This is Part II on Death and Dying.
Christians can and should have no fear of death– 1 Corinthians 3:22 Paul says that, “All things are ours,- the world or life or death, or the present or the future, and we are in Christ, and Christ is of God.” Believers can use life well because they understand its true purpose. Death holds no terrors because Christ has conquered all fears. Death is only the beginning of eternal life with God.
In fact, even the disciples who lived the Son of Man for several years were fearful of their separation from Jesus at his earthly death and they wanted to know what eternal life was. They were perplexed and confused.
Here is what Jesus told them:
John 17:3 Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you (the Father), the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
In other words, for the believer, your eternal life starts NOW on this earth, because you KNOW God, and believe in his ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul teaches us more details about our attitudes towards death:
1 Corinthians 15:55, 57 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Paul did not want believers to by ignorant about people who die, or to grieve, like the “rest of men, who have no hope.” In verses 14-18, there is a strong encouragement to believers about the resurrection.
The Bible teaches that Death has actually has Two Stages– Stage #1– first the separation of the body from the spirit of a person for a purely spiritual existence, at physical death. Stage #2– second, the reunion with the body and a glorious resurrection body at the Rapture which is the first showing of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (He will be seen only by believers at this time).
We will discuss future “end times” events in future blogs.
When our body ceases to function and we are dead, the spirit of the believer is not asleep. However, our flesh and bones and all the intricate and wonderful parts God has made are the dwelling place of the spirit of the believer is “asleep.” When we leave our bodies, we depart to be with Christ- see Philippians 1:23. And “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”- Romans 8:23. Some day (at the Rapture) our bodies will be renewed and changed, like that of the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
When will believers go to heaven? The moment we take our last breath on earth we take our first in heaven. We are absent from the body and immediately present with the Lord. To repeat, in God’s time we receive our resurrected glorified bodies at the first stage of the Second Coming of Christ, in the future. In Luke 23:43, Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” In Philippians 1:21 Paul declared, “I desire to depart and be with Christ.”
I will differentiate paradise and heaven in the next blog.
The devil (Satan) has held the power of death– Hebrews 2:14-18 Jesus shared in man’s humanity—he was flesh and blood, so that by His physical death (and then resurrection) He might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Death is the “last enemy” of Jesus– 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 Paul says that Christ will eventually put all enemies under his feet; and death is the last enemy.
“But join with me in suffering for the Gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Jesus holds the keys to death and hell– Look up Revelation 1:17-20. Upon seeing Christ, John has the same response all prophets and apostles have had upon seeing the divine glory-see Ezekiel 1:28; he fell as though he had died right there. Jesus allays John’ fear (“Don’t be afraid!”) and reasserts some pertinent truths: 1) His divine sovereignty-He is the First and the Last– Isaiah 41:4; 43:10, Revelation 1:18). 2) His own incarnate experience of mortal life, death, and resurrection to eternal bodily existence; He is alive forever and ever; and 3) His exclusive power over the grave; He holds the keys to death and hell (Revelation 1:18). Even though Jesus bodily died, his body never experienced decay. (Acts 2:27)
You don’t need to fear death! Only Jesus can take that fear away. Have faith. Satan loves to have you “quaking in your boots” about dying!
In the next blog, we will explore the use of the words HELL, HADES, and SHEOL, AS WELL AS PARADISE AND HEAVEN in the Bible. How are they all different? Stay tuned!