If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what final advice and encouragement would you offer to those you would leave behind?
Consider carefully–this will be your last chance to impart wisdom to your loved ones. More than likely, your final words will reflect what you deem most important, the principles dearest to your heart.
In April of 2014, a great man of the faith, William Moorehead, went home to be with his Heavenly Father. Bill had spent his life serving the Lord as a pastor in Kingston, Nova Scotia from 1962-2014. During this time, he was also president of a Bible academy in Nova Scotia.
Before Bill died, he passed on wise advice to his grandson, who had come to visit him in the hospital. This man of God had learned much about his Lord throughout his lifetime. In his health, Bill was a jolly, amiable man who had experienced a fullness of joy that could only come from a deep, satisfying relationship with the Savior. He had experienced God in ways that, sadly, many Christians never do. As a result, he could have chosen from a nearly infinite number of biblical principles to impart, but what he most wanted his beloved grandson to remember was this:
“You’ll never regret saying ‘yes’ to the dear Lord.”
Bill Moorehead was my grandfather. The recipient of this final precept was my older brother. Since his passing, my family has sought to live by the words of Grampie’s farewell.
Before Christ died, He gathered His twelve disciples to give them a farewell discourse recorded in John 13-16. This discourse was Jesus’ last opportunity before His crucifixion to teach the disciples issues He considered to be vitally important. His words would provide the disciples with correction and counsel for the days soon to come when Jesus would no longer be with them physically.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
When Jesus told his disciples that He was going away, they wanted to know how they would find Him again. After spending so much time with their Teacher, they should have already known the answer, but Jesus patiently reviewed the lesson He had previously taught them.
Christ’s purpose in coming to earth was to die and rise again, thereby conquering sin and death and bringing glory to His Father. Soon after His resurrection, He would ascend to heaven to begin preparing an eternal home with God for those who would believe in Him. Jesus loved his followers enough–He loves us enough–to show them the way to the Father. He reminded them, “I am the way…” (John 14:6). Money, good works, baptism, and whatever else people rely on other than faith in the Savior will not lead you to God.
As “the truth,” Jesus is Truth incarnate (John 1:14), and His words are authoritative. The only way we as humans can learn anything about God is if He chooses to reveal Himself to us. Christ spent His earthly ministry declaring the truths and attributes of God that we would not have known otherwise.
Jesus also tells the disciples that He is the source of life, and, as such, He has the power to grant eternal life to believers. In John 11:25-26, Jesus assured his friend Martha before the resurrection of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She confidently responded, “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27). Like Martha, those who have such confidence will experience this eternal life that comes only from the Son of God. Christians can live free from the fear of death because Christ has already conquered the grave and, in Him, we share His victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever.”
Jesus could not stay on earth forever, so, thankfully for us, He sent the Holy Spirit in His place to dwell in the hearts of believers. Because of this indwelling, Christians experience blessings from the Holy Spirit’s working in their lives.
Jesus told his followers that the Spirit would “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). In this particular instance, He was talking about the Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture, but it also serves as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s guiding ministry in our lives. Romans 8:14 says of this leading: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Additionally, walking with the Spirit as He leads in truth releases the sons of God from experiencing sin’s guilt and the law’s penalties (Galatians 5:16-18).
“I am the true vine…Abide in me.”
The phrase “abide in Christ” has been stuck in my head for weeks. There’s so much to study and write about this topic, but for brevity’s sake, here’s an illustration.
What happens to an apple if you pluck it from the tree? It stays fresh for a bit, but after a while, if no one eats it, it rots. Why? It has been separated from the tree, its source of nourishment.
For Christians, Jesus is our source of spiritual nourishment, meaning separation from Christ stunts the growth of our faith. To be healthy Christians, we must remain connected to the Source of Life (John 15:4). A believer fully abiding in Christ walks daily with God and keeps His commandments. This believer beautifully blooms with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) and glorifies God as a result (John 15:8). He loves others genuinely and seeks God desperately.
Have you ever seen an orchard of apple trees in full bloom? I can only imagine how even more magnificent God considers a church full of flowering, fruit-bearing Christians.
“Your sorrow will turn into joy.”
Towards the end of His farewell discourse, Christ informed the disciples of their coming sorrow. They would weep because He was no longer with them, but that pain would be temporary. Jesus would rise from the dead and come to them again. When He returned, their joy would be everlasting. Every question and misunderstanding about Jesus’ death and resurrection would be answered (John 16:22-23).
Jesus then taught them how they should pray in the meantime. He instructed them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask in my name, he will give it to you” (John 16:23). Previously, they had not been praying in Jesus’ name, but now they should. He told them, “Ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Like the disciples, we anxiously await that day when we will stand before the Father with every question answered. Until then, we bring our requests before God in the name of Jesus, asking ultimately that, in all situations, God perform His will. Our answered prayers bring great joy because we see God’s active work in our lives.
“I have overcome the world.”
The farewell discourse ends in John 16:33 with a resounding declaration of Christ’s triumph: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” No matter what comes your way–heartache, persecution, or even death–take heart! Jesus has already overcome anything you may face, and He will help you overcome it too. Undescribable, unexplainable peace comes from fellowship with the One who has conquered all.
The truths Jesus spoke to the disciples before his death are crucial to the Christian faith and still apply to Christ-followers today. What will you do with them? Hopefully, they empower you to follow the Spirit’s leading, abide with Christ, and rest in His peace. I know Grampie Moorehead would agree when I say that a life spent pursuing and saying “yes” to the dear Lord is never wasted.