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ARE YOU AFRAID OF DYING ?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, April 15, 2001


"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the
judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Death is a horrible reality. It comes to every family and every person. C. S. Lewis once pointed out that war does not increase the number of deaths - because death is total in every generation. Everyone dies.

Yet we want to avoid thinking about death. Newsman Bill Moyers said:

As children growing up in the South, we were present for all the deaths in our family. When our grandparents died, we were there in the room, probably sitting up on the bed. We were very connected ( Modern Maturity, September, 2000, p. 50).

But you never see anyone really die today. You see it happen on television, but it doesn't seem real, because it isn't part of your life. You aren't there when they die.

We are never present at anyone's death today. Even funerals seem disconnected from death. Makeup is put on the corpse to give the illusion that the dead person is sleeping. More often than not, cremation takes place without any religious service - or perhaps with a "memorial service" weeks later. The attitude of most "modern" people is "Let's get this over with. Let's not think about death." We push death out of our minds. Psychologists and psychiatrists call this "repression." We repress our fear of dying and we deny the fact that we are going to die.

Many young people are just beginning to wake up to the fact that the death rate remains unchanged - one per person. At death, everyone becomes equal. We all have the same appointment. "It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27).

Ramses II was Pharaoh of all Egypt, and is mentioned in the Bible. He lived over 3,000 years ago. He was the most wealthy and powerful man of his day. His body is now a dried and shriveled mummy. His withered corpse is in a glass case at the Cairo Museum in Egypt. Pharaoh kept his appointment with death.

In Red Square, in Moscow, the body of Lenin lies in a glass-enclosed case. His body filled with embalming fluid, much of his face reconstructed in wax, the architect of Communism kept his appointment with death.

In Tienamen Square, in Red China, Mao Tse Tung's body lies in state, in a humidified glass case. Each night his body is lowered into a refrigerator below the tomb. He also kept his appointment with death.

Hitler was the madman who exterminated six million Jews by gassing them. He also killed fifty million gentiles through his senseless slaughter in World War II. All that is left of him fifty-five years later is a blackened piece of his lower jaw, kept in a Russian museum. Hitler also kept his appointment with death.

On the top of a hill overlooking Oxford University and Blenheim Palace, is a small Anglican church. Next to it is a tiny, beautiful English cemetery. It was full of lovely flowers when we were there. Beneath a white marble slab lies the body of Sir Winston Churchill. He stopped Hitler. He saved Western civilization. But he also kept his appointment with death.

"It is appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27).

Death is universal. Everyone in this room will die. We don't like to talk about it, but we ought to. The Bible says, "Prepare to meet thy God," prepare for death (Amos 4:12). I want us to think about three things concerning death this morning.

I. Death holds you in fearful bondage.

The Bible speaks of those

"�who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15).

Unconverted people are held in slavery (bondage) by their fear of death. J. Paul Getty was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, yet he worried about death constantly. Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric light bulb and the phonograph. He was so preoccupied and concerned with dying that he tried to invent a machine to communicate with the dead! The Pharaohs of Egypt built huge pyramids because they thought these monuments would ensure that they would live after death. Psychiatrists tell us that adults in America think about dying once every 60 minutes. People are so concerned about their death that the average adult thinks about it once every waking hour, according to psychological studies.

The Bible teaches that death is a curse. You are cursed with the fear of dying, and you are enslaved by the fear of your own death. This fear makes a slave out of you.

"�who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15).

Commenting on this verse, the great reformer John Calvin wrote:

This passage expresses in a striking manner how miserable is the life of those who fear death, as they must feel it to be dreadful�nothing but a curse appears in it�Hence is that bondage throughout life, even perpetual anxiety, by which unhappy souls are tormented; for through a consciousness of sin the judgment of God is ever present to view (John Calvin, Comment on Hebrews 2:15, Baker Book House, 1998, vol. XXII, p. 72).

