Assurance in Death and Resurrection

June 11, 2024

​​Two experiences with death in my family showed me the difference between having no hope and having hope and assurance in death. The first was when my grandfather died when I was 12 years old. It was my first experience with death in my family, and the shock and uncertainty I felt were immense. No one in my family talked about his passing, and seeing him in the casket was a new and frightening experience for me. I left for school in the morning, said goodbye to him and when I came home, his room was empty. 

This left a hole in all our hearts, yet there was no talk about hope or assurance in life after death. I grieved as one who had no hope. Although only God knew his heart, I had no assurance of seeing him again. And because our family was uncomfortable discussing death, I never heard anyone talk about the certainty of reuniting with him in the future. My family had Christian roots, but we were not attending church and had very little knowledge about the Bible. Some mentioned that he was in Heaven, while others said he was resting in the grave. As a young boy, this was very confusing.

Fast forward 40 years, I had been an Adventist pastor for 17 years and had baptized my mother, brother, sister and two nieces. When my mother died, I conducted her funeral and preached about the blessed hope of the resurrection. However, when we went to the cemetery and they were lowering her body into the grave, a thought suddenly struck me: “Do you really believe what you preached in the chapel? Do you believe she will rise from this grave?” I believe those words came from the enemy. But just as suddenly, another thought entered my mind: the words of Jesus to Martha at the grave of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, shall live. And he who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26. I chose to believe the voice of Jesus, and with it came hope and assurance.

These two personal experiences with death showed me how the belief that Jesus has conquered death through His death and resurrection brings me great hope in my life and my preaching. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 that the dead in Christ will rise, and those who are alive will be caught up to meet them in the air. What a blessed hope! Paul also wrote that the last enemy to be destroyed is death. Death and its fear have been conquered.

I also like to visualize the scene described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed… So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”

These verses give me comfort, hope and the assurance of life beyond death.

By James Shires