The Truth About Death

When any of us lose a close loved one, we focus on “What now?” It’s a tough question for us, ourselves, family, friends and for the one who has departed or been taken. We hold to the promises of the Lord Jesus, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish” and “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” With everything within me, I believe this.

Let me share what a close friend who has just won a serious battle with a most destructive disease said about death and life everlasting:

Once we have grasped our situation in God’s full world, the startling disregard Jesus and the New Testament writers had for “physical death” suddenly makes sense. Paul bluntly states, as we have just seen, that Jesus abolished death – simply did away with it. Nothing like what is usually understood as death will happen to those who have entered his life.

To one group of his day, who believed that “physical death” was the cessation of the individual’s existence, Jesus said, “God is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Luke 20:38). His meaning was that those who love and are loved by God are not allowed to cease to exist, because they are God’s treasures. He delights in them and intends to hold onto them. He has even prepared for them an individualized eternal work in his vast universe.

At this present time the eternally creative Christ is preparing places for his human sisters and brothers to join him. Some are already there – no doubt busy with him in his great works. We can hardly think that they are mere watchers. On the day he died, he covenanted with another man being killed along with him to meet that very day in a place he called Paradise. This term carries the suggestion of a lovely gardenlike area.

Too many are tempted to dismiss what Jesus says as just “pretty words.” But those who think it is unrealistic or impossible are more short on imagination than long on logic. They should have a close look at the universe God has already brought into being before they decide he could not arrange for the future life of which the Bible speaks.

Anyone who realizes that reality is God’s, and has seen a little bit of what God has already done, will understand that such a “Paradise” would be no problem at all. And there God will preserve every one of his treasured friends in the wholeness of their personal existence precisely because he treasures them in that form. Could he enjoy their fellowship, could they serve him, if they were “dead”?

We have already used the words of Vladimir Nabokov once in this chapter to express the reality of God’s world and its closeness to us. In a letter to his mother to console her on the death of his father, he wrote:

Three years have gone – and every trifle relating to father is still as alive as ever inside me. I am so certain, my love, that we will see him again, in an unexpected but completely natural heaven, in a realm where all is radiance and delight. He will come towards us in our shared bright eternity, slightly raising his shoulders as he used to do, and we will kiss the birthmark on his hand without surprise. You must live in expectation of that tender hour, my love, and never give in to the temptation of despair. Everything will return.

Now, of course, if one simply doesn’t believe in the God we have been talking about, then one must make of Jesus whatever one can. This, unfortunately, is all too common. Perhaps people should be required to say, when they begin to interpret Jesus, whether they believe in his God nor not. Then we would have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Never Taste Death
In any case, Jesus made a special point of saying that those who rely on him and have received the kind of life that flows in him and in God will never experience death. Such persons, he said, will never see death, never taste death (John 8:51-52). On another occasion he says simply that “everyone living and believing in me shall never die” (11:26).

So as we think of our life and make plans for it, we should not be anticipating going through some terrible event called “death,” to be avoided at all costs even though it can’t be avoided. That is the usual attitude for human beings, no doubt. But, immersed in Christ in action, we may be sure that our life – yes, that familiar one we are each so well acquainted with – will never stop. We should be anticipating what we will be doing three hundred or a thousand or ten thousand years from now in this marvelous universe.

The hymn “Amazing Grace” was found in a recent USA Today poll to be America’s favorite hymn. It is sung at Boston Pops concerts and played at military and police funerals. It is now a solid part of American if not Western culture, and it accurately presents the future of redeemed humanity:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,

Than when we first begun.

Could this be the actual truth about our case? Jesus’ word to us would most certainly be, “Believe it!” We are never-ceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in the full world of God.

When Mickey Mantle was dying of diseases brought on by a life of heavy drinking, he said that he would have taken better care of himself had he only known how long he was going to live. He gives us a profound lesson. How should we “take care of ourselves” when we are never to cease? Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living. This is what his students are learning from him.

Moving out of Our “Tent,” or Temporary House
Of course something is going to happen. We will leave our present body at a certain point, and our going and what we leave behind will not seem pleasant to those who care for us. But we are at that point, as Paul also says, simply “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).

Early Christians spoke of their condition at physical death as being “asleep.” We are then, as we say even now of a sleeping person, “dead to this world.” To those who remain behind there is an obvious, if superficial, similarity between the body of one who sleeps and that of one who has stepped into the full world.

