In the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter three, the words of the wise man and great King Solomon are recorded:

"There is a time and a season for every purpose in everything done under heaven: There is the time to plant, and a time to pluck up; There is the time to kill, and there is a time to heal; There is a time to love, and there is a time to hate; There is a time of war, and there is a time of peace; There is a time to weep, and there is a time to laugh; There is a time to mourn, and there is a time to dance; There is a time to be born, and there is a time to die."

Death is the one appointment we all must keep — no exemptions – no exceptions. Hebrews 9:27 states: “It is appointed unto every man once to die, but after that the judgment.” I have an appointment with death. You have an appointment with death. It’s the one appointment we can’t cancel or ignore. But there is something after death. Apostle Paul said in 2Cor.5:10:”For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, according to that which we have done, whether it be good or bad.”

Jesus Christ will either say: “Well done, good and faithful servan; enter into the joys of the Lord prepared for you,” or He will say: “Depart from me — I never knew you.”

Something else Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:1, referring to those who die in faith is: “The day of one's death is better than the day of one’s birth.” And his father King David actually said in Psalm 116:15: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” We may wonder, how can this be, that the death of a loved one, which brings the deepest grief of any human experience, is to God precious?

It is because death is the final separation between the children of God and our Heavenly Father! It is the final barrier we all must pass through before breaking into the everlasting light of God’s eternally blessed, peaceful, and joyful presence! And this is why death holds no fear for the child of God. As David said in Psalm 23: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.”

When our time comes to pass through that final exit of Death’s Valley into the land of the living, we whose trust is in Christ, can face it without fear. Now I know that most people think that this Earth is the land of the living, but they are mistaken. We here on earth or in the land of the dying! Heaven is the land of the living where death cannot enter!

John described it in Revelation 21:4: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death: neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away."

Let me assure you: Heaven is not in euphemism or a metaphorical escape we have created to ease the pain of this life and the finality of the sorrow of death. It’s not just a story we tell children, so they will not be sad.

Heaven is a real planet, a celestial city located in the northernmost part of the third heaven, and Jesus said in John 14:1: “I go to prepare a place for you in my father's house….That where I am, you may be also.” Your precious father, grandfather, brother, loved one, Uncle Billy, is where Jesus is! “For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”, Paul said in 2Cor. 5:8. At the moment of death, the child of God steps into the presence of the Lord.

There is no reincarnation, coming back on the wheel of karma to try to do better the next time around. There's no soul sleep — that when you're dead, you're dead: “So let us eat, and drink, and be merry: for tomorrow we die”, and that's it. No! Death is the final gateway into eternity. James 2:26 states: “The body without the spirit is dead,” but it’s not vice versa, for the spirit of man is eternal.

Those who have died in Christ are actually more alive than we are!

Because the Bible says in 1Corinthians chapter 15, we will receive a new body at the resurrection of the righteous. It will not be of terrestrial substance like our earthly bodies, from the dust of the earth — but of a celestial substance that is immortal and incorruptible; not subject to death and forever free from sin’s corrupting power.

Apostle Paul said: “Then shall be brought to pass that saying, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Because death is swallowed up in victory.” And Paul said that the sting of death is sin. For everyone who dies without Christ as his Savior, death holds a fatal stinger. But for the child of God, death has no stinger, because on the cross, Jesus took the stinger out of death for those who believe in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. When He arose on the third day, He promised us: “Because I live — you shall live also!”

This is why we can experience the death of a loved one without feeling the sting of death. This does not mean that we will not feel the pain of our loss. It's impossible not to feel grief and sadness. These are part of the natural human grieving process. Even Jesus wept at the tomb of His dear friend Lazarus.

Hospital chaplains have observed the different ways families express their grief over the death of loved ones. Some grieve over what they perceive to be the permanent loss of their loved one. But strong Christian families, by contrast, grieve only at the sadness of a temporary separation. For Paul said in 1Thess. 4:13: “We do not sorrow as those who have no hope.” And there is a difference!

Paul said: “But I would not have you ignorant concerning them which are asleep (in death), that you sorrow not even as those who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”

The question is: Do we believe this? I do!

Job, in the oldest book of the Bible, said: “If a man die, will he live again? All the days of my appointed time, will I wait until my change come…. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 14:14, 19:25-26).

And this is how it is going to happen:

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain (in faith) unto the coming of the Lord, will not go before them which have died in Christ. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ, shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore” … he said: “Comfort one another with these words.”

If you believe this and you have placed your faith in Christ, then your sorrow today is only temporary, because you know you will see your loved ones again. But if you have not placed your hope in Christ, then you are not ready to face eternity and to see them again. I urge you today to open your heart to the Savior. He is the risen Lord of glory. He said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, and He is the only one who has conquered sin, death, hell, and the grave; who has tasted death for every man and woman, so that we could have eternal life with Him in the Father's house. And He said: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you. And I go to prepare a place for you…”

A young girl named Melody told her daddy she wanted a dollhouse, and he promised her he would build her one. Later that day as he sat in the den reading a book, he noticed Melody carrying out her dolls and playthings from the house and putting them in a pile on the lawn outside. He called to his wife: "What in the world is Melody doing with all her stuff on the lawn?"

"Well," she replied, "You promised her you would build her a dollhouse, and she believed you, and she's getting her things ready to move in."

Immediately he put down his book, drove to the lumber store in his truck, bought wood, and came back and built her a dollhouse. Why? Because he felt like it? No. Because she deserved it? Not necessarily. But because he had made her a promise, and she believed him, and he was going to keep his word!

How much more will our Heavenly Father keep His word to us? How much more will Jesus our Savior keep His promises?!

And He promised, “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am — in Heaven with the Father — you may be also.”

When is He coming back? I don’t know— No man knows the day or the hour. He said that he will come like a thief in the night, in a moment of the twinkling of an eye. That’s less than 1,000th of a second. Jesus will come for His Church, and if you're not ready, you won't have time to get ready. Today is the day of salvation, and now is the accepted time. For as Jesus told Nicodemus: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever should believe on him, should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:3 & 16).

In Loving Memory Of
William E. Hardy
July 30, 2013