“5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.” NIV
I think today’s verses become clearer in ‘The Message’ translation. Let’s read from verse 3: ‘’You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God himself. Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus.’’
There is both good news and bad news in today’s passage.
There is bad news for unbelievers in verse 5. Those who persecute the church and appear to get away with it now will not do so forever. We worship a Just God who will, in His time, set all things to rights.
But the good news for believers is that even though they die, it will not be the end of any of them. As someone observed: ‘Death is the ultimate statistic: one out of one dies.’ No-one can beat it or cheat it; no-one can avoid it. But as a Christian you know you will come through it into a richer, fuller life with God.
The great American evangelist, D.L. Moody spoke of a day when people would read in the newspapers (he was famous) that he was dead. ‘Don’t believe a word of it,’ he said. ‘Then I will be more alive than I have ever been.’ This is the good news here in verse 6.
David Pawson said, ‘The church is the only society on earth that doesn’t lose a single member to death. They just transfer to another branch!’
The Bible teaches that a day of separation is coming – a great divide. It isn’t just the persecutors of the church who need to fear that day, but all who reject Christ. However, for those who trust in Jesus, there is nothing to fear.
Bishop Thomas Ken wrote:
‘Teach me to live that I may dread,
The grave as little as my bed.’
PRAYER: ‘’…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57).