What is your greatest fear? Heights? Public speaking? The IRS?
One survey of middle-class people produced these answers: spiders (29%), flying (21%), small spaces (19%), dentists (14%), needles (10%) and blood (4%).
Another survey – of grade school children in a major U.S. city – produced this response: the #1 fear was getting shot.
How about you? What is your greatest fear? Are you more like the first group of people, or the second?
The fear of death, while not mentioned at all in the first survey, may be the fear that we are most afraid to even think about or talk about. Its absence above is evidence of that, is it not?
To complicate things, fear of death has multiple components. There is the fear of the manner of death (will it take years or a split second?), and then there’s the fear of what happens to us immediately after death. Where do we go? What will the next life be like? These questions have been plaguing humanity for centuries.
The Bible has much to say about death and our fear of death. And it certainly has much to say about life after death.
If you are filled with anxiety about death and its uncertain consequences, I hope you’ll find much comfort in what I’m about to say: the Bible provides an antidote to the fear of death, and that cure is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who said, “I am the resurrection and I am the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:28-29).
Isn’t this an incredible, breathtaking promise? For the person who believes in Jesus, we will experience physical death (“he dies”), but we have the certainty of living with Jesus forever (“will never die”). For the Christian, death is the end of physical life on earth and the beginning of everlasting life in heaven.
For the believer in Jesus, physical death is therefore not to be feared, because it opens the doorway to eternal bliss in the presence of King Jesus.
I love the way the writer of Hebrews explains it: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Apart from the grace of God, the fear of death is normal. If you fear death, you are experiencing one of the most common of human emotions. But you may be so afraid to die that you are living in slavery to that fear.
Does the above passage describe you? Are you a slave to your fear of death?
If so, these verses are you for you! They are filled with hope because they point you to the One who can set you free from that fear. Jesus Christ, by his death on the cross, has the power to abolish your slavery to the fear of death.
Please note the key phrase in Hebrews 2:14-15 – Jesus can both destroy the devil and free you from slavery by his death. When Jesus died on the cross, he died for a very specific reason – to absorb God’s wrath against your sin and thereby pay the penalty for your sin that you deserve to pay.
We have all broken God’s law. Take a look at Exodus 20:1-17 and read through the 10 Commandments to remind yourself of the many ways you’ve sinned against a holy God. Keep in mind that Jesus said anger can be just as much a sin as murder and therefore deserving of the same judgment in hell (Matthew 5:21-22). Likewise, mental adultery (lust) is just as much a sin as physical adultery (Matthew 5:27-30) and also worthy of the same punishment in hell.
Perhaps you’ve heard this before – “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Please consider the incredible, life-changing, hope-filled meaning of these five words. It is the key to unlocking the door to peace with God, for once you have repented (turned away from your sin) and trusted Jesus as the only One who can save you from the penalty of sin, your anxiety over death will be removed and the promise of Jesus that you “will never die” becomes yours forever.