(Article for publication week of 9-24- AD 2015)
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13).
Although death is an enemy of man (I Corinthians 15:26), the death of a Christian is said in our text to be a blessed thing. Believers may view the monster Death and smile, for he has lost his sting (I Corinthians 15:55-57).
First of all, the children of God are blessed for they die in the Lord. They are in saving union with the Lord Jesus Christ because God the Father chose them in His Son by eternal and sovereign election before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).They are in Christ vitally and experimentally by regeneration (II Corinthians 5:17). We have assurance that we are in Christ by faith, and nothing can separate us from His eternal love (Romans 8:38-39). Death itself cannot separate a child of God from His Surety and Head.
Secondly, it is a blessing to die in Christ because Christ has already abolished death judicially ( II Timothy 1:10). Christ has redeemed us from the dreaded curse (Galatians 3:13). Death has no lasting claim upon those who are redeemed by the Saviour of sinners. Our Lord's death satisfied Divine Justice forever so that by imputation our sorry record was made right in God's court. Not only that but the active obedience of Christ is imputed to us so that God considers us has having kept the law ourselves. It is a blessing to die in Christ because we are at peace with God through the justifying Righteousness of His Eternal and Co-equal Son. Christ has abolished death judicially and when the appointed time comes He will put the enemy out of business for good (I Corinthians 15:26 previously cited).
Thirdly, the believer is blessed when he dies in the Lord because Christ will be with him when he crosses the river of death. He has promised "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). He has promised us "when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the waters they shall not overflow thee" (Isaiah 43:2). Let us not fear to go anywhere as long as Christ is with us. His grace is sufficient for all things, including the moment of death.
Fourthly, it is a blessing to die in the Lord because at the moment of death a believer is immediately in the presence of Christ in paradise. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (II Corinthians 5:8). This is the great desire of the Lord's people, to be with Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us. We see Him now by faith, but when we lay this body down our happy spirits shall fly away to be with Him. The moment we close our eyes in death on earth, we will open them to behold the God- Man! Our bodies shall sleep in the dust, but our souls shall neither die nor sleep but go directly to heaven where the spirits of just men made perfect are already (Hebrews 12:23).
Fifthly, those who die in the Lord are blessed because their bodies shall be raised again (Philippians 3:20-21; I Corinthians 15:52; John 6:39; I Thessalonians 4:13-18). When the Lord is pleased to come again at the end of the world He shall raise up all the bodies of those for whom He died. (He will also raise up the unsaved, but that is for another article sometime.) The resurrection will be a glorious display of the omniscience of God. Think about it; God knows the whereabouts of the remains of all the millions who have been saved by grace and died in Him. Our great God knows all things. What a glorious God! The resurrection will also be a glorious display of His omnipotence. The same Power that created the universe will raise up the remains of our dead bodies. Blessed indeed are those who die in the Lord!