Leaving this life is just like going from one room to another and closing the door. It's passing from the physical realm to the spiritual realm, abandoning this world for the other. It's really very simple: Everybody does it when they die!
In fact, it's a tremendous blessing for a Christian to die. I've had what would be called a near-death experience, and it's wonderful! It's similar, I presume, to what the astronauts feel in their weightlessness. Right now we're burdened by this old body. But in the spirit you don't have this weight. You're no longer weighted down with the flesh and burdened with the problems of this physical life. You've graduated from this grade of earthly life.
It's a wonderful feeling! You feel like you're floating on air when you're rid of the dead weight of this body. I once had what they now call a post-death or near-death experience, and I remember thinking, Ah, this is great! I feel light as a feather, I never felt so good! I don't feel heavy anymore! I felt like I could just give a little shove and I'd float right off.
I was sitting up in my bed, but my body was lying in the bed behind me. I was sitting half in it and half out of it. But because I knew the Lord had more work for me to do here and more lessons for me to learn, I had such a will to want to come back that I prayed, Lord, let me return to my body. Then all of a sudden I was back here in the natural, normal, material realm.
But you know, so many people try to ignore death. They don't like to think about it. It's something that is going to happen to everyone sooner or later, but most are not prepared for it, and have made no preparation whatsoever.
So many people have already got money, good jobs, families, homes, cars-everything. But they're getting old and death isn't far away and they're still not satisfied. They still don't have the answers. And they're afraid to die. Of course, it is a lot easier to be a skeptic when you're young and not facing death daily. But when you're about to die, you don't understand so you fear and you long for an answer.
Some people live all their lives in fear of death, as the Scripture says: "Who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15). Bondage through fear! They fear dying because they're not prepared to die. But thank the Lord, we who are Christians are.
For us, dying is the easiest thing in the world. It's easy to die when you're a Christian because you know where you're going. We don't have to fear, because we're ready to go.
It reminds me of the story of the king's fool: There once was a king who had a favorite jester in his court, to whom he gave some property and a generous income and retirement because of his good work for many years in cheering up the king and making him happy. He also gave him a very beautiful cane with gold inlaid in the wood, and said, "I want to give you this, my own cane, as a special present, because you have been such an encouragement and so good to me all these years. You're going away now on a journey because I have set you free, and I want you to take this cane with you. It's my special gift to you for being the greatest fool I ever had."
Some years later the king's fool heard that the king was dying, and he came to his deathbed. The jester began to sympathize with him and he asked the king, "Are you ready to go?"
"What do you mean?" the king replied.
"Are you ready to die?" asked the jester. "Have you made preparations for this journey into death?"
The king said, "How could I make preparations to die, what do you mean?"
"Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? Are you ready to die? Are you ready to go to Heaven?" asked the jester.
"No, I'm not!" the king answered.
"Well, since I last saw you," the jester explained, "I have met Christ and have accepted Him as my Savior. I am ready to go." The jester continued, "Once I was going on a long journey, and you gave me this cane as a present because you said that I was the greatest fool you ever had. But I have made my preparations for that journey, the longest journey we'll ever take, and one from which we'll never return. But you have not made preparations for that journey, so I want to give you back the cane. You're a greater fool than I am!"
Death for the Christian is no great loss, because "to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). If we die, sudden death, sudden glory! Our troubles are over! There's a little pain for just a moment, only a little tiny bit of pain for just a moment because of this physical body, and then we're free. We're free-so free! It's a sudden release. It's really wonderful!
Death will be sweet release to a new world and a new life, because the minute we die, we're instantly freed spiritually, liberated from the flesh into the world of the spirit. This is why the apostle Paul flaunted in the face of death, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades [grave], where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Jesus took the sting out of dying. We pass through death, yes, but without the sting; through the grave with victory for us, not the grave! It's a homegoing, a relief, a deliverance, our coronation day!
Death is marvelous! It's freedom for the Christian. It's a wonderful liberation. For the believer in Christ it is being set free from this old body that gives us so much trouble. What better deliverance can you have than to get rid of the whole thing? The old body's heavy, it's tired, it gets sick and hurts. But we will enter a new world of freedom from the shackles of the flesh, into the vast and boundless universe of the spirit. The end of the road for us will be just the beginning.
We will meet our departed loved ones again and find our lost loves and be joined with them eternally in everlasting happiness in an eternal life of love and joy and heavenly happiness forever with the God of love and those we love.
(Jesus, speaking in prophecy:) "Oh what a day that shall be when you shall join with Me in My kingdom to reign with Me for evermore. You shall have joy such as you have never known, and you shall see glories such as you have never seen, and you shall know that it has been worth it all-all that you have suffered and all that you shall yet go through.
"As I have told you before, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live' (John 11:25-26). In that day you shall rise to life and love and music and hope in a land with children that shall live forever with Me in My house that I have gone to prepare for you-the real you, which cannot die but shall live forever (John 14:1-4).
"So lift up your eyes and raise your heart and cling to your faith and you shall live forever with Me in My Father's house in which there are many mansions. Look! Behold the beauty of the Lord in the days of eternal sunshine and the breath of everlasting spring and the glories of the flowers of life that shall be forever."
