How Should Christians think about death?
Death is a very important mystery to understand. Death has been a mystery in all ages and places forever. But for us, it does not have be a mystery anymore. What you need is revelation from the Bible concerning death, meaning that once you see things from God’s perspective, the understanding will relieve you – “happy is the man who finds wisdom and…gets understanding.”
Before we begin, let me give you the summation of it all. I hate death. God hates death. And so you’re allowed to hate it, too. We are made to live! Death is an enemy to God (“…I hate the death of him who dies…”), and it will one day be eliminated (“the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death…”). But until then, we need some perspective so we can remain at peace in heart.
There are three deaths mentioned in the Bible.
1. Physical death – the death of the body, where our earth “suit” can no longer contain our spirit and our spirit goes home to be with our Father: either to Father God Almighty if we are saved and born again through Jesus Christ, or to the devil, if we have not received Jesus Christ on earth. But realize this, there is no such thing as a death where someone ceases to exist. Once born, we will all exist forever – somewhere – since we are made in the image of God (eternal, spirit beings).
2. Spiritual death – where the spirit is asleep unto God, separated from God, and disconnected from the life of God. We are all born into the world spiritually dead, unable to connect with God. The only way for us to connect with God is with our spirit (man is made up of 3 parts: spirit, soul, body – we are a spirit, we have a soul (mind, will, personality), and we live in a body. God is a spirit, and we are a spirit, and that is where we connect and commune with God. Because of sin, our spirit is dead. Remember, God told Adam and Eve “do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for in the day you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” They ate it, but they didn’t die physically. They died spiritually. Their spirit fell asleep unto God. And so is everyone else’s when they enter the world. If our spirit is not alive, we cannot know God. That is why Jesus said, “ye must be born again” in order to see God (John ch. 3). When our spirit comes to life, we can then have relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. The 2nd death – spoken of in Revelation, which is when all those who rejected Christ are cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone – for eternity. True Christians are exempt from the 2nd death.
For the believer, death is nothing to dread. None of us want to lose a family member, but that is only because of the personal loss we will feel. But in reality, we have not lost them. They have just moved. They moved to heaven before us, and we will see them later. This earth life is so temporary – only 80 or 90 years – and eternity is so long: forever. So, perspective is what we must have. The whole glory of life is to know God and to be with Him – whether on the earth or in heaven. The longer we live on earth, the more we realize that nothing else really matters. And really, any dread of a loved one going to heaven before us is only our selfish emotion, since anyone who is Christ’s will be immediately with Him, freed from all sorrow of the world, and happy forever. We just need to tell that to ourselves so we can handle it easier (it’s not an easy thing at first). Again, it is of utmost importance to value and esteem the spiritual kingdom of God more than the things of this earth. I know that sounds odd, but everything we can now see with our physical eye is temporary, while everything we can’t see is eternal Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
The sad times are when we lose someone who we feel is not saved, and the reality of eternal damnation dawns on us. It reminds us what a serious matter it is to spread the good news of salvation through Christ alone.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
1 Corinthians 15:50-58