Full text of Bible teacher David Pawson’s teaching on death titled ‘Life After Death: Death (Part 1)’
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David Pawson – Bible Teacher
I’m going to read from the Old Testament.
Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 (TLB): ‘It is a wonderful thing to be alive! If a person lives to be very old, let him rejoice in every day of his life, but let him also remember that eternity is far longer and that everything down here is futile by comparison.
Young man, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it! Do all you want to; take in everything, but realize that you must account to God for everything you do. So banish grief and pain, but remember that youth, with a whole life before it, can make serious mistakes.’
Ecclesiastes 12: 1-7 (TLB): ‘Don’t let the excitement of being young cause you to forget about your Creator. Honor Him in your youth before the evil years come — when you’ll no longer enjoy living. It will be too late then to try to remember Him when the sun and light and moon and stars are dim to your old eyes, and there is no silver lining left among your clouds. For there will come a time when your limbs will tremble with age, and your strong legs will become weak, and your teeth will be too few to do their work, and there will be blindness too.
Then let your lips be tightly closed while eating when your teeth are gone! And you will waken at dawn with the first note of the birds; but you yourself will be deaf and tuneless, with quavering voice. You will be afraid of heights and of falling — a white-haired withered old man, dragging himself along: without sexual desire, standing at death’s door, and nearing his everlasting home as the mourners go along the streets.
Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young — before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken and the pitcher is broken at the fountain and the wheel is broken at the cistern; and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.’
That’s a very practical passage from the Old Testament which deals with real life and is not afraid to face the facts.
Now on these next six Sunday mornings, I’m going to be speaking about Life After Death, and Christians are the only people who can really face up to this subject. Others must face it with questions, doubts, fears. Christians can face it in the light of Easter and we’re going to look at various subjects and aspects of life after death.
But before we can do so we must look very squarely and very directly at the fact of death itself. It is the biggest fact of life. It’s the one certain thing that we can predict about the future. And so it’s right that we should face death and look it in the face and then see it as a conquered enemy, and this is what we hope to do this morning.
Now to introduce the subject to you, I’ve asked a member of our congregation who is in the medical profession to come and talk with me for ten minutes or so about this subject. I suppose that the medical profession sees more of death than most others perhaps with ministers coming second, or maybe I should put undertakers first and medical profession second and maybe ministers third.
But nevertheless we share this that both of us have had quite a lot to do with death in one way or another and I’m going to ask some questions about this to try and help us to face up to the fact to see it in a Christian light and to understand something of its meaning before I speak to you.
Now as a member of the medical profession you’ve seen quite a lot of death. In fact, you’ve seen more of death than perhaps many members of the congregation. I’d like to ask you if your reaction to death has changed over the years from the very first experience to… now do you become hard or callous, do you treat it as clinical or has it become just something in the daily life or how do you feel? Come and stand a bit further forward.
Medical Practitioner: I think it’s very true to say that over the years one certainly does become hardened to death, it’s rather like one’s first operation where most people seem to faint on the floor. You obviously have to become hardened to it in the sense that you can steal yourself and can cope with it mentally, but nevertheless the shock of death, the suddenness of it sometimes, the unexpected nature of it is something that you can never completely reconcile and continually approach in one’s life it as an enemy. It comes perhaps to defeat what has been an otherwise successful operation or it comes to perhaps take away what has been otherwise a very good cure.
And so as one naturally does become somewhat hardened to suffering and to death it’s inevitable, and one’s constant fear as a Christian doctor particularly is that one might be kept sufficiently sensitive so that one can appreciate this fact and not become hard and callous.
David Pawson: Well now, taking up this point that death is an enemy, the Bible says this too, but to you, your whole calling is a fight against death. You’re seeking to have the victory over again and again but you must know that ultimately you can’t have a complete victory, you can postpone this enemy but you can’t put it off forever.
Which brings me to the question of: is death always a bad thing in your experience? Sometimes we hear this phrase a merciful release. Someone who’s suffering, someone who’s in pain, someone who’s gone through a lot and one feels that death comes as a good thing then. Do you feel that sometimes death is a good thing in this sense?
Medical Practitioner: Accepting the fact that as you have already said everyone must die, and that sooner or later the human body does become so frail or so diseased, death then is obviously a release and one must accept it as such. Of course it introduces many other problems as to whether you should hasten it along when someone is obviously near the end. These problems of course are very difficult and have been subject to much recent controversy.
David Pawson: Where would you draw the line? Some say that if the patient requests death they should be given death. If the relatives request it, the poor doctor is caught in this dilemma. Where would you draw the line?
Medical Practitioner: Well it seems to me that the whole emphasis of one’s training and one’s upbringing and one’s Hippocratic oath is that one’s job is to preserve life and to frustrate death and that therefore one should not turn oneself into the role of an executioner. And this of course involves other recent legislation that’s gone through Parliament about which many, many doctors are most unhappy. It seems to me that there’s this dichotomy and one’s going to become almost schizophrenic if half the time one is seeking to save life, preserve life, cure people and on the other hand one is taking the power to terminate life.
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