|Fear is inextricably interwoven with doubtthe
Ignorance breeds fear.
There must be hundreds of separate "phobias" carefully catalogued in dictionaries. Fear of drowning, fear of heights, fear of being in enclosed places, fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of crowds, etc., etc.
Many people are terrified at flying in an airplane.
Usually because they are ignorant of the principles of aerodynamics. Looking out the window of the airliner, they only see the dizzying heights to which the airplane is climbing, see nothing (since air is invisible) between them and the ground. Not understanding that the aerodynamically efficient wings of that aircraft are slicing through the air (which is like a solid mass, analogous to the waters that cover the seas, but different material) at tornadic speeds, they worry and wonder whether the aircraft could go straight down or even slide backwards into the ground!
Not realizing that the speed with which the airfoil is moving through the air is sufficient to blow down big buildings (hurricane winds have never been recorded at such velocities, since an anemometer would be blown away), they only sense an undefined, mindless fear.
But professional pilots, trained in the knowledge of aerodynamics and the principles of flying, have no such fears. They are in a familiar element and therefore welcome flight, for they are working with known principles and laws.
Once we completely understand what death is, and then understand the great promises of God's Word concerning life after death, this should rid us of the fear of death.
This does not mean to say, on the other hand, that one becomes either nonchalant or reckless concerning death, but only to say that the forbidding, mindless fear experienced by so many should be overcome.
Notice what God's Word says concerning ignorance about death: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [are dead], that your sorrow not, even as other which have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13).
Notice this ignorance results in the kind of sorrow that is completely hopeless. It is this agony of hopelessness which seizes so many during a funeral service and burial. Not understanding death, seeing it to be an all encompassing, dark, forbidding area of the "unknown," wondering whether a loved one is still alive or in some semiconscious state, wondering about reincarnation, flitting off to heaven, or an ever-burning hell, and being mostly ignorant of the state of the dead, the death of a loved one is an utterly abhorrent, repugnant thing.
Therefore God's Word says Christians are not to be sorrowful as others who are completely ignorant of the state of the dead.
Notice! "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him!" (I Thessalonians 4:14).
How beautifully this corroborates every other scripture on the subject we have read, including the most oft-quoted scripture in the Bible, John 3:16!
We who are Christians do believe that Jesus died and rose again, as we have read in I Corinthians 15. Therefore we also believe and know that those who "sleep in Jesus" (meaning those who are dead in Christ) will appear with Jesus Christ at His coming, in a resurrection!
Read the rest of this passage: "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [are dead].
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
"Then we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Perhaps some of the most beautiful and most encouraging words in all the Bible are those of Job, who said, "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
"Whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me" (Job 19:25-27).
The implications of this beautiful scripture, together with all that you have read in this brief booklet, are quite clear.
The instant of death, all consciousness ceases.
Try an experiment. Sitting right where you are, blink your eyes just once. It only takes you a split second, doesn't it?
Believe it or not, your Bible says the transition from the cessation of this life into the life that awaits us is exactly as quick at that blinking of your eyes!
It does not matter whether the bodies of righteous men and women have lain in their graves, turning to nothing but dust, for centuries. So far as they are concerned, their consciousness will only have been interrupted for the millionth of a second.
You cannot clap your hands together rapidly enough to indicate the conscious passage of time you will experience between the moment of your death and your resurrection to life eternal, if you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.
One of the most famous arias of the oratorio "The Messiah" deals with a portion of I Corinthians the 15th chapter.
Notice what it says.
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
"Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed!" (I Corinthians 15:50-52).
Please do yourself the favor of reading this entire chapter of God's Word! It is one of the most beautiful and one of the most comforting in all the Bible!
If you read it, and completely understand ityou will never again be really fearful of death!
We should praise God for His beautiful truth, which unshackles the bonds of superstition, heathen and pagan tradition, and opens to our understanding the knowledge that makes us truly free from fear!