‘The vocabulary is changed’

As Selwyn says at the start of today’s study: “The whole teaching of Scripture, and particularly the words of Christ, concerning life after death, deepens Christian confidence.”

In John 4:24-25 (NIV), we hear Jesus say: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life  and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”

Also in John 8:50-51, “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”

In Paul’s letter to the Romans 5:12-17 (NIV), we hear how death was the result of Adam’s sin; and how eternal life comes through Jesus: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”

Last, but not least, we have these verses from Revelation (Rev. 21:3-4): “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

If we carefully read the New Testament, we cannot fail to see that death ‘is simply the transition from one life to another – from earth’s muted colours to the full glory of heaven’.

I look forward to the day when I see my Father, face to face, in heaven. Although I must admit that I’m a little apprehensive about the actual physical process involved with dying. I don’t think the last few moments would be an issue because palliative care has progressed quite a lot in recent years and I’m told that pain management is very good.

The area, which most concerns me, is that period – be it weeks or months, when you are depending on other people to look after you. However, I’m sure that when the time comes that Jesus will be there helping me thought this situation. I know, He will be with me, every day of my life – right up to the last one – and beyond!

‘My Father will be waiting’

Today, Selwyn writes: “We said yesterday that the fear of death is often composed of three elements, and we have considered the first of these – the fear of the physical act of dying. Today we look at the other two – the fear of finality and the fear of judgment.

Christians have no need to fear that death is equivalent to extinction, for Jesus has said: I am going there to prepare a place for you … that you also may be where I am’ (John 14:2-3).”

Scripture constantly and consistently, talks about eternal life for the followers of Jesus – there can be no doubt that after we die, we will be with Jesus. As, we are united with Jesus, we too will be resurrected, and live with Him.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we read [2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NIV)]: For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5

Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us  for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

The last verse, leads into what Selwyn writes about in the last half of this study: “… Let us look at the fear of judgment. … No man or woman, however, who knows Christ need fear judgment. And why? Because, as Paul so beautifully puts it in his letter to the Romans: ‘There is therefore now – no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’

Jesus, by His death and resurrection – has demonstrated that His sacrifice has paid the debt, that we incurred because of our sin. Simply put, Jesus has taken upon Himself – our punishment & that means every little bit of sin; there’s nothing left to stain our hearts – we are – in His sight – as white as snow.

In Isaiah (43:25), we have this thought, expressed a number of times, in this book: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

If you believe God’s Word – then you know that you have no fear of judgment.

A change in vocabulary

I think, it’s a good way to think of death – a process of falling asleep because we are sure that we’ll awake to a new morning, as a brand new person, with Jesus.

The only problem with this view is that when I fall asleep each night there ‘s no pain associated with it; usually it’s a very comfortable sensation. I do not fear death in a spiritual sense, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not too keen on the process of dying if there’s a lot of pain associated with it.

The verses set for reading and meditation [1 Corinthians 15:12-22, NIV], focus on Jesus’ resurrection: the evidence that God’s sacrifice was totally successful –  the sting of death, completely removed.

” … But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man (Jesus). For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

Selwyn concludes today’s study, as follows: “Obviously, a new concept of death had been accepted by those who knew Jesus Christ. And since they rejected the old ideas about death, the vocabulary had to be changed. ‘Death’ dropped out of the Christian experience. Christians did not die; they just fell asleep.”

Putting the pain issue aside for the moment; I think a good test of  the maturity of your faith is to ask yourself if you’re prepared for your death –  that the work you are currently doing for the Lord is your highest priority (as confirmed through prayer),  and there’s nothing ‘important’ that you are putting off – to do at a later time.  Another way of saying the same thing is: do you keep a short account with God – and, are all major spiritual issues being dealt with – before you ‘fall asleep’, each night?