death

The Most Important Thing God Wants You To Know About Death

Death is often a topic not spoken of, and when it is it’s often misspoken of. This had brought, fear, sadness and confusion to many people; and God does not want His children to live that way. May Frank’s words in this short video fill you with hope and peace as he uncovers the truths God wants you to know about “falling asleep.” Beloved, may you never forget that for believers, the grave is not the end of the story.


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The Most Important Thing God Wants You to Know About Death

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Remember that passage in 2 Thessalonians where Paul says, Beloved ones, I want you to be in the know concerning the return of Jesus, and concerning those people who have died before Christ has come back? Wait now! Is that what he said, “Those who have died?” Let’s look at the verse: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do those who have no hope” (2 Thessalonians 4:13-14). Does verse 13 say, “They have died?” No, it does not! It says they have “fallen asleep.” 

When it comes to a believer dying, we no longer die, we go to sleep. Think about that! The word sleep isn’t used in the New Testament to refer to the soul or spirit of a person, it's used to refer to the body. So, our soul or spirit ejects out of that body and goes to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. It's the body that's left behind and it doesn't really die, at least not from a Christian perspective. It's called sleep. Look at these verses: 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” And Philippians 1:23 says, “having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better.”

And so in the early church, the teaching from the spirit of God was, it's no longer death, it's just sleep. Fascinating! So let’s dive into that a little further and circle the word sleep in your Bible. It’s the word koimaomai, and it means to sleep. And as I studied that word, it led to another word, called koimeterion, which means a dormitory, or a sleeping place, and from that word we get our word “cemetery”. 

The whole world uses the word cemetery today, but Christians started to use it for the place we bury those who have gone to sleep. A cemetery is a place where you put people whose bodies have gone to sleep and the word was later used to refer to a hotel. Isn't that cool? 

How many of you have ever checked into a hotel thinking you're going to stay there forever?! No way baby! You're checking in, because you're checking out, and that's what the Holy Spirit of God says to a believer who has died. They're checking into that cemetery, but they're checking out very, very soon. Isn't that cool? I love that. For the believer, the grave is not the end of the story.

Take your pen now, and circle that other little phrase “having fallen asleep.” That's an incorrect translation. It's actually a passive tense, an action that has been done upon them. It should have been translated “having been put to sleep.” Think about that, who “puts people to sleep?” Parents! And who do we as parents put to sleep? Our little children. Do you get the word picture, friends? The Holy Spirit's trying to communicate Father's perspective, and that is that He took that child and put them to bed. Now here's the key, as a parent have you ever put your child to sleep thinking they were going to sleep forever? No, you knew they were getting up soon and we're getting up out of that grave real, real soon! 

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Did Paul Really Tell us Not to Grieve?

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In 1 Corinthians 15:55 Paul says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” and in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 he writes, “so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” Please hear this beloved, it’s so very important. Paul is not saying, do not grieve. The Christian community has taken this passage and twisted it many, many times to do something ridiculously wrong, and imply that we're not supposed to grieve. 

When I was pastoring in Delaware, there was a sweet young woman who was thirty-four years old with four babies. She was in the ICU and was dying, and did die. We held a round the clock vigil for that young lady, and people were there with her praying the whole two weeks she was there. I showed up one day just in time to see one of our dear ladies come out of that ICU with tears streaming down her cheeks, and the next lady ready to go in stuck her finger in that woman’s face and said, “Stop crying! That doesn't manifest victory.” If ever I wanted to slap somebody in Jesus' name! You know what, maybe it didn't manifest victory, but it manifested compassion, which is, in my understanding of the New Testament, what Jesus Christ is all about!

We grieve. Paul said in Romans 12:15 through the spirit, “Weep with those who weep.” Jesus himself wept at the death of Lazarus. And this is so important, it doesn't say He cried a few tears, it says He wept. Weeping is full-fledged, heartfelt crying. That's an important distinction. If Jesus felt the freedom to openly grieve the loss of a loved one, even though it's temporary, we should feel the same freedom. 

What Paul is speaking to us in these verses, is that he wants us to grieve with hope, to grieve with confidence that ours is never a permanent goodbye. I challenge every one of you, because until the Lord returns there will be death in your family and friends, when you're at that graveside, don't say goodbye, say until we meet again. Until we meet again.

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A Life or Death Choice

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It is so very easy to be a critic; all you have to do is open your mouth and speak negatively about someone. But have you ever pondered what the Bible has to say about it?

The Bible says that when we slander or gossip about someone that we are actually “Satanizing.” That’s right, we are in partnership with the enemy and joining him in his work to steal, kill, and destroy!

