“She knew God’s full glory at 11:55.”
My initial reaction was shock, sorrow, denial. Who hasn’t felt the horror, loss and gut-wrenching sadness of a loved one’s passing? There’s a feeling that it isn’t right. That death is somehow wrong. Unnatural. That’s because it is. Death is an intruder.
The Bible states emphatically that “the last enemy that will be destroyed is Death” [1 Cor 15:26].
Death is the enemy.
When death or tragedy strikes, there is a tendency to turn our attention toward God, either to seek comfort, aid and answers or to shake our fists at the sky. We blame God, but have we any right or cause to do so?
When God originally created the heavens and the earth, it was perfect. This “very good” world had no death, sin or suffering, but Adam sinned against His Creator. God had given Adam dominion over all His Creation; as the kingdom suffers from a king’s bad decision, all Creation was cursed by Adam’s sin. Sin and death passed to Adam’s bloodline rather like spiritual genetics. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, so that death spread to all men, because all have sinned” [Rom 3:23; 5:12], so that now “it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” [Heb 9:27]. The reason that death came by sin is because the wages, or deserved earnings of sin is death [Rom 6:23; cp. Rom 5:12]. Why? Because when you reject the God of the Bible and His will [i.e., when you sin], Who is truth, light, hope, meaning and life [among other things], you accept instead what remains in the absence of God: error, darkness, hopelessness, meaninglessness… and death.
We’ve all sinned. The Ten Commandments and our conscience testify against us. We’ve all disobeyed our parents. We’ve all told a lie. We’ve all taken things that didn’t belong to us, no matter its material value. We are worthy of death. It’s what we’ve earned. It’s what we deserve.
But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Christ took our punishment when He died on the cross in our place. God so loved the world that, while we were yet sinners, He gave this condemned world His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life [John 3:16-21; Rom 5:6, 8]. He paid our penalty and then rose again that we might have eternal life.
This same Jesus who dies and rose again now waits at the right hand of the Father until the restoration of all things, which were prophesied from times past [Acts 3:21]. Those who compromise the plain meaning of the revealed Word of our Creator God and the literal historicity of the Creation Week and the worldwide Noachian Flood with long ages imagined by fallible men put a fossil record of death, suffering and disease before man’s existence. By contrast, the Bible reveals that death and suffering came after sin. This is an important point. Think about it: If this world is to be restored to its pre-Curse state of death, suffering and disease, what sort of a Heaven do we have to look forward to?
Regardless of the compromise of others on the historical reliability of Genesis, the Bible promises the believer a future heaven and earth that will be perfect, just as the original Creation was perfect. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying [Rev 21:1-4]. God Himself will wipe the tears from our eyes.
I had the honor of attending the homecoming [funeral] service of my friend’s wife. As I listened to others share her testimony, her love, her passion for the Gospel and her Sunday school class, her faith and conviction through years of battling leukemia, as I listened to her husband preach with love, hope and authority for those left behind, I was reminded that death is not the end.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare I place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” [John 14:2-3].
As Christians, we mourn the passing of a loved one, but we do not mourn as those who have no hope [1 Thess 4:13]. Supposing that death is the end, many nonChristians see only oblivion, hopelessness and meaninglessness in death. The Christian can be assured that death is not the end. The resurrected Christ is our surety of resurrection after death. The Bible promises that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord [2 Cor 5:8]. One day, we will be reunited with our loved ones in Christ [1 Thess 4:14-18]. Jesus took the keys of death and hell [Rev 1:18] when He rose again, so that we could experience the prophetic realities off Hosea 13:14…
“O Death, where is thy victory?
O Death, where is thy sting?”
…and Isaiah 25:8…
“Death is swallowed up in victory!”
… and Job 19:25-27…
“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.”
…and 2 Timothy 4:6-8…
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
…and of 1 Corinthians 13:12 [for Kristin who knew God’s full glory at 11:55]…
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
If you are not a Christian, I pray you make a decision to acknowledge Christ Jesus as your Creator, Savior and Lord, so that you too may have the promise of this Blessed Hope:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” [1 Thess 4:16-18]