Home > J. C. Ryle, S. Lewis Johnson > The Physical Death of Christian Loved Ones

The Physical Death of Christian Loved Ones

An online friend’s son, a student at the Master’s College, recently and unexpectedly departed to be with the Lord.  Such situations are indeed uncommon, and we grieve the more for the loss when it’s a young adult.  While we rejoice that the loved one is with the Lord now – we do not grieve as others do who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13) – it is also good to remember that even Abraham mourned the death of Sarah.  S. Lewis Johnson’s words on this passage are apt here for any who would disregard the idea of grieving for the loss:  The Bible does not, in any way, suggest that we should deny our feelings or that we should restrain our feelings.  It’s not bad to weep and cry as a Christian.  When the occasion calls for it, it’s perfectly normal and natural.  There are people who incline to think that if we believe that there is a resurrection that there is no place for weeping.  That’s not biblical.  That kind of pious stoicism that bids us to meet the most agitating experiences of life with rigid and tearless countenance is not biblical teaching.

Such events remind me also of the more in-depth thoughts and teaching of 19th century preachers such as J.C. Ryle and Spurgeon.  Thanks to modern medicine, we in the 21st century have very little first-hand experience with sickness and death; infant mortality is rare, as is death from common sicknesses such as the flu or other diseases.  Ryle and Spurgeon frequently mentioned sickness and death, a common human experience, and we can learn much from their appreciation of a topic that people today find easier to avoid.  Consider J.C. Ryle’s observations of what we can learn from sickness:  it reminds men of death and helps make men think seriously of God, their souls, and the world to come.

Some closing thoughts from J.C. Ryle, concerning the future great gathering of the saints:

The gathering together of true Christians will be a meeting at which none shall be absent. The weakest lamb shall not be left behind in the wilderness. We shall once more see our beloved friends and relatives who fell asleep in Christ, and left us in sorrow and tears — better, brighter, more beautiful, more pleasant than ever we found them on earth! We shall hold communion with all the saints of God who have fought the good fight before us, from the beginning of the world to the end.   . . .

The gathering of all true Christians shall be a meeting without a parting. There are no such meetings now. We seem to live in an endless hurry, and can hardly sit down and take breath — before we are off again. “Good-bye!” treads on the heels of “Hello!”

The cares of this world,
the necessary duties of life,
the demands of our families,
the work of our various stations and callings

— all these things appear to eat up our days, and to make it impossible to have long quiet times of communion with God’s people. But, blessed be God — it shall not always be so. The hour comes, and shall soon be here, when “good-bye” and “farewell” shall be words that are laid aside and buried forever! When we meet in a world where the former things have passed away, where there is . . .

no more sin,
no more sorrow,
no more poverty,
no more work of body or work of brains,
no more need of anxiety for families,
no more sickness,
no more pain,
no more old age,
no more death,
no more change —

when we meet in that endless state of being, calm, and restful, and unhurried — who can tell what the bliss and blessedness will be? I cannot wonder that Paul bids us look up and look forward.

  1. February 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Not to go off topic, but did you go to The Master’s Seminary?

  2. February 15, 2012 at 8:35 am

    No, I’ve never been to the Master’s Seminary or Master’s College.

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