The Church has sometimes preached an incomplete gospel whose flavour is saccharine delight. We have concentrated on preaching the blessings of God, which is all well and good… But that is not the full gospel. Christianity is not just about blessings. There are non-sugary aspects of faith. An imbalanced theology cannot reconcile the totality of the revealed word of God about God. God blesses his children no doubt, but he also assures us of his discipline when we err. (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6).
The integrity of God concerning his discipline is as valid as the integrity of God concerning his blessings. The promise of blessing and the promise of discipline, both are promises of God. There are duties and responsibilities in Christianity: responsibility to God, to his Body, to our fellow man and society. Christianity is not just Give me, Give me, Give me! It is also Serve Me, Serve Me, Serve Me. We are God’s children but also his servants. Jesus is our Lord and Master.
Somehow man has conceived a God in his own image and likeness. This God is irreconcilable with scriptures. This image of God distorts our understanding of issues of life and death. We can’t see revealed truth! This God WE conceived is a moral God. A moral God will of course not allow those who serve him to die in accidents. Our moral theology says a good God will not allow bad things to happen to good people. And so when a man of God dies, say in a plane crash we are befuddled and begin to question God. Some start imputing trespasses, maligning the memory of just men made perfect. Some have even been known to speculate on the final destination of a servant of God, betraying ignorance of salvation. If a saint dies suddenly the absurd reasoning goes, he would not have had time to repent and so wind up in hell! We are looking to rationalize facts with our misbegotten theology, pontificating fancies. God is a righteous God, not a moral God. His righteousness has always been; morality came after the fall of man. Our conception of a moral God reduces God to our sinful standard. There is no morality without sin.
Our imbalanced saccharine gospel also mandates a Christian must at least attain the age of 70. This is of course a misreading of Psalm 90, yet some have built a whole theology on it. It is not age or longevity that matters, it is fulfillment of purpose, the completion of assignment! Our Lord Jesus lived on earth for only 33 years, but he famously declared, “It is finished!” He completed his assignment. John the Baptist died young, probably in mid 30s or 40s, extrapolating from Josephus and biblical accounts. In truth, the moment he introduced Jesus the assignment of John the Baptiser was over! He fulfilled his calling.
We pray for God to satisfy us with long life but what is that if we don’t fulfill our calling or realize our purpose! The evidence from scriptures is that God’s view of death is at variance with our theology. Death is actually God’s enemy, the last political authority and power Jesus will destroy. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26, Romans 5:14. However a Christian dies it CANNOT depreciate his worth before God. His worth is pre-determined in Christ. Those who struggle with non fairy tale endings of servants of God have not studied history or scriptures. James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I, AD 44. Steven was stoned to death, AD 34. Peter was crucified in the Neronian persecution upside down cross, AD 64. Andrew was crucified upside down in Patrae in Greece on an X-shaped cross, AD 70. Matthew died a martyr in Ethiopia, AD 60. Thomas was lanced in India by a local king, Masdai, AD 70. James Alphaeus was thrown down a temple, then stoned and his brains bashed out with a club, AD 63. Jude Thaddeus was clubbed to death, his body axed into pieces, AD 72. Paul’s head was decapitated, AD 67, and that was because Roman citizens were not crucified. Bartholomew was skinned alive and beheaded at Derbent in modern day Azerbaijan, near Russia, AD 68. John was the only apostle who died a natural death. But he was thrown into boiling oil. He somehow survived. In a space of ten years (AD 64-74), ten or so of the original apostles were martyred.
And to those who define faith as only Give me, Give me, the Book of Hebrews tells us there is ANOTHER dimension to faith. We’re told the saints of the day were tortured to death, scourged, imprisoned, stoned to death, sawn asunder, killed by the sword… Yet they won a divine approval the Bible says. (Hebrews 11:35-39). So where did we get the notion that a servant of God must die in his bed, and if not there’s a carelessness, or sin!
Why does God allow the gruesome death of his saints? The answer lies in bifurcated reality. Reality is on two levels: the terrestrial and extra terrestrial. There’s so much stuff going on behind the scenes – spiritual political dynamics we have no inkling about. For example, concerning the killing of God’s saints there’s the mystery of the vampire woman. Revelation 17:6, 18:24. The wrath of God has to be revealed, Revelation play out before we understand the dastardly death of saints. Revelation16:6. Psalm 116:15 (AMP) tells us it is an important and no light matter to God when a Christian dies.
Our McDonalds theology – the gospel of entitlement and invincibility is imbalanced! This imbalance is why we struggle to rationalize trials. God promised us trials. John 16:33, Psalm 34:19, 1 Peter 4:12. Trials bring out endurance, steadfastness and patience in us. It’s like those immunity inoculations. James 1:2-4. If we preach the full gospel those passing through trials will not be condemned as lacking in faith. The enemy capitalizes on this telling them their trial was caused by a grievous sin. But what sin did Job commit? No doubt we occasion temptations by ourselves, carried away by our own lusts, but trials come from God. James 1:13-14.
And when it comes to his servants God CAN be unemotional about death. It’s just translation after all. “And the Lord said to Moses, your days are nearing when you must die!” Deuteronomy 31:14. “Get up into this mountain… and die on the mountain…” He buried Moses himself! Deuteronomy 32:49-50, Deuteronomy 34:5. Then he approaches Moses’ successor, Joshua and tells him, “Moses my servant is dead. So now arise…” In other words, Get on with the programme! The programme, the programme, the programme… What’s your programme?
As Christians, death is not something we should be scared of, however, wherever, whenever it comes. Have no fear of death! “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” Jesus said. And make sure you finish your assignment. Complete your programme. What is long life without fulfillment of purpose?
This edition of #Illuminare is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Myles Monroe, God’s apostle & political strategist (1954-2014).
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org