|Is there really life after death?|
Many centuries ago, a man named Job, who has been known for his patience during a time of intense suffering, asked a very important question that is still relevant to every thinking person; “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14 v 14) This is a very important question because it affects every one of us alive on planet earth.
• A Universal Awareness of Life After Death.
There is no doubt that a deep awareness of life after death has been placed in the human heart and mind of mankind. Travel around the world and in every culture and people groups you will find even in the most primitive of societies a belief in life after death. We see it in the burial sites of the Egyptian Pharaohs, in the beliefs of the North American Indians, and in the teaching of many religions.
• The Teaching of Jesus on Life After Death.
When Jesus Christ spoke about life after death He told of an eternity with two destinations – Heaven and Hell. Life after death is either one of eternal blessedness or eternal misery.
Heaven is; God’s Dwelling place.
In the Old Testament book of (Deuteronomy Chapter 26 v 15) we read; “Look down from Your holy habitation, from Heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us”
• God’s Throne from which He watches and examines us.
The Psalmist in Psalm 11 v 4 declares; “The Lord is in His holy Temple, The Lord’s throne is in Heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.”
• The Father’s House where Jesus is preparing.
Heaven, the Bible tells us is a place of eternal bliss in the presence of a loving God. Some of the most beautiful and enlightening information about Heaven are recorded in the Bible, St. John’s gospel chapter 14. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them, and that they would one day dwell in that beautiful eternal city with it’s many mansions. The well known Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham writes concerning these words of Jesus; “when we die, we are going to a precise location". We do not evaporate or disappear. In fact, Jesus said, “In My Fathers house are many mansions”, We are going to have a place in Heaven if we have trusted Christ as our Saviour – and not only a place, but a mansion!
C.S. Lewis the writer of the classic, Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, writes “All that you are, sins apart, is destined if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction…..Your place in Heaven will seem to be made for you, and you alone, because you were made for it.”
The sad thing is that we live in an age when many of us are so occupied with things on earth and of time that we either choose not to think about eternity or feel if we do, we will lose out on enjoying life at the present. C.S. Lewis put things in the right perspective when he writes; “Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither”
• Jesus tells us The Way to Heaven.
“Anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to heaven. Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, who are His enemies, can go to heaven” Said Lewis Sperry Chafer
The good news of the gospel is that God did devise a plan, and that plan involved the death of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the price for our sins and gain us entrance into Heaven. That is why Jesus can say with absolute authority; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through Me” (St. John 14 v 6) We cannot gain entrance into Heaven by good works or church attendance but by coming in repentance and faith to Jesus, receive His forgiveness and free gift of eternal life. (Romans 6 v 23; John 3 v 16)
• Hell is a real place. (Luke 16 v 19-31)
Jesus not only spoke about Heaven but He also spoke of a place called Hell. In Luke 16 v 19 – 31, Jesus relates the account of the lives of two men. One was rich who wanted for nothing that his wealth could supply. The other named Lazarus was so poor that he had to beg for the food that fell from the rich mans table. They both died, and one, Lazarus, was carried by the Angels into “Abraham’s bosom" (Heaven for Old Testament Believers before Calvary) while the rich man went to Hell.
Hell is a place of torment Luke 16 v 23-25
Many scoff in these days at any thought or belief in the existence of Hell while others declare “This life is the only Hell there is,” but an honest and open minded look at what the Bible teaches will expose the fallacy of such views and will, I’m sure be the first step in helping us to avoid finding ourselves in that horrible place.
If the language of Luke 16 is graphic, then the picture painted for us of the final judgment in the book of Revelation 20 v 11 – 15 is more so. Here the dead, small and great are brought before God on The Great White Throne of Judgment. “and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books……Then death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire”
What a fearful picture of the future of those who do not accept Christ as their Saviour. It is only by repenting of our sin and receiving God’s free gift of eternal life that we can have our names recorded in the Book of Life and so escape the eternal punishment. Peter in his second epistle reminds us that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” 2 Peter 3 v 9 Dr. Billy Graham writes; “God will never send anybody to hell. If man goes to hell, he goes by his own free choice. Hell was created for the devil and his angels, not for man. God never meant that man should go there”
Romans 6 v 23; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord”
In conclusion, let us return to that opening question from Job; every thinking person; “If a man dies, will he live again?” (Job 14 v 14) The answer is clearly yes. The destination – Heaven or Hell is our choice.
He WILL punish all rapists, murderers etc but He wont stop there, He will also punish all liars, idolaters and blasphemers and the punishment for these sins is the eternal fire of Hell.
Now can you see what a predicament you are in? You are guilty of sinning against God himself and because you have a conscience you have sinned “with knowledge.” Every time you lied, stole or lusted etc you really knew it was wrong.
Does the reality that you have sinned against God scare you – IT SHOULD!
You have angered Him by your sin.
The Bible says His wrath abides on you, that you are an enemy of God in your mind through wicked works.”
However, there is hope: see “Why should I become a Christian?”