I hate death. I really hate death. I’ve buried my four grandparents, my wife’s parents, 2 brothers, and my dad. Not a one of them was I ready to give up to death. As pastor I’ve taken part in hundreds of funerals for church members. Those I had known for a while had become friends. Death was an intruder that took people I love away from my life. Death, even took the life of my Messiah, the Son of God.
According to Hebrews 9:27 there is nothing that is more certain than death. Death is confirmed every day to us. There are 7 billion people in the world and over 56 ½ million of them will die this year. The death rate is about 154,995 each day. One out of one people die. According to Romans 5:12 death is no respecter of persons. It is coming to the ones you love. It is coming for YOU!
In 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 Paul says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Death is the worst enemy. Death is an unavoidable enemy. It causes great pain – great sorrow – great fear – and great questions. Death brings loneliness for the one dying and the ones left behind. Many times it comes suddenly and there is no time to prepare. At other times it is a slow process, where the person loses self-respect as they move from a healthy man or beautiful woman to a lump of human flesh. Death ends all your relationships, end all the gospel you will ever hear, end your opportunities to respond to God, ends all opportunities to get things right with others, and ends all opportunities to live your life for Christ. Death is an enemy because it is F-I-N-A-L. I hate death. Even God hates death.
And because God hates death, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, all the way through the grave to win victory for you over the enemy called death. We have every right to hate death, but not to fear it. I love what Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. How can death be gain? Well, I can think of at least 4 reasons.
- Because of its finality – It takes us out of a world of sorrow and sin. In heaven there are a lot of “no mores”. No more tummy aches, headaches, arthritis, kidney stones, cancer, and AIDS. There will be no more criticism and prejudice. There will be no more bills to pay. There will be no more emotional pressure. There will be no more traffic jams. No more……….. Notice I said ‘in heaven”. Death is only a friend to Christians. Death is only gain to those with God in their lives. Death is a total loss to those who do not have God in their lives.
- Because it brings God close – For an unsaved person – Some may call on God through the pain, loneliness, and fear of death. That is if there is time. For the saved – Psalm 23:4 tells us that God draws close while we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Psalm 116:15 lets us know “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” Death is only precious to saints because it opens the door for us to go to our Father.
- Because it completes our salvation – Salvation is three-fold. 1) At the moment of conversion we are saved from the “penalty” of sin 2) Day by day as we grow in the Lord we are being saved from the “power” of sin 3) When we die and go to heaven we will completely be saved from the “power” of sin and from the “presence” of sin. Keep in mind it only completes the new life God gives to us. You have to be born again and have been given that life first before it can be completed.
- Because Christ has taken the sting out of death – 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” When Christ died on the cross, death left its sting in Him Now it can’t hurt the believer. According to Hebrews 12:2 Jesus Christ has blazed a trail through death.
I still hate death. Yet I’m not afraid of it because of Jesus’ victory over it. So I ask you, is death a friend or foe? It is a foe to everyone. It’s a friend to those who give their lives to God. The foe is coming. Only a fool would not prepare.
—- Pastor Steve