The last two weeks have been tough. We lost a sweet lady at my church who was an inspiration to many. And my wife’s uncle passed away after a grueling battle with cancer. Being near two deaths in such close proximity to one another really took its toll on me. That’s why I haven’t written in almost two weeks. There has been a lot going on.
But I’ve spent some time reflecting on life and death. And as I have witnessed and walked with others through loss and grief, I am reminded of four gospel truths that shape the way Christians grieve.
#1 Death Has Been Defeated
According to the Bible, death is not natural. That may seem counter intuitive considering the fact that the mortality rate throughout human history remains 100%. But that’s the biblical teaching.
The Scriptures present death as a consequence of sin. And the very first sin was committed by the very first man all the way back in the beginning. But the gravity of that one man’s sin still impacts us all today.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned (Romans 5:12, NLT).
But Jesus defeated death in His death on the cross.
‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection from the dead conquered sin and defeated death. Now for those who believe in Him, death doesn’t get the last word. We have victory in Jesus.
#2 Heaven is Real
A lot of people think of heaven as some ethereal, spiritual realm where people float in the clouds like ghosts strumming harps with the angels.
But, according to Jesus, Heaven is a real place for real people.
There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am (John 14:2-3, NLT).
Heaven is a real place for real people who believe in a real Savior. Our loved ones aren’t living on in some sentimental sense. They don’t exist simply “in our hearts” or “in our thoughts.” They are in the real presence of the real Jesus.
And it is far better to be with Jesus.
#3 Resurrection is Coming
My favorite passage of Scripture to reference during seasons of grief and loss comes from Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica.
Dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, NLT).
Jesus’ death and resurrection serves as a sort of pattern for those who believe in Him. That’s why the Bible refers to Jesus as the “firstborn” from the dead (Revelation 1:5). Paul writes in Colossians 1:18 that Jesus is “the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent” (ESV). To be preeminent is to have first place.
Just as Jesus was raised from the dead so will those who believe in Him be raised from the dead.
I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying (John 11:25, NLT).
#4 Forever is Better
The world God created was perfect. The world ravaged by sin is not. But the world as we know it is passing away (1 John 2:17). And God is making all things new.
The Bible says,
The one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true’ (Revelation 21:5, NLT).
One day God is going to resurrect this sin sick world. He’s going to recreate everything. And He is going to fully and completely eradicate sin and it’s consequences from the face of the earth.
The forever God has prepared for us is far better than our present circumstances.
Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:3-4, NLT).