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In a hospital lays a very young boy under a coma while hanging on to his life. H
is parents are outside waiting for the doctor’s diagnosis. The doctor came and a
sked, Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Doe? Mr. Doe answered, Yes, we are. Then the doc
tor said, We’ve done all the tests and examinations on your son Johnny, but I re
gret to say this, he has a terminal case of brain tumor, he only has one month t
o live, I’m very sorry. Mrs. Doe cried at that instant while Mr. Doe punched the
wall and asked, Why does this have to happen?
Death should be accepted for it is the inevitable end of all living creatures.
Death (physical) is separation of soul from the body.
The Apostle Paul said,
1Co 15:55 O death, where is your power? O death, where are your pains?
He said that because he is confident that after death (physical) there will be r
esurrection. And yet a lot of people don’t know this, even a lot of Christians d
on’t seem to understand this. To help us understand this, we’ll look at the diff
erent shades of meaning of the word death in the Greek language.
First is an end, limit, hence the end of life, death, is used of the dea
th of Herod (Matt. 2:15).
Next is s it literally signifies a taking up or off, as of the taking of
a life, or putting to death; it is found in Acts 8:1, of the murder of Stephen.
Then the most common word is s and it can mean the separation of the soul
from the body or the separation of man from God.
Death in whichever of the above-mentioned senses it is used, is always, in Scrip
ture, viewed as the penal consequence of sin.
Death (physical) is defined in the Bible as the separation of the soul from the
body. Man is unique, in that he was made in the image and likeness of God. His s
oul does not go out of existence when it leaves the body but lives forever. When
Christians die, their souls leave their bodies and go immediately to be with Ch
Most people who don’t believe in God deny the reality of life after death. They
say the grave ends all, and they feel no need to plan for eternity. Some time ag
o an unbeliever wanted to make this point, so he had these words inscribed on hi
s tombstone: All dressed up and no place to go.
How ironic! It’s true that we put people in their best clothes for the coffin, o
r we may even purchase new ones. But when believers die, their bodies are put in
the ground but their souls go to be with the Lord.
2Co 5:8 We should be cheerful, because we would rather leave these bodies and be
at home with the Lord.
If a child is confronted with the death of an animal, we can take the opportunit
y to point out that the life has left the body, and that nothing remains but the
carcass. But if we die, we can assure our relatives that the body which is left
behind is an empty shell in which we no longer live. Then we make it clear that
the soul is in heaven with our Lord Jesus if saved.
Death (spiritual) is separation from God
A second basic biblical truth about death ( s) has to do with the state of
the soul after it leaves the body. Physical death, as the wages of sin, is only
part of sin’s penalty. What happens to the soul after it leaves the body is of e
ven greater importance. For some, the future life will be wonderful beyond descr
iption, but it will be terrible for others. Revelation 20:14 declares that the u
nbelieving and wicked who are judged at the Great White Throne will be cast into
the Lake of Fire, which is the second death.
Every person who does not believe on Jesus Christ is now spiritually dead—separa
ted from God. Paul said of Christians,
Eph 2:1 In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and s
When an unbeliever, alienated from God, undergoes physical death, he enters Eter
nity as a child of wrath. Then, when his body is resurrected and judged at the G
reat White Throne, he is sent to the Lake of Fire, where he will experience fore
ver what Revelation 20:14 calls the second death. For the one who has not receiv
ed Christ as Savior, then, physical death—separation of soul from the body—is bu
t a portion of a far more dreadful aspect of death; it is the eternal separation
of the soul from God.
Several years ago I read a pamphlet that quoted the dying words of various peopl
e who did not profess faith in Jesus Christ. The English atheist Thomas Hobbes s
aid, I am taking a fearful leap into the dark! The French infidel Voltaire cried
out, I am abandoned by God and man; I shall go to hell! Sir Francis Newport wai
led in anguish, Oh, Eternity, Eternity forever and forever! Oh, the insufferable
pangs of hell!
What a sobering contrast to the last words of people who knew and loved Christ a
s their Lord and Savior. Dwight L. Moody said, This is glorious! Earth recedes;
heaven is opening; God is calling me! Sir David Brewster declared, I will see Je
sus—see Him as He is. I have had the light for many years. Oh, how bright it is!
I feel so safe, so satisfied! And these words from a man being burned at the st
ake, Blessed be the time that ever I was born for this day. We shall not lose ou
r lives in this fire, he said to his fellow martyrs, but only change them for so
mething better.
This should cause us to be more zealous, more fervent in sharing the gospel to o
thers. A lot of people are dying every day, with their souls eternally destined
for hell. May God give us the burden for these souls.
Death is an enemy
The third Bible truth which helps us understand the meaning of death is found in
Paul’s description of it as
1Co 15:26 The last enemy to be defeated will be death.
A born-again Christian knows he has been delivered from spiritual death and unde
rstands that his soul merely leaves his body and goes to heaven. But he still so
rrows when a loved one dies, and he has a certain amount of dread when he thinks
of his own departure. This is perfectly in keeping with Paul’s statement that d
eath will continue to be the enemy of mankind until the final resurrection has t
aken place.
Unbelievers sometimes ridicule us for going to doctors when we are ill, or for s
orrowing when our loved ones die. They say that if we really believe that going
to be with Christ is so wonderful, why shouldn’t we welcome an illness that migh
t be terminal and make every funeral a festive occasion? But we need not be emba
rrassed by these charges. In fact it is perfectly natural and proper for us to s
how a certain amount of reluctance to die and to manifest grief when people we l
ove are taken away.
An Associate Pastor visited a Senior Pastor shortly before his death. The Senior
Pastor said that he was deeply grateful for the glorious assurance that salvati
on is by grace through faith, and that to be absent from the body means to be pr
esent with the Lord. Then with a twinkle in his eye, he added, But I wish the Lo
rd would open the curtain just a little bit and let me take a peek at what’s on
the other side. I can’t ask for that, though, because God wants us to walk by fa
A solemn sense of mystery hangs over death, and this gives rise to fear, sometim
es even in the most godly. Therefore, it is alright for us to show sorrow when a
loved one dies. And it is appropriate for Christians to seek medical aid to hel
p prolong their lives.
Death can be a friend
The fourth biblical truth which helps give us a proper perspective of death is t
he clear teaching that the gain in dying far outweighs the loss for a believer.
The Apostle Paul believed that death can be a welcome messenger for the believer
. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, he told them that he had an inner strug
gle whenever he thought about dying. He wanted to remain on earth and continue h
is ministry of building up saints and reaching sinners, but he also found within
himself a yearning to be with Christ in heaven. He was certain this would be th
e happier of the two possibilities, for he said,
Phi 1:21 If I live, it will be for Christ, and if I die, I will gain even more.
Phi 1:23 It is a hard choice to make. I want to die and be with Christ, because
that would be much better.
A pastor friend once told me of his dying brother who had lapsed into a coma. Hi
s brother unexpectedly moved, and opened his eyes to look into the face of his b
rother. He managed a light smile and said, Shucks! What a disappointment! I thou
ght the next face I see would be that of Jesus. Death became his friend because
he had a proper perspective.
We should emphasize the truth that death is gain in our teaching and preaching.
Because it will bring comfort to the bereaved. And it will minister peace to tho
se who know that their death is imminent.
Through the centuries that have followed, these great biblical truths have helpe
d numerous Christians face death without fear. We should be ready to accept deat
h because all living creatures will eventually die. May we, like the Apostle Pau
l, confidently say,
1Co 15:55 Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?"