Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Death and the life hereafter

Monument voor Thomas a Kempis bij de ingang va...
Monument voor Thomas a Kempis bij de ingang van Begraafplaats Bergklooster in Zwolle. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that if we have hope in Christ only for this life, then “we are to be pitied more than all men,” because Jesus promised tribulation in this world and the reward only after death (John 16:33; Matt. 5:12). Thinking about the end of life is not morbid, but actually quite spiritually healthy. 

Thomas a Kempis writes in the most widely read devotional of all time, The Imitation of Christ,
“Blessed is he that always hath the hour of his death before his eyes, and daily prepareth himself to die.” While unbelievers are enslaved by their fear of death, Christ gives us freedom so that we can look at death unafraid (Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:54-57).

Death is a mystery for most people. It casts an inescapable shadow over life and raises the question of the meaning of life. It makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable, even fearful. While nearly everything else has gone by the wayside, it is still taboo in polite American society. 

The prospect of death causes many to focus on eternal things and get their hearts right with God (Matt. 7:24-27). Scripture says that the devil uses the fear of death to enslave people (Heb. 2:14-15), and our society tries to ward off death even as we have a fascination in television and movies with it.

Yet death should hold no fear for Christians. In fact, as Russell Moore, former dean at Southern Seminary and now head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission says, “At a funeral the church is perhaps at its most theological.”[1] (Or at least it should be.)

Therefore, in the next series of posts we must see what the Bible says about death and the hereafter.

[1] Russell Moore, Theology for the Church, 858.