Death-bed conversions: Lord, have mercy on my dying friend

Do the sick who are dying think more about their eternal destiny than do the healthy? Not at all. Death-bed conversions are as rare as hen’s teeth. “Rare” as hen’s teeth? Are there any hens with teeth. “If there are, you say, it must be a mutant.” True.

“If you thought hen’s teeth were the rarest thing in nature, think again: researchers from Britain and the US have succeeded in growing teeth in a chicken…And by studying a mutant chicken – which is too weak to hatch, explaining its rarity – the team has been able to stimulate “natural” tooth growth in chickens.”

A genetic mutation is “the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form which may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.”

The Bible says that “if you live according to the flesh (your human nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Everyone dies physically, but the death referred to here is an eternal death, an eternal living death.

Here is the context of this verse:

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,
4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

If you’ve never believed the above in the days of your health, it is unlikely that you will believe this on your death-bed. The only way anyone comes to believe in Christ is analogous to a genetic mutation – a rare bird indeed. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

If this is true, why does the Bible also say that there are at least 100 million people in heaven. Well, that’s not relatively many out of a population of many tens of billions that will have populated the earth by the time Jesus returns.

But to return to our (relatively) rare mutant hens:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Jesus speaking in Matthew 23:37).

Jesus is rebuking the Jewish leaders for preventing the people from coming to Him, but their efforts will be in vain. Those who come to (believe in) Jesus were given to Him by the Father before time began. And those who are given to Jesus will receive eternal life.

Matthew 23

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Do those whom Jesus saves cause this mutation within themselves? In other words did they decide to grow teeth, which enabled them to bite through their opposition to God-Christ? Of course not. It is Jesus who designs and engineers this spiritual mutation in human nature. It is He who enables those He saves to understand that “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 above).

“If your friend dies in her sins, you ask, why didn’t God show Himself to her?” Because, I answer, “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

If my friend understood the Bible, and trusted Jesus, she would be saved. You may ask “if those that the Father gives to Jesus before they were even born are the only ones that Jesus will give the desire to come to him, how can Christ blame your dying friend if she was not given to Jesus before she was born?”

Does my friend want to trust Jesus as her saviour? If yes, then she was given to Jesus by the Father. Therefore, no person that wants to trust Jesus will ever be excluded.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on my dying friend.

Will my prayer induce God to save my friend? Perhaps. It’s God’s business what he does with the means he has chosen (for example, prayer and the Bible) to fulfil his ends (salvation). He has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy.

You want nothing to do with a God like that, you say? Let every mouth be mute.

To live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Related: The Only Way to Live and Die
Speaker: Dr. Joel Beeke

7 thoughts on “Death-bed conversions: Lord, have mercy on my dying friend

  1. The only thing that ultimately matters is whether she heard “Come into the kingdom that has been prepared for you by my Father.” My friend died yesterday.

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