God's visible creation is an illustration of the things in the spirit, of that which is invisible. Everything God created, everything God ever made, all the visible creation, is in some way an illustration of something spiritual. The Bible states: "Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20).
So therefore the spirit world is not so terribly different from this present existence that we can't even comprehend it or can't even understand it. Otherwise, when we got ushered into it we would be completely lost. It would be just too far out, too totally different, we wouldn't even be able to relate to it.
So we are going to be much the same as we are now, except that we're going to have supernatural bodies, our eternal bodies, spiritual bodies like the Lord had when He was resurrected (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2). His new resurrected spiritual body could materialize or dematerialize, appear or disappear. Think of that! It could pass from one dimension to the other and go through locked doors and solid walls (John 20:19, 26).
Our old, decaying, natural, physical body will go back to the dust. We will trade in our old, worn-out, earthly model for an entirely new heavenly model that can even fly, and with a lot more power than we ever dreamed of. We'll be able to circle the globe in nothing flat and even visit other planets and stars and ride the whole range of the universe. With our new spiritual bodies we'll be able to move, not with the slow speed of light, but with the speed of thought. All you'll have to do is think yourself someplace and you'll be there.
But even though you'll have a spiritual body then, you're going to have a lot of the same characteristics that you have now, just as Jesus did after His resurrection. He could even eat and drink and they could feel Him and touch Him as well as see Him, and yet He was in a miraculous supernatural body, His new resurrected body (Luke 24:36-43).
It's still going to be you. You're even going to look a lot the same, only better-much better! Children who I knew that had died were older, full-grown and beautiful, when I have seen them in the spirit. And the old people that I have seen in the spirit world, looked younger.
So although you may have the same characteristics that you have now, you'll be better off there. You'll be in more direct communication with the Lord, actually experiencing the fullness of the realities of God and the world to come.
Heaven is a beautiful place to be, full of beautiful people having a beautiful time. It's really wonderful. The spirit world is wonderful!
God is not a cruel tyrant, or a monster who is trying to frighten everyone into Hell, but a God who is trying to love everyone into Heaven. "For God is love" (1 John 4:8). He wants to help and save you and make you happy with His love. In fact, this is why He created you: To love and enjoy Him forever-to enjoy life as well as death.
But, sad to say, at some time or other we have all been selfish and mean and unloving and unkind to others, and even to Him, our own loving heavenly Father. In fact, we have even deserved to be put out of His presence for our disobedience, willfulness and rebellion against Him and His Holy Spirit, who, like a mother, yearns over us and tenderly tries to care for us.
"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In other words, we are all sinners, we've all been bad and we all need to be saved. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
It's just like a pardon; God has offered pardon to the guilty. He sacrificed His own Son for our sins! "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God loved you so much, He gave Jesus to die in your place, to take your punishment for you. Jesus is God's gift of His love for you.
This is why Jesus could promise to those that believe on Him that they shall not taste of death (Matthew 16:28). If we receive Jesus and His forgiveness and His free gift of eternal life, we'll never really die in that sense of spiritual death, or taste the agony of death and separation from God.
Spiritual death is the death of the lost who don't know Jesus-a spiritual suffering in which their spirits will suffer after this life in the world to come. Jesus in His death suffered not only physically, but also spiritually such as the unsaved suffer in the afterlife for their sins. God allowed Jesus to suffer this spiritual death in our place.
When Jesus died on the cross for us, He not only died in body, but He even suffered the feeling that the sinner has in the death of the spirit. This is why He cried out from the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). Exactly what this death of the spirit is, we don't really know. The Bible calls it Hell and likens it to an unending fire. It's a terrible, terrible thing, whatever it is-some kind of suffering for your sins.
But Jesus, God's Son, was so sorry for us that He took our punishment for us. "He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. that through [His] death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the Devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:9, 14-15).
To receive this "pardon" that Jesus offers, we must simply be sorry for our sins, believe in Him and receive His love. He stands at your heart's door and begs to come in. Jesus promised: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20).
Once you believe on and receive Jesus, you can know that you have eternal life here and now. You don't have to wait until you die to find out whether you're saved or not, because "he who believes in the Son has everlasting life" (John 3:36). Here and now!
So are you ready to go? Dying is wonderful if you have Jesus! But there's so much work to do here yet. For Christians, death would be the easy way out. But we have to live that others may get ready to die. We've got to try to live a little longer to carry out what God wants.
But when your time comes and you die, well, hallelujah!-Then you've finished your earthly task. It will be your graduation to the heavenly world of the hereafter with a crown of glorious eternal life with Him and your loved ones forever.
Just make sure you're prepared by receiving Jesus as your Savior so you will know you're safe and bound for Heaven, and you will be ready when He comes for you. Then you can sing the dear old song:
God bless you with a good death. Happy flyaway! I'll see you there! We'll wake up forever in the heavenly Kingdom of God, with peace and plenty and love for all forever.
I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood on the southeast side of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom.
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