Bible Lesson 110

DEATH AND DYING

‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me’ Psalms 23:4

‘Death may be the King of terrors ”. but Jesus is the King of Kings!’ D.L. Moody

Read Psalms 49

Death is not to be denied, it will come to every man, woman, or child in time; and for most people death is the end, and they think that after death there is nothing for them; however the truth is that everyone will live for eternity. Death and dying is the way that God sorts out those who have or will die in time. By sorting out, I mean that no one will just die and that be his end, we all will spend our eternity in a place that was prepared, or at least enlarged for us, heaven for those who have trusted and obeyed God and hell for those who have rejected Him (John 14:1-6; Isaiah 5:13-14).

Heaven is a place of eternal rest and joy, while hell is a place of eternal torment and suffering and loneliness, and you and I and everyone else will go to one or the other of those places. Years ago, the Lord drew me to His Word the Bible and gave me understanding, I read it for three years non-stop and it proved it’s truths to my heart and mind, and I submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and He gave me the new birth and created me ‘a new creature’ with the newness of life.

So, simply stated, I sought God until He found me and saved me and gave me a mansion in heaven. I know for a fact that people die every day unprepared to meet their Maker and they go into that place of darkness and emptiness, to endure the literal flames and torment throughout eternity. There is where the worm never turns, and I believe that means that we will have consciousness and we will realize that we did not have to come there. We will constantly be reminded by our ‘worm’ that we ignored friends and loved ones, who warned us to turn from sin and look to the cross of Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation to our Creator.

Certainly, physical death is something that most of us occasionally think about and dread, and even Christians do not look forward to having to break these ties that bind us to our families and friends; but that is going to happen whether we deal with it here and now or not.

We are told to love our families and we grieve when they are taken from us, but they truly saved person knows that our God is Sovereign and that He never does anything that is not the right thing at the right time for the Kingdom.

It may not be the right time as far as we are concerned, but we are not in charge of that and we know that God does everything right. We are told in Luke chapter 14 and verses 26-32, that if we are ever saved we will come to Jesus loving him more than we love anyone or anything else in this world.

So the saved person has his priorities right, and they are, God first and everything else in its place. There are so many today who are chasing a dream that cannot be sustained. Think for a moment about men like Bernie Madoff, whose dream it was to have money and jewels and homes, everything that money could buy. He had it but for a few years before it, all went to someone else and he sits today in prison, the victim of his sin. Others scrimp and save and accumulate money until the day they die and the moment their heart stops beating, that all belongs to someone else.

The gentleman who started the Coca Cola company had all kinds of money, and even probably did not know just how much he had, but at his funeral, one friend said to another that was there, ‘How much did he leave”. The friend thought for a moment and said ‘All of it’.

Whether we die rich or poor, the moment we die everything we had belonged to someone else. We can carry nothing out of this world. You have never seen an armored car full of money following a funeral. As the Patriarch Job said after he was informed that his property and his children have been taken or killed, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there, The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’

Though Job was accustomed to a life of plenty, he knew that it was all temporary. Each of us might take a moment right here and think about the fact that people die every day at all ages but hardly anybody lives past a hundred years of age. So take your age and subtract it from 100 and think about how really short this life is here on the earth. Death is the subtracted, the divider, and the end of life here on the earth.

Death subtracts us individually from our families and friend, and it divides us from all the physical reality. Think about that you don’t know of anybody in the past 200 years that lived very long here on the earth. Does that make you think that you need to make preparations to face the grim reaper’ Certainly we can make some small preparations for those that we leave behind but the preparations that I am speaking of is that of preparing to meet our Creator God at the Judgment. You know that death is imminent and certain because God has told us that ‘It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment’ (Hebrews 9:27).

I am afraid that we as present-day church members have been taught a gospel that is not the gospel at all. We have been taught to paint the love of God with a broad brush and we never look past God’s love to find the Creator God, the Sovereign God who teaches us that He is indeed a God of love but He also teaches us that He is a God of Justice and A God of Wrath. We have been taught that we are not to fear God but instead to love God: however, we must be taught both love and fear. In Psalms 90, we find that the Psalmist (In this case Moses) knew that God was to be feared.

In verse 3 of Psalms 90 Moses prayed to God and said, ‘You turn man to destruction, and say, ‘Return, O children of men’. For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. You carry them away like a flood: They are like asleep. In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.

For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before you, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days are passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years, and if because of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; Who knows the power of Your anger’ For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ (Psalms 90:3-12). If we are wise we will pay strict attention to what God inspired Moses to say to us today.