But there was no intention in this language to say we will be unconscious. Consciousness continues while we are asleep, and likewise when we “sleep in Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:14; Acts 7:60). The difference is simply a matter of what we are conscious of. In fact, at “physical” death we become conscious and enjoy a richness of experience we have never known before.

The American evangelist Dwight Moody remarked toward the end of his life, “One day soon you will hear that I am dead. Do not believe it. I will then be alive as never before.” When the two guards came to take Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the gallows, he briefly took a friend aside to say, “This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life.’”

And so it is for our youngest daughter, Robin. She is more alive than ever before—and that is “peace that passes all understanding.” We thank God for the assurance of life in Christ now and forever.

We are also very grateful for men like Dallas Willard, who wrote the words I just shared. After recovering from his recent battle, he has resigned his position at the University of Southern California as head of the philosophy department and will be speaking wherever God opens doors.

Dr. Jack Hayford had a vision of our daughter Robin’s glorious entrance into heaven. As we read what he so beautifully wrote about it, I told Betty, “I don’t want anyone to miss what Robin experienced and will continue to rejoice in.” We will, in His grace, seek to point everyone to the life that can be found in Christ…now and forever.

 

From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God. Copyright © 1998 by Dallas Willard. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

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22 comments

  1. Rev. Frank Bersch

    Thanks, Brother James, for this wonderful, reassuring word from GOD’s heart. I just heard about Robin’s passing at the taping with you on March 12, and am sorry for Betty and you in this time of Earthly grief; along with Rhonda and Randy, and all the rest of your Family and Friends, too. The LORD has been emphasizing the need to mourn, in order to receive HIS DIVINE Comfort; that though we grieve, it is not as those who don’t have any hope. HE keeps reminding us that seen hope is not hope at all; that the eyes of Faith sustains us with HIS True Hope in CHRIST JESUS by the HOLY SPIRIT! Our FATHER in HEAVEN is fully and completely the GOD of All Comfort; giving us the privilege of encouraging one another with HIS WORD, and the Honor of sharing with the SAVED and the Lost, HIS Glorious GOSPEL! HE came to Heal the sick, and the Broken-Hearted; and makes our fervant and effectual prayers to avail much! HE gave me a glimpse of when Robin was dancin with Betty and others at that meeting in L.A. years ago; woshiping free as Angels in the Presence of ALMIGHTY GOD, as she must be right now, and FOREVER! HALLELUJAH!

  2. What a blessing you are to my life ! James and Betty you are very special. Almost my whole family have already gone on to experience their new life in Christ for real. God will comfort and sustain you as never before. He is able. I know from my own life. There is a joy in knowing all our loved ones are living in God’s Presence. May God’s Peace and Love guide your whole family is my prayer for each of you. You are in my heart and prayers. Glenna

  3. Dear James and Betty,
    My heart and prayers are with you and your family. I know the Great Comforter is with you. I wanted to share a video of Arthur Blessitt with you. If you haven’t seen it…he was given a marvelous vision around the New Year. He spoke about it on TBN on Jan. 17, 2013. You can fast-forward to 1:26
    http://www.itbn.org/index/detail/lib/Networks/sublib/TBN/ec/BkMWlpODpzwK0XuMwdRoBMsYv1sk2y4_

    And this is the link to his written account of his amazing vision on his blog.

    http://www.blessitt.com/Arthur_Master_BlogPage.html

    I worked for Hospice for many years, and so many times people would describe seeing angels in their last days. Some times they couldn’t even describe what they were seeing in the spirit realm. Sometimes a glorious radiance came over them even in their weakened conditions. You could tell just by their expressions, that they were seeing something majestic and awesome.

    Arthur’s vision of the angels was so fantastic, he said he wanted to go with them…even though he isn’t sick and his beloved wife was asleep right next to him. Still…he wanted to go with the angels, it was that spectacular!!!! Wow!!!!

    Heaven is real!! It’s rock solid!! And I believe certain angels are assigned…chosen…to escort us into the eternal presence of our glorious God!!! I know you all were standing on “Holy Ground” when God’s specially chosen angels arrived to escort your sweet Robin home!! And I believe it is a smooth transition as Romans 8 assures us of never being separated from God’s love… not even for an instant. Each one of us are only a single breath away.
    Oh thank you Jesus!!
    It won’t be long dear sister and brothers.
    What a reunion!!!
    Praise God!!! It’s so very near…you can faintly hear the harps already….
    Matthew 28:20
    And surely, I AM with you always…even to the end of the age.
    Blessings and Love to you all….

