Today, we’re concluding our message series Stages of Life. In this series, we’re looking at encouragement from God’s Word for each of life’s five stages. If you missed a message, you can watch the message videos on our website, Youtube or Facebook.
This morning, I’ve entitled the message Finish Well. The Bible speaks of our life on earth as a journey. Life begins at conception and ends when we draw our last breath. The good news is that death for the believer is not the end. Death is simply a doorway into the presence of Jesus and eternal life with Him. Jesus made that very clear in the most famous verse in the Bible.
John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.“
You see, after death, there are two possible outcomes for a person. He will either perish in hell, which means eternal torment. Or He will have eternal life with Jesus in heaven forever. A person’s eternal fate is determined by the choice they make in life. Those who believe in Jesus, will have eternal life. Those who do not believe in Jesus will perish forever.
I think that Jesus has made it very clear which option is the best choice. Each person in their journey of life has opportunities to make the decision to believe in Jesus. However, the door to believe in Jesus closes on death, there are no second chances. No, you don’t get another chance after death, according to the Bible.
Today, we’re going to talk about finishing well, facing the end of our lives with hope. Death is not a popular message topic, but today, we’re going to see how thinking about the end of our lives can help us live in light of eternity today.
Psalm 90:12 (ESV) So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
What does it mean to number your days? God has allotted a certain number of days to your life and none of us knows exactly how many we have left. If you’re young, you probably have many more left than an older person, but maybe not. But for everyone, we have a finite number of days in this world to live.
When we ask and receive the Lord’s help to ponder the days of our lives, He will give us the wisdom to live those days with godly wisdom. God wants to help us to live our lives in light of eternity. To do the things that God has planned for us that will impact eternity.
John 11:25 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
Jesus spoke to these words to Martha after her brother Lazarus died. Martha was grieving over the unexpected death of her beloved brother at a young age. Jesus was speaking to her about resurrection and eternal life. Jesus told Martha that those who believe in Him, though they die physically, they will live eternally.
Now what about the resurrection part? If you read the story in John 11, you will see that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was resurrected physically, but eventually he died again at all old age.
But Jesus’ statement applied to more than just Lazarus. The Bible teaches that in the future, God will raise all believer’s physical bodies back to life at His second coming. We will receive the same type of glorified bodies that Jesus had after His resurrection.
John 11:26 (ESV) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus goes on to say that those who believe in Him will never die. He is talking here about spiritual death. Those who believe in Him will have eternal life and will never die spiritually. To die spiritually is to spend eternity in hell with the Satan. The key to eternal life and resurrection is simply to believe in Jesus.
Romans 14:8 (ESV) For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
In this verse, Paul writes of believers being the Lord’s possession, we belong to the Lord. The Lord Jesus purchased us by His death and resurrection. We are His bond servants for life and for eternity. When we are alive on this earth as believers, we are to live for the Lord.
When we die physically, we move into a spiritual dimension in which we also live for the Lord. Death does not change a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who are believers continue in their relationship with Him. We belong to the Lord and nothing, including death, can separate us from His love.
The fact that we, as believers belong to the Lord is a comforting and motivating truth no matter what life stage we are in. As an older person, as we look back on life, we can see God’s faithfulness in so many ways. We don’t need to worry about our number of days, for God sets the number. He will take us home when we have completed our mission here on earth and not a day before that. Finishing well means that we live out our commitment to the Lord through our entire lives. We look forward to Him telling us, Well done, good and faithful servant.
2 Timothy 4:6 (ESV) For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
hese verses we are going to look at were written by Paul to the young pastor Timothy. God had revealed to Paul that his mission on this earth was nearing its completion. Scripture does not tell us how Paul died, but church history records that he was beheaded as a martyr by the emperor Nero in Rome
A drink offering was a type of Old Testament sacrifice. Paul was likening his life as a sacrifice poured out for the Lord. He spoke of his death as a departure, departing from physical life on earth to eternal life in heaven.
2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
This verse speaks of two metaphors for our life’s journey that apply to all of us. The first depicts life as a fight. We are not fighting other people, but we are in combat with the forces of hell. Paul says that, although not perfect, he had fought a good fight, he had given it his all.
The second metaphor, often used by Paul, was of life as a race with a beginning and an end. He knew that the finish line was in sight, he was going to finish the race. To finish the race of life is to reach the goal that Jesus has for us, as we’ll see. To not finish the race is to veer off course and not receive the prize of eternal life. To finish the race is to keep your faith in Jesus till the very end of life.
