Jerry C. Brewer
Death is the common denominator of all men. Rich and poor alike must some day walk through the valley of the shadow. That truth is expressed in these lines from the classic poem, Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant: “All that wealth, all that beauty e’er gave await alike the inevitable hour, the paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
Death is an appointment that every man, woman and child upon the earth shall keep. That is plainly stated by the Hebrews writer who said, “…it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Death isn’t a pleasant thing to think about, so many people simply ignore it. And not only that, but they have some strange ideas about death that are not found in the Bible. For instance, many people think that death automatically makes a person a Christian and sends him to heaven. But that’s not true. As one dies, so he remains for all eternity. One who dies in sin is forever separated from God’s presence. Jesus demonstrated that fact in His account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. He said there is a great gulf fixed between the wicked and the righteous dead that can never be crossed after death.
Neither is death extinction. The good and the bad continue to exist after death. Of both, Jesus said, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment,” but “the righteous into life eternal” (Matt. 25:46). And the apostle Paul further said that God will recompense tribulation to the wicked and rest to the righteous when Christ returns in judgment (2 Thess. 1:6-9).
Death is an appointment that is both certain and uncertain. According to Hebrews 9:27 it is certain in that all shall die. But it is uncertain in that no man knows when that hour shall come to him. Death is certain for all men, but its time is always uncertain and life, at best, is brief. “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14).
But there is hope of life after death for Christians. For them, death is the end of labors and trials which will be rewarded (Rev. 14:13). However, the key to eternal rest is faithfulness in this life. One’s eternal destiny is sealed at death. There is no “second chance.” Now—in this life—is the time to prepare for death by believing in Christ (John 8:24), repenting of our sins (Luke 13:3), confessing our faith in Christ (Acts 8:37), being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) and living a life devoted to Christ. Death will come to all of us. Are you prepared to meet God?