Death is something that many of us do not want to think about, and it is usually brushed aside as a negative subject. Even though death is all around us (especially with the news coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic), we often try to pretend that we will live forever. However, a glance at the newspapers or the untimely death of a loved one forces us to face the reality of death. Death is the great equaliser—it is like a tunnel which each of us must pass through. We may die of the coronavirus, or by innumerable other ways. But, we are all going to taste death one day, regardless of whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, high caste or low caste, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, black, white or brown. So how should we think about death?
One way people think about death is that it is the end of a person’s existence. Some believe that our brain stops working and we just cease to exist. “It’s the cessation of all the physical activity within our body,” they say. Others think that when we die, our soul will be assimilated into the atmosphere and thus we become one with nature. Still, others think that death is the pathway into a new life, that we keep reincarnating until we escape the cycle of birth and rebirth. These thoughts about death seem to give comfort to the mind, but are these thoughts true, and do they take away the fear of death? If we want truth and real comfort, we should turn to the Bible—through which God has revealed himself to us. Let us briefly dwell on three truths that help us get a Biblical perspective on death.
1. Death Comes to All Because of Sin
The book of Genesis tells us that human sin is the reason death exists in the world . Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobeying his command not to eat the forbidden fruit (Gen.2:17). Just as God had warned, this act of defiance brought death into the world (Gen. 3:19). And ever since, death has become an inseparable part of fallen human existence. It is a reality we cannot escape because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Even though we don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, the ultimate evidence that we are all sinners is that we will all die.
2. Heaven and Hell are Real
The Bible further teaches that when we die, we will all face God’s judgment (Heb. 9:27), a prospect which should cause us sinners to fear because God is holy. What will happen at this judgment? Jesus taught very clearly that there are two possible outcomes of God’s judgment for all who die. In his parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16: 19-31), we see that the rich man’s soul goes to Hades, a place of torment (vs. 23). On the other hand, Lazarus’s soul was carried by the angels to “Abraham’s bosom”, a place of comfort (vs. 22). And when teaching about the final judgment, Jesus says when all the dead will be raised, some will spend eternity with the Lord (Matt. 25: 34) and some shall be sent to be tormented in the lake of fire forever (Matt. 25: 41). In other words, life does not end with death—we are faced with eternal life or eternal death. So, the real question is not about death, but what are we going to do after death—where are we going to spend eternity? Does the Bible give us any hope?
3. Jesus is our Only Hope
The Bible is emphatically clear that Jesus is the only way for sinners to have eternal life (Jn. 14:6). This is because Jesus faced and tasted death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). And since death could not finally defeat Jesus (Acts 2:24), he is the only one who can save us from eternal death and give us eternal life. The Bible is also clear that we cannot earn eternal life by our efforts. Our religious activity, regular church attendance, faithful giving to the church, decent lifestyle, or other good works cannot buy us a place in heaven. Instead, all we need to do is repent of our sins and believe in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16). This is God’s gracious free gift to us.
Dear Friend! Do you ever think about death? Do you fear death? Are you ready to die? Why don’t you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ before it’s too late? Death is real and will come to us all. Heaven and Hell are real and there are no other options. Jesus is your only hope—only he can give you eternal life. So why don’t you turn to him while you still have the chance? Why don’t you do it before you draw your last breath?
And dear Christian Brother or Sister, isn’t God’s gracious gift of eternal life so precious? We don’t need to fear death but can rejoice in what the Bible teaches. We are all sinners who deserve eternal death but God has given us eternal life. Let our whole lives reflect our immense gratitude to God, and let us spread the good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ in the world which is so afraid of death (2 Cor. 5:15).
Samuel Boppuri serves as a Pastor at Reformed Baptist Church in Vinukonda, Andhra Pradesh. He is married to Vijaya and has two children.