The Taste of Death

The Sonshine

June 1, 2017

The Taste of Death
Introduction

Death! The very thought of the word brings a chill to one’s being. Perhaps this is the reason men have tried either to avoid the subject or to dress it up so as to remove the fear. Neither approach is satisfactory. The subject of death cannot be avoided. The reminders of it are everywhere present. We are reminded of it by the incidences of disease, accident, murder, suicide, old age and many other things. Neither can death be dressed up to make it something other than it is. Eventually, the reality of it must be acknowledged and dealt with.

In this study, I would like to deal with some of the various factors of death, factors that everyone should be at least somewhat familiar with. This is a subject that no one can ignore with any degree of satisfaction. While there are many things about death we cannot know before hand, there are many things we can know!

Let’s note, then, some of the things we can know about death, things we can know because the Bible tells us so.

The origin of death. Death did not come to be by accident. Death came to be because of man’s choice, a choice to disobey God rather than to live by His commandment. Most are probably somewhat familiar with the story of the Garden of Eden. Eden was a place of beauty and intimate fellowship with God. There was only one requirement placed on Adam and Eve, the first humans to live on the planet earth. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). As the account goes on we read, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her ; and he did eat” (Gen 3;6). It was at that point that sin entered into the human race and began the havoc, including death, that has characterized the human race ever since.

Many portions of Scripture relate this truth. Note especially the following: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). There are none who escape the condemnation of sin, except the Lord Jesus. God said through the prophet Ezekiel, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4). The result is, we all have the stamp of death upon us. 

The definition of death. Whatever else death may be, it is a separation. Physically, it is a separation of the soul from the body. James indicted this when he said, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Jesus, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, said, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried” (Luke 16:22). Notice that death was not the end of the rich man’s existence, for Jesus then said, “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:23). So, physical death is the parting of the soul from the body.

But note, death does not just have a physical aspect to it, an aspect that we are all familiar with. There is a spiritual aspect to death and that is the separation of the soul from God! When Adam and Eve sinned, they were told they would die physically which they did in time. But physical death is just one aspect of death. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were separated from fellowship with God! Note again about Adam and Eve, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8). Where there had been unhindered fellowship with God, now there was shame and fear! 

Now, a very important thing to note is that every one who is born into the world is born with an inherited sin nature. It, as seen above, is a sin nature passed on through Adam. There are none who are not born with a sin nature no matter how well ordered and “godly” their lives may seem to be. The result is, all are under the condemnation of God! The verdict is clear, “The Scripture hath concluded all under sin…” (Gal. 3:22). As Paul said in Romans, “…we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one…They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:9, 11-12).

Let’s pause for an application here. Many churches have departed from preaching about sin and its results. They would rather make people feel good with a few Biblical encouragements than preach on the reality and consequences of sin! Such preaching does an immense disservice to their hearers. It takes away from them the only possibility of forgiveness and a future in heaven! If a patient needs surgery, how intolerable we consider a doctor who refuses to tell the   patient his need and the certain hope for improvement! 

The certainty of death. Some things can be avoided with enough money, time, expertise, persuasion, knowledge, and numerous other things. However, that is not the case with death. True, death may be postponed by such things as medical expertise and medicine. Still, death cannot be put off when it is time to die. Death will have its day! Several passages of Scripture indicate this. King David said, “…none can keep alive his own soul” (Psa. 22:29). The Bible further states, “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave..? (Psa. 89:48). Further, “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the  spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death…” (Eccl. 8:8). The book of Hebrews notes, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

Thus, there is ample Biblical evidence of the surety of death. Of course, our world is littered with cemeteries in every city, town, and hamlet. Without dispute, death is a certainty! 

The results of death. I have the unbeliever in mind in this particular heading. People who reject the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that He is the Son of God,  to the day of death, have the worst possible future to face! For them, there is no hope of salvation! There is no more mercy or grace that was offered to them in their life time! They now must face what the Bible calls the Great White Throne of God. 

Lets’ let the Bible speak for itself. “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found  written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-12, 14-15). John summarizes by reminding us, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:14). 

Yes, I know, this is horrible beyond description, but it was written by the same God Who promises the believer the pleasure and glory of heaven! While we do not know all the truth surrounding God’s decisions and actions, we must come to one particular decision and that is that God is absolutely holy! God will in no way have His holiness tampered with.

The ones who refuse the gracious offer of God for salvation will taste the bitter dregs of death for themselves. It will consist of an eternity of separation from God, an eternity of pain, fear, loneliness, and loss. Think of it this way; if this  were not true, God would be less than He claims to be in His word! Thankfully, God is always true to His word and Himself. 

The avoidance of death. Now we come to the really good part! There is a way to avoid, not physical death, but spiritual death! There is a way to avoid what the Bible calls the second death as noted above. The answer is found in the Person and work of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” Heb. 2:9). 

