On Death (Part 2)

V. Death and the grave are the great leveller of men. They are the common home of all, good or bad. On Death 8-29-15 Page 2 They are unimpressed by earthly distinctions and accomplishments. ECC 9:2-3; JOB 21:23-26; 3:16-19. A. The grave is man's long home. JOB 17:13; ECC 12:5. B. It is a land of darkness and disorder from which no sinner can will his spirit back. 2SAM 12:23; 14:14; JOB 10:21-22; ECC 8:8. C. Then, the grand thoughts of man perish. PSA 146:4 c/w JAM 4:13-14. 1. All of natural man's schemes and dreams are arrested by death. He will not carry on his ambitions “from the other side.” Death is not like prison on earth for a mobster! 2. The station and relationships of this world do not carry over. Consider the pagans who thought it proper to have their servants slain upon death so as to continue their service in the afterlife. 3. The acquisitions of this world have no influence beyond the grave. a. Consider the pagan Egyptians who would be buried with their treasures and implements which they supposed would be useful to them in the afterlife. b. You can't take it with you. PSA 49:16-17; 1TI 6:7; JOB 1:21; ECC 5:15. c. A lifetime devoted primarily to the acquisition of things without consideration to spiritual concerns may be arrested suddenly by a bitter end. JER 17:11; LUK 12:15-21. d. “Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last.” JOH 6:27; MAT 6:19-21. 4. It is not guts, grit, girth or goods that yield promise of the life to come, but godliness. 1TI 4:8; 2PE 1:5-11. D. The grave is a temporary home for the dead body. JOH 5:28-29. VI. Throughout history there has been an almost universal belief in an afterlife. A. Archeaological and literary evidence confirms this. 1. Pagan, secular and Christian literature are replete with things about the afterlife. 2. The Old and New Testaments constantly affirm life after the death of the body. B. That men carefully dispose of their dead and honor them suggests the idea of an afterlife. C. Belief in the afterlife is somehow tied to man's nature. D. C. S. Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity: “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” E. The historical resurrection of the dead body of Jesus Christ unto immortal life proves that there is life after death. ACT 17:30-32; 1CO 15:20-23; 1TH 4:13-14. 1. Therefore, physical death is not the end of everything for man. HEB 9:27. 2. At this judgment the dead will be raised to stand before God and to be consigned to On Death 8-29-15 Page 3 their everlasting portion. REV 20:11-15; MAT 25:31-46. 3. It is the fear of this judgment that causes unbelievers to outright deny an afterlife or to block out consideration of it. ACT 24:25. 4. “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory) 5. “When you sweep death under the rug, you will likely sweep the afterlife under the rug with it. By hiding death, you hide the afterlife, and by hiding the afterlife, you hide any hope you have in it.” (Ted Dekker, The Slumber of Christianity, p. 84.) 6. One's view as to time plays a powerful role in how he lives. a. If one views the past as everything, he is handicapped to improve his quality of life and has no long term hope as an incentive. b. If one views the present as everything, he is likely to replay the errors of history and be given over to complete hedonism. c. If one views the future life as everything, he is likely to replay the errors of history, be disconnected from the present and manipulated by whatever he believes determines his future. d. If one believes the past is real and instructive, and the present is preparatory for and evidence of a real future life, then he has wisdom, incentive and hope. This is the essence of Christianity. VII. The gospel announces to believers that a hope is laid up for them in heaven, beyond this earthly sphere of existence. COL 1:5. A. In fleeing for refuge, believers lay hold of this hope set before them, a hope that enters into heaven itself where Jesus is. HEB 6:18-20. 1. flee: To run away from or as from danger; to take flight; to try to escape or seek safety by flight. 2. refuge: Shelter or protection from danger or trouble; succour sought by, or rendered to, a person. 3. Our hope in heaven does provide an escape to a place of safety from the dangers and troubles of life. 4. The hope is sure and stedfast, secured by the very truthfulness of God, and serves as an anchor to steady the believer and keep him from drifting. 5. The hope that Christianity gives us keeps us tied to it. a. Men will gravitate towards whatever it is in which they have hope. b. This is why it is so important to ground hope in the faithful Creator rather than the failing creation. B. Heaven, where our hope is, is not something for us to give an occasional thought to. It is a place upon which we should set our affections. COL 3:1-5. On Death 8-29-15 Page 4  1. As for those who do not set their affections on things above, Ted Dekker had this to write: “You have no living hope because you imagine heaven to be far less interesting than the earthly vacation you have your eyes on, or the man you would like to marry.” (Ibid., p. 134) 2. Having our affections set on heaven leads to mortifying sinful deeds and affections. C. This hope has a purifying effect. 1JO 3:1-3. 1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, no afterlife, then hedonism, the philosophy which asserts that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life, makes sense. 1CO 15:32. 2. If there is no afterlife, then the Bible tells lies in both the Old and New Testaments. Why conform to the moral code of a book that violates it own code and lies? 3. The resurrection and the judgment after death are incentives to repent (ACT 17:30- 31; ECC 12:13-14). Why repent if there is no such thing as a resurrection and judgment after death? 4. Without the Christian hope, men will give themselves to their own desires (JER 18:12). This explains materialism, philosophies of despair, free sex, and the drug culture. 5. The great dilemma of mankind is that it wants the hope of an afterlife but it doesn't want a hope that means curtailing lusts in this life and so it places its hope in something else that accommodates its lust. D. This hope has a healing effect. 1. People have actually died of despair. a. Paul's despairing of life was mitigated by resurrection hope. 2CO 1:8-9. b. “To despair is to turn your back on God.” (Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables) 2. The power of hope can be seen in the effectiveness of a placebo in those who expect that the supposed remedy will cure them. 3. Consider how often we say to someone who is suffering, “It will be alright.” a. We are trying to impart hope in order to alleviate the pain. b. Even the wicked believe that “it will be alright,” but in the end they will be disappointed. PRO 11:7. 4. Since the gospel is a message of hope, the gospel brings healing. LUK 4:18; PSA 107:17-20. 5. Perhaps it is through the gospel of hope that we have access to the leaves of the tree of life which are “for the healing of the nations.” 1CO 2:7 c/w PRO 3:13, 18 c/w REV 22:2. E. This hope puts our present trials into perspective. ROM 8:18; 2CO 4:17-18. F. This hope fosters patience and a sound mind. ROM 8:24-25; 2TI 1:7-10; 1PE 1:13. G. The afterlife is described in terms of things we value and enjoy on this earth, things such as precious stones, health, peace, joy, food and drink, loving relationships, social gatherings, gardens, and communion with God. 1. If these things did not bring us pleasure on earth, then we would fail to grasp their analogy to heaven. 2. Pleasures in this life can never bring lasting satisfaction. They are rather foretastes of what is to come and should be received as such. 3. Those who look for ultimate satisfaction in the things of this earth will move from one relationship to another, from one place to another, from one job to another in a futile search to find the real thing. On Death 8-29-15 Page 5 4. When you view earthly pleasures as foretastes of better things to come, you cease expecting those pleasures to give you ultimate and lasting satisfaction. 5. We set ourselves up for disillusionment when we expect from this world what it cannot deliver. PRO 13:12. 6. One can enjoy this earth more when he moderates his expectations from it.
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