Jumat, 30 Januari 2009

Life After Death

LIFE AFTER DEATH

The question about whether there is really life after death has been pondered by multitudes over the millennia. The desire to know the answer has led many far and wide in searching for the truth. But especially can this desire burn in the hearts of those who are grieving over the loss of loved ones. Where can they go to find the answer, knowing for certain that it is the truth, and thus find the lasting comfort they long so much to have?
The Apostle Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, describes a time when the dead will really be with the Lord, and then he concludes as follows, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” So it is by looking in God’s inspired Scripture that all who have lost loved ones can find lasting and true comfort because it is there revealed that there will indeed be life after death.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:12-13 we are told that if there is no such thing as life after death, then Jesus could not have been raised from the dead. So the very fact that God raised up Jesus from the tomb is our assurance that we also will be raised if we should die! “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus...” (2 Corinthians 4:14). So there will be life after death because of a coming resurrection, and Jesus Christ being raised from the dead was proof of this fact.
But for what purpose does the resurrection serve?
“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Corinthians 15:18-19.

Or in other words, without the resurrection, the dead in Christ will perish. And if we hope for reward only in this life, then we are of all men most miserable and pitiable. We may as well eat, drink, and enjoy life because only death ultimately faces us. This is exactly what the Humanists believe today.
But Paul goes on to tell us in 1 Corinthians 15:58:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the word of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Or in other words, the fact that we will be raised is what assures us our labor for the Lord is not in vain. If there is no resurrection, why steadfastly abound in the Lord's work? But since there is a resurrection, then even death cannot prevent our reward being granted us. In fact, if there is no reward after death, then there is no real justice!
Many good people suffer in this life just as much or more than evil people. Many wicked people prosper in this life far above righteous people. Many criminals and sinners are neither caught nor punished. So justice demands a resurrection so the righteous may be rewarded, and the wicked can be punished. Thus the resurrection serves as a day of reward!
Jesus assures us all:
“Thou shalt be recompensed (rewarded) at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14.

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27.

In simple, plain language Jesus declared that no one would be rewarded until the resurrection takes place at His second coming. This means that none of the righteous dead have gone to heaven so far. (For a more complete study on this, please click “Is Death to be Feared?”). All are waiting in their graves for the judgement and the end of the world. In fact, almost the last words of the Bible confirm this truth:
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be.” Revelation 22:12.

So we can understand that the righteous will be given their reward at the second coming of Christ. But what about the wicked? When will they receive their reward for all their sins?
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgement to be punished.” 2 Peter 2:9.

So the wicked are reserved somewhere until the day of judgement. But where are they reserved?
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28-29.

Jesus made it exceedingly plain that all the dead would be reserved in their graves until called forth in the resurrection to receive their reward of either eternal life or eternal damnation. And, you know, the Bible makes perfect sense. Obviously no one can receive either eternal life or punishment and damnation until after they are judged worthy of receiving such a reward. Justice demands that this be done.
Therefore each and every one of us are judgment bound, and we will be judged according to our works!
“...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27.

“For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.

“Let us here the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (see also Matthew 25:31-46.)

The wonderful message of the Bible is that both good and bad are sleeping in their graves until resurrection day. At that time they are brought forth to face the judgement, after which punishments and rewards are assigned according to their deeds.
Now consider how confusing it would be if rewards and punishments were now being applied to the dead. What purpose would be served by the resurrection? Obviously each soul would already have a determined fate, and the idea of some final judgement would be totally meaningless. But in plain and simple language, the Bible clearly reveals that all the dead are resting in their graves until the judgment occurs and their rewards figured out to be given them at the resurrection.
As we can see that there will be two different kinds of rewards–eternal life or eternal death, so there will be two different resurrections.
“...there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15.

Now, which resurrection occurs first?
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (see also 1 Corininthians 15:51-53; John 14:1-3; Matthew 24:30-31).

So the righteous dead are raised up to life first, and together with those righteous living on the earth, who have already been changed from mortal to immortality, are both caught up in the air to be forever more with Jesus.
But what happens to those on the earth who do not go up to be with Jesus in the clouds?
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

“...whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved...but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).

“And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” Jeremiah 25:33.

So when Christ comes, the first resurrection occurs and all the righteous dead are raised to life to receive their reward of immortality, and then together with the righteous living are taken to heaven. But all the wicked living on the earth will be slain by the brightness of His coming. Thus the earth will be left littered with the bodies of the wicked dead whose corpses will be feasted on by scavenger birds until no sign is left of them (see Rev 6:14-17, 19:11-18).
But even these scavengers will eventually run out of food and will die, thus leaving the earth completely desolate (see Jeremiah 4:23-27; Isaiah 24:1,3). So for how long is the earth to remain completely empty and desolate?
“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished...” Revelation 20:5.

The Bible plainly declares that after Christ comes and the first resurrection takes place, there will be a period of 1000 years, and that none of the wicked will be resurrected back to life until after 1000 years are over! So is there anything living on the earth all through these 1000 years? Yes! The Devil or Satan or Lucifer is bound upon this desolate earth during these 1000 years, and he cannot escape! (See Revelation 20:2-3). How ironic, that this mighty tempter and deceiver of the earth’s inhabitants throughout some 6000 years of history, is now left completely alone with absolutely no one to tempt! During these 1000 years, he will have plenty of time to think, and also to view all the destruction which he is responsible for.
But what will the righteous be doing in heaven with Christ for these 1000 years? As priests and kings, they will be reviewing all the cases of the wicked dead – including the wicked angels and Lucifer, and in unison with Christ, will pass judgment upon all the wicked so they can receive their just reward after the second resurrection takes place (see Revelation 20:6, 4; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
The word of God has plainly shown us in truth what is soon to take place. But this is quite a different picture than what is loudly portrayed by the majority of the preachers today! Through various doctrines of devils which are being advocated through the pulpits, book stores, and even in the theaters, such as the Rapture Theory, many have be deceived into believing that after Christ comes there will be a 1000 year period of His rule on earth where the unsaved will have a second chance at salvation! (For a complete study on this, please click on “The Secret Rapture”). But the Bible of truth reveals a completely different picture, and many are now faced with having to choose between following the word of God, or continuing to follow the cunning lies of men!
The fact of the matter is, there will be no second chance of salvation! There is no second probation!
“Now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2.

“Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7.

Today is the day of our salvation, for tomorrow may be too late!

Now for those of us who have lost loved ones, God gives the following for our comfort and solace:
“But I would not have you be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Here is a perfect picture of true comfort. Paul describes the coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the saints as being the only manner and means of our loved ones being with the Lord, and thus all other ideas are excluded. Then he tells us to “comfort one another with these words.”
If you think about it, there really is no comfort in the belief that some invisible, disembodied spirit entity leaves the body at death to either be punished or rewarded. Is it really comforting to believe that unsaved relatives are suffering the torment of unquenchable fire? Is there solace believing that loved ones are looking down from heaven upon the heart-breaking circumstances occurring to those left behind? No wonder Paul was so specific in describing that the second advent of Jesus and the resurrection are the only ways anyone can be with the Lord after death, and this is really the only true way to be comforted.
All the dead will rise to face the great decrees of the judgement. Whether they went to sleep thousands of years ago, or just five minutes before Jesus appears, it will seem to them as only a fraction of a second.
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-26.

Or in other words, Jesus will reign until He defeats the last enemy, which is death. Death entered because Satan seduced Adam and Eve to sin, and Christ's ultimate victory will occur when He defeats this last remaining enemy. Then “death will be swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). And what will the resurrected righteous then say?
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55.

This glorious hope of life after death is only made possible by our Lord and “Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). And very soon, death itself will die by being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) to nevermore afflict the children of men!
So there is indeed hope of life after death–but only through Jesus Christ.
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” John 11:25-26.

Jesus is the only way any of us can have life after death. Not Buddha, Christna, Mohammad, Maitreya, or any other spiritualistic medium or shaman can grant you eternal life. And neither can any pope, priest, minister, elder, teacher, nor church grant you eternal life either! Life after death can only be found through Jesus Christ, and if we should reject Jesus Christ as our Saviour, or if after accepting Him we choose to walk away from Him, then we are eternally lost!
So if you have not given your heart to follow Jesus, do so now! Tomorrow may be too late! If you haven’t given your heart to follow the truth as it is in Jesus, do so now! Don’t be one of those who are deceived and lost because you refused to follow Bible truth and kept following false doctrines instead. Today, right now, determine to follow Christ and Bible truth regardless of the cost. Isn’t Christ worth it? His death brought the prospect of eternal life to us all! Don’t let it be said, that Jesus Christ died in vain for you! Accept Him now, and you will then have a firm and never failing hope of life after death!