Today is the last in our series about worldviews, of which there are only two possible choices. One is pagan wherein people convince themselves and others there is no absolute truth or absolute authority. The other is Biblically based, wherein people know they must live in accordance with God’s inerrant and timeless truths as revealed in the pages of Scripture.
It is from either of these worldviews that men and women examine and interpret everything pertaining to life, such as morality, politics, education, entertainment, relationships, and so on.
Both worldviews ask and answer three basic questions: 1) Who are we? 2) How did we get here? and 3) Where are we going? And I want to again be clear about this: ONLY a Biblical worldview can save us from our own personal, family, and national social disasters.
The first element of a Biblical worldview we briefly examined is this: The God of the first chapter of Genesis is the ONLY true God. He has revealed Himself to humanity as a triune Being: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person is coeternal, coequal, and coexistent with each other: Three Persons, three Natures within the One God and Creator.
The second element of a Biblical worldview we briefly examined is this: The same God who created everything and everyone has also given us a series of love letters that describe His passionate affection for each of us. We call those letters the ‘Bible.’
The THIRD element of a Biblical worldview is the recognition that God's love letters are framed by His commandments. The God who loves us wants to protect us from self-destruction and, ultimately, eternal agony in the Lake of Fire.
The FOURTH essential element of a Biblical worldview is this: The Creator of the universe identified Himself to Moses as the Great ‘I AM’ – which is precisely how Jesus identified Himself to the religious leaders of His day.
Today we will look at the fifth essential element of a Biblical worldview which is this: DEATH IS DEFEATED
I know you feel about death as I do. You hate it. Don’t you wish life was like it was in the Genesis Garden? No death. No loss. No separation.
As most of you now know, we lost yet another member of our little congregation last week. Merlyn went to her Lord Jesus last Monday morning – He who was her God, her Savior, her Redeemer, her Friend.
I know He was all those things to her because she told me so at different times and in many ways – most recently three weeks ago when I visited her and asked if she knew Jesus is almighty God in the flesh, and that He died in her place. She smiled at me and said, “Of course.” I then asked how often she confesses her sins to Christ. She looked at me as if it was a silly question. “Every day,” she said.
Don’t you think Merlyn’s family hates death? But do you also know that Jesus hates death?
Yes, of course, He does. He knows what it’s like to lose someone He loves. He lost a beloved father. He also lost His beloved cousin, whom we know as John the Baptizer. And I’m glad for the report in the 11th chapter of John’s gospel. It’s the record of His beloved friend’s death. Many of you know the story.
When the Lord learned of Lazarus’ illness, He stayed a few more days with His disciples where they were before leaving for Bethany to visit Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha. John tells us that when Jesus and His disciples arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. And when Jesus witnessed the grief of Mary, Martha, and the other mourners, John tells us in two simple but profound words what happened next: (John 11:35) “Jesus wept.”
We must never gloss over those two words. They overflow with evidence of God’s passion and compassion for you and for me – “Jesus wept.”
But there is so much more in this vignette at Lazarus’ tomb. John also tells us in verse 33 of that chapter: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.”
The Greek word John used here for ‘deeply moved’ can also be translated as ‘very angry. The New Living Translation of the Bible renders the verse this way: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within Him, and He was deeply troubled.”
Why was Jesus, the Lord of Life, so angry? Perhaps these texts from the intertestamental Jewish book of Wisdom will help answer that question:
Wisdom 1:13 “For God did not make death, nor does He delight in the death of the living. (NCB); And in the next chapter of that book, the writer continues: (Wisdom 2:23-24) “For God created us to be immortal and formed us in the image of his own nature. But as a result of the devil’s envy, death entered the world . . . .”
Of course, the Jewish writer of Wisdom was likely very familiar with the Hebrew Prophet, Ezekiel, who wrote: (Ezekiell 33:11) ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”
And certainly, St Peter was likely aware of both the text in Ezekiel and in the Book of Wisdom when he wrote: (2 Peter 3:9) “But [God] is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Yes, God HATES death. Death was never His plan when He created the heavens and the earth. But when sin entered the human race in that most tragic and mournful scene in the Genesis Garden, death has been with us ever since.
