“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead” (I Cor. 15:21).
What is death? It is a separation (James 2:26), a departure (II Tim. 4:6), a release (II Cor. 5:1), a rest (Rev. 14:13), a sleep (John 11:11), and death is a going home (John 14:1-4). These are only a few of the word-pictures used to describe death in the scriptures. Study these verses carefully also: Psalm 90:6; Job 18:14, 13:2, 7:21; Isaiah 38:12; I Peter 1:24; I Corinthians 15:26, and Revelation 6:8.
Life on earth, at best, is very brief. It is “a few days” (Job14:1); it is “as a sleep” (Psalm 90:5). James describes life as “a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:13).
There are at least five facts that all must face. We must live (Rom. 14:7); we must die (Heb. 9:27); we must be raised from the dead (John 5:28-29); we must face God in judgment (I Cor. 5:10), and we must live eternally somewhere (Matt. 25:46).
But why must all men die? (1) It is the consequence of sin. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). (2) It is a divine appointment. “…it is appointed unto men once to die” (Heb. 9:27). (3) It is not an end, but it is a means to an end. It is a stepping stone, a springboard to a higher plateau, and opportunity to live in a mansion with God in Heaven (John 14:1-4).
Why do we have a fear of death? Because much of it is still a mystery to us. We have not passed this way before. It is an untried journey (Psalm 23:4). It is fearful due to the attachment we have developed on earth to things and to people. It is a sting caused by sin (I Cor. 15:56). However the Christian should not fear death. “Better is the day of death” (Ecc. 7:1). “To die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13). “Precious is the death of a saint” (Psalm 116:15). The Christian has hope (I Thess. 4:13-18).
To the Christian death is a “victory” (I Cor. 15:51-58). Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we have the blessed assurance of being raised also (I Thess. 4:14). This hope of victory over death brings “joy unspeakable” to the Christian (Phil. 4:4).
After considering all of these facts, the thing that we must do is prepare for death. That is the reason we are here. How do we do that? Accept the plan that God has given through His love, mercy, and grace (John 3:18; II Pet. 3:9; Heb. 2:9; Titus 2:11-12). We must obey the Gospel of Christ in order to be saved (I Cor. 15:1-4, II Thess. 1:7-9). There are facts to be believed—the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; there are commands to be obeyed (Acts 2:38; 22:16); and there are promises to be received. These include remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of heaven (Acts 2:38). And these are only a few of the great promises that come to those who obey God.
What about you? Are you ready for death? If not, don’t delay. There is danger and death in delay.
Paul M. Wilmoth