Aside

     …the One Subject…
by Bill Byrnes

Part 2 :  The Answer

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and LEAN NOT  unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

This quote says it all. Hidden in all of our fears (and sorrows) about death is a natural arrogance mankind has regarding the existence of God. We feel that if we don’t understand something–then “something must be wrong with that picture”. Also, the aforementioned thought from the Book of Proverbs reflects thoughts expressed approximately 500 years earlier in the Book of Job: 38: 1, 2&4: “Then the Lord answered Job out of this whirlwind, and said,  ‘Who is this that darkened  counsel by words without knowledge? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if thou hast any understanding!’ ”
Now, I’m not going to just lay out a “trust in God and shut-up” argument. Hope you don’t think I’m going to fall into that one–no! But I will say that when in doubt–TRUST in God’s word. Yes, we want to understand the reasons that bad things happen…but we must also understand that we would have as much chance of understanding God and his actions as would a poodle have of reading and understanding a book on quantum mechanics!

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” Let’s go back to the beginning…”

So, with this in mind, let’s go back to the beginning, and I mean the beginning! When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, what was the real sin? No, it wasn’t that they saw each other naked for the 1st time! Their real sin was one of disobedience to God – they did not obey Him! With their eating of the fruit came the knowledge of “good” and “evil”. In short–the natural outgrowth of this was the birth of conscience (Naturally; don’t forget that the tree was called the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”). When Adam and Eve wore makeshift clothes–it wasn’t because nakedness was wrong, it was because they knew it was wrong, or disobedient to God, to see each other “au naturel”. Don’t forget, prior to that moment they were naked and it didn’t bother them one bit!
You see, then, that conscience was borne out of  one sinful act. This might throw some light on why it was called “original sin”. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you to understand why every person born since then, has been born into a state of sin.

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Romans:6:23:”For the wages of sin is death. But a gift from God is eternal life–thru Jesus Christ or Lord.”
Obedience to God was the ONLY prerequisite for Adam and Eve to have everlasting life! In short, as long as they obeyed God–they would never know death. Once they sinned against God’s will–that changed too!
For them, (and everyone born since) this one act brought about the state of original sin PLUS the state of death. Therefore,  because sin is inherent in every person from the moment of birth, and, since the only way to NOT KNOW death is to be sinless–every person who has ever lived (or who will ever live) must undergo death.

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The death of Adam.

Now, I’m sure you can figure out where this takes us: why Jesus? If he was sinless–why did he have to die? Again, the  reasoning is clarified by going back to the beginning. You might recall from reading “Genesis”, that God lived on the Earth with his creations. After their disobedient “snack” God no longer stayed on “Terra Firma” (That’s why, you’ll read at numerous points throughout the Bible, that sin separates us from God).  From this moment on, the only way for people to initiate contact with God was thru sacrifice. Consider that a sacrifice was only a way to “knock” on His door; there would be no way of knowing if  He would answer. Also, we cannot depreciate the value of prayer. But, again, you can’t expect prayer to bring an immediate answer. God does answer all prayers–however, he does it in his own way–in his own time!

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“Sin separates us from God.”

Back to Jesus! Since the original sin of Adam & Eve brought about the natural state of sin for everyone; and, since death was the natural outgrowth of sin, than it was only “right” that a man be sacrificed to “wipe the slate clean” for God. It was the only way for all humanity (past, present and future) to gain everlasting life, and to once again, live with God. There was a problem: any sacrifice to God had to be PERFECT ; meaning that there couldn’t be any blemishes or unacceptable markings of any kind. Regarding a human sacrifice, this also meant a human unblemished by ANY sin! That would impossible to find–since all men and women were born with Original Sin. Enter Jesus – Son of God – free of any sin. He had to be born of man, and , born for one reason–to die –as the perfect sacrifice for the original sin of Adam and Eve, and therefore, the sins of all mankind!

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“It was the only way…”

One more thought, once Jesus arose from the grave- that should have set mankind free from the fear of death. It did not! But for those of us who believe and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, sure,  we still do fear death. But, it definitely makes it easier when we realize that there is something greater waiting for us. Ah, but what does the word it refer to?
It refers to life!
Let’s look again at the quote from Hebrews: 2:15( see “..the One Subject -Part 1)   “And deliver those, who through fear of death were all their lifetimes subject to its bondage.” Being afraid of death makes all of us part of the largest club in history. But, that quote really addresses the notion that we cannot be afraid to LIVE. Now, let’s look at another quote from Ephesians: 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Okay, now we have it! Being afraid of death should only make us afraid of going through this life without attending to our natural “gifts” from God which he’s granted to us to do good works in the name of Jesus Christ; gifts and tasks which He ordained for each and every one of us before our birth! In short, maybe we’re afraid of death because we feel that we haven’t lived the type of life we should have lived to fulfill that “higher calling”. Well, I’ve “been there–done that” with regards to choosing a path to provide for my family. I know what it feels like to think that you cannot ignore providing a certain quality of life for your family! Equally certain is the feeling that, somehow, you must allow for the intersection of the two paths. Trust in God and in Jesus to show you the way. Despite the ups and downs, twists and turns– we all must trust in the fact that none of us can possibly understand the workings of His schema.      
Now, you might think that a conclusion like that is easy for me since I’m 66.  However, the “trick” is to understand this notion and to accept the fact that death happens at any age, and that it is something we can never understand–there is no “rhyme or reason”! We MUST trust in God’s plan – and to somehow accept it, no matter how bitter the taste!
We must also accept the fact that Christ’s resurrection  means that there is hope for each and every one of us! That despite the fact that we ALL MUST DIE– something far greater comes after the sting of death. Plus, whatever that something is it will last for ETERNITY! As the poem once said , “…you’re gonna’  be a long time dead.” So what we all must come to grips with is facing up to the only question that really matters: “If you consider yourself a Christian, do you accept and believe in Jesus Christ as YOUR Lord and  Saviour?

