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Death, Judgment and the Hope of the Gospel

By Jeffery Smith

Death is a fact of life that all of us must face, but what happens after death? Is it possible to face death without fear? Is death something some people ought to fear? These are questions I suspect every person has thought about at one time or another. I would like to ask you to consider a text from the Bible with me that addresses some of these questions. The text is Hebrews 9:27-28. There God's Word says: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." There are three truths or realities referred to in this text that are very important for everyone to understand.

First, there is the reality of death. "It is appointed for men once to die." Unless Christ returns first, every one of us is going to die. The Bible is very clear that death is certain, and experience confirms this. Look at the world around us; look at human history. What do you find? Every person who is born into this world eventually dies. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, you and I are moving closer and closer to death; and it may be closer than we realize, because your life or mine could end at any moment. Ultimately, there is nothing we can do to avoid it. However we may wish to try, and however we may wish not to think about it, we need to think about it! Because death is a fact, and it's a reality everyone must face.

Second, the text points us to the reality of the judgment to come. "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." Death is not the end. For after death, there is the judgment. The Bible teaches that we must stand before God to give an account for our lives. We are reminded by this that there is a Holy God and that He is our Creator and Judge.

Have you noticed how people sometimes try create their own gods? Usually they like to think of God as One who is nothing but a kind of soft teddy bear who always smiles upon us no matter what we do. He's kind of like a big Santa Claus who only exists to make us happy. There's no sense of justice in this type of god, no righteousness. We don't really need to live pure and holy lives. God always forgives no matter what; that's this god's job, you see; and of course, everybody will go to heaven in the end.

This is not an accurate picture of God. It is true that God is a God of love. He is a God who is full of love and kindness, but what kind of love is it that cares nothing for holiness, justice and truth? A love that is not grieved and angry at everything that is contrary to love and destroys love is not true love. The fact is God has so made us that deep inside we all know better.

Yes, it is true that God is a God of great love and mercy but never at the expense of His justice and righteousness, and He has given us His law to direct us how we are to live and to glorify Him.

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