Grieving, Hope, and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ, by Albert N. Martin
Endorsed by Steve Lawson, Joseph Pipa, Joel Beeke, and more.
Here is a tender blending of memoir and theology, a joining of heart and mind, a sober yet joyful consideration of Scripture in the face of one of life’s deepest and most difficult trials.
What exactly happens to those who die as Christians? What do they immediately experience? What is their existence like right now? What will happen to them when Christ returns to earth? These questions can be especially acute for grieving loved ones who remain. What comfort and assurance does Scripture offer you? What can you truly know and be confident of?
These are the questions and concerns that faced Pastor Albert N. Martin, a beloved pastor and widely respected preacher for half a century, following the death of his wife of nearly 50 years. This book is the product of his grief, his tears, his travails, his prayers, and his concentrated study of God’s Word.
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Here is a tender blending of memoir and theology, a joining of heart and mind, a sober yet joyful consideration of Scripture in the face of one of life’s deepest and most grievous trials.
>What exactly happens to those who die as Christians?
>What do they immediately experience?
>What is their existence like right now?
>What will happen to them when Christ returns to earth?
These questions can be especially acute for grieving loved ones who remain. What comfort and assurance does Scripture offer you? What can you truly know and be confident of?
Following the death of his dear wife of 46 years, Pastor Al Martin knew that, if he were to grieve in a way that glorified God, he needed to know the answers to those questions, as clearly as possible, directly from Scripture. This book is the product of his grief, his tears, his travails, his prayers, and his concentrated study of God’s Word.
A beloved pastor and widely respected preacher for half a century, Albert Martin handles Scripture with the greatest of skill, care, wisdom, and respect. In this book, you will learn what God tells us with regard to the burning questions that so often accompany the death of a loved one in Christ.
There is comfort for the grief. There are answers to the questions. The Bible does offer hope, solace, healing, and confidence. Pastor Albert Martin has been there. Let him share with you the deep comfort, encouragement, and joy that he found, through Scripture, in the midst of his grieving.
Pastor Albert N. Martin shepherded the people of Trinity Baptist Church in Montville, New Jersey for 46 years. He was a Reformed Baptist at least a quarter-century before it became a movement. Now retired from ministry, he has written this book for Cruciform Press to recount what he learned from the death of his wife, Marilyn, at age 73. Grieving, Hope, and Solace is his second book, and his first for a lay audience. To offer a sense of the depth of Pastor Martin’s ministry, the late John Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and author of several classic books, including Redemption Accomplished and Applied, once said regarding an upcoming conference, “If Al Martin is to be there I really think he should be asked to take the three evening services proposed for me. He is one of the ablest and most moving preachers I have ever heard…I have not heard his equal.”
“A priceless treasure”
—Steven J. Lawson
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“Albert N. Martin is a seasoned pastor, skilled teacher, and gifted writer who has given us a priceless treasure in Grieving, Hope, and Solace. The sobering reality is that not a one of us is exempt from facing death. We are constantly confronted with the loss of loved ones at every turn in life. With this in mind, here is a book that walks us through the entire grieving process of death from an intensely biblical perspective. All who read these pages will, unquestionably, be pointed to Christ and find themselves greatly helped.”
—Steven J. Lawson, Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama
“Al Martin weaves together personal tenderness and biblical teaching in this sweet book of comfort. He lifts up our minds to heaven to see the glory of the Redeemer and His beautified bride. He also brings insight and consolation to our experience here on earth. What a blessed gift to give to a grieving friend! Buy it and give it away, but make sure to get a copy for yourself, too. We can never be too prepared for the trial of losing a loved one.”
—Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“Occasionally, serendipitously, we stumble upon a rare finding: turning the corner and being met by a glorious moonrise, discovering a painter or musician who touches us in the deepest recesses of our being, or reading a special book. This little book by Pastor Al Martin has been such an experience for me; written from profound biblical insight, tested by experience, Grieving, Hope and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ is a delightful, edifying book, which you will want to read and re-read. Whether you are a pastor or counselor, one who is experiencing the pangs of grief, or a member of the church who wants to be useful to others, you need to read this book. Of particular use to me, is how the book helps one to train his mind and emotions for the ‘rough door of death.’”
—Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., PhD, President, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Taylors, South Carolina
“This tender book by a much-loved pastor, written after the death of his beloved wife, offers comfort to those in tears. Even our grieving should be disciplined by scripture and governed by the motive to glorify God. Here we have a rare guidebook to teach us how to grieve with godliness. It is relevant to us all — if not for today, then no doubt for tomorrow.”
