Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What does Scripture Say About Life After Death, Part 2

Yesterday I shared part 1 on this topic, so if you haven't read that you might want to go back to that first before diving into part 2.
The Theme of this teaching came from a question I was asked a couple of months ago.  This person wanted to hear some teaching on life after death - what happens when we die?  Where do we go?  What happens?  All good questions that I began to explore yesterday and will finish today.

I ended yesterday with this paragraph:  "We have the hope of a physical resurrection…but that creates all sorts of other questions, such as what will look like?, and be able to do? and will we see things on earth, etc…?

Here's where we begin today:   
What happens to us after death?

Do you remember the story of Lazarus’ death and Jesus raising him from the dead?

John 11:17 (ESV)
17  Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

John 11:20-26 (ESV)
20  So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
21  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

23  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”   

[MARTHA IS SAYING WHAT JEWS BELIEVED, AND SO DO MANY BELIEVERS TODAY… THE SOMEDAY ASPECT...NOT NOW THOUGH!]

25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
26  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Or, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV) 
10  [Grace] has now been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

The Greek word for Immortality means “Incorruptibility”… Not “Decay”.  Death is a doorway to life with God…AND, its LIFE, without the incorruptibility of sin, decay, death… That's why Jesus could say He is the Resurrection and Life...  Lazarus was dead four days but Jesus is LIFE, and that life is incorruptible, not bound by death, disease, decay. 

Paul adds to this:

2 Corinthians 5:1,2 (ESV)
1  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.
2  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,

He paints a picture where the imagery of our body as a tent is compared to a building – a tent is temporary, not very sturdy, subject to falling apart…
But the building is made by God…so what happens is we are transformed…without the sin problems and temptations, the bodily diseases and pains…

What does it look like?  Paul says it like this:

Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV)
20  … we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21  who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

1 John 3:2 (ESV)
2  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

We are transformed into Christ’ perfection:  

Hebrews 12:22-23 (ESV)
22  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
23  and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,

With Innumerable saints, and angels, we are made perfect in Christ’s presence.  How?

Hebrews 9:12 (ESV)
12  he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

I’m not sure the order of these things, but this I know, there is a glory in heaven we’ve never seen or imagined.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 (ESV)
2  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
3  And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—
4  and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

For us, heaven becomes this place of LIFE… LIFE With God.

Revelation 21:1-5 (ESV) describes what will occur there.
1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Revelation 21:10-11 (ESV) describes the awe…beauty, grandeur
10  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
11  having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.

Revelation 21:22-23 (ESV) describes Heaven’s uniqueness
22  And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
23  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Rhythms of life as we know it…sunrise, sunset, seasons, etc…all will be changed.


Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV) describes the majesty of it.
1  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3  No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.
4  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
5  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

At the end of it all, there is eternity with God without sin, disease, anything that can destroy…LIFE, Life that never ends and Life that lives in Love and Harmony with all that God is and does.
Beautiful, Awesome, Beyond Our Current Comprehension.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Does Scripture Say About Life After Death? Part 1

This last Sunday I taught on "What scripture says about Life After Death".  I loved it.  Diving into the topic was a great reminder of the promises of Scripture concerning Eternity.   This teaching is a part of a summer long series we entitled "POTPOURRI" because it was based on a series of questions, or requests, made by people in our fellowship who wanted to hear a teaching on a topic, or passage of interest.  It's been a little of this, a little of that...and hence a Potpourri of things.

Here's part 1 of this teaching on Life after death.  I'll post more soon (maybe even tomorrow :)

The person who asked me to do this said, "We seem to address this at funerals, but most people aren't thinking a lot of what is being said about what is going on; rather the something that is happening is happening in another existence.  I'd like to hear about this at a timie other than a funeral."
  
Heaven is the place we talk about, but we often seem to not have much detail.  The only thing we’re absolutely sure of is that DEATH has happened.

Mark Twain once said:  “Two things in life that are sure, death and taxes”. 

Some people seem to beat taxes, but no one beats death.   

But the question put to me is What happens after Death?

So, I’d like to shed some light on a subject that scripture describes as the believers Hope…and there’s good reason for that.
Life after Death?
Death is a certainty...

Job 14:1-2 (ESV)
1  “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.
2  He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.

