He Gave Us Hope
The year 1899 marked the deaths of two well-known men:
Dwight L. Moody, the acclaimed evangelist, and
Robert Ingersoll, the famous lawyer, orator, and political leader.
The two men had many similarities. Both were raised in Christian homes.
Both were skilled orators. Both drew immense crowds when they spoke and attracted loyal followings. But there was one striking difference between them – their view of God.
Ingersoll was an agnostic. He had no belief in the eternal, but stressed the importance of living only in the here and now. Ingersoll made light of the Bible. He considered the Bible a fable, an obscenity, a humbug, a sham, and a lie.
Dwight L. Moody had different convictions. He dedicated his life to presenting a resurrected King to a dying people. He embraced the Bible as the hope for humanity and the cross as the turning point of history. He left behind a legacy of written and spoken words, institutions of education, churches, and changed lives.
Two men. Both powerful speakers and influential leaders. One rejected God; the other embraced him. The impact of their decisions is seen most clearly in the way they died.
Ingersoll died suddenly. The news of his death stunned his family. His body was kept at home for several days because his wife was reluctant to part with it. It was eventually removed for the sake of the family's health. His remains were cremated, and the public response to his passing was altogether dismal. For a man who put all his hopes on the world, death was tragic and came without the consolation of hope.
Moody's legacy was different. On Dec. 22, 1899. Moody awoke to his last winter dawn. Having grown increasingly weak during the night, he began to speak in slow measured words. "Earth recedes, heaven opens before me!" His son Will, who was nearby, hurried across the room to his father's side. "Father, you are dreaming," he said. "No. This is no dream, Will," Moody said. "It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. God is calling me, and I must go. Don't call me back." At that point, the family gathered around, and moments later the great evangelist died. It was his coronation day – a day he looked forward to for many years. He was with his Lord. there was no despair. Loved ones gathered to sing praise to God at a triumphant home-going service. Many remembered the words the evangelist had spoken earlier that year in New York City: "Someday you will read in the papers that Moody is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1855. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit shall live forever."
Jesus was crucified and his body place in a tomb. Jesus was not simply a man who led a good life and died. He rose from the dead. Death could not hold him, or his followers. God conquered death. God gave us hope.
How we live our life, and how we honor God makes a difference in our lives and in the lives of everyone around us. The cross makes a great difference in how we live. The empty tomb reminds us of all God has given to us and done for us. The fact that Christ has risen makes all the difference.
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