Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher, said, “Life is C between B and D.” It means “Life is C
hoice between Birth and Death.” Birth and death are the inseparable confines of all life on earth. Bible declares “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Every single day, some 80,000 people die on Earth. In another 100 years, nearly everyone who's on Earth today will be gone. It can happen at any time, to anywhere, to anybody.
I recently read a life story of a neurosurgeon, for years he had dismissed near-death revelations of God and heaven as explainable by the hard wiring of the human brain. He was, after all, a neurosurgeon with sophisticated medical training. But then in 2008 Dr. Eben Alexander contracted bacterial meningitis. The deadly infection soaked his brain and sent him into a deep coma. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself. Alexander’s story is not a castle in the sky. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul.
Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition. Dr. Alexander was so changed by the experience that he felt compelled to write a book, “Proof of Heaven,” is atop the New York Times bestseller’s list, which recounts his experience. Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. There seems to be an increasing number of people who claim they have died and returned to life. Most describe death as being the most wonderful thing they have ever experienced. They vividly describe some sort of ecstatic feeling along with all kinds of visions of beautiful bright lights. The Bible records several instances where people died and were miraculously raised again from the dead. There are only two basic reasons why a person would not fear death. Either he does not understand the true nature of death, or he has convinced and fully believed in the saving knowledge of God who is the "resurrection and the life."(John 11: 25)
What is death? Is there life after death? Most of us only begin to ask these questions at the end of life, when the certainty of death can no longer be ignored. By that time we may be caught by surprise and ill-equipped to deal with the situation at hand. A perfectly natural, and even beautiful stage of life, becomes overcast with fear and confusion. Why wait 'til the end? Why not ask these questions now, while there's time to make a serious investigation? The best starting place for any questions about the nature of man is from the record of the first man's creation. In Genesis 2:7 we read, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." From this we learn that man's basic element is dust and this is what compromises his body. The body is lifeless without the "breath of life" which is given from God. It is this which animates the body and makes it into a "living soul".
This breath of life is also called the spirit and soul. It is this spirit that puts man above the animals and allows man to know, understand, and have communion with God. Job 32:8 says “Surely it is the spirit in mortal men, and the breath of the Almighty that gives them understanding". When God spoke to Adam concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God told him, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The generally-accepted assumption is that Adam and Eve would live forever, if they obeyed God. But, we know that they did not obey. When tempted with the appealing fruit and the opportunity to be like God, they ate of the tree. Thus, sin entered the world, “and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Since that time, man has had to deal with death as an unnatural occurrence.
So what happens when a man dies? Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, "Then the dust returns to the earth, and the Spirit returns to the God that gave it". Everything goes into reverse. His breath (the spirit) leaves his body and returns to God and his body returns to the earth. There are two different entities making up the human being. There is the spiritual body and the physical body. And we have to keep both of these in mind when discussing death, because at death each of these entities takes a different path. Bible speaks of two deaths. The first death is the separation of the spirit from the body. This is physical death, and for believers it is merely a passage to glory (Philippians 1:21-26). The second death is the separation of the spirit from God. This is spiritual death, and it is to be dreaded above all else. By the same token, we can see two resurrections for believers. The first is the deliverance of God’s elect from their state of death in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The second will be that glorious day when the bodies of all who died in the Lord will be raised, reunited with their spirits, and ushered into the presence of God for all eternity.
All men die physically because they are the sons of Adam. All men are born spiritually dead because of Adam's original sin. If physical death overtakes a man while he is still in the condition of spiritual death, he will experience eternal death which the Bible describes as eternal punishment, separated from the presence of God. The moment a person dies physically, the soul departs the body and goes either into the presence of God or into hell to await the final Day of Judgment. That is the reason why the Bible tells us "...it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment." If a person is not prepared for the final Day of Judgment, they have every reason to fear death.
There is no sorrow like the sorrow of separation. One by one our friends and loved ones are taken away and we’re left with lonely, aching hearts. For the heathen there is no hope. They cry aloud in their agony, for the dear one is gone, and gone forever. There is no hope of reunion. So it is with the unsaved everywhere. When casket is closed and they have gazed at the beloved face for the last time, hope within them dies, and they wonder if they can go on living.
Death is the enemy of man; but it is the glory of the Gospel of Jesus that it teaches us how we may meet this last enemy with triumph. When Jesus Christ was on his way to the grave of Lazarus, he proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 6 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He was claiming to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, and there is no eternal life apart from Christ. Beyond that, Jesus was also making a statement concerning His divine nature. He does more than give life; He is life, and therefore death has no ultimate power over Him.
The story begins with a man named Lazarus who was sick with a deadly disease. This man was brother of Mary and Martha. He also had a close relationship with Jesus, as John specifically says that Jesus loved all three of them. Mary and Martha both went to Jesus to inform Him of Lazarus’ illness, hoping that He would heal him. Rather than heal him immediately, Jesus simply assures Mary and Martha that the illness will not end in death. Lazarus finally succumbed to his illness and died. Jesus then goes to his disciples to inform them. He uses the euphemism of “fallen asleep” to state that Lazarus was dead and the metaphor “wake him up” to state that He intends to bring him back to life. Interestingly, Jesus’ disciples did not pick up on the figures of speech and thought that Lazarus had simply fallen asleep. They even said “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus then told them more directly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
By the time Jesus and His disciples finally got to Lazarus’ body, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Martha says to Jesus that had He been with Lazarus, he would not have died. Jesus simply replies to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha was fully aware of the Jewish doctrine of resurrection of the dead and she thought this was what Jesus was talking about. She say’s to Him, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”The grieving Martha wished that Jesus had arrived earlier so He could have healed her brother. And when Jesus spoke of resurrection, Martha assumed He was speaking of “the resurrection at the last day.” In effect, Martha was saying, “It’s too late to help Lazarus. (The time is past)”
Jesus then proceeds to the tomb where Lazarus’ body was put. Jesus shows that neither Death nor time is an obstacle to Him. Outside the tomb, “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth the dead man came out” (john 11:430).,” Lazarus comes back to life and walks out of the tomb. Its one thing to claim to be the resurrection and the life, but Jesus proved it by raising Lazarus, who was four days dead. Truly, with Christ, death is but “sleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Death has no dominion over Him who is Life itself, nor does death have dominion over those who are in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Because He lives, we live. Because He is Life, we have life eternally. Martha’s knowledge of eternal life was an abstract idea; Jesus proved that knowledge of eternal life is a personal relationship. Martha thought victory over death was a future expectation; Jesus corrects her, showing that victory is a present reality.
