Dealing with Death- Part 2

Bryan Kimsey

First Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

June 2012

Good morning and welcome to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio in Clayton NM. I'm talking about the topic of death this week on the program. As I mentioned yesterday, in the past several months, I've experienced the death of 2 close family members; my grandmother and my 11 year old son David. My grandmother's death was more or less expected due to her advanced age but the death of David was much more of a shock. Even though he'd lived with health issues all his life, I don't think anyone thought he was so bad that he'd die. But, he did, and that forced us to rely on and exercise our faith in a way we'd never done before. As I said previously, it's one thing to believe in the path and another thing to walk in it. It's one thing to read Psalm 23 where it says though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil... It's another thing to find yourself in the valley of the shadow of death, surrounded by evil.

Unfortunately, dealing with death is something that every human on the face of this earth will have to do. Everyone will lose a loved one at some time or another and sooner or later it will be their own time to go. It's my hope that some of the lessons I've learned will help you when that time comes. So, let's ask God to bless this message and let's hope that it glorifies Him through the name of Jesus Christ, our only and eternal hope. Amen.

I talked yesterday about the unpredictability of life, using several passages from Ecclesiastes, and I showed that it's okay to weep and mourn upon the passing of a loved one. The shortest passage in the Bible is, of course, Jesus wept and it occurs in the context of the death of Lazarus, whom Jesus was soon to resurrect. Today I'd like to look at the question of why there's even death in the first place and I'd like to speculate a little on the fact that death is so often painful; why don't we just go to sleep, to wake up no more? Why does death so often have to be violent and gruesome? Let's turn to the Bible and see if we can find some answers.

First- why is there death? We're going to Genesis and the Garden of Eden for the answer to that. The first indication we of have death is in:

UKJV: Genesis Chapter 2 [16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: [17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.

Adam, of course, ate from the tree. There's a saying that demonstrates why Adam did this and it goes like this- We are sinners not because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. I think this is a Biblically correct statement and I think so for several reasons, most of which I've preached on many times, but all of which stem from a telling statement in Revelation:

UKJV: Revelation of John Chapter 15 [4] Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? for you only are holy: for all nations shall come and worship before you; for your judgments are made manifest

A modern translation will say you alone are holy. If this is correct and God alone is holy, then where does that leave the rest of us? It leaves us as un-holy creatures. As un-holy beings, we have an imperfect nature and this nature will cause us to sin. We can see this in this passage, too:

UKJV: Ephesians Chapter 2 [3] we.... were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

The Revelation passage says that God alone is holy and the Ephesians passages says that we were by nature children of wrath. Our natural nature, then, is not Godly and not holy- it is a sinful nature. Thus, it was only a matter of time before Adam ate from the forbidden tree, thereby introducing death into the world. Two things are important here; first, if Adam had not eaten from the tree, his nature would still be exactly the same. Eating from the forbidden tree was simply an inevitable result of his nature. Secondly, this passage from Romans makes it explicitly clear that sin resulted in death:

UKJV: Romans Chapter 6 [23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you approach this from a Biblical view, I don't think there can be any argument that sin results in death. After Adam's disobedience, we find him getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden and furthermore banned from eating from the Tree of Life.

UKJV: Genesis Chapter 3 [22] And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: [23] Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. [24] So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

At this point, then, Adam has not only introduced sin and death into the world but he, personally, has been evicted from the Garden and restricted from the tree of life, thereby ensuring that death would continue to him and all his descendants. Again, we can back this up from Romans:

UKJV: Romans Chapter 5 [12] .by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

But, wait... that's not all. Not only did God remove Adam from the Garden, but he laid a curse on Adam and on the earth itself:

UKJV: Genesis Chapter 3 [17] And unto Adam he said, Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life; [18] Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; [19] In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return

The ground is therefore cursed, and man shall eat from it in sorrow, fighting his way through thorns, thistles, and the sweat of his brow, only to die and return to the dust.

And there we have the origin of death. But why does death have to be so brutal sometimes? Speaking for myself, I think it would be so much easier to take if we just peacefully fell asleep. I don't have a clear solid answer to this question, but I do have some clues. First, I see from Job that Satan, with the permission of God, inflicted Job with boils and with suffering. There's a passage in 1 Corinthians in which Paul is discussing a sinning brother and he says:

UKJV: I Corinthians Chapter 5 [5] To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

From this passage, I see that Satan destroyed the flesh. It's not just Satan that destroys, though. From many places in the Old Testament, I see that God Himself destroys and he uses this as a means of punishment. Here's an example:

UKJV: I Samuel Chapter 5 [9] And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he stroke the men of the city, both small and great....

Again, I'm not totally positive about this, but it seems to me that God might use pain in death in order to emphasize the severity of it. After all, death comes because of sin, and God hates sin. There is a Psalm that suggest this idea to me:

UKJV: Psalms Chapter 90 [11] Who knows the power of your anger? even according to your fear, so is your wrath. [12] So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom

If you read this carefully, I think you'll see that it is talking about the power of God's anger and wrath. Therefore, I wonder if pain and suffering during death isn't intended to remind us of God's power. After all, another Psalm tells us this:

UKJV: Psalms Chapter 111 [10] The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.

It would be a gloomy story indeed if we stopped here, but fortunately, there's so much more to this story than a short, troubled life that ends in the grave. In fact, I already mentioned this hope when I quoted Romans. Here's that passage again:

UKJV: Romans Chapter 6 [23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

That, folks, is the Bible's message rolled up in one verse. One more time-

UKJV: Romans Chapter 6 [23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And while we have pain, suffering, tears, trials, and sorrows here on earth, if we have Jesus Christ acting on our behalf, we have this to look forward to:

UKJV: Revelation of John Chapter 21 [4] 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.

Remember that sin is due to man's disobedience and that as a result of that, God kicked Adam out of the Garden and removed his access to the Tree of Life before putting a curse the earth. If we read a little further in Revelation, we'll find this passage:

UKJV: Revelation of John Chapter 22 [1] And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. [2] In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [3] And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him...

This is our great hope. We can hope that those in Christ will eventually come to live in this New Jerusalem, a place in which there is the tree of life, there is no death, no sorrow, and no curse. This is a place in which we see God on the throne and Jesus next to Him. Earlier I said that it's one thing to preach the path, it's another to walk the path. I've preached and taught this hope in Jesus Christ. When a loved one dies, should I not then walk that path? Should I have despair or should I have hope? Do I accept the chaos or do I embrace the Creator? What about you? When death comes and takes a loved one, what will your response be? I pray that your loved one will be in Christ and that you will have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), that you will have a faith that is not of yourself but is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). In Jesus' name, Amen.

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