Fear of Death: Bible Study and Help

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How can we conquer our fear of death?  Is there a way to have no fear of death in this life?  What does the Bible say happens after a person dies?

Everyone has a fear of death.  No one is immune. This is why some people have a fear of heights, some have a fear of flying, yet others have a fear of drowning in water.  It is a good thing to have a natural fear of dying – it is self-preservation and keeps us from doing things that would endanger our lives.  Fear of dying is often not realized until a person reaches an older age. There can be an unhealthy sense of a fear of death that can cause a person to be paralyzed by it.  For the most part, when someone is nearing death or is in a situation where death is possible, like in a war zone, this fear can be gripping- but there really is no need to fear for those who know Christ.

How Can We Conquer Our Fear of Death?  

The Apostle Paul often had close encounters with death.  He was nearly stoned to death more than once. His life was threatened.  He was living with this threat throughout most of his ministry.  So how did Paul overcome this fear?  Once a person is a believer in Christ they should not fear death anymore since their future is eternally secure (John 6:37, 10:28-29) however, if a person is not a believer, then Jesus warns “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”(Matt. 10:28).  Indeed, this is reiterated by the prophet Jeremiah, “Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence”(Jer. 5:22)?

The fear of God is not the same thing as a fear about God.  Fear in the Old Testament vernacular means a type of respect, reverence, and honor toward God (I Pet. 2:17).  Those who will be under God’s judgment, ought rightly to fear God as Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Luke 12:5 clarifies why unbelievers should fear God, “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”  God is described as “a consuming fire” to those who reject Jesus as Savior (Heb 12:29).

David understood that he had nothing to fear from God even while He wrote in the “valley of the shadow of death” in Psalm 23.  In Psalm 23 he calmly writes, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, [literally “the valley of the shadow of death”] I will fear no evil,  for you are with me.”  The evil king Saul had been pursing David for years and was out to kill him but David understood that if God be for him, who could be against him (Romans 8:31)?

Fear of Death

Those who are the children of God and have been born again of an incorruptible seed need not fear death anymore

Is There a Way to Have No Fear of Death in This Life?

Yes there is!  Those who are the children of God and have been born again of an incorruptible seed need not fear death anymore, for Jesus said ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Second Timothy 1:7 declares that, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Romans 8:36-39 reveals Paul’s resolve to not be moved, “As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Paul was utterly convinced that not even death could separate him from God.  He could sleep peacefully with the thought that he might lose his life at any time.  There was no fear of death for Paul because he understood that even death could not severe the relationship that he had with Jesus Christ.

Even the Old Testament prophets understood this calm, peaceful reassurance. Isaiah writes, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”(Isaiah 41:10). First John 4:8 supports this thinking as he stated, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  The love of God for His own children and His own children’s love for God brings a peaceful, easy feeling, even amidst the worst circumstances.


What Does the Bible Say Happens After a Person Dies?

The late evangelist Adrian Rogers says that if a person is born twice, he dies once but if he is only born once he dies twice.  What does he mean by this?  There are actually three types of death mentioned in the Bible. There is the physical death of this mortal life.  The cessation of living in our human bodies when the heart stops, the brain ceases to function, and a person is declared legally dead, but physical death does not destroy the spirit of man.  There is the spiritual death – the death of the anyone who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Finally, there is eternal death. This is a death that is worse than the first two.  It is eternal torment in a hell fire that never ends.  On the other hand, if a person chooses to place their faith in Jesus Christ, then they will be with the Lord God for eternity after they die.

Everyone alive will experience a physical death unless the Lord would return for us before it occurs, but no one needs to go through a spiritual death and the consequent eternal death.  Everyone has free will – the freedom to choose eternal life in Jesus Christ.  To reject eternal life, which means to believe in Jesus Christ, a person willfully chooses to experience an eternal death – an eternal separation from God.  When Christ finally returns, the last thing He will conquer is death.  The author of Hebrews writes, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb 2:14-15).  First Corinthians 15:25-26 puts its well, “For he [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

If  This Article Was Helpful You Might Like This One Also:

Freedom From Worry: Keeping Your Eyes On Jesus

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Telling November 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

Well written Jack, your hand was surely guided writing this one! I love the picture (thank you Pam?!) as an illustration of the Hope we have in Him! This is timely in my household, my wife has many questions with her father facing cancer the past few months.

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Jack November 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thank you Jeff…I appreciate that. I would say that I am not even the best writer here my friend. I told my congregation one time that “part of this sermon today would be perfect! The part where I read out of the Bible”…LOL. It is ultimately, all a glory to Jesus Christ and to Him be the glory for I know He will not share His glory with another (and why should He?). Nonetheless, thank you sir for your kind remarks.

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Amie Peters July 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Hi Jack,
I just wanted to that you for this artical. It has given me great incite to the paper I am writing for my Psychology class.

