Rendezvous With Death
“Just as a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring…
In the First World War, a poet died after writing a poem entitled, “Rendezvous With Death.” Some years ago a Japanese 747 fell out of the sky, killing 520 people. A British 747 crashed while taking off, due to a fire in it’s engine – almost 50 people were killed. Yesterday, we had a funeral service for the father of a young church member. If Jesus’ Second Coming is delayed, we will have a rendezvous with death. Death can come slowly or suddenly, but it does certainly come. A man whose health is good, might die within a few days – a man who is about to die, lying in his bed, might live for another ten or twenty years. Death is mysterious but it is a fact. Public cemeteries or tombs witness the certain coming of death.
1. Death in the Bible
The Garden of Eden was a beautiful place. It was a place where sin or death could not enter. But God told Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:16-17, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from that tree you will surely die.” However, they ate the forbidden fruit, disobeying God’s word, and at that moment, died spiritually. From that moment on, they were also dying slowly, physically. We also have the same process. God wrote the names of nine persons, from Adam to Noah, in the Bible. One of them was Enoch. Enoch did not die, but ascended to heaven. Excepting Enoch, the Bible always tells us, “he died” and, “he died”. The record shows the accomplishment of the Word of God, “surely you will die.” In Kings we can find the repeated statement, “he lived, reigned over, and died…lived, reigned over and died.”
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘the day of your death is near,’” and to Ezekiel, ‘The soul who sins is the one who will die.’ And to Hezekiah, ‘Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.’” (Isaiah 38:1). Jesus also spoke about death often. He said that a beggar died and was embraced by Abraham, but that a rich man died and descended to hell: (Luke 16:13-21). He also told the Pharisees that they would die in their sins: John 8:24.
The Bible tells us that there are many people who died in groups: Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14), Sennacherib and his soldiers - 185,000 people killed by God’s angel (2 Kings 19:35-36). The Bible also prophesized that millions of people would die at Armageddon: Revelations 16, 19. It also tells us the John the Baptist and Saint Stephen would die bravely. 2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.” The Bible also records words about death in many chapters. A chrysalis will become a beautiful butterfly one day – like this, even though we are still alive at Jesus’ Second Coming, we will ascend to Heaven. At that time, how glorious it will be for those joined with Jesus.
2. The Origin of Death
The Bible clearly says that death came from sin. This is explained by the story of the Garden of Eden. Since the first man committed sin, death has been delivered upon all of his descendants. In fact, death not only polluted man, but nature as well.
Flowers bloom and wither, and the green leaves of trees fade and die; all animals die, too. All of us have death in our body. Our bones break, our teeth rot, and our hair grays, and falls out. Our eyesight gradually weakens.
Cancer spreads in someone’s body; the muscles in one’s heart are weakened; blood pressure increases – death approaches us.
The person who strongly emphasizes the divine gift of God, healing, says that illness is caused by weak faith: God’s plan is for us to have perfect health. But such people will also go to a hospital when they are sick. They wear glasses, hearing aids, and visit a dentist when they have a toothache. Finally, they die. Certainly God heals our diseases, answering our prayers. But, we cannot escape death’s grasp.
We will never have a perfect body until Jesus’ second coming. Today’s scripture, Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “Just as man is destined to die once,” - our appointed time of death comes closer each day. Many people die from unexpected accidents each year. People die from car accidents, plane accidents, train accidents, drowning, disease or suicide. So there is an unwritten rule for architects to remember, “All doors and steps should be wide enough to let a coffin pass.” But the saved have no fear of death, because they place their hope in Christ to conquer death. If one of you does not believe with all your heart in Jesus, you should fear death. Death ends all chance of being saved. Even at this moment, death might come to us.
3. What Will Happen When We Die?
1) What Happens to a Christian When He Dies?
His body is put in a grave. His grave might be in a cemetery, or under the seas, or in the desert sand, or on the top of a mountain. His body will rot and remain so until the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus appears in the sky at His second coming, the Christian’s body will resurrect, and become like Jesus’. He will remain with the Lord forever. Even though the Christian’s body rests in the grave, his soul never sleeps there. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, the Apostle Paul says, “I would prefer to be away from the body and at home in the Lord.” Philippians1:23-24, says: “I am torn between the two, my desire to depart and be with Christ, this is better by far, but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” In these verses we can realize that our soul and spirit, our true self, will be raised to heaven and remain with Jesus at the moment of our death. If our soul slept after death, then the Apostle Paul, who died 1,900 years ago, would not have met Jesus. In the Bible there is no mention of our soul and spirit sleeping after death.
When a Christian dies, his body will go to the grave, but his soul and spirit will ascend to heaven and remain with Jesus Christ. If we die in Christ, our soul and spirit will fly to the world of light. When a robber repented at the moment of his death, Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke23:43). Jesus said today, not tomorrow or in one thousand years. Therefore, death is not an object of horror for the children of God. Death means only that we will transfer from this world of curses to the happy Heavenly Kingdom.
But even if you are a saved Christian, you will need to prepare for death. One day you will stand before the judgment seat of God to be rewarded by Christ. There are some people who have offered no devotional work for Christ, and some who have offered only a little. The works you accomplished for your own glory will be burned in the fire of judgment. You will hear: You can go to heaven through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but because you have not done any works in His name you have no rewards there.
