Are you prepared to die?
MOST PEOPLE do not like to talk or even think about their own deaths.
It is a very disturbing subject. However, the death of someone we know,
or coming close to the experience of it, reminds us that "it is
appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment."
What is death? Who has set this appointment with death? How many
appointments do men have with death? What comes after this appointment
and how does one prepare for this event? These are the questions that
will [be] addressed. May God open our hearts to receive His word.
What is Death?
THERE are many people today who believe that death means the complete
cessation of human existence beyond the grave. Man is just a material being.
When He dies, his body returns to dust, and that is the end of the person's
The above mentioned belief is not a modern notion, as some would like to
believe. Through the centuries, there have always been those who held to
this position. The Sadducees and the Epicureans during the time of Christ
were among those who held to this age-old belief.
However, the infallible Word of God - the Bible - clearly teaches, that
there is an existence beyond the grave. For what comes after death? Judgment!
That indicates that death is not the end of human existence.
When God created man, He did not only create him as a body entity. He created
man as a body and soul entity (Gen. 2:7). When a person experience death, his
soul amd body fall apart. His body returns to dust, but his soul continues to
have a conscious existence. Thus in speaking about Rachel's death, we read in
Scriptures, "and it came about as her soul was departing (for she died) . . ."
(Gen. 35:18). Elsewhere, it says, "For just as the body without the Spirit is
dead . . . (James 2:26). Furthermore, we read of Jesus speaking to His disciples,
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul . . ."
Therefore, death is not the complete end of human existence. It simply means the
seperation of the body and the soul. While the body returns to dust, the soul
continues to have a conscious existence.
Who has set this Appointment with Death?
IF people were given a choice, most will surely choose never to die. But our text
asserts that, "it is appointed for men to die . . ." So the question is, who set
this appointment with death? God, is the clear biblical answer to the question.
This is clear elsewhere in the Bible. The prophet David, in speaking of the all-knowingness
of God, writes, "Thine (God's) eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they
were all written." . . . What was written? David further says, "the days that were ordained
for me, when as yet there was not one of them." (Ps. 139:116). Furthermore, in Jesus' story
of the rich fool, God speaks to the rich fool and says, "you fool, this night your soul is
required of you . . ." (Lk. 12:20). The rich fool thought he was going to live much longer.
He had many definite plans about his future, but God has appointed that he die that very night!
The fact that God Himself has set this appointment with death implies that this appointment
with death is inescapable. Some scientist today boast that someday they will find the remedy
to eradicate the ugly reality of death and that man is going to live eternally. God will
never make it happen. He will frustrate every attempt man will make to eradicate death.
Why should God do that? The answer goes right back to what happened to our first parents.
God said to Adam, "from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but form the tree of
knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die"
(Gen. 2:16,17). And elsewhere it is written, "Therefore, just as through one man sin
entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because
all sinneed" (Rom. 5:12). So God has set men's appointment with death.
How many Appointments do men have with Death?
REINCARNATION is a belief that when human beings die, they will be regenerated into
another form of life. If they lived a bad life, then they will reincarnate to a lower form
of animal life - like a dog or even a fly. But if in that state they will live a good
life, then they will again move to a higher form of animal life and then to a highest
form of life - a human being. And if as a human being, they live a good life, then they
enter into the state of Nirvana in which they will be absorbed in the great life
force of the universe. But, that is a devil's lie! God's infallible word asserts that,
"it is appointed for men to die once..."
There are however a few exceptions to this rule as recorded in the Bible. Lazarus, and
a few others, must have died twice for Jesus raised from the (dead). In fact Enoch and
Elijah did not even experience death at all. But exceptions are exceptions, they are
not the rule.
What comes after death?
MANY people speculate about what comes after death. But God's infallinle word, which
our conscience also affirms, is that judgment is the next great event that happens after death:
"It is appointed for men to die and then comes judgment".
