“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Death

The last few posts have found us examining God’s providence and the purpose, place and probability of suffering in the lives of God’s children. These are not simple topics and I pray that God’s Word has comforted you as we have examined these subjects. In this post, the third installment of this series, I will post some thoughts regarding death and dying from a Christian perspective.

This is a subject which, we in the USA, hate to even contemplate. We see many death-defying products on the market today, and people are in a mad scramble to never grow old, nor to experience pain, death or even a hint of dying. But, the truth is that death is 100% terminal – everyone gets it, and succumbs to its inexorable pull.

So, let us look at this uncomfortable subject from the perspective of the Bible. Let us see what comfort the Word of God brings to this subject.

When most people define death, they think of it as an event – i.e. “Death is the ceasing of life functions”, or “Death is when the brain stops responding”, “Jane Doe died at 5:47pm”. Death is defined as an event in time, when in reality, as this post will examine – death is not an event – it is a state of being we all live in, until and unless Jesus Christ draws us to Himself and we turn to Him in repentance and faith.

So let me propose a working definition of death for our purposes in this post:

Death is the state that we find ourselves in due to Adam’s sin. While physical death may occur at some specific date and time, in truth, we have all been born into, and live in a body of death until, in Christ, we are redeemed into eternal life.

We simply cannot understand eternal life, death, dying or suffering without having a Biblical understanding of these terms. So, we have looked at providence, we have looked at suffering, now let us examine death from a Biblical vantage point.

If our definition is correct – that death is not an event, but a state of being; where do we get this thought?

Ephesians 2:1 – 7 -- And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:13 – 15 -- And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.


Notice that Paul did not say anything about an event – no, he is pointing out that the STATE of the person outside of Christ is death. You see, we have it all wrong, we are afraid of death the event, but what we should be doing is focusing on death as a state of being. If we understand that all who are outside of Christ are walking dead men, and all of those who are in Christ are ALREADY living eternal lives, it will change our perspective on the event of death and dying.

We who are in Christ have ALREADY died – and have been raised with Him! We may depart from this place, but we will be with the Lord, waiting that glorious day when all are resurrected and will stand before him. We can truly look at death and say, “Where is your sting?

No doubt, we will still experience a physical event, but to quote Thomas Boston; “I feel a sting, may the dying saint say– yet it is but a bee sting, slinging only through the skin – but, O death, where is your sting, your old sting, the serpent's sting, that stings to the heart and soul? The sting of death is sin – but that is taken away.

In the next post I will discuss why it is that we die, and conclude my thoughts on death and dying from a Christian perspective.

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