Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 13, 1964
NUMBER 40, PAGE 1,12a

Reflections On The Death Of The President

Sewell Hall

When the pollsters finished their calculations immediately preceding the election of 1960, they still had to classify many as undecided about the Democratic nominee. But after he had spent three years in office, the masses were either for him or against him. And feelings were strong; he was either a great asset to the country or a great liability — few were undecided.

In three years' time his policies had become clear. The direction of the country under his administration was pretty well predictable, and it was assumed by many that his administration would continue at least five more years — many feared longer. And so his policies dominated all business planning in this country. His name dominated every political meeting, whether local or national, whether Republican or Democrat. His reactions, the likelihood of his support or opposition, even had to be calculated in major decisions of every foreign country.

Uncertainty Of Human Government

Then — in a moment — he was gone. Uncertainty gripped not only this country, but the world. The stock market began to panic. Germany ordered a full military alert. Both political parties began an immediate reappraisal of candidates and issues. The question of unemployment suddenly loomed over the heads of many who had considered themselves secure. A record number of people over the world, representing thousands of varied interest groups, turned an anxious ear to the words of the new president — anxious to get some hint, however-slight, of the policies he would pursue. So it is with the nations of men. So it is with churches of men whose heads are human and subject to death.

But the kingdom of God is different. Over it reigns the "king of Kings and lord of Lords" (Revelation 19:16) who "is the same yesterday, and today, yea and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) "Nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people" (Daniel 2:44) for "he shall reign forever and ever" (Revelation 11:15) "and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:33) He sits at the right hand of "the father of lights with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning." His will is never amended having been "once for all delivered to the Saints." What certainty the Christian enjoys! When he needs to approach the throne, he knows the throne will still be there; he knows the same king will occupy it; he knows the attitude of the king will still be the same toward him if he is still submissive to the unchanging law of the kingdom "Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace (thankfulness), whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe." (Hebrews 12:28)


All men seek security; many feel they possess it. But the foundations for this sense of security vary greatly. Some feel secure because of the money they possess; some because of their confidence in their own intellect. Some feel confident of the future because of their position and power — some because of their youth. Seldom, if ever, in all history has any one man possessed each of these to the degree that John F. Kennedy possessed them. He was an intellectual giant, a millionaire, the most powerful man on earth — and all of this before his 50th year. Truly a rich, young ruler. But in a moment's time these things were taken from him, and he left the world with nothing — just as he had entered it. In that moment death, the great equalizer, brought him down to the level of all his fellow men that he might stand before the "Father, who without respect of persons judged) according to each man's work." (I Peter 1:17) If he trusted in these worldly things for security, he was bereft of them in his hour of greatest need. If all of these things possessed by him in the maximum degree could not bring him security, how may I hope for security in the small portion of any of them that I might attain?

The One Essential Of Life

From all over the world they came, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Chancellors, Kings. Those great of earth who could not come sent glowing tributes, extolling the deceased. By his bier they passed, throughout the night, the little people and the great ones who wished to honor him; and when they closed the doors long lines still waited. The funeral, planned to be the most elegant of history, probably achieved its aim. It will never be forgotten, even by the countless millions on either side of the Atlantic who could not attend but who watched by television. A tribute was paid, the cost of which will probably never be calculated. Predictions are heard even yet that history will record him as one of this nation's truly great residents.

All of these things are extremely important to the family, to the friends, even to the nation. And they were of importance to him — until that fateful moment. Now they have no value. Nothing matters now save one consideration: Did he "fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." That one thing alone is essential.

My life is filled with important things — important they are to me, at least, and to my family to some degree. Making a living, having a good home with decent and comfortable furniture, food, clothing, an automobile to drive, facilities for relaxation and recreation, the education of my children, social acceptance, civic duties. These are important and may it be said at my death that I achieved them. But they are not essential — except as faithfulness in some of them may relate to that one true essential — the fear of God and obedience to his commandments. The moment of death will bring to each of us a sudden wisdom, an instant recognition of true value. May God grant us the wisdom to recognize these values before the hour of death for it will then be too late to reorient our lives!

— 1801 North 27th Street, Birmingham, Alabama