—Maurice Roberts, Minister of Greyfriars Congregation, Inverness, Scotland; author of numerous books, and former editor of Banner of Truth magazine.
“’Experimental religion’ is what our forefathers called the intersecting of God’s Word with our life experience. For over 50 years, Albert N. Martin has preached the Word of God with ‘experimental’ power. He has effectively brought the Word of God and the truth of the Gospel to bear upon the life and experience of thousands. Now he does it in print.
“Nowhere in life is the truth of the Gospel more real than when a loved one dies in Christ. That time, above all other times, is when the believer needs to experience the consolation of Christ in the Gospel. In this tender, biblical, experiential, and even evangelistic book, Albert Martin brings his readers into a wonderful encounter with the Lord Jesus. He uses Scripture, pastoral wisdom, and the experience of his dear wife’s death to show believers how God sustains his grieving saints. This is a theologically solid and practically valuable little book.”
—Pastor Brian Borgman, Grace Community Church, Minden, Nevada, and author of Feelings and Faith (Crossway) and My Heart For Thy Cause: Albert N. Martin’s Theology of Preaching (Mentor)
“I am thankful that Cruciform Press has undertaken the project of printing materials that flow from the wealth of experience that Dr. Albert N. Martin acquired from his nearly half a century of faithful and richly God-blessed pastoral ministry in one congregation in New Jersey. It is rare, indeed, to receive the benefit of that kind of ministerial understanding and wisdom. In Grieving, Hope, and Solace, Dr. Martin combines an understanding of the best of theology and biblical exegesis with all the deep pathos that a deeply-sensitive redeemed man has as he experiences the death of a much loved spouse. Channel that through the mind and heart of a pastor who senses his divine commission to minister to others what the Lord has taught him in the crucible of painful human experience, and you will have the essence of this precious volume. For pastors and others who counsel the bereaved, and for those who are going through the bereavement process themselves, here is balm of Gilead that has its source in the all wise Father, the Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ, and the unique Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Read it to learn, to weep, and to rejoice in the great victory of the death-Conquering Savior!”
—Rev. William Shishko, pastor, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Franklin Square, New York.
“On July 9, 2004, my wife Tricia and I sat beside Marilyn Martin’s deathbed. We hoped that our visit would encourage her and Pastor Martin, but it was they who encouraged us. They spoke of Marilyn’s imminent departure with serenity, even describing death as their ‘Dark Friend’ sent from the Lord for their sanctification (1 Corinthians 3:22). In their pain, they exemplified undaunted faith and instructed us. Thank you Marilyn, for showing us how to die well in the Lord.
“Jesus then led Albert Martin through the valley of the shadow of Marilyn’s death. Grieving, Hope and Solace will lead you through that valley as well. Pastor Martin’s instruction will enable you to grieve with overcoming faith, to experience the comfort of our triumphant Savior and to turn the doctrines of the gospel into the victory of resurrection life, hope, and joy. Thank you Pastor Martin, for instructing us how to grieve well in the Lord.”
—Alan Dunn, Pastor, Grace Covenant Baptist Church, Flemington, New Jersey
“I beheld gospel truth and grace on display while standing in line to express my deepest sympathies to Pastor Albert N. Martin. There he was, completely absorbed in promoting the spiritual and emotional benefit of others, consoling family and friends who were also grieving the death of his beloved wife, Marilyn. What made the deepest impression upon me was the evident gladness of his countenance in his appreciation of so many who had come to honor her memory and comfort one another, especially him. And this, despite the fact that I knew from his testimony that his own sorrow was immense, as if his heart were shattered into a million pieces, impossible to be mended.
“Having now read Pastor Martin’s teaching and exhortation in this book, I can understand better how the Lord was sustaining His faithful servant during his darkest hour. Combining simple exposition of important biblical passages with practical application and personal anecdotes, Pastor Martin has with the Lord’s help compounded a genuine balm for the wounded spirits of fellow sufferers. Here you will not find pious platitudes but solid evangelical truth delivered in an intensely personal manner. I recommend it heartily with prayers that the God of all comfort will augment the hope of his saints and introduce others to the risen Lord and Savior who alone is able to comfort them, too.”
