Brian Magee had been a well-known English author, music critic, and Member of Parliament. In his early thirties, he was suddenly overwhelmed with the stark, cold realization of his own mortality.
As an atheist who believed that this life was it, period, with no hope of anything beyond, he saw how little it all, ultimately, meant. No matter what he did, whether his life was a failure or a success—“none of it would make the slightest difference to me or to anyone else when all of us were nothing, as everyone was going to be, including everyone not yet born; that it could therefore make no difference when I died, and would have made no difference if I had never been born; that I was in any event going to be for all eternity what I would have been if I had never been born; that there was no meaning in any of it, no point in any of it; and that in the end everything was nothing.”
Everything “was nothing”; yes, but only if no God exists and if this life itself were all that there were. And it’s like this because of death and what it does to this life. We often say that death is part of life. But that’s wrong. Death is the negation of life, not part of it. So brainwashed by the ubiquity of death, so flooded is our blood by our breathing the specter of mortality fused to each atom of air—we put opposites together and call them the same!
That’s why over and over the New Testament talks about death and tells us that Jesus has overcome death and that He offers us the promise of eternal life. “And the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me” (John 10:21). “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). “This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began” (Titus 1:2).
One of two fates awaits us: eternal life, eternal death. Take your pick.