Job 14:10 (ESV)
10  But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he?

Job 14:14 (ESV)
14  If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.

All sorts of questions surface when we start talking about death. 
As a person, any person, what do you believe will happen to you after you die? 

  • ·        Nothing, go back to the soil, simply cease to exist – ATHEISTS generally view it this way, a sort of “annihilation” of person.
  • ·        Eastern Religions tend to go towards Reincarnation, or as I call it "Divine recycling” - you come back in another form until you’re good enough to become divine.
  • ·        Native Americans and others, speak of a Spirit that seems to float in another realm, like ghosts, the departed ancestral spirits.
  • ·        Islam teaches that a person goes immediately to God to be Judged, and if their good works outweigh the bad they will enter Paradise.
  • ·        Some Christians teach a quiet waiting until a future resurrection called "Soul Sleep".
  • ·        Become an angel?
  • ·        Most Christians hold to an immediate departure of the soul to heaven, or to Hell (in my experience no one says they’re going to Hell)

For a Christian there is some things scripture says that should make us aware of how different life after death is.

First, Christ most certainly affirms there is an afterlife.

In an encounter with the Sadducees, … Mark 12:18 (ESV)
18  And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question…

Mark 12:24 (ESV)
24  Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?

Mark 12:26-27 (ESV)
26  And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
27  He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

What’s clear from Jesus is
1)  There is an life after death – when God appeared to Moses and spoke those words, he was telling him that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive.
2)  So, life after death is not a form of Restoration, but rather an entrance into a new life that is different from our present life; 

That’s why he says in that same question/answer, Mark 12:25 (ESV)
25  For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

He doesn’t say we become angels, but we are like angels in having the new self.  About not being married, it seems that we retain the individuality of who we are in a resurrected state but our human life is not translatable in its entirety to heaven.

In the recent movie, Heaven is For Real… The young boy Colton sees people - they are recognizable, but young(ish), and there is a reality of humanity, but it’s changed.  Now why I don't take my theology from movies - even if they are non-fiction, I'd certainly recommend everyone see the film...I found it compelling.   You can find a trailer to watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mydh4MEo2B0

3) What some see as Eternity, Jesus sees as NOW Reality…those people were alive right now, even though they had died physically 2000 years before; 

4) How can it be?  It is possible because of God’s power.  God who created, spoke the world into existence, also speaks life as the human self dies.

Jesus speaks about it several times...

John 14:1-3 (ESV)
1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
2  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

When Jesus was praying in the garden on that same night when He was betrayed:

John 17:24 (ESV)
24  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Paul speaks about life after death:

1 Corinthians 15:12 (ESV)
12  Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:19 (ESV)
19  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

The reason I believe in life after death is because of Jesus’ own resurrection -  which is the basis for the hope of our resurrection.

1 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)
14  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.


We have the hope of a physical resurrection…but that creates all sorts of other questions, such as what will look like?, and be able to do? and will we see things on earth, etc…? 
What happens to us after death?
Do you remember the story of Lazarus’ death and Jesus raising him from the dead?

John 11:17 (ESV)
17  Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

John 11:20-26 (ESV)
20  So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
21  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

23  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”   

[MARTHA IS SAYING WHAT JEWS BELIEVED, AND SO DO MANY BELIEVERS TODAY… THE SOMEDAY ASPECT]

25  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
26  and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

While most think of the afterlife as someday, Jesus says HE is Life and that those who believe, put their trust in Him, though they physically die...still live on.
Death becomes a doorway from this life to the life eternal in Christ.

2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV)
10  [Grace] has now been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

The Greek word for Immortality means “Incorruptibility”… i.e, No “Decay”.  Death is a doorway to life with God…AND, its LIFE, without the incorruptibility of sin, decay, death… 

Paul says it like this:
2 Corinthians 5:1,2 (ESV)
1  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.
2  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,

The imagery of our body as a tent compared to a building – a tent is temporary, not very sturdy, subject to falling apart…

But the building is made by God…the same God who spoke creation into being from nothing, simply by the power of His own word.

So after death, through God's power, we are transformed…without the sin problems and temptations, the bodily diseases and pains… 

What does it look like?  Check back in soon.

Peace