On The Threshold of Death
Juan Carlos Faría http://www.peniel.org.ar/
with a FOREWORD by Angel Tarnowski
One of the readers of The Biblical Talent wrote to me, saying:
In your article about Water Baptism you mention that:
I here transcribe mi answer to him, adding below the testimony of Pr. Juan Carlos Faría about what happened with his brother, because I considered it very pertinent.
Going to the answer, let me repeat two of the paragraphs mentioned in the article about the Water Baptism just to be reminded of what was said:
It is necessary for salvation.
It is a requisite. Only to believe is not sufficient.
Mar 16:15-16 And He said to them, Go into all the world, proclaim the gospel to all the creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.
To be born again it is necessary to be "born" from water and to be "born" from the Spirit.
When Jesus teaches about the new birth, he also mentions the need of being born from water. Without that it is not possible to enter the Kingdom of God.
Joh 3:5-6 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
This is what I can add:
The reader who had written to me included one more comment after receiving my answer:
All of a sudden we start seeking the exclusions and neglect the word of GOD and what it includes!
ON THE THRESHOLD OF DEATH
What about our relatives?
Have you asked yourself that?
Discover the power of God's promise: "...you shall be saved, and your household".
In April 1973 something happened that changed my and my wife’s lives completely. The Gospel of Jesus turned into truth in our hearts. As anyone kindled by the Fire of God I testified to many what the Lord was for me. And whenever there was a spark of opportunity, my relatives coped patiently with my Gospel assaults, in season and out of season.
Years went by. Experience by experience, encounter by encounter with the face of the Lord made the work of grace and mercy upon our lives. Yet, there always was in us that question: What about our relatives? We don’t stop praying for them, but we didn’t see the fruit maybe our eyes wanted to see.
It was during 1997 that one of my brothers began suffering a sad and painful bone disease. After days, weeks and months, no treatment, including chemotherapy, was effective to stop the death process.
Every time I had an opportunity to talk with him I tried to near him to God, but every effort turned into an impossible venture. Although there was no absolute denial rapidly the conversation diluted; everything would end in nothing and without answer.
As his illness worsened, he had to be brought to a hospital. His wife faithfully gave him all her love and necessary cares, as well as the rest of the family.
Meanwhile, I received an invitation to a religious event in the city of Mar del Plata, 400 Km away from my home that would occupy my whole weekend. Beyond the delicate state of the health of my brother, nothing presaged an immediate ending, so I decided to make the trip.
It was in the morning of that 8th of October, 1999, with the bags half prepared, that the phone rang. Though my wife answered, from the transformation of her face I understood that something tragic had happened. It wasn’t the expected news, but a worse one. Our dear sister-in-law, my ill brother’s wife, had a fatal accident with her car. I couldn’t get out of my astonishment. Leaning on God’s strength, I went to my relatives’ home to offer myself for any help. For my nephews, this situation surpassed all imagination, because they were expecting the end of their father’s life, but not their mother’s. This unexpected situation hit their hearts strongly.
I felt it was my responsibility to stay together with my brother and to be with him at the hospital. The true situation was not revealed to him, due to its severity. Respectful of that decision, I spent hours chatting with him. Again I tried to share with my brother the beauty of the Lord, but again all my efforts were useless.
I then went to the funeral, where I found only suffering and tears; grief. A service as so many others where the hope of life is absent. Nevertheless, in my heart there was peace. A special portion of grace had invaded my being from the moment these unpleasant things started to happen, which abounded for the glory of Christ.
His voice reached my heart very softly: “Son, I didn’t ask for words for this moment. Just offer them your arms, your chest; cry with those who cry and allow –with no words– my love flow in you”.
There was consolation too. My sister-in-law demonstrated with what she had done, that something had happened in her life. She constantly asked my wife and me, before departing, that we should not stop praying to Him for what was happening in her home.
