what I learned about death, part 1

I promised I would share a few things I learned while researching The Last Enemy, and the first comes from Stephen Prothero’s book, God Is Not One. Prothero explained how each religion attempts to solve a different problem, and the unique problem that Christianity solves is death.

Here is an excerpt from The Last Enemy:

If death was no big deal, then there would be no reason to be a Christian. Every religion purports to solve some significant problem. Buddhism addresses the problem of suffering, which it solves by awakening its followers to the “truth” that suffering, like everything else in the world, is merely an illusion. Hinduism claims that our problem is bad karma, which we can fix by devoting ourselves to every form of deity, including ourselves. Islam says that our problem is pride, which we overcome when we submit to Allah.

And Christianity . . . what problem does our faith solve? Open your Bible in the middle and you’ll find people who are wrestling with death. Job sobs that his “days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope” (7:6). Solomon laments that everyone dies, wise and fool, man and beast alike (Ecclesiastes 2:14–16; 3:18–21).

Their plaintive cry reaches a crescendo in the center of the Psalms, where the writers plead with God to save us from death. “I call to you, O Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you?” (88:9–10). Psalm 90 is entirely about death, which Moses blames on sin….

Scripture wrings its hands over death in the middle to set up our great salvation in the end. The New Testament celebrates the good news that God became man “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14–15).

Sin and death are the one-two punch that Jesus came to knock out. If you think these are nothing to worry about, there is little chance you will give your life to Jesus. If you admit these lethal blows are destroying you, then you probably already know that your only hope lies in Jesus. No other religion even attempts to solve this problem.

Jesus died and rose again to defeat the twin terrors of sin and death. Minimize them—say they are nothing to fear—and you also minimize the sacrifice of Christ that conquers them. Anyone can muddle through minor difficulties, but overcoming sin and death requires an act of God.

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