Saved From the Fear of Death
Death is not an appealing subject to consider. We don’t like to think about how it might be that our bodies and minds will fail us. Driven by a fear of dying, well-meaning people spend vast sums of money in attempts to put off their end and find meaning in life. But even the best attempts can’t answer life’s essential questions: Who am I? Where am I from? Where do I go when I die?
This is nothing new. Adam and Eve did the same thing in Genesis 3 when they listened to the false hope of Satan’s seductive lie welcoming sin and death into the world: “You will not surely die … you will be like God” (Genesis 3:4-5). We continue to believe the same lie. We try to be like God, longing to construct our own meaning and aiming to live forever. But death continues to hold terror for us, enslaving us in fear. When signs of old age emerge, when illness sets in, when the funeral procession passes by, we’re reminded that our false hopes have no substance. We must find true answers.
Everybody bases their hope on something. Let us base ours on the enduring strength and authority of God’s word. When we want to run away from troubling thoughts and crippling fears, let us run to the foot of the cross, where Jesus delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Why did Jesus come? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). By Christ’s death and resurrection, He drowned out the seductive voices of false hope, He took all our sin and rebellion and made our record clean, and He delivered us from all fear—even the fear of death itself. In taking our sins from us, Jesus has taken away Satan’s voice. There is nothing left for him to accuse us of, and there is nothing left to stand between us and the presence of God forever.
Death should therefore hold no fear for the Christian. As Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saved from what? Saved from sin, from judgment, from the terrors of death and hell, from fear of the grave—and saved for all eternity. This is the eternal life that the world longs for but can never find. It is not an escape from death but an escape through death—and it is the reason that Jesus left heavenly glory and became a human like me and you, and the reason that He died a criminal’s death.
When you are tempted to base your hope in the things of this world and are blinded by tempting lies, or when you find yourself considering aging, frailty, and death with a rising fear, tell yourself, “Jesus has destroyed the one who has the power of death. Jesus has delivered me from the fear of death.” Learn to see death as it truly is and you will be able to see life as it truly is for all God’s children: eternal, free, and full of joy.
The Stoning of Stephen
54Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together2 at him. 58Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
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