Summary: What you believe about death and eternity will determine how you live.
King Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). In other words, it’s better to go to a funeral than a wedding. The first three letters of “funeral” spell “fun,” but funerals, of course, are not fun. However, funerals do force us to think about what really matters. Fortunately, we’re not gathered here today for a funeral, but I am going to talk about death.
What you believe about DEATH and eternity will determine HOW you live.
What do we know about death?
1. Death is CERTAIN.
“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 of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).
(Exception: Believers who are alive when Christ returns will not experience death.)
2. At the moment of death, your body and soul will SEPARATE.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Our bodies are mortal; our souls are immortal. (“Destroy” doesn’t mean annihilation; it means the destruction of meaningful existence.)
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
A pastor was once conducting the funeral of a Christian man. He announced, “The body in this casket is not really our friend. It’s just the shell. The real nut is in heaven.”
The Bible describes death in many different ways:
• The psalmist wrote that when people die, they “return to the dust” (Psalm 104:29).
• The Bible says that when Abraham died, he was “gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8). In other words, he joined his deceased relatives in death.
• The Bible often describes the death of God’s people as “sleep” (Deuteronomy 31:16; John 11:11; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15). The bodies of believers sleep in the grave waiting for the resurrection.
• The apostle Paul called death a “departure” (2 Timothy 4:6). It’s like going on a trip…from this world to another.
• The apostle Peter said that death is like taking down a tent (1 Peter 1:13-14). Our bodies are temporary dwelling places for our spirits.
• Job described death as “the king of terrors” (Job 14:14). Death is many people’s greatest fear.
3. After death, you will face JUDGMENT.
Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
[Jesus Christ] is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Each one of us will face one of two judgments:
a. GREAT WHITE THRONE judgment
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another books was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done (Revelation 20:11-12).
If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
• Who will be judged? Unbelievers.
• What will be the basis of the judgment? Rejection of God.
• What will be the result of the judgment? The lake of fire.
b. Judgment seat of CHRIST
• Who will be judged? Believers.
• What will be the basis of the judgment? Works during the Christian life.
• What will be the result of the judgment? Either rewards or loss of rewards.
[Christ] will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God (1 Corinthians 4:5).