In other words, there are no second chances after death. When a person dies, then he
will be ushered to the bar of God's judgment throne, to be judge by God.
Away with this notion that man can still have another chance in a place called
purgatory. There is not a single piece of evidence in God's Word that there is
such a place. In fact, the clear teaching of our text and elsewhere in the Bible
is that judgment is the next great event that follows death.
This explains Jesus' uncertain statement to be a would-be-disciple who wanted to delay
following Jesus in order to bury his father. Jesus said to him, "Allow the dead
(that is, the spiritually dead) bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim
everywhere the kingdom of God. There was nothing more that man could do for the
soul of his father - he was already dead. And where death meets him, eternity will
find him. And therefore, Jesus pointed that man to those who are still living - '
Go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.".
How does one prepare for this Appointment with death?
IN a real sense, death is the most certain and yet the most uncertain event in a person's life.
We know that all of us will eventually die. But as to when that will happen, none of us
can predict. We have an inescapable appointment with death - yes . . . But as to when that
appointment will be - we just cannot tell. If the dead could speak and you were to ask them
whether they knew they would die, most of them would answer, no. Therefore, one of the
most urgent questions: How are you to prepare for this appointment with death?
For many people, the answer to that question is "do good works; forsake a life of sin and
live in obedience to God." Now in a real sense that is true. The Bible insists upon
repentance as absolutely necessary if one is ever to be ready for death and judgment.
Jesus, speaking to certain Jews who self-reighteously reported to Him of the gruesome
death of certain Galileans at the hands of Pilate, said, "Do you suppose that these
Galileans were greater than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you,
no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise persih. or do you suppose that the eighteen
on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all men who live
in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
(Lk. 13:2-4). If we trace Jesus' ministry recorded in the gospel narratives, we find
Jesus contnually insisting upon repentance - turning from specific sins which were
manisfestations of one's rebellion against God, to a life of submission and obedience to Him.
We also see this in the ministry of the Apostles recorded in the book of Acts.
However, it must be remembered that repentance alone that leads to obedience to God's law
is not enough to prepare one for death and judgment. For what does the bible teach?
Paul, under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit, writes, "Now we know that
whatever the Law says, it speak of those who are under the Law, that every mouth may
be closed, and all the world may become accountable before God; because by the works
of the Law Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the
knowledge of sin." (Rom. 3:19-20). Although we are under obligation to keep God's Holy
Law, yet the Scripture clearly asserts that no human being will ever be declared righteous
in God's sight by trying to keep God's law. The law exposes our sinfulness, and shuts our
proud self-righteous mouths. Keeping it can never put us in a position where God would
declare us righteous in His sight.
Why can no one ever be declared righteous in God's sight by keeping God's Law?
FIRST, because God's law demands absolute or perfect obediencecompliance. It does not only
demand that you keep 95% of its requirements. It claims perfect obedience. "For whoever keeps
the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He said, 'do not
commit adultery,' also said, 'do not commit murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but
do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." (James 2:10,11). This even
illustrated in human courts. A man who has been a good abiding citizen of the land, can't
plead acquittal of a crime he has committed on the basis that all his life he has not been
guilty of breaking other laws. He still must be sentenced as guilty for the crime he has
committed. So also in God's court. If we are able to keep all of God's law except one,
then we are still guilty.
Furthermore, God's law demands not just eternal but also internal conformity. This is
clear on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said, "You have heard that the ancients were
told, 'you shall not commit murder' and 'whoever shall be liable to the court'. But I say
to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and
whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and
whoever shall say, 'you fool', shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
(Mt. 5:21,22). In other words, Jesus is saying that violating the sixth commandment
does not only involve getting a gun and blowing out someone's brains with it. No! No!.
But even harboring sinful anger in the heart and expressing that anger even in
hurting words is already murder! Jesus said that violation of God's law is enough to
sink one's soul to hell! For God's law was not just mean to regulate our outward conduct,
but also our thoughts and desires and words. Similarly, Jesus said, "You have heard
that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; but I say unto you, that every one who
looks at a woman with lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart."
