Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yet Shall He Live

One of my spiritual heroes is AW (Aiden Wilson) Tozer.  He served as pastor of several churches for about 45 years, including the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago for 30 years.  He then became pastor of Avenue Road Church of Toronto in 1959 before dying suddenly of a heart attack in 1963.

Pastor Tozer never went to college or seminary, and had no formal religious training, yet by spending hours upon hours with an open Bible before God, he was able to speak and write with such conviction that he became one of the most often quoted Christians of the past 50 years.

Here is a short except from one of his sermons about death, based up the Scripture verse, He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (Jn 11:25- KJV).
This may sound strange-but it is a fact that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a believing Christian.

I can recall the first time I heard that statement, in a quiet conversation with Harry M. Shuman, for many years the president of the international Christian and Missionary Alliance. He was a soft-spoken yet forceful man of God, rich in the wisdom of God’s Word. We were talking of the serious issues of life and death. When he had something especially important to say, Dr. Shuman had an unusual way of lowering his voice and tilting his head just a bit. I can see him yet as he looked out from under his shaggy brows straight into my eyes.

"Remember, Tozer," he said, "death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person!".

For the Christian, death is a journey to the eternal world. It is a victory, a rest, a delight. I am sure my small amount of physical suffering has been mild compared to Paul’s, but I feel as Paul did: "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" (Php 2:23)
Pastor Tozer is speaking, of course, of physical death.  All people, both believers and nonbelievers, will experience physical death unless we’re still alive here on Earth when Jesus returns.  However, only nonbelievers (those without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ) will experience the second death - an eternity in hell separated from God.  This eternal state is also known as "eternal death" or "spiritual death".  This should not be confused with the state of being "spiritually dead", the current condition of a nonbeliever, and the former condition of believers prior to being regenerated (made alive in Christ) by the grace of God (Eph 2:1-10).

Many of us have heard the old saying, "Born once, die twice; but born twice, die once".  Christians have been born twice, that is “born again” or “born from above” (Jn 3:3-7), so only Christians will die only once (physically), while unbelievers will experience both physical and spiritual death.  It has rightly been said that "one can't kill a Christian - but can only change his or her address".

For those wanting more info on how to avoid the second death, please read our How to Be Sure You’re Going to Heaven article.

A few years ago, we also wrote a related article on the Differing Views of Death between believers and unbelievers.  We welcome you to check it out.

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