What happens when we die? - Hope 103.2

What happens when we die?

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsSunday 22 Dec 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


I find that as I get older I forget some things. My memory is not as good as it used to be. But there is one event I will never forget,and that is my Mother’s death. My mother died aged 86 on 19 May 2006 here in Sydney,and I will always remember arriving at the nursing home on that cold morning about 1.15am to find the she had passed away about 15 minutes earlier. She had not been  well,but her death shocked and saddened me,which is quite normal. Maybe you’ve lost your Mother as well,and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I’m speaking about something quite personal here,because I want to try and answer  this question “what happens when we die ” Death is something we all must face — no exercise or diet plan,no meditation techniques,no amount of money can avoid it. Today we don’t speak of death very much – indeed we do anything we can to deny its reality. . We don’t want to think of the afterlife or prepare for it. That’s “morbid” in our thinking. Instead we deny death and the hereafter and focus on extending and enjoying this life!   But a few centuries ago,it was different. There were all sorts of rituals surrounding death. Blinds would be drawn; for the wealthy,straw would be strewn on the road to deaden the sound of cart wheels and horses feet; black bordered notepaper would invite people to the funeral; the servants,as well as the family,always wore black armbands; heavy black veils and heavy black clothes were essential and families were in mourning for many months. Today we avoid the subject at all costs. But we can’t really avoid it .. the statisticians say that 60 million people die each year. Many people every minute are ushered into eternity. We do need to talk about it.

Billy Graham wrote a book in 1987 called “Facing death and the Life After” and in it he said  “When death separates us from someone we love,there is a time when we think no one has suffered as we have. But grief is universal.”  I’m sure you have lost someone close to you. But the big & difficult question we need to ask ourselves is .. am I ready to die ?  Have you accomplished all that you need to,or would like to,in life – or are there things left undone that you still need to do? Elizabeth Kubler-Ross,the Swiss-born Chicago psychiatrist made famous by her writings about death,said this in one of her many writings .”Death can show us the way,for when we know and understand completely that our time on this earth is limited,and that we have no way of knowing when it will be over,then we must live each day as if it were the only one we had”. The Bible is the best place to go to find some answers. There’s a tremendous verse written sometime in 3rd century BC  in  Ecclesiastes 3:11 that  says,God,”…has set eternity in the hearts of men,”.  So all people have always known that death is not the end,  that something happens after our bodies cease to function.  But we all wonder what,we all question what it will be like after we die. Christian philosopher and apologist Norman Geisler says that  “. Every natural innate desire has a real object that can fulfill it.  Human beings have a natural,innate desire for immortality. Therefore,there must be an immortal life after death.”

So there’s some type of 6th sense that says death is not the end. Think for a moment of the Egyptian culture  four thousand years ago. They were a race of people who not only believed in life beyond the grave but were actually obsessed with it. In fact,most Egyptians began preparing for the after-life before they reached mid-life. Studies of the tombs and pyramids  show that many of them required the efforts of 100,000  workers,taking 40 years to build. Egyptians went to all that trouble because they knew something happened after death and they wanted to be ready for it.  But even these ancient pagan people understood in the core of their being that death was not the end. Archaeologists and anthropologists tell us that from the beginning of time,history is full of proof that all people have this unique awareness that there is a thing called eternity.
For the Christian,the Bible teaches that after death we go to be “with Christ,” where we are “at home with the Lord” (Php 1:23; 2 Cor 5:8; Lk 16:22; 23:43) For the Christian,death does not mean separation from the Lord. “As long as we are at home in the body,” Paul says,”we are away from the Lord . . . (but we) would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6b,8b). Death has no power over us; it cannot “separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

When John Owen,the great Puritan preacher,lay on his deathbed,his secretary wrote (in his name) to a friend,”I am still in the land of the living.” “Stop,” said Owen. “Change that and say,’I am yet in the land of the dying,but I hope soon to be in the land of the living.”

Make sure you’re prepared to die,and ready to die,before death catches up with you. Death is as final as it is inevitable; you won’t get a second chance. Jesus Christ offers you eternal life today.