We must come back to the point that we realize that God is many things but no one thing can define God. He is perfect in every aspect, perfect in love and so perfect in wrath, perfect in mercy and so perfect in Judgment, perfect in Grace and so perfect in keeping His word to us about Heaven and Hell. When you hear anyone, who professes to be speaking the gospel, say that we are to love God but not fear Him, you know that they either do not know the truth or they will not tell the truth. Our New Testament was written in the Greek language and translated into our language and two distinct words are translated, one (Agape) means love while the other (Phobia) means fear.

Now, this is not the kind of fear that would cause us to walk around trembling but fear and respect of Him who is omnipotent. We walk circumspectly before our Almighty Father in fear of disappointing Him. The Bible tells us to love God but most of the time when we read love in the Bible, it speaks of God’s love for man (Remember’.He gave us His Son Jesus Christ to bear our sins on the cross): and He tells us that we are to believe on Christ, to be saved.

In Greek the word translated believes in John 3:16, which means much more than what we think of when we say we believe. Ask yourself this question. Do you have faith in Christ’ If you answered yes, then ask yourself if you know and keep His commandments’ Jesus tells us in John 14:21-24, that we can know if we truly love Him; and that is by keeping His commandments. So do you have that kind of faith’ Many today who are church-members think that they are saved; however they will tell you that they are not keeping the commandments. It’s a good question and it deserves a thoughtful answer.

God has much to say to us concerning death and we will consider many of the places that death is spoken of later but right now we need to know that death is the direct result of sin. Before Adam eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge; he would have lived forever and so would you and I. God had warned him just as God warns me and you as we study His Word the Bible. God told Adam in Genesis chapter 2 and verses 16-17, ‘And the Lord God commanded the man (Adam), saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die’.

This is the first mention of death in the Word of God, and it should have impressed the First man on the earth to be careful and to make sure that Eve understood what God had said. The first death recorded in the Word of God was the death of Adam and Eve’s son Abel. We find it the fourth chapter of Genesis after Adam and Eve had been driven out of the Garden by God. Adam and Eve had two sons, one named Cain, and one named Abel.

Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd (He herded flocks of sheep etc). If you read that fourth chapter you find that the brothers came to offer an offering to God. Abel knew that the offering had to be a blood offering and we assume that Cain knew also but apparently it was too much trouble for him to procure a sheep or goat and so he brought what he had. This is not Biblical but I like to think that Cain was a lot like some church members in our day.

He said I have turnips so I will let God get blood from my turnip. If you read on in this chapter you will find that God can get blood from our turnips because God is in complete control of everything and that’s why we say that He is sovereign. God respected Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. This caused Cain to get angry and he ended up murdering his brother. Why would a brother kill another of his brothers’ The answer is sin! That’s what God told Cain before Cain killed Abel. God said in verse 7 of chapter 4 of Genesis ‘If you do well, will you not be accepted’ And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’ Because of his sin, Cain was cursed from the earth and would have to be a fugitive and a vagabond for the rest of his life.

God put a mark on him, (and nobody knows what it was), it was visible to others; but God does not tell us what it was. I am sure that Cain thought that nobody would ever know what happened to Able. He thought that it was a sin nobody would ever know about, but it turns out that everybody that saw him knew him to be a sinner. Adam’s sin of eating the fruit of the forbidden tree would continue down through his line until it festered and infected the entire race. That free fall into more sin continued until the time that God decided to put to death every person on the earth in a universal flood (Genesis 7:1-24).

Perhaps we need to understand what death is. We all know what is meant when we say someone has died. We mean there that that person has ceased to breathe, have a heartbeat, and is devoid of brain function; but that is not the only death that is mentioned in the Word of God. The real meaning of death, the most devastating death that anyone can be afflicted with, is being without the Holy Spirit. That means that the person who does not have the Holy Spirit is without God and that is condemnation.

Every person who is separated from God, at the time of their physical death, will spend eternity in hell. That is the reason that God must first ‘quicken’ those that He calls and justifies and sanctifies in salvation (Ephesians 2:1-10). Remember that God had told Adam that he was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because in the day that he ate of it, he would die. God meant first that Adam would be separated from God immediately upon his sin and that he would begin dissipating and finally die the physical death. There is an old saying that says if you are born only once, you will die twice (physically, and Spiritually), but if you are born twice (physical birth and the new birth which is given in true salvation) you will only die once (physical death). Those who are born from above, born by God in salvation, will spend their eternal lives in heaven in the presence of God.

