Death Of The Righteous Verses The Unrighteous
God created man in his own likeness and in the beginning man was in the presence of God. God created man with choice and man soon made the mistake of sin (Gen. 1-3). Man's sin separated him from God (no longer in His presence) and through it much was changed in our physical world. Death entered our physical world as a result of sin (Rom. 5:12) and it is now appointed for all men (Heb. 9:27); provided, Christ does not return first. Christ spent time with us here and made us aware of the two results awaiting us at death in Luke 16;19-31 with the example of the Rich Man and Lazurus. He described the death of the righteous and contrasted it to the death of the unrighteous.
Some are unrighteous and going to die with more concern for the things of this world than serving their God. Those living for self were described as foolish by Christ (Lk. 12:20-21). Other foolish ones will die totally denying the existence of God (Ps. 14:1). Probably the most tragic are those who think they are right with God when in fact they are not. They are deceived by others or self into thinking they are right. We looked at some examples recently (Matt. 7:21-23; Matt. 25:1-12; Lk. 18:11-14).
The condition of the unrighteous is vividly described in Luke 16:19-31. They will go to a place of suffering while fully conscious (vs. 23-24). All is final and now memory (vs. 25). No relief is found and they cannot be comforted (vs. 26). All because, they did not shoulder their responsibility of seeking the way of the righteous while on earth (vs. 27-31).
The death of the righteous is the complete opposite. They are found righteous because they obeyed God, served God and took advantage of the forgiveness afforded them by God. Born again of the water and the Spirit (Jn. 3:3-5), having given themselves as living sacrifices to serve Christ (Rom. 12:1; 6:17-18). Living faithfully unto their physical death (Rev. 2:10) so that they will not see spiritual death (Jn.8:51). They humbled themselves in service to God; therefore, they have rest and comfort, like Lazarus, to look forward to. An eternal life (Jn. 5:24) with assurance of a resurrection unto life through Christ (Jn. 5:28-29).
Stephen got a glimpse of the glory of God with Christ while being stoned. It was so great that he faced his enemies and prayed for them. Paul's outlook of death was one of gain (Phil. 1:23), far better than this world (Phil. 1:23). Death has lost it's sting (1 Cor. 15:55) for the righteous.
Remission of sin is needed if man is ever to be returned to God's presence. Christ provided the avenue to have sin remitted and paid a great price for the sins of all men through the giving of His life and His resurrection. However, man must do his part by submitting in obedience to him if he is ever to benefit from it.