It is believed that the oldest book in the Bible is the book of Job. And in that oldest of books, there is addressed one of the oldest if not the oldest questions of humanity. In the book of Job the question is asked, “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14:14).
Asking the question is easy, but the difficult part is finding someone to answer the question with authority and experience. Death is the great equalizer. Everyone dies: men and women, rich, poor, educated and uneducated, everyone.
People often fear death. “The ancient philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BC) recognized that the fear of death was present in everybody and therefore he sought a way to remove that fear. Epicurus taught that humanity not need fear death because human beings are nothing more than a composition of atoms which at death simply disperse and that is the end of things. Epicurus didn’t believe there were any gods to fear or anything to face once a person breathed their last. His teaching of maximum pleasure in this life with minimum pain and suffering dictated that everything ends when death occurred.” The Epicureans believed, “When the dust has soaked up a person’s blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection.” Maybe that’s the way you look at death. There’s an alternative for you to consider.
Despite this and other philosophies that deny death, there is still great fear and uncertainty about death. Again, in Job it says death is the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). In the movie the Bucket List, a movie about coming to grips with death, one of the dying characters state, “We all want to go on forever, don’t we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall. Yet nobody knows what’s on the other side. That’s why we fear death.”
There is One Person who has gone to that wall, passed to the other side and has returned to tell us what to expect. That Person is Jesus Christ. No credible scholar doubts that Jesus was an actual historical figure. Scholars also accept Jesus performed miracles. There is universal agreement Jesus was crucified and died. But it is the resurrection that makes Jesus the expert Who can answer our question about death and if there is an afterlife.
But while Jesus was entombed for three days and three nights, all those who had heard Him speak of His death, and resurrection, must have been revisiting that age old question, “If a man dies, will he live again?”
The Fear of Death
The fear of death is universal. So many people fear death that the field of thanatology was created. Death is a big issue for the living. One article wrote the following about the fear of death in society:
“The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else,” wrote Earnest Becker in his book, The Denial of Death. It’s a fear strong enough to compel us to force kale down our throats, run sweatily on a treadmill at 7am on a Monday morning, and show our genitals to a stranger with cold hands and a white coat if we feel something’s a little off.
But our impending end isn’t just a benevolent supplier of healthy behaviors. Researchers have found death can determine our prejudices, whether we give to charity or wear sun cream, our desire to be famous, what type of leader we vote for, how we name our children and even how we feel about breastfeeding.
And, of course, it terrifies us. Death anxiety appears to be at the core of several mental health disorders, including health anxiety, panic disorder and depressive disorders. And we’re too scared to talk about it. A ComRes survey from 2014 found that eight in ten Brits are uncomfortable talking about death, and only a third have written a will.
Eight in ten people fear death! Another study found that only a little over 20% of people are “afraid” or “very afraid” of dying.  I question that figure. I think the young are much less likely as demographic to fear death. They are young and full of life. For them death is far off. But the older you are and closer you believe you are to death, the more likely it is that you will be concerned about or fear death. Such fear can be paralyzing. The fear of death can be all consuming. And death doesn’t only come to the elderly, it can come at any time. No one is exempt from the possibility that they may die. But you don’t have to fear death.
The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity. It contains the truth about the reality of our existence. It speaks of our reason for being. That is the presupposition for this writing. I am writing from the Biblical worldview. You may not agree with this world view. You may have a more secular or “scientific” or psychological or another religious oriented world view. But the secular, science, psychology, and religions other than Christianity are all limited in that they don’t have Someone who has died and lived again to talk about it. Jesus tasted death and rose from the dead and He, through His word, has provided us with “the truth” about death and what follows. Christians have an Eyewitness to death and what follows.
You may not accept my Biblical world view. I pray you would change your mind. I pray you’d be curious enough to read on. And if you fear death, this teaching will provide you a solution to such fear.
The Necessity of Death
Just after Jesus had made His triumphal entry, a group of “Greeks” came seeking to see Jesus (John 12:20-22). They came to Philip who then contacted Andrew, and then Philip and Andrew both told Jesus about these inquirers. Therefore, just before their last meal together, Jesus said the following and the Apostle John was inspired to comment:
John 12:23–26 (NKJV)
23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
There is a necessity of dying. Jesus said elsewhere in the gospels:
Luke 9:22–26 (NKJV)
22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.
There is a good kind of death; death to self. Smack dab in the middle of SIN is “I.” The first sin, Satan’s sin, is best defined as PRIDE (Isaiah 14:12-17). It’s not an accident that smack dab in the middle of the heart of Pride is “I.” Arguably our greatest problems, our greatest sins, are bound up in the quest of me, myself and I. These must die. These are our enemies. And these enemies must die. That’s what Jesus meant when He said “whoever desires to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Yes, many if not all of us fear death at some point in our lives. But the only way to fully conquer that fear is to willfully die to self. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24). If we want to be productive in life, we must die to self.
Dying Isn’t Easy
The thought of dying even trouble Jesus:
John 12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
As the sinless Son of Man, Jesus was as personally unfamiliar with death as anyone could be. He raised others from the dead (e.g. Lazarus – John 11; Widow’s sone in Nain – Luke 7:11-18; The little girl – Mark 5:41). But the thought of He Himself dying caused Him to say, “My soul is troubled.” In Gethsemane three times Jesus prayed for the cup of death to be taken away (Matthew 26:36-46). Luke is inspired to tell us Jesus prayed this prayer in agony and His sweat was sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). And yet, He knew He must die for the sins of the world (e.g. John 3:16). And so, in John He says, “and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” (John 12:27).
In Gethsemane, He concluded His prayer, “not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39, 42, and 44). In Hebrews it states, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Yes, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15). To that we say GLORY! Thank You Lord!
