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

The above is the title of the sermon preached at last year’s Watchnight Service. Since then, it has been an eventful year for us, with some suffering from major illnesses and even brushes with death. Some of our loved ones have also departed for the home above. The Lord is teaching us throughout the year to consider this question seriously – are you ready to die?

I recalled how several ladies last year were encouraging their husbands to sign up for the Holy Land Pilgrimage that was held from 3-15 July this year. There was a little hesitancy initially to join the pilgrimage. However, after the Watchnight Service, the ladies were moved by the Spirit to push
their husbands more urgently to go for the pilgrimage. Praise the Lord, that the husbands were convinced that they should go. “Perhaps there may not be a next time” was the cry. Suffice to say there is little regret from the pilgrims for embarking on our spiritual learning journey, especially in light of the recent war in the Holy Land. Before our time is up on this earth, we want to make sure we spend every hour profitably for the Lord.

There is a hymn by John Newton which goes:

Life a field of battle is,
Thousands fall within our view;
And the next death-bolt that flies,
May be sent to me or you:
While we preach, and while we hear,
Help us, Lord, each one, to think,
Vast eternity is near,
I am standing on the brink.

The eve of the New Year is a time of merriment for the world. They are singing, eating, drinking, dancing and shopping. There may even be fireworks at midnight. It is as though the world will never end. However, as mentioned above, the past year should have taught us that things in the world can rapidly change. Death can come to anyone at any time.

Let us therefore recall from Psalm 116:15 of how we can be ready for death.

(I) You Must Be Born Again

The Bible tells us that it is the death of the saints that is precious in the sight of the Lord. You can only be a saint if your sins are cleansed. Are your sins cleansed by the blood of the Lamb? As one member rightly said during the church camp, we may talk fervently about how we will fly to another country for a holiday but if you do not have the boarding pass for the plane, it will all be in vain. Make sure you have the boarding pass for heaven.

What will happen if your sins are not forgiven? The Bible says that it will be eternal condemnation and separation from God. “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)

Therefore, the first step to be ready for death is to make sure you are born again. Have you truly repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour?

(II) You Must See Death as Precious

God sees the death of every one of His saints as precious. So we must see our deaths as precious too. Why then is the death of the saint precious? Firstly, because we are precious in God’s sight as every one of us is bought by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7). Secondly, because God knows the number of our days (Psalm 39:4) and is in full control of the time of our death. Thirdly, because death is but a commencement of life above. Thus, death for a Christian is but sleep.

So today, if the Lord says that you are to return home to heaven, what will be your answer? This truth provokes us to consider how we have been living our lives, that it must not be earth-bound but focused on heaven. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) Should I seek for better pay? Should I seek for more possessions? Should I seek to fulfil my ambitions? Nay, let my life’s sole ambition be the Lord Jesus Christ who is my all in all. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Dear readers, have you any task on earth that is left undone for the Lord? Is there any work that you could have done better? Is there any brother whom you can show kindness or ought to have forgiven? Do not leave this world with regrets but number your days in wisdom. As for those whom the Lord has given an extension of life, it means that there are still tasks left for you to do. You must earnestly ask the Lord to direct you to perform His will in your life. Seek God earnestly in prayer and His Word, and the Lord will show you His paths.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew