The Bible tells us that death is an enemy (1 Cor. 15:26), but it is the death of our physical body. Our spirits are eternal and never die per se or cease to exist. To the true Christian and follower of Jesus Christ death is a transition into the presence of the Lord. How glorious!
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).
The Holy Spirit said through the apostle Paul that to die is gain and to depart this earthly life to be with Christ is far better.
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain…having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:21, 23b).
Do we really believe this?
In just the last few years I’ve met individuals who left their body momentarily and then returned. One was my former pastor who is now 82 years of age. He went in for surgery and left his physical body. He was just above it looking down on his family in that hospital room who were praying for him and calling him back. As soon as he came back into his body he said, “I’m back”. This man is a deeply spiritual man and moves in the supernatural, so this experience did not seem to startle him at all. He knows the Lord and the spiritual realm is real to him.
I have another pastor friend in Florida who told me that at 19 years of age he was bleeding to death from some kind of accident or injury. He testified to me that he left his body and was suspended a few feet above it looking down on the doctors who were working on him. Thankfully, he returned and went on to fulfill God’s plan for his life.
Many people, even true Christians, die before their time. There are reasons people die young or prematurely, but that’s a topic for another day. The point is that the Lord desires that we all live out our full lives and accomplish the fulness of His plan and purpose for us, exclusive of martyrdom, which is an honor and a glory.
Death can be very uncomfortable and fearful to those who die without Christ, and a large part of the ministry of the gospel is to persuade people to turn to Christ before it is too late. This ought to be the greatest joy of every minister. Only repentance from sin and faith in Christ launches your spirit into the presence of the Lord at the hour of death.
But to the believer death should not be a terrifying experience. We do not have to be afraid of death.
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15).
The Bible calls the fear of death a bondage, but by defeating the devil who had the power of death, Jesus has released us from the grip of this fear. So death for the Christian is actually a wonderful and glorious transition into a blissful eternity with the Lord and all the saints that have moved on, especially our loved ones with whom there will be a grand and joyful reunion.
It is important that we die right. It is important that we die a death that glorifies God. You might ask, “what kind of death glorifies God?” Since it’s faith that pleases God (Heb. 11:6), then it makes sense that to die in faith pleases the Lord. Even in the Old Testament, before Jesus had opened the way to the third heaven, and when paradise was still under the earth and not the glorious place it is now, the OT saints died in faith.
WHAT IT MEANS TO DIE IN FAITH
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country” (Heb. 11:13-16a).
Not everyone dies in faith. The disobedient and backslidden believer cannot die in faith until they repent and make peace with God. Sinners and those who have not surrendered to Jesus and do not know the living God, of course, cannot die in faith.
Additionally, those who are not able to forget their past sins and failures, who have regrets and hold grudges, and who refuse to forgive and release those they’ve been hurt by cannot die in faith. The pleasure seeking, worldly loving professing “Christian” cannot die in faith because of their attachment to the things of this world. In the Scripture above even the OT saints knew they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth who sought a homeland, a heavenly country. How much more ought we to have this mind-set in the new and better covenant! This world is not our home. It’s important to continually live for eternity and be prepared to face God at the hour of death. Until a man’s heart has been transformed by the grace of God he cannot possibly have a deep rooted desire to live for the glory of God. There are some who’ve allowed evil to grip their hearts to such an extent that they will even curse God at the hour of their death.
For example, a study was done on airplane crashes and final words that were spoken in the cockpit recorder before the pilot’s imminent death. Most were full of curses and profanity. This describes the death of the unrighteous. That is not how any of us want to die. Please don’t go out this way, but receive Jesus and be filled with His forgiveness and peace. On the other hand, God’s mercy is so great that He saves those who call on Him with their last breath. Many enter heaven this way, too, having lived for themselves and receiving no reward, but still making heaven. It is sad that they did not live their lives for the Lord, but it sure beats going to hell.
“Let me die the death of the righteous…” (Nu. 23:10b). The righteous die in faith with hope and confidence, and their death is most precious to the Lord. One big reason the death of the Lord’s saints is precious to Him is because of their precious faith. Putting the following scriptures together will help us see this clearly.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15).
“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing…” (1 Pt. 1:7-8).
“Blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen” (Jn. 20:29).
Another minister acquaintance of mine died and went to heaven for nearly two hours. The Lord told him to go back to the earth because his work was not done. He was sad at the news and did not want to return. Most who’ve truly had a visitation of the Lord or out of body visions of heaven do not want to return.
I heard the story of Oral Roberts’ crusade director who also died and was upset when his wife called him back to his body. Those who’ve had even just glimpses of eternity and the blissful state of the departure from this sin and sick-cursed world wish to remain in heaven.
Death is indeed an enemy, not a friend because it separates us from our loved ones, but we don’t have to face it in fear, in doubt, or in weakness, but in faith, honor, and dignity.
Please pass this on to those who do not yet know the Lord or who are dying. The hope, comfort, and peace that comes from knowing their sins are forgiven and that heaven is their eternal home is worth it all.
If you are interested in these themes of death, heaven, and hell please like our Facebook page, Behind The Veil, and enjoy our television program on these themes. These programs will first appear on this page. They are offered in English but dubbed into Arabic for our Arabic speaking viewers. They are broadcast globally with the largest concentration of four million daily viewers in the Middle East. I hope they are a blessing to you and help to stamp eternity in your heart and ignite a passion in you for souls.