Sermons

The Room of Death

Sun, Nov 20, 2022
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:33 mins 50 secs

Message text

THE ROOM OF DEATH
Hebrews 2:14 – 15

In the early 1900s there was a famous psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Carl Jung. He developed an intriguing test that psychiatrists/Psychologists will sometimes use to help their patients deal with a specific fear everyone seems to have.
They tell their patients to imagine being in a white room, filled with white furniture. The walls are white, your clothes are white… EVERYTHING is WHITE.
Then (after a few moments) the patient is asked to describe how they feel about being in that room. What emotions did they experience being in that totally white room?
And therapists found that many of their patients would speak of feelings of anxiety, fear… even terror. Then the psychologist explains that the white room represented death. And how the patient felt about that room revealed what they thought about dying.

There have been numerous studies over the years asking what people fear, and one of the most prominent fears that folks have IS this fear of DEATH.
One Philosopher said “No man dares to face death … without fear.”
Sigmund Freud said: “Finally there is the painful riddle of death, for which no remedy at all has yet been found, nor probably will ever be!”

An ancient Chinese philosopher explained it this way: “The birth of a man is the birth of his sorrow. The longer he lives, the more his anxiety to avoid unavoidable death. What bitterness! He lives for what is always out of reach!
His thirst for survival in the future makes him incapable of living in the present.”

Our text today tells us that Jesus came to help us to deal with that fear. Hebrews 2:14-15 tell us 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Or as another version states
14 Since then the children are sharers in [a]flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he [b]might bring to nought him that [c]had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and [d]might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Jesus came to free us from that bondage. To free us from the fear of death.
Now, that doesn’t mean that people haven’t tried coping with that fear without Jesus. Many people have tried to deal with their fear of death… by simply ignoring it. There’s some old sayings concerning death:
 “Every man knows that he must die, but no one believes it.”

 “Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal, Love leaves a memory that no one can steal.”
 “Do not resent growing old, many are denied the privilege.”
 “Live your own life for you will die your own death.
 “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death.” —Proverbs 12:28
 “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” —Romans 14:8
 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” —Psalm 73:26
. And there’s lots of folks who tend to ignore any discussion of death. They don’t want to talk about it!

Another approach to deal with the fear of death is to try to POSTPONE death itself. Believe it or not, there was a fad that was very popular about 8 years ago in the Silicon Valley of California. It seems that many of the rich people from Silicon Valley were buying the bags of blood plasma to inject in their veins. And not just any old blood plasma… this blood came from young people (ages 18 to 25).
Now why would these very wealthy individuals do that? Well, these were aging businessmen – very RICH BUT older businessmen.
The theory was that the blood of these young people would extend their lives, and so they could live longer as long as they could afford to buy new plasma every once in a while.
According to one of companies selling this product:
The cost for this “young” blood plasma was $8000 per bag.

A Fox commentator named Greg Gutfeld commented on this fad saying: “I have a theory… these ultra-rich billionaires in Silicon Valley got rich really young. So, they’re in their 30s and they’re billionaires… But the one thing they don’t have is immortality.
They have everything else. And it’s on their brain, and they’re like “ I’m a billionaire!” ‘I don’t want to lose all this, and one day I’m going to die.
They hoped to buy eternal life… and avoid death.

Now there’s another approach that sounds a little more reasonable. There’s a clinical therapist from Canada who speaking about the fear of death said this:
“I think the only way you can combat the fear of death is to live fully...” In other words… he believes you can beat the FEAR (not death itself … but the fear) of death by living a productive and fruitful life that you can be proud of.
Now, he’s not the first guy to come up with that. There’s been a lot of people who have lived determined lives who were motivated to beat death in the same way by trying to do things that would live on long after they’d died. But they all seem to come up a little empty. No matter how many good things they may do, it’s still hard to deal with the fear of dying.

A famous philosopher (Jean-Paul Sartre) once said that Death “removes all meaning from life.”
For men like him, death is the end of everything.
It’s like walking into a dungeon and throwing away the key.
It’s like being trapped in a room from which there’s NO escape. And when men like that face the prospect of entering the grave they know they’re not EVER going to get out of there alive.
A mother was taking her 2 young boys to a funeral, and she tried to prepare them for what they’d experience when they got there. She talked to them for a long time about funerals and death and things like that. But later on - when they got to the gravesite - it was obvious that she hadn’t explained things as well as she’d thought.
Her 4 year old leaned over said, “Mom?” “Yes,” she whispered. He paused and then asked “What’s in the box?”
In the book “Children’s Letters to God”, a little boy named Mike wrote, “Dear God. What happens when you die? Nobody will talk to me about it. I don’t want to do it. I just want to know.”
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
You see, death can be scary, especially for those outside of Christ, because death is the great unknown, and it frightens people.