In 1 Timothy 3 the actual translation of a gossip is a “she-devil." Why would we want to do that? Why would we choose to live so contrary to who we are - a vessel of life, and instead choose to live as someone that we are not – a vessel of death? It is not only evil but foolish to do so.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that every time we open our mouth, we are either going to be extending words of life or words of death. So, what do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a minister of life or a minister of death? The choice is yours.

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All Things Work Together For Good

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1 John 4 says, “God IS love.” It’s a very important verb choice. He didn't say God HAS love. If He HAD love, He might NOT have love. Instead, he uses the verb "is," the state of "is-ness," this is one's state of being,  the part of you that cannot be changed. God IS love, and He made us a promise in Romans 8:28 that “All things will work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purposes.” This is true even for the worst choice ever made by a man in all of history. A choice that's even worse than the one Adam made two-thousand years ago. 

My friends, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He had healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the poor, heralded the Kingdom of God and proclaimed that in Him there would be forgiveness of sins and life eternal. The people hailed Him as the Messiah, but at that point, the Jewish leadership got a little envious. John 11 reveals that they knew this man did miracles. Did you hear that? Unbelieving, rebellious men, admitted that miracles were being done. These were not Jesus’ followers; these were people who hated Him, and they acknowledged that miracles were being done. The problem for them was that if they let Him keep doing what He was doing, all of Israel would believe in Him, and the key is in their next phrase, “We’ll be out of a job.” 

My friends, do you know what really killed Jesus? It was job security. And so they held an illegal trial, trumped up false charges against Him that He was inciting rebellion against Rome and turned Him over to Rome for permission to have Him crucified. The problem was, the Roman Governor found Him innocent of all charges, but the Roman Sanhedrin continued to stir up the people. Pilot was afraid of a riot. If he could not govern well, he'd be out of a job. He realized there was a custom in Israel where they would release one prisoner every year. Coming up with an idea, he made a choice, and the choice was offered to the crowd: Jesus or Barabbas. 

Barabbas, the text says, was an insurrectionist, a murderer and a thief. The choice before them, my friends, was simple; you can have the righteous and innocent Son of God, OR you can have the murderer. What will you do with Jesus? And they chose Barabbas. They chose a murderer over the Messiah, and they screamed for Pilot to have Jesus, who had been declared innocent, crucified. 

I don't know if you've ever thought about the fact that Pilot had already declared Jesus innocent. Jesus not only could have been set free, but He should have been set free. The people CHOSE to have Jesus crucified, and Pilot CHOSE to let it happen. There were so many poor choices made, and those choices had horrible, horrible consequences. 

Pilot washed his hands to try and declare himself innocent; that it was not his choice to crucify Jesus. At that point, the people cried out, “His blood be on us and our children.” They made the most horrible choice that man has ever made, to crucify the Lord of Glory... But God! But God! See my friends; it was a true statement; His blood was on them, it was their choice. But because of God, his blood was FOR them. 

In Matthew 20:28, Jesus said, “I'm coming to give my life as a ransom.” In Matthew 26:28, He said, “This is my blood which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Do you realize my friends, that our incredible God used their choice against Jesus, as a consequence, but not as a consequence against them, but as a consequence for them. It is the greatest fulfillment of Romans 8:28 in all of history, “That all things will work together for good.” The one they killed shed His blood for them that they might be offered a second chance choice to place their faith in Him and secure life eternal and forgiveness.

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Saved From Our Sins

Our gracious, forgiving, merciful God, will overrule the bad choices that can bring bad consequences. 

Our gracious, forgiving, merciful God, will overrule the bad choices that can bring bad consequences. 

I raised my kids on a mantra; life is all about choices and choices have consequences, so make good choices. Why did I drum that into my kids? Because I wanted them to experience Life. I wanted them to have joy and peace and rest. I didn't want them making choices that would leave a trail of guilt and shame and loss. The same is true for you and me as adults. This mantra is not just for kids. Every one of us in this room is confronted daily, on a moment by moment basis with the need to make good choices and avoid bad choices. 

We were all placed into this predicament by Adam who made a very, very bad choice. He could have chosen God, but instead, he chose the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He could have done what God said, but instead, he chose to do what Satan said. He could have believed what God said, “You shall surely die" but instead he chose to believe what Satan said, “You shall surely NOT die.” That terrible choice, my friends, had very horrible consequences. 

