There are few things I hate worse than death. Though the thought of it doesn’t fill me with terror, I hate it with every fiber of my Christian being. Death is just not right; it is not the way things should be. I can’t wait for the day when Jesus comes back to destroy death once-and-for-all (1 Cor. 15.54-57). I’ll sing that death-taunting hymn with all my might: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?!” On this topic of death, I trust you’ll appreciate these words by R. C. Sproul as he comments on Rev. 1.17-18.
“Yes, there is a Devil. He is our archenemy. He will do anything in his power to bring misery into our lives. But Satan is not sovereign. Satan does not hold the keys of death.” … Jesus holds the keys to death, and Satan cannot snatch those keys out of his hand. Christ’s grip is firm. He holds the keys because he owns the keys. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. That includes all authority over life and death. The angel of death is at his beck and call.”
Sproul moves on by talking about dualism – the teaching that there is an eternal battle between good (or God) and evil (or Satan). He then explains that,
“Dualism is on a collision course with Christianity. The Christian faith has no stock in dualism. Satan may be opposed to God, but he is by no means equal to God. Satan is a creature; God is the Creator. Satan is potent; God is omnipotent. Satan is knowledgeable and crafty; God is omniscient. Satan is localized in his presence, God is omnipresent. Satan is finite; God is infinite. The list could go on. But it is clear in Scripture that Satan is not an ultimate force in any sense.”
“We are not doomed to an ultimate conflict with no hope of resolution. The message of Scripture is one of victory – full, final, and ultimate victory. It is not our doom that is certain, but Satan’s. His head has been crushed by the heel of Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega.”
“Above all suffering and death stands the crucified and risen Lord. He has defeated the ultimate enemy of life. He has vanquished the power of death. He calls us to die, a call to obedience in the final transition of life. Because of Christ, death is not final. It is a passage from one world to the next.”
Well said, Amen, and maranatha!
FYI, Sproul’s quote can be found on pages 50-51 of Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in the Christian Life.