Dying gives us a unique experience of Christ’s all-sufficient grace. Bodily death is still a painful evil to believers. They will fear it and feel it. As the last moments approach, there is often great physical pain and, sometimes, spiritual fear. There is also the emotional distress of seeing loved ones’ weeping. At such times, dying believers can experience tremendous help from Christ. His grace is found to be more than sufficient at this time of greatest need (Heb. 4:16).
Dying transforms us into Christ’s image. One of the blessings of dying is the rapid ripening of the believer’s character and the acceleration of his sanctification. The outer person is growing weaker, but the inner is growing stronger and stronger (2 Cor. 4:16). Though death can take an ugly toll on the body of a Christian, his soul is swiftly beautified. I’m sure many pastors have seen how the approach of death can result in a believer’s “shining” in a way he never has before.
Dying is our last and perhaps greatest opportunity to witness for Christ’s glory. Death, in many ways, is the supreme test of faith. What an opportunity to speak of how faith in Christ helps us to die and gives victory over the greatest enemy (1 Cor. 15:55). How many unbelievers have been converted by the dying words of godly fathers or mothers? When the victory of faith is seen by the world and other Christians, it brings great glory to Christ, especially if the believer can speak of and commend Christ in these last moments (Phil. 1:20). The dying witness of believers is even celebrated in heaven (Rev. 12:11).
Dying brings us into Christ’s presence. Death hastens us into the presence of Christ and our coronation as His precious people. Death temporarily separates us from our bodies, but it unites our souls to Christ in a new and wonderful way. We will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). No longer will we see Him through a dark lens, but we will see Him face-to-face (1 Cor. 13:12).
In summary, Christians do not have to die, but they do die in order to have communion with Christ’s sufferings, to experience Christ’s grace, to be made into Christ’s image, to witness for Christ’s glory, and to bring them into Christ’s presence. The Christian’s death may on the surface look like the death of the non-Christian, but it is essentially and wonderfully different.
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on February 16, 2018.