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My Views About Death, Dying, and Heaven

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


I think about death often. In fact, a day doesn't go back when I do not think about death, dying and what heaven would be like.

I believe Paul when he said, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Most people don't associate death with gain. They think of death as a loss, and not a gain. They view death as a terrible tragedy. People don't even like to think about death or talk about it. However, death is something that everyone has in common.

Every time I preach a funeral or attend one, I am reminded of my own mortality because I, like everyone else, is closer to death than when I was first born.


There is a very good reason Ecclesiastes 7:1 says that the day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth.

While that might seem contradictory, it makes sense when one knows that death is not the end but a transition.


Paul's View of Death

In Philippians 1:21-24, Paul wrote:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me; yet I don’t know what I prefer: I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body.

Paul considered death to be his friend and not his enemy. Therefore, whether he lived or died would have been fine with him. What he tried to emphasize was that if God called him to heaven, that would be fine with him because he knew he would be with the Lord.

Paul is also the writer of 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 who says that when Christians die, they go immediately to be with God. He said, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."

Paul did not view life as being so bad and death was a way of escape. He was not suicidal. He never considered it as a way to find relief. It might be a way for a person to escape his pain, but he definitely will leave the pain behind for his family, friends, and loved ones.

Suicide is not God’s will for anyone. Even though to die is gain, it would be selfish to commit suicide because it does not exalt God. It is always a selfish act without thinking about those who are left behind. When a person commits suicide, it is evident that he doesn't believe God knows what's best for him.

There have been times when people have questioned why God allows them to suffer instead of causing them to die. Several biblical figures have told God to take them away from the cares of the world. They told him that they would rather die than to live.

  • Moses (Numbers 11:15)
  • Elijah (1 Kings 19:4)
  • Job (Job 6:11)
  • Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14-18)
  • Jonah (Jonah 4:3, 8)

Reasons to Believe That to Die is Gain

There are several reasons to believe to die is gain.

  • Death is the avenue to a person's earthly investment. Death ushers a person into the presence of God where he will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Master.”
  • A Christian's death frees him from his earthly labors, trials, and struggles. The gain is freedom from burdens and problems here on earth.
  • In 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul teaches that to be absent from the body is “to be at home with the Lord.” When a person dies in the Lord, Paul says he will “be with Christ,” which is “very much better” (Philippians 1:23). We should remember that these scriptures apply to the saved and not to the unsaved.

David's View of Death

The psalmist wrote:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

David said he could not praise God in his grave. He said in Psalm 115:17 that the dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave. Therefore, being alive would afford him the opportunity to praise God.

Isaiah's View of Death

Isaiah recognized that some people might have a wrong view of death, especially when the righteous dies. The prophet made it clear that some people don't believe a righteous or innocent person should die.

It is stated in Isaiah 7:1 that when a person dies, he is “taken away from evil,” and enters “into peace.”

What the Church Fathers Said about Death

Martin Luther said, “Even in the best of health we should have death always before our eyes [so that] we will not expect to remain on this earth forever, but will have one foot in the air, so to speak.”

Jonathan Edwards once wrote down 70 resolutions which he read weekly to help keep focused. Number 9 reads, “Resolved, to think much, on all occasions, of my dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.”

Richard Baxter, the Puritan preacher who lived with chronic bodily illness, said, “I preach as though I ne’er should preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”

All Christians should have a better understanding of death and dying. They should be able to say what they believe about death like the church fathers and like Paul and other biblical figures.

Quotes about Death

  • Death - the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening. Walter Scott
  • The first breath is the beginning of death. Thomas Fuller
  • The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain
  • No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Steve Jobs
  • Six feet of earth makes us all equal. Italian (on death and dying)
  • Death keeps no calendar. English (on death and dying)
  • A person has learned much who has learned how to die. German (on death and dying)

Reasons Not to Be Afraid of Death

Death is not to be feared because Jesus was the firstfruit of our own death and resurrection of the body, according to 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. He is our example to follow.

In 1 Corinthians 15:50-55, Paul explains that we cannot go to heaven without dying because flesh and blood cannot enter. Jesus went before us in death to make it easy for us to die. He said in 1 Corinthians 15:55:

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"


William Cullen Bryant Puts Death into Perspective

The American poet William Cullen Bryant explains his view of death in the poem, "Thanatopsis" which means "a view of death. The poem has 87 lines, but the last nine lines summarize Bryant's view of death which also include my view of death.

