These past two weeks have been rather hard for my family and I because we had to say goodbye to the patriarch of my mothers family. My Grandpa, Norman Wisely, passed away last Saturday at 2:30 in the morning and he met Christ for the first time in that exact moment. My Grandpa, albeit dead on Earth, was alive in Christ and experiencing glory and a glorified body for the first time! His death brought forth his new life with Christ in Heaven! Of course I was sad to know he would no longer be on Earth with us, but I was joyfully jealous of him because he was where any Christian would rather be right now in the presence of the Maker and Perfecter of our faith.
His passing spurned me to think on death and well this post is dedicated to my Grandpa and to the thousands of Christians who have gone on before him.
As the great Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said often "When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die", and we who claim Christ have already died in some ways. We have died to our old selves and died to the sinful passions that fueled us and have been reborn and awakened to the sweet grace that Christ gives us in salvation and new life. In his book The Cost of Discipleship in the foreword the late Bishop of Chichester G.K.A Bell goes on to expound upon Bonhoeffers quote and says this "There are different kinds of dying, it is true; but the essence of discipleship is contained in those words." Bells words speak on dying in a whole new sense that many Christians overlook in their own lives and I want to speak plainly to you now and break this down logically and biblically so you can truly grasp the nature of death, and why it matters.
Death is all around us, it is in nature, in movies and literature, it is in schools, hospitals, churches, businesses, and even within our own bodies. As I type this thousands of cells are dying inside my body and new ones are taking there place. Death is natural, emotional, physical, and spiritual and necessary. Death is not something new, but it wasn't originally Gods intention for mankind. Death is a product of sin and thus a separation between God and mankind. Death is not beautiful as some poets and lyricist may have you think, but it is not as gruesome as the authors of horror novels and screenplay will have you think either. Death is mysteriously dangerous and yet satisfying in more ways than none. Death as I said before is necessary, it is a payment for the live we have lived on Earth, and it has been fulfilled by the death of Christ on the cross.
The reason death matters is the Gospel. The reason death is important to Christians is because of how we as followers of Christ are no longer separated from God by the chasm of Hell. Death had to occur for us to obtain access to God. Death had to occur to atone for our sins. Blood had to be shed in a sacrificial way in order for sins to be forgiven and in order for death to be conquered. Death matters because Christ died for you and I so that we may no longer wander this Earth bound for Hell. Death matters because God sent His own Son to die for us so that we may be saved through Him. The call to Christ is to die because to truly call oneself a Christian you must have put your old ways to death and been reborn a new creation by Christ blood. As Paul the Apostle says in Philippians 1:21 " For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" To die is to gain eternal life with God and to live is to live out Christ through our lives here on Earth. We are called to do such so that when the time comes for our physical death we will have already been through one death and this time this death brings about eternity in Heaven. That is why death matters and that is why this week is most important for Christians because we are constantly reminded of the sacrificial death of Christ and the life that He brings.
All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) published by Crossway