by Stephen D. Eckstein, Jr.

Over the past few years, a number of colleges and universities have taught credit classes and conducted seminars and workshops on Death and Dying. Different kinds of approaches have been followed as most are from a secular viewpoint. They are designed to help people have the so-called "positive attitude" toward death and assist members of the family for the time when a loved one passes on.


For the world, this is a procedure in futility. It makes no difference how much you try to get ready for death, the ugly shock is always there. Funeral parlors and cemeteries are places of sorrow and tears. The subsequent feeling of hopelessness pervades the living. I even helped at one funeral where as I stood by the casket, a person passed by and remarked, "What a beautiful tie; he looks so nice." Death is not nice and no human effort can make it different from what it really is--the end of a human life.


The Christian has a whole different outlook. He is the only one who can view death properly. Why is that so? Because of all the founders of religions in the world, only one, Jesus Christ, has conquered death. All others are in their tombs, some of which are extant. Millions have flocked to Mecca over the centuries to the tomb of Muhammad. But only the tomb of Jesus is EMPTY.

Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies about Himself. He first referred to His coming death and resurrection in John 2:19-22. Throughout His ministry, He kept telling His disciples He would die and rise the third day (Matthew 12:40-41; 16:21; 17:23; 20:18-19).

About 1000 B.C., David wrote about it in Psalm 16:9-10. Peter and the eleven referred to it on Pentecost (Acts 2:27-34). David's tomb was still in Jerusalem. It could only apply to Jesus.

The Bible has a lot to say about death and dying. Death came into the world through sin; sin and death spread to all men because all men sinned (Romans 5:12). The Bible clearly teaches that since all men have sinned, all men must die and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Death is the wage paid by sin to every human being (Romans 6:23). The Bible also speaks about the second death which happens to all who die physically and are NOT IN CHRIST (Revelation 20:14). I doubt if the second death is ever mentioned in these classes or seminars. Why? The world does not accept such. Physical death to most is the end. Reincarnation fantasies and "nirvana" dreams are without any evidence whatsoever.


Jesus suffered death but triumphed over it gloriously. Forty days after His resurrection, He ascended to the right hand of God where He is our High Priest and has been for nearly 2,000 years. Paul said it well to Timothy, "Our Savior Jesus Christ abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). His triumphant revelation to John on the isle of Patmos still encourages every saint: "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last and the living one; and I was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:17-18).

Because of this fact and reality, the sinner who becomes a saint by his obedience to the gospel goes from a spiritual state of death to one of LIFE in Christ and begins to LIVE in the NEWNESS OF LIFE (Romans 6:1-5). He begins in this physical life a SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE which daily changes him into the likeness of His Savior (2 Corinthians 3:18). Paul understood this in a marvelous way. In writing to the Philippian saints, he stated, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Death no longer held that horrible chain around his neck; he was free from sin which brings death and knew that in Christ he would be the recipient by His grace of eternal life--God's free gift (Romans 6:23). Thus, the truth of Ecclesiastes 7:1 became real in his life: "The day of a man's death is better than the day of his birth; it is better to go to the house of mourning than to a house of feasting." Why? Because the Christian does not go to a funeral but to a VICTORY SERVICE. The saint has gone on to be with his Lord and his death is GAIN IN CHRIST.

Death is a momentary sting as Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15:56. But the joy and bliss beyond death are eternal. The apostle looked forward to that crown of righteousness which the Lord Jesus would award him on that day. But it was not to Paul only. IT IS TO ALL WHO LOVE HIS APPEARING (2 Timothy 4:7-8)--who look expectantly for it, who live the new life, who walk by the Spirit.

Let us as Christians LIVE in the freshness, the newness, the Joy of LIFE IN OUR LORD in a world that is dying and full of people dead in sin. Let us hold out the hope of Jesus amid hopelessness, the happiness of Christ amid sorrow. Let us be like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen!

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