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Jack Wellman July 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Awesome Amie. I am so glad and hope it helps. I remember Psyh in college. God bless your educational endeavors too.

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Bob January 30, 2013 at 7:56 am

Good article Jack but I must disagree with you that “everyone” has a fear of death. I have known two strong Christians that did not fear it, during their illnesses and at their deaths (both in their 20’s), they talked with me about their faith, about leaving here-throughout their illnesses & neither of them feared it. It is quite a generalization to say “everyone” fears it because some Christians really do not. I hope I have such calm and complete faith in God and Christ when I leave here, it was amazing!

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Genesis June 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I’m afraid of how I’m gonna die

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Jack Wellman June 3, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Why my friend. Speak to your pastor again, face to face. Tell him these fears. Perfect love castes out all fear, so Jesus said. This is the Enemy lying to you. Believe God, not your doubts, your feelings, or your mind. Reside in or memorize Romans 8. That chapter conquers all our fears. The only reason some fear is that sin keeps people in doubt. Are you in a sexually immoral affair? Are you hurting someone, stealing, lying, or worse? As I have said before, sin keeps us away from the Bible but the Bible keeps us away from sin. Read and re-read Roman’s 8 over and over again. If you doubt, do you call God a liar? God can not lie but your minds do.

Even the Old Testament prophets understood this calm, peaceful reassurance. Isaiah writes, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”(Isaiah 41:10). First John 4:8 supports this thinking as he stated, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” The love of God for His own children and His own children’s love for God brings a peaceful, easy feeling, even amidst the worst circumstances.

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Bob June 3, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Genesis, My comment above, one of these was my wife at age 29. She was ill for 18 mos with a malignant brain tumor and initially, when diagnosed, she was afraid. Then after meeting with our minister in Richmond a few days later, she had a real faith about the unknown, a confidence that regardless of when her death came, she knew God was always in control of it all and that she was spending eternity with Christ in Heaven. I was with her when she left to go there. It was an amazing experience for me and that was 29+ years ago. I know it will help me in my death, whenever and however it comes. This is not my home and it has never been.

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Genesis June 3, 2013 at 9:14 pm

It’s cause I don’t want the pain of a heart attack or something worse i am only 16 but I am afraid of having one

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Kris June 11, 2013 at 3:45 am

I understand this anxiety ….Jack has made a good recommendation for us to take to heart….feeding on the scripture certainly will fill your heart with truth .

Jesus told us to cast our care upon HIM for HE cares for YOU.

I think He is very efficient to care for His children who bring their cares to Him . As Jack pointed out the fear that comes over our thinking is not truth . It is one of the tactics of the enemy of our soul to distract us from what the Lord has told us .

We are also told to think about these things.

Phl 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Meditation is not to empty your mind or to go into a trance state as some New Age suggest …we are to think ON what GOD has given us to think about …ponder.

To follow the practices of meditation as those who have begun to teach even Christians is to open up the mind to familiar spirits…It is TRULY dangerous ….

The many false offerings that were plentiful in the 1960’s has not gone away and has cause many to perish without Christ. The various aspects of our culture in decline are a result of such practices now being offered within churches as ‘contemplative’ practices and ’emergent ‘ doctrines both of which have their roots in the pagan religions which God warned us to have nothing to do with them!

There is a good site where the writers are exposing these as past practitioners who have come to the Lord and now are warning those who do not have the background to recognize the danger in these things that have come into the church and are being ‘rebranded’ using biblical terms but do not mean the same thing as GOD intended those things to mean.

I suggest anyone being drawn into these popular but dangerous practices to learn more from those who have been there and have come to the knowledge of the truth …I also had a background as I searched to know GOD and I attest that these evaluations offered on their site to be of good testimony and warning about these things …”newly come up’ but are old demonic practices wrapped in sheep’s clothing.

The site I spoke of is called Lighthouse Trails which has many good materials for your access to read online.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletters/2013/newsletters20130610.htm

Hope it is OK for me to post this link on here….always refer to your scriptures to ‘see if whatever you read or hear is in concert with the Word no matter what …we may learn from others but it is the WORD that clarifies the truth of anything .

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Jeri Anders July 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Im searching to know about the true Sabbath Day, the 7th Day, that God requires us to keep holy each week. Is it the mark of the last day Christians and is “Sunday keeping” the coming mark of the beast?? Im searchinga baptized SDA but Im still needing real answers to keepmy questions and concerns. I have so many. I don’t understand the rapture, pre, post or whenever. I love my Lord Jesus with all I am, and I need to know the truth of God’s ways and His true teachings. I don’t want to miss the mark, thinking I had the truth all alone and realizing I never did!

