By Dan Puckett
Death means different things to different people.
For some death is an ally, an inevitable event that brings closure to conscious existence. The gravestone with the inscription R.I.P. (Rest In Peace) signifies the belief that death brings an end to turmoil.
The atheist who denies God sees death as the end.
For others it is not how you live, but how you die that matters. An honorable death in a noble cause sets the stage for a better life in the hereafter. Death for these people always leads to upgrade.
Old Testament saints believed God and looked forward to an afterlife, but it was based on hope in the faithfulness of God that He would care for them adequately. The Jewish sect of Sadducees denied any resurrection and lived their lives in the here and now, with no hope of future life.
Many religions, which seek to downplay the accountability that death brings, inject the idea of reincarnation, existence after existence in an endless series of attempts to achieve perfection and thus eternal bliss. This false view is popular because, if you mess up, there could be a second chance.
Other religions believe that the status of the dead can be improved by efforts of their survivors.
All issues of death and the afterlife were clearly addressed by Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God and lived and walked on the earth as a mortal man, yet He was God. Jesus never skirted the issue of death. He taught His disciples clearly that He would die, and that He would be resurrected from the dead.
Jesus' disciples understood about His death, but resurrection and the implications thereof were a mystery.
Before the resurrection of Jesus, the power of death, though controlled by God, was in the hands of the devil. The New Testament epistle to the Hebrews states in chapter 2, verses 14-15, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He [Jesus] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (v. 15) and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Jesus through death wrested the power of death from the devil and transformed fear to glorious hope for those who believed.
The biblical view of death is a wake-up call. We are accountable! The epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 9, verse 27, expunges all false views of second chances and efforts of survivors to help the dead when it says, "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." One life, one death, and then judgment.
There is definitely an afterlife; it is eternal. This mortal life will end, but every soul will exist in eternity. The Bible clearly states that eternity consists of Heaven with God, or the lake of fire without God. All occupants of Hell will be cast into the lake of fire along with Satan and his angels (Revelation 20:14).
Mankind has attempted to squirm out from under the ominous accountability of death for generations. Entire religions have been conjured up, with the express hope of denying the righteous judgment of God, and depicting Him as One who could never condemn anyone.
Other God-haters have simply tried to define existence without Him and have fabricated elaborate lies to explain the universe and our existence, and their lives are dedicated to expanding and deepening these lies.
God is not threatened by those who dare to defy Him. The last chapter of the book on the future is already written. God wins! Every death we see or hear about should be a witness to our mortality and our need to settle the issues of eternity.
Jesus Christ has gone before us. He died, was buried, and resurrected. He offers resurrection life to all who will believe in Him. Amen!