  4. Laurence St. John

    James and Betty,

    All of these kind words and comments are like the gentle breath of God blowing across your soul. May the Lord Jesus embrace you with his love and continue to inspire your hearts to influence every soul possible to follow your daughter into the arms of her Savior.

    I hear the words of Jesus as he said, “My words are spirit and they are life.” The death of these old tents we live in, prove that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God and they were not made according to his divine plan in Genesis. Though we have access to the benefits of his unfailing word of promise, the death which comes to these bodies are proof that they are not redeemed, they do not possess eternal life, and they do not possess eternal health. “It is appointed to man once to die, and then the judgment.” We all must make that appointment one day. It is imperative that we “must be born again of the water and of the spirit.” For we know that if the earthly house of this body dies, we have another one waiting, made by the power of God, eternal in the heavens.”

    That eternal body, which is waiting for us, is the body Elohim had ordained for us to experience before the fall and transgression of Adam and Eve. But, the fall in the Garden caused us to bypass our glorified bodies and be birthed by sexual promiscuity and the image of Elohim in man was darkened and man fell from the image of his heavenly father and took on the image and nature of sinful man by transgression.

    However, through the new birth by Jesus Christ, we connect once again with our glorified bodies which are eternal in the heavens. Knowing that one day:
    “This house of clay is but a prison, bars of bone hold my soul
    But the doors of clay are gonna burst wide open
    When the angel sets my spirit free, I’ll take my flight like a mighty eagle
    When the hills of home start calling me.” Dottie Rambo

  5. Dear James and Betty: my heart has been going out to you this long time. I know the pain of losing a child. Our son David was killed immediately on hi way construction at 23 & a half years old on Oct. 16,1984. He was our first born of three son’s. He was married & left us a wonderful daughter-in-law and a grandson of 23 mos. & a granddaughter of 7 weeks. We now have two great-grandson’s & 1 great-granddaughter from them. James you & Betty are the finest couple I know. I have watched you on TV since the 1970s. I too am a pastor, retired, for almost 3 year’s now, on my 70th birthday. I cannot put in to words what you have meant to me over the year’s. I always thought if there was one man I would like to meet it would be you James. We’ll meet in heaven. As you have been such an inspiration to me as well as the million’s you have touched. Thanks to you both……………….Alan Foor

  6. Dear James and Betty,
    Thank you for this letter it truly confirms in a even clearer way of what My Husband and I are believing. On January 10, 2013
    Our beautiful daughter Heidi was in a terrible accident at work. She instantly went to the Lord, it has been very hard for us as I am sure it has been for you. She was 35 she would have been 36 on January 26,2013, she was so full of life and such an encouragement to our family. She had been so excited about serving the Lord like when she was a little girl, she was finding her place in music like never before, such excitement and such love. I want you to know that we feel the same that we can not stop telling people of the Jesus that both our daughters loved so much truly the lover of their souls. Our family sends your family our prayers and love in Christ. Thank you so much for this devotion it truly has comforted me in my if dealing with this loss. God Bless you. In Christ’s service, Sue and Al Cullere and Family.

  7. James My Dad died three years ago and he suffered a lot with osteoporosis, diabetes. His body just wouldn’t work properly. He was a retired Minister of the gospel. Anyhow some three yrs before he died I had a vision of him entering Heaven where my Mother met him. She died some forty yrs prior when we were children. Dad was jumping around and full of joy, ecstatic with his new body. I have never seen him so Happy. There will be no pain, suffering or tears there, everything becomes New.

  8. This was so beautiful and fits in so well with what I already believe about death. I have also just come to the realization that no matter how I die, if I am not blessed to join the Lord when He returns for all His flock, I do not need to fear the way i will die because I know He will take away any pain or suffering. Perhaps those watching me die might think I am suffering, but I know because of his love for me, that i will have only peace and joy instead of suffering and I can accept this and actually look forward to my death knowing that the next second after I die I will be in Heaven with Jesus. I have several family members who are there right now so I am looking forward to that wonderful reunion with them and with the Lord.

