Over the past week our nation has been brought face to face with the reality of death. Young and rising female pop star, Christina Grimmie, was gunned down while signing autographs after a concert, and hours later, a radical extremist goes into a gay nightclub and opens fire killing 50 people as if it were a sport. Violent tragedies such as these force us to stop and come to grips with the idea of death. Without going into political talking points or taking this side or that, I want to explore what death means from a Christian worldview.
For many of us, we are not directly affected by these tragedies. But we all can understand that death is an absolute. Perhaps you have had to deal with death within your own family recently. I want to delve into the reality of death to serve as a reminder that death is something we must all face. In doing so, we remember the fact that all men will live after we die, some to eternal life, and others to eternal condemnation. Also as to remind us of the glorious truths that remain for us who are in Christ.
Why must we die?
In short, people die because we are sons and daughters of Adam. From a Christian worldview, we understand that death happens because sin entered the world through Adam’s original sin when he rebelled in the Garden of Eden. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Death is inherent in all human beings because sin brings death. In a sense we die because sin has separated us from God, who is the source of Life. Death also serves as a reminder of our mortality. God being the author of life will quite obviously never die. With humans, No matter how much organic food we eat, how much we exercise, and how renown our doctors are, our fleshly bodies are finite and they will eventually decay. Experiencing death reminds us that we are not the authors of our days and that God is completely sovereign over life and death.
Sin is a Bigger Deal that We can Imagine
Most people, sadly even many in the church today, have a low view of sin, and in turn have a low view of God’s holiness. Sin is such a tiny little word, with astronomical consequences. The God of the Bible has a very real and righteous hatred of sin, and has prescribed and commanded that we not live in it. He will not tolerate sin, and as sinners by nature, we have been separated by it. Sin is so serious in fact, that it’s punishment is always death. In the Old Testament that meant animal sacrifices. Life had to be taken to show the severity of the crime. You see, the severity of sin really doesn’t lie as much in what we do, it’s more about whom we do it against, namely God, who created all things. Even the slightest rebellion against our creator deserves an eternal punishment. It is an understatement to say that we cannot understand the severity of sin and its punishment without first rightly understanding the holiness of God. Despite what you may think, the staunch reality is that we all are quite deserving of death. We are deserving of both physical death and eternal condemnation because of our sin.
The Gospel and Death
Up to this point, this article has been quite morbid. If you have stuck around until now, congratulations! You have made it to the good news. The good news is this; The God of the Bible does in fact have a tremendous love for His people. And though we must still face death in the flesh, God has so reconciled His people to Himself through the death of Christ that death no longer has dominion over us just as it had no dominion over Christ, if in fact we are in Him.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5
“For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” Romans 6:5
Just as we are infinitely worthy of God’s wrath, Jesus has infinite worth in being the Son of God. When He tasted death himself, and was carried to the dreadful tomb, we saw his humanity, that he was in fact human. And three days later in his glorious resurrection we saw that the fullness of God truly dwelt within Him. His work on the cross was completed and he took his seat at the right hand of the Father, and He remains there until all His enemies have been made a footstool for His feet. All authority has been given to Him, and that authority is over death as well. It is upon this truth, Christian, that we can truly say that there is no guilt in life and no fear in death. It is upon this truth that we can echo the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.