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Sermon #2298                                                                     Miscellaneous Sermons

 

      Title:                                 When the Righteous Die

 

      Text:                                  Isaiah 57:1-2

      Subject:               The Death of the Righteous

      Reading: Revelation 14:1-13

      Introduction:

 

In the past few days the Lord our God has been pleased to take two of my dearest friends home to heaven. Both were, beloved brothers, faithful ministers, and fellow-servants in the Lord.

 

Š      Bro. Norman Wheeler

79 Years Old

Pastor of Robert Street Baptist Church

Dudley, England — 40 Years

 

Š      Bro. Cody Groover

57 Years Old

Missionary to Mexico — 22 Years

 

Thinking about Dying

 

As you know, one of my sisters, Juanita, is almost certainly dying with cancer, and my oldest sister, Jean, just had a heart attack and had to have three heart valves replaced. — Needless to say, my mind has been incessantly occupied with thoughts about death for many weeks, specifically with thoughts about the death of God’s saints, even more specifically, thoughts about the death of my fellow-laborers in the gospel, and, even more specifically, about my own death.

 

I’ve been thinking about dying every day almost incessantly, for weeks. I like to do that. Oh, what joys await us! And I’ve been thinking about the death of you who are yet without Christ. Oh, what terrors await you! — Many, many passages of Scripture have come to my mind. I keep rolling them over in my heart.

 

(Jeremiah 12:5) “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

 

(John 11:25-26) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

 

When I have breathed my final breath

And dropped this robe of flesh in death,

When my appointed work is done

And my allotted time is gone,

Don’t stand around my grave and cry.

I’ll not be there. I did not die.

 

My Savior came to call me home,

And I with Him to heav’n have gone!

Now I am free from sin and pain;

And with the glorified I reign!

Don’t stand around my grave and cry.

I’m glorified! I did not die!

 

Seated with Jesus on His throne,

Glorified by what He has done,

I am a trophy of His grace.

Rejoicing, I behold His face:

Don’t stand around my grave and cry.

I am with Christ! I did not die!

 

My body lies beneath the clay

Until the resurrection day.

In that day when Christ comes again,

Body and soul unite again!

Don’t stand around my grave and cry.

Rejoice with me! I did not die!

 

(John 11:40) “Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

 

(2 Corinthians 5:1-8) “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (6) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (7) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

 

(Psalms 116:15) “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”

 

It really doesn’t matter how I die, when I die, or where I die. It only matters that I die in the Christ. — In Christ! — Oh, let me be found in Christ! — Nothing else really matters.

 

(Revelation 7:9-17) “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (11) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, (12) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? (14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

 

(Revelation 14:13) “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

 

(Revelation 20:6) “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

 

(Revelation 21:4) “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

 

(Revelation 22:1-5) “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”

 

(Psalms 84:11) “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

 

Isaiah 57:1-2

 

These and many, many other passages of Holy Scripture have been on my heart. But Isaiah 57:1-2 has been predominant in my mind, as I thought about preaching to you today.

 

(Isaiah 57:1-2) “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. (2) He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”

 

Proposition: Forever blessed are those men and women who live and die in righteousness!

 

I want to talk to you about death, particularly, about the death of the righteous. — “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Numbers 23:10). The title of my message is — When the Righteous Die.

 

Three Facts

 

Just hold your Bibles open here for a few minutes, while I talk plainly to you about death. Let me plainly state three simple facts about death. Then we will look at the message contained in these two verses of Isaiah 57.

 

1. You and I are dying! We are all eternity bound sinners with immortal souls; and we are dying.

Š      In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die!” — “Dying thou shalt die!”

Š      The wages of sin is death.”

 

2. For you who are without Christ, death is the beginning of infinite, indescribable, eternal woe!

 

  • Judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)

 

(2 Corinthians 5:10-11) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”

 

  • Hell!
  • The Torments of the Damned!
  • Everlasting Wrath!

 

3. But for the believer things are different. For the believer death is not something to be dreaded with fear, but anticipated with hope.

  • A Welcome Relief!
  • An Answer to Prayer!
  • The Beginning of Life!

 

For the believer death might be compared to a friendly visit from the Lord. As a man walks in his garden and picks a beautiful flower in full bloom to stick it in his lapel, so the Lord God comes into his garden, gathers his lilies with delightful smile and carries them in his bosom up to glory.

 

The believer lives in faith, hope, righteousness, and peace. And believers die like they live.

 

“O what a burst of joy, what a scene of glory opens to the ravished view, and beams on the triumphant soul of a saint in the moment of departure! The deathbed of a Christian is the anti-chamber of (entrance into) heaven, and the very suburbs of the New Jerusalem.” — Augustus Toplady

 

Indeed, we all will die as we have lived. — “The time is at hand

 

“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:10-12)

 

Pause for a moment and try to imagine what it will be like to enter heaven (1 Corinthians 2:9).

 

(1 Corinthians 2:9-10) “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

 

  • Christ in His Glorious Fulness!
  • The Angels of God in Their Splendorous Happiness!
  • The Church of God in Triumphant Bliss!
  • Your Soul in The Consummation of Grace!
  • Redemption in its Fulness with Clarity!

 

Divisions: Now, let’s look at Isaiah 57:1-2. I want to show you four things in these two verses.

  1. The Character of God’s Saints.
  2. The Providence of God in the Death of His Saints.
  3. The Foolishness of Those Who Disregard the Deaths of Others.
  4. The Blessedness of The Righteous when They Die.

 

Righteous and Merciful

 

1st, Isaiah shows us The Character of God’s Saints. Righteous” and “Merciful” are the words that are used here to describe believers.

 

(Isaiah 57:1-2) “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. (2) He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.”

 

Believers are people who have been made righteous by God’s grace.

  • Imputed Righteousness in Justification (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

(2 Corinthians 5:21) “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

 

  • Imparted Righteousness, Holiness, in Regeneration (2 Peter 1:4)

 

(2 Peter 1:4) “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

 

  • Servants of Righteousness in Conversation (Romans 6:11-18)

 

(Romans 6:11-18) “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (13) Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (16) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (17) But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (18) Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

 

God’s saints in this world, having experienced mercy, are merciful.

  • Kind and Good
  • Generous and Hospitable
  • Forgiving and Forbearing
  • Gracious and Loving (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

 

(1 Corinthians 13:1-8) “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (4) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (8) Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.”

 

Providential Deaths

 

2nd, The prophet of God calls our attention to The Providence of God in The Death of His Saints The righteous perisheth.” We often say, “That was providential, or his death was providential.” The fact is, everything that comes to pass is providential and every person’s death is providential. — God did it. But there is a special sense in which we may and should say, “‘The righteous perisheth…and merciful men are taken away providentially.”

 

  • The righteous do not perish eternally! The righteous may, by reason of temptation and sin, fear that he shall perish. He may sometimes say, My strength and my hope have perished before the Lord.” And his peace and comfort may perish for a time. But the righteous cannot perish everlastingly! All who believe on Christ, being washed in his blood, robed in his righteousness, and sealed by his Spirit, have everlasting life and shall never perish!

 

Isaiah is here talking only about the death of the body. This body of flesh must perish. But the righteous can never perish. And this perishing of the righteous is an act of God’s wise and good providence (Ecclesiastes 7:15).The merciful man is taken away” — gathered to heaven by the hand of God.

 

(Psalm 12:1) “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”

 

(Ecclesiastes 7:15) “All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.”

 

Righteousness delivers us from the sting of death, but not from the stroke of death.

  • God has ordained the time of my death.
  • God has ordained the place of my death.
  • God has ordained the instrument of my death.
  • And it really is of no concern to me when, where, or how I die. — That is entirely up to my Master.

 

In his wise, good, and adorable providence, God often removes the righteous and leaves the wicked. Fruitful trees are cut down in death, but barren trees are left to cumber the ground. Merciful men are often taken away by the hand of malicious men, who are left to work havoc in the earth. — God took Abel by Cain’s hands and left Cain to live a cursed life.

