It Is Not Death to Die

This title comes from an 1832 hymn written by H. A. Cé­sar Ma­lan. (Alternate title: Memento mori)

Jeff Vanderstelt makes the (correct!, imho) observation that whatever else churches have been doing, we have not been helping Christians deal with one of the most fundamental realities of their existence: their impending death.

And a few quotes from giants in church history to solidify the point:

Athanasius, Calvin, Owen, & Eliot on Death

“A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offense against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Saviour, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection.”
Athanasius On the Incarnation

men who, before they believe in Christ, think death horrible and are afraid of it, once they are converted despise it so completely that they go eagerly to meet it, and themselves become witnesses of the Saviour’s resurrection from it. Even children hasten thus to die, and not men only, but women train themselves by bodily discipline to meet it. . . . Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot as he now is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Savior on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, “O Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy sting?”

…many who boast of being Christians, instead of thus longing for death, are so afraid of it that they tremble at the very mention of it as a thing ominous and dreadful… If we reflect that by death we are recalled from exile to inhabit our native country, a heavenly country, shall this give us no comfort? … For Paul admirably enjoins believers to hasten cheerfully to death (2 Cor 5:2)… This however, let us hold as fixed, that no man has made much progress in the school of Christ who does not look forward with joy to the day of death and final resurrection (2 Tim 4:18; Titus 2:13)… “Look up,” says our Lord, “and lift up your heads: for your redemption draws nigh” (Luke 21:28)… Thus, indeed, it is; the whole body of the faithful, so long as they live on the earth, must be like sheep for the slaughter, in order that they may be conformed to Christ their head (Rom 8:36).
Calvin Institutes III.ix.5 – 6

John Owen was on his death bed, and his publisher friend came to bring news that his monograph The Glory of Christ “had been published. With upraised eye and hand, Owen breathed out, ‘I am glad to hear it; but, oh brother Payne, the long wished for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing, in this world.’”

“When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.”
Jim Eliot

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