Are We Ready To Die?

Death is a subject that most people really don’t want to discuss or even think about. And fair enough: if the materialist worldview is correct, and this life is all there is, and once we die, that’s it, then death certainly is a topic to steer well clear of. It’s just too depressing.

But for most people in the world, matter is not all that matters. Most people believe there is more to life than just a few short decades on planet earth. Of course the various worldviews and religious systems look at death and the afterlife in differing ways. But the point is, throughout most of human history, and even around the globe today, death is seen by most people as simply the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another.

Yet even with such widespread religious beliefs, most people are still greatly troubled by death; it still casts an unwelcome shadow over our lives. We try in various ways to put off thinking about the end of life on this earth. Yet death is the guaranteed outcome for all of us. It is just a question of when, not if.

I raise this topic because of something I had seen on television last night. On one of the current affairs shows there was a story about a Melbourne man who had gone from rags to riches. Born into a Turkish family which settled in Australia when he was quite young, he determined at an early age to make it big. And that he did.

He set up a mobile phone business, and soon became a multi-millionaire. He employed 600 staff in 120 stores, and was worth well over $300 million. The story featured the fruits of his labours: it showed how he was now living the good life in his beachside mansion, with his fancy sports cars, and so on. Married with four children, happy and in love with life, he had it made. He seemed to be living the Australian dream. Most watching the show would have been quite envious of this man.

Yet something amazing happened. Hardly more than 12 hours later, the morning newscasts were announcing that this successful businessman had died of a heart attack while out on his morning walk. He was just 42. All the fame, fortune and glamour of the good life that had been featured on TV the night before had vanished in an instant.

Like every other person on the planet, he now has a date with destiny. He will be standing before his maker, just as we will. It is as Hebrews 9:27 reminds us, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

The truth is, we never know when our last breath will be. Jesus spoke of this often. In a parable about a rich man looking to increase his wealth, Jesus pointed out how life can come to an end without warning (Luke 12:16-21). And he also asked what was the point of gaining the whole world if we lose our own soul (Mark 8:36).

The tragic headlines of this morning remind us that at any moment we too can be called to the next world. While we grieve and pray for the family of this businessman left behind, we recall that none of us know if our morning walk might be our last. Death is always just around the corner.

But Jesus took the sting out of death and the fear out of the future. If we acknowledge and turn from our sin and selfishness, and receive the forgiveness freely offered by Christ, we can know where we will spend eternity, and death need not be an overbearing issue for us.

As Paul put it in 1 Cor. 15: 55-57, “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.

Ultimately we will all pass from this life. Where we will spend the next one is the most important question we can deal with. Jesus made it clear that our eternal destiny depended on how we responded to him. Indeed, in this respect, Jesus is unique among the world religions.

Unlike so many other religious leaders, he made his own identity the focal point of his teaching. Who He was, not just what he said, was the essential thing. He didn’t say I am God’s messenger, or I can point the way to God. He said I am God! He claimed to be far more than just a teacher or a prophet. He didn’t claim to just point to the truth. He claimed to be the truth. He didn’t just point the way to salvation. He claimed to be the only source of salvation. And he is the only religious leader to come back from the grave.

That is the simple gospel message which every one of us needs to hear, and respond to. The tragedy witnessed this morning is repeated day in and day out. Hopefully it will help focus our hearts and minds on the really important things, including the next life. The question is, are we ready to face death head on, or do we still shrink from it?

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10 Replies to “Are We Ready To Die?”

  1. It’s another one of those ‘wake up calls’ like when David Hookes, Peter Brock, or more recently Chris Mainwaring died. Trouble is, I haven’t noticed too many people waking up and starting to consider their eternal destinies. Naturalism/materialism seems to have a very tight hold on people.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  2. In a comment on the radio the from the former Victorian premier, Mr Bracks, suggested it was a reminder to us all to look after our health.
    The emphasis of your article Bill is far more weighty and necessary.

    John Nelson

  3. And what does $300 million profit us in death?
    This article shows us both the frailty of our natural lives and the hope that is in Christ alone. Nice one.
    Luke Beattie

  4. I agree with you Bill, Ewan and John. No matter how hard we may try we can never put off the inevitable forever. As 1 Corinthians 15 (which Bill quoted from) clearly states if Christ had not been raised then we would be still in our sins and we may as well say “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”.

    In our society people tend to be consumed with the present or the near future and don’t consider eternity. This world is not permanent. We should put our faith and hope in God, who is immortal, not in the temporal things of this world.

    Matthew Mulvaney

  5. For a different persepctive…

    Ecclesiastes talks of a life lived by a man of great wisdom and wealth, who wanted for absolutely nothing, who experienced all that life had to offer. He had this to say…

    Ecc 9:7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, [c] where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

    And this wise man concluded

    1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, [a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
    As it is with the good man,
    so with the sinner;…

    Ecc 12:13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
    Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the whole duty of man.

    14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

    Garth Penglase

  6. Bill:
    As they say-you cannot take it with you. I don’t know whom this man is, but I do feel for his family. He was surely loved and they will suffer his loss.