Years before, due to other circumstances, I kept as a treasure the following words that had been sealed to my heart: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts. And then shall each one have praise of God.”(1 Co 4:5)
I always remember a story told once by saint Therese of Ávila. One day when she was returning to the convent, she found some people on a bridge under which strong river waters rushed. When the people saw Saint Therese they begged her to pray for the person that had an instant ago jumped killing herself in the forceful waters. Despite hearing the request, she didn’t stop and continued walking. In her thoughts she said: “How crazy to pray for someone who acted against his own life. I won’t do it!” After a few more steps, she heard the voice of the Lord saying to her: “Therese, I want you to know something… There was a long run between the top of the bridge and the waters. More time than you can imagine!”
FOUND BY WHO DIDN’T LOOK FOR HIM
The day after the funeral I replaced my nephew in the hospital. My brother’s health worsened; the anxiety and the pain agitated him very much. I began praying to God to give him His peace. I got to less than three inches near his ear and preyed like this: “Lord Jesus, send your peace, You are the Peace!” To my amazement he started repeating: “Jesus, give me your peace”. Suddenly his state changed. As this happened, the Lord instructed me to sing.
-Lord, what do you want me to sing? – I asked.
Immersed in the silence of that room, I started to sing. At this moment, I realized that obeying God transcends any sacrifice. When I finished the song a beautiful atmosphere of His Presence flooded the place. Mi brother entered into rest. Apart from my brother in that room there were other three people with painful illnesses.
Then God surprised me again with these words:
“-I want to talk to you; hear Me, I will ask. How great do you think my salvation is? I was found by those that weren’t looking for Me, and I manifested Myself to those who didn’t ask for Me. Can you understand how great that is? That someone finds me without looking for Me! I want you to know that My love is very big. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of Me, who show mercy. It is not because of works, but by pure grace.”
My heart was jumping inside of me. With my open Bible the Lord was speaking to me through His word, and that verse repeatedly echoed: “it is not of the one willing, nor of the one running, but of Me, who show mercy”.
His salvation is very great, it is huge! – I repeated to myself as tears flowed down my face.
WITNESS OF THE MIRACLE
I was meditating in all of this, when my brother suddenly sat on the bed and started saying: “-Juan Carlos, give me light…! I want light! Give me that light you have!”
The other sick people around and those accompanying them started to look at what was happening, while my brother continued with his insistent cry: “-Give me the light, that light you have!” I was yet startled, when I heard the soft voice of the Lord saying: “I am the light of this world; speak to him about Me, and pray with him”
I prayed and after a while he again sat on the bed, and with his eyes closed he spoke: “He gave me light! He gave me light!”
I know that although he was there with us, his spiritual senses were connected with a different world that surrounded him, and his inner eyes were open to that other world. Everything that was happening here was as real as incredible.
This brother of mine was not the one with whom several times I wanted to talk about the things of God, and who with great ability and courtesy he eluded. He also wasn’t the same person the other bedridden ones around and their relatives had heard saying, just a few days before: “-God doesn’t exist!”
The Spirit of God was making me a witness and a participator of his love and mercy, as well as of His promises of eternal salvation that are yes and amen.
My brother sat on the bed again… He groaned, saying: “Lord, how much suffering there has been, how much suffering!”
Beto, my brother, was having a powerful revelation of the Cross. The greatness of God was being manifested on the threshold. Once again the Cross rose victorious higher than what I could imagine.
I’ll never forget the look of the person accompanying the ill person at the bed next to my brother’s, when Beto, lifting his arms and with his eyes shut, begged: “Please change my clothes! Take these clothes away from me and put me those other clothes!” He repeated this several times, until when relaxed as if his wish had been fulfilled, he began to say, smiling: “This is how to serve, this is how to serve!” After that he returned to his resting position on the bed; he would never again make any mention of that spiritual world.
Several hours later, my brother Beto parted to be with the Lord, in presence of his beloved sons Sergio and Ezequiel.
Throughout the years, in God’s dealing with my relatives, I found the fulfillment of that faithful promise in the words of Paul to the jailor:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, and your household!
My final reflection on this experience is:
He does as He wants and when He wants.
Salvation is granted only by grace.
His love is greater than what I, in all my life, can imagine.
What He cleanses, is clean.
Christ is the righteousness of all man.
I firmly believe that these are only the first pages of an unfinished story that add offerings of gratitude and glory to the Savior of all men:
May God bless you, Juan Carlos Faría