Oh, how miserable and cursed are those who dread death! They are in perpetual anxiety - in constant fear! How about you?

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand said about Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union:

How unhappy Stalin was: He was constantly in fear of being poisoned or killed. He had 8 bedrooms which could be locked up like safes in a bank. Nobody ever knew in which of these bedrooms he slept on any given night (Rev. Richard Wurmbrand, in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations by Dr. Paul Lee Tan, Assurance Publishers, 1979, p. 1648).

Stalin's daughter said that he had a massive stroke while locked up alone in one of these bedrooms. By the time they broke the door down, it was too late to save him. He died a few minutes later in a horrible fit.

Oh, how miserable and cursed are those who live in constant fear of death! How about you?

II. Then, secondly, death is the result of sin.

God told our first ancestors:

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).

Death began in the Garden of Eden because our ancestors broke the Law of God and sinned. The whole human race would have lived in Paradise if they had not rebelled against God willfully and deliberately.

The sin of that one man plunged the entire human race into a state of ruin and death.

"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men" (Romans 5:12).

Death became universal. Universal death demands a universal cause, and the cause of death is sin. Every person is doomed to die - babies and old people, good people and bad people, religious people and atheists - all must die as a result of sin.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

After you die, there will be a great Last Judgment. You will stand alone in front of the throne of God.

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened�and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books" (Revelation 20:12).

Every sin that you have ever committed is written down in those books that God has. Even the sinful words you say are written down in God's books. Jesus told us,

"That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment�and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).

Every time you say a filthy word, every time you lie, every time you talk about sex or drugs, every time you say "no" to church, it's all written down in God's books, in God's record. Next week someone from our church will phone you and invite you to come back next Sunday. When you say, "No. I have something more important to do," those words of yours will be written down in God's book. At the Last Judgment, God will read those words back to you. "No. I won't come to church. I have something more important to do."

"And by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (to Hell); (Matthew 12:37).

You already have so much sin on your record that it's too late for you. It's too late to be good. It's too late to pray. It's too late to make amends. None of these things will clear your record, written down in Heaven.

You see, it's like getting a criminal record. If you commit a crime, and are convicted, it's written down in the computer up in Sacramento. Even if you change your way of living, and stop committing crimes, the crimes you already committed are still in the computer! You are still condemned by them. That's why Jesus said that you are "condemned already" (John 3:18).

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

III. And that brings me to the third point - sin and death were conquered by Jesus Christ.

Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. Christ shed His Blood so your sins could be washed out - blotted out of God's record! You can have a clean record only through the Blood of Jesus Christ!

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18).

"Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things�But with the precious blood of Christ" (I Peter 1:18-19).

"The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"
     (I John 1:7).

That's why Jesus Christ died on the Cross. When He died, Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Everything needed for your forgiveness was finished. He died to pay the penalty for your sins, your crimes against God. He shed His Blood so your record of sins could be blotted out and cleansed.

But Christ did more than that - He arose from the dead, literally and physically:

"Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

Jesus Christ is alive, seated at the right hand of God. He has risen from the dead in a flesh and bone body. He is alive right now, resurrected, in a flesh and bone body. And you can come to Christ and believe on Him, and your sins will all be washed away, and you will be converted. Look to Jesus! Believe on Him!

"Looking unto Jesus�who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

Scripture Read Before Sermon: Luke 23:33-46; 24:36-43.

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "The Strife Is O'er"

(Translated from Latin by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."



THE OUTLINE OF

ARE YOU AFRAID OF DYING?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the
judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

I.   Death holds you in fearful bondage, Hebrews 2:15.

II.  Death is the result of sin, Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12;
Revelation 20:12; Matthew 12:36-37; John 3:18.

III. Death and sin were conquered by Jesus Christ, I Peter 3:18;
I Peter 1:18-19; I John 1:7; John 19:30; Romans 4:25;
Hebrews 12:2.