A common saying you often hear is, “There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.” And while it is possible to evade taxes, no one can escape death. It’s like the 800-pound gorilla that follows everyone around, but everyone does their best to ignore it. Like, as long as we don’t make eye-contact with the hulking beast, it’s not really there sort-of-a-thing. But it is there, waiting. No matter how much we consume ourselves with the things of this world and wallow in their distractions, we will all, at one time or another, have to wrestle that gorilla. Some will do it the split second before they die in some random accident. Some will do it periodically, every time they attend a funeral. Some will do it as they suffer through a terminal disease. And some will do it as they helplessly watch that person suffer.
The Bible actually speaks to us about three types of death:
1. Spiritual Death
2. Physical Death
3. Personal Death
The Bible speaks of spiritual and physical death at the very beginning of the human story in Genesis when God tells Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16,17). God was forewarning Adam that indulging in rebellion would give birth to sin, the fruit thereof, being spiritual and physical death. The spiritual death of Adam was the separation of God and mankind, which was symbolized by the Temple curtain of the Jewish Temple. The same one that was torn and forever breached by the death of Jesus Christ (Heb 10:19-22). The physical death of Adam would come later, but it would inevitably come because the wages of sin always has been, and always will be, death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23). The wages of sin is death. Jesus paid the wages of our sin at the cross, thereby saving us from eternal spiritual death.
That leaves personal death, which Christ tells us must take place to be His disciple: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:23,24). Like physical death, which cannot be escaped by any of us, personal death cannot be escaped by anyone who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He says so: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).
This often comes as an inconvenient surprise to people who have long considered themselves Christian, but have never actually read the Bible, the Gospels in particular. You don’t have to read the Bible to receive salvation in Jesus Christ, but you do have to read it to live out that salvation according to Jesus’ instructions and bear Him fruit. That is because it is scripture which teaches us that: 1) spiritual death is certain without Christ; 2) physical death is certain for all of us; and the 8000-pound elephant hanging out next to the 800-pound gorilla in the lives of many Christians today is that, 3) personal death is certain with Christ.
If your salvation seems to have come at no personal cost to your way of living, then you may not want to make eye-contact with that elephant.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25)
“‘Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them,’ says the Lord, and ‘touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me’, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6:17,18)