Thanks to Discovery House Publishers that sent me this book to read and review: The Last Enemy, Preparing to Win the Fight of your Life by Michael E. Wittmer, 2012.
This book is about death but please don’t let that turn you off, as it is very worthwhile. The author says his primary audience is Christians facing death or troubled by it. But it is indirectly a book on Christian “worldview” because it reminds the reader of the big picture of the faith and how this should influence how we both live and die. Therefore, I’d personally recommend this book to all Christians – regardless of whether they are imminently facing death or not. In addition, I’ve always thought it is important to consider tough issues before we ever have to face them. In the middle of a storm it can be too late to talk about an anchor that should have put down before the storm began.
The author is a clear communicator who explains things in a readable and understandable way for your everyday Christian, yet he also covers intense biblical and theological ground. Christian books can often be either too superficial or too academic but this book is an ideal balance between the two extremes. It is also a brief 150 pages, which makes it more accessible to those who are overwhelmed by lengthy books.
The first part of the book is entitled “know your enemy” and explains why death exists in our world (because of sin) and the various consequences of it. Death is not a natural part of life – it is an evil intruder into God’s world and the last enemy that God will destroy. Sometimes Christians like to sugarcoat death and the author mentions a funeral for an infant he attended where the sermon was essentially “lets rejoice because the baby is in heaven.” While that is true, can’t we also acknowledge that something horrible has happened? It’s okay for Christians to mourn and sorrow over death. Even Jesus wept. I appreciated a reference to Martin Luther who stated “death is a penalty, therefore it is something sad.”
The second half of the book is entitled “trust Christ’s victory” and clearly explains Christ’s victory over death through the cross and resurrection and all that this means for us. We have a future hope, and I appreciate how he says hope is the most underrated of all the Christian virtues.
Those who have turned to Christ in faith will go to heaven when they die, and will also be resurrected and live forever on the new earth. There is some solid teaching here that is desperately needed in the Christian community. He refers to a recent poll that barely half of “born again” Christians believe their physical bodies will live again. I’m not surprised. Until several years ago, my beliefs about this were rather fuzzy too! We seem to think of eternity as our souls floating around forever. While that is temporarily the case, ultimately our bodies will be resurrected and reunited with our souls – and we will live forever on the new and redeemed earth. In the end, it is not about us going to heaven but about God coming down to live with us on earth!
The final three chapters of the book contain very practical content for those who are nearing the end of their lives. I highly recommend this realistic yet hopeful book, and may share some quotes from it in the future. Another reason I think this book is beneficial to all is that the perspective it brings may help us better interact with loved ones who are facing death.