Death :: by Grant Phillips

Death is not a subject most people like to talk about, listen to, or read about. However, the older we get, the more often it comes to mind, even though it is no stranger to any age. Death is an equal opportunity acquaintance and is no respecter of persons.

One thing that is great about living in Kentucky is the distinction of the four seasons. Now they are not as distinct as they were when I was much younger, but  it is still easy to distinguish Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter from each other.

In these four seasons we notice birth (Spring), maturity (Summer), then aging (Fall) and finally death (Winter). Death is all around us, whether in nature, the animal kingdom or with us humans. There is nothing born that does not eventually die.

But know this; those who have come to Jesus and put their faith in Him have nothing to fear from death. The Apostle Paul says,

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

The Lord Jesus has already “broken the ice” so to speak, and the way is clear for those who belong to Him.

Death visited our house this week, but not to a human. A pet we have had for over twenty one years, a cat named Peanut, died. I had mentioned him in another article, “Could It Be This Year,” not realizing that this would be his last year to be with us.

I realize he was just an animal, and I certainly don’t equate the death of an animal with that of a human being. A human being is made in the likeness of God, and is very precious. I will eventually get to a point with this.

Even though he was an animal, it still hurts when you lose a pet, especially one you have had for so long. He was a big part of our lives and everyday living just won’t be the same for some time. Even now, less than a week later, both my wife and I have thought we heard him calling for us at the back door, but of course he wasn’t.

I have had several pets over the years, cats, dogs, even birds, but have always liked cats best. I have grown close to several of those pets, but none as close as Peanut, perhaps because of the many years he, Debbie and I have been together, and all we have been through together.

One of the things I have noticed with pets is that they accept you unconditionally and trust you wholeheartedly. They are always ready to forgive and forget and love your company. Something I can’t say, unfortunately, about many of my own human species.

The sad thing with pets is that when they die, that’s it. There is nothing beyond death. Debbie and I will never see Peanut again, nor he us. Perhaps that knowledge is what is most disturbing about this incident, but that’s the way it is.

The good news is that when we lose a loved one (human) particularly if we both are a Christian, we will see that loved one again and be able to enjoy each other’s company in absolute bliss.

Many in my family have passed away. Friends I once knew are now gone. But in all of these cases, for those who knew Jesus as their Savior and Lord, there is not that knowledge of “they’re gone, never to be seen again.” I lost my Dad in 2003 and my Mother in 2008, but I know I’ll see them again. That is a great comfort.

Jesus has made something possible for mankind that only He could do. He gives life, eternal life, to those who will put their faith in Him. He says “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Proverbs 116:15)

When sin entered the world, death was right on its heels, but in Jesus there is life everlasting. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:21)

When the final curtain is drawn and all the actors have left the stage, death will be destroyed once and for all. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26)

There is coming a time, very soon in my opinion, that we who claim Christ will forever shed these mortal bodies and be clothed in a body like our Lord’s. “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)

The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the message that saves all who will come to Him. “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” (2 Timothy 1:10)

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) I’ve always wondered about this verse. Why will there be tears in our eyes for God to wipe away? Is not Heaven a joyful place? Perhaps there will be tears for God to wipe away, because of the heartache on judgment day over so many that refused Jesus and will be condemned to the Lake of Fire. Perhaps those tears will be tears of joy, over all that Jesus has provided to those who love Him. We know the unworthiness of our own sin-filled hearts, but yet He saved us. He didn’t have to, but there we stand in His very presence because of our simple child-like faith and His boundless grace.

We each have one life to live. We are free to do as we please with that life, even over the Gospel message that rings in our ears. We can accept it, or we can reject it. It’s our call. Unfortunately, for those who trample the name of Jesus by slapping His hand away when He reaches out to them will have to endure the wrath of a holy and almighty God.

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

Yes, death is not a popular subject, but to a Christian it is a mere gateway to go home, our real home. On the other side waits our Savior with open arms. There is nothing to fear, only eternal joy with the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is.

“25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: [emphasis mine] 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.[emphasis mine] Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26)

I see in this passage two points Jesus makes: (1) if those who are spiritually dead will believe in Him, they will be born again spiritually and shall never die spiritually, and (2) even though we may die physically as a believer, we never actually die. We just enter our new home in Heaven, and our body will join as at the Rapture.

Grant Phillips