Is Coronavirus the final frontier?

Is Coronavirus the final frontier?

Question

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) out there, I’m scared of dying. I’m in a high-risk category and one of my friends has COVID-19. Is COVID-19 the final frontier? Does anything come after COVID-19?

Answer

I’m very sorry that a friend of yours has the Coronavirus (COVID-19). I hope they pull through. If you happen to contract COVID-19, I hope and pray that you pull through as well. And, you are right to get ready for the unknown.

I’m in a high-risk category myself, so I somewhat understand the anxiety caused by the Coronavirus. And just for the record, we should diligently follow the instructions of the Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the many other certified agencies regarding this crisis. My discussion here, however, will be limited only to the spiritual concerns that accompany such a health threat.

Let’s get right to the point. In reality, everyone dies. As Ecclesiastes 3:20 states, "All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return." That’s rather grim language, isn’t it? However, it’s the truth and a well-known fact, so you are right to be ready for death. But to get to the heart of your question, we need to answer some others along the way. (1) What is death?; (2) How did death come into being?; and (3) How do we best prepare for death?

What is Death?

While the subject of death can be an intimidating topic to discuss, whether it be by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) or by some other means, our days in this world are specifically numbered (cf. Job 14:5; Psa. 39:4; 103:15-16; 14;4; Matt. 6:27; Jas. 4:14). Natural life, as we presently know it, is only temporary. And no matter whether we are young or old, or rich or poor, or have a family or are single, sooner or later our bodies will cease to function (cf. Job 7:9-10; 10:21). One day we will breathe our last breath on this spinning globe called the Earth. Non-life is death.

From the second we are conceived, we not only begin to live but to die as well. The outward man (our body) perishes daily. Every day that we live we are one step closer to our grave. While all the statistics aren’t in yet, with only two exceptions (2 Kings 2:11; Heb. 11:5; cf. Gen. 5:23-24), the frequency rate of death is 100%. Every one of us will die one day.

Physical death means separation. Biblically speaking, the first man, Adam, began existence in this world when God breathed life into his physical being. Genesis 2:7: "... then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." So, Adam's natural life began with the union of his body and his spirit. Adam’s death meant the separation of his spirit from his body (cf. Jas. 2:26). Therefore, death is not only separation from family and friends, it is the separation of our spirit from the physical body as well.

From an earthly perspective, death in this world is the end of all life and existence for a person. It is the place of no return. Consider Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10:

For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. … Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [the grave], to which you are going.

How Did Death Come into Being?

Physical death is a curse and our enemy, so naturally we don’t like it. But it wasn’t always this way. Adam was originally given life. In the garden he never even experienced the death of another human being. How good is that! It was very good! (Gen. 1:31). But he disobeyed God and he sinned, bringing death upon all mankind. (Please see "What commandment(s) did Adam violate in the Fall?" below.)

To make a long story short, in Genesis 2:15-17, we observe that Adam was placed within the Garden of Eden to work and keep it. God had but one very simple requirement; while Adam was permitted to eat of every other tree in the garden, he wasn’t allowed to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If he ate of it, he would surely die. So, what did Adam do? You guessed it. He ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 3:1-6). Adam disobeyed the word of God and became "Patient Zero" in the most deadly pandemic in history called "sin." It's more deadly than COVID-19 as sin has a 100% mortality rate. So, the first couple immediately died spiritually, and in time they died physically. Genesis 5:5 tells us "all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died."

So, we know why Adam died, but why do we? There are essentially two reasons: Adam is our federal head, and we sin too.

As the first human being to ever exist, Adam represented all of mankind. Adam is what is theologically called our federal head. (Please see, "What is Federal Headship?" below.) According to Romans 5:12-21, federal headship has to do with representation, which is one person acting on behalf of another. The American legal system uses a similar concept called "power of attorney" which is a written authorization to allow one to represent another for some legal matter. Adam was our representative and when he sinned, he is seen as having acted for the entire human race, including you and me. Adam’s sin is credited to our "sin ledger." And before you say, "Well, that’s not fair!" think about it for a moment. Be honest, because we also would have eaten the forbidden fruit. That's easily proven by the numerous other times we have already disobeyed God and his word. Can you even count them? Let's face it, we're all forbidden fruit eaters.

Adam’s sin is often called original sin. One result of original sin is that all mankind enters into life with a fallen human nature that leaves us dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1-3). We're not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. We are all born already possessing the deadly cancer of sin. It's in our very nature, part and parcel of our very being. We have amoral DNA and are morally ruined. Our hearts are absolutely corrupt (Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21). We are totally depraved. Since, the entire human race inherited a sinful nature through Adam's original act of rebellion (Rom. 5:12-14), as such we have sinful desires and tendencies and therefore it’s no surprise that original sin manifests itself in our sinful choices, actions, habits, feelings and thoughts (Jas. 1:14-15). It affects our entire disposition. It continually seeps from us just like sweat on a hot and humid day. We naturally love sin and hate God (Rom. 8:7-8).

This brings us to the second reason for death: our own individual sin. We are all sinners (Rom. 3:23). Can we even list all of our sins? Lying, theft, sexual sin, cheating on taxes, dishonoring parents, etc., the list is long. God is omniscient, so be assured he has a list (cf. Rev. 20:12; cf. Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:13, 15). Every sin committed is against God personally; it dishonors his holiness. And as the eternal Judge, he must necessarily judge sin with the penalty of death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

How to We Best Prepare for Death?

