by Samuel Brooks
In what way is death redemptive for the Christian?
To start with, Ecclesiastes 9:5 NKJV says “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.” In 7:2 of the same book, the passage says “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart.”
Matthew 22:30-32 NLT says “For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven. But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead” and “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:10-11 NLT). Also, to list a few, refer Luke 16:19-31, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, and Hebrews 12:1-4 and 12:22-23.
Wayne Grudem, a research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Arizona, stated in Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith in regards to the death of unbelievers that “Nevertheless, after a non-Christian has died, it would certainly be wrong to give any indication to others that we think that person has gone to heaven. This would simply be to give misleading information and false assurance and to diminish the urgency of the need for those who are still alive to trust in Christ. It is much better on such occasions, as God provides opportunity, to take time to reflect on our own lives and destiny and to share the gospel with others. In fact, the times when we are able to talk as a friend to the loved ones of an unbeliever who has died are often times when the Lord will open up opportunities to talk about the gospel with those who are still living.” While I do have major disagreements, from a theological standpoint, with Grudem majority of the time, I do, however, agree with him on this statement! We must be careful in what we say and how we say things to others. The best way is to express our condolences, let them know that we’ll keep them in our thoughts and prayers, and be available for when they have a need. Unless you know that an unbeliever decided to truly come to Christ as well as the condition of their heart before passing, to say that “they’re in a better place” or “in heaven” would, again, bring false hope for those that are grieving.
Now, what I can’t seem to understand is how some individuals that refer to themselves as being a Christian be afraid of dying—regardless of their age. Is it the uncertainty of whether the individual will end up spending eternity in heaven or hell? Or is it something else? If you’re worried about where you might end up—quit living in sin and obey God! Quit walking both sides of the fence and pick the right side (Matthew 7:13-14)! Why would you want to continue living in and dealing with this fallen world for an eternity? Personally, I look forward to the day that God says my time is up and I spend eternity in heaven! To further state, in the book Miracles, using chess as a metaphor, C.S. Lewis describes the topic of death on pages 208-210 by stating “So much for the sense in which human Death is the result of sin and the triumph of Satan. But it is also the means of redemption from sin, God’s medicine for Man and His weapon against Satan…It is mercy because by willing and humble surrender to it Man undoes his act of rebellion and makes even this depraved and monstrous mode of Death an instance of that higher and mystical Death which is eternally good and a necessary ingredient in the highest life.” Physical death is simply a door way to a better place if you’re in Christ (Philippians 1:23)!