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How Christians Face Unexpected Death | Welcomed By Jesus #1

Everyone will die but no one knows when or how their time will come. Is there more to death than meets the eye? Pastor Lutzer indicates three truths from the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Whether grieving a sudden loss or considering our own death, Christians possess an enduring assurance. 

Learn more with Pastor Lutzer about death and the Christian here.

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Transcript: Welcome to 5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you joined us again today and I’m beginning a brief series entitled “Welcomed By Jesus.” Specifically, we’re going to be looking at Acts chapter 7 where we have the stoning of the first Christian martyr. His name, of course, was Stephen. We read in Acts chapter 7 that those who heard his speech were enraged. They were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, looked into heaven—gazed into heaven—and saw the glory of God. More of that next time. But as we approach this passage of scripture we are reminded of certain truths.

First of all, when it comes to death, the time of our death is very unpredictable, isn’t it? You know, there is a fable that circulates in the Middle East about a merchant who asked his servant to go into the marketplace to run an errand. And the servant runs into “Lady Death” and is startled. The servant comes back and says to his master, “I met Lady Death, and she frightened me. Give me your fastest horse so that I can ride all the way to Samarra tonight.” So, the master did that. Later on in the afternoon, the master went into the marketplace and met “Lady Death” and said, “Why did you startle my servant?” And Lady Death said, “I didn’t intend to. I was startled. I don’t know what he’s doing here in the marketplace in Baghdad when I have an appointment with him in Samarra tonight!” The point, of course, is that death will find you. There are many ways to die. In Stephen’s case, of course, he was a martyr. But death has many different ways to come to us.

 There’s another lesson and that is that sometimes young people die. In other words, people die young. Now, we don’t know how old Stephen was, but we do know this: martyrdom cut his life short. And I can’t help but think that I’m speaking to people today, and you know young people who have died. Some of you have children who have died. You know, Jim Elliott, who himself was a martyr, said on one occasion, “God is peopling heaven. Why should he limit himself to old people?” So, you and I know that the spectrum of death covers all ages.

There’s another lesson and it is of the most important. It’s found here in the text as we shall see especially next time that what we see when someone dies is very different than the experience they have after they die. Now, in the case of Stephen we are told what he saw, even before he died. But that, of course, is a very unique account. Most of the time, when people die, we have no idea what they see if we simply look at their bodies. But here’s the point: The Bible is very clear that at the point of death the soul goes to one of two places. I think it was C.S Lewis who said, in effect, that when you die you will either become a being that will be so beautiful that if we saw the being today, we’d be tempted to worship it, or you will appear like an everlasting horror! Death is the great separation. Now, of course, in the case of Stephen, we discovered that he saw the glory of God—he was in the presence of God. And I want to encourage you today that if you know loved ones who have died—a father, a mother, a child—and they died in Christ, no one who has ever died in Christ has regretted it. And I’ll tell you, they are in the presence of the Lord.

I hope that you connect with other people tell them about this series. You can pass this along because, next time, we’re going to see what Stephen saw even before he died, and I believe every single believer sees what Stephen saw after they die. Be encouraged. If you’re a Believer, it’s going to end well. But as for today, as God enables us to live, you just go with God.

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