SUMMARY: This blog seeks to give the believer in Jesus reminders about the sure hope that we have in Jesus Christ, that death is a defeated foe and that we will have eternal life with Christ when we die.
Death is a reality of this fallen world and all people, believers and unbelievers, live under that specter of death. When death comes to someone we love, grief and loss are universal responses, and all people who have lost someone they love experience this pain. How are we to deal with death? How are we to come to terms with the loss of the other person’s presence? More than that, how am I to come to terms with my own mortality and with the fact that I, too, one day will lie cold in the grave? In fact, man creates religions to try to ward off the terror and the grief of death. In the end, however, man-made religions have nothing to say about death. They have no answer and they provide no comfort. Despite the many rituals and duties of religion, the specter of death still threatens and the question, “Where is my loved one now?” remains. “What happens at my death?” “Is there anyone who has conquered death?” “Is there any reason that I should not be terrified of death?” For those who hold to man-made religions, there are no answers to these questions, only speculation and false hope. But the believer in Jesus Christ follows one who has conquered the grave and who lives forever and who will one day return to take His people home.
So as I was reflecting again on the sure hope that we have in Jesus and reminding myself that death has lost its sting, I wanted to also remind you, my brothers and sisters, about that sure hope and encourage you if you are going through the process of grieving. For those who know the Lord, death is a defeated foe and you will certainly see your loved one again and they are now rejoicing and worshipping their Savior in heaven. Here are some verses on which to meditate.
Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself (Jesus) likewise partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Before we knew Jesus, we were slaves of death, because we feared death and could not escape that fear. Death was our master, because it held the ultimate threat. But then Jesus Christ put on flesh and blood like an ordinary man, so that He could climb Calvary’s hill and die on the cross for your sins and my sins, and could then rise from the dead, defeating death for all who believe in Him. In so doing, Jesus has forever taken the tool of the threat of death away from the devil, because those who know Jesus as Savior will never die. Death and the devil have no power over us because they can pose no threat to us. Jesus has defeated both the devil and death and in Him we are more than conquerors.
John 11:25-26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”
The occasion for Jesus speaking these words was the death of Lazarus. Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died four days before, while Jesus had delayed in coming to his house. Mary and Martha are mourning their brother’s death and wondering why Jesus had not come sooner so that He could have made Lazarus well and kept him from dying. What neither Mary nor Martha has yet grasped is that disease and death are alike to Jesus. Both disease and death are under His sovereign control and He can remove or reverse them with a word from His lips.
But here is Martha by the tomb of her brother, feeling the aching sadness of her loss and hating the cruelty and the finality of death. Her brother is gone and all she can do is mourn at his grave and weep and feel the pain of the separation of death. “O, if Jesus had only been here then He could have prevented this from happening.”
Jesus then shatters all fear and all mourning by declaring that He is the resurrection and the life. He is the Lord of the resurrection and He is the one who guarantees that all His followers; all those who believe in Him will be raised up on the last day. No one who believes in Him will ever die, because they have eternal life, and the one who dies physically will continue to live, because that believer has been saved and is in Christ. Jesus guarantees our resurrection, because He is the Son of God. We will certainly live again, even if we die.
1 John 3:2. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
Believers are beloved by God and are adopted children of God. While we are here on earth, we are being transformed into the same image as Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29) a little at a time through sanctification, but there will come a day when the Lord Jesus comes from heaven with a shout and then we will be radically changed into glorified beings. That is “what we will be,” as John says. Jesus will come in blazing beauty and glory and we will also be glorified and will look like Him. This is the future that awaits every believer, that one day we will reign with Jesus and will look like Jesus. When we look like Jesus, then we shall see Him as He is in His full glory. This is what awaits us beyond the grave and in this we can rejoice.
Revelation 7:9-10. The Apostle John paints for us this scene in heaven when all the gathered saints will be before the throne of the Lamb. “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
This is the future for all the saints, to be standing before the throne of the Lord and praising His glorious name. So while we grieve now because this is the time when one has fallen asleep before another, there will be an eternity when we will all be together as one huge family praising our Savior. This is the end of the story. This is the great end towards which we hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Here is yet more Scripture to give us confidence in the sure hope that we have in Jesus. In this passage the Apostle Paul gives for us a picture of the return of Jesus Christ and of the resurrection of the righteous. He writes this passage to encourage the Thessalonian believers because some of their loved ones, who were also believers, have “fallen asleep” (died). He wants them to know that as believers, we are those who grieve in hope (4:13).
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord (4:16-17).”
Even though now our loved ones have been taken from us for a short time, there will come a time not very long from now, when we shall all be glorified together and meet the Lord in the air. Soon that day will come, so we grieve in hope.
Philippians 3:20-21. These final verses declare to us that our citizenship is already in heaven and that we are just waiting the day when we shall all be with Christ in transformed bodies. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Yes, Jesus is coming back, and when He does, He will change our bodies from these weak and broken bodies into beautiful, powerful, glorified bodies that are conformed to His glorified body. When Jesus comes back, we will all be glorified.
Thus the believer has every reason to rejoice when a loved one has died in Jesus. If they have died in Jesus, they are guaranteed heaven and we will see them again. Yes, this time of separation is painful, when they have gone on ahead and we remain behind to carry on and to continue pressing toward the goal for the prize. But we rejoice because Jesus Christ has already won the victory and has promised us a dwelling place in heaven, and He cannot fail to do what He has promised. Take these words from the Scriptures and meditate on them. We are more than conquerors in Christ, whether we are alive or have fallen asleep.