“Always Ready”: by Gordon Graham

A beloved brother and brilliant mind, Gordon Graham, recently penned this wonderful article that I wanted to share. The theological truths in this post run deep and should be considered by believer and non-believer alike.

“Always Ready”

By

Gordon Graham

im·mi·nent [imuh-nuhnt]
adjective 1. likely to occur at any moment; impending: Her death is imminent.
    In the realm of eschatology, the term imminent is often used with respect to the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the world, i.e. the end of time, at the great white throne judgment and the consumation of all things. Presuming the imminence of this glorious event must overlook the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 which says the following regarding the Lord Jesus, Who currently reigns from heaven, having ascended to the right hand of God the Father:
“…Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.”
    This clearly teaches what must take place prior to the 2nd coming (when death shall be abolished, at the resurrection). We can assume, then, that the Parousia will not occur until we shall see Jesus’ enemies under his feet, so that the ends of the earth turn unto the LORD (Ps. 22:27); when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9). Even so, another “end time” event that is most assuredly imminent, facing each and every one living in the world, is physical death — which is the end of the “here and now” for all of us on an individual basis. So while we may reasonably presume that the Lord will not be returning today, we cannot take for granted that we shall live to see tomorrow. Such is the province of the sovereign and faithful God of all, Who works all things to accomplish His purposes, in accordance with the promise of His word.  It may be His will to bring about circumstances in diverse manners wherein an individual’s death may become even more imminent, in accordance with some increased mortality factor or other, rendering a reckoning with one’s own death to be of even more proximate concern.
    In light of these things let us consider the contrast in viewpoint towards the prospect of imminent death; specifically that of the unbeliever on the one hand and of the Christian believer on the other. Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in his morbid depression, pondered:
“…the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of…”
    This is surely the antithesis of the Christian view of death! The use of the word antithesis, as well as the title of this post, has been prompted by the memory of a brilliant Christian presuppositional apologist and confident postmillennialist, the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen. An extraordinary scholar, speaker and debater, Dr. Bahnsen’s posthumous ministry continues to this day, as his powerful writings and recordings pierce through errant interpretations of scripture with sound exegesis and articulate exposition. A short time before his passing at age 47, with high-risk surgery scheduled, he was able to face the prospect of his own death without fear and with a focused faith on the wisdom and providence of God. As a follower of Jesus Christ, Bahnsen was possessed of the peace that surpasses understanding, along with the promise of eternal life which is the blessed inheritance of the born-again Christian.
    For the unbeliever, death is an enemy to be feared. Apart from special revelation, there is no way of realizing God’s just and loving provision for the forgiveness of His people, as preserved in His holy word. To die in one’s sin, apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ, is to be condemned to an eternity in hell. Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6).
    Jesus showed His power over death and sin by rising from the grave on the third day after His crucifiction (Matt. 28; Rev. 1:18). Because of Christ, death is a defeated foe. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55; Hosea 13:14). For the unsaved, death brings an end to the prospect of salvation. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). For the saved, death ushers us into the presence of Christ: “To be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8; Philippians 1:23). In verification of the promise of the resurrection, the physical death of a Christian is called “sleep” (1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 5:10).
    The souls of believers who have died are now in some blessed way living and reigning with Christ in heaven while they await the resurrection of the body. Their state is therefore a state of blessedness and happiness, their joy becoming complete when their bodies are finally raised and glorified. Indeed there shall come a time, at the end of time, when there shall be no more death” (Rev. 21:4). Until then the only thing that really matters is your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let Greg Bahnsen be an example to us, who when faced with his own death, echoed the words of the apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21). 
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Many of the books and recordings of Dr. Greg Bahnsen are available from Covenant Media Foundation
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