Triumphing over Death -- By: C. I. Scofield

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 104:413 (Jan 1947)
Article: Triumphing over Death
Author: C. I. Scofield

Triumphing over Death

C. I. Scofield

[Editor’s Note: It may not be common knowledge that the editor of the Scofield Reference Bible founded and edited a monthly for a short period during his pastorate in Dallas, Texas. From the October, 1890 number of the Believer comes the following sermon, a funeral message with 2 Corinthians 5:8 for its text: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body and present with the Lord” (R.V. ‘at home with the Lord’).]

I have chosen these words because they seem to me to express more fully than any others of equal brevity the whole Christian doctrine of death. And I want you to see first of all how free that doctrine is from fear and from mystery. Nature has two great mysteries, both in her own light, insoluble—life and death. To the Whence? and the Whither? written over every cradle and every grave her two oracles, Science and Philosophy, return no real answer. The ancient heathen felt this, and in their frank way confessed it. Building great tombs they carved inverted torches upon them. They could not extinguish the torch because they still loved, and how could they love—nothing? They dared not put the torch erect in a strong hand because they did not know that it still burned—it seemed to have gone out.

Or they symbolized a life terminated in death by a broken column. The firm-set foundation, the sculptured base, the fluted shaft, these are there, but when the eye, craving completeness, follows the flowing lines upward, each a prophecy of the wreathed and voluted capital which is to crown all, behold there is no capital, only a sharp fracture! This man began to build and was not able to finish. There it stands a beautiful fragment. It supports nothing, it ends no whither. A pathetic white marble confession of defeat—of the mystery and sadness of life, of the vanity of everything. No

wonder the Epicurean said, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” No wonder either that the Stoic, standing by his unfinished shaft, said, “Even this is better than eating and drinking.”

Within a few years the two most eloquent of the modern heathen have spoken upon this mystery of life and death. What is their word? After two or three thousand years of thought about it, of invention and discovery, of the decay of the imaginative Greek and the rise of the practical Anglo-Saxon, is there any new light? Alas, no! What the Greek said beautifully in marble they say not less beautifully (nor enduringly) in English speech. The atheist orator declares that every life is a “narrow vale between the barren peaks of two eterni...

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