Author(s)Lee Gatiss
Date 15 March 2016

There’s a great line in the modern hymn, In Christ Alone (by Stuart Townend and Keith getty):

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

The official sermons of the Church of England agree with this assessment. Here’s what they have to say about fear and death:

“Thus we see three causes why worldly people fear death. One, because they shall lose thereby their worldly honours, riches, possessions, and all their heart’s desires: Another, because of the painful diseases and bitter pangs which commonly people suffer either before or at the time of death. But the chief cause above all others is the dread of the miserable state of eternal damnation both of body and soul, which they fear shall follow after their departing out of the worldly pleasures of this present life.

For these causes, all mortals who are given to the love of this world are both in fear of death and in a state of death through sin (as the holy apostle says) so long as they live here in this world. But (everlasting thanks be to almighty God for ever) there is never one of all these causes, no, nor all of them together, that can make a true Christian afraid to die — since they are truly members of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the children of God and true inheritors of the everlasting kingdom of heaven.

On the contrary, they conceive great and many causes, undoubtedly grounded upon the infallible and everlasting truth of the word of God, which move them not only to put away the fear of bodily death but also, for the manifold benefits and singular commodities which ensue unto every faithful person by reason of the same, to wish, desire, and heartily long for it. For death shall be to them no death at all, but a very deliverance from death, from all pains, cares, and sorrows, miseries, and wretchedness of this world. It will be the very entry into rest, and a beginning of everlasting joy, a tasting of heavenly pleasures so great that no tongue is able to express, nor eye to see, nor ear to hear them — no, nor for any earthly person’s heart to conceive them.”