Topic: Death Type: Article Author: J.C. Ryle and A. Lewis 

by J. C. Ryle

There was a certain rich man . . . And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus . . . Now it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried and in Hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments [LUK 16:19-23].

All classes alike come to the grave. The rich man died and Lazarus died also. Different and divided as they were in their lives, they had both to drink of the same cup at last. Both went to that place where rich and poor meet together. Dust they were and unto dust they returned [GEN 3:19].

This is the lot of all men. It will be our own, unless the Lord shall first return in glory. After all our scheming and contriving, after all our inventions, discoveries and scientific attainments–there remains one enemy we cannot conquer and disarm, and that is death. The chapter in Genesis which records the long lives of Methuselah and the rest who lived before the flood, winds up the simple account of each by two expressive words: he died.

Death is the mighty leveler. He spares no one. He will not tarry till you are ready. He will not be kept out by moats, and doors, and bars, and bolts. The Englishman boasts that his home is his castle, but with all his boasting, he cannot exclude death. An Austrian nobleman forbade death and the smallpox to be named in his presence. But, named or not named, it matters little, in God's appointed hour death will come.

One man rolls merrily along the road in the easiest and most handsome car that money can procure. Another toils wearily along the path on foot. Yet both are sure to meet at last in the same home.

One man is the owner of hundreds and thousands. Another has scarce a dime that he can call his own. Yet neither one nor the other can carry one cent with him into the unseen world.

One man is the possessor of half a county. Another has not so much as a garden of herbs. And yet two paces of the vilest Earth will be amply sufficient for either of them at last.

I know that these are ancient things. I do not deny it for a moment. They are stale old things that all men do not feel. Oh, no! if they did feel them they would not speak and act as they do.

You wonder sometimes at the tone and language of the gospel. You marvel that we press upon you immediate decision. You think us extreme, and extravagant, and ultra in our views, because we urge upon you to come to Christ–to leave nothing uncertain, to make sure that you are born again and ready for Heaven. You hear, but do not approve. You go away, and say to one another–"The man means well but he goes to far."

But you do not see the reality of death is continually forbidding us to use other language? We see him gradually thinning our congregations. We miss face after face in our assemblies. We know not whose turn may come next. We only know that as the tree falls there it will lie, and that after death comes the judgment. We must be bold and decided and uncompromising in our language.

Here we are toiling, and laboring, and wearying ourselves about trifles, and running to and fro like ants upon a heap and yet after a few years we shall all be gone, and another generation will fill our place. Let us live for eternity. Let us seek a portion that can never be taken from us. Oh, that men would learn to live as those who may one day die!

by J. C. Ryle

Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into His garner but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire [MAT 3:12].

When the Lord Jesus comes to purge His floor, He will punish all who are not His disciples with a fearful punishment. All who are found impenitent and unbelieving, all who have held the truth in unrighteousness, all who have clung to sin, stuck to the world, and set their affections on things below, all who are without Christ, all such will come to an awful end. Christ will burn up the chaff.

Their punishment will be most severe. There is no pain like that of burning. Put your finger in the candle for a moment, if you doubt this, and try. Fire is the most destructive and devouring of all elements. Look into the mouth of a blast-furnace, and think what it would be to be there. Fire is of all elements most opposed to life. Creatures can live in air, and earth, and water, but nothing can live in fire. Yet fire is the portion to which the Christless and unbelieving will come. Christ will burn up the chaff with fire.

Their punishment will be eternal. Millions of ages shall pass away, and the fire into which the chaff is cast will still burn on. That fire shall never burn low and become dim. The fuel of that fire will never waste away and be consumed. It is unquenchable fire.

I know that some do not believe there is any Hell at all. They think it impossible there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God. They say it is too awful an idea to be really true. The Devil, of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily. They are preaching up his own favorite doctrine: you will not surely die [GEN 3:4].