—D. Scott Meadows, Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed), Exeter, New Hampshire
“I enjoyed the privilege of knowing Pastor and Mrs. Martin intimately over many years, and even as their life together was a blessing to many, so in this book their separation by Marilyn’s home-going will be a blessing to many more. Pastor Martin reminds us that the death of a loved one is not just the end of an earthly course but also a beginning, both for the departed loved one and for ourselves. This is a book full of encouragement and sound counsel. In reading it and meditating on its contents, you will be greatly blessed.”
—Dr. Robert P. Martin, Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Seattle, Washington
“Al Martin has been my pastor, mentor, friend, and now my stepdad. He has spent many years as a pastor who has ministered to saints who have lost loved ones, and he is a man who has personally experienced the loss of ‘the desire of his eyes.’ In Grieving, Hope and Solace, he explains warmly and plainly the Bible’s teaching about the intermediate state and the consoling impact of that teaching on the smarting, believing soul. May the prayerful meditation upon the truths enunciated in this book be God’s means of imparting ‘the comfort of the Scriptures’ to many grieving saints.”
—Dave Chanski, pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Montville, New Jersey
“Your heart will be warmed by the testimony of Marilyn and Albert Martin as you read of their six-year pilgrimage with cancer. This book is a testimony to her beautiful life, and the God-honoring response of her husband to her death. This book presents a sound biblical eschatology of death and clears up all fuzzy thinking of what happens to a loved-one who dies in Christ.
“It is the fruit of one man’s gut-wrenching question as he held his wife’s lifeless body: What has just happened to her?
“It is the fruit of sermons borne out of grief, tears, travail, and prayer; the fruit of that desperate search for clarity and comfort where I know it can be found, in the infallible words of Scripture.
“This is the man whom many of us have been privileged to know for decades, a man who seeks to bring his entire life, his thinking and his emotions, and later in life, his grief, to the God who clarifies and comforts through the Scripture. The desperate search for the God of all comfort led Pastor Martin to discover timeless treasures to deal with his grief to the glory of God. He passionately desires to help fellow-pilgrims. The consideration of what Jesus has gained, what our loved one has gained, and what we have gained, through the death of a loved one, is masterful in the outworking of grief.
“If you are dealing with grief or know someone who is, by all means meditate on these pages. This book is also a powerful evangelistic tool for unbelievers who are facing death or the death of a loved one. This book is theology coming forth as gold from the fire of personal loss, and lessons in grieving as those who have hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).”
—John Reuther, Pastor, Lumberton, New Jersey
Blog Review –
“A resource that is clear, concise, and necessary for the church today. Every Christian ought to read this book.”
Pastor Albert N. Martin served as an elder at the Trinity Baptist Church of Montville, New Jersey from its inception in 1967 until 2008. Over thirty years of pastoral experience and an evident gift of pointed applicatory preaching have made Pastor Martin a widely recognized counselor and pastor. Grieving, Hope, and Solace was borne from the loss of Marilyn, his helpmate of 48 years.
Divided into four parts, Pastor Martin draws the reader into a God-glorifying, Christ-exalting view of death. He begins in the first part to deal with the important foundational perspectives and principles to understanding death. He then moves immediately to the intermediate state of where the one who died in Christ is at this very moment. (That is, after death and before Christ’s Second Coming.)
Part three turns the reader’s attention upward where it needs to be if one is to effectively and biblically grieve the loss of their loved one or friend. The final part offers a word of encouragement both to the believer and to the unbeliever.
I have worked in a funeral home the past couple of years as the Lord has enabled me to be a bi-vocational pastor (though now I am between vocational ministries). I have seen plenty of death and preached numerous funerals…for the unbeliever. It is a rare occasion when there is true faith in Christ present before, during, and after the time of death.
I share this because I write this review from that perspective–one of rarely seeing a proper biblical response to death. Sadly, most members of local congregations are not prepared to die nor have they been taught to biblically grieve the death of a loved one or friend. Albert Martin, through his own struggle to correctly grieve and give God glory at the same time has penned a resource that is clear, concise, and necessary for the church today.
Martin does not write in a vacuum and he is not a 33 year old who thinks he has more understanding than most. He writes from a passion for the glory of Christ and a want to educate and equip his larger congregation (those who read his book) to be better prepared to face the death of a loved one.
Most appreciated is his urgency to turn the subject matter away from the death of your spouse, sibling, friend, etc. and to the joys they are now experiencing in the presence of the Lord. They key, Martin argues, is to think much of Christ and less of the person who has ceased living. For when you focus on Christ, even death loses its sting.
