Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 11, 1961
NUMBER 2, PAGE 4,13b

There Is No Death

"There Is No Death! What Seems So Is Transition;

This life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the life elysian,

Whose portal we call Death."

These lines from Longfellow (Resignation) take on a special significance and an added aura of eternal truth each year when Spring drapes the world with subtle fragrance. Each swelling throat of a singing bird pulsing with joyous melody, every newborn bud or leaf on tree or flower or vine, every blade of grass lifting itself up toward the warming sun will unite with the grand chorus of nature, and the unutterable longings of the human heart to say, "There is no Death!"

It was at the tomb of Lazarus in that far off Bethany that Jesus gave an answer to the world's oldest and most poignant question, "If a man die, shall he live again?" Job had put the question into words (Job 14:14), but it is mighty certain that he was neither the first, and obviously not the last, to ask it. For no question has ever absorbed man's thoughts, or influence his destiny, so much as this. In the bitter anguish of heart growing out of the death of his infant child David asked, "Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:23)

Eternal Life - Not Mere Existence

Eternal life, as revealed in the Bible, emphasizes quality rather than duration. It is "life' (not mere existence) to which the faithful look forward. A mere eternal extension of this present life would be nothing to be desired; in fact, this "clergyman's heaven" which pictures the redeemed ones flitting over the expanse of heaven with winged bodies and plucking the strings of various kinds of harps and other melodious instruments, continuing this existence and occupation without change while the unending billions of years (as earthlings count time) slowly unfold can be so depressing as to bring revulsion. This might be eternal existence, but it is an infinity apart from the eternal life which God has promised to the faithful.

The eternal life pictured in the Bible is a life of quality rather than quantity. The quantity is infinite, of course, but so also is the quality. If one can picture the happiest and most glorious day of earthly existence, when life was at its highest peak of joyous fulfillment, and can imagine fold, and extending endlessly, a faint glimmer of the mean-that effulgence of heart and spirit intensified a thousanding [sic] of "eternal LIFE" may become possible. God is infinitely resourceful; his provision for the redeemed will be lacking in nothing. While the Calvinists missed the mark in much of their theology, that first statement in the Shorter Catechism is one which we believe to be profoundly true: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." Jesus put it in even fuller and richer language: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou host sent." (Jno. 17:3)

Two Worlds - Now

All of us actually live in two separate realms, or worlds, even now. One of them is tangible, visible, subject to weight and measure and time. The other is intangible, invisible, and not subject to measurement. A human being is both visible and invisible. We see him, and yet we see him not. His physical body is almost worthless. The average man contains about enough fat to make seven bars of soap (double that for some of us!) enough iron for a medium size nail, enough sugar to fill a small sugar bowl, enough lime to white-wash a chicken coop, enough phosphorus to make 2200 match tips, enough potassium to explode a toy cannon, enough magnesium to make about one table spoon full, a dab of sulphur, together with assorted small amounts of a few other relatively valueless elements — the whole of it not worth more than two or three dollars even at today's enormously inflated prices!

But is that man? Assuredly not! For where in such a medley do we find love, or courage, or beauty, or nobility of heart? And where is faith, and benevolence, and patriotism, and loyalty? These things have to do with that other realm — the invisible. And it is this realm, the realm of the spirit, which alone gives significance or worth to the fleeting episode of our few earthly years.

The Christian lives now — as for eternity. He has passed judgment on the visible and fleshly world in which he moves, and has decided that it is of little value. He is perfectly willing to surrender all of it, either in one fell swoop, or over a period of years, in order to gain that other life — eternal communion with God. From righteous Enoch, to Stephen, to Paul, the appeal of heaven has been a compulsion to the true believer. And whether the termination of the earthly years he violent or peaceful, whether it come in the morn of life or after the full complement of years, the Christian meets it with head held high and spirit undaunted. He shares completely the exultation that Paul surely felt when he was inspired by the Spirit to write that immortal declaration of the believer's hope: "For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens." (2 Cor. 5:1)

Because of that hope we endure; because of it we strive mightily to shun the very appearance of evil, to "fear God and keep his commandments." Let every reader examine his own heart, measuring his life not by friends, traditions, or human wisdom, but by the divine standard of God's Word. And let every thought, every word, every act be brought into harmony with that Truth.

— F. Y. T.