Friday, July 18, 2014

The Doctrine of Death, Part 3

3. The CONQUEST of Death

2 Samuel 14:14 – We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
Job 30:23 – For I know that you will bring me to death and to the house appointed for all living.
Proverbs 14:32 – The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing, but the righteous finds refuge in his death.  Adam Clarke writes, “He rejoiceth to depart and be with Christ: to him death is gain; he is not reluctant to go - he flies at the call of God.”

Same Hebrew verb as found in Ruth 2:12 & Psalm 2:12
…the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!
…Blessed are all who take refuge in him.


Question 42. Since then Christ died for us, why must we also die?

Answer. Our death is not a satisfaction for our sins, but only an abolishing of sin, and a passage into eternal life.


This answer is an explanation to the objection which we frequently hear made in the following form: He for whom another has died ought not himself to die, else God would seem to demand a double satisfaction for one offence. Christ now has died for us. Therefore, we ought not to die.

Answer: It is conceded that we ought not to die for the sake of making satisfaction; but there are other causes why it becomes necessary for us to die. We do not die for the purpose of satisfying the justice of God, but that we may truly receive the benefits purchased by the death of another, that sin may be abolished, and a passage or transition be made unto eternal life. Our temporal death is then not a satisfaction for sin; but it is,
1.  An admonition of the remains of sin in us.
2. An admonition of the greatness of the evil of sin.
3. An abolishing of the remains of sin; and, lastly, a passage into eternal life; for the transition of the faithful to eternal life is effected by temporal death.

Reply: Where the cause is removed, the effect can no longer remain in force. But the cause of death in us, which is sin, is taken away. Therefore the effect, which is death, ought also to be taken away.

Answer: The effect is, indeed, taken away when the cause is wholly removed; but in us the cause of death, which has respect to the abolishing of sin, is not entirely removed; although it be taken away as it respects the remission of sin. Or, we may reply, that sin, as far as it respects the guilt thereof, is taken away, but not as it respects the matter of sin which is not yet entirely abolished, but remains in us, to be removed gradually, that we may be required to exercise repentance, and be fervent in prayer, until, in the life to come, we be perfectly freed from all the remains of sin.

John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Philippians 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

“Asleep” could be viewed simply as a euphemism for death, and in the general, secular culture it was. But Scripture gives us reason to not take it as a simple euphemism for death for the monumental reason that Jesus used it and treated it as mere sleep over which he has full authority. So in Luke 8:52 we read, “And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, ‘Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.’” Then again, in John 11:11, referring to Lazarus, we read, “After saying these things, he said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.’”

Bengel on this passage, "Sleep is the death of the saints, in the language of heaven; but this language the disciples here understood not; incomparable is the generosity of the divine manner of discoursing, but such is the slowness of men's apprehension that Scripture often has to descend to the more miserable style of human discourse."

Christians die in order to share in Christ’s victory over it. Jesus died as a satisfaction for our sins. He rose from the dead proving both the efficacy of His satisfaction for our sins and His triumph over the claims of death on dying sinners. When believers die, they are sharing in Christ’s triumph over death. This is truly part of our life of faith. In faith, we believe that, just as Christ triumphed over the grave, we, being implanted into Him, will also triumph over the grave and live eternally with Him. Unbelievers have no such hope. 

John Bunyan depicts Christian’s death as a ‘crossing the river” into the Celestial City, He does so in these words, which show how believers have both no fear of death, but also have fear of dying:

“Then they addressed themselves to the water, and entering, Christian began to sink, and crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he said, I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me. Selah.

“Then said the other, Be of good cheer, my brother: I feel the bottom, and it is good. Then said Christian, Ah! my friend, the sorrows of death have compassed me about, I shall not see the land that flows with milk and honey. And with that a great darkness and horror fell upon Christian, so that he could not see before him. Also here he in a great measure lost his senses, so that he could neither remember nor orderly talk of any of those sweet refreshments that he had met with in the way of his pilgrimage. But all the words that he spoke still tended to discover that he had horror of mind, and heart-fears that he should die in that river, and never obtain entrance in at the gate. Here also, as they that stood by perceived, he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins that he had committed, both since and before he began to be a pilgrim. It was also observed that he was troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits; for ever and anon he would intimate so much by words.

“Hopeful therefore here had much ado to keep his brother’s head above water; yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then, ere a while, he would rise up again half dead. Hopeful did also endeavor to comfort him, saying, Brother, I see the gate, and men standing by to receive us; but Christian would answer, It is you, it is you they wait for; for you have been hopeful ever since I knew you. And so have you, said he to Christian. Ah, brother, (said he,) surely if I was right he would now arise to help me; but for my sins he hath brought me into the snare, and hath left me. Then said Hopeful, My brother, you have quite forgot the text where it is said of the wicked, “There are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm; they are not troubled as other men, neither are they plagued like other men.” Psa. 73:4,5. These troubles and distresses that you go through in these waters, are no sign that God hath forsaken you; but are sent to try you, whether you will call to mind that which heretofore you have received of his goodness, and live upon him in your distresses.

“Then I saw in my dream, that Christian was in a muse a while. To whom also Hopeful added these words, Be of good cheer, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. And with that Christian brake out with a loud voice, Oh, I see him again; and he tells me, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” Isa. 43:2. Then they both took courage, and the enemy was after that as still as a stone, until they were gone over. Christian, therefore, presently found ground to stand upon, and so it followed that the rest of the river was but shallow. Thus they got over.”

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