Approximately 10,000 B.C., God said to man, who was created to
live forever, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but
you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for
when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16). Man and
woman ate from the tree and the death process began.
Approximately 12,000 years later we read the headlines from the
Indianapolis Star, September 26, 1986:
Paranoid man shoots, kills paper carrier.
Israeli air raid kills one, injures two at Palestinian base.
Woman's suicide leads to deaths of spouse, 4 children.
Father, son charged in girl's slaying.
Girl, 2, dies in mobile home fire.
Killer of parents gets 30-year term.
Fatal accident closes I-69 south near Marion.
Death has been a part of man's existence from the very beginning.
Every age and society has had to face the reality of death on a
continuing basis. It is a subject that everyone must deal with
because it is an experience we must all share in. Most people avoid
the subject of death because they have no answers as to the origin and
meaning of this enemy of life. Man fears death because it is an
unknown to him. He does not know when it will occur or how it will
take place. Most people fear death because they do not know what
happens after death.
Each person has an attitude about death that will affect nearly
every activity of his life. These attitudes can be grouped into three
basic types; one is to fear death to such an extent that we become a
slave to our emotions. Another attitude is to ignore the thought of
death by becoming engrossed in living. The third attitude one can
have towards death is to accept it as a reality and to be prepared for
it, both emotionally and spiritually. Having the proper attitude
towards death is a result of understanding its various aspects.
ORIGIN OF DEATH
As was stated earlier, death was not always a part of mankind's
experience. For in the beginning when God created man and woman there
was no death. Neither man nor animals experienced the termination of
life. Death was introduced as a sure consequence for sin, should man
so chose. God had to establish a punishment that would equal the
offense of disobedience to His Holy Word. Some would say that death
was too great a price to have to pay for simply eating forbidden
fruit, but the fruit was not the issue. The issue was the Holiness of
God. We cannot begin to understand how Holy God is unless we realize
that the slightest offense against God cost man all that he had -
life, both physical and spiritual.
EXTENT OF DEATH
When man first sinned against God, death entered the human race.
So vast was this death that the entire universe began to die, "The
creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by
the will of the one who subjected it (God - because of man's sin), in
hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to
decay." (Romans 8:20-21). But not only the creation but the entire
human race fell under the curse of death because of the sin of one
man, "...sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin,
and in this way death came to all men..." (Romans 5:12). Again, it is
through death that we get a glimpse of the holiness of God, noting
that one offense (the eating of the forbidden fruit) caused not only
the offender's death but also all of his offspring, to include us!
But even the physical death of the entire human race cannot repay
the insult to our Holy God. In fact, the one offense warranted
something beyond mere physical death, it demanded a "Second Death!"
The physical death of the human race still left the insult to God
unpaid, so God called for a punishment after death. This second death
is a living death where the individual suffers in great torment for an
"endless" time in a burning lake of fire, "..The lake of fire is the
second death." (Revelation 20:14). This death after death is what
every human deserves, but God in His great mercy and love offers Life
to a sin-cursed race. Often times we question God about the death of
a baby, a young child or some "good person." But we are wrong to ask
God, "why did you let them die?" Our question should be, "Why do you
let any of us live?" We all deserve "death after death," but God
offers "life after life."
SOVEREIGN OF DEATH
God is absolutely sovereign over death. We have just as much
control over our death as we had over our birth - none! Man does not
decide who will live and who will die - God does. Man cannot live one
second beyond the time God has determined, nor can he live one second
less, "From one man He made every nation of men, that they should
inhabit the whole earth; and He (God) determined the times (birth,
life, death) set for them and the exact places where they should
live." (Acts 17:26,Matthew 6:27). The Psalmist expressed God's
sovereignty over life in this way, "Show me, O Lord, my life's end and
the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.....All the
days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came
to be." (Psalm 39:4,139:16).
When I was living in California going to seminary, there was a
woman who lived in my apartment complex who had tried to commit
suicide numerous times. Once it was drug overdose, another time she
slashed her wrists, and she even tried electrocution. Each time she
should have died, but she could not. God would not allow it. Yet
another person is a jogger and eats all the right foods and is in
excellent condition according to the medical experts and suddenly dies
of a heart attack. God determines the day and means of death.
Today in our society we have some TV preachers who are teaching
the lie that God wants all Christians "healthy and wealthy," and if
you just have enough faith you can avoid disease and die quietly in
your own bed at an old age. They even claim that any Christian who
dies a violent type of death has failed to call upon the "power" of
God in their lives.
God does love His children very much but He still uses all types
of deaths to "bring us home." The Bible is full of godly men and
women dying agonizing and untimely deaths. For example, we have the
greatest man who ever lived being killed by having his head cut off.
(Luke 7:28, Mark 6:27). Also, in the Book of Hebrews we see numerous
Christians suffering terrible deaths, "They were stoned; they were
sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword...the world was not
worthy of them." (Hebrews 11:37,38). Most Christians today don't
suffer these type of deaths but that does not mean that God is
obligated to give us a quiet death in bed. God will chose the type of
death for a Christian that will bring God the most Glory.
