Thinking About Death, Life, The Church, and Men of The Depression

I am thinking about death this morning.  My wife's grandfather (Jackie Bridges)  passed away yesterday at 81 years old.  He went through a lot in his life and surely he was determined to beat the odds.  He had Lymphoma that had wrapped around his spine back in the mid-1990's and after surviving that ordeal, he was told that he never would walk again.  Regardless of what the experts said, he walked again.  I never knew him before his cancer, but I heard that he could work circles around most people.  He was a mechanic and owned his own shop for many years.  He employed mostly everyone in his immediate family and even my father-in-law who is still employed there.  He also employed uncle Sammy who me and my wife's family adopted.  He is known as our black uncle.  We love him dearly.  Even in declining health Jackie did all that he could to make sure that business ran efficiently and honestly.  It is rare anymore in our world of large government and business to see honesty, integrity, and fairness.  So many are angling for a sweet profit margin at whatever cost.  I think that is why so many politicians like to run on such a platform (even if it isn't true).  He was a remnant of a bygone era.  Oh how I wish America would be restored to such values!

He wasn't a church man. Neither were my grandfathers.  His story was similar to theirs.  He had seen so much corruption by those in the local church that he didn't want any part of it.  The rare times we would go fishing, I would try to encourage him to come back and work for reform.  He appreciated my confidence but I gathered that he thought that it was a vain pursuit.  Oh yeah, he was a darn good fisherman.  Even barely being able to use his arms he would out-fish me.  He was amazingly talented in that way.  I also had a roommate in college that was a great sportsman.  It beat all I ever saw!  I knew that if we got in a bind and couldn't afford to eat, Jackie could catch enough fish to feed the whole village.

I did ask him more than once if he had asked God through Christ Jesus to forgive him for his sins, and he told me he did just like both of my grandfathers did.  My mom's dad was involved in the Lutheran church for many years but left because he thought that the pastor was more interested in drinking alcohol than preaching the gospel.  He believed that he was doing more for God by tending to his farm.  My grandfather on my Dad's side who actually was my step-grandfather, he married my grandmother the year I was born because his wife had died previously and my biological grandfather had died many years before, he was snubbed by some people in the Presbyterian church once because he didn't wear a tie to preaching.  He also spoke of the great hypocrisy of the local church and gave up trying to "fool with it!" as he would so eloquently say.  I sometimes wonder what happened to men after the time of the Great Awakening until now.  Why was there such great participation in the past and not now?  A friend of mine likes to say that the modern American church is designed for 40 year old women and their children.  Really?  Perhaps he is right. I don't know.  I do know that these men believed the Bible but had lost faith in the local church.  So as a result, I have seen so much confusion about the body of Christ and everything in between.  I suppose that I should save that for another post.

For those who may have doubted Jackie's salvation, I understand.  He was a hard man who had a crass sense of humor and hardly said much about eternal things. But, I am like that too.  Jackie use to say that we will be surprised at who is in heaven and who isn't.  I think that he was right.  God gives grace to the humble, and He gives many chances to repent.  God is good, and we should pray for men like Jackie to return to the church and for the local church to be purged that it may be clearer who the real church is.  Those of you who are led, please pray for Sue his wife.  They have been married for 60 years and she never left his side.  She needs some peace in her grief.  Below are a few links that I think are helpful concerning these types of issues. They are links to RC Sproul's site called Ligonier Ministries.

Can you repent at the moment of death and still have the same salvation as someone who's been a Christian for many years?


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