But being full of the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
When D.L. Moody, the great evangelist of the 1800s, was on his deathbed, a peculiar event happened. The many friends and family members who surrounded his bedside reported that at one point he suddenly awakened and said, “Earth is receding, and heaven is at hand … I can see the children!” Someone present remarked that he was only dreaming. But Moody opened his eyes and rebuked his friend. “I am not dreaming,” he replied. “If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me and I must go.” And Moody went.
Another dear saint of God named Christmas Evans had a similar experience on his deathbed. As his friends and family members gathered round—thinking him to be asleep—they watched him open his eyes toward the ceiling, wave to his friends, and say a few words before lowering his arms again. His words: “Drive on, Elijah, drive on!” Then Christmas Evans died.
I would love to have been in the rooms of these dying men and heard their last words of visions invisible to me and see the joy on their faces right before they passed from death unto life. What if I could have seen their vision of heaven? Would it change the way I live? Would it change my perspective on this world? What is truly worth living for? Would it make me a more passionate follower of Jesus Christ?
These men had dying visions that were molded by the way they had lived. D.L. Moody and Christmas Evans had the same information during their lifetime that we have—the same Holy Spirit teaching the same inspired Scripture. They believed before seeing. Their faith, like ours, is not built on extra-biblical visions, sightings, and impressions but on God’s unchanging truth.
I think we ought to be a lot more inspired by the lives of these two men than by their deaths. It was their lives of commitment to the truth of God’s Word that molded their final testimony to that truth at their deaths.