Today I am beyond excited to present what I hope will be the first of many “Guest Blogger” posts. And today is especially exciting because I get to showcase my father, David P. Cotner II. Yes, we have the same name…I am David the 3rd and my son is David the 4th. I guess my father and I are not the most original when it comes to naming our offspring. But that is neither here nor there 🙂
I asked my father, an ordained minister with years of pastoral and counseling experience, to write a small blog post on the believer’s perspective on the event we call “death”. Indeed, I find this blog post to be most timely as many families in our church body have recently experienced the pain of losing a dear loved one.
What follows are a series of questions and answers. It reads very much like a tutorial (or a “How to Approach Death” manual), but I think you will find this format to be most helpful. But before we get to this helpful tutorial, let me quote from one of my father’s poems that he wrote back in 2007. He entitled it, “You Are Not Alone”, and in it he wrote, “If God knows all and is everywhere; if he loves you and always cares; you are not alone…If a soul lives forever, in a place of no night; if there is a place of gladness and never any fright; you are not alone…And when the journey’s over, and when your faith is sight, remember He was with you, and led you through the night. You are not alone.” Indeed, even in death, you are never alone. Here are my father’s words:
What happens to humans at death?
Paul taught that the material part of people (their bodies) at death ceases to function and is placed in the grave. Believer’s bodies will be resurrected at the return of Christ in the Rapture and reunited with their immaterial part (their souls and spirits) and glorified. At the moment of death, the soul and the spirit are separated from the body and the person is immediately present with the Lord in Heaven.
Does the Christian who dies before the return of Christ receive a glorified body?
The person who dies before the return of Christ in the Rapture will receive a glorified body upon His return. Likewise, living Christians will be instantaneously changed, that is, glorified and caught up (the meaning of the word rapture is “catch up”) in the air to meet the Lord Jesus and ascend to Heaven with Him.
In the intermediate state, that is, from the time of the death of a believer until the resurrection of the body, there will be a temporary body for the believer to inhabit. We cannot describe this intermediate state in any detail because none has been revealed in Scripture. All we are told from Scripture is that there will be a body that believers receive so they will experience no period of nakedness, that is, a disembodied soul and spirit (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-8).
What role does the bodily resurrection of Christ play in the Christian’s hope of participation in the life to come?
Resurrection is a major component of the revelation given to us in God’s Word. (1) The resurrection of Christ is the linchpin of the faith. (2) The resurrection of believers at the return of Christ in the Rapture and subsequent glorification that will make us “like Christ” is the future hope of all believers. (3) The resurrection of the dead in order to stand at the Great White Throne Judgment is a vital evangelistic doctrine.
How could you use these ideas to comfort a family whose loved one (a Christian) has recently passed away?
These biblical truths can be used to comfort a grieving Christian who has experienced the loss of a loved one through death. They may be reminded of the following: (1) Eternal life is a present possession. Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Their loved one is “departed” but not “gone,” not “dead.” (2) Those that die in Christ are not dead; they are alive. Jesus said, “God is the God of the living, not the God of the dead.” (3) They are at home with the Lord. They are at peace and have no more of the pain and sorrow that so closely attends this life. They are happy and joyful and will never again experience death. (4) They occupy an immortal body that will not wear out and decay and they will not experience pain.
How does this idea encourage me to live for Christ?
These truths encourage me to live for Christ: (1) I have eternal life; I will never die. (2) This life of pain and sorrow is temporary. (3) The immortal life to come is everlasting. (4) I do not live for earthly reward, but heavenly. (5) The sorrow and pain of this life is not worthy to be compared to the far greater eternal weight of glory that will be realized in the presence of my Lord.
May God grant you the peace and joy that only comes from Him, so that whether you sorrow or rejoice, you may find your hope and comfort in our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.