As a former homicide detective I unfortunately saw a lot of death. I also dealt with death from the perspective of emergency management and when I was an officer in the U.S. military. I witnessed how people dealt with it; some good, some not so good. It is a scary thing.

However, when it came down to my own mortality, I still had to deal with it personally. Early in my law enforcement career I began to wonder, Is today it? Will I get shot? Will I get stabbed, beaten with a bat, or run over? How am I going to die? How painful will it be? How long will I suffer? I had a lot of questions, but no answers. I confronted life and death decisions daily (all of us do), but I had to examine and investigate death – my death – for myself. I had to understand more. I believe we never truly live until we are really prepared to die. (Phil. 1:21-22; cf. Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:23). I encourage everyone to think about this.

Since death is our enemy (1 Cor. 15:26), it’s only natural to be somewhat anxious about it. There are so many unknowns: What does it feel like? What kind of transfer experience is it? What happens after it? I had people literally die in my arms, but in my research I never could get a full answer to the first two questions. Going from one state to another (going from life to death) is still a mystery in many respects. And that type of mystery evokes some wonder, even awe.

I did, however, get a definite answer to the third question of what happens after death. It's in the Bible. When we die we will be judged. Hebrews 9:27 says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." And there is a heaven and a hell (cf. Matt. 25:46). Heaven and hell are each very real places; they each have an eternal zip code per se. And in a manner of speaking, different personal packages are eternally delivered to each place daily. So, one will either go to heaven, which is a place of eternal life, or they will go to hell, an eternal place of torment. There are no exceptions. And common sense tells me I don’t desire to end up in the latter.

So, how do I get to heaven?

Well, you can’t pay God enough money to get in his heaven as the price is far greater than mere gold! (1 Pet. 1:18-19). You can’t work or earn your way to heaven (Eph. 2:8-10; Tit. 3:5). Everything and anything that we have to give to God is tainted and polluted with sin. Isaiah 64:6 states, "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." Think about it for a moment. Since all our works are polluted and unclean, no matter how high you stack them they are still polluted and unclean. Dirt is dirt no matter how high it gets. We’re just not capable earning our way to heaven.

Simply put, you get to heaven by grace through faith. Salvation is God’s free gift. You must be born again (John 3). You must believe in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10). The only way to have a right relationship with God is through Jesus Christ his Son. He and he alone can eternally free you from the penalty and pollution of sin (cf. Rom. 5:1-2; 8:1-2; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 9:15) and even death itself (cf. Rom. 5:12-17; 7:24; Rom. 8:35-39; 1 Cor. 15:22-23).

It's Christ alone who can unshackle you from the fear of death. As the writer of Hebrews says, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery" (Heb. 2:14-15). So, death’s sting is removed for the Christian. Sure, Christians still die physically, but it is glorious as opposed to being gloomy. The apostle Paul tells us, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:56-57). Jesus Christ "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).

Though the Palmist speaks about our life being only a vapor (Psa. 103:15-16), he also speaks about God's love that is greater than death itself. He writes, "But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments" (Psa. 103:17-18). This is the good news — the gospel. Believing in Jesus — his selfless sacrifice and love — is the only way to really prepare for death. What Amazing Grace!

The Bible teaches us that we should live with an awareness of our death. We should view it from an eternal perspective. For the Christian this simply means death is to "be away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). The new heavens and the new earth are the believer’s true home with God. There’s no more death there, and no more fear or sickness either (Rev. 21:4). There’s no Coronavirus or other epidemics or pandemics there. The beauty of heaven is so majestic, it’s wondrous beauties can’t even be fully fathomed this side of eternity — "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor. 2:9). However, for the non-Christian, death means eternal separation from the living God in a living hell for eternity. There are no second chances. We will live with our decisions made this side of eternity forever. (Pease see, "An Eternal Hell is for Real - The Heresy of Annihilationism?" below.)

A Sinner’s Prayer

You are a sinner (Rom. 3:10).
Sin separates you from God (Rom. 3:23).
You cannot save yourself (Rom. 4:4-5).
Jesus is the very Son of God (Luke 1:35).
Only Jesus can save you (Rom. 5:8).
You can receive Jesus Christ through faith (Rom. 10:9-10).

In prayer you can accept Jesus Christ:

Admit to God that you are a sinner. Ask him to help you turn away from your sin nature. Ask him to forgive your sins. Believe in Jesus that he is the very Son of God. Invite Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Thank Jesus for making peace between you and God. Commit to live your life for him.

After accepting Christ, share this with a trusted friend or family member and become involved in a Bible-believing church. Inform the pastor of your decision.

How then shall we live?

For the believer, real life begins at salvation because that's when eternal life begins (1 John 5:11-12). And this life comes with the magnificent opportunity and satisfaction to live it solely for God’s glory alone (cf. 1 Cor. 1:31). As stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism 1A, "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever." We do this by living his way for his glory. Even so, such a lifestyle won’t save a person, but it surely evidence of a saved life.

Is the Coronavirus the last frontier? No. Is physical death the final frontier? No. It’s just one step into eternity! I hope you and every reader have thought about where you will spend it.

Pray for our world.

Related Topics

COVID-19: Fear vs. Hope
What is Federal Headship?
What commandment(s) did Adam violate in the Fall?
Was Jesus' sacrifice on the cross a real sacrifice?
An Eternal Hell is for Real - The Heresy of Annihilationism?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).