At Least We’re Talking about Death

The grief of a family
For several weeks the media flooded our minds with the sordid details of a family feud. A husband wanted to let his wife die as she had supposedly requested. Her parents wanted her to live. Both sides of the dispute fought to the bitter end, appealing and defending in every court available.

When we all got into the discussion, some said, “I certainly wouldn’t want to live like that!” Others said, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to die like that!” Some thought that it was a merciful thing to “let” Terri die; others were sure that the process was nothing short of murder imposed by judicial decree.

The loss of a leader
Then before we settled our minds on that subject, Pope John Paul II died. He was old and had lived a full life of service and had accomplished much, leaving a respected legacy. He was ill and it was wondered by many how much longer he could continue to serve in his office. Everything possible was done to preserve his life and to prolong his tenure as Pope. But in spite of it all, he died.

When we all got into the discussion, some said, “I hope that I can live so long!” Others said, “I hope that my doctors try that hard to keep me alive, but in the end I want to die peacefully, as he did.” We haven’t always been so willing to discuss the subject of death. Now that we have begun, let’s look further into the subject.

So far we really have been discussing life. Yes, we looked at its end, but the living conditions have been our focus. We have not considered who really determines the length of life. And we certainly haven’t discussed the eternal condition beyond the grave.

The step beyond this life
God’s Word, the Bible, declares, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; . . .” (Hebrews 9:27, 28). Here we clearly understand that death is the experience of all men. It is the result of sin brought into the human family by Adam who, along with Eve, willfully disobeyed God’s only prohibition. That day he died, spiritually, and some six hundred years later he died physically. Ever since that time, all men have faced death, “for all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).

“. . . but after this the judgment:” The judgment is God’s punishment for sin: the sin of Adam from which we get our nature to sin, and the sins which we commit by that nature. “For the wages of sin is death; . . .” (Romans 6:23). Wages are earned and punishment is deserved. We have it coming and we will get it . . . unless.

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” He bore your judgment by God’s provision. He paid the penalty of your sins. He made it possible for you to escape that appointed judgment. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son [Christ], that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

So now, we have gone from discussing physical life and physical death to discussing spiritual life and spiritual death. The discussion gets more urgent at this point. We are not just discussing how we leave this life. We are talking about where we will spend eternity.

The choices available
The choices are but two. We can die as sinners who have rejected the one who was offered once for our sins and spend eternity in “the lake of fire,” tormented day and night forever. Or we can die as repentant, redeemed, and justified sinners, who, by the grace of God will spend eternity in heaven. There “. . . God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:3b, 4).

Now that you have begun discussing death, discuss your situation with God. Confess your sins to him and acknowledge that Christ was once offered for your sins, and trust him as your own personal savior. Then the door of death will lead to eternal blessing and joy. Do it today before it is too late; you do not know when your appointment is scheduled.

March/April 2005

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