How can a Christian handle the fear of an incurable disease?
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|A teaching by Dr. John Ankerberg on guilt, feelings of depression, forgiveness, sinful habits, God’s discipline and the fear of death.
Copyright: 1997, Number of Programs: 6, Cat. No. ENC
Keywords: Christian Life, Encouragement, Illness, 2 Corinthians 11:14, John 11:25-26
- Ankerberg: What if we’re Christians and we’ve been told we have an incurable disease and in a few days, weeks or months we will experience death? How can we handle our fear? Death is an unknown, something we haven’t experienced.
- Well, when we set out on a trip, we need a reliable road map. When we make the transition from this life to the next, we all need a reliable road map that can tell us with certainty our final destination. That sure, certain road map is God’s Word the Bible.
- The only reliable guide is not some person who has had a near-death experience, that is, one who has had a heart attack and was resuscitated, and lives to tell us what he experienced. We can’t trust him. Why? It’s because the Bible tells us Satan and his angels can give us experiences that deceive us. The Bible says, Satan masquerades or puts on a disguise, presenting himself as an angel of light. [2 Cor. 11:14] Over 12 million Americans have had near-death experiences, and the majority of those people have been deceived by an angel of light which has told them false information – information that contradicts what God says in the Bible – about the afterlife.
- No, the only reliable guide that can tell us with certainty what lies behind the curtain of death is One who has actually died, not one who has been resuscitated; One whose body laid in the tomb, cold, broken and stiff for three days, and then rose from the dead. The only person who ever conquered death was Jesus Christ. He alone has the right, the authority to tell us what comes after we die. And what does He say?
- When Jesus came to Lazarus’ tomb, He found that Lazarus had been dead for four days. Right in front of Lazarus’ grave Jesus proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” [John 11:25-26] After making this claim that He had the power to give life that lasts forever, He provided the proof that backed up His claim. He actually raised Lazarus from the dead.
- Death is inevitable for all of us. We must trust someone as to the future. Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to trust Jesus Christ? The apostle John went so far as to say, “Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given of his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” [1 John 5:10-13] The Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16]
- If you are approaching death and you are afraid, God wants you to trust His promises to you. If you will simply believe in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, to be the Savior of your life, God promises that death will be just a transition into everlasting life in Heaven with Him. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” [John 14:1-3]
- The apostle Paul, in approaching his own death, could write, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in [referring to his body] is destroyed, we have a building [that is, a new body] from God, an eternal house [that is, an eternal body] in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan [that is, as we grow older, the aches and pains come, then disease and suffering], longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling [our new body].” [2 Cor. 5:1-3] In fact, Paul could confidently say, “[I am] willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” [2 Cor. 5:8]
- What does this mean? When we die, our body is placed into the ground and our spirit goes to be with the Lord. For example, in the Bible there is a clear distinction between the grave where the body rests and Sheol where the spirits of the dead gather. The Old Testament speaks of the afterlife using the Hebrew word sheol 65 times alone in the Old Testament. Sheol refers to the realm of departed spirits. In describing this region, it seems that not all people have the same experience in that realm. For some people it is a region of gloom. But for others it is a place where they dwell with God.