The American poet says we are to so live that when it is time for us to approach death, we should be afraid or try to fight it. We should not be like a fearful slave at night who is kept in a dungeon. Instead, we should be confident and comfortable as we welcome death.

The image Bryant gives illustrates no fear at all. The very last line of the poem says the slave who is unafraid "wraps the covers from his bed around him and lies down to pleasant dreams."


Margaret Minnicks' View of Death

Like the poet William Cullen Bryant, I believe death should be a wonderful experience, and people should not try to resist it because they cannot prevent it anyway.

I used to be afraid of death. When I was a child and I heard someone had died in the neighborhood, I would sleep with the covers over my head at night. As I studied the Bible and learned what it said about death, I became no longer afraid. Now I give eulogies at funerals with confidence and not fear at all. I have been the eulogist at dozens of funerals of relatives including a brother, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I gave remarks at my mother and father's funerals as well as participating during the Homegoing Services of many church members and a couple of students.

I believe when a person dies in the Lord, he is at peace and goes into the presence of God.

Hopefully, people will not take this the wrong way because it is said as a metaphor. I feel a little jealous when someone dies because that person has taken the journey that we all must take. He just happens to take his journey before I did.

People often say, "God took a person too soon." I believe God's timing is perfect. God knew when we would die even before we were born. I also believe that people die when their work on earth is done.

Very few people will agree with me about this last viewpoint. However, it doesn't keep me from believing that everyone had a conference with God before he was even conceived. During the conference, we all agreed to the life we would live and what our destiny be, including how and when we would die. Then, when we came to earth, God allowed us to forget the agreement. My belief about this is based on Jeremiah 1:5 that reads:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 14, 2018:

Thank you, Dream On, for your thoughtful comments. Death, dying and heaven remain a mystery that we all have different views about. Your views are much appreciated.

DREAM ON on March 14, 2018:

I enjoyed your hub. I think differently than most people I think heaven is right here on earth. I find everything in life so amazing that each day I find another piece of heaven. The cells in our bodies constantly die. They say in seven years all of our cells are different. So we are constantly experience rare forms of death as we are alive. I believe God has a master plan that we can't possibly understand. Thank you so much for sharing. Have a beautiful night.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 13, 2018:

Thanks, Tony. Regardless, as men and women who love Our Lord and Savior, I look forward to meeting my fellow Christians with Him someday.

I appreciate another perspective. We will never understand until we are there and He reveals. Amen.

May your day and week be blessed, Tony,, my brother.

Thank you again, Reverend.



Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 13, 2018:

Thanks so much, Nikki, for your comments about my article concerning death, dying, and heaven. I found it refreshing to put my thoughts into words.

Nikki Khan from London on March 13, 2018:

Great article Margaret on death and life after.Of course, death takes you to another world which would be forever.

This earthly life is so short and eternal life is after death.

So nobody should be afraid to die as dying is a beginning to an eternal life in front of God.

So do good to get good in hereafter.

Very interesting hub dear, thanks for sharing.

Tony Muse from Texas, USA on March 12, 2018:

Hi Tim, very interesting thought. But that opens up a whole other topic as to whether or not quantum physics can accurately explain how God exists in time and space. I think that most things will remain a mystery to us until they are revealed to after this lifetime.

In regards to what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. Some point out that punctuation, including commas did not exist in the original Greek manuscripts. So, the original emphasis "could" have been one of two ways:

1. “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”


2 “Truly I say to you today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Assuming that the traditional method is correct, then Jesus would have had to have died and have gone up to paradise that same day that He died, taking the thief with Him. Jesus declared that he was to be in belly of the earth for three days and nights, for that reason I have a hard time believing that this was what Jesus intended to say.

If the second version turned out to be correct way to read it, then Jesus would have been basically stating that "Today I say to you, you shall be with me in paradise. Basically declaring that today, salvation had come to him because of his faith.

Just some food for thought.


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 12, 2018:

Thanks, Tony and Tim, for your comments about "My Views about Death" article. In my mental capacity, I don't know anything about quantum physics, and even my faith doesn't give me a clue. However, I am very comfortable with my beliefs about death, dying, and heaven. It appears that you are firm in your beliefs also. Shalom!

