Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
From responses to TFE 1-13 “When You Are Ready”
As I was reading the thought for the evening “When You Are Ready”, I had a question when I came to this part in the message....
“Each of us has an appointment with Jesus and death, and none of us can avoid it. But if someone causes you to die before God’s appointed time, that person has sinned, and the name given to that particular sin is ‘murder’.”
If God appoints our time to die, then how can someone cause you to die before God’s appointed time? If God appoints your time, then how can someone else take your life without God letting them do it? God is in control of everything, good or bad. So my thinking is that God has allowed the murderer to take a life; therefore, it would be that person’s appointed time to die. I know that if you commit suicide, that is by ones own will and selfishness. But I just had a second thought about that part.
Thanks for your help,
Hey Pastor John,
I had a quick question regarding this TFE. You said:
“Each of us has an appointment with Jesus and death, and none of us can avoid it. But if someone causes you to die before God’s appointed time, that person has sinned, and the name given to that particular sin is “murder”.”
I am a bit confused. I thought that when we die...no matter how or when...that is God’s will for us. If someone does murder us... God is allowing the murder to happen, ya know? So, I was wondering if you could clarify things for me.
Your responses were so similar that I decided to respond to them both at the same time. I expected this question to come up from more than two people, and others probably did have the same question in their hearts. If so, this answer hopefully will help them, too.
First, let me say that we know from our study of the Old Testament that God does change His course sometimes when dealing with us humans. In one place, He even mentioned his “breach of promise” concerning taking that generation of Israelites into Canaan’s land (Num 14). He promised Phinehas an everlasting priesthood (Num. 25:10-13) because of his zeal for the Lord, but a few generations later, He revoked that promised blessing because of Eli’s disobedience (1Sam. 2:27-30).
So, God may have a day ordained for your death that he will change (possibly for your good) because of particular situations that arise in your life. Paul mentioned some saints in Corinth whom God took home early in order to keep them from being lost with the world (1Cor. 11:28-32). When He caused them to grow sick, weak, or even to die, God was not a murderer, even though their appointed day to die had not yet come. But your question asks about men who take it upon themselves to end the life of another before they should die.
How can anyone be condemned as a murderer when God is in charge of when we all die? Wouldn’t the murderer really be doing God’s work, since God determines when everyone dies? And if so, isn’t it wrong to call anyone a murderer, since God is the one who decides such things, and He is always doing what is right? That is a philosophical question that can only be answered by saying that the murderer is to be condemned for unjustly ending another’s life because . . . because . . . well, because God said so.
Paul dealt with the same sort of philosophical question from some children of God in his day. They wanted to know how anyone could be condemned as sinful if God was the One who decided who would come to Him and repent, and who would not. After all, Jesus did say that no one could come to him unless the Father drew him. Based on this, some of those children of God started teaching a doctrine that condemned God for condemning sinners. Paul quotes some of what they taught in Romans 9. According to him, they reasoned with people, “Why does God still find fault [with us sinners]? For who has resisted His will?” In other words, if God has made some people to be destroyed and some to be saved, how can anyone be condemned for doing what God has determined they would do?
There simply is no response to such philosophical questions except what I said to you earlier: “because God said so.” Or, we could quote Paul’s hot reaction to such philosophical bickering: “Nay, but who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” (Rom. 9:20). And then, Paul gets to the righteous heart of the matter: “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does the potter have no authority over the clay, to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”
This issue, my dear friends, touches on the famous predestination/free will quarrel that has gone on among religionists for thousands of years. How can Jesus claim that no one can come to him unless the Father calls him, and yet later extend an invitation to eternal life to “whosoever will”? In the Old Testament, did God harden Pharaoh’s heart, or did Pharaoh harden his own heart against Moses and the Israelite slaves? The Bible says both, repeatedly. So, I believe both. Why? Because . . . well, because God said so. It isn’t wise to take a stand for either side of that issue when God has told us that both sides are correct. So, I do just as I see my Father do, and say Amen to both sides.
To the man who says, “Salvation is by God’s choice. It is by predestination!” I say, “Amen!”
To the man who says, “Salvation is by man’s choice. It is by free will!” I say, “Amen!”
We could debate this theological/philosophical issue for hours, and even days, and end up exactly where we began because the final answer has never been revealed and is hidden deep in the heart of God. And it ruins the faith of the saints to become immersed in the philosophical wrangling of doubters and skeptics (Col. 2:8).
Some have been sarcastic at Paul’s kind of answer to that type of philosophical question, but his answer is perfect. There is only a certain amount of knowledge that we have been given by God. After all, there were things about the Father’s work that even Jesus didn’t know. Wouldn’t it be unreasonable, then, to think that we could comprehend all that God has done? Isn’t it an indication of His greatness, as well as an indication of our need of His mercy, that we cannot explain with stair-step precision every work of God? This was Paul’s point. If God tells us something, then the best that we can do, the wisest we can be, is simply to trust what He says and obey it. The truly wise heart not only understands that God is always right but that heart is also deeply humbled by the fact that God would humble Himself to speak to us humans at all!
Wise saints acknowledge the limitations of logic because God is both in it and beyond it. Humans are impressed with logic, and logic has its God-given place, but when it comes to the things of God, logic can only go part of the way with us down the road to eternal life. It is good to be reasonable and to use logic when it can be used to express truth, but the way home is the way of faith in a God who, when all is said and done, makes the most precise human logic look like sheer foolishness.
So, my dear sisters in Christ, to answer your very good question(s): Yes, God does have a day appointed for each one of us to die, and yes, if someone murders us before that day, that person has sinned, even if God is the one who decided that was what was best for us. That is the truth because . . . well, because God said so.