The Antidote for Death

From day to day, we hear news of what is killing us today. These reports tell us of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and all of the different factors contributing to these and other life-threatening conditions. We are also told of fatal car accidents, murders, suicides, natural disasters, and other violent forms of death. The various causes of death are carefully analyzed, classified, and ranked so that we can know which of them pose the greatest threats to us.

With these reports, there is usually either some advice for how such deaths can be prevented in the future or the assurance that men are working hard to find ways to prevent them. The advice tells us what to eat, how to behave, and which medicines to take. The assurance says that the best physicians, scientists, and government officials are diligently seeking solutions to the problem of death. Such advice and assurance have been given to every generation throughout the history of man, and yet man continues to die.

Do you know what the leading cause of death really is? The answer is sin. In fact, sin is not just the leading cause of death; it is the only cause. All of the other causes, such as diseases and injuries, are merely consequences and products of the root cause of sin. This does not mean that every individual who dies does so as a direct consequence of his own sin. Many die because of the sins of others, and some live long lives in spite of their sins. Ultimately, all men are subject to death because of the sin of Adam. In Romans 5:12, we are told that "through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned."

Do not be troubled or misled by the Calvinistic interpretations of Romans 5:12-21. Although verse 12 says that through Adam "death spread to all men because all sinned," this does mean that we are born with the guilt of Adam's sin or a sinful nature. It simply means that the effects of Adam's sin have brought death to all of us. In fact, verse 14 says that "death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam." God is not unjust so as to punish those who are not guilty (Rom. 9:14). His just law of sin and death is stated succinctly in Ezekiel 18:20:

"The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself."

It may seem that this law is violated when even innocent, sinless children die in this world, but let us be assured that the justice of God will ultimately be carried out through Christ Jesus.

Because sin is the cause of death, any solution for the problem of death must offset the effects of sin. The Lord Jesus Christ has done this through His own resurrection from the dead. Christ came in the flesh, died, and was raised "that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14-15). Indeed, Christ is the antidote for death. Through the power of Christ, all who have died or will die will be raised up from death. In John 5:28-29, Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." Just as all men, whether good or evil, will die, so also all men, whether good or evil, will be raised from the dead to be judged.

Let us be clear in our understanding. Death entered this world because of the sin of Adam and has spread to all of his descendents, including the innocent (Rom. 5:12, 14, 15, 17). This is physical death, which is the separation of the body and the spirit (Jas. 2:26). Through Christ, all who suffer physical death will be raised up (John 5:28-29). The power of God in Christ corrects the damage done by Adam to all men, for 1Corinthians 15:21-22 says, "For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." However, as Jesus said in John 5:28-29, those who are raised from death will go to a just reward, "those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." In the judgment of each man, Adam's sin will have no effect, but each soul will be judged for his own deeds (2Cor. 5:10). Those who were faithful to God during their lives will be justified through Christ's sacrifice and will receive eternal life, but those who were unfaithful will suffer a second death (Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8). This second death is an eternal separation from God (2Thess. 1:8-10).

As men struggle to find a solution to the problem of death, the only possible solution has been freely offered by God in Christ Jesus. Christ's solution to physical death is the resurrection, and His solution for spiritual death is forgiveness of sins and salvation by His atoning sacrifice. Just as Hebrews 9:27-28 says, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." Therefore, let us follow God's prescription to be cured of death, and let us spread the news to all.

Stacey E. Durham


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