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Senior Saints & Sensibility Archives ~ Aletheia Baptist Ministries Skip to main content

Lay Hold on Eternal Life

Lay Hold on Eternal Life

by Rick Shrader

It may seem unusual to most people to talk frankly about death. But as seniors, this should be the first thing we have settled in our minds. why should we not want to go to heaven? Augustine put it this way, “For sooner or later every man must die, and we groan, and pray, and travail in pain, and cry to God, that we may die a little later.  How much more ought we to cry to him that we may come to that place where we shall never die!”1 The most important testimony for a Christian is that there is an eternal life after this one, and for the believer, that eternal life is in heaven. Death just happens to be the gateway from this place to that place.

As we draw nearer to the end of this life our physical appearance takes on the trappings of that journey but that is just the necessary changing of clothes. “Not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life” (2 Cor 5:4). Death is the last statement we have to make while wearing our older clothes. Here are five facts about death for the Christian.

  1. Death is inevitable. It is “appointed” to us by God because of sin (Heb 9:27). “As in Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22). Since we know it is coming, shouldn’t we be prepared for the event? Not just in salvation of the soul, but in the making of the journey. “The time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim 4:6) and so we should be packed and ready.
  2. Death is instantaneous. Jesus said “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (Jn 11:25). It is the dying process that takes time. The valley of the shadow of death may take years for some or it may come quickly for others but death itself is but a moment. As soon as we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).
  3. Death is enviable. “To die is gain,” “to depart and be with Christ is far better” (Phil 1:21,23). Spurgeon said, “O worker for God, death cannot touch thy sacred mission! Be thou content to die if the truth shall live the better because thou diest.”2 Doug McLachlan recently wrote, “Death for the believer in Christ is no longer the grim ogre it once was” and likened it to a bee without a sting, a “stingless scorpion” (1 Cor 15:55).3 If death transfers us to heaven with such confidence of what awaits, why should we dread the crossing? I don’t minimize the painful process some must experience but in such cases death is the relief designed by God.
  4. Death is a memorial. Peter said, “Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (2 Pet 1:15). Jesus prayed to the Father, “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn 17:13). At your funeral no eyes will be wider and more attentive than your children and grandchildren. The confidence you display at the time of death will stay with them the rest of their lives.
  5. Death is a stewardship. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear, it is a testimony that the Lord is your Shepherd and you want or need nothing else. Someone said, “The last days are the best witnesses for a man. Blessed shall he be that so lived that he was desired, and so died that he was missed.”4 Paul said, “Nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Let’s show this world that what we believed and preached is true and will sustain us in our last moments on earth. As we have daily died with Christ, let us finally die with Him. Let’s die because we are going to heaven not merely because we are leaving this world.

Notes:

  1. St. Augustine, “Discourse on the Lord’s Prayer,” Hazeltine, Mayo W. Ed. Orations from Homer to McKinley ( New York:  P.F. Collier & Son, 1902) 1189.
  2. C.H. Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Vol. I (Pasadena: Pilgrim Publications, 1992) 4.
  3. Douglas McLachlan, Thirsting for Authenticity (St. Michael, MN: Reference Point Pub., 2017) 357.
  4. Robert Harris in Paxton Hood’s, Isaac Watts His Life and Hymns (Belfast: Ambassador, 2001) 257.

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21st Century Seniors

21st Century Seniors

by Rick Shrader

Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964) became “seniors” in the year 2011. According to the Pew Research Center, Baby Boomers at this time in their lives are still 29% of the work force compared to 21% of the Silent Generation at the same time, and only 19% of the Great Generation. Though we are also retiring at a fast pace (28.6 million in 2020-high due to covid), we have stayed active longer than any generation born in the 20th century. Also, because 76% of Boomers identify themselves as Christian, we have stayed in church longer than any current generations.

I was born in 1950. I’ve always been glad for that even year because it has made it easy to figure how old I am! I will be 71 this year and am still pastoring full-time. I will attend my 50th Bible college class reunion and will see many of my classmates still either working in ministry or very involved. Health situations or other circumstances may have altered activity for some, but we Boomers are a hard lot to keep down.  However, of the generation before us, the “Silent” generation (born 1928-1945), 84% still consider themselves Christian and, by my observation, are still some of the most faithful attenders to the church services.

Now, I’ll be realistic, our hair has turned white or fallen out, and we wear a lot hardware just to keep up daily functions, and our doctors seem to look a lot like our grandkids.  I had a hard time accepting Medicare at 65 and then being forced to take Social Security at 70, I thought, this is for old people. My wife and I updated our living trust because the people who were supposed to take our kids if something happened to us, died years ago, and now no one wants to take responsibility for four middle-aged adults and their families. When I turned 65, I changed my life’s verse from Eph. 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” to Mark 8:18, “Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?”

Since we are the seniors of the 21st century, do we take our God-given responsibility seriously? Psalm 71 is titled in my study Bible, “A Prayer for the Aged.” Verse 18 reads, “Now also, when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”  I have to ask if we are ready and able to meet that challenge? Psalm 78:4 reads, “We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done . . . That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children” (vs. 6).

As the family declines in our time, so does the influence that should be passed on from generation to generation. Our children have faced unprecedented obstacles in their lives and are now trying to raise children in even more dire circumstances. Our government, our schools, and even many churches, have become adversaries rather than adjuncts to the family. So it falls to our generation, to the grandfathers and grandmothers to be strong and pass on the faith which was once delivered to the saints. We can do this by being faithful to what we know, what we value, and what we worship. We’re not popular anymore nor do we need to be. We need to be godly and people of prayer and good counsel. If this is your desire, I hope you will continue to read this monthly column and join me in praying for one another and the generation to come.

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