I was reading Michael Horton’s new book, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, and that line struck me. Death is an enemy, not a friend. Perhaps it is my longing to be with Christ (Php 1:23) or my love for the song “I’ll fly away,” I often, in the life of a Christian, forget that death is still an enemy. I found Horton’s comments encouraging and helpful.
Part of the curse is the separation of the soul from body (Ge 2:17; 3:19, 22; 5:5;Ro 5:12; 8:10; 1co 15:21). Death is an enemy, not a friend (1Co 15:26) and a terror (Heb 2:15), so horrible that even the one who would triumph over it was overcome with grief, fear, and anger at the tomb of his friend Lazarus (Jn 11:33-36). Jesus did not see death as a portal to “a better life.” Looking death in the eye, he saw it for what it was, and his disciples followed his example.After the deacon’s martyrdom, we read, “Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentations over him” (Ac 8:2). the reason that believers do not mourn as those who have no hope (1Th 4:14) is not that they know death is good, but that they know that God’s love and life are more powerful than the jaws of death. Although believer, too, feel its bite, Christ has removed the sting of death (Jn 14:2-3; Php 1:21; 1Co 15:54-57; 2Co 5:8). That is because “the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law,. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 15:56-57). Downplaying the seriousness of the foe only trivializes the debt that was paid and the conquest that was achieved at the cross and the empty tomb.