are that about 9,500 people die per day in America. That means thousands of
special services are carried on daily to honor the departed and ponder our own
mortality. When celebrities or iconic figures die we are moved on a national
scale to weigh our own brief stay on the planet. But what do we actually ponder
and what questions does the death of icons provoke?
Fawcett and Ed McMahon are reported to be Catholic while Michael Jackson was a
Jehovah's Witness and Walter Cronkite was an Episcopalian. Some who belong to
these religions may feel assured that because of their respective religious
affiliations all is well with each of them.
Biblical view is that they may have ended up with God after death not because
of their religion but in spite of it. The Bible view of salvation is quite
explicit and involves no requirement to belong to any specific religion. While
that may be a subject for another time it does well to remind ourselves of the
thief on the cross who died next to Christ at the crucifixion.
on the cross had no time to be baptized, join a religion or become familiar
with scripture but Jesus promised him that he would be with him in paradise
that very day. (Lk 23:43) The childlike faith that consented to the belief that
Christ was not only innocent but that he was exactly who he was reported to be
was all it took. That is still all it takes.
and the faltering reasoning of mankind always create entrance requirements for
heaven that are wrong. The Biblical view stands alone to correct this error.
The most common belief is that God holds us up daily and places our lives and
actions on an imaginary scale to see if our 'good' out weigh our 'bads.' This
paints a picture of God that is ridiculous. He is not that frivolous.
In a phone
conversation I had with an old friend in Washington the day after Michael
Jackson's death I was to surprised to hear my friend remark that Jackson must
be OK with God because he gave to over 39 separate charities. Having been well
taught in scriptures I was amazed to hear my friend use the imaginary scale in
the sky idea to console him self about Jackson's death.
Jackson redeemed because of his giving and in spite of his connection to a
religion that mainstream Christianity often views as a cult, or a life that may
have left a lot to be desired? My answer is simply "I haven't a clue." If I
knew Michael Jackson well enough to say whether he answered the all important
Biblical question then I could say with perfect clarity where the soul of the
pop icon is at this very moment. I will leave both the question and the answer
in the hands of the Almighty for now and I will not presume.
rule applies in my thinking as it concerns the rest of the souls of the
departed icons who have drawn our attention of late. Regardless of their
religious affiliations or the lack of them I can't say that each of them did
not have a moment in time when they asked the all important Biblical question
in their own words and in their own way. Only God knows that.
are so worried that Jackson may have slipped away without reckoning with God
that they began to believe a rumor floating around the internet that famed
singer Andre Crouch and his wife ministered the question to Jackson shortly
before his death and he responded positively. A recent report in Charisma
magazine dispelled the rumor with a categorical denial from Crouch that
anything like that ever happened.
life's greatest difficulties are all around me and I ponder my own mortality
and the brevity of life I always think on the great question. Yet it is not the
question alone that stands as the great comforting thought in my darkest
moments. It is the answer I chose to make well over four decades past. So what
is the question?
Apostle Paul and his young disciple Timothy travelled through ancient Macedonia
they stopped to preach the gospel in the city of Philippi. They were well
received until they cast an evil spirit out of a young woman who was being used
to make prognostications (fortune telling) for two men who made good money for
themselves as a result. For this they were thrown into a prison where they were
held in chains.
filled the night with prayer and singing praises to God which resulted in a
divine intervention. There was a brief earthquake and the prison doors all flew
open. The Phillipian jailer knew that to allow even one prisoner to escape
would cost him his own life under Roman law so he was about to kill himself
instead of waiting for a sure public execution. Paul seeing what was about to
happen called out to the warden and told him that everyone was still present
and accounted for and that he should not harm himself.
Philippian jailer was so moved by the events that he came in and threw himself
at the feet of Paul and Timothy and cried "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
(Acts 16:30) This question is to this day the most important question any human
being can ask of God. It is the crux of any true relationship with God and it
cannot be replaced by religious tenants, conscience giving or imaginary scales
in the sky.
given by Paul is the difference between eternal life and eternal separation
from God. It is a question that does not regard a person's status in life,
poverty or riches, fame or obscurity or any other condition. Paul said "Believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:31)
The jailer did believe and his wife and family followed suit.
quiet and deeply personal moments of anyone's life this question is still
paramount. It is the question of the ages with an eternal result. What would
your answer be?
Copyright ©2009 Rev. Michael Bresciani