“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
— Matthew 6:33
With the coronavirus scourge in full swing, the resultant death count is now being posted on our national statistics “dashboard” alongside the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, employment statistics, trade balances and GDP.
We’re having our noses rubbed in death daily and worse, starting to get used to it — something like during the Vietnam War when the daily tallies of U.S. soldiers killed and enemy body count led the nightly news casts.
Death never had it so good then and unfortunately, now.
Prevailing secular attitudes in the Western world about death have generally ranged between Pollyanna’s fatalism (“it’ll all work out”) and denial (“Don’t talk about it and besides, I don’t care!”).
Both views reflect a view of death devoid of personal responsibility or accountability. Such people would say, “Don’t bother me, things are rolling along just fine and besides, I need to concentrate on getting my next promotion at work.”
Several centuries ago, Blaise Pascal dismissed such chronic shortsightedness with these comments:
“Nothing is so important to man as his own state, nothing is as formidable to him as eternity; and thus it is not natural that there should be men indifferent to the loss of their existence, and to the perils of everlasting suffering … And this same man who spends so many days and nights in rage and despair for the loss of office, or for some imaginary insult to his honor, is the very one who knows without anxiety and without emotion that he will lose all by death. It is a monstrous thing to see in the same heart and at the same time this sensibility to trifles and this strange insensibility to the greatest objects.”
Things feel different these days, now that our false sense of control has been shattered by an invisible viral killer that strikes young and old indiscriminately and without warning.
The Bible makes clear that all men are destined to exist consciously forever … somewhere.
Death is widely viewed as a purely physical, natural phenomenon where we just go “poof” out of existence at the end of our lives. But the Bible describes death in terms of separation — the more familiar first separation occurring when the human spirit leaves the body that then returns to dust.
But what about the spirit, which comes from God Himself and never ceases to exist? Scripture makes clear that all men are destined to exist consciously forever … somewhere. That somewhere is the big question and constitutes the major subject matter of the Bible.
So, we know that lost souls continue on, even though they are eternally separated from the God who made them. This last stage is known in scripture as the “second death” — a dreadful prospect.
But there is another option, an infinitely better one in Ephesians 2:4-6 …
“But God … made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
I propose a new term for “death.” The term “passed on” is too vague and nondescript, leaving survivors with the lingering question “passed on to where?”
Also, the word “death” suggests cessation — a total stop to all living processes; the same for the word “deceased.”
But what if there are immaterial, invisible processes that continue uninterruptedly for the deceased?
Theologian Dallas Willard thought so. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late summer 2012, he said, “I think that when I die, it might be some time until I know it. When we pass through what we call death, we do not lose the world. Indeed, we see it for the first time as it really is.”
So, I propose the term, “passed through.” The deceased has not stopped existing and instead has “passed through” to another realm or state of existence.
How About You?
Earthly life is fraught with danger. Could it be time for you to focus some thought on your eternal destiny? Scripture boldly asserts that Jesus Christ “passed through” death and came back to tell about it. Do you believe that?
“Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates.”
— Revelation 1:17
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.