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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Death - is it really the end?

Rev Dr Geoffrey Grogan was most aptly described as "a gentle, gracious, giant of a man."  He was a former Principal of The Bible Training Institute, Glasgow (now merged with the Northumbria Bible college to become The International Christian College), and had previously lectured at the BTI.

My own time at the BTI was during the years in between his years as a lecturer and as Principal, so I never sat under his teaching.  However, I met him on a few occasions and, latterly, had been in correspondence with him, and the only adjective that I would wish to add to the description given above, is the adjective 'humble'.

Mr Grogan took ill, early in the morning of August 31st - and died that afternoon.  However, I only learned, today, that when the doctor informed him that his condition was terminal, he replied, "I am a Christian; so this is not terminal, it's transitional."  What a testimony to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!  Here was a man who had responded, positively, to the divine invitation to "Follow me"!  And here was a man who could say, with the psalmist-king David: "Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way." (Ps 23:4; TLB).

I know that I have sometimes preached on the subject of death, and may have posted something on this blog before now.  Permit me to say, quite simply, that I firmly believe that death is not just the breakdown of the physical body in which I walk around in this life.  I believe, with many eminent scientists, that there are dimensions other than the four that we experience in our space-time continuum.  I believe that one of these is what Stephen Hawking illustrates graphically, in A brief history of Time, as perpendicular time - crossing the linear time that provides us with the concepts of past, present, and future, but touching it at every point (may be said to make no sense - but a scientist has stated it, so it must be true!!!). I refer to that other 'time dimension' as 'eternity' - and it isn't endless time, but timelessness, which is a totally different concept. I also believe that what separates time from eternity is a 'veil/curtain', so fine that it would make graphene (which is only one atom in thickness!) seem like a heavy tapestry by comparison.

When my physical body reaches the end of its life - which, if the Rapture is delayed it will eventually do - then the real me, my 'essence', my spirit, will slip through that veil into the nearer presence of the One Whom, however imperfectly, I have sought to serve for more than half a century of linear time.

This is the hope of every disciple of Jesus.  It is the hope that sustains those who suffer, daily, in the persecuted church.  It is the hope that is more than hope, for it is "... a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [that involves] ... an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [those] who, by God's power, are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (I Peter 1:3-6; RSV).

Thank you, Mr Grogan, for those final words of ministry.  We who had the privilege of knowing you, however slightly, are equally convinced that you are hearing, from the lips of the Saviour, those wonderful words: "Well done, good and faithful servant! ... Come and share your Master's happiness!" (Matt 25:21; NIV).

Death - not the end; merely a transition.  The only question concerns your ultimate destination!

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