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Jen July 7, 2014 at 9:05 am

I love The Lord. I trust Him, but I am so afraid of the afterlife. I don’t understand how we will live in heaven infinitely. I hate the idea of death. I hate that I won’t have my parents as my parents. I hate that my spouse won’t be my spouse. Also, if Satan was a good angel who made the choice to become bad, then what happens if other angels choose to go bad once satan is conquered. What happens after 1,000 years in heaven and another bad choice is made? I’ve been really trying to seek The Lord in this one, but it has been something that I’ve been fearful about my entire life. I know I should read Romans about fear. But there are so many questions I need answers for and it’s all so unknown.

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Jack Wellman July 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

Thank you Jen for your comment. These things that you are worrying about God has already determined. If we read the Book of Revelation, we know that God has assigned all the fallen angels (demons) and Satan to the lake of fire and they can do nothing more than God allows. God created the fallen angels and Satan and so the Creator of all creatures is always greater than His creation so God is assured to have victory, even over death. I urge you to read Romans 8 and 1 John to see how you can be assured that God is in control and if you are not going to read the Word of God then you will constantly have fears but the Word of God has power to calm our fears so read it and be assured that there is real power in His Word. If you don’t you will always live in fear and doubt and there is no reason for you to live like this. If you have repented and trusted in Christ, then you have no fear of the after life. Again, read Romans 8. Trust God and to be sure you are saved, read this please at this link: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/come-to-jesus/

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Kris July 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Jack,
Once again you have addressed an area of our faith that many are still concerned about . This world continues to actually glorify death and various violent things as ‘entertainment’ so your exhortation for us to continue to study and look unto Jesus through the knowledge and understanding He gives those who ask Him for it is great ! Thank YOU!

I have found a site which may bring some additional comfort to those who are worried about various areas where there may still be confusion. I know that we are first and foremost exhorted …commanded to be Berean’s and study the Word to ‘see if it is so’ in all things.

If you want to examine this site and think it is useful for those who might have more areas of interest in addition to this one then I offer this link to YOU that you might check it out and if you think it is useful then perhaps allow it here .

Gracethrufaith… one of the things I appreciate is that it is offered as your ‘s is free of any merchandising of what is there . As among believers we are all supposed to study to show ourselves approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of Truth.

I appreciate having the opportunity to consider what other believers have been given in understanding as they study and are sharing . This is not to say that there are none who may have wrong understandings and even some who are offering false things. So it is with caution that I read to learn what is being offered and what some are believing that I might also study the scriptures to know what answers the Lord will give us for any who might be learning from those.

Thanks again for your continued sharing of what you have studied and are continuing to study in the Word!

1Pe 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Deu 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Jhn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation;BUT IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE.

I was with my mom when she passed and I remember how like a birth it seemed ….she sat up and said ” I ‘ve got to get there” She seemed to be intent and going ‘forward’ while her body fell backward into my arms as she was in bed at the time.

The nurses said that as a person is dying their organs shut down little by little. It would seem then that as far as this instance was concerned that she was not experiencing any pain or fear but simply went ‘on’ into eternity with Jesus.

I read Corrie Ten Booms comment she gave accounting of how she asked her father about death and he said ” When you are going on a train when do I give you your ticket? ” She said ‘ Just before I board the train’ and he said ” So your Heavenly Father will give you what you need before you depart this world’

I thought that was a comforting way to look at it.

And your exhortation about staying in fellowship with the Lord through reading and walking after Him is great . Thanks again and I hope this helps to offer comfort to anyone who is struggling with this as many of us do.

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Jack Wellman July 7, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Kris. You are such an encouragment…..always! That website is spot on…no doubt. Great recommendation. I appreciate what you said too that this is an area where “many are still concerned about” but I believe the underlying reason is that peopple are not into the Word daily so that the Word doesn’t get into them daily. They don’t go thru the Word so the Word doesn’t go thru them. So true…to study to show ourselves approved would be a huge step in aleviating the vast amounts of doubt. The more I read and study the Word, ironically, the more I see just how much of it that I don’t know. The more I laern of God the more I see just how awful sin is and what it created in the work at Calvary and just how much our Lord paid.

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Kris July 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Jack,

I liked the way you put that …Get into the Word so the word gets INTO US! Just what I understood in the point here in this verse….You can’t “keep’ what you don’t know!

Jhn 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

Good job Jack….keep up the walk of faith and your sharing here it touches so many who need some clear answers and may not have spent as much time in the word yet.

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Jack Wellman July 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Kris, as always, your words are like a cold drink of water on a hot day to my soul and I truly thank God for you my sister in Christ. I love the John 14:23 quote. It is spot on.

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Kris July 7, 2014 at 10:17 pm

:>) Me too!

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David Lewis November 19, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Thank for you for this inspiring article, it’s surely strengthened my bond with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I feel truly blessed I fear death no more and put my faith in the Lord I will be baptized soon as well God bless you.

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Jack Wellman November 19, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Thank you Mr. Lewis. Congratulations my friend. May God richly bless your walk with Christ.

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