Overcoming the Fear of Death
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Most of us fear death, don't we? We may say we believe in eternal life, in a heaven that is a life of bliss, a life much better than this world. But we act as if we fear death, and our actions speak louder than our words. We act only slightly different from people who claim to have no belief at all in heaven and hell.
Isn't it amazing that, centuries ago, Christians sometimes celebrated a believer's funeral as his "birthday," the person's entry day into heaven? They celebrated because they really believed it was so.
We need to go back to the Bible. It reminds us many times that nothing, not even death, can snatch God's people from him.
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
As for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of death.
He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears.
"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
"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."
"Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven."
"All who believe in God's Son have eternal life. Those who don't obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but the wrath of God remains upon them."
"I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life."
Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.
Let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
When this happens -- when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die -- then at last the Scriptures will come true: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
To me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ.
Because God's children are human beings — made of flesh and blood — Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.
I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the grave gave up the dead in them. They were all judged according to their deeds. And death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death -- the lake of fire. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The Book of God's Promises — Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.
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