A minister tells this story of an event that he remembers from his childhood. He states that
“When I was 5 years old, my grandfather died. He was my favorite person in the whole world, and I was his favorite as well. But at 5 years old I didn't understand death. I just knew he was gone and he wasn't coming back. In those days, funerals were different than they are today. For example, the viewing was held in Grandpa’s house. And family and friends would come to the house and pass by his casket in the living room, and then… they’d gather in the kitchen for refreshments. Then later, when we gathered at the cemetery, the grave wasn't covered like it is these days. You could come right up to the grave itself and look right down into the place where the casket was to be lowered. At 5 years old I knew that was where my grandfather’s body was going to be buried. My mother said I spent a great deal of time looking down into that hole. At one point, I looked up at her and I asked a question that only a 5 yr. old would think to ask: “How is grandpa ever going to get out of there?” I didn't understand. I’d never seen anyone die before and it puzzled me.
But as a child, my folks had always taken me to church, and though I didn't know HOW I knew, I knew that grave wasn't gonna hold him. And although I knew that I just couldn't figure out how God would get grandpa out of the grave with all that dirt on top of him.How could I be SURE that grandpa was going to get out of the grave?
And, more than that, how can WE (as Christians” believe so strongly in the idea of being resurrected from the dead?”
Well to answer that question about being resurrected from the dead, we first know that it is promised in the Bible. In the Old Testament (for example) there are several verses that tell us NOT to fear death.
In the book of Job 19:25-27: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
In Hosea 13:14 God promised His people: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! …."
And the 23rd Psalm has these comforting words: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the SHADOW OF DEATH, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” Psalm 23:4

ILLUS: Years ago, I’d be driving my kids down the road and as we approached a bridge they would hold their breath. I asked them why they were doing that, and they said that holding their breath would keep them from dying as they went under the bridge. Now I thought that was “cute” at the time but then… I read about a 19-year-old man who fainted while holding his breath (for the very same reason). He had been driving through a tunnel northwest of Portland, Oregon when he fainted and his car drifted across the center line crashing into a Ford Explorer. Then his car then bounced off the tunnel walls and collided with a pickup. He ended up being cited for reckless driving, 4th-degree assault and 3 counts of reckless endangerment.
WHY? Why had he gotten in that accident? Well, because he believed in a silly superstition.
He was so afraid of the DARKNESS of the tunnel that he felt holding his breath would make him safer! He feared the SHADOW of death!

But we don’t have to be afraid of that shadow because God has promised us that the grave cannot hold us. So, the Old Testament is filled with the belief in a resurrection,
Then, in the New Testament, Jesus adds to these promises. In John 5:24 Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”
In John 6:40 He said; “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
And, of course, one of the most famous quotes in Scripture is found in John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Now, the question is this: Why would OUR hope of resurrection be tied to believing in Jesus?
And the answer is: we can believe WE will rise from the grave because Jesus DID IT FIRST.
As Revelation 1:5 says: Jesus Christ… (is) the firstborn from the dead…” Now, granted, there had been others raised by the dead in Scripture, but each and every one of them died again. But when Jesus rose from the dead… He never went back. He was the first one who ever CONQUERED death.
Paul said it this way in I Corinthians 15:14-20
“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is pointless, and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished (they’re not coming back - they have perished – there is no resurrection for them… or for us).
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But IN FACT Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
THE POINT IS THIS: We don’t have to be afraid. Death has no real power over us. Jesus rose from the dead as the FIRST BORN from the dead… the FIRSTFRUITS of those who’ve fallen asleep.
Romans 6 tells us that when we WERE baptized into Christ “We were buried … with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
So, when we’re baptized, God promises us that the grave WON’T hold us. WE WILL RISE FROM THE DEAD!

Conclusion: At the beginning of the sermon, I told you about the “White Room” test that psychiatrists will still sometimes use this test to gauge the fear their patients have of death. When I was at Purdue University, one of my friends tried it on me. He said he’d just learned something in Psych class and wanted to get my opinion of what he’d learned. So, he told all about the white room – the walls, the pictures, the furniture, etc. it was ALL white. He asked me to imagine myself in that room for a few minutes. THEN he asked “what kind of emotions do you feel about being in that room a period of time?”
Now, I’d never heard of this test before, and I had no idea what he was getting at, but I asked him the first thing that came into my mind: “IS THERE A DOOR?” “Yes,” he says… “and it’s white too!” And I responded, “Well, I want to know what’s on the other side of that door.”
You see, for the Christian, death is not a prison from which there is no escape, and the grave is not a box that can never be opened. A poet named Calvin Miller put it this way: “Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”
We don’t have to fear death, because Jesus has conquered death.
I Corinthians 15:55-58 tells us
“O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
There is a story told of a young girl who had to go home each night at dark, and she always walked thru a cemetery because it was the shortest route.
Someone asked her why she wasn’t afraid to pass thru the graveyard, and she responded
“Oh I’m not afraid! My home is just on the other side.”
INVITATION

 

 

Sermon Contributor: Jeff Strite

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