Death, the Great “Last Enemy” & the “King of Terrors”

I Corinthians 15:26; Psalm 55:4,5
       The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
       My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Death is a solemn event even to the believer in Christ.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Think of our Lord in the garden, with His “soul exceeding sorrowful even unto death,” and you have a parallel to the griefs of the psalmist. Perchance, dear reader, if as yet thou hast not trodden this gloomy way, thou wilt do soon; then be sure to mark the footprints of thy Lord in this miry part of the road.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Death is terrible to nature; our Saviour himself prayed, Father, save me from this hour.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Death is a dreadful enemy, it defies all the sons and daughters of Adam.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): The “king of terrors.” Youth cannot resist him―beauty cannot awe him―wealth cannot bribe him―eloquence cannot persuade him―learning cannot confound him―skill cannot baffle him―tears cannot move him―religion cannot evade his icy touch. To all this, his uplifted dart is inexorable. He takes the prince from the throne, the ruler from the state, the orator from the senate, the judge from the bench, the minister from the pulpit, the head from the family, the light from the home, the babe from its mother’s arms. None―none are spared.

JOHN FLAVEL: None dared cope with this king of terrors but Christ, and He, by dying, went into the very den of this dragon, fought with it, and foiled it in the grave, and came off a conqueror. For, as the apostle speaks, “It was impossible it should hold or detain him,” Acts 2:24. Never did death meet its overmatch before it met with Christ, and He conquering it for us, and in our names, rising as our representative. Now every single saint triumphs over it as a vanquished enemy; O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, I Corinthians 15:55. Thus, like Joshua, they set the foot of faith upon the neck of that king, and, with an holy scorn, deride its power. O death, where is thy sting?―So that there is no reason why a believer should stand in a slavish fear of it.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Since Christ has made a full atonement for the believer’s sins and obtained remission for him, death can no more harm him than could a wasp whose venomous sting had been removed―though it might still buzz and hiss and attempt to disturb him.

WILLIAM ROMAINE (1714-1795): Death stung itself to death when he stung Christ.

J. C. RYLE: For [the believer] no doubt the “sting of death” is taken away. Death has become one of his privileges, for he is Christ’s. Living or dying, he is the Lord’s. If he lives, Christ lives in him; and if he dies, he goes to live with Christ. To him to live is Christ, and to die is gain, Philippians 1:21. Death frees him from many trials—from a weak body, a corrupt heart, a tempting devil, and an ensnaring or persecuting world. Death admits him to the enjoyment of many blessings. He rests from his labours—the hope of a joyful resurrection is changed into a certainty—he has the company of holy redeemed spirits—he is “with Christ.” All this is true—and yet, even to a believer, death is a solemn thing. Flesh and blood naturally shrinks from it.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Let thy hope of heaven conquer thy fear of death. Why shouldst thou be afraid to die, who hopest to live by dying?

JAMES JANEWAY (1636-1674): Who would be afraid of everlasting rest?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): If we remember that by death we are called back from exile to home, to our heavenly fatherland, shall we then not be filled with comfort?

WILLIAM GURNALL: The Turks say they do not think we Christians believe heaven to be such a glorious place as we profess and talk of; for, if we did, we would not be so afraid to go thither.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): But why should a saint be fond of life, or afraid of death, since to him it is but as his father’s horse, or as Joseph’s chariot rattling with wheels, to carry old Jacob to his son Joseph, so him to Christ?

C. H. SPURGEON: I know precious children of God now—I believe that when they die, they will die triumphantly. But I know this, that the thought of death is never pleasing to them. And this is accounted for, because God has stamped on nature that law, the love of life and self-preservation. And again, the man that hath kindred and friends, it is natural enough that he should scarce like to leave behind those that are so dear.

MATTHEW HENRY: Righteousness delivers us from the sting of death, but not the stroke of it.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Sometimes orders come to soldiers for a sudden march; they must be gone as soon as the drum beats…If God should, before any lingering sickness hath brought thee into some acquaintance with death, say no more but “Up and die” as He did once to Moses, art thou shod for such a journey? Couldst thou say, “Good is the word of the Lord”?

C. H. SPURGEON: I remember my aged grandfather once preached a sermon which I have not forgotten, from the text “The God of all grace,” I Peter 5:10―and he somewhat interested the assembly, after describing the different kinds of grace that God gave, by saying at the end of each period “But there is one kind of grace that you do not want.” After each sentence there came the like, “But there is one kind of grace you do not want.” And, then, he wound up by saying, “You don’t want dying grace in living moments, but you shall have dying grace when you want it.”

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Oh, to have a God, the God of all grace, at hand, a very present help in that time of trouble, laying underneath His everlasting arms—shedding around the light of His countenance—communicating the joy of His salvation, and insuring the glory to be revealed, in ways beyond all our present experience and thought!

A. W. PINK: If David under the Old Testament dispensation could say, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, Psalm 23:4, why should believers now fear, after that Christ has extracted the sting out of death! Death may be the “King of terrors” to the unsaved, but to the Christian, death is simply the door which admits into the presence of the well Beloved.

HANNAH MORE (1745-1833): No man ever repented of being a Christian on his deathbed.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): When we pass through the valley of shadow of death let us fear no evil. Jesus, the Shepherd of His flock, will be with us, and His rod and staff will comfort us.


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