And it is BECAUSE death is ever with us that the Biblical worldview – which is the view God wants us all to have -- BECAUSE death is ever with us, the Biblical worldview provides great comfort because of its immutable promise of everlasting life. Forever life. Eternal, never ending life – which ONLY those who know and love and serve the AUTHOR of life will receive.
Isn’t that what Jesus promised a mourning Mary and Martha at that tomb of Lazarus? If you haven’t yet memorized this passage, I urge you to do so this week: (John 11:25-26) “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
In other words, the Biblical worldview tells us that those who are born once will die twice; But those who are born twice will die only once.
What does that mean? Well – and not considering the Rapture of the Church at this point, meaning the ‘Taking away’ of all true Christians in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at that last Trumpet – not considering the Rapture now, we know everyone who is born through the natural process of birth will eventually die. That’s a100% reality.
Those who are born only once will die when their heart stops, but they will ALSO die a second time in the eternal lake of fire. Here is only one of several Biblical texts that speak of that 100% reality:
Revelation 20:11-14 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
But those who are born twice – once through the natural birth process and once again through their faithful obedience to Messiah Jesus – those who are born twice will never, ever experience the second death. Here are some Biblical texts that speak of the 100% reality:
Jesus said to the Pharisee Nicodemus, (John 3:3) “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Here also is 1 Peter 1:22-23: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
And finally, for the sake of time, here is 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
And so, here it is once again, the Lord said to Mary and Martha at the tomb: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. (John 11:25-26)
Listen, please. THIS promise of God is ONLY and exclusively true for those who have put their faith in the atoning sacrifice of the incarnate God, whom Christians know as Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. The promise of escape from the second death is only true for those who have committed their lives, their lifestyles, their full obedience to Christ’s commandments.
The promise of escape from the second death is NOT applicable, it is NOT true for those who die without Christ’s precious and sacrificial blood covering their sins.
Paul wrote these words of encouragement to the Christians at Corinth – AND because God and His word are eternal, these words apply to all Christians today:
(1 Corinthians 15:50-57) – “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christian, listen: “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. O Lord, You know I have no friend like You, If heaven’s not my home, then, Lord, what will I do? The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
Five years ago, on August 1, 2018, my mother was dead from a ruptured brain aneurysm before she fell to the floor of her apartment. Six weeks earlier, mom was visiting my sister in Pennsylvania. A few days before she was to return to Georgia, she left a voice message. I still have it on my phone. Among the newsy things she told me in that voice message was this: “Before you know it, in the blink of an eye, I’ll be standing before you.”
Mom NEVER, ever used that expression, “In the blink of an eye.” I thought it odd at the time, but brushed it off as curious, but insignificant. It was not until we buried her that I thought about what she’d said. And to this day I believe God was telling me through her odd remark that He was going to soon take her to Himself.
But what of her remark, “In the blink of an eye”?
For me, it has been more than five years since she went to her savior. But for her – because she now exists in the eternal present – it has NOT been five years. It is irrational to even think in terms of days or months or years when we speak of those who were born twice, as my mother was, and not live in that eternal present with all the saints in glory – as my mother now does.
That means when my body dies and I immediately stand in the presence of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and He reunites me with my mother – for her it will have only been a ‘blink of the eye.’
And this is also the good news for you who are listening to my voice: When YOUR body dies and you immediately stand in the presence of YOUR Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, you also will be reunited with your loved ones who have gone before you to glory.
As St Paul wrote: (2 Corinthians 5:6-8) “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
Let me close this message, and this series of messages this way:
Christian, I beg you to hold tightly to the Biblical worldview. The worldview that tells us God is a triune and eternal Being who has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each Person within that Holy Trinity is co-eternal, co-equal, and co-existent. Three Persons, three natures, but only One God.
It is the worldview that assures us God has given us an inerrant, infallible, and fully inspired set of commandment-framed love-letters, we call the Bible. It is the worldview that assures us that the Great I AM of the Burning Bush of Exodus Three and Jesus the Christ are the same Being. And it is the same worldview that tells us those who are born once will die twice. But those who are born twice will die only once.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, the Biblical worldview is the ONLY worldview that will take you to heaven. It is the only worldview that will give you hope – a confident expectation – of good things to come and which will last forever and ever. Amen.