Summary: For both the sinner saved by grace and the lost sinner, death is both the end of one journey and the beginning of a new one.
DEATH: THE END AND THE BEGINNING
“…For man goes to his eternal home, And the mourners go about the streets. Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:5c-7 (NKJV)
For both the sinner saved by grace and the lost sinner, death is both the end of one journey and the beginning of a new one. For the redeemed it shall be a time of unspeakable rejoicing but for the lost it will be a time of unimaginable sorrow. Let’s look at both sets of events.
DEATH IS THE END OF SOME THINGS:
1. For the Christian, death ends all sorrow, sickness, suffering, sadness and tears: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)
2. For the Christian, death ends all opportunity to witness for Christ. From 1965-68 there was a popular NBC television series called “Run for Your Life” which starred Ben Garazza as Paul Bryan, a young and successful San Francisco bay area attorney who was told by his doctor that he had roughly one, at the most two years to live. The theme for the show was fertile ground for numerous plots and sub-plots. We might do well to ask ourselves what we would do if we knew we had only one year to live. Would we witness more to our family and friends? Would we try to “mend fences” and rid our lives of grudges? Would we be even more faithful to Christ and His church? Would our prayer life be different than it is now?
3. For the lost, death ends all worldly pleasure: The rich man also died and was buried. Luke 16:22b (NIV). “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 (NKJV)
DEATH IS THE BEGINNING OF SOME THINGS:
1. For the lost, death is the beginning of eternity in hell with Satan and his demons. “and in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment…” Luke 23a (NASB)
“And death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14-15 (NLT) “…in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8:12 (NASB)
Sir Thomas Scott, Chancellor of England, as he was dying said “Until this moment, I thought there was neither God nor hell; now I know and feel that there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty!” (Sunday School Times)
Voltaire, the famous infidel author and philosopher who spent most of his life fighting Christianity, cried out with his dying breath, “I am abandoned by God and man: I shall go to hell!” (Sunday School Times)
Beloved, the question is not whether you have a faith you can live by but rather do you have a faith you can die by!
2. For the Christian, death is the beginning of eternal joy and happiness. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17-18
Dwight L. Moody, world-famous evangelist of the 19th century, as he was dying, told his family gathered by his deathbed, “Earth recedes, Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is so sweet! There is no valley here, God is calling me, and I must go! I have been within the gates; I have seen the children’s faces. This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! It is glorious!” (Gospel Herald)
Salvation from sin; deliverance from sin’s penalty; and the joy of victorious faith is available to all who will put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Such a faith will enable us to say in this life, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV) and it will enable us, as it did Paul, to say when our earthly sojourn comes to its end: “I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The crown of righteousness is now waiting for me.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8a (ISV).