When you were young, it probably seemed like you would live forever. People rarely think about dying when they are young and healthy. But when you grow older or have a serious disease such as cancer, you realize that life is short. When a friend or loved one passes, you are reminded that you also are mortal. As death approaches, you may become fearful in anticipation of your own death.
The following scripture speaks of the time that Jesus was here in the flesh. Hebrews 2:14-15 “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Jesus Christ came in the flesh, just like you and me. By dying on the cross, He conquered the devil. Previously, we all were in bondage to sin and in bondage to the devil and had reason to fear our death. Through Christ’s sacrifice we have freedom and no longer need to fear death.
You might fear death for any of a number of reasons. You might fear death because of the pain that might be associated with dying. You might fear the unknown that you cannot see and whatever evil might be there. You might fear the coldness, loneliness and darkness of the grave. You might fear the judgement trial before God the Father. You might fear the condemnation which awaits the guilty. But through Jesus Christ, dread and fear should be taken away. As a true follower of Jesus, your sin has been removed. Through faith, you know that God has prepared a wonderful heavenly home for you. As a result, you can look to the world beyond with triumphant joy. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your sting? O hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Death is the way for you to be with Christ in glory. A Christian has nothing to fear in death or anything beyond the grave.
We have assurance that there is a resurrection from the dead because of Christ’s resurrection. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” There were many witnesses to the resurrection of Christ; we understand it to be a sure fact. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Since Christ is risen from the dead, we know that we also will experience a resurrection. Death is not the end. We will live on in eternal life.
The apostle Paul evaluated the alternatives for him to live or die. Philippians 1:21-25 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.” Just like the Apostle Paul, God still has a purpose for your life for you to continue to live. But when He chooses to take your life, going to be with Christ is far better.
Towards the end of his life, the apostle Paul penned the following. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” The apostle Paul was ready to go and anticipating his departure. Oh, that you would be like him when your time draws near!
In order to not fear death, you must be ready – ready to die or ready for Jesus to return first. Jesus encourages us to watch. Mark 13:32-37 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming — in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning — lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” Watch means to strengthen the things that are weak and correct the works that are not perfect before God. It means to stand fast in the faith, be brave, and be strong. Watching means to be ready for the return of Jesus, which could be at any time.
My encouragement to you is to be ready for your life to end at any time. Build up your faith and trust in God and His promises. Live your life in such a way that whenever your time comes to die you can look with great anticipation and joy to receiving your crown of righteousness.