Featured Article: Death, Where is Thy Sting? - Nathele Graham - firstname.lastname@example.org
Death. It isn't a subject we like to talk about but it is one that touches everybody. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Hebrews 9:27. We somehow think that death will not touch us, that it is other people who lose loved ones...it is other people who die. The truth is that we all will face death one day. The question is, are you ready? You might wonder how anyone can be ready, but there is an answer. That answer is Jesus Christ. Without Him there is no hope, but with Him physical death will bring eternal life.
Death entered into this world soon after the creation took place. God created Adam and placed him in the Garden of Eden. God gave him one rule "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:16. That one command was all God gave Adam and it really shouldn't have been too difficult to keep. Then God took Eve out of the man. It was Eve who listened to Satan. It was Satan who twisted God's words. Instead of standing firm on what God said, she ate the fruit which God said would bring death. Then Adam joined her in disobeying God. As always, God was right and death became a reality. Ever since that day all of creation is touched by death. Our bodies become diseased and even tiny babies are subject to disease and death. Many people blame God. Why? It is Satan who beguiled Eve and it was Adam who chose to sin. God warned Adam, but the temptations of sin, as presented by Satan, was too much. Now we all live in a fallen world where sin corrupts everything.
The good news is that God has made it possible for everyone to live eternally with Him. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, entered His creation and died on the cross in order that salvation would be available to everyone. God has made available to us the one and only way to live eternally. Whether you accept this one way of salvation or not is up to you. It is an individual choice and nobody can make it for you, nor will God force you. Adam had a choice of whether to join Eve in sin or obey God. He chose to join Eve. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:22. The choice today is to recognize that you are a sinner and not worthy to stand before our Lord...at least on your own merit. It is faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that brings eternal life. God Himself gave His life so you can live eternally. The choice is yours: accept that gift and live eternally, or reject it and be eternally damned.
People like to believe that no matter what, when death comes they will be in a better place. This is another of Satan's lies. Just as Satan beguiled Eve by twisting God's truth into a lie which brought death, this is also a lie which brings eternal death. God's truth is that only through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ will a person go to "a better place" after death. "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am [he], ye shall die in your sins." John 8:24. In this verse, the translators inserted the word "he". Jesus actually said "... for if ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins", meaning He is the I AM who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. Jesus is God, and that must be believed in order to be forgiven of your sins. It was God's perfect blood that was shed on the cross, not a sinful human's corrupted blood.
A few years ago, my husband, whom I loved dearly, was diagnosed with a terminal disease. Doctors tried various treatments to help him cope with it, but none helped. Over the course of a few years I watched my husband's body slowly grow weaker. I also watched his faith in Jesus grow stronger. His body was sick and dying, but when faced with his own mortality he grew stronger in his faith. Many years prior to contracting this disease he had come to know Jesus as his Saviour. He had a passion for Christ and had a strong desire to serve Him...and so he studied. The more he learned the more he wanted to know. The more he knew, the more in love with Jesus and at peace he became. When the doctors told him the disease was terminal, he had no fear of death. He was ready to meet Jesus face to face. The Apostle Paul wrote "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21. Like Paul, Ron Graham was torn. He loved me, his children, his grandchildren, and friends. He also had a passion to share his love for Christ with as many people as he could and all of that love made him want to remain here in this life. He also knew that there would be no suffering when he crossed that barrier between this life and the next. "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:" Philippians 1:23. Ron knew that once he shed this mortal life he would be in the presence of his Lord where he would bow before Him and praise Him. I knew it too. On that morning when the ambulance came, I knew he was near the end of this life and I was faced with losing my husband. When the paramedic asked me if they should start life support or let him go, I could honestly say "No life support. He is ready to meet Jesus". These were hard words to say and I miss him more than words can express, but I have peace knowing that my husband is in the presence of Jesus. I, too, am caught between having a desire to depart and be with Christ and staying here and serving Him while I can. I pray that I will serve Jesus well while I am here.
We never know when death will come, so any delay in accepting Christ as your Saviour is foolish. According to Moses, the writer of Psalm 90, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10. This is not a hard and fast rule as to how long a person will live. How many children do we know who have died? Teenagers and young adults? On the other end of the timeline many people live well past 80 and many are over 100. Moses lived to be 120, so he lived well past the 80 years that he wrote about. The point is, don't wait to accept Christ. There is a difference between knowing Him as a historical person and accepting Him as your personal Saviour. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." James 2:19. Many false religions believe in one god, but that god is Satan and not God Almighty. Allah will only lead you to Hell. The "me" god of the secular humanism will only lead you to Hell. There is only one way to live eternally in a "better place" and that is through faith in the shed blood of Jesus.
Today our society tends to laugh at and mock God's truth and reject it. Schools teach evolution, teaching our children Satan's lie that over millions or billions of years life evolved from nothing. If that were true then there was no Garden of Eden, Adam didn't bring in original sin, and there is no need for a Saviour. God says different. God says He created everything in seven days, Adam's disobedience brought sin and death into the world, and very definitely we all need a Saviour. "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18. Christ died for you and for me. He shed His blood on the cross, was buried, and rose victorious from the grave on the third day. There is no better time than right now to admit that you are a sinner in need of His grace and forgiveness. No matter how many really good things you do for others, you still sin. Even Christians sin. The difference between a Christian sinner and a non-Christian sinner is faith in the only One who can forgive sin, Jesus Christ the Lord. If you are trying to decide whether or not to place your faith in Christ, don't wait. You never know when death will take you. Will those you leave behind think that you have "gone to a better place" because you are a nice person? Unless you have accepted Christ your eternity will, in fact, be very bleak. It will be spent in the Lake of Fire separated from all hints of love. There will be no welcome party with friends cheering because you are there and you will have forever to remember that you should have made a wiser choice before death. My husband was 43 when he came to know Jesus as his Saviour and his only regret was that he waited so long. If he had died at age 42 he would not be with Jesus right now. My joy is that he did accept Christ and he is now with Him forever.
Just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He spoke to Lazarus' sister Martha. He had a very important question for her. "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" John 11:25-26. I believe it, and so did Martha. "She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." John 11:27. How about you? Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? If you do, then eternal life is yours. If you don't, then you need to do some serious thinking. This is the most urgent and important question you will ever need to answer. If you have any questions, go to a Christian and ask. Send me an email and I will answer your questions. Don't delay. Life and death are eternal, and only faith in Jesus will bring eternal life.
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55. Jesus gained the victory over death and the grave. Accept Him now and death and the grave will have no victory over you.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
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