Friday, June 15, 2012

Death: Beautiful?

The other day I passed by a small cemetery that was full of beautiful flowers. On every tombstone were fresh cut flowers. It was like a field of flowers in the middle of the desert. How ironic. The appearance of life (as the flowers were themselves dead) attempted to overshadow the reality of death. Death seems so dark, sad, and depressing. It made me think, “How can death be beautiful?”

From the moment we were born, we began dying. We can try to slow down the physical aging process by exercising, eating right, etc., but we cannot ultimately stop it. This mortal flesh, our outer man, is "wasting away" and moving toward decay. One day, every one of us will die, no matter how much we live. So, if it is appointed once for all men to die (Hebrews 9:27), the question still looms, “How can death be beautiful?”

2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” For Christians, though their bodies age and eventually die, their spirit and soul are reborn and live forever. Listen, you are a spirit, who has a soul, which lives in a body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). The real you, your spirit and soul, will live forever. The question is "Where?" For the one who gives their life to Christ, it is eternal heaven (Romans 10:13). For the one who rejects Christ, it is eternal hell (1 Peter 4:17). In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, we are told Christians will receive new, perfect, eternal bodies in heaven. So is death beautiful because Christians get new bodies to replace the worn out ones? While great, that is not the most beautiful part.

Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Isaiah foretold how Jesus Christ would swallow up death in His death and resurrection, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8). The Apostle Paul echoed this beautiful triumph over death as well, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:55-57). Death is beautiful not because we can receive new bodies but because Christ has made a way possible to defeat death, hell, and the grave. Death for the Christian is instant heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The only way to eternal life is through Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 tells us, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Saved from what? While salvation brings abundant life and a host of other blessings, there is something bigger at stake. We are saved from death and eternal separation from God because Jesus saves us from sin. Matthew 1:21 tells us this, “The angel told Joseph: "He is the one who will save His people from their sins. That is why you must name Him Jesus." Sin causes death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15). All of us have sinned and will eventually die (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6 1 John 1:8)). Death can be beautiful because once Christians die they instantly enter into eternal life in Heaven with Christ.

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