Death is an unpleasant subject. Unless someone is in the death business (i.e., mortuaries, cemeteries, tombstones, etc.), we usually don’t like to talk about it—or even think about our own demise.
Death has had a bad reputation throughout human history. It was pronounced as a penalty for Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:17), and all human beings (with the exception of Enoch and Elijah) have to pay the price, as well (Rom. 5:12).
But it will happen to all of us. So here are some important things to think about death.
Everyone will die.
Eventually, everyone will die. The only people who will not die are those who are alive when Christ returns (Heb. 9:27; 1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thes. 4:15).
Death is a terror.
Bildad, Job’s friend, depicted death as the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). A psalmist wrote of the “terrors of death,” and in connection therewith spoke of pain, fearfulness, trembling, and horror (Psa. 55:4).
Even a New Testament writer tells of the “fear of death” that held all people in bondage prior to the redemptive work of Christ (Heb. 2:14-15).
Death ends biological life.
Exactly what is death?
From the physical vantage point, death is the cessation of the biological life. All the functions of the body will cease. At death, the body immediately begins to decay, with a subsequent disintegration back to the dust of the earth whence it came originally (Gen. 2:7; 3:19; Eccl. 12:7; 2 Cor. 5:1).
Death involves a separation of the spirit from the body.
Death releases our spirit from the body. At the point of death, the spirit (or soul), leaves the body (Gen. 35:18; Jas. 2:26) and enters the appointed depository of spirits.
The state of the spirit after death depends upon the relationship of the deceased with God and his Son (cf. Lk. 16:19ff). But the spirit does not fade into a lifeless nothingness.
The dead ones are conscious.
Death is a sphere of consciousness. While death is sometimes described as a “sleep” (Dan. 12:2; Jn. 11:11; 1 Cor. 15:6ff; 1 Thes. 4:13ff), that expression applies solely to the temporary state of the body—not the soul.
The state of the spirit for those who die lost is one of torment and anguish (Lk. 16:24-26). The condition of the righteous is one of comfort (Lk. 16:25).
But what could be so comforting in the death of the righteous? The after-death state of those who are righteous is said to be very far better (Phil. 1:21-23) than the fairest scenes of earth’s environment. To be absent from the body is to be “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8), in a state of heavenly happiness (Rev. 14:13).
The idea of soul sleeping is foreign to the Scriptures, though occasionally advocated by misguided professors of Christianity.
The death of the body is temporary.
Death is a temporary phenomenon for the body. Even in its decayed disposition in the dust, it awaits the day of resurrection.
The concept of the bodily resurrection is found in both the Old and New Testaments. However, it is more prominent in the New Testament, because “life and immortality” have been brought into fuller view through the gospel of Christ (2 Tim. 1:10).
Daniel spoke of the resurrection of both the wicked and the faithful (Dan. 12:2), as did the Lord Jesus (Jn. 5:28-29). Clearly, there is a destiny for both body and soul—hell for the wicked and heaven for the obedient (Mt. 10:28; 25:46; Mk. 9:43-48).
There is a curious oddity in Hannover, Germany. A defiant atheist had his tomb covered with huge blocks of stone, bound with iron bands. There is this inscription: “This tomb is purchased for eternity; it will never be opened.”
Strangely, a poplar seed somehow was enclosed in the dark mold. Eventually, a mighty tree sprang up; it burst the bands asunder and moved the stones as if waving leafy arms in defiance of the godless boast carved upon the marker. I have a photograph of this tomb with the protruding tree.
If a tiny seed can exert such force, think of the phenomenal demonstration, as the Creator of that seed demonstrates his power when all graves will be opened.
Death brings mixed emotions.
We approach death with mixed emotions. We are grieved at the thought of leaving work undone and precious family behind.
On the other hand, for the child of God there is the tingling anticipation of being escorted by angels (Lk. 16:22) into the blessed presence of Him who died for us, that we might be forever with the holy Godhead, the angels, the faithful of the ages, and our own loved ones who have died in Christ!