Posted by: rcottrill | April 17, 2013

I’ll Fly Away

Words: Albert Edward Brumley (b. Oct. 29, 1905; d. Nov. 15, 1977)
Music: Albert Edward Brumley

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Albert Brumley)

Graphic Albert BrumleyNote: A little about the life of Mr. Brumley and about the writing of this 1932 song is found in the Wordwise Hymns link. Albert Brumley’s long involvement in gospel music, and his output of songs, was considerable.

He was the author of more than 600 gospel songs of which he felt several to be especially effective: I’ll Fly Away, and I’ll Meet You in the Morning are two of these. His songs have been translated into many languages and even produced in Braille. Over the years, Brumley also taught more than 50 singing schools, published 75 song books, and 500,000 copies of his songs in sheet music form. With his sons, he operated two successful music publishing companies.

There are some today who teach the concept of “soul sleep”, the view that when a person dies he loses consciousness and has no awareness of anything until the final resurrection day; that the soul sleeps in death till then.

Not itself a biblical term, this teaching is based on a misunderstanding of several texts that speak of death and use the word “sleep.” For example, when His friend Lazarus died, the Lord Jesus spoke of him being asleep. However, when the disciples questioned this he immediately explained that he was referring to the man’s death.

“He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep” (Jn. 11:11-13; cf. Dan. 12:2; I Thess. 4:13-14).

In answer to those who espouse soul sleep–which I’m convinced is false teaching–we need to realize that words such as sleeping and wakefulness can be used in a figurative or symbolic way, as well as speaking of the physical experience. It makes an apt metaphor because:

1) The dead individual can often look (physically) very much as though he or she is simply sleeping–eyes closed, motionless and unaware of his surroundings.

2) By the power of God, death is conquered with the seeming ease that we would have in awakening someone from a normal sleep. This power is demonstrated in the raising of Lazarus (Jn. 11:43-44), and in the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Mk. 5:35-42).

Several passages of Scripture support the fact that those who die continue to have a conscious existence, either in a place of blessing or of punishment. A few examples:

¤ No intermediate delay is envisioned by the psalmist when he says, “You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24).

¤ Moses and Elijah were not dead, but alive, when they met with the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration and were seen there by Peter, James and John (Matt. 17:1-3). (When he died, Elijah had had the privilege of being escorted alive into heaven, by a fiery angelic chariot, II Kgs. 2:11.)

¤ Both the rich man (sometimes called Divés, Latin for rich) and the beggar Lazarus continued their conscious existence after death, Divés in a place of punishment, Lazarus in a place of peace and blessing (Lk. 16:19-31).

¤ To the dying thief on the cross beside Christ, one who looked to Him in faith, the Lord said, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).

¤ Paul’s teaching about death mentions no intermediate sleep, rather, “to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:1-8).

¤ The apostle’s own desire was “to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). Interestingly, the word “and” there (kai in Greek), can have the sense of that is, or in other words, as though the one immediately becomes the other: “to depart, that is to be with Christ.”

¤ Those who die a martyrs death during the prophesied Tribulation to come will be alive and conscious in heaven, crying to God for justice (Rev. 6:9-10).

I’ve taken a few moments to deal with this subject to provide support for Albert Brumley’s confident testimony that, “When I die…I’ll fly away,” and go to my “home on God’s celestial shore.”

If a Christian dies before the return of Christ, he is ushered into the presence of the Lord (II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23). And when the Lord comes to catch away His church, there will be no “soul sleep” for us who remain. The living will be caught up to be with Him (I Thess. 4:17).

1) Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away; O glory, I’ll fly away;
When I die, hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away.

1) Are you ready, if the time of your departure from this life should come today? (If not, see the note about God’s Plan of Salvation.)

2) Which are your favourite hymns of Christian assurance regarding death and our eternal future?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (Albert Brumley)


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