Even believers who are secure in their faith can have fears about death. We were not created to experience death, but because of sin, it is an inevitable event in everyone's lives. Fear of death happens because our bodies are hardwired to avoid pain and suffering. So, what does the Bible say about death, and how can Christians overcome the fear? To answer these questions, we need to start with creation.
Where Did Death Originate?
Death and suffering exist because of sin. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…” When Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they disobeyed God's command. Their sin separated them from communion and relationship with the Lord.
Later in Romans, Paul states,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
Physical death is guaranteed in this world because our bodies are broken and sinful. But if you put your faith in Jesus, you will spend eternity in heaven when you die.
Common Fears About Death
Understanding what the Bible says about death is reassuring, but that knowledge does not always dispel any fears Christians have about dying. Many people wonder what it feels like to die, what they will see, and how they will feel. But 1 Corinthians reminds us that death means life for believers.
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”—1 Corinthians 15:20-22
If God resurrected Jesus from the dead, we can trust He will resurrect us, too. Our bodies are buried in the earth when we die, but our spirits will enter the presence of the Lord for eternity.
“And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.”—1 Corinthians 6:14
What Does the Bible Say About Death?
Many verses in the Bible answer this question. Several disciples compared death to sleep and gave us a picture of what eternity in heaven looks like. Here are 4 things the Bible says about death:
1. Death is compared to sleep.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, Paul compares death to sleep for believers. He says,
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
He wanted the Thessalonians to understand what happens when believers die so they could have confidence in eternity. Just as sleep is a temporary thing, so is death for believers.
2. Death is the end of our suffering on earth.
The promise in Revelation 21:4 is a comforting passage for believers searching for what the Bible says about death.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Believers can cling to this promise as a reassurance that the pain, loss, suffering, and death we experience in this world will not follow us into eternity.
3. Death ushers us into the presence of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 reminds us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Our bodies are only temporary homes, and we will one day receive perfect bodies that will never get tired, grow weary, or fall sick.
4. Death is the start of eternity in God's presence.
God has always desired a relationship with us, so He made a way for us to find salvation through His Son, Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 reminds us,
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”
Because of Jesus, we do not have to experience the pain of eternal separation from God. We will be ushered into God's presence in one moment when we leave this earth.
How Should Christians Prepare for Death?
The Thessalonians were known for their irresistible readiness as they anticipated the day of the Lord. As we live in increasingly uncertain times, we need to imitate the Thessalonians and be laser-focused on what is going on in the world and how those events pertain to the coming of Christ. We need to be ready, whether for physical death or the rapture, and we need to live every day and make every decision like today is the day we are going to see Jesus.
1. You must ready yourself spiritually.
While the world focuses on the material, physical, and temporal, we should focus on the spiritual. We must use our spiritual eyes to discern and recognize the powers in the unseen realm that pull the strings in the realm we can see. To prepare spiritually means to be at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 12:18), live as witnesses (Matthew 28:19-20), and seek to grow closer to the Lord daily (Matthew 6:33).
2. You must be ready practically.
Proverbs 20:4 reminds us that we must prepare ahead of time for the unknown. We live in unstable times, and they will only become more unstable. We should not live in fear but be aware of what is happening worldwide. Preparing practically means making decisions that will sustain and guide you and your loved ones so you can continue to be witnesses until God calls you home or you are caught up in the rapture.
3. You must be ready in community.
As we approach the end times, spending time in church and community is more important, not less important. We should not hide and wait for Jesus to come again or give up because we fear death. Instead, we should understand what the Bible says about death, share our fears with our community, and seek accountability for growing and sharing the Gospel.
Reminders For Believers
Reading what the Bible says about death should give believers confidence that they have nothing to fear. Jesus already defeated sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55), He has given us victory over the temptations and suffering we experience on earth (1 John 4:4), and He guarantees our citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). We cannot save ourselves, and if we fear death, that is like saying to God, “I don't trust You and Your promises. I can save myself.” Based on what the Bible says about death, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, you have no reason to fear dying.