I know, furthermore, that some do not believe that Hell is eternal. They tell us it is incredible that a compassionate God will punish men for ever. He will surely open the prison doors at last. This also is a mighty help to the Devil's cause. "Take your ease," he whispers to sinners: "if you do make a mistake, never mind, its not for ever." A wicked woman was overheard in the streets of London saying to a bad companion, "Come along: who is afraid? Some parsons say there is no Hell."

I know also that some believe there is a Hell, but never allow that anybody is going there. All people, with them, are good as soon as they die, all were sincere, all meant well, and all, they hope, got to Heaven. Alas, what a common delusion is this! I can well understand the feeling of the little girl who asked her mother where all the wicked people were buried, "for she found no mention on their gravestones of any except the good."

And I know very well that some believe there is a Hell, and never like it to be spoken of. It is a subject that should always be kept back, in their opinion. They see no profit in bringing it forward, and are rather shocked when it is mentioned. This also is an immense help to the Devil. "Hush, hush!" says Satan, "say nothing about Hell." The bird hunter wishes to hear no noise when he lays his snares. The wolf would like the shepherd to sleep while he prowls round the fold. The Devil rejoices when Christians are silent about Hell.

All these notions are the opinions of man. But what is it to you and me what man thinks in religion. Man will not judge us at the last day. Man's fancies and traditions are not to be our guide in this life. There is but one point to be settled: "What says the Word of God?"

Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell is real and true. It is as true as Heaven, as true as justification by faith, as true as the fact that Christ died upon the Cross. There is not a fact or a doctrine that you may not lawfully doubt if you doubt Hell. Disbelieve Hell, and you unscrew, unsettle and unpin everything in Scripture. You may as well throw your Bible away at once. From "no Hell" to "no God" there is but a series of steps.

by A. Allison Lewis

And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: FOR IN THE DAY THAT YOU EAT THEREOF YOU SHALL SURELY DIE [GEN 2:15-17].

In the Biblical account of the creation of man we are told that God made man from the dust of the ground, AND breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life [GEN 2:7]. We need to remember that from the ground, only a part of man was made–the body. When the breath of life was added to the body, the first man, Adam, became a living creature or person. The living person was produced by the joining together of the body and the breath of life or spirit. When the opposite event occurs we have what we call physical death. Physical death is the separation of man's spirit from his body. Death in its simplest definition is the separation of man's spirit from his body. With death we are all very familiar. Even the very oldest in our midst can only look forward to approximately a hundred years or so! This is physical death–the separation of the spirit from the body. The joining together again of the body and spirit is called the resurrection. The day is coming when all those that have died physically will be resurrected. Christ promised that the hour is coming, in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and will come forth those who have done good, unto the resurrection of life and those who have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation [JOH 5:28-29].

Physical death is one of the results of sin, but obviously Adam did not die physically in the day that he disobeyed God [GEN 2:17]. The Bible speaks much of ANOTHER KIND of death. Paul speaks of men being dead in sins [EPH 2:1-4]. The prophet Isaiah put it thus: Your iniquities have SEPARATED between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear [ISA 59:2]. In these instances the Bible is speaking of spiritual death or a separation with respect to man and his Creator. Spiritual death is another of the results of sin. Before Adam sinned there was free and unhindered fellowship and communication between God and Adam. In the Garden of Eden there was no barrier separating Adam from God. Then Adam disobeyed God–Adam sinned. THAT VERY DAY Adam died spiritually–sin separated him from his God. That act plunged the whole human race into spiritual death. Only those quickened–given life by the grace of God–have spiritual life or eternal life. Those born again, as Jesus put it, are those having spiritual life. Do you have this spiritual life or are you still dead in trespasses and sins [EPH 2:1]?

by A. Allison Lewis

Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better [PHI 1:20-23].