    I have always felt there is a reason for such things- and only the Creator really knows what they are. Its our job, to learn from these things, and attempt to move forward in our lives.

    Our Heavenly Father provides us with what we need to survive and perfect ourselves in this life. When the time comes to face him- hopefully, we have pleased him, and continue to the next.

    Wolfgang Mozart

  7. Mozart, why is life survival and perfecting yourself and then facing Him with ‘hopefully we have pleased Him ‘? Surely the real hope we have after death is founded in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and is grounded on His identity as our Creator God incarnate. He never lies. As Bill says, He is the way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Him. He is risen and we will live with Him eternally.

    I recall an interview with the deceased John Iimans’ wife where she asserted that it was easy for her to drop Catholicism and become a Muslim. She said it was pretty much the same as Christianity going through rituals and religious procedures. I thought at the time how sad that she never understood the basics of Christianity.

    I pray for her four children that through this common tragedy they may come to know the comfort and love of the one true God, the Triune God we know through revelation in His precious Word.

    Jennifer Parfenovics

  8. Bon Jour Jennifer!

    Parfenovics- sounds like a Central European name. Perhaps even Polish? If so- somewhere- somewhere is a Catholic lurking in the family tree. I say this with a bit of humour- but in all seriousness, the European- Central European Catholic Church is vastly different then what is practiced here.

    You are welcome to call me by my Surname. If you know something of my background, then perhaps you would understand what I am trying to elucidate.

    What I said- is that the Creator- “El Shaddai” gave us the tools for survival- i.e. the ability to defend ourselves, to farm, to work, to study, to know his word etcetera and Et al.

    “Our Heavenly Father provides us with what we need to survive and perfect ourselves in this life”

    Next, he gave us the Law (Talmud)and the Bible (The Torah) and then, as it was revealed in the Torah, the New Testement and our Lord- Our Heavenly Fathers only begotten son, who came down,and with his passion, death, resurection (excuse my spelling here ) atoned for all of mankind. This was the new pesach-the new passover- he ransomed our souls from eternal death to bring us to eternal life.

    Because of that, I never have to question his identity-I know and belive the scripture to be true- that the Father, and Son and Holy Ghost do exist. I also know that Satan (Lucifer) exists too. It is my duty- from the time that my Father in Heaven sent me down to be born-mortal, to the time I pass the curtain, to work at being perfected – to fulfill my covenants with the Heavenly Father and his son- he has done his part of the job- now its time for me to do mine.
    Yes he is the Way, the Truth and the Life- but there is more to that equation. We need to live according to the Gospel that was taught us- both by Our Savior, and his Apostles and chosen teachers. We need to cleanse our souls and be baptized in the spirit. And- we also need to spread the word-as Christians- we have a great many tasks to fulfill. Just kneeling at the cross, isn’t all of it. Just going to church on Sunday, and reciting Liturgy chanted by a priest- isn’t it either. Its an all or none proposition. Our bodies are weak- which is why we need to perpetually work on them.

    Our Lord said, he didn’t come to change the law- but to add to it. He is our intercessor.

    I don’t know who John Limans wife is. I can understand leaving the Roman Church however. To proclaim that you believe in Allah- and become Islamic- and say it isn’t much different than Christianity? Thats interesting, since RCism has its own view of what Christianity is- and I don’t think you could compare it. They are two, totally different cats. Lets fact it- people who practice the ordinances of Islam- believe that Our Lord was a Prophet, and nothing more. There is no similarity- not even in rituals or liturgy. It is sad she didn’t understand the rudiments of her own faith, enough to see that it was vastly different.

    Hmmmm… I hope that her children do find the peace and love of our Heavenly Father and can come to him some time in their lives.

    He awaits for all of us…

    Now- back to chipping away on that really rough Ashler…

    Thanks again Jennifer.

    Wolfgang Mozart

  9. When I heard the news, I (like most others) was in a state of shock! so young! so much to live for, and so much wealth. It was a sobering reminder to me, and hopefully for all of us, that we all have a (as far as this life is concerned) ‘use by date’. Wealth can create the illusion of invincibility and can foster a more blatant form of denial. Death (for Christians) is the fulfilment of the ‘good-news’ it’s not the end….but a brand new beginning. I’m reminded of the quote from ‘The Last Battle” (C S Lewis): “Aslan turned to them and said: ‘. . . you are – as you use to call it in the Shadow–Land – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning’.”
    Bob Garbett

  10. An excellent article Bill.
    Yet again, through the premature death of Crazy John, we are reminded of the fragility of life, and what a tragedy it is for those who go to the grave with no understanding of the real purpose of life – loving and serving God first then loving and serving our neighbour as we would like to be loved and served – knowing that Eternity is a reality none of us can avoid.

    How blessed we are in knowing Jesus – and if only every man, woman and child knew Jesus as their Lord and Saviour – what a wonderful world it would be.

    Blessings and cheers
    Sue Carlyon

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