Death. Everybody’s favorite subject. Our book of the month for August is titled The Last Enemy, with the subtitle of “Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life.” Michael Wittmer is the author, and his purpose in writing the book is to give the Christian a proper outlook on death. The premise is simple: Everyone is going to die. Of course, there is hope for the believer because of what Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection. And that is the message that Wittmer delivers.
He is writing this book with a particular group of people in mind. Here is what he says:
This book is for those who understand, maybe for the first time, that they are going to die. And you’re scared, sickened, and dismayed by the very thought of death. I promise not to blow sunshine your way. I won’t tell you that death is not so bad that it’s really just a new form of life or a graduation into glory…I will tell you what happens when you and die and what you can do about it. This honest look at death…is essential for understanding the hope we have in Jesus.
The book’s twenty-three short chapters (five pages each) are divided into two parts. Part One, “Know Your Enemy,” looks at the causes, consequences and warfare that we face in death. Here he explains the reality of death and also challenges the unsaved person to repent of their sins and trust in the work of Christ on the cross so that they can rest on the promises that are presented in the rest of the book. At one point he writes, “Death is the destiny of every person, and those who take that truth to heart are finally ready to live.” How true!
Part Two, “Trust Christ’s Victory, ” focuses on how the death and resurrection of Christ bring us victory over death through faith and repentance, as well as what we receive in heaven. Wittmer continues his emphasis on the gospel message as he shows us the hope that we have in Christ. “Our hope isn’t in the here and now, but in the there and then. Our hope is not in anything down here but in the God who is up there, the author tells us. And death will bring us into His presence.
The final four chapters are worth the whole time you will spend with the book. Wittmer gives excellent advice to conclude this short book: Lament (Recognizing the sovereignty of God, we still cry out to Him for pity and hope); Live (take hold of the life we have and live to serve Christ and others); Let Go (rest in God’s promise of eternal life with Him).
These brief glimpses at the lessons presented in this book are not enough. You need to read this book to gain a full appreciation of the victory we have in Christ. At the end of each chapter are some questions for reflection. It would be good to take a chapter at a time and use these questions to do just that: reflect. It will require time to digest. And that will be time well-spent.