Today, I will talk with you about making the journey from death to eternal life. We will begin with the thought that death takes many forms. We can talk about the death of a dream, the death of hope, the death of relationships, the death of a marriage, death of a loved one, and ultimately physical death. All of these forms of death can be very painful.
Another form of death is spiritual death. A fact that we must face is that, without Christ, we are spiritually dead while we are physically alive. Millions of people live in spiritual darkness. Unless they are delivered out of this darkness, they will live eternally in spiritual death. They will be eternally separated from God.
Fear of Death
Several times, I have heard Larry King on CNN say that the thing he fears most is death. Obviously, he is referring to physical death. Larry King is a professed agnostic. He does not believe in Christ as the Son of God. Because of this, he fears death. Untold numbers of people are just like him. The death-bed comments of many people testify to the fear they experience as they die. Bertrand Russell said: “There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere; only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.” To those without hope in Christ, physical death leads to darkness and nothing.
Contrast this view with the Christian view of death. Someone said that “Christians die well!” There is a reason for this. The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 that we do not grieve as those “who have no hope.” Our hope is in Christ through whom we have life eternal. Given our hope, we can face death with peace in our hearts. We can place our lives in God’s hands without fear.
Coping with Death
We experience a life-long struggle against death in all of its forms. We plan our way and build our strategies for life. Things may go well for a season, then the seemingly inevitable happens. Things turn bad for us. Our highest hopes and dreams seem to go down the drain of life and leave us stunned. Our brightest hopes turn into forlorn hopes and eventually into feelings of utter defeat.
We struggle against the seeming inevitability of death. We know that we will die physically, but we want to prolong life as long as possible. We strive mightily to overcome other forms of death. We read self-help books by the dozen and try to think positively at every turn. But even our positive thinking seems to hit the wall without success. Death in some form becomes a reality.
Contrast this battle with the approach of those who commit themselves to God and to Christ. In Proverbs 16:9 we read, “The heart of man plans his way, But the LORD establishes his steps.” When the Lord directs our steps, we live in victory. The victory may not be in the exact form we expected, but it will be in the form that God desires.
The Gift of Eternal Life
Fortunately, we can become recipients of the gift of eternal life. God gave His Son to die for our sins so that we might have eternal life. In John 6:47 Jesus says, “Whoever believes has eternal life.” He means that He who believes in Jesus has eternal life. This eternal life is a quality of life that endures forever. We experience it now and will have it in fullness when we are in the presence of Christ forever and ever.
No wonder Christians die well. When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was facing death, he said, “This is the end, for me the beginning of life.” Although he faced physical death, he was looking forward to beginning his life in the presence of Christ. It was for him a beginning. Actually, eternal life begins in this life, but in the sense of being in the presence of Christ, it begins with death.
Death Has Lost Its Sting
Those who believe in Christ have the hope of eternal life. Because they have this hope, they do not fear death as those who have no hope. They look forward to putting on an imperishable body and living eternally. The apostle Paul declares (1 Corinthians 15:53-55 NASB):
53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
55 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?”
Ultimately, every person will die physically. Meanwhile, we experience death in many forms. The solution lies in our faith in Christ. When we believe in Christ, we begin our journey from death to eternal life. The journey begins with faith, but it never ends. We can look forward to eternal life in the presence of our Lord. It will be abundant life in its highest form! Believe in Him today!