The Death of My Father & the Hope of Christ

Not every man can look to his father and say, “I am proud to be your son.” I can.

On the Lord’s Day, March 7th 2021, Dennis Carpenter drew his last breath with his sin-plagued, cancer-ridden body & opened his sin-freed, wholly restored eyes to embrace his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Instantly, he was in the presence of God Most High, engaged in the angelic chorus of praise, singing “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever” (Revalation 5:12-13)!

What a glorious Truth and the Comfort of my hurting heart!

My father was a man of integrity and character. He was honorable in an age when honor is rejected and shame has been abandoned by the masses. He embraced justice, devoted his life to promoting it, he served & protected his community, as the Chief of Police, with honor. He served the Lord in his local church with the talents and gifts the Lord had given him. He loved his family; and we love him!

He was not a perfect man but he was a faithful man; faithful till the end.

Hebrews 9:27 reveals a painful Truth that we know in all too familiar ways. The authors pens, “…it is appointed for man to die once…” Death is a reality, a pain-filled reality, for the one who is dying and for those who love him. But, for those in Christ, death is not the end of life. In fact, the Psalmist tells us “Precious in the sight of the YHWH is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). And as strange as that sounds to those outside the Church of Jesus Christ, the death of those saved from the penalty of their sins is indeed precious to the Lord and a delight to the deceased!

Octavius Winslow (1808-1878) explains these twin realities, why the death of the saint is precious to the Lord and a delight to the deceased, masterfully when he encourages his hearers to…

Approach that chamber where the saint of God is departing…The Triune Jehovah is there—the Father watching the child He adopted, the Son upholding the soul He redeemed, the Holy Spirit strengthening the heart He had made His temple. Is this the chamber of death—this the last enemy, the final conflict, the closing scene? Surely this is not dying! What! This mental calmness, this spirit-joy, this soul-sunshine, this victory of faith, this stupendous glorious triumph of the immortal over the mortal—is this death? Hark! What angel sounds are those? Whence this melody? It is the voice of the departing one…And then all is still! The silver cord is loosed (Eccl. 12:6), and the panting spirit, borne on the wing of song, has swept upwards into the beaming presence of God and rests in the embrace of Christ. Call not this death—it is life! Call it not destruction—it is the renewal of vigor of the soul, the moment when it renews its youth and expiates amid the wonders, glories, and sublimities of its newborn creation. All this triumph, all this glory, all this joy, we owe to Jesus’ death and resurrection…

The Lord, in His Goodness, gave my father a peace, concerning his certain death, that caused his family question, “How does he have such peace?” His peace came from the certain knowledge that though his sins were many Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient; that though his death was imminent Christ’s resurrection guaranteed his eternal life; that though his heart was breaking that he was leaving his family his Savior awaited him. This is peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and it is only available to those who, by faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, have taken Refuge in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Psalm 61:1-3).

“It is appointed unto you”, reader, “once to die and then face the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27) and “unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You need not fear death or the judgement that follows it if you turn from your sin, trust in the Lord, and serve Him all your days for “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36). As a matter of fact, in Christ ALL are set from “the lifelong slavery to the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15).”For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Surely, in Christ, man has found his Sabbath. Rest in Christ, O Reader, “for He is gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul” (Matthew 11:29).

From my youth, my father pointed me to the Cross of Christ, taught me to honor the Lord, to honor my mother, to love and serve my family, and encouraged me to serve the Lord faithfully in Eldred; surely, this is all of life to love the Lord my God and love my neighbor as myself. No greater gift has ever been given to a son from his father & no greater legacy could ever be passed from one generation to the next.

Thank you, Lord, for my father.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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