October 1976

Dying To Live

Robert F. Turner

Dr. Kubler-Ross is quoted in the Aug. 76 Readers Digest as saying, We can not live fully until we have faced our finiteness and inevitable death. She reached her conclusion by observation and experience; but we can know this by faith. Jesus taught that man was a fool who refuses to reckon with death (Lu. 12:16-21). And fools are plentiful. I heard recently of a man who has become obsessed with his desire to remain young. He is breaking up his home in his effort to prove his virility. But years and natural waning can not be denied. He is going to age, and die! His unwillingness to accept the inevitable is robbing him of a graceful and satisfying senior period, and worse, of hope for heaven in the eternal after-life.

Christ used a simple illustration to show that there is profit in the right kind of death. Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit (Jn. 12:24 f.). Christ died to conquer, and this involved separation in more ways than physical. He gave up heaven and his former life (Phil. 2:4-12) in order to serve the Father, and save us.

Most of us recognize baptism as a burial of the old man — hence the importance of dying to our former life. But this dying must continue — it is not a once for all dying. We must continue to reckon yourselves dead unto sin (Rom. 6:11-13), so that we let not sin reign neither yield members as instruments of unrighteousness. Mortify your members (Col. 3:5-f), means keep on putting to death our fleshly appetites.

And the meaning goes still deeper. If we have died, and are risen with Christ we live above this life and its demands. We are not out of this world yet we are not OF the world (1 Cor. 5:9-11). Food, raiment, and lodging are temporal necessities, but we will not allow them to dominate or possess us (Matt. 6:24-34). Baptism is an empty form if we have not truly died to material desires and anxiety.

We are not advocating an ascetic life. Dwelling in a cave doesnt separate us from the world in the Christian sense; it only isolates the leaven that is supposed to influence the world. We are dead when our life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3); when we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Heb. 11:13); when we desire and live for a better country, that is a heavenly (v.16).

For such an one death is swallowed up in victory. Old age is no blind alley, it is a vestibule. Each day is a golden coin, to be spent.