Death is all around us. Loved ones are here, and then they are gone. Sometimes death arrives quickly, without warning. Sometimes it comes slowly, through long battles with sickness and suffering. As my church family lays two great men to rest this week, I have been reflecting on the following:
Why do Christians die?
- Death is the final outcome of living in a Fallen World. When sin entered the world, the world began a deterioration process with which human beings are afflicted. The natural outcome of deterioration is death. Death is the last enemy that will be destroyed, but until then it will have it’s fill of mankind.
- God uses the experience of death to complete our sanctification. Since believers have their sin debt paid by Jesus Christ, they do not have to pay any penalty for sins committed throughout their lives. Therefore, the experience of death is not seen as punishment, but rather as the next step. Throughout life, God works in believers to conform us more to Christ. At death, we experience the final work of conforming to Him.
- Our obedience to God is more important than preserving our own lives. If God uses the experience of a loved one’s death to deepen our trust in Him, then our highest goal as a Christian should be obedience, not life at all costs.
With those thoughts in mind, how should we think about our own death and the death of other Christians?
- Our own death should not be seen as something to fear, but rather as an occasion for joyful anticipation of being with Christ. To live is Christ, but to die is gain!
- Death of Christian friends and relatives will always be met with sorrow for losing someone dear. But, mixed with sorrow should always be rejoicing. Rejoicing that their sanctification is complete, and for them there is no more “laying aside the old self and putting on the new self (Col. 3:9-10). They are now made complete in conforming to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- In light of this truth, as Christians, I suggest we stop using phrases such as, “He lost his battle with ________.” When a believer in translated into Heaven, he has lost nothing and won everything!
- We should also stop saying, “Heaven gained another angel.” Heaven already has enough angels and when a believer enters, he enters as a son, not a servant!
What about the death of unbelievers?
- Death of unbelievers is a truly sorrowful and tragic event. Although, we do not know what kind of work the Lord does in the heart of unbelievers at the 11th hour, without evidence, we should not give false hope and undermine others need for Christ by proclaiming the dead persons entrance into heaven.
- In the time leading up to death (which begins at birth), Christians should be about the business of sharing the gospel. We should take every opportunity to make the good news of Jesus Christ known to a lost world. There is no other way out. Jesus gave his life so save sinners, which encompasses every person ever born.
- Everyone is born once, physically. But, spiritually, one must be born again (John 3:3). Without this second birth, a person will experience death twice – one physical and one spiritual. But he who is born again will only taste physical death. “Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.”