As I was reading and listening to this text it hit me, this speaks about Christian’s freedom from fear of death, this does speak about Christian’s freedom from fear of 2nd death.
Almost all of the Proverbs are built on a parallel construction. It starts on something that will happen to righteous or wise person, and then it says what will happen to a person who lacks understanding, or sluggard, slothful or to put it bluntly — a fool. For example starting from Chapter 10 you find plenty of those constructions:
* wise son vs. foolish son
* unprofitableness of wicked treasures vs. righteousness delivering from death
* God’s attitude to the finances of the righteous and wicked
* slack hand vs. diligent hand
* gathering in summer equals prudence vs. sleeping in summer equals shame
And it goes on in a like manner till Chapters 30 and 31, where we got sayings of Agur and king Lemuil.
In Proverbs 12:28 we also find parallel construction but it is of two similar and not opposite statements:
In the way of righteousness is life:
andin the pathway thereof there is no death.
So first what strikes is the boldness of the message that the Holy Ghost put here. All of us see that rich and poor, wise and the simple die and there is no chance that a person would live and see no grave. yet here there is some mystery. Here we find some treasure I suggest. And for this treasure I should say we should go and sell all that we have to buy that field, to have that treasure.
So as I read I understood that there is a striking similarity between this verse and Psalm 1, were the righteous and the wicked are compared as the mighty tree by the waters compared with the light chaff. But what hit me even harder was that it was possible even before the times of Jesus, in the times of Solomon or a bit later after the Proverbs were compiled to one book, it was possible for those who read it:
1. Think about the possibility of immortality.
2. Together with this think of the resurrection of the dead (denied by Sadducees and accepted by Pharisees in the days of Jesus)
3. Meditate on the relation of the righteousness and life, of the righteousness and immortality.
Finally I thought to myself as a Christian: “What righteousness is enough to have eternal life? Why my own righteousness, my own good works so often feel like “filthy rags”? Why instead of doing good I am so many times find myself thinking, saying or doing evil? What way of righteousness will be life to me and in which pathway there will be no death not just to somebody, but to me personally?”
And the answer is not so complicated. It’s in the name of Jesus. As we read it in 1 Corinthians 6:11
“…and such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor.6:11)
It’s in his name that we find life as Apostles found it, as early disciples found it, as all who turned away from their sins and fled to Christ found it. Where is the true way? Jesus is the way. Where is truth? It’s in Jesus. He is the truth. Where is life? It’s in Jesus. He is our life. And he promises to us today as He promised Martha 2000 years ago:
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25,26)
Have you ever thought about such a promise? Who on earth lived without ever looking with fear at the hour of death? None. But here comes Jesus and states that he is more powerful than death itself. He promises resurrection from the dead. He promises life. And what is the resurrection if not the triumph over death? It is. And that triumph over death is promised to every believer in Christ. To those who overcome and persevere in faith to the end Jesus gives this comforting promise:
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev.2:11)
And even more thrilling statement something like this:
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Rev.2:26,27)
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Rev.3:21)
I understand that the one who wrote Proverbs 12:28, couldn’t do this comparison as we are right now makiing, but having the privilege of having the whole Bible in our hands, I find it thrilling to see some verses of the Old Testament in the light of the further revelation given to us in Jesus Christ.
I see Christ and His spotless righteousness are hidden in this verse. And if we compare Proverbs 12:28 with Romans 4 and 5, we would rest assured that it is only by counter-imputation that we can have life eternal. When Adam ruined it all it is only Christ who fixed it all. When all of our sins were imputed to Jesus on the Cross an He bore the punishment for our transgressions he died. Yet on the third day He has risen for our justification. Praise the Lord! And now not only our sins were imputed to Jesus, but Jesus’ righteousness was imputed to us on our account, when we believed in Jesus. And only in that fact we can have peace, joy confidence and assurance of salvation by Christ’s finished work of atoning sacrifice for our sins. Only when our faith in Christ is credited to us for righteousness, only in this weary Christian can have peace.
Tell me how on earth can we earn God’s favor by our works? It’s impossible. Salvation by good works? Impossible. Not even one is righteous in His sight. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Maybe faith plus works? It doesn’t work this way either. It’s impossible. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, on the merits of Christ alone. That puts us as sinners to the humble position of recipients of God’s gracious unmerited favor — salvation in Christ, and brings glory to God, who doesn’t compromise His holiness in justifying the ungodly. The death of Christ on our behalf is the only condition for God to accept us. Period. That allows god to be just in justifying the ungodly sinner. That allows the miracle of salvation to take place. Namely the Blood of Christ allows multitude of sinners to repent, be changed and inherit the Kingdom of God. And that in the ages to come brings God the glory, for salvation is not about us getting something what we deserve, but on the contrary it is getting what we never could deserve and to glorify God in His goodness towards us, towards us the ungodly rebellious sinners.
But now as we met Christ, oh, how everything has changed! We feel it with our hearts that
In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.
Holy Spirit confirms it to our heart, that, yes, those words, that promise of eternal life to us in Christ is true, it’s valid, it’s not a lie. Death shall not hinder us from Christ, for it’s been conquered on the Cross. It already received the mighty blow at the resurrection and one day even death itself will be thrown to the Lake of Fire and all the saints will be able to sing that song:
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”(1 Cor.15:55)
But for now we can say that Christ is everything to us: our Life, our Righteousness, our Song, our Shield, our Brother, our Salvation, our Justification, our Wisdom, our Sanctification, our Redemption, our all in all Savior, Great High Priest, our Only Mediator, our Only point of contact with God.
My dear reader, are you lost in your sins?
Then come to Christ. He will clothe you with garments of salvation and will cover you with the robe of righteousness. (Isa.61:10) Forsake your sin and love your Savior. Don’t hesitate. It’s worth it. Jesus loves you. He died for you. He will teach you the way of righteousness and with him in the vessel you can face any storm in life and be released from the bondage of guilt and the fear of death.