|Volume 23 Number 7 July 2021
Considering Life and Death
“Say to them, ‘As I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11).
From sin being introduced in the Garden of Eden, death has been part of human existence and will continue until the Lord returns. We have an interesting fascination and dread for the experience of death and for those who have died. It is difficult at best for us to consider our own demise, preferring to focus on what we are doing in life now and acting as if it will continue indefinitely. When death intrudes in our lives, as in the passing of a loved one, we are forced to deal with the grief it brings over the physical loss, sadness over the inability to continue with the relationship we had and a sense of loss in that person no longer being available to carry on as before. This is especially true for those who have some celebrity status, who we may have enjoyed as an artist and the work they did as such, knowing now their work has ended. You might hear someone say, “Well, they won’t make any more movies” or “They won’t write anymore songs.” People can become more impacted with the loss of what one did more than the loss of the person.
I, too, can think this way about death, but something else strikes me as well. “Was this person a New Testament Christian?” “Had this person been immersed for the forgiveness of his or her sins?” “Did this one seek to live a faithful Christian life?” It’s easy to fixate on this side of life, but everyone who dies, from the unknown to the celebrity, will face judgment for the deeds done in the body, good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). After the Judgment comes one of two eternities. “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). It is a very sad reality to consider there are those who will spend eternity away from God’s presence in punishment as the consequence of unresolved sin. It can also comfort us to know of those who die in the Lord, knowing the joy they have and the rest they have from their labors. It is that first group, however, those who die in their sins, that bothers me and should bother us all.
There are two considerations that come with death. First, are we who have obeyed the Gospel living as we should? The world seems to think everyone will make it to Heaven, but Scripture negates such a view. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). We should also consider, have we taken advantage of the opportunities we have to live a Christ-like life before others, to share the good news of salvation with others? Of course, no one person has the influence to reach everyone in the world, but we do have influence with some, especially in relationships we count as precious. Have we spoken of Christ to them? Perhaps it’s a husband or a wife, a parent or a child, a friend or a coworker who needs the truth of the Gospel. Each person is responsible for one’s soul, but have we tried to help others to know the Truth? Have we prayed for courage to speak and for hearts to be open to the Gospel? Have we offered some method of learning the truth? When death comes, all opportunities will be forever gone. As recorded by Ezekiel, God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Neither should we.
We have a responsibility to share the hope of eternal life with others; their responsibility is to choose how they will respond. What Moses told the Israelites is true for us. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). When you face the death of others, what do you consider? When you think of your own death, what do you consider? The reality of death and the Judgment to come should motivate us to live faithfully in Christ and to influence others to do the same. Our heart’s desire for all should be eternal life; may we do what we can for that to be reality. “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).
Gary C. Hampton
Many people talk about Jesus without knowing who He truly is. The prophet who often spoke of the suffering servant described Him beautifully. “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus is wonderful for all who have received the forgiveness of sins. Paul declared, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a). This was achieved by God making Him bear sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
He is also a prized counselor who gives the best advice because in Him are the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:1-3). He delivered the words of the Father, which lead to everlasting life (John 12:46-50).
Our Savior can also be described as Mighty God since He created all things (Hebrews 1:1-3). “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
Our Lord is also Everlasting Father, which Homer Hailey says is in the sense of protector and sustainer. Joseph said, “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). Paul explained, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17).
Jesus is likewise the Prince of Peace because He sacrificed His blood to reconcile us to God (Ephesians 2:13-16; Romans 4:25-5:1). Those taking all their requests to God in thankful prayer will discover God’s peace guarding their hearts through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).
Study these descriptions of Jesus. They will help all of us to grow in appreciation of Him and long to grow closer to Him.