Practical Blessings: Peace in Death
Pastor Darryl Bentley
Midland SDA Church
August 13, 2011
Homiletical Idea: The Bibleís teaching on the subject of death is one that brings us peace and hope.† Most of the Christian world believes that once we die we go straight to heaven or hell depending on how we lived.† However, the Bible teaches us that we rest in the grave until the return of Christ with the righteous all going to heaven at the same time, and the wicked are punished after the 1000 years of Revelation 20; even the wicked fare better under Godís plan because they do not taste the fires of hell until after the final phase of the judgment.† Godís plan is fair to all and that plan should give us peace about death.
1. Opening Illustration: †Practical Junk?
2. Transition to main topic:
a. What does the Bible teach about death?
i. Is death simply a transition to a spirit world?
ii. Is death a gateway to receiving our reward for the deeds done in the flesh?
iii. The Bible teaches us that death is simply creation in reverse:
1. Genesis 2:7 says that when dust of the ground is given Godís breath of life, man becomes a living soul.† When either of those components is taken away we cease to be a soul.
2. In Ezekiel 18:4 we read that all souls belong to God because He is the one who gives the breath of life to sustain them, and any soul that sins shall die we are told.
3. Ecclesiastes 12:7 makes us abundantly clear that death is simply creation in reverse.
a. The word translated ďspiritĒ here is the Hebrew ruach which means breath.† Breath and spirit are used synonymously in the Bible because they simply mean breath of life.† Not an immortal soul that has thoughts and somehow lives apart from the body.
b. Job 27: 3, 4 makes this very clear.
iv. The fact that a soul can die is evidence in the face of the teaching on an immortal soul as taught by much of the Christian world.
v. We also learn when we study the Bible that the dead are not aware of anything after they die.
1. Ecclesiastes 9:5 tells us the living know that they shall die, but the dead donít know anything.
2. Psalm 146:3, 4 reminds us that we should not trust in men because they are subject to death and when a man dies his thoughts perish completely.
3. Jesus even made it clear that God is not the God of the dead but the living in Matthew 22:31, 32.† If we lived on after death and went to either heaven or hell would not God be the God of the living souls who make their way to heaven?† Surely He would be if there was life after death before the resurrection of the righteous.
b. So what does happen when we die?
i. Simply, we rest in the grave until we are either resurrected with the righteous at the second coming of Christ, or with the wicked at the end of the 1,000 years of Revelation 20.
ii. Jesus told us in John 5:28 that we should not marvel, but to realize that there will be two resurrections: those who have done well to the resurrection of life and those who have done wickedly to the resurrection of damnation.
iii. Paul wrote extensively about the hope of the resurrection and many of us today live in that same hope.
iv. When we die our breath returns to God and our sinful, mortal bodies wait in silence until the day of glad restoration when all things shall be made new, and this mortal shall take on immortality.
3. Practical Blessings of this teaching:
a. Some would say, ďOk, pastor.† I agree that the Bible teaches that the dead rest in their graves until one of the two resurrections, but so what?† How can I use this in a practical way to give people hope and have peace about death?Ē
i. There are several practical ways that this teaching is very practical and can serve as a draw to people in other faiths.
1. If the dead are truly sleeping in their graves then they receive their reward at the same time everyone else does.
a. For those who know their loved ones were lost they can have hope knowing that their loved one is not suffering now and forever more, but will meet their demise with the rest of the wicked at the appointed time.†
i. The wicked who dies now is not trying to play catch-up with those who died 5,000+ years ago.† Godís truth about death is a way of justice.† The majority of the Christian world would have everyone think that those who died in the flood have been burning in the flames of hell since that time.†
ii. Tell me then how God is just if He has allowed the wicked who died in the flood to be burning since that time and if a wicked person died last night they are already behind 6,000 years the others?† Godís way is so much better friends.†
b. For those who may think their loved ones are in heaven, this teaching can give them hope in knowing that their deceased loved ones are not up in heaven watching then suffer down here.†
i. How much joy can there be in heaven for a mother who has to watch her daughter get beaten by her drunken husband each night?
ii. How much joy can there be in heaven for a father who has to watch his child get molested by a step-father time after time?
iii. How much joy can there be in heaven for any parent who may witness their child blown to bits by a road-side bomb along a convoy route in Iraq or Afghanistan?
iv. Godís way is so much better friends.† Godís way says that our deceased loved ones are unaware of any of the trials that we are left to face in their absence.
2. If the dead are sleeping in their graves then we need not have any fear of the dead.†
a. All the fear people have of ghosts and haunted places can be wiped out as we understand that the dead donít know anything and therefore they cannot come back and torment us.
b. When we know the truth about what happens when we die then all uncertainty about death is gone.† We donít have to get sucked into false teaching about near death experiences or the like.
3. When we understand the truth about death we can truly embrace the blessed hope of Christís soon return.†
a. Think about it.† If the righteous dead go to heaven as a spirit when they die why would they need to have hope of the return of Christ?
b. Imagine the greatest event to ever take place since the creation of this world would be anticlimactic for all those who have gone on to heaven before us.† Can you wrap your mind around that?† You die, go to heaven, then itís time for Christ to come and gather His redeemed, and you think, ďWell, letís go get all the rest of them.† Iíve been hanging out here in heave for x number years, but letís go get the rest of those poor saps who have been living on earth for the last 6,000+ years.Ē† It is the most anticlimactic thing imaginable.†
c. Godís way says that we all go to heaven at the same time.† Yes, there have been a few that have gone on before us: Enoch, Elijah, Moses, and a few others, but the vast majority is resting in the graves awaiting the trumpet call and the Lordís shout to raise us in newness of life.
4. Closing Illustration: Mawmawís death
5. Wrap-up & Appeal