In various venues, in various talks over the last few years, I’ve found myself pointing out that God’s Plan A is death and resurrection. God’s Plan A is for Jesus to die and rise again. And Jesus told us clearly that following Him means sure death. To follow Jesus is to plan to die. Death is not a possibility. Death is the aim. We aim to die. We aim to run headlong for the glory of God and lay our lives down in love for the One who saved us.
This is not suicide because we do not take our lives in a rush of selfish bitterness. We don’t light ourselves on fire and hope for sympathy. We don’t slit our wrists and hope people will somehow hear our silent cries for help, for attention.
No, we have met the God of the Universe, the God who made this place, the God who runs this world. And He was born of a virgin, and willingly laid His life down for us. He died so that we might die in Him, and He rose from the dead so that we might live in Him. So the plan then is to die. And there is no Plan B. Plan B is only eternal sorrow and isolation.
And the gospel proclaims this grace, the gift of being taken up into the mission of God, the gift of offering up our lives as sacrifices of praise, in the life of the Perfect Son, the perfect sacrifice.
This is the center of the gospel which means that this touches so many different facets of life. But let me just point to two here.†
First, consider confession of sin. Sin is basically death. It’s death in miniature. It’s death in a bottle. And when we sin, there is no way out except by death. We have embraced death, so we must die. The wages of sin is death. All sin deserves death because all sin is a covenant with death. We have signed on the dotted line. We have married ourselves to Hell. And so the only way out is through death. Either we will die and stay dead or we will die and rise again. There is no other way. Every single soul in the history of the human race faces these two options: death or death?
But the only death which precedes resurrection is the death of Jesus. The death that precedes staying dead is just you alone, grasping your idols, like sand crumbling forever. But if you confess your sins and cry out to God, He always hears and He always provides. He doesn’t leave you on Mt. Moriah to fend for yourself. He always provides a ram. And in Jesus, He has provided a Lamb. And for those who look to Jesus in faith, who cry out for mercy and grace, His blood cleanses them from every stain. His blood washes them whiter than snow. His death becomes their death, and His life becomes their life.
So for all those who trust in Him, all those who sin and need grace, every time we confess our sins to God and to one another, we claim the death of Jesus, and we die to sin a little more. We mortify the flesh; we put the old man to death. We die and rise again, forgiven, clean.
Second, consider what might seem like a completely different topic: end of life decisions. I heard recently from a friend that some doctors have remarked to her that Christians can sometimes be the most difficult to work with when it comes to facing terminal cancer or coming to grips with the end of life. This could probably be applied to the wide spread obsession many Christians have with health and nutrition in general. But the doctor said that many unbelievers realize and come to peace with life coming to an end more easily than Christians (in that doctor’s experience). Of course, we should grant the unique nature of every medical condition, family situation, etc. We should be happy to respect familial privacy on cancer treatments and end of life decisions. But one thing that should be agreed upon by all is the fact that as Christians we aren’t afraid of death. We aren’t afraid of dying. In fact, if we know Jesus, we’ve already died and our lives our hid with God in Christ. This life isn’t ultimate or absolute. And when Jesus calls our number, we can go gladly.
Not only that, but we’ve always planned to die. To live is Christ and to die is gain. Plan A is to die. Plan A is to lay down our lives in love for the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. We offer our lives as living sacrifices. That means that if God calls us to die through cancer, we suffer and die gladly. If God calls us to die in an airplane crash, we suffer and die gladly. If God calls us to old age and aches and pains and slowly deteriorating over decades, we suffer and die gladly. Car accidents, terrorist attacks, random shootings, house fires, whatever. Even the pains and hardships of tragedies around us, the death of parents and grandparents and children. As heart-wrenching and painful as those deaths are, we belong to the One who ripped a gaping hole in the mountainside of death and now we are not afraid because we know the way out. And so the plan is to die.
Of course we love life. Of course we protect life and preserve life. But this life is not absolute. We have sworn our lives away to Jesus. We have promised to die with Him and for Him. And when we confess our sins openly and honestly, we practice dying, we practicing losing everything, we practice laying everything down. If confession of sin doesn’t feel like a death, you probably aren’t doing it right. If you don’t feel the shame, if it doesn’t hurt at least a little, if there isn’t some part of you begging not to do it, you’re probably doing something else. You’re probably playing games with God. But in the end everyone dies. And some are ready because they have been practicing every day. And some are not ready because they have been pretending that their self-righteous play acting would somehow matter when it came down to it. But it won’t.
The plan is always to die. That’s Plan A. There is no Plan B. And either that’s wonderful, grace-filled news or that’s the most terrifying thought in the world. Which is it for you? A good gauge of what you really think is seen in whether you confess your sins. Are you afraid to die?