1 August 2010

My Comfort in Death

Death is inevitable. In my profession as a physician, I have seen scores of people die, including many children and babies. I also had to bid farewell to my parents. One day I too must depart from this world.

The prospect of death is fearful because I did not always do what is right, and I know that I have to give an account of my life to God, the righteous Judge. I should have obeyed him, but I did not, hence I cannot expect anything but his wrath and condemnation in hell.

Is there any hope even for a sinner like me? Yes, thank God, there is hope for me and for every other sinner, in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Anselm of Canterbury addresses the dying person in a series of questions and answers.

Question: Do you believe that the Lord Jesus died for you?
Answer: I believe it.

Question: Do you thank him for his passion and death?
Answer: I do thank him.

Question: Do you believe that you cannot be saved except by his death?
Answer: I believe it.

Having ascertained that the dying person truly believes in Christ, Anselm comforts him with the following words:

Come then, while life remains in you, in His death alone place your whole trust; in nothing else place any trust; to His death commit yourself wholly; with this alone cover yourself wholly; in this enwrap yourself wholly.

And if the Lord your God wishes to judge you, say, “Lord, between Your judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; in no other way can I contend with You.” And if He shall say that you are a sinner; you say, “Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and You.” If He says that you have deserved condemnation; say, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and You; and His merits I offer for those which I ought to have, but have not.” If He says that He is angry with you; say, “Lord I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Your wrath and me.” And when you hast completed this, say again, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between You and me.”

What was true a thousand years ago remains relevant for us today: we too are sinners, God is forever just, and Jesus Christ is ever ready to save completely those who come to the Father through him.

The Bible assures all who believe in Christ, “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath” (Romans 5:8, 9).

This then is my only hope. Christ died for me! On that day, the Lord will save me from the wrath to come, and the punishment I deserve, for God already counts me righteous on account of the blood which Christ shed for me.