For a while, I’ve dreaded the inevitable — that time when a family member calls with bad news. It happened last Saturday. I missed the first call from mom, but when she called back immediately, I feared it was trouble. “What’s wrong?”
Honestly, I expected the call to be about one of the senior members of our family. But this caught me totally off guard. It was my 28-year-old cousin. He was killed in a car accident. This Saturday, we’re burying DeAndre — a father, brother, uncle, and cousin. He will be greatly missed.
Death hurts. Even though we know, if Christ tarries, we will die one day, we avoid thinking about it. This is especially true for teens and young adults. We feel invincible and take life for granted. Which is why we need to be cautioned about trying to move past tragedies involving death too quickly. We need to process death and ponder eternity.
My cousin’s death reminded me of a hard truth: Death shouldn’t be wasted.
Death Is a Cruel Teacher
When death comes knocking, we’re tempted to suppress the pain. We numb the pain with drugs, sex, entertainment, and alcohol. But when the smoke clears and the buzz fades, the fact remains that we’ve lost someone we dearly care about, and we can’t escape this sobering reality.
We can’t ignore death’s implications for our own life. Death is a cruel teacher, but a teacher nonetheless. Satan would rather we not contemplate death. If our minds think about eternal things, it’s less likely we will waste the temporal. If we pause to contemplate what the death of another means for us, we’re faced with questions like: “How long will I live?” “What happens after we die?” “Is there a heaven, and if so, am I going?” “Does God really exist? If so, is he pleased with me?”
We avoid these questions by making up stories about what we want to be true. We trust what we’ve heard from a parent or childhood preacher, or what we feel in our hearts should be true. “I’m a good person.” “I walked down the aisle and prayed a prayer.” “I go to church when I can.” These thoughts provide a false security. Only in Scripture can we find real assurance about our eternal destiny. When we reflect on death absent of Scripture, we’re left with clichés, anecdotes, and false hope.
Answers to Death’s Questions
As we pause to ponder death, we must turn to the Scriptures for answers to questions that death poses. The Bibles teaches:
- Only foolish, corrupt people believe there is no God. (Psalm 14:1)
- We should not fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can throw body and soul into hell. (Matthew 10:28)
- Everyone will die and face judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
- If our names aren’t in the book of life, we will be thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
- The only thing that sin produces is death, but God has offered the free gift of life through Jesus. (Romans 6:23)
- On judgment day, many will approach Jesus with false security. (Matthew 7:21–23)
- Those who practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will suffer eternal damnation. (Galatians 5:19–21)
- Those who are thrown into the lake of fire will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the Lord and his glory. (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
- Those who trust in Christ have no need to fear death. (John 14:1–3; 2 Corinthians 5:6–8)
- The Christian’s citizenship is in heaven, and Christ will transform us after this life to be like him. (Philippians 3:20–21)
- Those who die in the Lord are blessed. (Revelation 14:13)
Millions of people base their eternal destination on false hopes. We gamble with our souls, even though Christ offers us surety. The Scriptures paint a vivid picture of how we are saved. We’re not saved because we’re good people. We’re saved by grace (God’s unmerited favor) through faith (our trust and reliance) in Christ, which is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). We can’t do anything to earn this gift, which is why we can’t boast about being good people.
Charles Spurgeon warned, “Any kind of faith in Christ which does not change your life is the faith of devils, and will take you where devils are, but will never take you to heaven.” It does us no eternal good to base our eternal security on anything short of true conversion. It’s a costly mistake that we will spend eternity paying for.
Jesus, Our Death Slayer
The Christian life is full of repenting of sin and trusting solely in the gospel of Christ, against money, sex, power, and other earthly comforts. Christ paid the ultimate price on the cross by paying for all the bad that Christians will ever think, feel, and do. Christ was punished for our evil, and we were rewarded for his perfect life. If we want to escape eternal death, we must become true disciples of Jesus.
When death comes knocking, don’t waste it. Ponder its implications and allow your heart to long for the time and place when all wrongs will be made right. The true Christian longs to be with Jesus. Christ has defeated death, and he’s able to comfort us in the pain. Cry out to Jesus — our death slayer.
When death strikes, don’t waste it. You will only find true rest when you rest in Jesus.