“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9

There is a doctrine heard frequently throughout Christendom that has little to no support in Scripture and is in direct contrast to what Christ Himself taught, the doctrine that man must die before he can receive eternal life. In fact, Christ specifically said several times and in several ways that His followers need never die at all.

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” – John 11:25-26

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” – John 8:51

This is just a small sampling of the times Jesus said that those who were alive, believed in Him, and kept His word would not have eternal life after death but instead of death.

But the Scripture says “it is appointed unto men once to die,” you may remind me. And if the Scripture cannot be broken, then indeed man must die once. This is Biblical. So let’s take a look at what God really says about man’s appointment with death.

Does the Bible Say We Are Required to Die?

The Bible does state that man has an appointment with death and afterward the judgment. There are those who would say that this passage clearly shows that death must come before before we receive our eternal reward.

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

“Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others;

“For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” – Hebrews 9:24-28

This passage explains that Christ fulfilled the law. Instead of a multitude of sacrifices and deaths, Christ in dying once paid for all our sins.

Why Are We Required to Die?

Death was not created as part of God’s perfect plan for this world. Death entered as a consequence of sin, just as God told Adam and Eve would happen.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 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 2:16-17

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – 2 Peter 3:8

Because Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they sinned and fell and, within one thousand years of their creation, they died.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

What Fulfills the Requirement of Death?

Every law God laid down in the Old Testament has been addressed in the New, and so too has the requirement that man die once. Twice, it is made clear to us how it is that we receive the gift of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

“And ye are complete in him [Christ], which is the head of all principality and power:

“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” – Colossians 2:10-12, emphasis added

And again,

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection…

“Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:3-5, 8-11

When we are baptized, we are buried into Christ’s death and when we come up from the water, we are raised into His life. We are to live as though we have already died to sin and death and walk in the life that Christ gave us, the eternal life He promised us—without death.

This requires living without sin and living the words Christ taught.

Then Why Do Men Still Die?

Despite Christ’s clear words and promises, many good, even godly men and women still die every day. In light of the clear teaching of Scripture, how can this be? The answer is in Christ’s words from the beginning:

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” – John 11:26

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” – John 8:51

We must believe that this promise is true in order to receive it.

“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:5-6

Without faith in the promise of eternal life, we cannot receive it. Without living in the spirit, we receive the rewards of the flesh. If we see our “reward afar off” (ibid.), we will only receive it afar off.

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” – Mark 9:23-24

 

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