Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity – Wednesday
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Psalm 116:15
Who are the “saints” of the Lord? All true believers in Christ, their Savior, without exception. A “saint” by definition is a holy person; and since by nature “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), sainthood is neither earned nor is it conferred upon anyone by sinful men. Sainthood is “the gift of GOD, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are HIS workmanship created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Sainthood is made possible, is created, is manifested and is preserved even unto the end only by GOD HIMSELF. God in eternity purposed to save fallen mankind by the death of His Son and in time manifested Him forth as “the propitiation for our sins and … also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 2:2). Because of Christ’s vicarious atonement, God “reconcile[ed] the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (II Corinthians 5:19) and justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5) for Christ’s sake. God made known His Gospel, “the Word of Reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:19) to all the world (Romans 10:18), to the intent that His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation, purchased and won by Christ, be received by faith (I Timothy 2:4; Romans 3:28; 5:1). God in eternity purposed to bring to faith by the Gospel, to sanctify in faith by the Gospel, and to preserve in faith by the Gospel even unto the end those whom He elected or specially chose to be His saints and heirs of heaven; “and no man shall pluck them out of My hand,” says Jesus, their Good Shepherd (John 10:27-28). All of this is “the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23). For God daily and richly forgives the sins of His saints (Acts 10:43), He imputes to them the merit of Christ (Romans 3:22; 8:29), He regards them as His dear children (Galatians 3:26; 4:6), He sanctifies them in their lives as Christians (Ephesians 4:12; Philippians 1:11, 2:13); and He promises to keep them in the true and saving faith unto the end (Philippians 1:6; John 10:28-29). They are therefore His saints. The Holy Spirit dwells within them and moves them to do holy and good works, not to earn His favor but as evidence of His favor toward them, and even though, because of the flesh, their life of good works will never achieve perfection (Romans 7:18.). What, now, is meant by the words: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints“? When one of His saints dies here in this world, when a true believer’s immortal soul is separated from his mortal body, this is a great and important event in the sight of the Lord. For that is the very moment in which “the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) shall be pronounced upon him, the same verdict that will be announced by the Lord Jesus from His judgment throne on the Last Day to all “the sheep,” “the righteous” (Matthew 25:33, 37): “Come, ye blessed of My Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (v. 34). When death comes to a true believer, to a “saint” of God, by that “precious” death “the Lord shall deliver [him] from every evil work and will preserve [him] unto His heavenly kingdom” (II Timothy 4:18) by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith.
PRAYER – O Lord, my God, graciously number me among Thy saints for Jesus’ sake, protect me according to Thy faithfulness and love, and let my death also be precious in Thy sight for Thy great mercy’s sake. Amen.
Hymn 594, 3: I am a branch in Thee, the Vine, and hence the comfort borrow that Thou wilt surely keep me Thine through fear and pain and sorrow. And when I die, I die to Thee; Thy precious death hath won for me the life that never endeth.