From Beginning to End

Here is a link to the podcast from Week 1 in case you missed it:

Our culture suffers from something called “death avoidance.” We are not comfortable with the subject and prefer to keep it “out of sight, out of mind.” We only talk and think about death when we absolutely have to. This has not always been the case. Many people used to die in homes, and young ones were often fully acquainted with the subject from an early age.

The problem is, Scripture tells us to think often about our death. Psalm 39:4-5 says, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” That is because Scripture says that death gives us the key to understanding our world and the state that it is in. Death is really the ultimate equalizer and is a key theological concept that Christians must ponder on a consistent basis.

Lesslie Newbigin says, “And death is not, for human beings, merely a biological necessity; it is, as the Bible teaches us, the wages of sin—the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual fact, namely, that nothing in my life is fit for God’s perfect kingdom.”[1] He is highlighting the fact that Scripture says death is due to sin and living in a fallen world. So, Christians should not avoid the subject of death, nor can we avoid thinking about our own death.

Ecclesiastes 3:18-22 deals with the subject of death in depth. The text starts by saying that we have no advantage over animals in the fact that we are all going to die. The conclusion of this thought for the author of Ecclesiastes is, “Everything is meaningless.”[2] He is not saying that our lives are meaningless; rather, he is saying that living only for “here and now” is fruitless in the end because of death. It doesn’t matter if you were a billionaire once you die. It doesn’t matter if you live on in someone’s memory. It doesn’t matter if you’ve achieved a great deal of fame. If we live only for here and now, life becomes meaningless in death. These fleeting things will go away and you will be no different than your dog when he dies.

The author of Ecclesiastes goes on to answer the most important question a person can ever ask, which is, “Is death the end, or is there something more?” Ecclesiastes 3:21 says, “Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” The reason he says this is found in verse 22 when he says, “For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” He is not saying that there is no life after death because other parts of Ecclesiastes show that he believes in heaven.[3] What is being implied in this chapter is that death is an act of faith. As Christians, we need to regain a hope for eternity. One way you can do that is by thinking of your death more often, and hopefully this will lead to more faith in God, not less. Hopefully we can take on the attitude Paul had in Romans 14:8 when he says, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

[1] Newbigin, Lesslie. Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture. (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI, 1986). Pg. 136.

[2] Ecclesiastes 3:19

[3] Verse 17 even talks about a final judgment showing that the author believes in life after death.

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