The Believers’ victorious living on earth is a foretaste of the glorious life hereafter.
HYMN: THERE’S A LAND THAT IS FAIRER THAN DAY
2 Samuel 12: 15-23; Philippians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
“…for what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeared for a little time, and then vanished away”, James 4:14. The physical life of man is brief. However, death is a universal experience for all of mankind. There’s no individual, whether rich or poor, wise or foolish, great or small that has power to resist in the day of death. Psalm 89:48 says, “What man is he that lived and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?” The appointment with death is compulsory for both the believer in Christ and the non-believers in Him. The Lord Jesus conquered death for the believers and defeated Satan that had enslaved mankind in the fear of death. To the believer death is gain, triumphant, and to be greatly desired. The believer in Christ does not fear death, Psalm 23:4, but has hope in his death, Proverbs 14:32. Whether alive or dead physically, the believer belongs to the Lord, and lives eternally with the Lord. Unfortunately, when the unbeliever dies he/she is lost forever in hell, because his/her inner man is dead in sin and forever separated from God. Sorrow is the portion of the unbeliever after death but the fullness of redemption is the portion of the righteous.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To appropriate how the Bible highlights the finality of death.
2. To see the contrast between the death of the believer-in-
Christ and an unbeliever.
3. To appreciate that the believer belongs to the LORD whether
alive or dead physically.
1. HOW DOES SCRIPTURE HIGHLIGHT THE FINALITY OF DEATH?
The physical life of man is said to be like a vanishing vapor. “That appeared for a little time, and then vanished away”, James 4:14. Life is brief. Also physical death, which is compared to “sleep in the dust of the earth”, Job 7:21; Daniel 12;2, is a compulsory experience for all living things, Ecclesiastes 3:19. It is “ the house appointed for all living”, Job 30:23. No man, whether rich, poor, wise, foolish, brutish, etc., has power to resist in the day of death, Psalm 49:10, 89:48;Ecclesiastes 8:8. Categorically, it is stated in Hebrews 9:27 that “it is appointed (fixed or decided) for (all) men once to die…” (amplified translation). This appointment is compulsory for both believers in Christ and unbelievers. The LORD GOD foretold of this in Genesis 3:19 with the phrase, “till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” “Thus, man dies immediately the spirit and soul are removed and separated from the body and returned to the giver and maker, Ecclesiastes 12:7; James 2;26. The body then goes back to dust. It was after the Lord Jesus had commended (entrusted for safekeeping) His spirit into the hands of the Father that He gave up the ghost or died, Luke 23:46. By going through death, the Lord Jesus destroyed (brought to naught and made of no effect) the devil who had the power to enslave people with the fear of death, also setting such persons free, Hebrews 2:14-15. This is victory over death for all who are in the Lord Jesus Christ. No wonder there is a marked difference between the death of a believer in Christ and that of the unbeliever, Luke 16:19-31. Unfortunately, every nonbeliever in Christ though
alive physically is dead spiritually, not having the life of God but only physical life.
2. DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN THE DEATH OF THE BELIEVER AND THAT OF THE UNBELIEVER.
From the first man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death came as the wages of sin; as a result, death spread to all men (no one being able to stop it or to escape its power) because all men sinned”, Romans 5:12. So every man living on earth must keep this appointment with physical death. Because Jesus Christ has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10), the life of the believer in Christ continues in eternity with God. So, the believer is not afraid to die physically (Psalm 23:4); he/she“sleeps” peacefully and hopefully too. Just as God delights in a life that is pleasing to Him, so also Romans 14:8 drives this truth home further: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” “the believer belongs to the Lord, even in/at death. Also, it is gain or profit for the believer as soon as he/she dies, Philippians 1:21. The individual will automatically be freed from this world’s hustles, demands for living, pressures
from society, family, government etc., taking rest from his/her labors in the bosom of the Lord. So, every believer reading this should ensure that the life being lived now is lived for the Lord. On the other hand, it is a sorrowful end for those who die as unbelievers. After death the unbeliever awaits the judgment of God, and will be doomed for the second death. There is no hope for the unbeliever, as everlasting “blackness of darkness” has been reserved for such a one, Jude 13. There is no repentance and salvation in the grave after physical death. Death ends all probation for the one who does. After death there is no second chance to live on earth and be saved. This individual will be lost from salvation forever unless he/she repents now that there’s life.
3. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A BELIEVER DIES PHYSICALLY?
2 Corinthians 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
We have established in the previous section that it is profit for the believer the moment he/she dies physically. For the believer, when physical death takes place his/her real self or inner man leaves the body and
goes back to the Giver and Maker. So, every human being should greatly desire to die as a righteous man/woman. The body, which came from dust, is committed to the earth at death but the inner man (spirit and soul) is immortal (never dies), possessing eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ. The physical “body without the spirit is dead”, James 2:26. Thus the soul and spirit of the righteous go to heaven to be with the Lord with the spirits of men made perfect to await the final resurrection. On the other hand, the inner man of unsaved individuals is dead in sins but go to hell at death, also to await the resurrection of the
dead for judgment, Luke 16:19- 21; Revelation 20:11-15. Thus, eternal life is enjoyed by the believer while the physical life continues with the Lord forever even after physical death. Seeing that these things shall be so, “what manner of persons ought we (believers) to be in all holy conversation and godliness”, 2 Peter 3:11.
