Should Christians be Sad When a Fellow Believer Dies and Goes to Heaven?
Written by Derek J. Brown |
Friday, May 12, 2023
Christians should grieve over the death of a fellow brother or sister in Christ. It is good and right to feel the weight of sorrow when our beloved fellow Christians are taken home. It is not a grief without hope (1 Thess. 4:13), but it is a grief, even a “sorrow upon sorrow.”
If we are citizens of heaven, awaiting a future of glory and an eternal inheritance—someday to be forever in the presence of Christ and again among our earthly brothers and sisters—then why should we grieve over our brethren who die and go on to heaven before us?
Isn’t it a sign of earthly-mindedness to grieve over such things? Isn’t it unspiritual to be sad when a fellow Christian dies? If so, wouldn’t it then be even more unspiritual for a Christian to rejoice when a fellow brother or sister is healed and allowed to live longer here on earth? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “no.”
“To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
The apostle Paul proclaimed, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). He reminded the Philippians that they were citizens of heaven, someday to receive new bodies like the body of their Lord (Phil. 3:20). Yet, Paul was also grateful to God for sparing his brother and fellow worker Epaphroditus from death.
You Might also like
When the Beauty Never LeavesBy TCK — 2 years ago
The groaning creation will then be set free into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:21). Its resurrection will follow ours, just as its fall followed ours. No more hints, previews and echoes on that day. But face to face, unveiled glory.
I love our local bazaar in the fall. A gentle and steady wind blows down from the mountains, stirring the tree branches and their yellowing leaves. The summer heat has passed, and the buildings, the people, and earth itself seem to sigh contentedly in the cooler weather. Some trees and plants even celebrate the lower temps with a second, mini Spring. Pomegranates are ripe, piled high on carts, red and crunchy. Olives are ripening also. The autumn sun, lower and playfully angled to the south, shines through the swaying branches. Street musicians play classic melodies on stringed instruments and traditional flutes.
Every believer likely has certain places where they feel eternity bleeding through into the present. Places where the beauty of this world awaken some kind of deep memory – or prophecy – of another world. Eden that was lost, or Eden to be remade. These longings, as Lewis pointed out, can be sweeter than the deepest pleasures realized in this life. As penned by The Gray Havens, we “can’t find something better than this ache.”
I wonder what kinds of scenes awaken this inner longing for eternity in other believers. Is it something we all experience?
What’s Really Happening in Ukraine?By J. Wesley Bush — 1 year ago
Written by J. Wesley Bush |
Friday, March 25, 2022
In the end, this war is the aging autocrat’s final attempt to rebuild the Russian Empire and correct the wrong turn history made in 1991. You might be tempted to ask why it matters to America. First, because America still stands for freedom and basic human rights. But more directly, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are part of historic Russia. They’re also NATO members and America is treaty-bound to defend them. If we don’t stop Putin indirectly in Ukraine, we might well have to face him on the battlefield.
What’s really happening in Ukraine?” This question has hit my inbox ever since Russia moved troops to the Ukrainian border. Friends look to me because much of my career has centered on Ukraine: I was a U.S. Army Russian linguist, spent four years as an Evangelical missionary in Ukraine, studied Ukrainian history in graduate school, and served in U.S. Embassy Kyiv for two years. I was there for the Orange Revolution, the Revolution of Dignity, and Russia’s 2014 invasion.
So what’s really happening? Putin is a throwback to a bloodier era in Europe when autocrats settled historical grievances by force. Except for Milosevic trying to build Greater Serbia via ethnic cleansing, such wars have been extinct since 1945.
Extinct, anyway, until Vladimir Putin came to power. There is no real mystery here. Putin explained his motivations in his famed 2005 annual address — the breakup of the Soviet Union was a “major geopolitical disaster.” In 2021, he went further, saying the independence of Ukraine and the other Soviet republics was the breakup of “historical Russia.” By historical Russia he means the Russian Empire, with “Great Russians” ruling over Belarusians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and a host of other nations. As with most Russian nationalists, Putin cannot be happy with a country; Russia can only be great as an empire.
