Intro: What terrifies you? I remember my first trip through a carnival haunted house. I did not see anything in there that scared me. Because I had my eyes closed all the way through! I am not a fan of horror films. I am easily terrified. Some people are terrified by getting up in front of a crowd and speaking. Others are terrified of mice, or bugs, or hypodermic needles or running out of money when they get old.
- But if we were to choose one universal terror among us, we might choose death. I connection with the “under the sun” view of our study in Ecclesiastes, it want to take a closer look at the subject of death.
I. The King of Terrors: The pompous and ignorant friend of Job accounts Job’s suffering to his personal wickedness, and in a less than subtle accusation against him, describes the ongoing afflictions of the wicked. In Job 18:14 he calls death the “king of terrors“. He was mistaken about the cause of Job’s suffering, but he was right on about death (certainly among the wicked). Ps 55:1-5 – Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication. 2 Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, Because of the oppression of the wicked; For they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me. 4 My heart is severely pained within me, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, And horror has overwhelmed me. The Psalmist is experiencing what has been common to man since the days of the garden. He fears that he is going to die. Do you share in that fear?
A. Cultural Avoidance: The subject of death often makes us uncomfortable. We tend to avoid discussing it. We do not see in-depth discussions on Facebook about death. We give it only necessary attention. Many go through the mourning process of losing a loved one as quickly as possible, because thinking about death makes them feel uncomfortable.
B. Why do people fear death?
1. Because it is unavoidable. Although we can manipulate around certain things (traffic, bad neighborhoods, financial problems, etc) death cannot be avoided. Heb 9:27 – “… it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”. This is the view of death from the preacher’s viewpoint in Ecclesiastes: Eccl 9:2-3 All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; To the good, the clean, and the unclean; To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Solomon portrays this universal, unavoidable, and equalizing character of death as a signal of the vanity of life.
2. Because it can arrive unexpected. We make plans, and our plans are based upon what we know (or assume to know) about the future. But we do not know – James 4:13-14 – 3 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. It may be that this is why fear is an inherent reaction to death – it presents us with the unknown. None of us have experienced what it will be like to take that last breath. No one returns to tell us what it will be like. Death is truly the king of terrors. Understanding the terror side of death helps us appreciate what God has done for us. The Christian does not need to fear death. The terror is removed.
II. What is death? Death may be simply defined as the termination of life. It is represented under a variety of aspects in Scripture:
- “The dust shall return to the earth as it was” (Eccl 12:7).
- It is the dissolution of “our earthly house of this tabernacle” (2 Cor 5:1)
- the “putting off this tabernacle” (2 Peter 1:13, 14).
- Being “unclothed” (2 Cor 5:3, 4).
- “Falling on sleep” (2 Peter 3:9)
- It is the separation of the body and the spirit, and thus the term death often denotes a separation. (dead to sin, dead in sin)
A. But the first appearance of “death” in the Bible is not the advent of physical death (Abel killing his brother in Gen. 4). It is in the words of God in pronouncing the sentence of man’s sin. “You will surely die” (Gen. 2:17) So death, both physical and spiritual death are associated with sin, as its effect. Men and women were removed from the presence of the tree of life, and subject to physical death. At times physical death became an immediate symbol of God’s disapproval (Uzzah, Nadab and Abihu, the Israelites in the wilderness, etc.)
1. But fuller understanding of God’s judgment through death is seen in the picture of spiritual death. (Eph 2:1 – And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, Rom 8:6 – For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.) Could it be that we live in a world of Zombies – the walking dead? People carry on as though they are alive, but they are actually dead through sin. This picture of death is so predominant that the final separation of the wicked from God in judgment is described as the “second death” (Rev. 2:11)
B. The Demise of Death: A proper view and understanding of death (and sin as its antecedent) helps us understand the work of Christ at Calvary, and the power of his resurrection. Death is mentioned 24 times in the book of Romans.
- Christ died for us: Rom 5:6-9 – For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. This was the plan, the only way to undo what sin had wrought. Death must be replaced with life:
- Life comes through death: Rom 5:10-11 – For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (opposite of separation)
- Rom 5:18 – Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
- Rom 6:3-7 – or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. Death and resurrection are components of our salvation. It is fitting that even our physical baptism is explained in this terminology.
- Submitting to baptism is being baptized into His death and being united with Jesus in His death (my death would do no good) Only Jesus death could atone.
- Being free from the guilt of sin is a resurrection to a new life. I am united with Jesus in His resurrection. Only Jesus’ resurrection could win the victory. 1 Cor 15:54-57 – So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
III. No Terror in Death: Are you afraid of dying? Is it the king of terrors? You do not need to fear death because you have been baptized. is this a proper response?
A. but this is not a confidence in the efficacy of an act of faith (even sincere faith). It is not a fearlessness that comes from something I have done. What could I do to remove the terror of death?
B. Dying without terror is the fruit of living with faith. When Paul came to Caesarea in lodged with Philip the evangelist. While He was there a prophet named Agabus made a startling revelation: Acts 21:11-13 When he had come to us, he took Paul’s belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'” 12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Paul was unafraid.
1. When he contemplated what was ahead, he placed his confidence in God’s ability to overcome death in his behalf. Phil 3:20-21 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
2. The Hebrew writer says… Heb 2:11-15 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” 13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Conclusion: What are you afraid of? One thing: Dying – without Jesus – That is the King of Terrors