The Gospel for Real Life

It Is Not Death To Die

Over the past couple months, I’ve been hit with the reality of death because of the sudden nature of it in a couple of friend’s lives (read another post here). I’ve cried and my heart has ached for those who are left in the trenches of this earth while a family member has been taken away.

Questions like: “Why?!” or “God, couldn’t You have done things another way?” have come to my mind.  I realize that death is a part of the fall, and it causes me to ponder.  I also want to follow through on the challenge from James 1:3 to ensure that joy, in all of its fullness, is coming along side of me – even in the darker moments of life.

There are a few things that I am learning: a) death is an obvious picture of the reality and consequences of humanity’s fall into sin and b) the hope we can have in the Savior even in the face of death.  Here are a few ways in which I see a picture of humanity’s fall into sin in the face of death.

  1. It takes over – without warning.  The fall into death through sin was the same.  We know that there was process into buying into the lie of Satan, but when sin was actually committed – experiencing the taste of spiritual death – Adam and Eve were taken by surprise by the extent of what “death” meant.
  2. It takes away potential joy.  If you have lost someone you love, you realize that you now no longer have moments with them to look forward to.  The same with sin.  Sin cost humanity real, deep and abiding joy.
  3. It is painful.  Many times, death is a painful process for the person who died.  Some are graced with simply falling asleep.  Others experience much pain.  With sin, it was (and still is) a painful death.
  4. It has the power to be destructive in other’s lives.  The death of a loved one is a trial, and like all trials, we can be tempted to give up and give in (Jas. 1:12-18).  Unfortunately, families have broken because of loved one who have died.  With sin, it has a destructive nature,  working to cause people to give up and die in their relationship with God – as happened with Adam.
  5. It can produce fear and anxiety.  This relates to the previous point.  When someone dies, we can become fearful in a myriad of ways – thinking someone else will die, thinking we cannot make it through, thinking God cannot be trusted.  As a result, we do not seek to get involved in people’s lives, but instead we hide, in our fig leaves, from God and from each other.
All of these parallels can help remind us that sin is serious, and death is unforgiving, but there is hope that the Christian has even in the midst of death.  Don’t miss this inexpressible joy that is promised in the next few sentences.  Jesus conquered death – the consequence of humanity’s fall into sin through Adam.  “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting'” (1 Cor. 15:20-22, 54-55).  The reality is that Jesus conquered death.  Even though we still experience physical dying in this fallen world, Jesus is making all things new so that we will be resurrected like Him with imperishable bodies.  It is Jesus who has taken away the sting.  Although we sorrow, we sorrow not as those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13).  We can cast our anxieties at God’s throne because He really does care for us (1 Pet. 5:7).  It is because of Jesus that we are offered joy in Him in the midst of painful tragedy of the loss of a loved one (Jas. 1:2).  It is Jesus who grants eternal life to those who trust in Him so that people can say, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).  In the end, believers, while still experiencing sadness because of the reality of the fall, can also experience great hope because of the reality of Jesus’ death, resurrection and second coming!

Therefore, in humility, sadness and confident hope, believers can say, like the hymn below, “It is not death to die.  Jesus has conquered the grave!”

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

(Chorus) O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI) Original words by Henri Malan (1787–1864). Translated by George Bethune (1847). Music, chorus, and alternate words by Bob Kauflin

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2 responses

  1. DGD

    Great message Timothy and to ever keep in mind all of these rich truths. Thanks!
    Love, Mom

    September 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    • Thanks for the encouragement, mom!

      September 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

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