in good hands

menfac98gift of life #17

in good hands

Last session I mentioned that I had just come from a friend’s funeral, and the preacher watched his language and did not stray away from the Bible when he talked about my friend’s death. That’s not always the case. Sometimes, seeking to comfort the grieving, people say the most unbiblical things.

I am reminded of the funeral of another friend a few years ago. My friend and fellow professor at Oro Bible College in the Philippines, Rev. Rustom Marquiño, died after a long illness. Rustom was a great man of God, and one of those people who are full of life – the kind you like to be around. I hated to see him go, and I still miss him.

{The photo is of the male OBC faculty in 1998. Rustom Marquino, Dr. David Dean, myself (Jefferson Vann), and Graciano Villadolid.}

As is the custom in the Philippines, the family asked several different groups that Rustom was associated with to each take a nightly funeral service. As a result, one of the preachers (who probably didn’t know Rustom’s theology) said that Rustom had flown to heaven the moment he died This preacher based that assumption on Acts 7:59, where Stephen prays for the Lord to receive his spirit. The preacher said that Stephen did not go to sleep, he went to heaven. The next day, in class, I asked my students to go to Acts 7:59, and then read the next verse. It says “’And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

The whole point of what Stephen said is that he was trusting Jesus to take care of him until he comes again and raises him from the dead. Jesus said a similar thing at the cross. He was quoting from Psalm 31:5, where David says “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” David’s assurance was not that death was unreal. His assurance was that when a believer is dead, that believer is in good hands. Death is an end to life. But when God’s hands hold you, there is always hope for new, resurrected life.

Our comfort at the death of loved ones should not be based on fantasy. It should be based on reality. The reality is that death is real. Our only true hope in the fact of that grim reality is that God is true to his word. He will bring the dead back to life again. So, someone who has fallen asleep in Christ is in good hands.

Our trust is not in a theology of human nature. We do not deny the reality and severity of death. Our trust is in a God who is able to keep his promises.

If you have any questions about this teaching, you can ask me at jeffersonvann@yahoo.com. Join me for this entire series as we search the scriptures to learn about the gift of life.

Listen to the audio file at Afterlife.

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