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Death

There is no per­son who will not die. The prepa­ra­tion for death is at the cen­ter of the spir­i­tu­al life.

Lord, let me know my end, and what is the mea­sure of my days; let me know how fleet­ing my life is! Behold, Thou hast made my days a few hand­breadths, and my life­time is as noth­ing in Thy sight. Sure­ly every man stands as a mere breath! Sure­ly man goes about as a shad­ow! Sure­ly for nought are they in tur­moil; man heaps up, and knows not who will gath­er! (Psalm 39–4-6)

That man should die is not the will of God, for as the scrip­ture says, “God did not make death.

God did not make death, and takes no plea­sure in the destruc­tion of any liv­ing thing; He cre­at­ed all things that they might have being. (Wis­dom of Solomon 1–13)

For I have no plea­sure in the death of any­one, says the Lord God; so turn and live. (Ezekiel 18:32)

Death is the result of sin. It is the final vic­to­ry of the dev­il, the result of his destruc­tive activ­i­ty. If man had not sinned, he would not have died. His body may have changed and evolved over great peri­ods of time, but it would not have been sep­a­rat­ed from his spir­it to return to the dust, And man’s soul itself would not have been cor­rupt­ed, los­ing pow­er over its body and becom­ing its slave. This is the mean­ing of the sin of Adam, that man has emerged on the face of the earth, made in God’s image and inspired with His Spir­it, and has cho­sen death instead of life, evil instead of right­eous­ness, and so through defile­ment of his nature in rebel­lion against God, brought cor­rup­tion and death to the world. (cf. Gen­e­sis 3, Romans 5:12–21)

Sin spread to all men because all men sinned” (Romans 5:12); and in sin­ning man brought death to the chil­dren who par­take of his mor­tal nature and life. In a sin-bound world, no per­son escapes, even those who are per­son­al­ly guilt­less and inno­cent, for all are caught up in the sins of the world.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniq­ui­ty, and in sin did my moth­er con­ceive me. (Psalm 51:5)

Even the all-pure Vir­gin Mary who gave birth to Christ in the flesh could not escape the snares of death. For all her inno­cence and spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion, she too need­ed sal­va­tion from death by her Son, and her spir­it rejoiced in God her Sav­ior. (cf. Luke 1:47)

Accord­ing to the Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian faith, Jesus Christ alone, of all men, as the incar­nate Son and Word of God, need not have died. His death alone of all human deaths, was per­fect­ly vol­un­tary. He came in order to die, and by His death to lib­er­ate all who were held cap­tive by death’s power.

For this rea­son the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the pow­er to lay it down, and I have the pow­er to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:17–18)

Now is my soul trou­bled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” No, for this pur­pose I have come to this hour.

Now is the judg­ment of the world, now shall the prince of the world be cast out; and 1, when I am lift­ed up from the earth, will draw all men to my- self.

He said this to show by what death He was to die (i.e. crucifixion).

The crowd answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ (i.e. Mes­si­ah) remains for­ev­er. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lift­ed up? Who is this Son of Man?”

Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a lit­tle longer…” (John 12:27–35, cf. Matthew 16:21–23, 17:9–13)

Jesus came “for us men and for our sal­va­tion” in order to die. (Nicene Creed) He came that through His death and res­ur­rec­tion all men might be raised from the dead for eter­nal life in the King­dom of God. This is the Chris­t­ian faith.

…for the hour is com­ing when all who are in the graves will hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth, for those who have done good, to the res­ur­rec­tion of life, and those who have done evil, to the res­ur­rec­tion of damna­tion. (John 5:25–29)

This, too, is the apostle’s doc­trine. (cf. Acts 2:22–36)

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fall­en asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the res­ur­rec­tion of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at His com­ing those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He deliv­ers the king­dom to God the Father after destroy­ing every rule and every author­i­ty and pow­er. For He must reign until He has put all His ene­mies under His feet. The last ene­my to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthi­ans 15:20–26)

For the trum­pet will sound, and the dead will be raised imper­ish­able, and we shall be changed. For this per­ish­able nature must put on the imper­ish­able, and this mor­tal nature must put on immor­tal­i­ty. When the per­ish­able puts on the imper­ish­able, and the mor­tal puts on immor­tal­i­ty, then shall come to pass the say­ing that is written:

Death is swal­lowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy victory?

O death, where is thy sting?”

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. (I Corinthi­ans 15:52–57)

The whole essence of the spir­i­tu­al life is to die with Christ to the sins of this world and to pass through the expe­ri­ence of bod­i­ly death with Him in order to be raised up “on the last day” in the King­dom of God. (cf. John 6:39–44, 54)

By the pow­er of Christ and the grace of the Holy Spir­it, Chris­tians can and must trans­form their deaths into acts of life. They must face the tragedy of death with faith in the Lord, and defeat the “last ene­my — death” (I Corinthi­ans 15:26) by the pow­er of their faith.

None of us lives to him­self, and none of us dies to him­self If we live, we live to the Lord, if we die, we die to the Lord, so whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the liv­ing. (Romans 14:8–9)

Tru­ly, tru­ly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has eter­nal life; he does not come to judg­ment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24, cf. John 6:29–58)

I am the res­ur­rec­tion and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and who­ev­er lives and believes in me shall nev­er die. (John 11:25–26)

For Chris­tians, as for all men, death remains a tragedy. When con­front­ed by death, like all men, and like Jesus Him­self and His apos­tles, Chris­tians can only mourn and weep. (cf. John 11:35, Matthew 26:37–38, Mark 14:33–34, Luke 22:42–44, Acts 8:2) But for Chris­tians, filled with faith in Christ and His Father, the tragedy of death can be trans­formed into victory.