When preparing for a funeral and studying the Scriptures concerning this matter of dying, it has occurred to me that we are usually too much caught up in the tragic aspects of death, such as suffering and loss. We find it difficult to look at the other side of the matter.
In 1 Corinthians 15:26 we read, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (KJV). So the Bible clearly tells us that death is an enemy. We are also taught in Scripture that humanity was originally made for the presence of God. So why is this thing called death the common lot of us all?
In Romans 5:12 we read that the experience of death came about as the result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The verse also explains that death happens to all of us because we personally commit sin. When the Bible states that all of us have sinned, it does not mean that all of us are as actively evil as we can possibly be.
Because all of us have the sentence of physical death on us, we need to accept the biblical teaching that our relationship with our Creator is broken. This brings us to the matter of why Jesus came into the world. If you read Romans 5 you will see that Jesus is described as the One Who came to restore what was lost by Adam and Eve.
When a person confesses Jesus as Lord, they are put into a different relationship with death. For believers, death can only give them infinitely more of Jesus than can be acquired in this life. Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (KJV)
So, while death is unnatural for anyone, it becomes a friend to Christians. We, who believe in Jesus as the Son of God, ought to view death then as a defeated enemy. 1 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (KJV)
What makes the death of believers “precious” in the eyes of the Lord is the fact they come into His immediate presence at death. Jesus prayed in John 17:24, “Father, I want those whom you have given Me to be with Me where I am so that they may see My glory…”
The heart’s desire of God is for His people to be with Him to enjoy His presence and be liberated from this world of sorrow and sin. Hence, it is a great time for the Lord when one of His people goes through the doorway of death and enters heaven.
Yes, for the Christian, death is wonderful. Not the experience of leaving our earthly body behind, but in seeing Jesus.
The King there in His beauty, Without a veil, is seen:
It were a well-spent journey, Though seven deaths lay between.
The Lamb, with His fair army, Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory—glory dwelleth In Immanuel's land.
– Anne Cousins