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 Vol. 2, No. 8                                        Page 3                                                August, 2000


Make a New Friend
Out of an Old Enemy

By Allen Webster

The Bible calls death "the last enemy" (1 Corinthians 15:26), and most people view death as the enemy. They don't like to talk about it; they don't even like to think about it. They go to expensive extremes to postpone it -- even for a few months. But Jesus came so we can make a friend out of this old enemy.

Jesus told Martha that ". . . whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die . . .," then asked if she believed it (John 11:11-15). He did not mean believers never die physically. A Christian's body dies like everybody else's. Jesus was inviting her to see the old enemy, death, as a new friend that opened the door for the spirit to eternal life. Paul looked forward to dying because he knew he would then be with God (Philippians 1:22). Jesus wants us to look at death from God's perspective. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints" (Psalms 116:15; Revelation 14:13). Why?

God Sees Death
as Just Going to Sleep

To Jesus, Lazarus had just "gone to sleep" (John 11:11). Parents do not fear their children going to sleep; rather they plan for it. They work family schedules so there will be plenty of hours for naps and sleeping. Jesus saw raising a dead man as no more difficult than for us to wake someone from sleep (cf. Matthew 9:24). On resurrection morning, Jesus will wake all those in the grave with the angel's "alarm clock" that will be loud enough to (literally) "wake the dead" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). He will say, "Come on, we're going home" (John 5:25-29), or, in the case of non-Christians [and the disobedient who lived under Patriarchy and Judaism], sadly he'll say, "Time to go to the lake" (Daniel 12:2; Revelation 20:15).

God Sees Death
as Just Taking a Trip
(2 Timothy 4:6)

Paul said, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Philippians 1:23). Paul expected his soul to go to paradise, while his body rested in the grave to await a happy waking. Imagine standing on a dock watching a great oceanliner moving out of a harbor. You say, "It's going," as you watch it sink below the horizon. Finally someone says, "It's gone." But on another shore, someone watches for the ship. One day they see the smoke, the funnels, then the hull and say, "It's coming." As it pulls into port, they say, "It's here." We say at a loved one's deathbed, "She's going," and as she takes her last breath, "She's gone." But the watchers on another shore say, "She's coming. She is home at last."

God Sees Death as a
Change of Residence
(John 1:1-3)

Imagine knocking at an old house. A neighbor notices and says, "Are you looking for Mrs. Johnson?" "Yes," you reply. He says, "She doesn't live there anymore. She moved to a new house on the rich side of town last week." You drive to her new home where she welcomes you and proudly shows you around her new place. We have Christian friends whose frail bodies no longer serve their purpose. They have to move out of the tenement of clay, but they are really only changing residences. We are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise; death is a gate on the skyline to heaven.

God Sees Death as His
Child Gaining an Inheritance
(Philippians 2:21)

If we live for Christ, we get rich when we die (Matthew 6:19-21). We gain access to all we have invested there (Matthew 6:19-21). We gain victory over sin, Satan, doubt and fear (Revelation 20:10). We gain freedom from aches, disease, pains, tears and death (Revelation 21:4). We gain fellowship with God, Jesus and the Spirit (Philippians 1:23) and association with loved ones and the saints of all ages (Matthew 8:11).

Have you feared death in the past? Get rid of it right away! Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15). He made it possible for us to say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me" (Psalms 23:4). A gentleman visited a poor family and saw a French note for a thousand francs (a lot of money at that time) framed on the wall. He said, "Where did you get this?" They told him they had taken in an injured French soldier but were unable to save him. As he died, he gave them this "little picture as something to remember him by." They thought it was a "pretty souvenir" so they framed it. They were surprised that it was worth a sum greater than their whole house! Christians who still fear death are not using the blessing Jesus left them. Death is a friend who gives us a ride home. It's a graduation exercise from Earth's High School to Heaven's College.

Copyright 2000 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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