BEYOND DEATH'S DOOR Death haunts humankind. Poets, philosophers, and other writers throughout the ages have sought to explain, understand, and cope with death.
Ernest Hemingway, the famous author, was obsessed with the reality of death. His father, an intellectual, had killed himself when Hemingway was a young man. As a result, Hemingway wanted to demonstrate to all humanity that he feared neither life nor death. Ironically, when he was sixty-one years old, he committed suicide in a moment of rage and human weakness.
The Bible recognizes the inevitability of physical death. In Hebrews 9:27 we read, "Man is destined to die." In a sense, everyone is terminally ill. Unless Christ returns in our lifetime, our pilgrimage through this world will end in death.
Longfellow succinctly observed, "The young may die, and the old must." Physically death is the most stubborn and persistent enemy of humanity. But it is not the most dangerous foe.
The Bible distinguishes between physical death (which everyone eventually faces) and spiritual death (which everyone initially experiences). Death basically means separation from something or someone. It implies loneliness. A person begins life separated from God and spiritually dead because of his or her sin.
Sartre, the famous French existential philosopher, accurately observed, "Man is alone." Apart from a personal relationship with God and commitment to Him, every human being is spiritually dead and very much alone.
The Bible also mentions eternal death or "the second death" (Revelation 20:14). This is eternal, irreversible separation from God. Anyone who refuses to commit one's life to Jesus Christ during his or her lifetime here on earth will experience this eternal death.
Physical death clearly is not the end of our existence. The question is where you and I will spend eternity--in heaven or hell? There is no other option. The reality of death and hell should motivate Christians to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the unconverted.
Approximately one-quarter million people die each day around the world. Most pass into a Christ-less eternity. History frequently records their agonizing last words when they realize that by rejecting Christ they are left without hope.
Francois Voltaire, the noted French infidel, once stated, "In twenty years, Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear." Yet when he faced death he cried, "I am abandoned by God and man!" Voltaire's doctor expressed astonishment at the emotional torment his patient experienced before passing into eternity.
In contrast, the great evangelist John Wesley declared on his deathbed, "The best of all is, God is with me!" He finished his pilgrimage satisfied and content to be in the presence of his Lord.
Death need not haunt us as Christians. If we have committed our lives to Jesus Christ, we have a glorious future awaiting us beyond death's door. Luis Palau
On duty as a customer-service rep for a car-rental company, I took a call from a driver who needed a tow. He was stranded on a busy highway, but he didn't know the make of the car he was driving. I asked again for a more detailed description beyond a "blue, four-door sedan."