  9. Oh, wow, like that is truly awesome, a vision of entering heaven! I hope that someday you could share that vision with us if you can.

    I experienced something about 30 years ago that deeply, deeply wounded my heart. I’d like to share it with you. I sat in my church, or what I though was a church, and saw demons come into it one Sunday morning. There were so many they were beyond counting. I tried to rebuke them but God wouldn’t allow me to, He told me to “stop”. I asked God then what exactly was it that I should do. I heard Him say ” call upon my name”. As I sat there silently calling the name of God over and over “God, God, God, God, God” they melted away, as wax melts before a fire, and were gone. That beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Name of God! How precious it is! My life hasn’t been the same since that day, my life forever scarred by what I saw that day. I’ve been on a journey now for 30 years almost, searching about what I experienced that day. But I’m so glad I’ve seen the truth that day, so glad, you will never know how glad I am.

    I know now what I experienced that day. I saw the fallen away church and I saw what was really behind these church problems and, believe you me, when I say it’s worse than anything you have ever imagined. It’s truly heartbreaking! It’s been almost 30 years since I experience and yet it brings tears to my eyes everytime I think about it.

    I’ve spent 30 long years looking for my real brothers and sisters that are filled with the Holy Spirit instead of demons, but really haven’t found them yet. Oh, that I could! To find a church without incorrect doctrines, about impossible now.

    I heard your sermon you recently had on your TV show where you said that people are surrounded with religion and haven’t repented. How right you are! If people would only ask themselves, what could cause this but they don’t seem to ever do that.

    I read about your life on this website and I had no idea about your family situation. God bless you and comfort you and be to you more than a father. I just have to think to myself what a wonderful purpose that God has had for your life, you have no idea. What a wonderful person you are and we are blessed to have you. I love your wife. She just reminds me of the quiet and gentle Godly woman that the bible talks about. She’s so meek. I see so many women on Christian TV that want to preach and talk, but your wife is such a wonderful person. You are so blessed to live with such a good woman. I’m not a preacher myself, just a woman like your wife. God told me that He reserved the right for men to be the leaders of God’s church because men were made in His image and His glory. I love it when He tells me things!

    I’m so sorry for the passing of your daughter. You look so strong on TV, it’s amazing you can be on, but I can see that you and your wife are hurting. I can’t imagine what it feels like, but oh the joy your daughter must be having right now. And just to think she gets to miss the tribulation and everything that’s going to go on with it until we are taken. Somehow my heart is almost envious of her. That’s what I think of people who pass away now, they don’t have to go through the bad stuff ahead. LOL. How wonderful for them!

    God bless you,

    Sister Kim

  10. I have enjoyed watching your program for many years. Robin is more alive than ever before. Though, we left on earth still miss our loved ones……what a blessing to know we will join them again one day. Can not wait to see my brother, sister, daddy, g-parents and so many others one day. Prayers for your family.

  11. Witness His amazing grace in these verses.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

    John 11:40 “Jesus said unto her, Said I not unto you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?”

    John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

    John 14:1-6 “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    It doesn’t get any clearer then this

  12. robert&Sharon Rairigh

    this was such an encouraging article James. we did not know about your daughter Robin until yesterday even though we watch your show at least once a week. you see we lost our daughter Robyn last June 19 to breast cancer returned to her brain. we have never known such heart wrenching sorrow and grief. one never can unless it happens to us. our Robyn was very much like your Robin it sounds like. she was always doing for others, happy,planning the best. whether it be dinner,birthday ,vacation,or finding the right doctor for her family or friend.She was a doctor herself so dedicated. she was so much to us as your Robin was to you and Betty. we know these things you wrote today but it is so reassuring to have them told to us again. thank you for always showing your tenderness to a hurting world. may God wrap His arms around you and Betty and your family. with our love and prayers Sharon and Bob

  13. Kenisha Taylor-Paradys

    Dear James & Betty;

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time but I also rejoice in knowing that Robin is with JESUS!

    When I heard about her death, it rocked me very hard! My husband suddenly lost his father 6 months ago to cancer!!! We prayered, and stood upon the WORD of God!

    People usually tell me that my faith is not realistic – and I say this to them – I dont have a problem with death. death is one of our entrances into heaven – but I have always had an issue with the suffering part. I believe in suffering persecution for the Gospel! But I need the Lord to help understand sting of illness that causes the death of believers.

