"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
- Philippians 1:21 NIV
My husband, Joe, had an interesting conversation with his doctor the last time he went for a checkup. Apparently, the subject of death came up, and Joe's doctor said that devout Christians always seemed to face death full of faith, and without any fear, and they made it easy on their doctors. On the other hand, when those without true faith in God were facing death, they became bitter and hostile, trying to hold on to every last breath of life on this earth. Since this doctor's father is a minister of the Gospel, his observations about life and death were even more meaningful to me. I knew that he had grown up watching his dad minister to Christians who were sick or dying, and in all phases of life.
When my husband told me about his conversation with his doctor, he said that when he suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 51, he had an indescribable peace in his soul. Joe wasn't the least bit fearful, but he experienced a sense of total acceptance of the Lord's perfect will for his life. If God was calling him home to heaven, then he was okay with that, because he knew that he was going to a better place. And I had the same sense of peace at the time, too. Joe and I both knew that God was with us there in the hospital that day, and that He was in control, and neither of us had anything to fear. As it turned out, the Lord spared my husband's life, and Joe appreciates every day that he is given on this earth.
When I began studying the Bible in-depth many years ago, I discovered that those who have put their trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior have been set free from the fear of death. "Because God's children are human beings - made of flesh and blood - the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying." (Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT) The Amplified translation says that Christ died so that "He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives." (v. 15 AMP) Those who fear death are continually "haunted" by that fear, and whether they know it or not, they are in bondage to it. Jesus said that He came so that we could enjoy our lives, and He knew that this wouldn't be possible if we were constantly haunted by a fear of death, so He delivered us from it through His sacrificial death. (John 10:10 AMP)
In the Book of Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote, "For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live." (Philippians 1:21-24 NLT) Paul is a great example of what our attitudes as believers should be about death. It is a contradiction to profess faith in Christ, and then demonstrate a fear of death. That doesn't mean that Christians shouldn't pray for healing when they need it, or that they shouldn't take care of their health. And it doesn't mean that we should refuse the proper medical care, either. It means that if we truly believe God's Word and promises, then we won't be afraid to leave this world, because we know that we are leaving it to go and be with the Lord in our heavenly home.
Paul talks about the necessity of living by faith and not by sight with regard to our death when he says, "So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord - for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God's promises] - we are [as I was saying] of good courage and confident hope, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 AMP) If we have a confident belief in God's promises to us of eternity with Him in heaven, as well as His constant presence with us here, and His working all things together for our good, then we must prove it to Him and others by living in a manner that is consistent with our faith. Living any other way can seriously harm our witness for Christ, and cause others to stumble in their faith.
Meditate on Paul's words from the Living Bible for a moment. "Now we look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies, realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus. We know these things are true by believing, not by seeing. And we are not afraid but are quite content to die, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So our aim is to please Him always in everything we do, whether we are here in this body or away from this body and with Him in heaven." (2 Corinthians 5:6-9 TLB) Our goal in living without a constant fear of death is to live our lives in total obedience to God, without being hindered in any way.
Jesus has some reassuring words for you and me today. "Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also." (John 14:1-3 AMP) As believers in Christ, we have nothing to fear because we know that we have a future with Him in eternity. Have you allowed Christ to set you free from the fear of death?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me if I have ever demonstrated a fear of death in my thoughts, words, or actions. Remind me often that Jesus has set me free from the fear of death, and that Your will for me is to resist it through the power of Your Spirit. Teach me how to live my life in a manner that is consistent with my confident belief in You and Your promises. Thank You that as I refuse to live with fear or dread, I will experience Your supernatural peace and joy flooding my entire being!
- J. M. Farro
Promise-Powered Prayers Paperback Book
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