To those left behind death is an enemy; it snatches a loved one from us and leaves us grieving. But, to the deceased believer it is a ticket to Heaven. How else are we going to get there?
The Bible foretells a time when “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” and then it asks, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54, 55). God promises, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me. . . .
O short moment past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more:
Death, thou shalt die!
Joseph Jefferson prepared his own epitaph which was placed on his monument in Cape Cod, Mass. It reads in part, “We are but tenants, and . . . shortly the great Landlord will give us notice that our lease has expired.”
Likewise, Moses reminds all of us that “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).
Death is not “paying the debt of nature.” Rather, as John Foster puts it, “It is . . . like bringing a note to the bank to obtain solid gold in exchange for it. You bring a cumbrous body which is nothing worth, and which you could not wish to retain long; you lay it down, and receive for it, from the eternal treasures, liberty, victory, knowledge, and rapture.”
When the prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, died, an hymn to which Ira D. Sankey had written the music was sung. The hymn says:
Sleep on, beloved, sleep, and take thy rest;
Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast.
We love thee well, but Jesus loves thee best—
Good-night! Good-night! Good-night!
We don’t have to fear death, nor should we just sit by and wait for it. God wants us to be about His business until He calls us home.
Stephen Girard said, “When death comes to me, it will find me busy, unless I am asleep. If I thought I was going to die tomorrow, I should nevertheless plant a tree today.”
We must be careful to live godly, Christ-exalting lives. It is possible to err from God, even while we are working at helping others.
In another century, Samuel Johnson said, “To neglect, at any time, preparation for death, is to sleep on our post at a siege; to omit it in old age is to sleep at an attack.”
Our best preparation for the next life, after conversion, is a faithful, consistent one carefully lived for the Lord during this one.
In some ways, it is more difficult to daily follow Christ than to convert to Him. This, of deeds we do and words we speak, is especially true. Tyron Edwards reminds us that “When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.”
Some day all of us will pull the cold shroud of death about us and die, unless Christ takes us away in the Rapture. Should we die, may we face death as did the character in “Pilgrim’s Progress”: “When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the riverside, into which as he went he said, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ And as he went down deeper he said, ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side”
May God give all of us such a glorious entrance to Gloryland!