It is a well-known fact that not only old people die. Young people die too. To prove this fact, simply take a walk around a cemetery and note the different inscriptions on the tombstones. The question, therefore, is not so much whether young people die, because they do, but rather why they die.

Why do young people die in the first place?

Death affects all human beings: The certainty of death to all is due to the intimate relation of all humans. From the beginning of the earth, young people as well as children have died. We could even speculate, with good reasons, that the very first death in human history was that of a youth (Genesis 4:8). The rich and the poor alike meet the same end; both the black and the white go to the grave; the powerful and the humble all leave this planet eventually. Even children and young adults have not been spared from succumbing to the power of death. Some die when they are days, weeks, months or years old, apparently without a cause. Others die from the multiplicity of diseases and sicknesses, which human bodies are subject to. Many are born with these maladies through heredity, i.e. passed on to them by their parents. But even where there is no infection or hereditary illness passed on, human bodies in their fallen condition are so constituted that they may be said to contain in them the seeds of various diseases even in their mothers’ wombs. Thus, it has been well said: Death is the beaten road of all mankind: it is the way of all flesh. All humans die, and young people are part and parcel of this human solidarity; and as such they also die.

Death is no respecter of age: As already observed, death is inescapable. It is a subject that touches the life of every man and woman, boy and girl, uniting the entire human race under a cloud of inevitability. The ages at which death makes claim of its victims vary. Today it snatches the child at the mother’s breast; tomorrow it tears down the youth in his prime. Next it strikes a man in his maturity of wisdom and power and then, as if this was not enough, it pursues and overtakes the old man in his ailing years. This is why the young person should not feel safe at all; death favours no age.

Death is no respecter of time or place: There is a variety of modes that death uses to claim its victims, making it impossible for anyone to evade it. Strange accidents and unexpected events attend the life of both old and young, and there is not in either of them power to prevent or avoid them. Humanity is everywhere at death’s disposal. There is no time, place, or any other circumstance of human life which is immune to death, winter and summer, seed-time and harvest, the cold seasons and the hot ones or the moderate one are all made use of by this destroyer. In the day and in the night, in the morning and in the evening, in times set for devotion or for worldly business; in times of work or recreation, in times of calamity and prosperity this enemy invades.

This partly explains why people in general, and youths in particular, have faced and will continue to face their deaths differently. Some will meet their fate at home, others in the streets, some while at the shopping mall or the market, some in their high school, others in their tertiary establishment, some in their retirement, while to others still it will come as a surprise as it did Abel in the open field (Gen. 4:8); Eglon in his parlour (Judges 3:21); and as to Saul and Jonathan in the fight (1 Sam. 31). Young people are neither spared from nor immune to any of these. The Psalmist speaks of death as an inescapable reality when he asks the rhetorical questions; “What man is he that lives, and shall not see death? Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?” (Psalms 89:48).

But to fully appreciate why everyone on this planet is subject to death, we must turn to an authoritative source of truth that will expose all error and remove the need for speculation. Fortunately, we have such an authority—the Bible—which holds the answers to death since it contains a record of the entire history of mankind, from the moment man was created on the earth until the close of earth’s history and beyond. The Bible gives us a detailed account of the origin of death and how it has diffused to all human beings, including young people.

Death is a result of sin

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). All have sinned (including young people), therefore all die.

The Bible describes a world where death did not exist, explains how death came to exist, and reveals the steps God took to eliminate death and restore this planet to its originally intended state. In the Bible, therefore, we have a detailed description of the nature of life and death from the One who is responsible for life in the first place. So, let us begin from where it all began, i.e. a world where death did not exist.

A world where death did not exist: According to the Bible it all began in the Garden of Eden. After creating them, God so loved and cared for Adam and Eve that he not only maintained a close friendship with them but also provided them with everything they needed for their enjoyment and happiness. For the sake of the perpetuity of this state of affairs God set boundaries for them to keep. We read this in Scripture, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’” (Gen. 2:16–17).

Note that death was to be the fruit of sin connected with it by the law of God, “…for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). It was to be a penalty presented as the result of breaking God’s law (sin), a punishment which sin deserves; its just reward. The apostle Paul calls it the wage that one earns for breaking God’s law: “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). So, as long as there was no sin (breaking of God’s law), there was no death. This was the state Adam and Eve were in as long as they obeyed God’s Command. But then something happened. They broke the law by eating of the forbidden fruit; and that is how death came into the world.

How death came into existence: Sin brought death into the world:

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Gen 3:6).

Thus, Adam and Eve failed to keep their side of the covenant by disobeying God. Adam’s failure was substantially the failure of the human race because Adam was humanity’s federal head and representative. Consequently, all humanity sinned in him, and fell with him, and is justly subject to all the penal consequences of Adam’s first sin. We read this in Scripture:

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:17–19).

This fateful pronouncement by God represents not only the entry of death in the world but also the origin of all the other consequences of Adam’s sin upon his descendants—frailty, weakness, disease and a constant liableness to death. But what is to be comprehended under the word ‘death’? There are three kinds of death.

Three kinds of death: The condition God attached to the covenant of works that, “…for when you eat of it you will surely die”, has three kinds of death – physical, spiritual, and eternal death.

