If I assembled a room full of people (Christians, Muslims, Animists, Atheists, Agnostics, Mets fans, you name it), there is one thing we can agree on... in one way or another, our bodies are mortal. We are all going to die.
That is the central problem of mankind, death
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
Ezek 18:20a The one who sins is the one who will die.
In Christianity, we understand from Paul that "the wages of sin is death
" (Rom 6:23). This might freak out some Christians, but when someone is told that he cannot pay his sin debt, that someone is wrong
. You can pay your sin debt. Die
. Not "die" simply in terms of "passing away" but "die" in terms of really dying
. Going back to the dust. Exercising your mortality. Ceasing to be.
God has already been reconciled to humans. He is not holding their sins against them. However, people must individually be reconciled to God. We don't preach judgment, we preach reconciliation.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
God is a God of justice. In the end, all will "surely die
" (as God warned Adam and Eve in the garden) if they refuse the free gift of "life through his name
" (John 20:30-31). For the believer, the scriptures tell us in Isaiah 53 and in 1 Peter 2 "by His stripes we are healed
." He took the temporal stripes of our punishment and suffered death. But whereas our punishment and death would be the final result of our sin, He rose again to conquer both sin and death!
God's free gift is "life
" through Christ (Rom 6:23; John 20:30-31). When we place our faith in Christ, we are passed from death, unto life (John 5:24).
When one owes a debt and pays it, he doesn't get a free gift. He simply paid the debt. If there is a gift it must be received
. This is the essence of Christianity. God offers a free gift of immortal and incorruptible life in resurrection.! This is a true gift
cannot be earned (lest it cease to be a gift) or lost (lest it cease to be free).
Of course, to be freed of the obligation of never-ending death and to have that obligation obliterated so an alternative can be offered, a substitutionary death must be presented to pay the debt of never-ending death. That is where Christ's death, burial (lack of decay) and resurrection (undoing of death) come in. He died for our sins (in our place) so we are no longer obligated to "cease to be." We can be "hid in him
" and live again (undo physical death).
Rom 4:25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures...
1 Cor 6:14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.
God is not in the torture business. You may pay your sin debt through mortality and death or you may choose
to seek the free grace of God through Christ Jesus (resurrection life).
Of course, choosing death does not mean that you won't have to face your sin. Who you are (soul) is known to God and he may restore a mortal body to display his just decision to allow you to die by having you face your sins and face your choice to choose never-ending death over the free gift of life, but I will leave that in His hands. To be honest, I can see it both ways. I honestly am not sure how that will play out for the unbeliever. Fortunately, because of Christ alone, I'll never have to experience it. One thing I am sure of for those who reject the gift of resurrection life: they will perish.
Faith is an individual matter. The choice is therefore laid out for the individual: you can either choose to seek the free gift of immortal and incorruptible life in a celestial body that will know no sickness or death or you may choose to die. No church, no pastor, no catechism will answer for you or can make your decision for you. It is your choice.
The Elements of Death Removed from Those Who Receive the Free Gift
- The sting of death (1 Cor 15:55)
- The victory of death (1 Cor 15:55)
It is never said of an unbeliever in scripture that he "sleeps
" at his death, but this is how believers are to view death. We do not feel the "sting
" of death. It is though we make our bed in death (Psalm 139) and await awakening in resurrection.
For one to receive this gift he must understand that he needs to be freed from the condemnation of death and from "the law of sin and death
" (Rom 8:1-2). Do you understand that you have sinned and that the wages of your sin will be death? One needs not only understand that, he must seek the remedy. And the only remedy to the law of sin and death is the substitutionary death of the Christ and his conquering of the grave by his not decaying and rising again!
Death is the enemy Christ came to destroy.
1 Cor 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Rev 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death
Death is "the last enemy
." Death is how the history of man begins and the destruction of that curse is how it will end. The introduction of the Greek mythology of a fiery torture chamber robs Christ's death of its glory. His death should be valued as the substitute for our death. He (a) did not decay in the grave and (b) he rose from the dead. It is death that hangs over the world. We need to tell people they can be freed from the penalty of death and freed from the power of sin that requires death.
So WHEN this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, THEN shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Paul teaches that it is the goodness of God that leads us to turn from sin and turn to him in faith (Rom 2). Contemplate the wonderful goodness of God found in the free gift of eternal life won by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Christian rejoice in it, and pray others find salvation and the free gift of life in it!