Why We Die

Dr. Randy White

Admittedly, “Why We Die” isn’t the most cheerful of blogposts to write. But it is an honest discussion of a very real issue.

For many of us,we don’t often consider one of the essential truths of our existence: no one gets out alive. This truth is one issue that all humanity shares in common, yet it’s also one we tend never to talk about. But it’s important that we discuss death at certain times. We must be able to come to grips with our inevitable end, and not with the fear of the unknown, but with the hope of the known in Jesus Christ.

So, why do we die?

Death Becomes Them

God’s command to Adam and Eve was as clear as the first day: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Read that verse again and take it as literally as possible. What fails to make sense when read in that matter? Adam and Eve surely did not die the moment they ate from the tree. In fact, Adam lived to be hundreds of years old. So is the Bible wrong?

Of course not. Rather, the English translation fails to fully describe what God meant when He said, “in the day that thou eatest hereof thou shalt surely die.” The Hebrew of that phrase would be more literally translated as, “In the day that you eat of it, dying you shall die.” To put it more colloquially, “In the day you eat of it, dying starts.”

Why do we die? We die because Adam and Eve ate that fruit, and death swiftly began its work.

Most of us still don’t want to believe that death is real and will affect every last one of us. The serpent preyed upon this most primal fear in Genesis 3:4 when Eve reported to the serpent what God had said about the fruit of the tree. The serpent simply replied, “Ye shall not surely die.” Even from the beginning, the Devil was out to undermine our belief in God’s truth. “God’s just fooling you, Eve. Don’t fall for his lies. Surely you won’t die. Look at all that’s around you! What’s the worst that could happen? Certainly not death. That’s ridiculous. God just doesn’t want you to become like him.”

As Satan well knew, it wouldn’t take much more than a nudge to cause Adam and Eve to exchange the truth for a lie. When Adam and Eve sinned by believing the serpent and eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, death arrived and began its work of gradual decay.

Let’s face it: we live in a world of death, and that death began when Adam took of the fruit and introduced not only sin but also death. Adam was soon banished from the Garden, which held the only source of eternal life available to him at the time: the tree of life. Since you and I are also born outside the Garden, unable to get to the tree of life, you and I will also die (unless the Lord intervenes with the rapture first).

Did Death Really Begin in the Garden of Eden?

Some would argue that death existed in the Garden of Eden prior to the fall, saying that leaves likely fell from the trees and fruit rotted. But such examples, even if provable, don’t prove death. Rather, they prove what they still prove today: a lifecycle.

In the late winter, my wife and I enjoy putting a pot of tulip bulbs on our kitchen table. They’ll sit there for several weeks without apparent growth, then suddenly they’ll break forth in glorious bloom. Just as quickly, in just a week or so, they’ll wither. Anyone who’s ignorant about the lifecycle of flowers would look at these withered tulips and assume they were dead. But that’s not the case. The leaves and blooms may be dead, but the bulb still has life. If I planted the bulbs under the right circumstances, more tulips would spring forth, and if there’s anything we know for sure about death, it can’t produce life.

The same illustration holds true for the lifecycle of the trees and plants in the garden of Eden. Even if the overabundant fruit fell from the trees and rotted away, the tree was alive and well.

Prior to the fall of man, death was nonexistent.

In Romans 5:12 the Apostle Paul reminds us, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” To believe that death existed before the fall is to tacitly believe in evolution. After all, “survival of the fittest” requires that the fittest failed to survive, which presupposes death after death after death. If you believe that Adam and Eve are just the first fully human figures in history following a long line of fitter and fitter humanoid creatures, then you must believe that death existed before the fall. However, that’s neither what the Bible explicitly says nor what basic Christian belief adheres to.

We die because of Adam’s Sin

Every person who has been born since Adam is born into a world which can be described by the words of Scripture: dying, you shall die. We are born, trapped. Trapped in a cycle that never ends well. From the earliest days of this trap, man has tried to find the “fountain of youth” to overcome the problem, but such fountain has never been discovered, and we all die. This is why a Redeemer is needed, One who can provide a way of escape, who can provide life. In our world of death, we can live after death because of Christ.

I can’t wait until Jesus defeats death once and for all. In the meantime, I’ll prepare for death, knowing that life is only possible by escaping this cursed world. And that, my friend, is only possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The preceding post is an adapted excerpt from my upcoming book, 30 Things You Need to Know about Your Bible (If You Claim to Know Your Bible).