  • Physical death: The death which is here said to have entered into the world by sin, implied physical death, or the separation of soul and body. Death came to all men (Rom. 5: 12); In Adam all die (1 Cor. 15:22); all men are sinners, and therefore the penalty is still standing against all of them (Rom. 3:23).

It is a common trend among people to regard death as just the natural consequence of their bodily constitution, and of the physical influences to which they are subjected. But the truth is that physical death was a consequence of Adam’s disobedience. Had both Adam and Eve remained sinless, they would neither have experienced physical death nor been subjected to those influences which are the causes of death; Instead they would have lived forever and ever.

  • Spiritual death: That there was another form of death involved in the pronouncement apart from the physical can be deduced from the fact that the consequences of disobedience were to follow immediately—“…for when you eat of it you will surely die”—and yet Adam and Eve did not die physically immediately they ate the forbidden fruit. Since God cannot lie, it follows then that God must have included another form of death, which happened immediately. This was the withdrawal of the Divine friendship whereby they lost communion with God. From that moment onwards humans by nature became enemies of God, naturally “dead in trespasses and sins,” i.e. they were kept in a state of distance and alienation from God (Eph. 2:1–3).

This is why God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, so as not to have personal fellowship with the Father of their spirits. In this way all the descendants of Adam and Eve are born where they cannot in the ordinary course of things expect to be visited with any intimation of a Father’s care and love. This state of affairs is what is referred to as spiritual death; a state that all human beings—old and young— enter this world in.

  • Eternal death: This is derived from the way in which the apostle Paul reasons in his statement: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). He makes a contrast between the two parts of the statement, making a point that the death which is the wages of sin must be eternal death, i.e. the endurance of everlasting misery in hell. The literal interpretation of hell describes it as a place of punishment for unrepentant sinners. Souls that are trapped in hell suffer an eternity of living in pain and sorrow, even swimming in a lake of fire.

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14–15).

But the worst pain is that they never have a chance to be connected with God ever again. This is referred to as eternal death.

So these are the three deaths that were imbedded in God’s pronouncement of death upon Adam and Eve, which have also diffused to their posterity. But God did not completely abandon all the relationship with the human race when He drove Adam from paradise. He provided a remedy to the problem of sin and death.

Steps God took to eliminate death

Immediately after the fall, God intimated about a Deliverer by a “proto-evangel” (Gen. 3:15). And by a series of wonderful dispensations he prepared for the manifestation of One who was to destroy the works of the devil, including sin and death. Thus, using the same principle of the solidarity of humans in which he implicated all the descendants of Adam with sin, God provided a spiritual head of the human race, Jesus Christ, so that whoever shares in the redemption he has won will live.

“When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law…” (Gal. 4:4–5).

The idea behind the sending of his son was that:

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22).

This arrangement by God confirms that humans are truly related, and it is this relationship that qualifies believers to be Christ’s brothers (Heb. 2:11–18)

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).

On the ground of what Jesus Christ did and suffered, every man is warranted to come to Christ that he may receive salvation. A person—young or old—needs to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord by asking him directly to forgive his sins.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:9–10).

Death is rendered pleasant and welcome by the death of Jesus, who shed his blood on the cross to take away our sins. In this way, death, which was a curse, is turned into the greatest and most desirable blessing for anyone who believes. This gives every young person (adults inclusive) an opportunity to prepare for death.

What you must do to prepare for death

To die well is to die in the Lord since such are the only ones that are pronounced blessed or happy (Rev. 14:13). In fact, preparation for death is even a preparation for heaven. For “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Those who die in the Lord have no fear of judgment because the judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, is no stranger to them. But woe to you if death shall leave you a stranger to Christ, for you shall appear before him a stranger. Nothing can be more dreadful than death and a guilty conscience meeting together. The terrors of the conscience at the prospect beyond the grave and the consummation of it by the entrance of the soul into a state of punishment forever is most dreadful. Therefore, be wise and prepare for your death by doing the following:

(a) Examine yourself: See whether or not you are living within the light of this truth, that one of these fine days you must die; that your death is approaching, and that it is any time. Life is uncertain; almost the only thing certain in life is that you shall die from something, somewhere, sometime. To ignore this fact and set one’s heart on the things of this transitory life is to be like the rich fool who showed his folly in building his barns up so high, when he was to be laid low in so short a time (Luke 12:16–21). Remember, where one goes after one’s death is determined by how one has conducted oneself and the attitude one has maintained during life. Living a bad life results in eternal torment afterward.

(b) Repent of all your sins: Acknowledge that you are a sinner and confess all your sins. Refusing to accept that you have sinned is not only deceiving oneself but also makes God, who has pronounced you a sinner, a liar.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:8–10).

(c) Have Faith in God: Accept the offer of the gospel, which is addressed to you in the steps stated above, that God in Christ has destroyed sin and death. If you do not accept it, you remain in your sins and the guilt is entirely your own. You have rejected the counsel of God against yourself and judged yourself unworthy of eternal life. If death finds you outside Christ, you will die thrice!! So be wise, and be saved today.