When we speak of suffering, oftentimes we immediately think of death. This is not surprising when we consider that many of the people in our lives who have suffered have done so because of some kind of illness that brought their lives to an end. Every day, suffering people pass from this present life into the next.
Not surprisingly, the Bible has much to say about this final event in our earthly lives. But Scripture is not concerned with if we will die, because it knows that all men will most certainly experience physical death — unless they happen to be among those who are alive when Christ returns (1 Cor. 15:50–57). No, the Bible is concerned with how we will die. Namely, will we die in faith or will we die in our sins?
God’s Word tells us that there are only two possible ways to pass from this life into the next. One will bring us into eternal glory, the other will bring us eternal damnation. If we die in our sins, we will be counted among the goats that are excluded from the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 25:31–46). These goats are those who never placed their faith in Christ alone (John 8:24). Those without a living and persevering faith in the Lord Jesus will not enter glory at their deaths (James 2:14–26; Matt. 25:41–46).
Those who die in faith, however, are promised eternal life. For the believer, death is not the end of life but the beginning of a heavenly reward. All those who truly place their faith in Jesus become His sheep. They receive the reward due the sheep, which is the bliss of living in God’s presence (Matt. 25:31–40). Today’s passage tells us most assuredly that God will never be ashamed to be the Lord of those who trust Him (Heb. 11:13–16). When we place our confidence and hope in Him, we can be sure that our suffering will one day end and that our labor will be rewarded.
Moreover, the faith that is required of us is a persevering faith. Anyone can have an emotional experience or a false trust in God when life is going well. True faith, however, perseveres even in the hardest of times, trusting in God even when it seems impossible to do so (Matt. 13:18–23; Heb. 11).
The Bible is clear that all those with true faith will persevere until the end. No one can snatch us from Christ’s hand (John 10:27–28). However, our perseverance is not accomplished outside of our own efforts. Though faith is a gift that the elect will certainly exercise, once it is given we must still use it. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and, if you are struggling to believe, find another Christian who can help you through your doubts.