2 Timothy 4:8 (ESV) Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
For those who finish the race, for those who keep the faith, there is a prize. Paul describes the prize as a crown of righteousness, which will be given to all who have eternal life. That prize will be awarded on Judgement Day, when the Lord Jesus judges all mankind. He speaks of other believers as those who have loved Jesus appearing. This means those who have longed for and eagerly looked forward to Jesus’ return to this earth. True believers think of eternity to guide their fight on this earth. Fight the good fight.
Some think that life as a Christian will be easy, that there will be few problems. The truth of the matter, that Paul well knew, is that life is a fight. The good news is that we do not fight alone. We have Jesus, the commander of the armies of heaven on our side with legions of angels with Him.
The problems we all face in life, are part of that fight. As we trust in the Lord to help us through them, we can have the victory in our good fight. Sometimes, you may think that you just can’t keep on fighting in some area of life. Yet, God is there to strengthen you and protect you. Someday, the fight of this life will be over, we will have won the victory. There will be no fighting heaven, praise the Lord, but simply peace and joy.
Psalm 23:4 (ESV) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
In this beautiful verse from the 23rd psalm, David writes of finishing well. Many people are aware, as Paul was, that the end of the journey is getting nearer. The shadow in the valley is getting darker. But that does not mean that we need to fear death.
Death is need not be feared, for the Lord is with us in that valley. The rod of the Lord, our shepherd, is there to defend and protect us. The staff of the shepherd is used to guide us in the right direction. The presence of the Lord with His rod and staff bring comfort to us as the end draws nearer.
1 Corinthians 15:55 (ESV) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Satan uses death to bring those who have never believed in Jesus into his dark domain. But just as Satan did not defeat Jesus as He died on the cross, so death cannot defeat the believer. Death may seem to have a lethal sting, but Jesus has removed the power of death. Death does not have the victory over a believer.
1 Corinthians 15:57 (ESV) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Word declares triumphantly that God gives us the victory in death. How? Through our Lord Jesus Christ who defeated death as He rose from the dead. As believers, we also look forward to our resurrection from the dead at Christ’s return. The Bible does speak of death as an enemy.
As believers, we trust the Lord to keep us safe from death until our mission for the Lord is accomplished. When it’s our time to go home to be with the Lord, He will be there to take us to Himself. We look forward to the time when we close our eyes for the last time on earth and open them to see Jesus’ face in heaven. We need have no fear of death because of what Jesus has done for us.
Not only do we not need to fear our own death, we need not fear the death of believers that are close to us. The Bible tells us that though we grieve when a believer passes on, we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know that we will see our loved ones who are believers again and will spend eternity with them. Death for an unbeliever is indeed a fearsome thing.
So, we must use the opportunities that God give us to share the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus and are fearful. The mark of a believer is that they fear only the Lord. They have no need to fear death or anything else. Jesus Christ gives us the victory in this life and throughout eternity.
As believers, we belong to the Lord in this life and throughout eternity. As long as we have breath, we are to fight the good fight with the Lord’s strength. As we put our trust in the Lord, He will take away all fear of death and fill us with His comfort and hope.
This week, I read a very recent story of a man called John Cornetta. John is a co-founder of the fastest growing internet marketing company in the world and has been very successful in life. John is middle-aged, healthy with a wife and three children, two still young. A month ago, he went in to see his doctor for a routine checkup.
One test led to another until an MRI discovered a large aneurysm on his brain. The doctors told him that this was very serious, as this aneurysm could rupture at any time. If it did, there was a 50% chance that he would die immediately and a 50% chance that he would ever be the same person. Although John felt fear, he had a 100% trust that God would direct his steps and that His will would be done.
John began to prepare for the end of his life as the doctors didn’t know what to do. He updated his will, made funeral arrangements, and made videos for his children that they could watch when he was gone. His doctor made dozens of inquiries as what could be done medically. Finally, he discovered that there was a doctor that had recently invented a new procedure to deal with this type of dangerous aneurysm. But could something be done before it was too late?
John writes that God arranged something like ten miracles for him to be able to quickly see this one-of-a kind doctor. Two weeks ago, John had surgery with this new procedure and it was successful. He is no longer in danger of death or other serious complications and is now in recovery.
John writes that he is thankful to God for this second chance at life. And he is thankful to God for giving him this test which has become his testimony of how to live life each day. To see his mortality and to live each day as though it may be your last.
God wants each one of us to number our days in the same way. So that we may live them for the Lord as though they were our last. When we do that, we will finish well the journey of life. Looking forward to seeing Jesus and hearing him say, well done, good and faithful servant.