Few things will test our belief system as much as death. If we claim to be Christian it should improve how we handle death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (HCSB) says “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” This verse says our belief in Christ should help us to handle death better than the rest of the world.
Grief will still invade the life of believers, but it should be a different experience than the hopelessness of those who don’t know anything about what is coming after death. So let me give you a brief discussion of death.
First I believe that the human soul has a starting point, but no ending point. Every person on earth is going to spend eternity somewhere. Scripture indicates the majority of them will spend eternity in torment. Please don’t think it’s more polite to remain silent about hell. Letting people walk unknowingly into a deadly trap is less polite than discomforting them with a warning.
I believe a person is placed into eternity the minute they leave this earth. For the believer this means to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Some believe in soul sleeping, but not many. This phrase means a person goes into a sleep like state at death and doesn’t wake up until the resurrection. The resurrection is when the soul is united with a body again, although the new body will be eternal. It will not grow old or suffer decay. I do not believe in soul sleeping, and I do believe in a bodily resurrection.
I believe the circumstances of the body at death or after death have nothing to do with the person’s eternal state. Being buried is not spiritually better than cremation nor is it better the other way around. The state of a person’s remains will not affect their resurrected body.
I believe Christians who are incurable, suffering and only surviving by medical means can be allowed to die without guilt. But I also believe all three of those conditions need to be met before giving up on a person. When this believer leaves this earth their suffering will cease and they will enter the eternal bliss of our Savior.
For the non-Christian in the same situation there is no good option; to continue to live is to suffer and to die is to lock in eternal suffering.