|"O death, where is thy sting?"|
There are many freedoms to learn about, but ranking near the top must be the freedom from death. Death is the common denominator for man. The good, bad, rich, poor, big and small must face death. Many of us have been shielded from it by our culture as it is not pleasant to think about. From the Bible we see it as an enemy and intruder, but not the victor. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
Something that comes to my attention again and again lately is the thought of the need to evaluate my life in the light of eternity. Scripture says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). These thoughts change how we act in everyday decisions and change our values from the earthy to the heavenly. It makes the saying, "The best things in life aren't things," have a richer meaning.
"What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Sometimes not much. For some it may be little more than a passing pleasure or a bowl of pottage. Yet an inward knowledge lets us know that there are things worth giving all we have and even dying for. Jesus Christ gave an illustration of that when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Then he did it. He gave his life for His own, and then showed His victory over the grave.
Isaac Watts, a master hymn writer, shared how the more educated and less educated people have the same promises when facing death. He shared these words with a friend just before he died:
"I remember an aged minister used to observe, that 'the most knowing and learned Christians, when they come to die, have only the same plain promises of the gospel for their support as the common unlearned;' and so I find it. It is the plain promises of the gospel that are my support; and I bless God, they are plain promises, that do not require much labor and pains to understand them."
One plain promise from Christ to believers is His words "because I live, ye shall live also." He is the first fruits of this promise. The last enemy will be death and the following promise will be fulfilled:
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction..." Hosea 13:14.
The following is a video that gives some of the last words of a large number of people. The emptiness of those that scorned Christ is seen. You can also hear the messages of hope from those that took Christ at His word.