We all wonder what it will be like to die. The martyr, Stephen, embodied the Christian hope as he was welcomed by Jesus into heaven. Pastor Lutzer ponders God’s will in death, as we commit our souls to the Lord. Although we can’t know how our death will take place, can we know with certainty that we are in God’s hands?
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 as we conclude the very brief series, entitled, “Welcomed by Jesus.” We’re talking about Acts 7, the stoning of Stephen and there we learn that Stephen, even before he died, gazed into heaven, the Bible says, and he saw the glory of God but that’s not all he saw. The text of scripture says this:
“He saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God and he said ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the son of man standing at the right hand of God.’”
Isn’t it interesting, that in the Old Testament, priests were never allowed to sit down. When they were working in the Tabernacle and keeping the sacrifices going, they worked in 8 hour shifts. Why were they not allowed to sit down? Because if you sit down, it means that your work is done. About ten times in the New Testament, the Bible says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God. Why? His work was totally finished. This is the only instance in which we find Jesus standing at the right hand of God. It’s almost as if Jesus is saying, “Stephen, I know that these stones hurt. I know that you’re going through a time in which people are shouting curses at you. It’s tough. But be faithful. I’m going to be here for you when you arrive. I’m waiting for you.”
I’ll never forget my mother. She died at 103. My father died at 106. He died before she did, and I said to her, “Mother,” I said, “are you looking forward to seeing dad—your husband?” “Oh—” she said, “Yeah, I want to see my husband.” But she said, “I really want to see Jesus.” When I die and I trust it’s the same for you—certainly it will be if you’ve believed on Christ—the blessing of heaven will be to be welcomed by Jesus.
We could go on in the text and talk about how Stephen was dying and he committed his soul to the Lord. He said, “Into thy hands—” in effect “I commit my spirit.” He gave himself to God, which oftentimes are the very words that martyrs have used throughout the centuries. Here’s what I want to ask you: Did Stephen die within the will of God? The answer is of course he died within the will of God. Did Jesus die within the will of God? Yes he died, the Bible says, by the predetermined will of God. And our lives are also in God’s hands.
Here’s the point I want to make. The Bible says that wicked hands crucified Jesus and we could say wicked hands stoned Stephen, but after the wicked hands have done their work what we discover is the hands of God. Jesus said before He died, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” And Stephen essentially said the same thing. Wicked hands can do some things but the divine hands are the ones who hold us. Remember Jesus said in John 10, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hands. My Father who gave them to me is greater than all and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hands.” Hands in harmony, the hands of the Son, the hands of the Father, holding his children all the way to the end.
I want you to know today that no matter what you are going through, no matter how your death will take place, and it will eventually, mine will also—if we are believers in Jesus Christ, we know that this is as bad as life is ever going to get. It’s going to get much better. Stephen experienced the glory of God, the welcome of Jesus, and the assurance that he died within God’s will. He died in God’s hands. So as you go about your day today, think about eternity. Live for another world, not this one, and be reminded that no matter how bad life gets or how many curses you must endure—how many stones to use the illustration of Stephen, it’s going to end okay. You and I die in the hands of Almighty God.
Thanks so much for joining us today and, of course, as God enables us to live another day, for today you just go with God.