The book of Revelation gives us with the notion that dying is not the worst thing that can happen to us. In fact, for the saints of God, death is a blessing. Notice the words of the beloved John, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them” (Rev. 14:13). Like so many other areas of life, even death takes on a different aspect, when viewed from the Christian perspective:
Blessed Are The Dead
This statement is not universally true. All the dead are not blessed. Neither is death a blessing to everyone. In fact, if they are wicked, their death seals an eternal doom, from which there is no escape: “And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27); “… the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments … ” (Lk. 16:22-23); “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. . . And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:10, 14-15). However, with all this said, the Bible boldly declares how precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (Ps. 116:15). Some of the dead are blessed!
Who Die In The Lord
Those who die “in the Lord” are the dead who are blessed. God has given us the kind of hope which transcends even death itself. Think of how exceedingly precious this promise is: Every thing which one enjoys in this world is transient, the experience of its pleasure, as well as the thing itself. This is the promise from God who keeps his promises. (2 Pet 3:9) And it is extended only to those who are “in the Lord” at the time of their departure! As Paul said: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Surely God grants no promise of hope to those outside of Christ, nor does it hold out any glimmer of a guarantee to those who may have forsaken their first love (Rev. 2:4). All spiritual blessings are in Christ, says the apostle, but surely there is no greater blessing than the promise of eternal life to those who die faithfully “in the Lord.” Therefore, in death a faithful Christian obtains their crown of life. (Rev 2:10)
Yea Says The Spirit
Concerning death we are not left with the speculations or opinions of mere men to guide us. This safely removes it from the arena of human logic or reasoning. There are secret things God keeps to himself, but in death, God has revealed what will happen to man (Deut. 29:29). This is one of those things about which God has seen fit to provide plenty of information: “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep…” (1 Thess. 4:13). In death, we have it from the Master and that should make it clear what we need to do in order to prepare for the inevitable.
That They May Rest From Their Labors
John speaks of the labor of the people of God: “Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). The faith of Jesus is not just something we merely believe, but something we believe, keep and do. (Lk 8:15,21 cf 11:28) This explains why there is something to “rest from” at the end of our course. Will we have anything to “rest from” at the end of our earthly pilgrimage? If we, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”, then we shall. “For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13).
Their Works Do Follow Them
What follows us to the grave and beyond is not what we have accumulated in life, but who and what we are and what we have done, whether good or bad. To the selfish rich man in torment, spoken of by Jesus in Luke 16, Abraham said, “Son remember that you in your lifetime . . .” (v. 25). And, when the final day comes, and we all appear before the judgment seat of God, it is the works (deeds) of our lives which will follow us before the judgement seat of the Almighty. (2 Cor. 5:10) That which was done in secret shall be brought to light. (Lk 8:17) Finally, John wrote, “ Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22:12).
Conclusion: Let our works be the works of God. Let every man therefore obey the gospel of Christ, and remain faithful to the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. If we do these things, we shall hear the words of the Lord say unto us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Mt 25:21) However, if we reject the gospel and doctrine of Christ, then shall we hear these words from Jesus, “…I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Mt 7:23) Therefore, let not sin reign in your mortal body. (Rom 6:12) Death is necessary that we may change from this corruptible flesh into our immortal bodies and receive our crown of life. The good news is that death is swallowed up in victory through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the gospel of our salvation. (1 Cor 15:53-57) When we are buried with Christ by baptism and walk in the newness of life, death shall have no power over us. (Rom 6:3,4 f; Rev 20:6) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:58)