The Customary Nature of Death

A look at death's temporality in light of Christ's victory

“Death is a natural part of life!”

The above statement, seemingly true, is often recited by unbelievers and Christians alike. Physical death is an event which occurs in everyone’s life. Not one person upon this earth can escape the promise of a bodily death. Orthodox Christianity maintains that death came by way of a curse. It is often argued as to whether or not this was a physical death or a spiritual death. Those two are not mutually exclusive. There is no reason as to why we would exclude physical death from this surety, “but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) Indeed if Eden were a picture of heaven, or at least heaven upon earth, physical death ought not to be expected there. Isn’t this the state which Christ Jesus has come to reconcile us back to? If not, what then is the picture we ought to reference for paradise? What is the state to which we are to be returned to if it be not Eden and an intimate relationship with God? (Gen. 2:7-9) Is there death in the coming age? Absolutely not! To the contrary. Our hope is in an imperishable resurrection! (1 Cor. 15:53) And not only will we be returned to Eden as children of the Most High, we will be glorified with Christ. (Rom. 8:29,30)

Death is not natural

If death was not included within the original condition of creation, it is not natural. Death is a deviation resulting from sin, it being the power thereof, which was not included within the original created order. Though some have clipped this fact out of their Bibles, that their theology may conform to secularism, physical death, if part of original creation, simply doesn’t comport with the entirety of Biblical history and God’s redemptive plan. (Rom. 5:17) The fact that Christ tasted physical death upon the Cross testifies to physical death being a result of man’s broken spiritual condition, and therefore a deviation from the original created order. (Rom. 6:10) Ergo, death is not natural, but is customary. That is to say, death is normal as we observe it through every generation, but it is not natural as if it were intended to be a part of God’s original creation.

Death is Swallowed Up In Victory (1 Cor. 15:54)

If physical death was intended, why did it have to be defeated in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Furthermore, why is the promise of a bodily resurrection, not only spiritual, so paramount throughout the Scriptures? (Ref. “if Christ has not been raised…”; 1 Cor. 15:13-17) Suffice it to say that the promise of this physical, bodily resurrection has already begun fulfillment in the person of Christ. He has first “put on the imperishable”.(1 Cor. 15:53) He is the firstfruits. (1 Cor. 15:23) In doing this, Christ Jesus demonstrated the defeat of physical death, marking it no more an affliction than that of a bruised heel. (Gen. 3:15) Death, the power of sin, has been revealed by the light as something temporal, an enemy who’s end stretches only to a physical death for those preserved in the Ark of Jesus Christ, delivered through the flood of this life. Those in Christ will “inherit the imperishable.” (1 Cor. 15:50)

What Does This Mean To Us?

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Cor. 15:13-17)

This ought to swell up to be an imponderable hope and joy for those who walk in the light of Christ. If Christ Jesus has been raised, it surely means that His “many brethren” will be raised also. (Rom. 8:29) Christ is the first example of the resurrection from the dead. He has “gone before us” and has entered into a future state which we hope to arrive at. If this is not the case, we are still dead in our sins and have believed a lie. The Apostle Paul was willing to put everything, his credibility and his very life, upon the fact that Christ was raised from the dead and that this fact provided a reason for us to believe the same would occur for His invisible Church. Therefore, since Christ has been raised from the dead, we too, if children of God, will also be raised from the dead and endowed with a body fit for eternity, an imperishable vessel.

Conclusion

Physical death, for many, is a truth which is better not thought of until it happens, a doorway to the unknown, a fear. For the Christian, the first death, that is; physical death, is to be thought of as a doorway to glory, a mere bruise upon our heels which will fade as our soul swims toward eternity. May this hope be present within every believer and may not a bodily resurrection seem too fantastical to believe. Since we have not seen it with our eyes does not mean it will not happen. It has already begun with Christ Jesus! “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) May we have peace in the witness of the Apostles, in the touching of His wounds granted to Thomas. (John 20:27) Death is defeated, its sting is not found and we will be raised to everlasting life upon the end of these current days. (1 Cor. 15:55) God has promised us this. Praise be to Him who raises the dead, and gives life to those who otherwise could not attain it on their own. If you have no hope of this Resurrection, turn from your sin, toward Christ. Look upon the brazen Serpent and be healed. Send your sin to the Cross to be slain. Ask the God who forgives the folly of sin for forgiveness. Bury your face in the rug and beg for salvation. Hate your sin and love Christ as Lord overall first, and Savior of you, a sinner, second!

Co-founder, editor, and contributor of The Reformed Collective. He is a member and pastoral intern at Word of Life Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO. He has co-coordinated the evangelism ministry at Grace Bible Church in San Diego, CA. At present he is pursuing a B.A. in Biblical Studies as well as an M. Div. He currently resides in Overland Park, KS with his wife, Christina.

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