The alternative theory, that Putin is afraid of having NATO and the EU on his border, simply doesn’t fit the data. NATO members Latvia and Estonia already border Russia. No serious person thinks Europe has a military interest in Russia — Germany, the largest country, could not muster 44 tanks for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. It also fails to explain his aggression elsewhere on Russia’s borders.
He also weaponizes history, denying that Ukraine is a true nation. After Russia incorporated Ukrainian lands in the 17th century, it crafted an imperial ideology of three peoples in one — Great Russians, White Russians (Belarus), and condescendingly, Little Russians (Ukrainians). No one asked the “Little Russians” their opinion, and Putin is not interested in it now.
One of Putin’s talking points is that Ukrainian is just a dialect of Russian. In truth, it has the same overlap with Russian as Dutch does with English, so if you believe Putin, try reading an Amsterdam newspaper.
Ukrainians speak three languages — Ukrainian, Russian, and a mixture called Surzhyk. Many speak more than one. Putin tries a sleight of hand in which anyone who speaks Russian anywhere in the world is “Russian” and thus in need of his protection.
Authentic Ministry: Servanthood, Tears, and TemptationsBy Joel R. Beeke — 2 years ago
Paul did not consider his life as precious or “of great value.”11 When he understood that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem to glorify God, he did not protest, saying: “But Lord, they want to kill me there. I have an important ministry among the gentiles. The churches in Asia and Greece need my theological wisdom and my practical guidance. Surely someone else could go.” Instead, Paul saw himself as a servant “for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). Nothing was more precious to him than to submit to the will of God. Nothing was more important than completing the work that the Lord Jesus gave to him. Thomas Manton (1620–77) said, “Life is only then worth the having when we may honor Christ by it. . . . Paul loved his work more than his life, and preferred obedience before safety.”12
In this way Paul denied himself, took up his cross and followed Christ, who, “being found in fashion as a man, . . . humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). Christ is God; yet Christ is also God’s servant par excellence. If He, whom we rightly call Lord and Master, washed the feet of His disciples, how much more should we be willing to undertake lowly and difficult tasks? Henry wrote of Paul, “He was willing to stoop to any service, and to make himself and his labors as cheap as they could desire.”13
Gisbertus Voetius (1589–1676), a leading theologian of the Dutch Further Reformation, wrote voluminous theological disputations in Latin while seeking to reform the church and society of the Netherlands. Voetius has been compared to the English Puritan John Owen in stature and influence, yet Voetius took time every week to teach catechism to orphaned children.14 He did not regard that work as something too lowly for someone of his standing but gladly obeyed the Bible’s call to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27).
2. He delights in giving more than in receiving. Paul says in Acts 20:33–34, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” As Apostle to the gentiles, Paul started many churches in centers of wealth, but not with the idea of making himself rich in the process. He gladly preached the gospel for free, earning his own way as a tentmaker if no one was able or willing to support him. He was willing to spend his own money on these churches, much as parents support their children (2 Cor. 12:14–15). So, Paul could say to the Ephesian elders, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, KJV). How precious these words are from Christ’s earthly ministry, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Proud people are like black holes in outer space. They think they deserve glory, honor, and power for what they do, but whatever they manage to get simply disappears into their darkness, for they are never satisfied. They are like Haman, who was a great prince in the Persian Empire but was “full of wrath” when one man refused to bow to him (Est. 3:1–5). By contrast, people of humility are like the sun. They constantly shine forth light and warmth, blessing those around them. They do not covet glory and honor for themselves; they give freely, willing to “spend and be spent” for Christ’s sake. In doing so, they attract people as the sun attracts objects with its gravitational pull, and they create beautiful, ordered families, churches, and societies.