by Roland W. Keith
Most people fear death. We are, after all, born with a natural impulse and desire to live. However, death is a natural part of life; there is a beginning and there is an end to our human existence, as there is for all physical life. Solomon wrote, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).
After Adam and Eve's fall from grace God told Adam, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). Since then no man has had access to the Tree of Life that was put into the garden to sustain man for as long as he ate from it. From the first man and woman’s sin until the world comes to an end each of us will return to the dust from which we were taken, and our souls will return to the spiritual realm (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Every one of us has an appointment with death and judgment (Hebrews 9:27). For most human’s death is not what they should fear, however, because it is inevitable, what they should be afraid of is the judgment they will face afterwards. But they do not dread that day because the don’t believe they will be judged. The wise man on the other hand heeds the observation of Job when “he said to man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding'" (Job 28:28).
For the man and woman who takes Job’s advice the natural fear of death is under good regulation. We can look forward to that day knowing what awaits us, with the confidence of one who has prepared for their appearance before the judgment seat of Christ. We do not need to fear our own demise, nor overly grieve the death of loved ones we know died as faithful Christians because we know there is a place for them in the kingdom of God (I Thessalonians 4:13-14; II Corinthians 5:1).
God has fixed the day of judgment on which all of mankind will be held to account for the life we have lived, judged by the one appointed (Acts 17:31). In Revelation John gave us a brief description of that day: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12-13; Matthew 25:31-46).
That day may well be both the most tragic day in history and the most joyful. On that day all the saints will finally enter heaven to spend eternity with God, but for those not found in the book of life “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might” (II Thessalonians 1:9). The cowardly, liars, idolaters, the sexually immoral and many others that make up the faithless and disobedient will suffer what is known as the second death in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15; 21:8).
Without describing the actual day of judgment Paul alluded to its outcome when he wrote to the Romans, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). For Paul to die was gain. He saw the afterlife as something far better than life on earth (Philippians 1:21-23). Moreover, no matter how well we live life here or how good life is to us it does not equal what is awaiting us in heaven. Though we cannot receive our inheritance while in earthly form (I Corinthians 15:50), nor can we depart before our time, we can certainly make it our life’s goal to get there and to bring as many others with us as we can.
It is the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation and its reward that helps us to alleviate the fear of death and to proceed through life with a sense of purpose that extends beyond our time here on earth (Revelation 2:10). The Bible tells us that God’s children are precious in His sight (Psalm 116:15). It also tells us that those who die in the Lord are blessed and will find rest from their labors (Revelation 14:13).
None of us know exactly what heaven or hell will be like, but we are given enough information to make an informed decision about God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are also given enough information to decide where we would rather spend eternity. We can follow the world through the wide gate that leads to destruction, or we can enter through the narrow gate that leads to life as one of the saints of God (Matthew 7:13-14).
Jesus told the apostles, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to
Myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Does Jesus have a place prepared for you? If not, it is not too late to change the path you’re on.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.