I got a copy of Fear Not! by Ligon Duncan yesterday and have started reading it. My interest was piqued by a recent blog post of the closing paragraph.
I hesitate to go as far as Jonathan Edwards in the opening quotation in chapter 1:
Resolved, to think much, on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
But I do think about it more frequently than I used to. It is much nearer than ever before, unless Christ return before it happen to me. Perhaps I miss the hymns that I sang in earlier years, that spoke realistically and comfortingly about it. And yet I think Christians are more touched by death than others, for several reasons.
Our circle of friends in our church fellowships typically has a wider age than that of our increasingly self- , peer- and close-family-centred pagan neighbours. We will know more older people more intimately and thus experience death at much closer quarters than others.
But at a deeper level, since Christian faith is in a Saviour who died and rose again, our faith sprang to life because of a death. And at that time we will have faced the wages of our sin — our death. And then, on a continuing basis, as we participate in the Lord’s Supper we are regularly (weekly as a baptist) confronted with the reality of a death we dared not die and a death that was not deserved, but for which we are immensely grateful as we will eternally be.
Despite such intimate acquaintance with death, Fear Not! promises to be a practical help for those times when death comes close, a touches family and friends. I trust it will be a preparation for personal authentic Christian grief and compassionate Christian comfort in the presence of death.
Ligon Duncan, with J. Nicholas Reid, Fear Not! Death and the Afterlife from a Christian perspective. Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus, 2008.