No More Death!
"Christ Jesus has destroyed death and has brought life
and immortality to light through the gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10)
Of all the fears that grip the hearts of modern men and women,
no fear is greater than the fear of death.
It is an evidence of our technological progress that on this Easter Sunday we can boast
that we have lived through the bloodiest century in human history.
Today a general pushes a button in a somewhat remote office
and a Cruise missile finds its target thousands of miles away.
Killing is easier now because we have weapons of mass destruction.
We can take out whole buildings and whole city blocks and even a whole city.
We know how to kill, but we don't know how to die.
When we face the prospect of our own death, we don't know what to say or what to do.
People say that nothing is certain but death and taxes.
That is not quite correct.
A person may find a way to avoid paying taxes.
He may not file a return -- and at least for awhile he pays no tax at all.
But you cannot avoid death or put it off.
When your time is up, your time is up.
This is a subject we'd rather not talk about, especially on such a happy occasion.
But if we can't talk about death on Easter, when can we talk about it?
The very essence of this day is a celebration of Jesus who has defeated death
and came back to tell us about it.
Death could not hold Him.
He holds the keys of death and hell.
Our text makes a wonderful affirmation when it declares that Jesus has destroyed death.
Let us pause for a moment to consider those words.
The older versions say He has "abolished" death.
There is but one problem with that.
Death does not appear to have been abolished.
If death has been destroyed, someone forgot to tell the undertakers.
People still die every day.
The cemeteries fill up and new ones open.
We have funeral homes, mortuaries, wakes, and weeping spouses.
And there are cancer, strokes, heart attack, sudden accidents, unexplained tragedies,
ethnic cleansing, and bombs in the dark of the night.
If you don't believe that, just pick up your daily newspaper and read the obituary section.
In my home town newspaper there are 30 to 50 deaths listed every day.
Listed were pastors, school teachers, and business leaders.
There was an infant and a four-year old.
There were those in their teens, in their twenties, thirties, forties and on into the older years.
Death is everywhere.
Every time you turn on the news or read a newspapers.
There are murders, tragic accidents, and deaths by disease.
There is war.
Death is all around us!
So, where is the resurrection?
How can we say that death has been abolished
when death seems to stare us in the face every day?
.If death has been abolished, why do we still die?
The answer -- we die because of sin.
Romans 5:12 tells us that death came to the world because of Adam's sin.
First there was Adam, then there was sin, then there was death.
Sin always leads to death and as long as sin exists in the world there will be death.
Death reigns in .....
How certain is the fact of your death?
So certain that there is an entire industry built about the expectation of your death.
It's called the life insurance industry.
The only reason you buy life insurance is because someday you are going to die.
If you lived forever, you'd never need life insurance.
You buy life insurance because you know the fact of your death;
you just don't know the time of your death.
You pay the money, but in order to get the insurance benefit, you have to die.
If you live and don't die, you've spent the money and you lose.
But when you die, someone else gets the money.
Life insurance is based on one great theological truth-- death reigns.
When you die, the coroner will fill out a death certificate for you.
There's a space on that certificate that says "Cause of Death."
The Biblical answer is sin.
It is not sickness or disease or an accident or old age.
Those are merely symptoms of the main cause of death -- sin.
So, how did Christ destroy death?
The word translated "destroyed"
in II Timothy 1:10 means to "render powerless."
When Jesus rose from the dead, He broke the power of death forever.
And one day death itself will die.
Until then death has taken on new meaning for the Christian.
"Whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:26)
Death for the Christian is a passing from one stage of life to another.
Paul declared that to "live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
Consider the facts of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Did Jesus die? Yes.
Was He not buried? Yes.
Did the women weep? Yes.
Then, where is our hope?
Our only hope is founded on what happened early on Easter Sunday morning.
If Jesus was nothing more than a man, then we have no hope at all.
And our dreams of immortality are just that - idle dreams.
But there is good news from that graveyard.
There's an empty tomb in that cemetery.
It was the tomb of Jesus Christ.
