DEATH AFTER THE COMPLETION OF OUR WORK
Unless a believer is clear that his work is finished and that the Lord does not need him to remain on the earth any longer, he should not die; that is, he should always resist death. If the symptoms of death have gradually occurred in his body and he knows that his work has not been finished, a believer should completely deny these symptoms and refuse to die. He also should believe that the Lord will carry through his resistance because He still has work for him to do. Therefore, if we have not finished the work assigned to us, we can be calm and still believe even though our body may be beset with danger. As long as we work and fight together with the Lord, He will definitely work to swallow up our death with His life.
The Lord Jesus withstood death. When people wanted to cast Him down the edge of a hill, "He, passing through their midst, went away" (Luke 4:29-30). At another time "Jesus walked in Galilee, for He would not walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him" (John 7:1). Yet another time, the crowd "picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple" (8:59). He resisted death again and again because His time had not yet come. He knew there was a definite time for the Messiah to be cut off; He could not die ahead of the time God had appointed, nor could He die at any place other than Golgotha. We also must not die before our time.
The apostle Paul also had many experiences of withstanding death. The powers of darkness wanted him to die ahead of time, but he overcame them one after another. Once when imprisoned and very much in danger, he said, "But if I am to live in the flesh, if this to me is fruit for my work, then I do not know what I will choose. But I am constrained between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for this is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And being confident of this, I know that I will remain and continue" (Phil. 1:22-25). He was not afraid of death; because the work was not finished, he trusted in God, knowing that he would not die. This was his overcoming of death. Afterwards, when he knew that he had "fought the good fight...finished the course...kept the faith," he concluded that "the time of my departure is at hand" (2 Tim. 4:6-7). When we know that we have not finished our course, we must not die.
Not only was Paul this way; Peter was the same. He knew when he would leave the world. "Knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle is imminent, even as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me" (2 Pet. 1:14). It is a mistake for us to think that our death is imminent merely because of the condition of our environment or our health, without any clear indication from the Lord. Just as we live to the Lord, we die to the Lord. Therefore, we must withstand any calling of death that is not from the Lord.
In reading the Old Testament we see that all the forefathers died "full of days." What does it mean to be "full of days"? It means that they fully lived the days God had appointed them. God has allotted a special number of years (Josh. 21) to each one of us. If we do not live to that time, we have not overcome death. But how do we know how many years God has appointed us? The Bible gives us a general number: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; /and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years" (Psa. 90:10). We do not mean that everyone must live to be at least seventy years old; God’s sovereignty cannot be infringed upon by man. But if we do not receive a clear indication of a shorter time, we should take this number as a standard and resist any death that would come sooner. By standing upon the Word of God we will see that victory is ours.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 42, by Watchman Nee)