(Mt. 5:27,28). In other words, violating that Seventh commadment does not only involve
sleeping in bef with someone who is not your husband or wife. But even to entertain
lustful thoughts of someone who is not married to you is already adultery - a violation of God's
law. Therefore, how can anyone ever be justified by the works of the law? It is impossible!
We are under obligation to keep God's law. But no one will ever be justified by keeping it.
In addition, our obedience to God's law ca never pay for our failures to keep it.
Our obedience today is only what God demands today and therfore it cannot pay for yesterday's
failures. Besides, what payment must one pay for sin? The bible's answer is clear: Death!
"For the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23a); "For every soul thast sins shall die
(Ezk. 8:4b). So the payment one must pay for sin is not obedience or some other good works.
The wages of sin is death, and death in the Bible means nothing less than being speerated from
God forever in a place called the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).
Finally, we must remember that our compliance to God's law is never pefectly good.
As Isaiah put it, "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our
righteous deeds are like a filthy garment" (Isaiah 64:6a). In other words, if God were
to judge our "works," there will be enough sin to damn us to hell forever.
Therefore, repentance alone leading to obedience to God's law is not enough to prepare
us for death and judgment. This is why the call of the gospel is not only to repent
of sins but also to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance must be joined with faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Bible teaches that one cannot exist without the other.
We must not only repent but also believe in the Lord Jesus. Thus Paul summarizing his
gospel ministry to the elders at Ephesus said, "Solemnly testifying to both Jews and
Greeks of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
Why is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ essential if one is to prepare for death and judgment?
First, it is only by believing or trusting in Christ alone that our sins can be forgiven.
As Peter said, "of Him (Jesus Christ) all the prophets bear witness that through His name
every one who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:43). Christ died on
the cross to pay for sin's wages. Those who believe in Him receive the benefits of His
death - the forgiveness of sins. This is true no matter how great might be your sins. For
as God through the prophet Isaiah said, "Come now, and let us reason together. Though
your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson,
they will be like wool" (Isa. 1:18)
Moreover, faith in Christ is esential because it is by believing in Him alone that His
perfect righteousness is regarded as our own. If we are to stand at the court of
God and be declared righteous in His sight, then we must have a perfect righteousness.
However, we have seen, that is impossible for us to achieve. Ah,but God has provided
a perfect righteousness in the perfect life of jesus Christ. It is when we believe
in Him that righteousness is regarded as our own. This was prophesied in the Old
Testament. Jeremiah, prophesying of the coming Messiah, said, "In His days Judah
will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will
be called, 'The Lord our righteousness'" (Jer. 23:6). The New testament also
explicitly deals with this point. As Paul puts it, " So then as through one
transgression (Adam's transgression) there resulted condemnation to all men, even
so through one act of righteousness (Jesus' deed of righteousness) there resulted
justification to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many
were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be
made righteous" (Rom. 5:18,19).
Therefore, if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then immediately we will
be pardoned for all our sins and be declared righteous in God's sight. This
gives us the right to enter heaven, This was what happened to the dying thief,
when he repented of his sins and trusted in Christ, Christ said to him at the
very moment, "Truly, I say to you, today, you shall be with me in Paradise"
(Lk. 23:43). This was not just true of the dying thief, but this is true of
all who would believe in Christ. As it is written, "there is therefore now
no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). Also,
Jesus said, "he who believes in Him (Christ) is not judged; he who does not
believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of
the only begotten Son of God" (Jn 3:18).
But what does it mean to believe in Christ? It means to know the Jesus of
the gospel story; to acknowledge that everything the gospel story says about
Jesus is true or factual; and to trust in Jesus alone for salvation.
My dear reader, your appoinment with death will surely come. Are you prepared
for it? If not, then repent of your sins and believe and trust in Christ
alone for salvation. http://sgbc-cebu.com