A man in Louisiana explained why he refuses to buy life insurance: “When I die, I want it to be a sad day for everybody. Believing that man is nothing more than a pile of material (if magnificent) molecules, millions find it impossible to view death with anything but gloom and despair. What is it like to face death with no more hope than human reason (unaided by faith in God and His revelation in the Bible) can give? The skeptic Ingersoll, while dying (1899) exclaimed, “O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul.” The great French skeptic Voltaire (1694-1778), contemporary with American patriot and statesman Ben Franklin, argued that human reason alone was a sufficient guide in life without a revelation from God. But human reason failed to comfort him as he neared the end of his life. The thought of what was beyond the grave terrified him. On his deathbed he told his physician, “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months of life.” When the doctor told him he
could not comply, Voltaire said, “Then I shall go to hell.” Bertrand Russell, another famous unbeliever, affirmed his life was built on the foundation of unyielding despair. He issued a joint statement with the brilliant big-brained Albert Einstein, just two days before Einstein’s death, confessing that “those of us who know the most are the gloomiest about the future” (quoted by Ravi Zacharias in “Can Man Live Without God?”, p 74). David Hume was an atheist philosopher famous for his religious skepticism. His deathbed is said to have been a horrible scene as he cried out, “I am in flames!” Thomas Hobs, a political philosopher, said as he neared death, If I had the whole world at my disposal, I would give it to live one more day. I am about to take a leap into the dark.” All these were brilliant, accomplished men loaded with tons of human brainpower. But they all discovered that human brilliance, intellect, reason and brain power alone are no match for the power of death and the hopelessness that accompanies death without Christ. Atheists and materialists sometimes boast they can die without fear. While that may be true in some cases, they want us to forget that they also die without the hope Christians have (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Contrast this doom and despair with the hopeful and confident words written by the apostle Paul from a prison cell as he awaited certain and imminent death: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). For Paul death was not the end, and it was not a “leap into the dark.” He was not in despair and was not gripped by a sense of doubt, fear, doom or gloom. For Paul death was not an end but a new beginning! Not a descent into hell – but a transition into a glorious forever, at home with God (verse 18)! Not a hopeless end, but an endless hope. And the difference was not human brilliance or reason alone – the difference was Jesus Christ. How about you? Are you headed for a hopeless end or an endless hope? Jesus will be faithful to you when you die if you are faithful to Him while you live. Are you listening?