    I do not believe that it was my father-in-laws way to leave (I cannot answer for the timing-only God can) – my husband and I thought our faith would have weaken at his father death but the opposite has actually taken place – we are now on the mission of winning more souls for the kingdom – not only the devil can fight – we intend to fight back. I do not believe that we didnt pray enough, or believe enough – but what we know is that God requires us to hold firm to our confessions and we did and still do!

    Thank you for posting this article and sharing your heart – I will have to read it again and truly dig in the WORD to understand as much as I can about situations in this life that sometimes appear to be contrary to the WORD – I am raising three little boys: Joseph 6, Micaias 4 and Jeremiah 3 and I tell them that the Word teaches us to pray and believe that the promises of God is for us and we will obtain it. The first thing Joseph asked me upon hearing of Robins passing was didnt they pray. I said of course… just as we did for “Papa Ping” they then asked why werent they healed – that was very difficult to answer. I told them the truth – I dont know – but what I know is that God wants us to believe in His Word, without doubting and to always trust Him no matter what the outcome. I reassurred them that they are in heaven with Jesus just like we will be someday.

    I love you and your family and your ministry! Continue the good fight, run the course, you all are saving many souls and encouraging others to press on for the kingdom of God.

  14. I cant wait to meet my Jesus and all my loved ones in glory. What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see. If I can just kiss His hands and His feet to say thankyou for taking all my sins away. Only His holy blood could do that. Thankyou Jesus.

  15. What can I say to comment on Life that is so beautifully written! Only He has real Life and outside of Him we do just exist. So much I could express to you & Betty if I could sit down with you but for now all spoken words have been with Him as my heart has wept with you for the one that you are separated from for just a time. You both are greatly loved by His People but nothing compared to the Love that He has poured out because of Jesus. We indeed are the happiest people on this earth!

  16. We also have a beautiful daughter in Heaven also and we share with you the joy of knowing she is free from any sickness or suffering and that she is truly alive at last. Thank you for sharing Robin with us.

    You and your ministry are in our prayers daily.

  17. Richard McNaughton

    This artical Highlites what Jesus explained to his deciples and in fact this is how it is
    As I have been told by many true Christians ONE Must have a true commitment and mine is as written above.
    If if this thery is not true , at least my life here on earth will give me peace of mind.

    THANK YOU
    GOD BLESS YOU>
    Richard

  18. Dear James and Betty,
    I am so sorry for your loss of your precious Robin. I too lost my only brother who at 45 died of asbestos cancer. We can only rejoice in that they have finished their race and have received their crown and pearl of great price. They have come to their place of destiny, a place we long to be, in the arms of our beloved Savior and friend Jesus. What a beautiful journey awaits them!
    God bless you and your family. May He fill your hearts with His peace and joy.
    Dale K

  19. great words james, they inspire me everyday, watch u on tv, god is using u in a mighty way, god bless u

  20. I would like just like to offer my sympathy for the loss of your daughter.
    My mother came To know the Lord one month before she passed.

    David

  21. Dear James:

    You are answered prayer! You and Betty have been in our prayers daily since Robin went to Jesus. It is so heart wrenching for those left behind. This piece is not only beautiful but completely captures a vision of what God has for each of us. At almost 71 and with the multiple serious conditions I have, your words are especially comforting and meaningful. God bless you for ministering to me and thousands of others.

    I am still not strong enough to make a show as suggested by Carol Stertzer. I will be writing again, when I have strength to do so. I so miss Gateway! I have not been able to get there for six weeks. But God! He is Jehovah Rapha, the God whose good pleasure it is to heal me. He has promised that I would walk in diving health which is far better than healing!

    God bless you and Betty. Your father sees your huge hearts and tears for the world in secret and will reward you openly.
    Baruch Hashem!

  22. James and Betty, I can’t even begin to imagine losing a child. I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my husband 3 years ago suddenly. My whole life was turned upside down in a split second. I can understand Kenny’s pain. I unfortunatly had a very hard time with my faith. Reading this blog about death, and LIFE really helps me look at it differently. I will be honest and say im still filled with fear about it, but im truely trying to believe that Jesus does love me, and will take care of me. So again thankyou for these wise words. Again I’m sorry for your whole family for the loss of a beautiful person on the earth. Although i didn’t know her, if she is anything like her wonderful parents, she was one of God’s best.