 

Foolish Disregard

 

3rd, Isaiah speaks of The Foolishness of Those Who Disregard The Deaths of Others No man layeth it to heart…None considering!” — Very few value the lives of God’s saints. When they are taken, few look upon it as a public loss, fewer still take notice of it as a public warning. When I got word, last Saturday, that Bro. Norman Wheeler had died, I thought immediately to myself, “maybe you will be next.” When I got word Thursday that the Lord Jesus had called Bro. Cody Groover home, after the initial, momentary shock, I thought to myself, “perhaps the Lord will take you today, too.” This I know. — At God’s appointed time, I’m leaving here. And when that time comes, as soon it must, my death will be an answer to my Redeemer’s prayer and a matter of indescribable satisfaction and joy to him.

 

(John 17:24) “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

 

Wise men look upon the deaths of others as a reminder of the certainty of their own death (Ecclesiastes 7:2-6).

 

(Ecclesiastes 7:2-6) “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. (3) Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. (4) The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (5) It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. (6) For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.”

 

When God’s saints are taken out of this world, we are especially wise to lay that to heart (Psalm 12:1).

 

(Psalm 12:1) “Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”

 

  • When God’s servant’s work is accomplished, the Lord takes him home. — How blessed!
  • When the righteous perish, their influence also perishes. — How sad!
  • When the merciful are gone, only the malicious are left. — What judgment!
  • If the righteous and the merciful die, so too shall the unrighteous and the unmerciful. — Be warned!

 

Blessed Death

 

4th, God’s prophet speaks of The Blessedness of The Righteous When They DieHe shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness (v. 2). The death of the righteous (at 80, or 57, or 66, or 15, or 24) is a blessed, happy, joyful thing. It causes much sadness and sorrow; but it is a blessed beath.

 

When the righteous die they are taken away from the evil to come. This is done in compassion to them.

  • That they might not see it (Josiah — 2 Kings 22:20).
  • That they might not be tempted by it.
  • That they might not be harmed by it.

 

When the flood was coming. God put his elect into the ark. When he rained fire on Sodom, he snatched Lot out of the city!

 

This is an act of judgment upon the world. When those who stand in the gap to hold back the flood of God’s wrath are taken away, the flood will soon come. — “It is a sign that God intends war when he calls home his ambassadors.” (Matthew Henry).

 

He shall enter into peace! — We walk in peace now (Romans 5:1; Philippians 2:12). And when we leave this world, we shall enter into a world of peace. Heaven is a world of peace and a world of peaceful associates.

Š      The God of Peace.

  • The Spirit of Peace.
  • The Prince of Peace.
  • The Angels of Peace.
  • The Sons of Peace.

 

Heaven is a world where there is nothing contrary to peace.

Š      No Sin Within.

  • No Temptation Without.
  • No Sorrow, Sighing, Sickness, or Death!
  • No Strife!
  • No Darkness!
  • No Curse!

 

Heaven is a world full of everything that is conducive to peace.

Š      Infinite Riches of Grace and Glory!

  • Honor, without Pride or Envy!
  • Satisfaction!

 

As soon as we step out of this world of strife we will enter into Christ’s world of peace!

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1

 

Look at the next line. — They shall rest in their beds. When our souls have entered into heaven’s world of peace, these bodies of flesh shall rest in hope of the resurrection in the bed of the earth, in the grave. — Blessed sabbath!

  • From Toil and Labor!
  • From Disease and Pain!
  • Out of the Reach of Our Enemies.

But on the resurrection morning these bodies shall live again (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

 

(1 Corinthians 15:51-58) “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52)  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53)  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54)  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (55)  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56)   The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57)  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (58)  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

 

Now, look at the last line of our text. — Each one walking in his uprightness (Isaiah 57:2). — Never to sin again!

  • Each one walking in the presence of Christ, in the uninterrupted company of Christ! — “Before Him!
  • Each one walking in the righteousness of Christ!
  • Each one walking in the white robes and white linen garments of salvation, in the blamelessness of unspotted perfection!
  • Each one walking in the uprightness of his God-given perfect holiness!

 

Application

 

Are You Prepared to Die?

  • If your sins have all been put away by the blood of Christ, you are.
  • If you have perfectly obeyed all the law and will of God, if you are perfectly righteous, you are.
  • If you have a perfect, holy nature in you, you are
  • If you are completely without sin, you are.
  • If you trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone for all your salvation, you are.

 

Illustration: The Robin’s Eggs

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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