God must bring Christians home through some type of death. If
all Christians died at home without any suffering then the churches
would not be able to hold all the people who would want to be a
Christian. The unbeliever would flock to the churches, but for the
wrong reason. They would come to get the type of physical death they
wanted instead of wanting to be subjected to Jesus Christ! Now I do
believe that for the most part Christians will live longer, and more
peaceful lives than the wicked. And the death experience for most
will be a peaceful one of natural causes. But we must never put God
"in a box" by not allowing Him to pick the time and mode of our
I knew of a sweet vibrant Christian lady who was very active in
the church helping other Christians grow in the Lord. One day her
father showed up at my door to tell me that Barbara had been murdered
the night before. I was shocked and dismayed, for I too had put God
"in a box." I did not allow God to take a Christian home through the
hand of a murderer. I slept with the lights on for the next week
until I read in the Bible, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the
death of His saints." (Psalm 116:15). God was saying that no matter
how a Christian dies it is a precious moment in His sight. You see,
God loved Barbara so much that he had determined that she should be in
His presence. He did not cause the murderer to kill her, but rather
put Barbara in the path of one who was bent on doing evil, thus
allowing the sin of a person to accomplish God's will (to bring
Barbara home). (Proverbs 16:4). One will say, but what a terrible way
to die, especially for one of God's beloved.
In the Scriptures we find many statements about the deaths of
Christians as being likened to "falling asleep." History has shown
Christians dying rather peaceful deaths in the midst of violence. For
example, we have the martyrs, during the Roman Catholic Inquisition,
when Christians were killed for their belief in salvation by faith
alone in Jesus, singing songs of joy as the fires consumed their
bodies. During one such burning at the stake, the dying Christian
cried out that he was in a "rose garden" and had great peace and joy -
despite the fact that his skin was already on fire!
There have been many modern-day deaths of Christians who have
experienced great joy and bliss during rather painful deaths. I do
believe that victims like Barbara actually are given a great sense of
peace from God as their death began. In my own life when suddenly
faced with crisis situations I have felt the "rush" of the presence of
God that assured me that it "was of Him!" I believe that when Barbara
first saw her attacker in her room, that she was given a sudden peace
from God, (call it "dying grace" if you will) that assured her that
God was calling her into His presence. This is similar to the account
of Stephen when he was stoned to death, in which he was full of the
Holy Spirit, and in peace prayed that God would not hold this sin
against those who were killing him.
RESULT OF DEATH
What exactly happens when we die? First, we must understand that
the concept that there are people who have died and then returned back
to life, after having seen heaven or hell is just not true. I am not
talking about the Biblical accounts of miraculous raisings of the
dead. These miracles were done for a specific purpose of God, which
normally was to validate the giving of new revelation from God to man.
But since the closing of the Canon of Scripture, we find no more
people being raised back to life. In this age when a person dies - he
stays dead (at least until Jesus resurrects him to eternal life or
eternal judgment). In fact the Bible tells us that, "..man is
destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." (Hebrews
9:27). People who really die do not return to live for a few more
years. The idea that you can die and go to heaven or hell and then
return to live some more, is a lie straight from the "Pit of Hell."
I have read the accounts of those who claim to have died, went
down the "tunnel," heard the "buzz," and saw the "light." But
something beckoned them back to earth and they returned. These people
will testify that they can tell you what was occurring in their
hospital room or even "down the hall," during their "out-of-body"
experience. Who could argue that they did not have an "out-of-body"
experience. How else could we explain the fact that they knew what
was occurring in various parts of the hospital, while they were
"clinically dead" on an operating table? The answer is rather simple.
First, look at the result of the whole experience. It tells the world
that you can live any way that you want, then die, see heaven and
experience peace and then return. This makes the Bible a lie, for it
claims that after we die we go either to Heaven forever, or to eternal
torment. A new twist to the lie comes from those who claim that they
died and went into Hell, thus validating the Bible. This is equally
not true, because the big lie is that you can die, go into Hell, and
then get out of Hell! (Luke 16:19-31).
Where do these experiences come from? The answer is easy - Satan
has tricked them! You see he has great power and can give false
visions to people (i.e.,Joseph Smith - Mormons; Fatima - Catholics,
etc.). The details about what was occurring around the hospital are
easy when you have demons everywhere; they just make it part of the
vision. The person experiencing it all, really is being used by the
forces of evil to help deceive both unbelievers and the saved. Know
very clearly that after real death comes eternity, either in Heaven or
Death is often described as a door to Heaven, or a door to Hell.
For the Christian, death is like walking through a door. One moment
you are on the outside looking in, and then "swish" through the door
and are inside. One second, you are driving your car listening to a
Christian tape, and then "crash," you are through the door and into
the arms of Christ! In the same way the wicked die. But for the the
wicked, death is a terrifying experience, because suddenly they are
confronted with the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not their
Savior waiting with open arms; rather, He is their judge who will
throw them into torment. (Revelation 20:15).
