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From Death To Life

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

DavidJohnsonThe title for the lesson this morning is, “From Death to Life.” You understand—and, by the way, this is a lesson that may sound negative to start with, and it is, on purpose, but it ends very positively. And it is the kind of lesson that you and I believe and live by and live for, but it is a lesson that needs to be shared. It needs to be witnessed to others. So let’s listen and in our own words be able to share the truths of this lesson from death to life.

You understand that mankind has been attempting to dodge death almost since death began. For example, in Genesis chapter 19 and verse 19 and following, Lot needed to outrun death, which was coming to punish all the people of the city of Sodom where he lived. And Lot exclaimed, “I cannot flee to the mountains. This disaster will over take me. And I will die.” And then in verse 20 he was pleading with the angels of the Lord and he said, “Look, here is a town near enough to run to and it is small. Let me flee to it. It is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” And Lot lived a little while longer.

In the year 300 BC, before Christ, Alexander the Great was very impressed with the Greek philosopher Diogenes and so Alexander promised to give and to grant Diogenes whatever he wished, whatever his desire was. The philosopher, Diogenes, asked Alexander for the gift of eternal life. He wanted immortality. And, of course, Alexander was great, but he wasn’t that great and he had to reply, “That is not a gift that I can give.”

In the year of our Lord 1513 the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon was on a quest to discover the legendary fountain of youth, which was believed to be a miraculous tropical water to restore youth and to return health and to invite immortality. And, instead, Ponce de Leon received an Indian arrowhead and died, was stopped cold by death’s lethal grip.

Even in our lifetime at the end of the 20th century, mankind was seeking and searching on a quest for immorality to dodge death and today it is science and technology. The fountain of human knowledge is searching for eternal life. At the end of the 20th century, for example, there was the science of cryogenics which deals with the production of very low temperatures and their effect on matter even applied to human tissue or bodies. Human bodies or parts of bodies frozen, stored away and artificially suspended until future cures, in theory. For example, the cures of all the many cancers for which we do not have today. Or perhaps with the hope that mankind can unlock the secret of immortality. It is a scientific quest, a technological preservation of human bodies and organs until a time when human knowledge can revive, can restore, can transplant, can transform near death or death itself to life even to eternal life.

And yet with all of our 21st century science and technology, ultimately little has changed of the human experience and death over roughly 10,000 years. Someone has written that it began as a litter of saplings, from a litter to a sled, from a sled to a wagon, and now a Cadillac. The conveyance has changed, but the body it carries has not changed. Human beings are still stopped cold by death. And nearly everything changes, but death is changeless. We may postpone it. We may tame it, but death is still with us all. Death always waits. Death is patient, persistent. The door of the hearse continues to open and close, end quote.

Yes, this message sounds rather negative, rather gloomy, anything but uplifting. And up till now it has been on purpose that I have shared it this way, because the preceding is about human efforts to dodge death. But we are different. We, as people of faith and hope in God and his revealed Word to us realize, or should realize, that death is really a door to eternal life for people of genuine saving faith, for those of us who are in Christ. And for our loved ones that have gone on before us, those that were in Christ in their spirits are with the Lord. We can rejoice over that, because it tells us in the Scripture and we believe the Word of God that to be absent the body is to be with the Lord because of what our Lord did on the cross. And even the dead in Christ will be raised first. And certainly even if the Lord comes in the air and we are yet alive, we will be caught up to meet him in the air. And so we have many precious promises.

For the Christian, death is a door to eternal life and it is a vital message to share to a world full of death, full of hopelessness, full of the lack of faith. Because faith is real and because death is inescapable and inevitable, unless the Lord comes in the air first for us, it is especially important to share our message. It is imperative to discuss death with the living. And especially with those that are spiritually dead that need to be regenerated, born again, made alive in the spirit, to have this kind of hope, this kind of knowledge, this kind of faith in an afterlife, eternal life spent with the Lord. Before death demands its price, we need to witness this truth. It is a truth that needs to be shared with another generation of the hopeless and those without God.

An observation. We often pray fervently to keep saints out of heaven, that is, to be healed physically, which is an appropriate petition according to the will of God. But we don’t often pray as fervently for sinners not under the blood of Christ to become saints through obedient faith and to go to heaven. And certainly our fervency in prayer needs to be for these especially.

The human quest for eternal life is futile and even with all the science and all the technology it is not a gift that man can produce. It is the gift of God through Christ Jesus. He is the Living Way. Eternal life is possible, but it will not come by natural man, but only by a supernatural God.

