Death – A Defeated Enemy

Doug Hornock   -  
Today, August 24, marks the one-year anniversary of Connie’s Mother’s – Patrica Chambers – funeral. She died on August 14, two days after her 95th birthday.  She was a wonderful and Godly woman who raised three beautiful daughters. Connie is the oldest, and I often reminded my brothers-in-law that I was the first on the scene and got the ‘pick of the litter.’ All of our children and grandchildren made being at her funeral a priority – as they did for my parents. That has always meant a great deal to both Connie and me. It was a wonderful day to celebrate a life well lived for the glory of God and service to others.
Paul in 2 Timothy 1:10 says of Jesus that He has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
J. B. Phillips (1906-1982) was an Anglican pastor and scholar who, during World War II, began translating Paul’s letters into everyday language for the young people with whom he was working. Letters to Young Churches was eventually published to great acclaim, encouraging Phillips to give the same treatment to the whole of the New Testament. The result was the wildly successful New Testament in Modern English, popularly known as the Phillips New Testament. This was followed by a dozen or more books, several becoming best-sellers.
In his book, Your God is Too Small, published when his fame was at its height, and his popularity on both sides of the Atlantic seemed boundless, Phillips talks about 2 Timothy 2:10, God having “abolished death.”
He writes:
 The fact (that Christ has abolished death) seems to many to be too good to be true. But if it does seem so, it is because we have not really accepted the revolutionary character of God’s personal entry into the world. Once it dawns upon us that God (incredible as it may well sound) has actually identified Himself with Man, that He has taken the initiative in effecting the necessary Reconciliation of Man with Himself, and has shown the way by which little human personalities can begin to embark on that immense adventure of Living of which God is the Center, death–the discarding of a temporary machine adapted only for a temporary stage–may begin to seem negligible.
For those people who refuse to trust in Christ, Phillips writes:
There is no brightly cheerful note in either the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament for those whose real inward trust is in their own capabilities or in the schemes and values of the present world system. It is (as St. Paul insists almost ad nausem) only “in” Christ, “in” the Representative Man who was also God, that death can be safely ignored and “Heaven” confidently welcomed. We have no reason to suppose that death is anything but a disaster to those who have no grip on the timeless Life of God.
Today both Connie and I are smiling when we think of her mother and our celebration one year ago. We say with Paul, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash