For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Henri Abraham César Malan was a prolific composer of hymns in the early 19th century, as well as an ardent evangelist who traveled throughout the European continent preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though few of his hymns have been translated and popularized in English, his impact on the French and Swiss churches of his era has been compared to that of Isaac Watts in England a generation earlier.
He composed the lyrics to “Non, ce n’est pas mourir que d’aller vers son Dieu” in 1832. This hymn was translated into English by George Bethune, but remained relatively obscure until it was updated in 2008 by Bob Kauflin, who revised the lyrics (including the addition of a chorus) and wrote a beautiful new melody for the hymn. Kauflin is the director of worship development for Sovereign Grace Ministries, and is part of the team at Sovereign Grace Music which has updated and revived many old hymn lyrics, such as “Before the Throne of God Above“, originally written in 1863 but set to new music by Vikki Cook in the 1990’s.
Here is a video of Kauflin’s version of “It Is Not Death to Die”:
It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears
O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die
It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore
Because Jesus has paid our ransom and secured our eternal salvation, death is not the end for a Christian. In Christ, we have the blessed hope of a future in which we will reign in glory (Revelation 5:10). When Christ returns, he will finally and completely destroy death (1 Corinthians 15:26), and believers from throughout history will receive resurrection bodies, free forever from pain, disease, aging, and death (Revelation 21:4).
When believers close our eyes for the final time in this life, we will open them in the presence of Christ (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8). The apostle Paul wrote of two desires: to live a life of fruitful labor which honors and brings glory to Christ (Philippians 1:22) or to die and be with the Lord, which is even better (Philippians 1:23).
In this life there will be trials and hardships, but these things are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). Because of this hope that we possess, we have no need to fear death. The funeral of a Christian is a time of mourning for those of us left behind, but it is also a time of rejoicing for the releasing of a loved one from the weight of sin into the presence of God!
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17-5:5