I recall once when I was in pilot training, watching an Air Force
film in the Base Theater, suddenly, the lights came on and the
Commander came in and announced that there were several tornadoes
spotted in the vicinity of our Northern Texas base, and that we needed
to go to a shelter. For the unbeliever death is like that, an
interruption in a movie. The lost person thinks he has everything
figured out, but is really living in a dream world. Suddenly, the
lights will come on, and he will be made aware that the fantasy is
over and that Jesus Christ is truly the God of the Universe who called
him to believe in Him by faith - and faith alone. But then it will be
too late, for he had to have made the decision for Christ before he
So the believer goes to be with the Lord, and the unbeliever goes
into the fires of Hell. But what about babies, young children, and
those who are retarded to a point of not being able to reason. Are
they condemned to the fire because of the sin of Adam? The Bible
indicates that there is a special grace that God gives to allow them
to enter heaven because they had not reached the "age of
accountability." We see this with King David in the Old Testament who
prayed for his infant son who was dying. God took the life of the
little boy, and David said, "But now that he is dead...Can I bring him
back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2
Samuel 12:23). David spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
and indicated that he, David, would someday go to be with his little
son. David was a believer who was redeemed and upon death went "non-
stop" to Heaven. Thus we can draw the obvious conclusion that those
who have not matured to the point of being able to make a decision for
Christ are covered under the Blood of Christ. Note that the sin of
the baby (original sin) still had to be "paid for" on the cross of
What should be our attitude and action based on the proper
understanding of death?
A. For the Believer
Death is determined by God and we can rest assured that He will
remove us at the proper time that will bring Him maximum glory. We
are not to live in a constant state of anxiety about the possibility
of death, for us or our loved ones. As a pilot I am sometimes prone
to think about a sudden disaster striking my family, and this brings
on anxiety. But at this point I recall a powerful Bible verse, "Have
no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked."
(Proverbs 3:25). God has called us to live a life of peace, so that
the unbelieving world around us will see our joy and seek it for
themselves. If we fear death, then what hope can we give anyone?
Yet, there should be fear in our hearts of a different sort, which is
the fear of disobedience to God. We find in the New Testament that
God has taken some Christians off of the "globe" for their willful
continuous sins. Remember the account of Ananias and Sapphira, who in
their hearts lied to the Holy Spirit, and God struck them dead before
the church as an example of His demand for personal holiness. (Acts
5:1-11). In 1 Corinthians 11:30 we also have the deaths of some
Corinthians, due to their unworthy manner of receiving the Lord's
Supper. The point is that our behavior as Christians does have a part
in the decision God makes about the "number of our days."
One important note is that if we are removed from the earth
because of our continued disobedience, the very next moment will find
us in the loving arms of Christ. He will not remind us of the fact
that we left the earth because of sin, rather He will pour upon us His
sweet gentle love, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember
their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12). For the Christian, death is the
beginning of an eternal bliss. When the Lord takes away one of our
dear Brothers or Sisters in Christ, or takes our little child, we can
rejoice in our tears, that they are happier in Heaven then they ever
were here on the earth. We will miss their presence, but can look
forward with confidence to sharing all eternity with them.
B. For the Unbeliever
If you have read thus far and have allowed the Spirit to speak to
your heart, then your response should be one of repentance. Without
Christ your sins have not been dealt with and you are liable for not
only physical death but also the second, spiritual death in the lake
of fire for all eternity. Do not delay falling on your knees and
confessing to Jesus that:
1. You are a sinner who is rightly condemned to hell for your sins
against a pure and holy God.
2. You want to receive the "free gift of salvation," that is not
based on anything you can do, but on what Jesus did at the Cross.
3. You submit complete control of your life to Jesus, being willing
to do all that he will command you to do.
4. You are willing at the very next opportunity, to be Baptized in a
Bible believing Church. Be aware that the Baptism does not save you;
it is simply an outward sign of the inward reality of your conversion.
And is the first step of obedience God calls you to make as a follower
of His Lordship.
HELP FOR NEW CHRISTIANS
OK! New Christian...What Now? | Bible verse for every letter of the alphabet.| Church History Summary.| The Christian Message.| Election. | Is Hebrews 6 a warning? | Seven Incontestable Questions. | Ironside: Agnosticism. | Issues Of The Heart - J. MacArthur. | Natural Laws and God's Laws. | Possession: The Devil Made Me Do It! | The Preisthood Of All Believers. | Why Jesus? | Knowing Why You Believe - Evidence - Bible. | Discussions With Unbelievers. | Inerrancy. | What Does It Mean To Be A Christian? | First Adam; Then Eve; then what? | What Will People Think? | Perfect For All Time. | Jesus Is Lord. | Spiritual Strength And Power. | The Biblical Calendar Of History. | Studying Your Bible. | Computer Analysis Of The Books Of The Bible. | Early Christianity - Is The Record Sound? | The Bible - The Most Popular Book. | Credentials Of The Bible. | Doomed - to Hell. | Faith And Works In The Plan Of God. | Others Can But You Can't. | Impositions - giving to God and by God. | Why Did Christ Die? | The Successful Christian - #1. | The Successful Christian - #2. | Is It What We Say Or What We Are? | Forty-day Bible Study. | Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation? | How To Overcome Sin - Charles Finney. Death. | Why We Reject This Version. | How Does God Keep His Promises? | Radical Genesis Evangelicals.
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