Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”
Go back with me in time. It’s AD 125, and a man named Aristides wrote a letter to an acquaintance to give this explanation for the rapid spread of Christianity, “If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.” Yes, believers in the Lord Jesus can face death differently from those who don’t know Him because they have a hope beyond the grave. There’s an old saying that goes, “Life begins at 40.” However, for God’s children, life, new and glorious living, begins at death when the soul leaves the body and enters into the presence of the Lord. That’s why they can face death with such confidence and joy. Their attitudes toward the grave can even be detected in their obituaries. Instead of the usual wording that a loved one has “died” or “passed away,” the death notices of believers in Christ often express the comforting assurance that they were:
(1) “Called home to be with Jesus,” or
(2) “Went to be with the Lord.”
It was during the bleak days of World War II, Adolf Hitler was tyrannizing Europe and gathering together millions of people and putting them into concentration camps. No wonder there was such widespread belief that the end of history had arrived. During that time, Sophie Scholl, a heroic resister of the Nazi regime, made this comment in a letter to a friend just before she was executed in 1943, “People believe that we live in the end times, and many terrible signs make such a belief all too credible. But isn’t it irrelevant? Don’t we all realize that, no matter when we live, God can call us at a moment’s notice? How do I know if I’ll even be alive tomorrow morning?” My friend, we need to take the above words of Sophie to heart. All of us live on the edge of eternity.
My friend, Peter’s words to the first-century followers of Christ is so very important for us today (1 Peter 4:7-19). We too must live as if “the end of all things is at hand” (v. 7), realizing that we are accountable to God (vv. 17-19) and that at any second, death may terminate our earthly existence. Augustine penned these words, “The end of life puts the longest life on a par with the shortest …. Death becomes evil only by the retribution which follows it. They, then, who are destined to die, need not inquire about what death they are to die, but into what place death will usher them.” For those who have put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ, death isn’t a sheriff dragging us off to court but a servant ushering us into the presence of a loving Lord. So, the question remains:
(1) Are you prepared for that event?
(2) Do you view that possibility with confident assurance, knowing that the end here will mean a new and
glorious beginning there?
(3) It will if your faith is in Jesus Christ, the death-conquering Savior.
To make the most of each day keep eternity in mind.