3 Reasons Why A Christian Can Confidently Face Death
Sarah Winchester’s husband had acquired a fortune by manufacturing and selling rifles. After he died of tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah sought out a spiritist to contact her dead husband, who supposedly told her, “As long as you keep building your home, you will never face death.” Believing the spiritist, Sarah bought an unfinished 17-room mansion and started to expand it.
The project, which cost about 5 million dollars at a time when workers earned 50 cents a day, continued until she died at the age of 85. She left enough materials so that they could have kept building for another 80 years. Today that house stands as a silent witness to the fear of death that holds millions of people in bondage.
However, the Bible gives reasons why people don’t need to live in fear of death. But before we look at those reasons in detail, let’s ask and answer a simple question: What is death? Death, in simple terms, is a separation. That’s the basic answer. Now, the Bible describes three kinds of death.
1. Physical Death. This death is a separation of the soul from the physical body. Hebrews 9:27 teaches us that all “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” The Bible makes it clear there is no reincarnation. Notice the verse clearly states all people “die once.” Not several times.
2. Spiritual Death. This death is a separation of the soul and the body from the life of God. Ephesians 2:1 reminds us of a person’s condition without Jesus, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” All of us come into this world spiritually dead. This condition leads people not only to physical death but eventually to eternal death if they die without accepting the life that Jesus offers to them.
3. Eternal Death. This death is a separation of both the soul and the body from God forever due to rejecting Jesus while alive on earth. Revelation 20:15 teaches us of the final destination of such people, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Those who experience this death will live in hell forever.
With that essential understanding of death, let’s see 3 reasons why Christians can confidently face death.
Reason # 1. Death has no power over the Christian.
When he came to earth, the Lord Jesus took on a human body as a man, lived the perfect life, died as our substitute for the punishment of sins, and rose again. As a result, those who trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins can be confident they will face no punishment in the future. They will never experience eternal death. Not only that but even now, they don’t need to live in fear of death because Jesus sets “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” [Heb 2:15].
You see, physical death is just a passage into the next life—life forever in the presence of God for the believer. It’s like sleeping and waking up. No wonder the Bible describes the Christian’s death as “sleep” [1 Cor 15:51; 1 Thess 4:13]. Death, indeed, has no power over the Christian, and that’s the first reason why we can face death boldly.
Reason # 2. Death enables the Christian to be in the presence of the Lord immediately.
When a Christian dies, the physical body goes into the grave. The soul, however, goes immediately into the presence of the Lord. Paul said he would rather be “away from the body and at home with the Lord” [2 Cor 5:8]. Being “away from the body” refers to the condition of the soul away from this physical body. And to be “at home with the Lord” refers to the soul being in the presence of the Lord.
On the cross, Jesus himself promised one of the repentant criminals, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” [Lk 23:43]. The promise of being in God’s presence was not a reality for the distant future—not even a few days from the time of death—but “today” indicating immediate presence with God. There is no waiting period, no temporary holding place before a Christian’s soul goes to be with the Lord. It happens immediately following physical death. The only exception to this is when Jesus returns, and all his followers will immediately be with him without experiencing physical death [1 Thess 4:16-17]. That’s the second reason why Christians can confidently face death.
Reason # 3. Death enables the Christian to possess a new and perfect body.
The physical body with which we come into this world is subject to sin and sickness. That is why there is physical death. However, when Jesus returns in the future for his people, all Christians will get perfect and new bodies—bodies that are sin-free and sick-free. Even those Christians who have died and whose souls have gone to be in the presence of the Lord will receive new bodies at that time. This event is what the Bible calls “glorification.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 explains this process, “51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 gives more details about this new body we will receive in the future, “42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” This new spiritual body is also called the resurrection body, imperishable or glorious body. That is why we Christians are waiting eagerly for “the redemption of our bodies” [Rom 8:23]. That’s the third reason why Christians can confidently face death.
So, 3 solid reasons why believers can face death boldly—death has no power over us, death enables us to be in the presence of the Lord immediately, and death helps us to possess a new and perfect body.
Yet, at times, questions such as “What will happen to me? Will I become invalid? Will I experience pain?” grips Christians, especially as they get older or even when facing a critical illness. While these are legitimate concerns, we still need to look at God’s promises and protection and thus respond biblically. God has promised, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” [Isa 46:4].
And if it is God’s will that we have to go through physical affliction, we can still be calm and fearless, knowing that our Father’s will is the best for us. He will carry us through this earthly pilgrimage and to our final home in heaven [Phil 1:6]. As every day goes by, we are closer to being with the Lord. That should help us persevere faithfully through dark times!
While these are great realities for the Christian, the future is very dark if one is not a Christian. The Bible says that when the unbeliever dies, the body goes into the grave, but the soul goes into Hades (like hell), which is a place of suffering [Lk 16:23]. That is where the souls of unbelievers remain until the final Judgment Day, when they will be raised to stand before God for the final judgment for sins before being cast into hell—for all eternity. Revelation 20:13 says that all unbelievers will be judged “according to what they have done.” And because of their unforgiven sins, they will then be “thrown into the lake of fire [hell]“ [Rev 20:14]. Indeed, a terrible and tragic ending!
However, life need not end that way. By turning from sins and trusting in Jesus, one can experience spiritual birth and avoid this terrible judgment because Jesus took God’s judgment for sin. Jesus himself promised in John 5:24, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” This verse has 3 promises for those who believe in Christ:
(1) They have eternal life now.
(2) They will not face judgment in the future for their sins.
(3) They have crossed over from spiritual death to spiritual and eternal life, thus avoiding eternal death.
These are phenomenal promises, if believed, that can free a person from the fear of death. Yes, our meeting with death is inevitable. No medical plan can overcome death! Hebrews 9:27 clearly says, “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Death is one appointment that all will have to keep! About 10,000 people die every hour. Sooner or later, you will be among that number.
Are you ready for death? Of course, you can—if you are a Christian! For it’s a Christian alone who can assuredly and joyfully sing, “55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” [1 Corinthians 15:55, 57].