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John:14:6:  “Jesus said unto him,  ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one cometh unto the Father but by me! ” 

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  A special thanks to Pastor Ted Max- Pastor at Vale
Community Church- Bloomington, Il.- for his
sermons on “Phillipians”. Those  sermons
inspired me to write this 2-part  feature.( For more-
go to Valecc.org )

        ….THE ONE SUBJECT…                by Bill Byrnes“ Well,

Aside

        ….THE ONE SUBJECT…
                by Bill Byrnes

“ Well, I know I  gotta’ die sometime–I just ain’’t  too crazy ‘bout the timing.” — James Whitmore– “Chuka” – movie- 1967

PART 1: The Fear

          Well, I’ve touched lots of “bases” with my articles, and I appreciate the flattering responses I’ve received. But, there is a topic I haven’t written about –till now. You see, there’s one subject that has caused more discomfort, pain, apprehension and fear than any other…DEATH– specifically–our death! Whoops, strike that! It’s not the subject  that causes the fear–it’s flat-out the way we think about it!
          Are there many other words that can cause us to bring to our conscious level the same degree of fear as the word “death”? I don’t think so. Everyone thinks about it at some time or other.
          What’s your philosophy? Is it a scary scenario…like Ebenezer Scrooge focusing in on his own tombstone. Does it leave you to scared to think past it? Then you just sort of “table” it to the future? Or, are you just the opposite, boasting to your friends (over drinks) that “That’s when I’m gonna’ throw a “mega” party–celebrating leaving all this B.S. life throws at us. Heck, the mourning ought to come at birth–when we all get in line for life’s troubles!”. This bravado can be either a mask for great fear, or a disguise for emotional non-involvement–found with our next group. But, really, is there any difference between the two? Isn’t emotional non-involvement the same thing as admitting, “I’m un-involved because I’m afraid of what I might find out?

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Is it a scary scenario–like Ebeneezer Scrooge?

 

          Perhaps, you’re in the pensive group: you’re  neither a “believer” in God, nor a skeptic; just someone who’s too busy to involve your emotional energies in any activity not related to your job–or whatever “fast track” you’re running on. This group can also contain soldiers, policemen, firemen or any others whose jobs might place them in harm’s way at any time. Again, the same question applies: are you afraid to think past that nasty word: DEATH!
          For the moment, PLEASE allay your fears and your obstinance to confront this topic: wouldn’t it be GREAT if all us lost our fear of  DEATH , ours or anyone else’s.  IT IS POSSIBLE!  Also, it’s possible  to lose your fears and still hold onto the will to live as long a life as you can. There is nothing that says the length of one’s life is at all proportional (directly or inversely) to the amount of fear we have of dying!

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It is possible to lose your fear of death!

          Let me add some meaning to a cliché: “We can’t be so scared of dying that we’re afraid of living!” Really, my entire premise is summed up with this addition: “We can’t be so scared of dying that we’re afraid of living–IN CHRIST! 
          

“And deliver them, who thru fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”   Hebrews: 2:15

          If your fear of death has had you “subject to its bondage” — well, welcome to what might be the largest club in history!  It started with Adam and Eve almost 6,000 years ago– after snacking on forbidden fruit.

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The fear started almost 6,000 years ago!

 

Perhaps our basis for the fear of death comes from an innate association of  death with wrongdoing, or evil. There is ample Biblical correlation for this. of Proverbs: 10:2: “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but, righteousness delivereth us from death.”, and again from Proverbs:11:4: “Riches profit not in the Day of Wrath; but righteousness delivereth from death.” And, there are several other passages scattered throughout the Bible that reflect the same thoughts. Thousands of years separate these three references–but the logic is the same:
 If we live a good and righteous life, we will be delivered from the fear and the “pains” of death.

Not one person–NO ONE–who has ever lived has NOT died!

Therefore, Why must I (and my loved ones) face death? We have lived good lives. We’ve never hurt anyone and we’ve always been law-abiding. Why is it that me and my loved ones have to die?  And, of course, why is it that any “good” people , anywhere, must die? We have done no evil–haven’t stolen anything or killed anyone! So, why must good people (any creed or religion) suffer? It just IS NOT right!
          I’m the first to admit that I agree: it is not right. And, these tenets pose what is perhaps, the main contradiction faced by anyone who has ever lived:  Why must all good people suffer from the pains of death–especially given it’s unpredictable, capricious, nature?

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“Don’t be afraid–come one-come all–ALL applicants will be accepted!

There REALLY IS an answer! Please, keep an open mind as we look to the only source of answers for all questions relating to life (and death): THE BIBLE!  

NEXT: PART 2:  The Answer