Death is a universal experience, yet men will not think about it until compelled to. They plead that death is incomprehensible, that there is no evidence of survival after death. They are offended by the thought of hell and embarrassed by the thought of heaven. The triumphs of modern science and the secular and atheistic philosophies of life and of the state have produced this reaction. The weakening of man’s personal dignity, wholesale extermination by means of the atom bomb, slave labor camps, the secularization of human life, have blurred the concept of eternal life. Many, including religious people, are not interested in, attracted by, or concerned about, a future life. Belief in immortality may not have been extinguished but it has been eclipsed.
Meantime, death remains an ineffaceably solemn fact. Why? Because of the relation between death and sin. Men die because of sin. Man’s creation in the imago Dei probably implies a relation between God and man in which death had no part. Man was not originally immortal; death is not now inescapable, but it was probably inoperative in man’s original perfection. But with sin came death. Death is inevitable not because man is a creature of nature but because he is a sinner. Sin makes death a “bondage of corruption” and gives it its painful power and penal character. Death being separation from God (Ps. 88:3–5; Isa. 38:9–20) is both a physical and a spiritual event. Christ triumphed over sin by triumphing over death. Sin’s curse “compelled” Christ to die a death that destroyed death and him who had power over death. Death’s solemnity stems from its connection with sin.
This solemnity arises from man’s ineradicable conviction that he survives death. In spite of death’s inevitability ...1
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