Full of Faith
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out,
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Stephen was the first Christian martyr. And what a godly man he was! When he is introduced in Acts 6, he is described emphatically as “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (6:5) and “full of grace and power” (6:8). High praise indeed!
And then we see the way he dies: He’s brutally stoned to death.
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep (7:59-60).
When I read these words, I feel like bowing in a hushed awe in the presence of such faith and love.
That’s the way I want to die! Full of faith and peace and joy and love. To be honest, I don’t feel I’ve had this faith-filled perspective on death. But I want it.
Paul, who watched Stephen die and even helped kill him, had this same perspective on death. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). In other words: I’m not afraid of death because death means being with Christ.
John Owen, a great Puritan writer from the 1600s, lay on his deathbed, dictating a letter. He stated, “I am still in the land of the living.” But quickly, “Stop. Change that and say, ‘I am yet in the land of the dying, but I hope soon to be in the land of the living.’”
Adoniram Judson, the American missionary who died in India in 1850, said on his deathbed: “Come Holy Spirit, Dove Divine, I go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school, I feel so strong in Christ.”
What a statement! “I go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school, I feel so strong in Christ.”
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