He died on Friday afternoon, they buried Him on Friday evening,
and by Sunday morning His tomb was empty.
This is God's good news!
Death could not hold Him and the grave could not keep Him.
He is the Lord of life.
He conquered death by entering the realm of death,
and defeated it by coming out of that tomb on Sunday.
He died like we die.
He was really dead.
He was completely dead.
He wasn't partly dead or mostly dead.
He was as dead as dead could be.
And from that state of death, God raised Him back to life.
He entered that dark valley alone.
He broke death's power, and walked away victorious.
Over 100 years ago T. DeWitt Talmage, a great preacher illustrated
our coming resurrection by referring to what was then a new-fangled invention called a phonograph.
He spoke of how a person's voice could be recorded and preserved on a cylinder
and then played back again and again -- even after the person had died.
Then he asked this question,
"If man can do that, cannot God return the voice of your departed?
But if God can bring back the voice,
then why not the lips and the face and the body and bones?"
He concludes with this wonderful sentence:
"If man can do the phonograph, God can do the resurrection."
That was 100 years ago.
Today we can send live pictures zipping around the globe in seconds.
Your DNA can identify you in a crowd of 6 billion people.
Truly, we live in a remarkable age.
But if man can do that, what can God do?
He can raise the dead.
He did it once and He can do it again and again and again.
Four thousand years ago Job asked this question,
"If a man dies, will he live again?" (Job 14:14a)
That is the greatest of all the questions, it is the one great question Easter answers.
Have you ever touched a dead person?
Have you ever experienced the cold, clammy, waxen feel of death?
There is no breath in the nostrils, no twinkle in the eyes, no smile on the lips.
Death feels terrible, unreal, unnatural.
When we stand over the body of someone we love,
we feel helpless, angry, defeated and afraid.
Death is sobering, frightening, terrifying.
No wonder the Bible calls it "the last enemy." (1 Corinthians 15:26)
No one has ever lived who hasn't trembled before the "Grim Reaper."
Deep in our hearts we wonder what will happen when our time comes to cross the river of death.
How will it be with us when we have to go through the valley of of death?
Will we be afraid?
Will our faith stand the test?
The Bible tells us that the sting of death is sin. (1 Corinthians 15:56)
Consider that picture for a moment.
How do you take the sting out of a bee?
By taking the sting yourself.
Then the bee can hurt you no more.
Christ took the sting of death.
Death stung Him and killed Him.
But death could not keep Him dead.
He took all the venom of death so there is none left for His people to fear.
Death for us is no longer a curse but a blessing.
When we close our eyes in death, Jesus will say, "Good morning!"
And so we shall ever be with the Lord.
Colds gone, flu disappeared, cancer vanished, no more strokes,
paralyzed limbs will leap once more, the deaf will hear,
the blind see, the mute will speak, broken bodies will be made whole.
Death for the unbeliever means going from the land of the living to the land of the dying.
But for those who know Jesus, death means
going from the land of the dying to the land of the living.
If a man die, will he live again?
Oh, yes! Oh yes!
Here is the answer to the greatest question, the deepest question, and the final question.
All of us will face death someday.
But for those who know Jesus, death holds no fear.
We're not afraid of the darkness for Jesus is the Light of the world.
We won't stay in the valley of the shadow of death for Jesus will be our guide.
We may die, but we won't stay dead.
Jesus has the keys of life and death, and one day He is coming back for us.
Are you trusting in Jesus who died on the cross?
Are you trusting in Jesus who rose from the dead?
Jesus is alive and standing with open arms inviting you to accept His Son and receive life eternal.
The door to Heaven is wide open.
I invite you to take a step of faith and allow Jesus to prove to you that He is alive.
I extend to you a personal invitation to consider becoming a Christian:
If your soul is hungry for something more than you have found, try Jesus.
If Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart, make sure you open the door.
Each of us has an appointment with death sooner or later.
But that is a cause for rejoicing - not for fear, provided we have put our trust
in the One who holds the keys of life and death.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org