The final two chapters offer encouragement both the believer and to the unbeliever. At first, I was curious as to why the assumption an unbeliever would even think of picking up this book. Then it dawned on me–there are many (and I do mean many…probably most) who face death thinking they have the hope of Jesus Christ only to realize they do not. The only addition I would have made here is a possible treatment of what to do if you realize now, after the fact that your loved one has died, that you are not a believer and neither was s/he. That, however, may have gone outside the scope of the book.
As with all books from Cruciform Press, Grieving, Hope, and Solace is short and powerful. This book needs to be read by every pastor if not for themselves, then for their congregation. A pastor must be able to lead and guide his congregation during these terrible times and do so in a way that brings glory to Christ. This will be a resource that you will want to have multiple copies of on your bookshelf in order to give away to members of your congregation who were just given a terminal diagnosis or have just gone through the experience of losing a loved one to death.
Furthermore, every Christian ought to read this book and think more about death. This is a problem with our culture today–there is no thought of death. Because of this, we are rarely prepared to deal with it. May this never be the case and I thank Pastor Al Martin for his work to make it such that we can all have a more Christ-honoring response to death.
Terry Delaney, Christian Book Notes
Blog Review –
“I had no idea that I’d be so immensely impacted in such a short amount of time.”
I’m thankful for Cruciform Press. They continue to provide solid, concise, gospel-centered, thought-provoking, Christ-exalting books month after month. And, with the option of an eBook subscription at $3.99/mo., the blessing of benefiting from their volumes couldn’t come at a more reasonable price.
Last night, I decided to crack the virtual cover of this month’s release, Grieving, Hope and Solace: When a Loved One Dies in Christ, by Albert N. Martin. I had no idea that I’d be so immensely impacted in such a short amount of time.
Looking over the table of contents, I decided to head straight for chapter 7 entitled, “What Jesus Has Gained.” In this chapter, Martin begins to address a number of focal points for biblical grieving. I have to admit, I have never looked at the death of a loved on in Christ from the perspective of what Christ gains when our loved ones depart from their bodies to be in his presence. And, while navigating through the difficult time losing a loved one is never easy, Martin’s counsel certainly paves the way toward hope and healing.
Martin notes 3 specific ways in which Christ experiences gain in the midst of our loss; and in embracing these realities I believe we can more thoroughly bless the Lord in the midst of our seasons of grief. In terms of what Christ gains, he writes:
1. “In the death of one united to Christ, Jesus receives a precious, partial fulfillment of his own redemptive purpose and purchase.” (cf. Eph. 1:4; 5:27)
2. “In the death of one united to Christ, Jesus gains the desire of his heart expressed in John 17:24.”
3. “In the death of one united to Christ, Jesus receives a new dimension of joy.” (cf. Heb. 12:2)
Taking these realities together, Martin articulates that in the midst of loss we must consciously resolve to focus on the joy which Christ has gained. His beautiful conclusion to the chapter reads:
Whatever we lose in the death of dearly loved ones, remember this. We did not leave the privileges, the glories, and the joys of heaven itself in order to save our loved ones from eternal damnation. We did not undergo the agony of Gethsemane with its bloody sweat, nor did we endure the spit-drenched face, the buffeting, the scourge-shredded back, the torturous act of crucifixion, the darkened face of God the Father, or the pain of hell itself, vicariously endured. Jesus has much more claim on our loved ones than we do. Let us dare not entertain secret thoughts—manifestations of unmortified self-will—that God is unfair in taking them from us. Instead, when our loved one had become our loss, we must consciously and deliberately direct our thoughts to the joy that has become Jesus’ gain. Remember this clear and stirring declaration: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
Kevin Fiske, For the Gospel
Blog Review –
“Every believer who has lost a loved one would be immensely blessed by this book.”
When I read this book a few weeks ago, I was so moved by its thoroughly biblical focus that I just had to order a bunch to give to others (2 dozen, in fact), and they are already gone! I quickly concluded that every believer who has lost a loved one would be immensely blessed by this book no matter how much time, short or long, has passed since their death. It is such a wonderful book that turns our focus to eternity and all that God has accomplished for us in Christ.
Written by long-time pastor Albert Martin, after the death of his wife of nearly 50 years, this brief book (116 pages) will minister deeply and compassionately to your own heart and to anyone you know who is experiencing, or has experienced, grief.
Paul Tautges, of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, at his blog, Counseling One Another