A Christian Perspective on Death
People die every day. When it hits close to home we feel it even more keenly. The searing pain of loss. The grief over not having our loved one near anymore. At those times we think of our own mortality, that we too will someday die. That is why the Bible actually says it's better to go to a funeral than a party, because the living take it to heart and think deeply about it (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
How is a Christian to view death? It will help to start with how a Christian is to view life.
Physical life is a gift from God. He gives to all people life and breath (Acts 17:25). Eternal life is a gift from God (Rom. 6:23). To all who want it He grants it by faith. According to His great mercy He causes us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We see in the Bible the gospel principal that life comes out of death. Jesus illustrated this with the words "unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). Christians are said to have been spiritually dead and God makes them alive spiritually with Christ (Eph. 2:1-7). God takes us from death to life spiritually. We walk, or live, in newness of life.
2 Cor. 5:17 says Christians are new creations in Christ. Because of our new life in Christ, we are to "die" to sin. We are to seek the termination of all sinful things in our lives (Col. 3:5). We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11). We are also are called to die to self, to no longer live for ourselves but for the sake of Him who died and rose again on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:14). We have passed out of the realm of death and into the realm of life in Christ (1 John 3:14). Spiritually, we have been crucified with Christ and we now live through Him and because of Him (Gal. 2:20). There is so much more that can be said. The Bible is chock full of these truths about how we have died to our old ways and been raised to new life in Christ.
When it comes to physical death, we should not fear death. It ushers us into the very presence of God. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1-10). Jesus spoke intensely of this at the death of His close friend Lazarus, comforting Martha with these words: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) Paul spoke of the resurrection of believers in 1 Thessalonians 4, assuring the church that those who die believing will live forever with the Lord. And we do not believe in the annihilation of the wicked. Those who do not believe will also live forever in conscious torment in hell. The truth is that people live forever, not physically as we know it here on earth, but spiritually in a resurrected state.
Life is precious. So is the death of God's chosen ones (Psalm 116:15). Whether we live or die we belong to God. While we live we are to seek God's glory not our own. For Christians, life on earth now is to be spent praising the glories of God's grace in Christ in doing active works of mercy and love for the glory of God and good of all. And we are to rest assured in the gospel truth of our living hope of a glorious future life with God forever.
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