Summary: A biblical response to common myths about life after death.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
What Happens When a Person Dies Series
Four Lies About Death
A book of children’s letters to God contains this entry: Dear God, what is it like when a person dies? Nobody will tell me. I just want to know, I don’t want to DO it. Signed, Your Friend, Mike. Another youngster, Jane, suggests to the Lord, “Dear God, Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you keep the ones you got now?”
Actor and director Woody Allen voiced the same sentiments when he said, “I am not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be their when it happens.”
We are all curious about death and what happens next. But it is not just an intellectual matter. This topic is really a matter of the heart. It is a personal matter. We know, like it or not, that this is part of our future. Paul Azinger learned this the hard way.
Professional golfer Paul Azinger was diagnosed with cancer at age 33. He had just won a PGA championship and had ten tournament victories to his credit. He wrote, "A genuine feeling of fear came over me. I could die from cancer. Then another reality hit me even harder. I’m going to die eventually anyway, whether from cancer or something else. It’s just a question of when.” Before, Azinger lived for golf. No more. Now all he wanted to do was live!
One day in the early stages of the panic following his diagnosis, Azinger remember some words he had once heard in a Bible study. “We’re not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying, “the teacher had said, “We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living." That reality led him to a living hope through faith in Jesus Christ.
Golfer Paul Azinger recovered from chemotherapy and returned to the PGA tour. But the bout with cancer changed his perspective. He would later write, "I’ve learned that happiness is only temporary. The only way to true contentment is in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not saying that nothing ever bothers me and I don’t have problems, but I feel like I’ve found the answer to the six-foot hole."
Until we find the answers to the six-foot hope, we don’t know the facts of life. The most important lessons in life are wrapped-up in three short statements: Life is short. Death is certain. Eternity is forever. These are the lessons I hope we can master
Where do we go for information about life, death, and eternity? One place! God’s Word revealed to us in Jesus Christ! Who better help you plan for your future than someone who has been there? Who better to take you into eternity that someone who holds the keys to life and death? That’s what we want to explore. Let’s begin our exploration by contrasting four commonly believed lies about death with the revelation of God’s Word.
Lie Number One: I am going to live forever. Of course, we know that isn’t true. But we often act like. Three buddies were discussing death and one asked the group: "What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?" The first one responded, "I’d like them to say ’He was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community.’" The friend who initiated the conversation replied "I’d like them to say ’He was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow.’" They nodded in agreement and looked to the third buddy who’d been silent. Without hesitation he concluded, "I’d like them to say ’Look, he’s moving!!’"
Note how our text states the truth: it is appointed unto man to die! Death is a part of life.
In 1969, a research psychologist named Elizabeth Kubler-Ross changed the way people talk about death and dying. Her research methods left a lot to be desired. None the less, her stage theory has affected the way all of us think about the last days of life. Based on interviews with dying hospital patients, Kubler-Ross contended that people go through five emotional stages as they near life’s end. Those grieving the death of someone else often experience the same.
First, they live in denial. Not me! If I don’t believe, it won’t happen. I am going to wake up and it will all be a bad dream. When reality sets in, anger takes over. A person cries out to God, “Why me?” Patients will often turn on their family, nurses or doctors. Fortunately, the anger only lasts for a season. Bargaining soon follows. This is often a secret stage. A patient will pray to live long enough to see some event. He may promise all kinds of good if only God will allow them to live.