4. HOW HAS THE CHRISTIAN’S UNDERSTANDING OF DEATH STRENGTHENED BELIEVERS WHO HAVE HAD TO FACE MARTYRDOM?
The understanding by the believer that our Lord Jesus Christ abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, 2 Timothy 1:10, has established the hearts of the saints. Though death could seem horrific physically like facing martyrdom ‘by the sword’, being ‘sawn asunder’, Hebrews 11:37, the believer is hopeful knowing that ‘the dropping of the carton’ is not the end of life, but that there is a better home in view. Before being martyred, the individual is often tortured and threatened with death, with the sole purpose of making him deny his faith in the Lord and live. The believer resolves to take a stand for the Lord, come ‘rain’ or ‘sun’, torture or death, knowing that the tormentors would only destroy the body but are not able to touch and destroy the inner man (soul and spirit). This is obedience to the Lord Jesus, who counseled the believers in Matthew 10:28 to “Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” An absence from the body at death is to be present with the Lord. Therefore, to the believers, martyrdom is one way of getting to be with the Lord, Philippians 1:21-23; it is no disadvantage, but had only quickened their journey to being present with their Lord. Martyrdom does not deprive the believer of any grace, honor,favor and blessing that GOD bestows, Acts 7:55-56. Every believer should remember that martyrdom is a strategy the enemy Satan adopts to stop the preaching of the Gospel but the event serves as an avenue of Gospel propagation. Furthermore, the understanding that his life is very safe in God’s hands made saints like Stephen to stand for righteousness in the face of death. In this time also, we know of believers in Russia and other parts of the world, whom have courageously faced death in some horrible manner because of the testimony they bore of the Lord. Of course, it is far better to be with the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:23.
5. IN WHAT WAY IS REDEMPTION BOTH PRESENT AND FUTURE?
We understand that to redeem means to purchase back, Galatians 3;13 says, “Christ has redeemed us…” and Colossians 1:14 says, “…we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins”. So, an individual becomes redeemed the moment he/she repents from sin, consecrates his/her life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and accepts Him as Lord and personal Savior. From this moment henceforth, the individual is delivered from the dominion of Satan as his agents. Since sin, sickness and death are proceeds from the kingdom of the devil, the believer in Christ is redeemed from the fear and dominion of these. It is this life of Christ in the believer that is eternal life. The Lord said in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” For as long as the believer retains this life of Christ in him, he is said to have eternal life and if such an individual endures to the end he shall have the final redemption. We have victory through our Lord; the reality of this total redemption is experienced presently in our day-to-day walk in this life. The future of our redemption is seen in the hope of eternal or everlasting life, after the end of this physical life. The fullness or
totality of our redemption will be displayed when we are with the Lord. The Lord obtained eternal redemption for us, Hebrews 9:12, and the Holy Spirit has sealed the believer unto the day of redemption, Ephesians 4:30. Each believer is expected to experience the realities of redemption in Christ and hope to the end for the final day of the Lord. We have been purchased unto God for ever, whether in this life or hereafter. The believer belongs to the Lord forever. However, if a believer does not continue in the life of Christ to the end of his life, he stands to lose the final redemption. There is therefore need for a consistent
walk with the Lord unto the end of this physical life. “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”, Matthew 24:13.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
Since death is a universal experience for all of mankind, and that it is dangling over all, man ought to prepare for his/her hereafter. Seeing that there is a marked difference between the death of a believer in Christ and that of the unbeliever; there is need for us to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith, 2 Corinthians 13:5. The believer belongs to the Lord in/at death, and forever, but the unbeliever will face a sorrowful end at death and be lost from salvation forever. The afterlife of each believer that walks circumspectly not as a fool but wisely, redeeming the time, will be gloriously spent in the presence of the Lord. Apostle Paul therefore proclaimed, “For me, to live is Christ (His life in me); and to die is gain (the gain of the glory of eternity). My yearning desire is to depart (to be free of this world, to set forth) and be with Christ, for that is far, far better, Philippians 1:21-23 Amplified Translation. Let us continually accept and proclaim that we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth.
Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Mon: Death is an appointment to be kept.
Ecclesiastes 3:19, 8:8; Hebrews 9:27
Tue: Wise and foolish men die.
Psalm 49:10, 89:48
Wed: A believer’s death is precious in the sight of God.
Thu: The believer has hope in his death.
Proverbs 14:32; Psalm 23:4
Fri: Death is gain to the Believer.
Philippians 1:21-23; Revelation 14:13
Sat: The believer belongs to God in/at death and thereafter.