Senator Edward Kennedy

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As you all know, this last week, Senator Edward Kennedy passed from this life. This drew national attention, and in the media virtually everyone—right, left and middle—paid their respects. Some considered him as the exemplar of what is needed, while others praised him personally while reserving to themselves the right to differ with him “on policy matters.” And at his funeral, praises were sung to the triune God of Scripture.

When it comes to speaking beside an open grave, or speaking about those who have departed this life, the pressure to be disingenuous is enormous. To speak honestly on the occasion of someone’s death is taken as the ultimate sign of churlishness. But honesty in these matters is not churlish, if you have an true and hearty desire for all men to find mercy in Jesus Christ. At the same time, grace is what it is, and cannot be redefined by sinful man into anything else. The grace of God in Christ saves us from our sins.

Death does not erase all sin—the only death that does that is the death of Jesus. The fact that we all die is a sign that we are of a race that deserves to die, and this death of the body (even for believers) is because of sin. If we want mercy at the time of death, something needs to have been done about the death we carry around in our hearts.

The life of Senator Kennedy, lived very much in public view, was a life that was badly lived. He was responsible for much public evil, including his responsibility for the continuing carnage of abortion in our land. In the judgment, Edward Kennedy, no longer a senator, will stand before God. When the sky has fled, and the oceans have receded, how can any man stand apart from Christ? How will he?

We are permitted to hope that Sen. Kennedy repented before God at the eleventh hour. We may wish his family well, as we do. But the Scriptures teach us to live our lives with the last day in view, and to do so out loud. The final judgment will not be conducted in private. Paul prayed that Onesiphorus would find mercy in the last day (2 Tim. 1:18). He desired that God would requite Alexander the coppersmith according to his works (2 Tim. 4:14). Leaving everything in the hands of God, where it belongs, we still recognize that public enormities will be met with perfect justice.

The thief on the cross repented at the very last, but as a wise Puritan put it, God gave us one last minute conversion in Scripture so that no one would despair, but only one so that no one would presume.

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