It says in Romans 5 that death spread to all men. To personalize that, death spread to you and I. The world became under a curse, and thus every one of us experiences things now that we were never designed to experience. Having left our state of innocence, we're now confronted daily with the potential to make a wrong choice that will lead us to experience a harmful consequence. Scripture is filled with people who've done this; Cain murdered his brother, a terrible choice that caused him to suffer being cursed from the earth. Hagar gave her handmaid to Abraham and caused family division AND national division, a consequence we still face today; Arab and Jew to this day because of that choice. Noah chose to get drunk and caused his sons to be judged and disciplined. And of course, David chose to have an affair with Bathsheba and brought chaos not only to his family but to the entire nation. 

Galatians 6 says, “Whatever a man sows that shall he reap. Sow to the flesh; you'll reap corruption, sow to the Spirit you'll reap Life everlasting.” What I want to share with you friends is this; that law is NOT a universal law because there is a God who has revealed a place in His New Testament that says, “But God.” 

Ephesians 2 says, “Even though we were dead in our trespasses and sins, and by nature, children of wrath, BUT GOD who is rich in His mercy and His great love with which He loved us, saved us from our sins.” 

God proclaimed His name to Moses in Exodus 34 when Moses said, “What is your name?” God says, “My name is God, the Lord God. Merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” That's a whale of a name, isn't it?! This gracious, forgiving, merciful God, my friends, will overrule the bad choices that can bring bad consequences. 

I think of Jacob; he made a choice to wrestle with God. That's not a good choice! He ended up with a limp for the rest of his life, BUT he also ended up with a changed life. I think of David and his sin with Bathsheba; it had horrible consequences, BUT that union later brought a great gift named Solomon who brought great wonder and mercy to the world because God is who He is. Don't you just love Him?!

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The Second Worst Lie Ever Told

Words have the power to devastate another human being. We must take great care that when we speak, we are speaking Life into others and not death.

Words have the power to devastate another human being. We must take great care that when we speak, we are speaking Life into others and not death.

The second worst lie ever told. As you hear that I am sure that your brain is working feverishly to determine what that lie is. You know it; “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will “never” hurt me.” Of course, you knew it. It is a universal mantra on playgrounds and in homes around the world. More children know “sticks and stones” than they know John 3:16!

Students, teachers, and parents herald it as a truth that is supposed to heal and protect the heart of a child by minimizing the painful words that they hear; but it fails to accomplish that stated agenda because it is a lie! In my opinion, it is second only to the “WHOPPER” that Satan told in Genesis 3, when he told Adam and Eve, “You shall surely not die, you shall be as God!”

Now there are so many lies told on this planet, so many that could have made the “Top Two” that you might be wondering why these two lies are at the top of the list? What makes them so much worse than other lies? The one is obviously the worst lie ever told because it plunged the entire world into sin and death! I don’t believe anyone would dispute that. The second lie is second because it ministers the same end result of death – only on an individual basis as each destructive word is spoken and heard relationally.

Listen to Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Have you ever asked yourself, why that is so? Let’s ponder it together. Think back with me to Genesis 1 and 2. There we learn that God created the world and all that is in it. And how did He create? He spoke things into existence. The Creator spoke, and it was so! In a very similar, but much smaller way, that is how it is with us. We are made in the image of God – we are little creators who create in the same way He did, by speaking. Every time we speak, we are either creating Life or death in the ones we are speaking to! OUCH! Ouch indeed!

We have an awe-full (spelled purposely) responsibility. Every time we open our mouths we are either speaking Life or death into someone. When it is death, it hurts, and it hurts bad. I would put it this way – there is murder in our mouths. Proverbs 18:8 says, "Words go down deep into the heart." Words have the power to devastate another human being. That is why “sticks and stones” is a lie… words hurt and they hurt bad. We must take great care that when we speak, we are speaking Life into others and not death. I once heard a sociologist say that negative words are so powerful that we need ten positive affirmations to overcome one negative slander made against us. The tongue has so much potential for ministry but also the potential for murder. Which one will you be choosing to minister? Life or death? The choice is yours!

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The Affirmation of God's Trustworthiness and Goodness

We will not descend into that valley never to be heard from again.  WE WILL WALK THROUGH IT!

We will not descend into that valley never to be heard from again. WE WILL WALK THROUGH IT!

In the incarnation, Jesus voluntarily restricted the use of His Divine attributes, so that He could function in full and complete dependence as a man, as man was always intended to do so. Glory!

One of the by-products of this awe-inspiring life He experienced by faith, was to affirm the trustworthiness and goodness of God to man. Ever since the garden, the goodness of God to man has been in question. Remember, how the enemy tempted Adam by calling God's goodness into question? The serpent made it sound like God was holding out on man.  How those words have been repeated in the minds of manifold men and women since that day.  "Indeed, has God said..."

