With all the buzz on social media focusing on the Southern Baptist Convention and its problems, it is tempting to speculate about our future. Some believe we will splinter into two or more groups. Others think we will continue on a course of decline and dysfunction, while some believe we will experience revival.
There are many issues and personalities surrounding today’s SBC. It is a somber time for this denomination. However, there is a future that is certain and real. It will come to pass. We cannot stop it. It is death.
It has been said that each life reaches a fatal conclusion. Death is no respecter of persons, and no one can escape its clutches (with the exception of believers at the return of Christ). The picture of death as the Grim Reaper has been around since the 14th century, when more than 25 million people died from the black plague, the deadliest pandemic in human history.
When it comes to the reality of death, it is not a question of if, but when. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed to men to die once.” Adam died. Jesus died and was resurrected. We will die. Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, “For the living know they will die.” Psalm 89:48 says, “What man can live and not see death?”
According to Psychology Today, the fear of death is no longer the top fear people have. Public speaking is! However, the fear of death is second or third on the list, and for many it is a fear that is debilitating and too often leads to denying its reality by refusing to think about it. Still, the reality of death persists, and it cannot honestly be denied.
Death brings sorrow and grief to the surviving family members along with decisions regarding the funeral, etc. It is a time of sadness, but it can also include a time of celebration — if the departed loved one was a believer. Jesus said of His “sheep” in John 10:28, “I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”
While death ends physical life, it does not annihilate the soul. Following death, the soul lives on, but there are only two options: heaven or hell. In Luke 16, Jesus presented the story of Lazarus who died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man who died and lifted up his eyes in Hades, being in torment. The wages of sin is death, and that includes separation from God. The only way that separation can be destroyed is through faith in Jesus Christ.
Everyone will have nothing physical or material at death. First Timothy 6:7 says, “We have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” Death is a reality we cannot refuse. But when we accept the reality of death, we can use the time we have on this earth for good — enjoying the good gifts God provides for us and glorifying the Son of God, who has given us eternal life.
There are so many things we care about deeply, like our church or the Southern Baptist Convention. But nothing is more important than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It would be disheartening if our denomination continues to decline, or if it divides or splinters. But it would not be fatal. Jesus is still Lord. God is still on His throne, and His Word is still true. The sun will rise with another day, and we will be alive with opportunities to serve our matchless Savior. Facing the reality of our own impending deaths can empower us to make the most of our remaining days with the confident assurance that one day death itself will be destroyed.
First Corinthians 15:56-57 says, “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.” Someday, when the new heaven and earth come, Revelation 21:4 promises us that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death.”
You and I can always live better when we accept reality. We can accept the reality of death and embrace the reality of God’s promises. Everything else, however good, will be secondary at best.