Death is Certain: But God

by Skip Heitzig
“Death Is Certain…but God”
Psalm 49

  1. Introduction
    1. As humans, we all have to face our own mortality
      1. The most basic truth about life is death
      2. The theme of Psalm 49 is the brevity of life and the certainty of death
      3. James 4:14
    2. God has a solution for the brevity of life
      1. “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me” (v. 15)
      2. Psalm 49 could be summed up this way: we live precariously, we die certainly, and we must plan accordingly
  2. Life Is Unstable (vv. 1-5)
    1. This psalm points to life’s instability and uncertainty in talking about common experiences
      1. Notice the contrast between high and low, rich and poor
      2. “I have one foot in heaven and one foot on Earth, and the foot on Earth is on a banana peel” —Malcolm Muggeridge
      3. Ecclesiastes 6:12
    2. In the New Testament, there are three different Greek words that are translated into one English word—life
      1. The first two are unstable; the third is stable
      2. Bios—the most basic word for life in Greek; physical life
        1. This is where most people spend most of their time, energy, effort, and money
        2. Physical life is very unstable
      3. Psuché—the inward life; your personality and how you process thoughts
        1. This is the inner person
        2. This aspect of life is also unstable, because you can have peace one day and be filled with anxiety the next
        3. Many people are alive physically but tormented mentally, with no peace of mind
      4. Zóé—eternal life or everlasting life
        1. Life on the spiritual plane, which is stable
        2. This theological term is found 143 times in the New Testament
        3. This describes a quality of life—life in the here and now that will follow you into the future
        4. John 5:24
  3. Death Is Universal (vv. 1, 6-12)
    1. This psalm cuts across all different categories of geography
      1. All peoples
      2. All social strata
    2. This is a message for everyone: we’re all going to die
      1. No one gets out of this alive; death is the great leveler for all of us
      2. Hebrews 9:27
      3. Death is mentioned 394 times in the Bible
      4. Not even the wealthiest person with access to the world’s best health care can escape death; all the money in the world can’t buy life
  4. Redemption Is Possible (vv. 14-15)
    1. You can’t redeem anybody, and you can’t redeem yourself
      1. The word redeem meansto set free by paying a price
      2. You can’t pay a price to free anyone; God paid the price to free everyone
      3. Jesus, by His death, makes your death temporary
      4. The only loophole to death is to have a relationship with the one who holds the keys of life and death—the Lord Jesus Christ
    2. Verse 15 is highly theological; it expresses faith in God for personal redemption and for eventual resurrection
      1. God will provide payment for my soul—this payment was made on the cross
      2. God’s redemption includes giving me power over death—God plans to resurrect me at some point after death
        1. Psalm 73:24
        2. Genesis 5:24
        3. Hebrews 11:5
        4. Job 19:25
    3. Death is not the final word—Jesus is (see John 11:25)
  5. Confidence Is Conditional (vv. 16-20)
    1. Don’t be jealous of people who have a lot, because people who have a lot leave a lot when they die
      1. Job 1:21
      2. 1 Timothy 6:7
    2. Trusting anyone other than God is foolish
      1. “This is the way of those who are foolish” (v. 13)
      2. Luke 12:16-21
    3. When you understand the temporary nature of life, the certainty of death, and the spiritual reality of everlasting life, you will have confidence because you have stability
      1. Stability breeds real confidence
      2. Confidence is conditional—not everybody has it
        1. The believer has confidence because death isn’t the end of the road
        2. Death is the doorway to life
  6. Conclusion
    1. If there is no hereafter, then nothing matters
      1. This is why so many philosophers become fatalists
      2. If you just live biologically and consciously, but afterwards cease to exist, there’s no purpose to life and nothing matters
    2. If there is a hereafter, then nothing else matters
      1. This is the central issue
      2. We need to think clearly and soberly about life, death, judgment, and eternity

Figures referenced: Malcolm Muggeridge

Cross references: Genesis 5:24; Job 1:21; 19:25; Psalm 73:24; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Luke 12:16-21; John 5:24; 11:25; 1 Timothy 6:7; Hebrews 9:27; 11:5; James 4:14

Greek words: bios, psuché, zóé

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