In His life of recklessly abandoned faith, Jesus proved that God was indeed trustworthy, bringing Jesus victoriously through not only suffering in this fallen world but even to victory over the grave itself. Like David proclaimed so many years ago, "... we shall walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death!" We will not descend into that valley never to be heard from again. WE WILL WALK THROUGH IT! Note further, it is a shadow. A shadow my friends, cannot hurt us. It can scare us to be sure, but it cannot hurt us.

And by the way, there can be no shadow unless there is a light shining somewhere. 

And the light that forms this shadow is none other than the light of the love of God that He has for His kids, and they can indeed, trust His love and care to bring them through the darkest valleys and home to His waiting arms.

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It's Not Just Sin, It's The Aftermath

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong.

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong.

When Adam ate from the tree, he sinned. No buts about it, he sinned. He "missed the mark" and this has been the proclamation of the church ever since. HE SINNED!

Though that is true, I do not believe that is the supreme issue when it comes to our Father's heart! May I illustrate. I also play the role of father, a role given to me from God Himself. When my children sin, when they miss the mark, that bothers me as a father. Of course, it does! They sinned. They missed the mark.

But hear me please, that thought is not what dominates my heart. My heart is consumed with a much greater thought --- and that is not so much that they did wrong, but that they are going to have to suffer some ominous consequences because they did wrong. That is what grieves me... I NEVER want my children to experience what they were never designed to experience. Does that make sense?

Let's run with this then. When Adam sinned, of course that grieved the heart of God. But what grieved the heart of God even more, is what man would have to experience because he did wrong.

Now man is going to experience death.
Now man is going to experience loss.
Now he is going to experience fear, grief, sorrow, anxiety,
guilt, shame, isolation, independence, and on and on we could go.

All of these are going to occur because man was now divorced from God and now married to the law. A system of performing right and avoiding wrong in an effort to make himself "like God".   And all in an attempt to be "right" independent of God. Now man is going to experience guilt and shame when he does wrong, and he is going to experience pride when he does right.

This is what grieves God's heart. You do know that man was NEVER supposed to be concerned with doing right or now doing wrong. That mindset, that economy, only came into the experience of man because Adam sinned by eating from that tree of right and wrong. Before this event, (this sin) man had no idea of what right and wrong, good and evil were.

All he knew was God, and that was enough.

Sadly, ever since that fateful day, this has been the struggle of man. Not trusting that God is enough. Always laboring instead to do right and not do wrong in a feeble attempt to make himself "ok" independent of God. 

Do you see why the sin of Adam (and any sin of man) grieves the heart of God so? It is not just that man has chosen wrong that sorrows God, but the fact that man is going to now experience the consequence of other than God. As a Father, He wants so much for us as His children. He does not want us pursuing the "doing" of right and the "avoiding" of wrong. That economy is an economy that only came into our experience as a consequence of Adam's sin. 

He wants us to experience Him as the only One Who can make us right,
and express right, through us as we trust Him by faith.

That is why throughout the New Testament He heralds loudly how He rescued us from the law through the Person and Work of Christ so that we could once again be married to God!

What a Father we have. His great concern is not just that we have sinned, but that we have to experience consequences from that sin. And know this, His concern is so great that it led Him to send His Son, not only so that He could remove our sin, but also remove the consequences of sin. He delivered us from the code of ethics, the system of right and wrong, THE LAW so that we could be restored to Him. 

WOW INDEED!

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Jesus Is My Mediator.

In the New Testament, we are told that there is "ONE MEDIATOR". There is only one, and that is great news. Missionaries from a few centuries ago reported that one of the great reliefs that came to the various tribes was the glory that they no longer had to worry about appeasing a multiplicity of gods, that would be very akin to a polygamist having to please multiple wives. No easy task to be sure. 

The greatest relief of all, of course, was that this God of the Bible did not need appeasing by any man, for He had already paid the ransom for us all. The law demanded death, and He paid the price in our stead - Oh the glory of the love this God of the Bible has for man. 

But it gets better... In Job 9:33, the major complaint of Job was that there was no umpire between him and God, someone who could put His hand in both God and man's hands and place them together. This is what our One Mediator also accomplished. In a very real sense, God, though He knows all things, could never really "get man." 

Before you consider me a heretic, think about this. God could never know what it was like to be tempted, to be weak, to feel fear, or to be betrayed, or to die.

But because Jesus became man and experienced all
those things personally - God in Christ now "gets us."

