Death Is Not The End

In 1974 Ernest Becker – a Jewish cultural anthropologist – won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Denial of Death.  He articulates the thesis of the book as follows: “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else: it is a mainspring of human activity—activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying in some way that it is the final destiny for man.” From 50 years of observing and studying human behavior, Becker determined that what motivates and propels people to do what they do is the fear of death – it is as he said, “a mainspring of human activity.”

That is a powerful observation by a non-Christian thinker.  Consider the implications in the lives of those around you.  How much do people do to avoid death, to avoid thinking about death or to deny the absolute eventuality of it in their future?  Yet Hebrews 9:27 is clear: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”  And the world responds, “I can’t think about that right now, if I do I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about it tomorrow.” (Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind).  So, we fill our world with distractions.  We are an entertainment-saturated culture.  We fill every waking moment with games, TV shows, music, movies, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pandora and the like. We fill our lives with noise so there are never moments of silence in which the weightier matters of life must be faced and contemplated – matters like death, dying and judgment.

But God provides moments and opportunities for us to turn off the noise and consider these truths.  For the Christian, these moments are not only necessary but nourishing to our souls.  When we consider our own mortality, we can find ultimate hope in the truth that Jesus, the immortal Son of God, died but then defeated death to provide us hope! Earlier in Hebrews we find this nugget of truth: “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)  Because Jesus tasted death for everyone we can KNOW that death is not the end!

For those who know Jesus, this is a glorious truth.  For those who don’t know Jesus, this is a terrifying truth that “haunts the human animal like nothing else.” But God uses the terrifying reality of death to awaken cold, lost, dead hearts to life in Christ. 

 This Easter we will plunge headlong into the truth that “Death Is Not The End.” Easter is a great opportunity when friends, family members, coworkers and acquaintances are most likely to respond positively to an invitation to come to church.  I can assure you of this – those you invite to our Easter service will be faced with their own mortality and the eventuality of their death. But they will also hear the life-transforming truth of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus which provides life eternal and hope everlasting. 

Pray – Invite – Expect,
Pastor Troy

First Things First

 As we conclude our Global Impact Celebration, no doubt our thoughts are turned to our service to the Lord and our work for Him.  But before we embark on grand plans to serve Jesus, we must first consider how Jesus has served us.  He described his service toward us in this way: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)  Jesus served us by giving his life as a ransom – the price paid to provide our deliverance and freedom.

 Keeping “first things first” means doing the “work” of believing in Jesus before launching into other areas of Christian work.  Paul described it this way: And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. (Romans 4:5)  We must remind ourselves again and again that only through faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross are we found acceptable to God.  No amount of giving to missions, praying for missions or going on mission will make us acceptable – only Jesus’ ransom-paying service. 

 Jesus also described belief in him as the primary “work” we do: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  (John 6:29)  It is absolutely vital that all true Christian service begins with the possession of eternal life.  Our first great duty and all important work is to believe in Jesus – to rest sweetly in Him and in what he has done for us on the cross. This “work” of believing in Jesus is not just a one-time event at the moment of our conversion. Rather, it is a daily attitude of trust and a consistent resting in Him. 

 Why is it imperative that we begin by receiving Christ’s service to us before attempting to serve him?  There are many reasons I can think of, but one that is particularly applicable to me is this: Jesus does not need my help, but I desperately need His help.  If I consider my service to Jesus as something He needs then I begin to see myself as Jesus’ benefactor and He is the recipient of my assistance and aid.  Just the opposite is true: I need his aid, assistance, help and service. “Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Acts 17:25

 All true Christian service must begin here.  It’s at this point we realize we are serving Him not because he needs us, but because we so desperately need Him!