What do you say to a person that is dying? What about someone who is dying without Christ? What I would say to a person who is dying in the faith of Jesus Christ is quite different that what I would say to a person that is dying and does not believe in Him. My first thought of someone who is dying without Jesus Christ is that they will be forever separated from God with no second chance of reconciliation. That the person who dies without Christ will be cut off from God for eternity is something that rends my heart. I have had experiences with both.
What to Say to a Person Dying Without Christ
I would ask them if they have ever heard about Jesus. What do they think about Him? Do they believe in God? What do they believe will happen to them after they die? Where would a person spend eternity after death? These are sobering questions that are very serious. I would never shy away from asking a person who may not have long to live these questions. There eternal destiny is at stake. The fact is that no one who is without Christ has any guarantee that they will live beyond tonight. They could die in their sleep. They could die tomorrow in an accident. I certainly would hope that they would not but the Bible says that there is a day of judgment coming. Whether they believe it or not does not change the reality of this fact.
Hebrews 9:27 actually says that we have a day that God has appointed for us to die, saying “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” God has actually given each human being a set number of days to live. Psalm 139:16 makes this clear, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ecclesiastes 3:2a clearly indicates that there is “a time to be born and a time to die.”
The only thing that you can say to someone who does not know Christ and is dying is to reveal to them that they will spend eternity somewhere. You can tell them that if they have lost any loved ones who were believers, they are now safely in the bosom of Jesus. This is nothing more certain than death and nothing more sure than Jesus Christ’s free offer of salvation through belief in Him. He came to earth to live a perfect life, leaving His glory in heaven. He came to have God place His holy wrath on Him in our place so that we might be able to spend eternity with Him. That is His desire. God keeps His promises and if you believe in Him, He will never leave you nor forsake you even after death (Heb 13:5). Second Peter 3:9 reveals that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Knowing that He doesn’t want anyone to perish without Him, if you will place your trust in Him, He will give you saving faith.
Here is all that is involved.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
How to Pray With the Dying: 5 Helpful Tips
Tip Number One- Read and Quote The Bible
The Scriptures above are great to read again and to ensure them that since they believe in Him and all the promises that Jesus has made, then they have no worries after the die. You will most likely have to read them back to them but they may want to do this themselves. Leave it up to them, even if this means that they don’t want them read back to them. Respect their rights. Do as they say. If they profess these beliefs then we can know that they already have eternal life. John 6:54 says “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood (become a believer and participated in Communion) has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Of course if they haven’t had a chance to be baptized or to have Communion, I try to reassure them that God is faithful and will not suffer us to remain in the grave if we believe in Him (John 3:16). There is real power in the Word of God so I try to use this power. In fact, the verses above contain the very power of God. The power is actually in the gospel as Paul says in Romans 1:16b, “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
Tip Number Two- Comfort Them
I have experienced this situation and it is such an amazing thing being with a saint that is near death and with their having the full assurance of faith in Christ. This is somewhat easier in the sense that you can provide comfort with the surety of God’s promises from His inerrant Word. It is always good to have a person reaffirm their beliefs. The certainty of the promises of God can provide peace and comfort knowing that those who die in Christ will be absent from the body but will be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).
Tip Number Three- Pray With Them
Pray with them. For me, I have been moved to tears…and that’s okay. It is completely natural. They may cry as well. There is healing in tears. It is highly likely that they have endured great suffering up to this point and that great day with the Lord is something to eagerly anticipate.
Now this is just my own personal preference and of course, you can use your own methods and words, but I love praying back some of God’s promises. You may have special verses or a prayer from the Bible that you use, but I love using the Word of God in prayer because God loves it when we pray back His promises. The Psalms for example are full of hope-filled assurances that we can count on. So here is my own personal prayer using Scriptures that I love but I don‘t include chapter and verse:
“Oh Righteous Father, we know our days are numbered in your book of life and that precious in your sight are the death of your saints. We are so thankful that we can stand on your promises and know that when we die, we are instantly in your holy presence. All of those who have gone before us, beloved friends and family, are there waiting for us. We know that death can not hold us because just as Jesus died and was resurrected, we too know that we also will be raised to eternal life. There is such peace in knowing that there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more pain. What great and precious promises you have given us. We know that nothing can ever separate us from your love. No one or nothing can snatch us out of Your mighty hands. Blessed Lord, please be with [name] in this time and with his/her family; to comfort, strengthen, and encourage them during the coming difficult days and times ahead. We pray that Your tender mercies be upon [name] now. I thank God for [name] and the faithfulness that he/she has shown in their life. [name] has placed his/her trust and faith in You and we know that you will never leave [name] nor forsake him/her. We thank you for your precious gift of salvation which came through the precious the blood of the lamb of God at supreme cost. Our atonement was made possible by Him and has made us one with You. We ask these things in the power, majesty, glorious, and most holy name of our Savior, King, Master, and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tip Number Four – Ask Them What They Need Help With
I ask them if they have any special considerations that I could help them with. Is there something that you want to say or write down that I can tell others? Is there something that I can do for you after you are gone? What is it that I can help you with today? If I give the eulogy and/or the memorial service, I ask them what they would like me to say. What is it that you want me to tell others? What special considerations for the service like music would you want included? Does your family know of your wishes?
Tip Number Five- Talk About Heaven
I not only like to describe where their eternal destination will be like but what their final home will be like. There are many biblical descriptions of what heaven will be like. There are some from Isaiah and some from Revelation. The glorious description of heaven is just too incredible to be told in words. Its total glory will only be revealed when we finally see it for ourselves. All of our beloved family and friends will be there to greet us. All of the heartaches and pains will be a thing of the past. What a wonderful eternity this will be. It is the final joy of our eternal inheritance. Jesus said that He has reserved a place for us. And of course we can fall into the arms of our Savior. We will fall as His feet and worship Him forever. We have eternal life and this eternity with God will be so overwhelming that it can not be described. What joy awaits us all some great day.
Your Ticket to Heaven
No one comes to the Father (and heaven) except through Jesus Christ (John 6:44). There is no other way to gain eternal life than through the Son of God (Acts 4:12). If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, I pray that you will come to saving faith today. Jesus says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “I will in no way caste you out” (John 6:37). Jesus says that, “You will never be snatched out of My hands nor our of My Father’s hands” (John 10:28-29). If you will only believe in Me, you can have eternal life (John3:16). That is my prayer for you this very day.
The Holy Bible, New International Version
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