Death and the Believer (090913a)

This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 13, 2009.

If the evolutionist is right the death of a human being is no more significant that the death of a tree.  I living thing has just ceased to be.  When death comes the thing just goes out of existence.  There is no feeling, no knowing, no consciousness – you are no more.  But if God does exist and if He is the creator as described in the Bible then that is a different story.  If in fact God created you to be in relationship with Him.  If you are created in the image and likeness of God then you are very different from a tree, a whale and a chimpanzee!  And it’s very likely you lie awake at night and wonder about eternity.  The preacher, in the book of Ecclesiastes, says that God has put eternity in man’s heart.  We wonder about these things.  What is going to happen?  What is life like on the “other side?”  When death suddenly invades your world, questions abound.  When death is lurking in the corner of the room, uncertainty reigns.  As the people of God we know that death has lost its sting and the grave has been robed of its victory but we still wonder.  We still are anxious.  That’s why I find the words of Paul so amazing.

. . . as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20-21, ESV

To die is gain?  In a culture that worships youth and vitality that sounds so foreign.  It sounds foolish to our ears.  To die is gain.?  To die is better?  It’s to have the advantage?  Can you say that?  That to be in His presence is worth the loss of everything and everyone you love?  That Christ is worth more than life itself?  That He is worth more than falling in love?  More than marrying and having children?  More than watching your children grow up, get established, become independent and have families of their own?  That death is preferred to making a career, earning a reputation, moving into your dream house, enjoying your “golden years?”  That death and being with Christ is desired more than seeing your grandchildren?  It is best to be cut off in the midst of your dreams?  To die is gain.  This is well beyond not fearing death – it is to be at peace with death.  I think this is what God expects of His people.  This is not reserved for “super saints.”  This is to be the Christian response to death.  But how do we get there?  It starts with our understanding what the Bible has to say about death and the believer.  This morning I want to wrap up this series of messages based on the input you gave last May.  I have grouped together several questions and I want to quickly work through them this morning.  As we work our way through them I want you to keep this in mind:

Thesis: For the people of God, death has been swallowed up and victory and eternal bliss remain forevermore.
Why is that?  How can we say that?  Because of 4 things we know to be true relating to death and the believer.

  1. Death, for the child of God, means to be ushered into His glorious presence. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
  2. Following death there is coming a glorious transformation.  (1 Corinthians 15:50-55)
  3. After death comes a confirming judgment.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)
  4. Our journey ends in a glorious new, eternal home.  (Revelation 21:1-4)

All of that is to say – For the people of God, death has been swallowed up and victory and eternal bliss remain forevermore.

Thus we can say along with the apostle Paul – “Death is gain!”

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