Does God decide the day we die?

Some Christians believe that God decides how long we live, and we can’t change it. Our lives belong to God, they say, so we are totally subject to his will. If he wills the day we die, then so be it, our days are numbered according to however many days God wills for us.

To other Christians, however, the idea that God decides the day we die creates all kinds of problems and neuroses. It’s scary, for a start, knowing we could drop dead at any second for no other reason than “God decided it.” It could make us careless too, because what’s the point of looking after ourselves and making right choices if our actions and choices don’t have any effect on how and when we die? If tomorrow we die only because God decided it and not because of anything we do, then we might as well eat, drink and be merry. We can do whatever we like because there aren’t any consequences, and that surely can’t be right.

So, what really decides the day we die? Is it God or us? Does God simply allot a fixed number of days for us to live, or does he adjust the time of our death according to our choices and actions? If a Christian decides to fight in a war, for instance, and he’s killed, is that because God willed it to happen or because he allows us the freedom to choose? Does God base our death on the consequences of our actions, or on some predetermined plan of his?

Well, in Scripture, the day we die is a total non-issue, because we’re already dead. “For you died,” Paul writes in Colossians 3:3. And when did that happen? We “died with Christ,” Romans 6:8. “Don’t you know,” verse 3, “that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” When Christ died, we died. But God then “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 2:6, so not only are we already dead, we’ve also been raised¬†from the dead too, and right now our lives are “hidden with Christ in God,” Colossians 3:3.

When it dawned on Paul that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,” Galatians 2:20, it got his mind off death entirely. And when he realized that Christ was now living HIS life in him, then death really did become a non-issue because Christ never dies. Instead of worrying about how and when he was going to die, then, Paul could concentrate on this new life he’d been given that would last and grow forever.

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