The story is told of a little boy who was ill with an incurable disease. This little fellow had received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. He was a Christian. Month after month the mother had tenderly nursed him, read to him and played with him; hoping to keep him from realizing the dreadful finality of the doctor’s diagnosis. But as the weeks went on he grew worse and gradually began to understand that he would never be like the other boys he saw playing outside his window. He began to realize that he was soon going to die. Then one day as his mother finished reading to him the stirring tales of "King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table" and its last glorious battle in which many fair knights met their death, he lay silent for a minute and then asked the question that had been troubling him for some days: "Mother, what is it like to die? Does it hurt, Mother?" Tears sprang into her eyes and she fled to the kitchen. She knew it was a very important question for her little boy she knew it must be answered. As she leaned for a moment against the kitchen cabinet, her knuckles pressed white against the smooth surface, she breathed a hurried prayer that the Lord would keep her from breaking down in front of the boy and would give her wisdom to answer him. The Lord did answer, for immediately she knew how to explain it to him.

"Kenneth," she said as she returned to his room, "remember when you were a tiny boy, how you used to play so hard all day that when night came you would be too tired even to undress, and you would tumble into Mummy and Daddy’s bed and fall asleep? That was not your bed. It was not where you belonged. In the morning, much to your surprise you would wake up and find yourself in your own bed in your own room. You were there because someone had loved you and took care of you. Your father had come with big strong arms and carried you away. Kenneth, for the Christian death is just like that. We just wake up some morning to find ourselves in the other room with Jesus–in our own room where we belong because the Lord Jesus loved us and saved us."

The lad’s shining, trusting face, looking up into hers told her that the point had gone home and that there would be no more fear of death–only love and trust in his little heart as he went to meet his Savior in Heaven.

He never had another question about death and a few weeks later he fell asleep in Jesus–just as his mother had said. That is what death is like for the righteous–for the true child of God.

Are you righteous? Are you clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ or are you still clothed in the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Do you know that you have eternal life? We urge you to make sure before it is TOO LATE.

by A. Allison Lewis

The word saint in the Bible is a term used to designate God's people. The Bible applies the word to the lowliest, most insignificant child of God no less than to the most famous of the New Testament Apostles, such as Paul, Peter, James or John. The word saint in the Bible does not refer to any special class of Christians. If you are not right now a saint then you are not a child of God–you are not a Christian–but instead are still a child of the Devil on your way to Hell.

What does the Bible tell us about the saints between death and the resurrection? The Scriptures plainly teach that the intermediate state for the believer is one of blessedness. The Bible knows nothing of an intermediate place where Christians have to suffer to atone for sins when they die. Purgatory is a figment of the imagination of those who reject the Bible teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ made atonement for ALL our sins. The hymn writer put it correctly in writing: "Jesus paid it all." It is not the Christian's service and works which removes the guilt and penalty of sins, but rather the all-sufficient atonement made by Jesus Christ when He bore our sins in His own body on the tree [1PE 2:24].

The Bible teaches that the saints at death go immediately into the presence of their Redeemer. The disembodied spirit of the penitent thief on the cross went with the disembodied Redeemer directly into Paradise. Jesus said, Today you will be with me in Paradise [LUK 23:43]. Paradise has the following characteristics: (1) It is the third heaven. I knew a man caught up to the third heaven, He was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter [2CO 12:2,4]. (2) It is Abraham's "bosom". The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom [LUK 16:22]. Many shall come from the east and west, and shall recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven [MAT 8:11]. (3) It is a place of reward and happiness. Remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted [LUK 16:25]. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord [2CO 5:8]. I am in a strait betwixt two having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better [PHI 1:23]. For me to die is gain [PHI 1:21]. Christ died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him [1TH 5:9, 10]. They stoned Stephen (who was) calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit [ACT 7:59]. The Old Testament with less clarity and detail than the New Testament, yet with great positiveness and distinctness, teaches the happiness of believers after death. Enoch walked with God: and he was not for God took him [GEN 5:24]. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his [NUM 23:10]. The dying Jacob confidently says, I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord [GEN 49:18]. My flesh will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul (body–see New Testament use of the word) in Hell neither will You suffer Your holy one to see corruption. You will show me the path of life in Your presence is fullness of joy at Your right hand there are pleasures forever more [PSA 16:9-11]. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints [PSA 116:15]. If you are not one of God's precious saints we urge you to flee from the wrath to come. Today turn from your sins and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

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This Page Last Updated: 12/04/98 A. Allison Lewis