And man, because He is so much smaller than God, can never really "get God." But in the person of Jesus, God clothed with skin, man could now see the glory of God in a safe way and not be blown to bits. Because of Jesus, we can now see God for what He is really like, and "get God" - sort of! 

This is what Jesus did. He is the one Who alone could put His hand in God's hand, and put His other hand in our hand, and bring us together so that we could "get each other" in a wonderful relationship of love, grace, and mercy. There is ONE MEDIATOR between God and man, and I hope you know Him. HIs name is Jesus!

It's Not Enough That Jesus Died...

The other day, I heard one of the old hymns we used to sing. Do you remember this one? "I need no other argument, I need no other plea, it is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me."

Nice hymn, but the theology of it is insufficient....

If all the Gospel is, is that Jesus died for my sins so that I can go to heaven someday, then the Good News has been reduced to a destination. Jesus functions like fire insurance, in that His death keeps me out of hell. If that is the Gospel, then we are nothing more than forgiven sinners, and what is going to happen in the meantime between the time we got saved and the time we get to go to heaven? Well, in the meantime, it is going to be a MEAN TIME! Because if that is the Gospel, then we are left to face the rest of our lives in a sin-cursed world, battling the flesh and the enemy with our own resources. No, my friend, it is not enough that Jesus died for me, though that is indeed a part of the glory He secured for HImself through His incarnation and work.

The really good news, is that He rose again. That He put us on the cross with Him (Rom 6:3-6) so that we too could be crucified. He then buried our old sinful self with Him, so that when He rose, we rose too! Why did this happen? To make us righteous (II Co5 5:21) so that He the Righteous One could now live in us and express His life through us. This was so He could save us right now with His life (Rom 5:8-10) in a great exchange of resources - our weakness for His strength (Isa 40) - so that we could experience God now, and know Him now in an intimate and glorious union of love (I Cor 6:17) --- enabling us in a very real way to experience heaven right now, while we are on our way to heaven. So what is heaven? Oh, it is a place, but it is a place where we find a Person... and the Person of God is what makes heaven, heaven.

So, no my friend, it is not enough that Jesus died, I need more than that and praise His name there is more.... He LIVES! And He lives for me, in me, and through me, and that and that alone is enough!

On Compassion, and Becoming Conformed to Christ's Image

One of the most profound and glorious revelations in the New Testament is the promise of God that we are going to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Indeed, we are in the process now, as Paul said he was being changed into that image day by day.

At first glance, that sounds so glorious and wonderful, and surely it will be in its end product. I do not think though, that we have really understood the full impact of what that means this side of heaven. Isa 53 tells us that Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. Now that does not sound like an image i want to be conformed to. I really don't think you are all that excited about that prospect either. But let's think about this for a minute.

We live in a dark and desperate world, where people are wounded and broken. They are in great need for someone who "gets them", someone who will step into their life with genuine compassion and hope. The one thing they DO NOT NEED is curt , Christian cliche. This I believe, was the driving force behind the incredible impact of Jesus life and ministry. He had compassion, because He personally knew the sorrow and grief that this world can bring to a human being. When you trace the word compassion through the Gospels, you will see that it was the motivating factor behind many of His miracles. (... and when He saw them, He had compassion on them)... Compassion is a very powerful word, in fact it not just a word, but an action. Compassion not only means that you feel for someone, but that you feel for someone enough to do something about it!

It has been my observation, that there are far too few people who are willing to be conformed to this particular aspect of the image of Jesus. But those who do, have the potential to have a dramatically powerful influence in this world, because the need is so great.

Only Good and Mercy

Psalm 23 is a favorite of so many people. It is most often read at funerals, but the psalm is really for the living... for those who are journeying through a dark and sometimes lonely world. The glory of the psalm is that we do not walk through this "valley of the shadow of death" alone, for HE, the living and all powerful God of the universe is with us.

Because He is with us, v. 5-6 tell us that there is a banquet spread for us before those foes that sought to vanquish us. Ours is the final victory. In that "spread" that is laid out before us, we are told that "surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives..."

The word I want to home in on is "surely"... it is the Hebrew word ak, and can be translated surely, truly, or nevertheless. The translation I prefer is "only".... In other words this is the Rom 8:28 of the Old Testament. There are things that really look and feel bad in this journey through the valley of the shadow of death, but in that day, when we sit at the feast with our Lord Jesus and celebrate His and our victory, we will look back at all those bad and fearful things that we experienced and see ONLY the GOOD that our Father was working into our lives... and they will be bad and fearful to us no more....

But for God... this would not be true.