March 28, 1995
“Doctor, I’m a Christian but I’m afraid to die. What happens in the hour of death?”
It is no surprise that the Bible identifies death as our enemy. No matter who faces this opponent, in the end death defeats everyone. Fear of death is also an enemy. Scripture says this fear can hold people in slavery all their lives. It extends to fear of growing old and even of becoming gravely ill. Also, many will not speak directly about death. Instead, they use euphemisms like “passed away” or even a flippant “kicked the bucket” to soften fear’s stranglehold.
If death was a friend, vitamins and health food companies and a host of other industries and services would not exist. Medical science dedicates itself to free people from these fears. Cosmetic companies flourish because people do not want to lose their youth and strength.
What are people afraid of? Is death feared because of subconscious warnings of an unpleasant judgment? Maybe. Hebrews 9:27 says, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
After death, judgment is certain. It is based on what people do when alive. Sin has an eternal consequence, as Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death . . . “ However, the rest of the verse gives hope. It says “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Certainly the Christian who made the above statement believed both the first and second half of that verse. No doubt he once feared judgment, but as a follower of Christ, judgment was no longer a fearful thing for him. He knew he was “justified by Christ’s blood” and “saved from God’s wrath through Him.” He also knew, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Through Christ, the law of the Spirit of life sets people free from the law of sin and death.
Having confessed and received forgiveness, if a Christian still fears death, the fear is not about judgment but the actual process of dying. Will it be painful? Difficult? As the man asked his doctor, what does the hour of death hold?
The doctor was also a believer but could not think of a comforting answer. When he turned to leave, he was sad that words had failed him. Just then he heard scratching and whining outside the door. He remembered leaving his car window open. His dog must have jumped out. He opened the door and the little dog bounced inside, excited that he had found his master. The doctor playfully cuddled his pet.
At that moment, he thought of a way to express the truth his patient longed to hear. Turning to the sick man, he said, “Did you see how my dog acted? He has never been in this room before. He had no idea what was inside. Yet when I opened the door, he sprang in without fear. He knew his master was here and that was enough!”
Christians do not know the glories that await us on the other side of death. The Bible says our minds cannot grasp the wonders God has for us. However, one thing is sufficient. We do know our Master waits there. Jesus said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you . . . I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
Jesus is in heaven waiting for His followers to walk through death’s door. Our delight in seeing Him will combine with His delight in welcoming us and all our fears will be removed — forever.