DDR & FBC PRAYER LIST #531
DEATH – CHRIST’S LESSONS ON HOW TO DIE
#1: The Right Attitude: Glory and Joy
This doctrine is also available in audio @ http://fbcweb.org/doctrines.html
Given that the title is about “...how to die,” and that I have been asked, in light of all of these classes on death, if I am getting ready to die (divine viewpoint = go Home), a explanation is in order. To be sure: I am ready, but I do not think that my promotion is near – but that call is not mine. To be less cryptic: my health is fine - as far as I know. The reason I have decided to do a series on death is because in my twenty plus years of teaching Bible doctrine, I have never done an extended series on death. It is about time. Of all of my DDRs, I have received more favorable comments on this series on death by those who get these notes, than any other series. I am pleased that the Lord has been able to use these in bringing His light and His comfort to others. His timing is always perfect.
PREPARATION FOR BIBLE CLASS
Salvation. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works and is 100% grace – 100% a work of God.
Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Spirituality. Spirituality is life under God the Holy Spirit. Apart from the Holy Spirit we just go through the motions. It is the Holy Spirit who enlivens, invigorates, and illuminates us for the true Spiritual life.
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 humililty, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Spiritual maturity. The spiritually mature believer is the one whose soul is filled with Bible doctrine and who lives constantly by God the Holy Spirit. To illustrate the importance of spiritual growth and its dynamics, consider death. The mature believer’s soul is filled with all of the Christian doctrines on death and through the constant ministry of the Holy Spirit these become a reality to him. The immature believercan be in fellowship and under the ministry of the Holy Spirit but if he does not have these doctrines in his soul, it is impossible for him to even related to these grand realities. You cannot think about what you do not know. Of course the immature believer who lives out of fellowship cannot be bold about life – let alone death. Christian doctrine really does matters!
CHRIST’S LESSONS ON HOW TO DIE - #1: the Right Attitude: glory and joy.
We have seen in our study of the seven pictures of death that we never have to say of a believer, “He Departed.” Rather, we can say, “He has arrived.” Heaven is the Christians’ final destination. Thanks to Christ, we can be free from the fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
We can take comfort from Christ, who gave us five lessons, five examples if you will, on how to face death in that final hour. To be sure, there are hundreds of lessons on death throughout the Bible, this study focuses in on those lessons taken from Christ as our example of how to face our own death as Christians.
It needs to be stated very clearly at the outset that with respect to Christ’s SPIRITUAL death, no person can follow Him. He is no man’s example here. As He contemplated bearing all of the sins of every person who has ever or will ever will live, He grieved greatly.
Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."
Matthew 26:42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done."
Christ agonized as He contemplated becoming identified with the sins of the world. He would become totally identified and legally guilty of adultery, theft, murder, and hundreds of others types of sins. He knew that His personal holiness would come in contact with the defilement of sin. He was sorrowful unto death as He wrestled with the spiritual trauma that awaited Him – a trauma that resulted in the rupturing of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son as He JUDGED Jesus Christ in our place.
2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
Though Christ’s spiritual death was UNIQUE, He still left us five wonderful lessons regarding death. Let’s move to the first lesson: the right attitude. What is the right attitude? There are at least two prominent concepts in regard having the right attitude toward death: future glory and future joy.
There are two passages I turn your attention to regarding His thoughts of glory and joy as He contemplated His death,
John 17:5 "And now, glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Hebrews 12:1-2 passage is especially instructive in that we are told to keep on eyes on Christ as our archegos/leader (ἀρχηγός from ἀρχή/first/chief and ἄγω/leader) and perfecter of faith (a perfecter = τελειωτής: a perfecter τῆς πίστεως, one who has in his own person raised faith to its perfection and so set before us the highest example of faith). Jesus Christ endured the Cross, despising the shame, as He thought about the joy and glory that was to follow. For the short term there was pain; but in the long term, there was glory and joy. Christ knew that death was not the end but the beginning of eternal glory and joy.
But exactly what is glory and joy? Time precludes and extensive study on these two words, but since our attitude toward death should be one filled with thoughts of future glory and joy, it is important to understand what these terms really mean. Glory in the Hebrew Old Testament is KABOD (כָּבוֹד) and in the New Testament Greek is DOXZA (δόξα) – both of these words throughout the Bible carry connotations of abundance, honor, riches, splendor, wealth, dignity, impressiveness, et.al. God’s glory is the sum total of all the riches, splendor, abundance in attributes, power, and greatness. So when we think of death we are to have an attitude filled with anticipation that at death we will move into the riches of eternity, rewards, the splendor of our resurrection bodies, and the abundance that comes with being with God for all of eternity. What a difference divine viewpoint makes. Instead of looking at death with the morbid human viewpoint of losing, it is a time when we move into a glory of our own as we enter into the presence of God’s glory. A bit later in this series, when I cover what happens the next moment after you die, I will expand on some of these glories that only Christians will receive after death.
And joy – what about joy? Joy in the Bible is not to be confused with “happiness.” Human “happiness” depends upon happenstance – i.e. where circumstances are such to give a person a measure of “enjoyment.” The best way to under the Biblical words and concept of joy is to understand it is a spiritual joy that comes from various facets of one’s relationship with God and His plan for your life. Spiritual joy is not dependent upon the circumstances of life - spiritual joy is totally dependent upon relationship with God through Christian doctrine. Remember that the saddest book in the Bible is Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon who had it all, while the most joy-filled book in the Bible is Philippians, written by the Apostle Paul as he was confined to a filthy dungeon. Spiritual joy is a monopoly of the believer who is under the filling of the Holy Spirit and living in the realities of Christian doctrine.
When we contemplate our death there should be a certain joy about what is sure to follow. There may be short time pain before we finally checkout, but it will be followed by phenomenal joy. We are headed for eternal joy – we really are in a win-win situation. Just think: God will remove all pain and for all eternity we will be in glory and filled with unspeakable joy that is filled with glory.
Revelation 21:4 and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
Christian doctrine matters!