In the gospel of John chapter five, verses 24 and 25, our study text, in verse 24 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth.” Jesus always tells the truth. Why would he say that? He solemnly said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee.” Because he wants to alert our minds and our hearts and amplify and accentuate the truth that he is about to share. He always tells the truth, but this is a truth we especially need to hear and share, that whoever hears my Word and today we hear the Word of God, the Word of Jesus that has been recorded and preserved for us in Scripture, the Word of The Lord, whoever hears my Word and believes him who sent me, God the Father, saving faith in God the Father and in the Son, because it is through saving faith, genuine belief in God and in the Lord that brings life. And what kind of life is it? Jesus says, “Whoever hears my Word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life.” Even if we taste physical death, the first death, we through saving faith will not stay dead. We will possibly not see death if the Lord comes in the air while we are yet alive. But if we see death, we will be raised from the dead to eternal life with God and this needs to be a reminder to us that have lost loved ones that have gone on before us. In Christ Jesus they will be raised first. And this should warn our hearts to remind us of the great power and the great promises, the precious promises of God.

But the last part of John chapter five and verse 24 also reveals that we have crossed over from death to life. the believer no longer belongs to death. We are destined for eternal life in Christ Jesus. That is not a gift of man, but of God alone. It is not about miraculous water. It is not about a frozen state in cryogenics. It is about Christ and him crucified, raised from the dead, the first fruits of the dead. And because of his death and his resurrection, we can have life eternal in Christ Jesus. And this is our witness to others.

Do you realize that there are many that enter the door of the church only once a year? Usually it is either on Christmas day or on Easter Sunday, or at least on the Sunday that we celebrate Christmas. They don’t come to us very often. We must go to them. One day of the year is not enough to share the good news of Jesus Christ, who was crucified, who died, was buried and was raised on the third day.

In John chapter five and verse 25 Jesus reveals the supernatural, superlative source of eternal life. He said that a time is coming and now has come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. Do we understand what this actually means? When Jesus said that time has now come he referred to his first coming to this earth as Savior and Redeemer, when the dead, that is the spiritually dead, the lost, the unregenerate, the unsaved would hear the voice of the Son of God, the gospel message, and believe it and be saved.

When Jesus walked this earth multitudes heard the Son of God audibly, face to face, literally. But down through the centuries and even today you are hearing again, this morning, a gospel message, a message that needs to be shared with others. And it is the same Son of God whose words we have recorded in the gospels. It is the gospel, the good news, the glad tidings. And those who hear will have eternal life who genuinely put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through saving faith. In Romans chapter 10 and verse 17 it tells us that faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ or the Word of God who is the Son of God.

And Jesus promises us—Jesus is the great promise keeper and promise maker. He said that we will live, that is eternally through saving faith in the Son of God because, you see, mankind is generally seeking to dodge death in all the wrong places with the wrong people and the wrong possibilities. It is only through Jesus Christ, through faith in him, obedient faith in him, that we can receive the gift of eternal life. And who doesn’t want immortality?

From Diogenes to Ponce de Leon, to you and to me this morning, we want to live forever. And not only live for ever, but we desire a quality of life, the abundant life, the perfect life, immortality. In John chapter 11 and verse 25 and following Jesus Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” He will never taste the second death, which is the lake of fire, which is eternal separation from God according to the latter part of Revelation 20.

We have great news to share. And death is all around us. In 1 John chapter five and verse 11 God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son, in a saving, personal relationship with Jesus Christ through obedient faith, we have eternal life. It can’t be any more crystal clear in Scripture. There may be a lot of things in Scripture that are a little bit difficult to understand, but this is not one of them. Eternal life is found only in Jesus Christ. Eternal life is in the Son. We can exchange the hearse for heaven. There is only one life and Jesus is the way, the truth and what? The life. Jesus Christ is the answer, the antidote for death, and Jesus is the only way to be with the Lord in eternity. And some of our loved ones in Christ have already gone on before us, they have already gone through the door. Yes, it is the door of death. But they will be raised first and then we will be caught up to meet them in the air, those of us that are alive when the Lord comes. We will be with Christ in that place where there will be no more funerals, no more funeral homes, no more hearses, no more cemeteries, because the old order of things will have passed away.

We look forward to that day and this is an uplifting message, but we live in a world of death and we need to share the promise of eternal life with the living as we have opportunity. It is because this is an uplifting message to share that we must share it with the lost, who know not the Christ of Salvation. In a world of bad news and death, let’s share the good news and life, life eternal in Christ Jesus.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, Indiana




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33