Not Much to Say But This: Sin and Its Consequences Are Truly Terrible

UPDATE 30 JUNE 2010

Daphne wrote just a few minutes ago to say that Steve is now with the Lord. Thanks for your prayers but please pray for his wife and two sons and the rest of us who will miss him terribly.

It’s Monday so I should post something. I don’t have much to say at least not much that’s clever or full of insight. A dear friend is at home dying of cancer. As I write we’re to go see him. He probably won’t know that we’re there and it’s probably the last time I’ll see him alive—on this earth anyway. His pilgrimage is almost over and he didn’t have three-score and ten on this earth. He has a godly wife and two believing children. He reads God’s Word after dinner and he prays simple but honest and heartfelt prayers.

I’ve known him for about thirteen or fourteen years. We’ve spent Sunday evenings together, after the evening service, discussing the Scriptures, the faith, the catechism, and everything else. When our kids were little they played together. Years ago my oldest daughter broke their couch and Steve just laughed. That’s Steve. Full of grace and joy. When we met, he didn’t know a lot about the faith but  he wanted to learn and he did.

He’s a far more godly man than I. He’s endured this with a grace and dignity that I’ve never had. I’ve watched (or at least listened) while he’s endured unspeakable suffering. Not long ago it seemed as if he had “beaten it.” A little over a week ago he went for a walk. We’ve been praying for healing but now we’re praying for mercy as he leaves.

We’re all tempted to downplay sin and its effects. Don’t you do it. Sin is real and its effects are devastatingly real but so is grace and its effects. We ought also to resist the temptation to downplay the power of God’s unmerited favor to us through faith (trust) alone Christ alone. Steve is evidence of that grace. A child of the covenant of grace (NOT grace and works or grace and cooperation with grace just grace), Steve is trusting Jesus and looking forward to seeing him.

I don’t understand this hard providence or many others but I do understand that the tomb is empty and that the Savior loves Steve (and his family) more than we can ever do.

15 comments

  1. Dr. Clark,

    Thank you for this powerful, powerful message about the Gospel. It’s our only hope. At times like this the mind focuses like a laser beam on grace alone. This reminder is a good way to start a Monday. My condolences to you and Steve’s family.

    Blessings.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    Just two months ago I lost my oldest and dearest friend to cancer (and its complications). Too early and too good a man. A man of quiet and yet strong, plodding faith in Christ. Yesterday while reading C, J, & PM I came across this quote of Calvin’s (in Godfrey’s essay on faith). I had already planned to email to my friend’s wife, and want to also share it here:

    “For faith does not certainly promise itself either length of years or honor or riches in this life, since the Lord willed that none of these things be appointed for us. But it is content with this certainty: that, however many things fail us that have to do with the maintenance of this life, God will never fail. Rather, the chief assurance of faith rests in the expectation of the life to come, which has been placed beyond doubt through the word of God.”

    Needless to say I was very comforted and encouraged by these words as I too have thought about the blasted cursedness of sin and death and the seeming unnecessary pain and loss they carve through those we know and love. Yet we know Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord, our secure hope in this life and the next… and we all, by his sovereign grace, depend on and follow the voice of our Shepherd as he leads us all into that for which we were created: life eternal in his holy presence as sons and daughters of the Most High.

    best regards…

  3. It was two months ago last Saturday that my mother died from cancer. God’s grace is ever comforting for my family as we are reminded that our Savior suffered and died so that we might have life in its fullness. Any time I have been confronted with the harsh reality of suffering and death I become even more angry at any distorted version of Christianity which takes away assurance and puts the onus on us to make sure we have done enough. That is not comforting news to the sheep. Thankfully we have the Good Shepherd who has done everything necessary for our salvation.

    Blessings.

  4. ….as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

    ….the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

    Steve is about to see it all, have it all, and once and for all “beat this thing”!

  5. At the end of our time in this “mortal life'” the sure promise of the “Resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come” is sweet indeed.

  6. “And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

    – Paul, Romans 5:16,17

    Cranfield commenting on the superiority of the gift that justifies for the many trespasses over against the judgment that came from the one trespass:

    ‘That one single misdeed should be answered by judgment, this is perfectly understandable: that the accumulated sins and guilt of all the ages should be answered by God’s free gift, this is the miracle of miracles, utterly beyond human comprehension.’

  7. As my wife and I walked through her cancer together, one book that was of immense comfort was a small book written by your compatriot at Westminster, Dr. Horton–“Too Good to be True.” It is a real jewel of comfort, exploring the Gospel and the “theology of the Cross” vs “the theology of glory.” I cannot praise the book highly enough.

  8. I sat at my father’s hospital bedside for two months and theb five days of hospice early this year. He and I are the only believers in my family. His horrific, devestating, pain and suffering was met with a grace that I have never encountered. Day after day, the man that I knew as a tough, controlling and hard man was turned into a gentle, beautiful and tender man. As his outward body was wasting away before my very eyes, his inward man was being being renewed before my very eyes.

    My prayer is that my family is being drawn by God. I was certainly changed.

  9. Dr. Clark,

    Yes, because the tomb is empty and the King has been resurrected and glorified at the Father’s right hand, we can know that Steve’s Redeemer lives and in Steve’s own glorified flesh shall he see God.

    I’ve observed with my parents that the process of death is ugly and difficult, and it should not surprise us when it is, lest we forget the horror of our sin and our helplessness and hopelessness without a Savior. Praise God as believers we have a Savior who has conquered both sin and death and who will raise all those whom the Father has given to Him!

    Praise God for Steve’s faithfulness throughout his earthly life and for his living testimony of faith as he prepares to truly live.

  10. Beautifully said, Scott.

    My dad lies this hour in the last days of Alzheimer’s, not able to awake, in pain, unable to feed. Death is an enemy.

    Thanks be to God that the tomb was empty and death is due to die.

  11. Scott, I am sorry to hear about the death of your dear friend. My prayers are with you and his family.

    Some time ago, on the day my father died, I was with him virtually all that day, as cancer wrung the life out of him. And the over-riding thought that I had was, “This is the wage of sin. This is the wage of sin.” It was terrible.

  12. Dr. Clark, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. The many posts here are helpful in reminding us that we need to remember always the the horrors of sin and the glory of the Gospel. I recall the year that both my mother and father died (within three months of each other). It was unspeakably painful to witness the suffering, but it drives us closer to the cross.

  13. Hey Dr. C,

    All of us former crashers at the Jasperse house grieve with you. Steve was a rock through our tumultuous years of growing in grace at WSC. He and Daphne made their house a home away from home for many of us, and the abundance of their love and hospitality merely casts the loss of Steve in sharper relief. Steve was our Professor of Hospitality. May he find God’s hospitality even more inviting than his own.

    In Christ,
    Stephen

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