Recently, following a Sunday night radio broadcast, I listened as the program following ours came on. It was Thru the Bible with Dr. J. Vernon McGee. I thought about how Dr. McGee went to be with the Lord in 1988 and yet he continues to be a blessing through his recorded broadcasts and printed materials. That made me think of our good friend, evangelist and Bible teacher Bruce Musselman, whose radio programs live on, as well as his legacy of church planting and training pastors. And it struck me that, while we all have opportunity to be a witness during our life, our testimony can live on after we are gone.
Take for example the case of Able in Hebrews 11:4. The Bible says:
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh."
Able, as the Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 4, was a righteous man. His older brother, Cain, was not. In the course of time, both men brought offerings to the Lord. Able, who followed God's example in Genesis 3:21, offered up an acceptable sacrifice while Cain did not. Cain became upset as a result and killed his younger brother. Yet, as the Bible points out in Hebrews 11:4, Able "being dead yet speaketh."
Certainly, Able, and many other notable figures in the Bible, "being dead yet speaketh" through the record of their lives in the Bible. However, they also "being dead yet speaketh" through the testimony that they left behind-and so can you.
Here is what I mean. We all have a limited time on this earth. One day, either via death's door or the rapture, our life will be over. We, who have put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, will be in heaven. Our interactions with those on earth will be over, at least until we return with Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Consequently, the only way we will be able to influence those we leave behind will be through that which we leave behind. Those things being, of course, our testimony. But we can also influence those we leave behind through the things we leave behind.
Let's look at our witness and testimony first. As a pastor, I've done a lot of funerals and memorial services over the years. Many of them have been bittersweet celebrations of a life well lived for God and others. Memories and stories attesting to the Christian character of departed loved ones provided a powerful witness and testimony of both their deep faith and God's grace, enabling them, being dead, to yet speak to those left behind. Kind of like the story of Dorcas in Acts 9:36-39:
"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them."
The ladies gathered together mourning the loss of their dear sister in Christ while remembering her good works and almsdeeds. She, being dead yet speaketh. But, if you notice, it was not just her good works and almsdeeds that enabled her being dead to yet speak. The coats and garments that she had made for others during her life served as a tangible testimony of her love for Jesus and her love for others.
In other words, not only do the memories of the things we do live on after our departure, the things that we leave behind can bear witness as a tangible testimony of our faith as well. After all, how many times has someone put on a sweater, opened a book, or used a tool given them by a departed loved one only to be flooded with memories of that person.
Consider, also, Peter, who said in 2 Peter 1:13-15:
"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."
Peter knew that he was nearing the end of his earthly sojourn and expressed his desire to be a witness for the Lord even after his life was over. That was part of the reason he desired to write his epistles.
Luke expressed much the same desire when he wrote in Luke 1:1-4:
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed."
In these cases, Peter and Luke expressed their desire to provide a lasting legacy by recording their thoughts and observations in order to encourage and instruct others so that being dead they would yet speak. You can do much the same today. Perhaps it is through a diary or prayer journal where you have recorded instances of God's provision and answered prayer that may be read after you are gone. Perhaps it is through a special letter or note that you have sent to a loved one or maybe have written to be read after your death to encourage them to seek God and live for Him. Or perhaps maybe by giving or leaving a special book for someone.
Speaking of books, what about the Bible? You can give away Bibles during your life to friends and loved ones on special occasions or supply Bibles to churches and missionaries. In addition, considering how close we are getting to the Rapture, why not set aside a case or two of Bibles to be found by those left behind? And while you are at it, add a few solid Christian reference books and study tools to your stash of Bibles. After all, when the Rapture takes place there may be a surge of people wanting to know about what happened and wondering what lies ahead. They will need Bibles, along with something to help them study and understand them. And don't forget your own Bibles and study materials. Many people have spent a lifetime jotting down notes, references, observations, and such in the margins of their Bibles.
Let me encourage you, therefore, to be a witness for your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ both during your life and after. Share your faith and live your faith while alive so that your witness lives on after your time on earth is done. Give away Bibles and Christian books during your life and keep some on hand for those left behind. And so you, being dead (or caught up to be with the Lord) can yet speak.