Glory in Death
Jesus’ death was like no other death. We die because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Jesus died, for us. Jesus died for you and for me. Jesus is the One Who, “has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Because of Jesus our rallying cry is:
1 Corinthians 15:54–58 (NKJV) – 54 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.” 55“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Because of Jesus we need no longer fear death. Like Paul, we can say, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). There’s glory in the death of Jesus. And that’s what Jesus said and the Father confirmed:
John 12:28 – 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”
To those there at the time, those words sounded like thunder – “29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” (John 12:29). Truly the death of Jesus (and His later resurrection) are God’s thunderous word on the defeat of death.
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
Why did Jesus have to die? Our passage goes on to say:
John 12:30 -33 – 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.
Why did Jesus have to die? There are three reason for the death of Jesus in this passage.
Jesus had to die to pay the penalty for ous sins. The short answer is that Jesus had to die to pay the penalty for our sins. We could not die for our own sins. We are sinful and for us to try and die for our own sins would be unacceptable. God refuses a blemished sacrifice (e.g. Malachi 1:8). Only Jesus was worthy and right to die for us on the cross. No other sacrifice was acceptable to God’s Holy justice (1 Peter 1:18-19). Peter expresses it well when he is inspired to write:
1 Peter 3:18 – 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
Jesus suffered and died, “once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” That says it all.
Jesus had to die “for your sake.” Just as the voice came for the sake of the people to hear. Jesus came to die on the cross, the just for the unjust, to reach men’s hearts and make a way to save their souls. He was lifted up and died on the cross to draw all people to Himself.
Jesus had to die to defeat the devil. On the cross Jesus put a beating on the devil. Jesus beat the devil with two sticks, the cross. On the cross Jesus made a public spectacle of the devil (Col. 2:14-17).
You Have a Choice to Make
The people mistakenly thought Messiah would come and reign as king forever, then. But first Messiah had to come and deal with sin which separated people from God and death the final consequence of sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). The people were depending on hearsay evidence. That’s never a good idea. So Jesus came to be lifted up on the cross as an undeniable, unmistakable, clear and powerful revelation of God’s redemptive regenerative saving work on the cross and in the resurrection.
The passage reads:
John 12:34-36 – 34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
Walk in the light of this gospel truth Jesus says.
The risk of unbelief. What will you do with this gospel message? If you resist or procrastinate, you risk great peril. Read what the Apostle John goes on to say:
John 12:37-41 – 37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.
They “could not believe,” not because God would not let them believe, but because each time they refused to believe their heart got a little harder. And because they persisted in unbelief, they got so hardened against the Lord, “they could not believe.” When you put off trusting Jesus as your Savior, you don’t tread water, you float a little further down stream, toward a crushing water fall, that will end in not only physical, but an eternity of death and torment.
Why won’t you believe? John lays it out very clearly here. And if we think about it, this truly is the reason we don’t believe, we care more for the opinions of people than for that of the Living God:
John 12:42-43 – 42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
The bottom line of rusting Jesus as Savior. Jesus lays it all out for their and our consideration:
John 12:44-50 – 44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
What will you do with these words of Jesus? What will you decide? Indecision is decision. How will you respond to Jesus?
The Bible states you can know for sure whether or not you are going to heaven?
- 1 John 5:13 – “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
How can you know for sure?
Realize eternal life involves personally knowing God –
- John 17:3 – “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Realize sin separates people from Holy God –
- Psalm 66:18 – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear”
- Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you”
- Habakkuk 1:13 – “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness”
Realize you are a sinner –
- Exodus 20:1-17 – Examine and assess yourself by the Ten Commandments
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”
- Romans 3:10 – “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one”
- Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
- Galatians 3:10 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
- James 2:10 – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
Realize there is a penalty for sin –
- Romans 6:23a – “For the wages of sin is death,”
Realize you need to be saved from your sins –
- Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Ephesians 2:8–9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
- Titus 3:5 – 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
Realize Jesus paid the penalty for you –
- Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Realize your salvation is a free gift from God that requires only a repentant heart faith decision from you to receive it – To “repent” means to confess to God and forsake your sin. To “believe” or have “faith” unto salvation means Forsaking All (others or other means of salvation) I Trust Him.
- Acts 3:19-20 – “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you”
- Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”
- John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”
Realize salvation is a matter of the heart –
- Acts 8:36–38 – Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
- Romans 10:10 – “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Realize now is the time to call on God to be saved from your sins –
- Romans 10:13 – For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:2 – “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
A SALVATION PRAYER:
If you believe the above Gospel and are willing to trust in Jesus with all your heart as Savior, if you want the forgiveness of sins and eternal life God in this Gospel freely offers to you, with all your heart, pray this prayer:
“Dear God, I have sinned and disobeyed Your Laws. I admit I deserve eternal punishment. But I repent; I confess my sins to You and forsake them. I ask that You please forgive me, not because of any good works I have done, but because I believe Jesus paid the just penalty for my sins by dying for me on the cross. I believe He rose from the dead. I believe that with all my heart. I receive it by faith, as a gift of Your grace. Help me to live for You. Please Holy Spirit fill me, give me spiritual life, eternal life. Please help me to know you Father, Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. Help me grow in a relationship with You. Hold me tight in Your arms when I fear. Help me to overcome my fears. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Now, begin praying and reading your Bible daily, regularly. Find a church that believes in and teaches the Bible as the word of God. Find a church where the Gospel is preached and people believe in being born again. Find such a church and become a part of your new eternal family. And tell someone else about what God has done for you. Don’t go by feelings, live by faith in Jesus. He is faithful. He will help you. Remember this:
2 Corinthians 5:17 – 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
2 Timothy 2:15 – 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.