I lost a friend the other day. We hear that statement all the time. Obviously I don’t mean my friend got lost and that I can’t find him, rather I mean that my friend died. We tend to speak that way because “losing my friend” is a gentle way of saying “my friend died.”
As a culture we don’t particularly like to talk about death, in part because it points to someone we can never regain, and in part because talking about the death of others reminds us that we too will someday die. Death is one of those things we are helpless to stop. Sometimes we can delay it, but it is inevitable, and often seen as a relentless predator that constantly stalks us.
When we talk about a “predator” we might look for something or someone that can save us from that predator. We need help regarding death because even if you could live to be 200 years old, even 1,000 years old, you eventually die, and death lasts a long, long time.
Many people don’t like talking about death because of the long reality that awaits them on the other side of death’s door. They are not certain what awaits them, and they would rather not know, but they know too well they will someday be forced to find out what it is.
Because we live in a Christian-influenced culture many people also have an aversion to talking about death because of the aspects of sin and hell. But avoiding such topics does not change the reality of such things, and if they are a reality (which they are) then you cannot avoid them. All you can do is try to ignore them until the reality of sin and hell smacks you square in the face without apology or a “second chance.”
If death is seen as a predator, then it seems to me that it would be wise to look for a weapon against that predator. But what could be a weapon against death since we all must die?
The Bible speaks a lot about death, and it speaks about the One who can protect us from the undesirable consequences of death — most especially separation from God. But the Bible also speaks of the One — the Only One — who can redeem you from sin and death, and the accompanying reality of hell, and that One is Jesus.
Jesus is referred to as the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14), and He is. But the question must be asked: “What does He save us from?” The answer is quite clear, and something I have already pointed to. He saves us from sin, which is anything and everything that is in direct violation of God’s stated ways, which are not only recorded for us in the Bible, but are also written on your heart (Romans 2:14-15 – your conscience).
People may claim they don’t know what God requires of us, but that is not true. You may think it is fair if you get away with lying, but you know it is wrong if someone lies to you. You may feel it would be right to kill “so-n-so,” but you are absolutely certain that it would be wrong for someone to kill you. You may feel it is OK to withhold your love from others, but you know full well that you deserve to be loved.
God’s rights and wrongs are engraved into who you are. You may fight against them, or try to ignore them, but they constantly battle with you because God loves you too much to allow you to ignore Him and His ways.
Jesus is the Savior of the world, and what He saves us from is what we have done to ourselves. Because of our sin we have separated ourselves from God, and Jesus is the only one who can redeem us — in other words, bring us into true fellowship with God.
He made that possible by taking our sins on Himself on the cross at Calvary where He took the punishment for sin that we deserve. You might think that should not have needed to occur, but God is a Just God, and He cannot ignore the consequence of sin; He must deal with all sin. And He did so through the sacrificial work of Christ who substituted Himself for us that day as He suffered and died for you and me (1 John 2:2).
After He died He rose from the grave three days later having destroyed the power of death for all who are willing to humbly repent and put their faith in Christ alone for forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life.
Although Christ is the Savior of the world He doesn’t save the whole world; He only saves those who put their full faith in Him alone. It’s not what you do plus what Jesus did — it’s what He alone did. That’s why God says in Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by God’s grace through faith, not of works so that no one can boast.
You and I need a Savior from the predator of death, and that Savior is Jesus. Do not ignore this subject because it is uncomfortable, because the reality of death will not go away. Choose life — choose Christ.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.