What would your dying words be???
We all have our heroes from times past whom we give much honor and credit to. Sometimes it is due to their last words that they spoke just prior to dying. As a Christian what standards do you hold to when assigning admiration to someone based on their last words? Many Christians get caught up in the frenzy of patriotism and they forget what country they are actually citizens of and that they are strangers on this earth, no matter where they live. While they may have citizenship in whatever physical country they live in, their literal citizenship is in the spiritual and eternal kingdom, God's Kingdom. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God...These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth...For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-14 Many self-professing Christians today want a political saviour to save the country that they pledge their allegiance to instead of focusing on the Kingdom that they ought to be serving and pledging their allegiance to. When the fervent heat is brought to this world in the last days no earthly nation will remain. God's Kingdom is forever. A believer's citizenship in God's Kingdom extends forever as well and the start of this citizenship began when they were born (again (see John chapter 3)) into God's Kingdom. His Kingdom is now and forever. ...The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand...Mark 1:15 ...the kingdom of God is within you...Luke 17:21 ...For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:13 Many self-professing Christians today in the USA applaud the deaths of those who served the USA with their lives and they believe that these died for our freedoms. No doubt that was the motive in the hearts of many of those who died in the wars of America's past... I served 8 years in the military and I also believed I was doing it for the freedoms of the country I was serving. I was not a born again believer at that time and I did not know there was an intended higher purpose for my life through serving the one true living God. I did not realize that to live is Christ and to die is gain. My heart was motivated by patriotism and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My previous life was motivated by my earthly citizenship and not the citizenship that God had intended for me in His Kingdom. I see now that it is more important to be patriotic towards God's Kingdom rather than any earthly kingdom. The battle is not over physical freedom but instead it is over souls. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) Below are the contrasts that became so apparent to me that this is indeed what is happening here in America. That self-professing Christians are turned around in their concept of citizenship in the very same way that I was at one time. These examples highlight the last words of one particular "Patriot" verses a true soldier for Christ. They are indeed very different and their dying words show what they placed as most important in their lives. Nathan Hale is applauded as very much a hero of many Patriots here in the USA and this is mainly due to his dying words which were "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Many folks call this man pretty much a heroic martyr for the country. Stephen is one of my biggest heroes. Right before his fellow Jews were going to stone him he did not speak towards the independence of the Jews from the Romans instead he spoke about all the things that God did up to sending His only begotten Son to die for their sins. His last words were about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and these words glorified our Father, the King of the one true eternal Kingdom in existence. At the end of his last words, his very last words, he actually prayed for God to forgive the men who were about to kill him. This gives a stark contrast of reality regarding Nathan Hale's last words. Mr. Hale's last words were made during a time of war and these words essentially said that if he had his wish he would have rather continued on with the war for earthly or physical independence. This was also the desire of many Jews during Jesus' and Stephen's time as well but Jesus and Stephen both had other agendas that were more eternal in significance. Despite the goals of any war, whether deemed good or bad, the end objective is to bring the other country into defeat or submission or it results in sought after independence and with that comes an unavoidable loss of lives. These lives are the ones that Jesus Christ died for. Instead of an attitude of forgiveness towards his enemies, such as Stephen had with his last words, Nathan Hale wished for the chance to live on for his country and when that thought process is drawn out it meant that his desire was to continue in war until his enemy was defeated. he really had no regard for the souls of his enemies. If he did he would have said so with his last words.
You can read Jesus' words from Matthew 5 to get exactly His attitude towards all of this when He spoke from the mount. He said: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:3-16 Nathan Hale and many others before and after him had a focus that was not at all on the souls of their enemies but instead it was on their desires for freedom from British rule. This is not any different from the desires of the Jews during Jesus' time when they hoped for freedom from Rome's rule. When they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem crying "Hosanna..." they were accepting Jesus as their deliverer from physical boundage. They did not get it that Jesus was not there for that purpose but instead was there to die for their sins in order to give them real spiritual and eternal freedom. This is freedom from sinful boundage. This is freedom to live and serve in God's eternal Kingdom! And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest. Mark 11:9-10 Following are the words of a true martyr. Stephen did not waste his words on temporal things but instead he focused on matters of eternal significance. Nothing is more important in this time or any time than the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3 And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. 4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. 9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [the father] of Sychem. 17 But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: 21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. 30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46 Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50 Hath not my hand made all these things? 51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Treasury of Scripture KnowledgeConcordance and Hebrew/Greek LexiconList Audio, Study Tools, Commentaries 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:2-60 In conclusion, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, gave us the perfect example as to how we ought to conduct ourselves in this world and that was through obedience to our one true King, God the Father. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. John 5:19-20 Among Jesus' last words He said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Jesus was the greatest martyr, the greatest patriot and the only Saviour of mankind that ever lived or will live. We will do well to follow His lead in these matters such as did Stephen. So Christian, what would your dying words be?