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 12, 2018:

Tony brings up an interesting point: but Jesus Christ said to the criminal beside Him that today you will be in Paradise with me.

I used to ponder those thoughts, too.

Then, it occurred to me: our God's concept of time and space is not as ours is. We can only think in the linear perspective of time - A must follow B must follow C. Our God is throughout time, within time, Creator of time, and is Alpha and Omega.

That gave me comfort knowing that I really don't have to figure that out.

I'm comforted knowing my ancestors who suffered on this planet is with God watching over me, and at the same time, will be with me when "the dead in Christ rise."

This has been confirmed to me by examining quantum mechanics, which holds that a hypothetical cat can be both dead and alive. Quantum computing has already demonstrated that a particle can hold two positions simultaneously. IBM has created the first "quantum chips."

Well, if we can figure out two polar opposites can simultaneously occur, then, many possibilities are the property, possession, and reality of my God.

There is no contradiction because our God is just that great.



Tony Muse from Texas, USA on March 10, 2018:

Thank you Rev. Margaret, I find your articles well thought out and written from the heart, great stuff! Please do keep writing and I will keep reading! :-)

Much peace to you and your household!

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 10, 2018:

Tony, I like reading your comments on my articles. They are so wise and thought-provoking. I will continue to write articles just to get your feedback to read what you have to say. (smile)

Tony Muse from Texas, USA on March 10, 2018:

It is my opinion that Paul's thought on "being apart from the body means being at home with the Lord" is a bit incomplete if you read it alone. Paul had a hard life, he was beaten stoned, left for dead, etc.. I have heard numerous people who were either very old or sick that actually longed for death because of their current suffering. I think that this might have been what Paul was talking about.

It is interesting that Paul also stated that the dead will raise first before those who are left alive will rise to meet the Lord in the air. To m that raises an interesting question: If those who have previously died have already gone to heaven and have received immortality, then, why does Paul say that they rise first? Paul makes it sound as though the raising of the dead in Christ and the alive meeting in the air happen instantaneously, at the same event.

I am not dogmatic on this issue, but I am very uncomfortable with the teaching that the dead saints are up in heaven watching us here below. That concept is not taught in scripture and actually has strong renderings of Greek mythology and might possibly exist to support the Catholic teachings of paying to Mary and the saints.

While I usually don't use the book of Revelation for doctrinal purposes, Revelation 22:12 states that He "brings His reward with Him". Is not our reward eternal life? Have some already be rewarded at this point?


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 07, 2018:

Thanks, Tim. I really appreciate and welcome your feedback. Not many people have some of the same views that I have about death, dying and heaven.

I had been thinking about those things for a long time. It was a great relief to put them in writing. Hopefully, the article will help others who are thinking some of the same things. Shalom!

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 07, 2018:

Thank you, Pastor Margaret. I agree. I've always felt we are souls having a temporary "human experience." God created the soul before we were born, allowed us to come here, learn to love, accept Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and return home.

In His compassion, He allowed us to not remember how joyous it was there are we would see many more suicides.

Once we accepted Him, we were given work to do because good deeds without Christ is wasted effort.

Death of the mortal body frightens me less than an eternity without knowing the peace that comes from being with Christ.

Another wonderful article full of information to ponder and be thankful for, Reverend.



Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 07, 2018:

Thanks for reading my article about death and dying. That's what I really believe. I am glad it shed some light on some things you had been thinking about.

Martha Rogers on March 07, 2018:

I love this article , like all your other ones. This one really sheds light on a lot of things I have thought about.

Elaine PN from Philippines on March 07, 2018:

Oh, right, he's not about to die yet!

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 07, 2018:

During one of my Thursday morning Bible Studies, an 80-year-old woman told a joke about a pastor who asked his congregation who wanted to go to heaven. Everybody raised their hands except an older gentleman sitting in the back of the church.

The pastor left the pulpit and walked back to where the man was sitting. The pastor asked the man if he understood the question and didn't he want to go to heaven. The man said, "Yes, I understand the question, and yes I want to go to heaven." The pastor asked why he didn't raise his hand. The man answered, "I want to go to heaven, but I thought you were taking a load right now."

Elaine PN from Philippines on March 07, 2018:

Great article about death. It's true that a person can only go to Heaven if he dies, that is, if he dies in the Lord like you said. Thanks for sharing.

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