The thought of death causes fear and anguish. We fear death for we do not know what to expect from it. We haven’t had someone go there and come back to really tell us what it is like. We fear it, because we see it as a cutting short of our life and activity. The Bible presents a picture of death as something that should give us a tremendous amount of hope. After Adam and Eve sinned they died spiritually as well as physically. Sending them out of the garden, far from being an act of cruelty, was actually proof of God's kindness and great love. Had Adam and Eve, after eating from the forbidden tree, then eaten from the Tree of Life, that other special tree, they would have been immortalized for all of eternity in their sinful condition. They never would have qualified for the heaven that God wanted them to enjoy because by eating also from the tree of life, they would have obtained eternal life. Imagine living forever as sinners, with sickness and pain, with heartache and sadness, with having to live forever with all the consequences that a sinful nature can bring, with no possibility of redemption, and with absolutely no possibility of ever getting any of the heavenly gifts that God had planned for us. Thus God prevented Adam and Eve from having eternal sinfulness by giving them the gift of death. Though death appears to be man's greatest enemy, it will in the end prove to be his greatest friend. Only through death can we go to God.
Death is the means by which our bodies are put to rest while our souls are escorted through the gates of Heaven. Death itself brings us to the gate, but then it is opened by the one who says, "He who is Holy, who is true, who has the Key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens."Revelation 3:7. We should not be surprised that the Bible tells true believers that they should look upon death almost as a special gift. Only death can give us the gift of eternity.
The reason Jesus Christ means so much to the world is because he brought mankind a great new hope- The hope of life beyond the grave. He robbed death of its sting and the grave of its victory. He brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. 2Tim.1:10. Until Jesus Christ came, men died without hope. Death was feared, for death was an enemy. Men hated it, fought against it, and dreaded its arrival. Jesus promised a life of endless bliss and joy, a life where there would be no more pain, sickness, and death. Never before had men heard of such a glorious resurrection and a life of endless bliss with Christ. It is not transmigration of souls, no rebirth, No purgatory! Dread of evil spirits! No future suffering, Instead, Heaven, Paradise, The Father’s house, the many mansions. A life with Christ in place where there would be joy unutterable and peace indescribable. What a prospect. Only Jesus Christ was able to drawback the curtain and let us see beyond the grave. Only He could tell about the future. No one else could, for no one else knew. There was no uncertainty with Him.
Jesus promised us a life beyond death. John 14:1-2. He opens the gate of heaven. We catch a glimpse of immortality and we learn that we may meet again in another world. Jesus said to His disciples Heaven as “My Father’s House” “The New Jerusalem” and “The Holy city.” What a beautiful expression. The city of God is larger by far than any city and beautiful beyond description. This city is 1500 miles wide, 1500 miles long and most amazing of all it is 1500 miles high. It would be so commodious that it would be abundant for all people of all ages. The city itself is pure Gold. There is a beautiful river in the city that flows from all the way from the throne of the King and winds around in every direction. Its crystal clear, pure water is never contaminated. On the river’s side stands a tree full of life and capable of bringing healing to multiplied thousands. It is a city that no curse has ever blighted, and where nothing ever withers or decays. How I wish I could describe it, but I cannot. Words are so inadequate. You’ll have to see it for yourselves.
Do you want to go there? Remember, it is a prepared place but it is for prepared people.” Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord” declares God, “That they may rest from their labours” Rev.14:13. So to enjoy this promised rest and happiness you must “die in the Lord”. And if you die out of the Lord, Heaven will never be yours. To die in the Lord, you must live in the Lord. If you are now living in the Lord, then you will someday “die in the Lord”. To live in the Lord you must be saved, and to be saved, you must repent from your sin and accept the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior and put your trust in the Lord (Acts 16:31). Then when you die, you’ll be with the Lord in that city through all the countless ages of eternity.
When a loved one dies, we are sorrowful because we miss them. This is natural; but we must remember that they are with God which is far better than being here. If we could see how beautiful it is in Heaven, we would never want to bring them back here. Jesus Christ will one day return and bring His children with Him. Death is not the tragic final act in this drama we call life, but instead death is a glorious Homecoming with our Heavenly Father and with our loved ones who have gone before us. Psalms 116:15 puts it so beautifully when it says, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones". The death of a faithful one is precious to the Lord because through death that loved one is now in the very presence of God, The Father. That loved one is home.
When D. L. Moody, the great evangelist, was dying, his last words were, "Earth is receding, heaven is approaching; this is my crowning day. “Resurrection of Jesus is the assurance that we need have no fear about death. This is why the prediction of the resurrection in that amazing Psalm says “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.