The Last Thing we talk about – Death

The French author Moliere wrote, “We only die once, and for such a long time.”
Bertrand Russell said, “There is no splendour, no vastness anywhere. Only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.
Woody Allen said, “I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens!”

Jesus Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25f.

Is There Life after Death?
Death is the ultimate statistic – one out of one die! Death is the most democratic experience of life – we all participate in it. Death is the one reality all men face, until Jesus Christ returns. For some, death is the end of all hope. But for Christians, the idea that life continues after physical death is not merely wishful thinking, but a happy certainty based on Scriptural evidence.

The resurrection of Jesus means victory over death, and we share in it!

1 Corinthians 15:17-23 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

36-38 What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

42-44 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

53-55 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The words of the Risen Jesus Christ to the apostle John in Revelation 1:17-18:
“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Christians enjoy a relationship with God which even death cannot destroy.

Psalm 16:9-11 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will
rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your
Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 6:35-40, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 14:1-6 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Christian Attitude to Death
So the Christian attitude to death is very different to that of others. Paul wrote, “We do not want you to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” (1 Thess 4:13). For Christians, death is not a hopeless end, but and endless hope!

There is still of course a place for sorrow at death. At the grave of Lazarus Jesus wept and the people said, “See how much he loved him!” (John 11:35-36) Yet Christian grieving will be different, for in Christ we have a hope which looks beyond bodily death to eternity. Death no longer produces fear (Hebrews 2:14-15) because death poses no threat to our relationship with Christ. Rather, death is the doorway through which we must pass to enter into the immediate presence of the Lord we love and Who loves us, and into our eternal home.

2 Corinthians 4:18-5:5 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us
the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

So we have the Holy Spirit living inside us as the first instalment of heaven, guaranteeing our inheritance.

Our death day will actually be a BIRTH day. We have those encouraging words of D.L.Moody. “Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody is dead. Don’t you believe it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I’ve ever been!”

In Knowing God Jim Packer wrote, “Death is truly a door to more instead of less, a plus instead of a minus, an increase instead of a decrease, a filling instead of an emptying.”

Is there any contact between the dead and this world?
Out of grief or curiosity, men throughout the ages have tried to make contact with those who have already died, using many ways including spiritualism (spiritism), mediums, séances, ouija boards, magic, witchcraft, clairvoyance, fortune-telling and automatic writing. ALL SUCH attempts to communicate with the dead (like all occult practices) are explicitly forbidden and condemned by God in Scripture

Deuteronomy 18:9-12; When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no-one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.

Attempts to contact the dead carried the death penalty in Israel, and cost Saul his life (1 Samuel 28 and 1 Chronicles 10:13). Contact with “the other side” is highly unlikely to be genuine. All attempts involve a real danger of contact with the demonic. Anyone who has dabbled in such things or has experiences of spiritism is strongly advised to seek the help of a Minister. Spiritualism is a lie and the false hopes it gives its followers are cruel lies.

But what about “them up there”? Are our late lamented loved ones looking down on us cheering us on? Does the communion of the saints mean that the saints in heaven can see and hear us and occasionally slip us words of encouragement and comfort.

Some people understand Hebrews 12:1 that way. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
But the word “witnesses” here does not mean the saints watching from on high witnessing what we are doing. It means those believers throughout history whose lives of faith are a witness to us of God’s faithfulness.

There is NO contact between this world and the next, in either direction. That’s the way God has said it should be. And God knows best!
But won’t we get a “Second Chance”??
Some people like to hope that God is so loving that He will offer a “second chance” to repent after death for any who reject Him in this life. This hope is unbiblical – it is a false hope!

Three passages in 1 and 2 Peter and Jude seem to hint at a second chance. To understand them properly you also have to look at their background in the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch. The passage about Christ preaching to “spirits in prison” in 1 Peter 3 offers no hope of a “second chance” for men since it clearly refers to Christ proclaming the victory of His cross amongst imprisoned evil spirits awaiting judgement, not to people at all. These passages do not teach either “the harrowing of hell” or the idea of purgatory as a “celestial waiting room.”

Our eternal destiny is fixed in this life only. Death is followed by irrevocable judgement

Hebrews 9:27 tells us that “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

The whole point of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is to warn us that our eternal destiny determined by our actions in this life.
“But Abraham replied, `Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in
agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

The Bible offers us no grounds for a second chance. For each man and woman and child, the moment of death seals our eternal destiny.
For Christians death holds no terrors. “Jesus lives, henceforth is death but the gate to life immortal.” So be comforted!
But remember too friends who don’t know Jesus, who aren’t saved yet. If we really love them we will do all that we can t help them to make sure that they are ready for eternity. Because each of us have this life and this life only to make sure we are ready to meet our Maker.

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