Some people do not work for the glory of God. They waste their lives only seeking things that will disappear when the sun sets. They waste their lives seeking social status, wealth and pleasure. Finally, they stand before their own Savior, Jesus Christ, with empty hands, without having done any work for their own Savior. If you are living such a life, don’t you think you need to prepare for your death? To avoid meeting Jesus Christ empty handed, won’t you work busily for Him from now on? We should remember that, at the moment of our death, we can no longer work to save even one single soul more. Can you die without having led your beloved sons and daughters to salvation? Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John9:4).
2) What Happens When A Sinner Dies?
Luke16:22-23, reads, “The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, when he was in torment he looked up and saw Abraham far away…” At the moment of death, a man who rejected Jesus in life becomes conscious of the fear and suffering which awaits him. His body goes to the grave, but his soul goes to a place of suffering. Later, his body will be resurrected and rejoined with his soul. That sinner will be thrown into the lake of fire prepared for demons and the servants of evil and he will receive the fear and suffering which has been awaiting him.
4. Can You Be Saved After Death?
The answer is absolutely not! Ecclesiastes11:3 says, “Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls there will it lie.” A man’s situation – whether saved or perished, will continue eternally after his death. After death, there is no opportunity to repent. There is no more Gospel to listen to, and there are no sympathizers. After death, nonbelievers have only judgment, curses and agony.
Abraham said to one who had fallen into hell, “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed so that those who want to go from here to there cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” (Luke17:26). God established the chasm in the same way that He placed the sun 93 million miles from the earth. Those who have fallen into eternal punishment will remain separated from the Heavenly Kingdom by the chasm. God calls to you sincerely, “Come to Jesus, come to Jesus, before your death.” After death there is further opportunity to do so.
5. Repentance At The Moment of Death
The most important thing at the moment of death is that we repent and believe with sincere hearts. Therefore, at the latest at the moment of your death, repent with a sincere heart and believe that you will be saved! Someone who appeared to be dying called to those around him, promising, “Help me and pray for me and if I survive I will attend church and believe in Jesus.” He did not die, but lived, and became a good Christian, attending church regularly. He was saved. But, another man who made the same promise did not keep it, did not go to church, did not believe in Jesus, and did not talk to God. Such people are not truly saved. Someone who seeks Jesus at his time of urgency only to change his faith later when calm and safe cannot be said to have true faith at all. Don’t lose your opportunity to be saved. Just accept Jesus Christ sincerely in your heart and receive certain salvation!
6. You Can Die At Any Moment.
Over half of all deaths are by sudden accident or event. Traffic accidents, murders, suicides, war, heart attacks etc. are all sudden occurrences which leave people without enough time to cry out, “help me, save me”, forcing them to meet God without having prepared for death – without an opportunity for repentance.
But they have no excuse for not being saved. Even a lonely mountain village has a church, Bibles, and Christian books. The Gospel is spread via radio and television as well as on the altar. Modern Koreans especially can’t complain about not being saved. In Proverbs29:1, we learn: “A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.”
Go forward to Jesus Christ and be saved!
7. The Man Who Conquered Death
The moment our Lord, Jesus Christ was resurrected at the grave of Joseph of Arimathea’s, he conquered death for you and me. As he lives, we live. Even though our bodies rest in the grave until the second coming of Jesus, our souls and spirits take off for the Heavenly Kingdom, at the moment of death.
So, death cannot instill fear, nor darkness capture Christians.
So, confront death! “Death! You’re coming for me? Come on!” Christians - mock death!
Death can be the most wonderful crossing from the sinful world to the Heavenly Kingdom. Death doesn’t let us cross cold waters, or let us be strangled by cold hands, or let our faces be blown by ice-cold winds.
At last, death is the end of sin, sorrow and disappointment. Further, it is the moment of our freedom from anxiety and uneasiness. Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians1:21). If you live for Jesus Christ then dying is gain and glory.
What meaning does death have for you? Is it the end of all opportunity? Is it the beginning of blessing? Will we go above or below? To heaven or hell? The choice is yours. It could be Jesus Christ and the Heavenly Kingdom, or sin and hell.
A young boy plays with sand at a beach. He builds a sand castle city, with shops, houses and churches. While he is playing he doesn’t observe the sun setting. In a few moments the tides will wash away the castle. He runs away to avoid the rising water. His elder brother runs out to grasp the disappointed little boy and bring him to a safe place. Later, he brings him safely to his home.
Likewise, we are also playing on the sands of time. We spend our short time building a toy house and working for this world. We are too busy to notice death approaching us. Sudden death sweeps us away, with our accomplishments, all at once. This includes accomplishments that have taken several years to achieve. But we are not afraid of it!! Our elder brother Jesus Christ knows everything. He comes to us and hugs us in His powerful embrace. He brings us to our Father’s shining, brilliant house.
But you should believe in Jesus as your Savior and live for Him. This doesn’t mean your life will be sinless. You should welcome Jesus Christ as your Savior in the center of your heart, and should live for Him.
How many people in your family, or relatives, or among your neighbors are still going to eternal punishment? How many do not hear the Gospel in the world?