Those who fail to submit and commit their lives to God by faith in Jesus Christ will spend their eternal lives in the torments and suffering of the flames of hell. Does that sound like a place that you would like for yourself and your family and friends to spend eternity’ It is not the place where I would want to go, that is why I was willing to seek God by reading and studying the Bible, and asking questions of people that I trusted and driving hundreds of miles to hear good preaching. I sought God until God found me; because I know that there are hell and heaven, and even if there wasn’t a hell, I would want to be right with my Creator God before I left this earth.

Mark this well, many people think for one reason or another that in the end, God will save us all. That is silly on its face because God has already said that he would not save everyone. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, said to us in verse 14, that ‘Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way, which leads to life, there are few that find it. (NKJV)’. Did you understand what our Lord and Savior said there’ Jesus said that because we are people who are shallow and simple, that we would choose hell over heaven, rather than to do the work of seeking the face of God. We will neglect this great salvation because we won’t read and study our Bibles and won’t take time to teach our children the facts about the world and sin and then tell them the good news of God’s grace and mercy. What kind of parents would be so lazy and apathetic that they would see their precious children spend their eternity in torment and pain, rather than submit to our Great and Merciful God.

The American economy may be slack right now, but every one of us has a job and that is manifested for us in Matthew 7:14, where Jesus says to us all ‘Enter ye in at the strait gate’..’ The Greek word that was translated there as ‘enter’ is in the imperative tense and it is not an invitation to enter, but a command to enter. So our Sovereign God has commanded us to enter in at the strait gate, and the gate there is Jesus Christ. Remember that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So that is our job to find and enter into that strait gate.

It is difficult and nobody will stumble into it by accident, finding it is work, it’s our job to find it and squeeze through it and walk that narrow way for the rest of our life. Most of us are working at a job that was meant to be a temporary hire. We were born under the wrath of God because we have Adam’s nature and all of us enjoyed sinning; however, the pay that comes for that job is death (eternal separation from God in hell) (Romans 6:23). So, if I may let me ask you what job are you doing’ You can change jobs if you want to run to the cross of Christ and knock, seek, and ask until God opens your eyes and your heart to the realization of who you are.

Wake up and realize that death is eternal and what you don’t do here while you are on the earth, you will never get done. If you don’t submit your life to Christ while you are alive, you will never get it done. There is nothing in the grave that will change your situation, nor is there anything in the judgment that will change your situation. Now, if you want to go to hell for eternity, you can do that by not doing anything. Just ignore the death and humiliation of the God-Man, Jesus Christ and you have got it done. You will end up in hell for eternity, burning and popping like a piece of wet wood, in torment that never ends and you will be conscious of the fact that you did not have to be there. You will know through eternity that you could have been serious about your eternal soul.

Our society encourages us to deny death, by telling us about things to make us feel young and look young, but although we buy the products we know in our heart of hearts that nothing can stop the encroaching march of death toward us. I know some would like to live forever and the formula for that is found only in the Word of God, the Bible.

The answer to living for eternity is that we seek God because we are tired of our sorry lives of sin (2nd Corinthians 5:4), and if God finds us seeking Him, He will give us eternal life because He will give us that New Birth, that birth from above and immediately we begin to live our eternal life right here and right now. The moment you are saved (Truly saved), you become immortal. There is a vast difference in the lives of the wicked and the saints, the Bible tells us about them both and in Proverbs 11:7 we read, ‘When a wicked (lost) man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes.’ Psalms 116:15 tells us ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.’

In our society with the millions of people and all that we have going on in our world, we see the results of death daily, in fact, for many of us, one of the first things we read in our morning papers is the Obituaries, where we find the reports of recent deaths. If you attend many funerals you will find that most people do not believe the Bible; because I’ll bet it’s been a long time since you heard a preacher say anything other than that this person who lies here is in heaven.

I am not the judge but I have known many of the people that have died in this area and I know that real Christians do no live the way they lived. What is said at a funeral has no meaning at all, it changes nothing except the opinion of those who heard the preacher and they now know that either he does not know or else he is a liar.

That’s the reason that I always review the life of the person who has gone on, and then preaches a salvation sermon because you will have people at funerals that never go to church. Death is the great equalizer in this world. When the richest man in the world dies, he will be equal to the poorest person in the world. When the most famous man in the world dies, he will be equal to all of the unknowns. When the most beautiful woman alive dies, she has no more attraction than the plainest woman alive. So remember we are all going to die and then we will face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So make your arrangements now to the fact your Creator.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob