All of us are going to die. That’s no surprise. There’s no avoiding it. You can eat healthy, exercise, take care of yourself in an effort to prolong your life. But even so, there’s no guarantee except that at some point, you’ll die. It’s a scary thought. It’s even scarier if you read the Bible, because it tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV) and that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23, NIV) Paul also writes in the book of Romans that death is a result of sin. Because Adam and Eve sinned in the garden (and because you and I sin now) we are destined to face a physical death. But it is not merely a physical death Paul is talking about. He is also speaking of a spiritual death thereafter—eternity apart from God—that is the penalty required of us for sinning against a holy God.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that God, while perfectly holy and perfectly righteous, is also perfectly loving. Perhaps the most familiar verse in Scripture is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and
only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And that is the one caveat: we must believe in Christ. Having done so, we are assured that what Christ accomplished in His death has also been accomplished for us in our death:
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:3-7, NIV)
Christ’s death accomplished payment for sins. It is the glorious message of Scripture. When we die, the righteousness of God requires that we pay the penalty for our sins. But by dying on the cross, Christ paid that penalty already. Through faith in Him, we are therefore exempt at death from having to make payment. We no longer must spend eternity separated from God. But where does that leave us? Christ’s death on the cross does not mean that we won’t suffer a physical death. History has clearly taught us that. That brings us to the second half of the promise:
Christ’s victory over death accomplished our victory as well. As I said before, there is nothing we can do to avoid death. But death is not the end. Christ conquered death by miraculously rising from the dead. And because He is risen, those who have trusted in Him will also be raised to eternal life.
The message is really quite simple. And yet it is profound. What Christ accomplished in His death (paying the penalty for sins and achieving victory over death) has also been accomplished for us (who have believed in Him) in our death. It is why we call the darkest day in human history “Good” Friday. It is why the hymn writer of old could call it the “wonderful” cross. It is why Easter means so much more than bunnies and eggs and a sign of spring. And it is why I ask, in the words of another old hymn, “Will you this moment His grace receive?”