There is the answer! It is the answer the world needs. It is the answer every individual needs. Jesus Christ tasted death on our behalf. He suffered the consequences of physical death. He took upon Himself what He did not deserve in order that He might give to us what we do not deserve, namely eternal life. He suffered the physical pain, the loneliness, the loss, the judgment for our sins. Indeed, as the Apostle Paul said, “For He [God the Father] hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

Paul expounds further upon the matter of death and dying in various passages, such as the following:

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:53-57). The good news is that death is no longer the victor! Jesus and all who believe are the victors because death has been conquered in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

This truth takes away the fear of death! Yes, there may be some apprehension about dying physically for various reasons such as what leads to death, parting from loved ones, or the care of those we leave behind. But death itself has been defeated, it has been rendered powerless. Note what the writer of Hebrews has to say concerning this matter, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15). 

In reference to the Lord, Paul states, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (II Tim. 1:9-10). What a glorious resting place! Still, it doesn’t just happen for everyone, even though God loves them all. There must be a personal response in faith. There must be a personal coming to Him. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47). 

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). This verse assures us that we have nothing to fear in being absent from our bodies. We must remember the distinction between the body and the soul. Yes, our bodies are a manifestation of who we are, but they are not us as such. Our real self is who we are in our soul and spirit. We as individuals can exist apart from our bodies. When a believer dies, his or her body returns to dust, but the spirit goes into the very presence of God in heaven! Of course, when Christ returns, we as believers will have  resurrected, glorified bodies. 

Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40). This verse points out the importance of seeing the Son of God. We don’t see Him with our physical eyes, but we see Him by faith as He is revealed in the word of God, the Bible. If we do not see the Son of God for who He is, there can be no salvation. “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in Him, and he in God” (I Jn. 4:15). “And this is the record, that God hah given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (I Jn. 5:11). Jesus said of Himself, “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die” (Jn. 6:50). Thus, belief in the Son cannot be denied if one would have eternal life. 

Yes, Jesus tasted death and all it many horrors. But, because Jesus tasted death for us, we can taste, literally experience, the many blessings of life! Believers can know the joy of sins forgiven, the glorious liberty from the bondage of sin, the ministering presence of the Holy Spirit as He shares with us His love, joy, and peace, and the wonderful promise of the joys of heaven! We can look forward to our new home in heaven. Indeed, our citizenship is already there! “For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven: from whence   we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). We should ever keep in mind, too, that the Lord may return while we are alive! See I Thess. 4:13-18. Being ready is imperative if we would go to be with Jesus! 

Conclusion

I have written this article with the view of being a blessing and a witness to all who read it. Of course, the witness is not this article as such, but the truth of God’s word. My purpose is to be but a sign post to the word of God regarding some of the issues of life and death. The message of God’s love and His provision for our salvation is far more significant than anyone can ever really estimate. The loss of one’s soul for eternity  cannot begin to be known in this life. But then, the glory of salvation is far more glorious than anyone could ever imagine in this life! We all have a choice to make. No one else can make it for us, though they may encourage and pray for us. It ever remains, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).  I trust your choice is for the Savior and all He represents. 

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As I write this, the rain has stopped and it is warming up some. The countryside is beautiful and it is nice to be out in it some. I enjoy walks in the country.

On Tuesday evening, May 2nd, I received a call from a former pastor at First Baptist, Rev. Keith Moore. Keith shared that his beloved wife, Kathryn, had passed away on March 14th. It is a tremendous loss for the family, but still, we can say with confidence, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord’ (II Cor. 5:8). Keith was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Woodville from 1951 - 1954. Keith and Kathryn had been married for 67 years. What a wonderful record and what a wonderful ministry Keith and Kathryn had in our church and community. We extend our sympathy to Pastor Moore and all of his family. 

We had the privilege of attending a southern gospel musical festival in Wisconsin Dells May 12th - 13th. Several groups of musicians were in attendance and they were such a tremendous blessing to all. It was a great blessing to meet friends there from various churches we are familiar with. 

Recently, another second cousin of mine, Mr. Jim Wall of Spring Valley, passed away. We extend our sympathy to his family. Many will remember his parents, Leonard and Melinda Wall.

On May 20, we “enjoyed” another Syttende Mai celebration in Woodville. It rained the entire time and was cold so the attendance was slim as were the floats. We enjoyed the fried chicken, however! Our church had a very nice float in the parade and they passed out literature about our summer Bible School.

On May 22, we toured the tornado devastation north and west of Chetek. What awesome power! Whatever it touched was dramatically changed. Whatever God touches is dramatically changed!
 
Walter Olsen -715-688-6220 olsenbw@baldwin-telecom.net