In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Last week we saw that the glory Christians experience in this life with Christ will come to an end at death. We learnt that death comes to all humans because of their sin. But if Christians have been forgiven by God for their sin, why do they still die?
The Bible teaches us that out of his love for his people, God brings their lives to an end and takes them to be with him.
Although being a Christian in this world brings immense joy and blessing, it is still a horrible place to live in comparison to heaven.
When the Christian lives in this world, he must endure the pain, the suffering and the sin that runs rampant throughout it.
So when the Christian is removed by death, it is a mercy from the Lord.
Isaiah says about the death of the righteous: ‘The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death’ (Isaiah 57:1-2).
The apostle John also says: ‘Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them”’ (Revelation 14:13).
So although death is an awful curse upon humans for their sin, the sting of death is removed for the Christian so that he welcomes death.
Paul says: ‘…”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’ (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). Sin has been removed from the Christian because of the work of Christ, so he no longer fears death. To die is to pass through a doorway into the next stage of existence. And a much sweeter existence at that!
The apostle Paul knew this when he reflected upon his own life. He said: ‘21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body’ (Philippians 1:21-24).
The only reason Paul wanted to stay in this world was so that he could serve his Christian brothers and sisters. Paul knew that his heavenly home would be far greater than his earthly home.
So although it may sound appealing to be able to live to 969 years of age as Methusaleh (Genesis 5:27) did, it may not be as nice as you think. Imagine all the suffering you would see, not to mention all the sin that you would commit over such a lengthy lifespan!
So, do you welcome your death because you trust in Christ?