritual disciplines. The 7 habits of a disciple that help us to affix our eyes on eternity are: Bible study, Prayer, Fellowship, Service, Worship, Obedience, and Contemplation. I’d make those activities a priority, and I wouldn’t put them off till tomorrow. You never know how much time you have left.
2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV)
I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
Right now is the time to live like you were dying. Don’t but living your life to the full off for some other time, all you have is now, this time.
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF PRIORITY
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF ETERNITY