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.”

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